The Weekend Jolt

National Review

Will the Kraken Get Crackin’?

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Admirers of Sydney Powell for her determined and skillful representation of Gen. Michael Flynn had to take the note-iest of note-takes when, as leader of Donald Trump’s post-election legal team, she promised to “release the kraken” and thereby show proof of a stolen presidential election, by millions of landslide-y votes, courtesy of sus ballot-counting companies birthed in places abroad and nefarious.

As the clock ticks towards approaching elector-certifying deadlines, game-changing kraken yet remain beneath the surface of the briny political seas. Will they breach soon? Reck havoc? Is there a strategic need (as we mix watery metaphors with things parched) to keep dry legal powder? Or will there be an Al Capone’s vault aspect to this?

Millions of the anxious demand: Get Kraken!

The demands made of this epistle are quite different: Provide links!

You shall find them aplenty. Short and sweet at first, thus satisfying the gods of G-Mail, and then many repeated (you will have to click on the READ MORE when this missives arrives at that point) avec big spoonfuls of delicious conservatism.

Have at it. Get cracking!

Editorials

The $50,000 Question: Don’t Forgive Student Debt.

Drawing a Low China Card: Shunning the Trans-Pacific Partnership Was a Costly Mistake.

America Last: The Radicalism of Raphael Warnock.

Ixnay on the Fed Hopeful: No to Shelton.

Bordering on Stupidity: Biden’s Foolish Immigration Priorities.

Where’s the Kraken Beef: Trump’s Disgraceful Gambit.

Plentiful Displays of Brilliance and Erudition to Be Found on NRO

Michael Brendan Dougherty finds an establishment boondoggle: Federal Student-Loan Cancellation Is Bad Policy.

Robert Stein urges a Republican economic-policy rethink: A New Agenda for the GOP.

Mackubin Owens is concerned about access to strategic minerals: A Growing Threat from China.

Michael Auslin reports on a new handbook for taking on the ChiComs: China versus Democracy.

Jay Elwes finds the post-populist model a clunker: Boris Johnson’s New Look.

Jim Geraghty on Barry’s Benny-Hate: Obama’s Simmering Resentment of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Victor Davis Hanson considers the special elections: Marching into Georgia with the Senate in Sight.

David Harsanyi praises the Founders’ scheme: The Electoral College, Now More Than Ever.

More David, who’s creeped out by a hack: Raphael Warnock’s Blood Libel.

Michael Hendrix fingers the culprit: The Pandemic Isn’t Killing Cities. Housing Regulations Are.

Kyle Smith gags on Barry’s gag rule: Obama’s Ridiculous Call for Speech Police.

John Loftus on virtue-signaling front lawns: About Those ‘In This House’ Signs.

More Loftus, as he low-grades home-zoomery schooling: The Online Learning Crisis.

Related from Frederick Hess and Matthew Rice: The Real-World Cost of Remote Learning.

Ryan Mills answers Florida’s 15-dollar question: Florida Restauranteurs Warn Minimum-Wage Mandate Will Shutter Struggling Small Businesses.

Madeleine Kearns on whether a new POTUS and the remodeled PM will become BFFs: Boris and Biden.

More Maddie, this time from the depths of the culture war: Gender Ideology, from the Classroom to the Clinic.

Ryan Mills and Tobias Hoonhout find a Golden State phony: Gavin Newsom’s Disgraceful COVID Hypocrisy the Latest Frustration for NAPA Restaurant Owners.

More Tobias, who profiles a hit job: Chris Hayes, Jeff Goldberg Smear Madison Cawthorn Using Fake Quote.

Sarah Schuette rattles those pots and pans: ‘Making Mistakes, So You Don’t Have to’: America’s Test Kitchen at 20.

A Quartet of Solzhenitsyn Originals

The new English-language translation of the great Nobel Laureate’s memoirs – Between Two Millstones, Book Two: Exile in America, 1978-1994 – is out this week past, and NR has been thrilled to publish four excerpts:

1.  The exile wants not to be: Yearning for Home.

2. Richard Pipes dastardly kneecaps a White House visit by the consequential dissident: An Encounter Sabotaged.

3. The Nobel Laureate writes to The Gipper: Letter to President Reagan.

4. A writer concentrating, while something lurks: Wolves and Ephemerality.

Happy Birthday NR. Or, Time to Apply for Medicare?

On the magazine’s 65th birthday, we published James Burnham’s initial column from the 1955 premier issue: The Third World War.

The Mighty Quinn

Ace reporter Jimmy is on the press plane of the globe-trotting Secretary of State, and files excellent reports that merit your attention.

In Paris: Pompeo Kicks Off Post-Election Foreign Trip, in Low-Key Style.

In Israel: Pompeo Declares Golan Heights Part of Israel, in First Visit by U.S. Secretary of State.

In Jerusalem: Pompeo Declares BDS ‘Anti-Semitic,’ Turns Tables with Funding-Cutoff Call.

In Jerusalem: Iran ‘Ever More Isolated’ as Israel Forges New Ties.

In Tbilisi: Pompeo Visits Georgia, in Show of Support amid Russian Threat.

In Istanbul: Pompeo Takes Religious-Freedom Agenda to Istanbul.

Lights. Camera. Review!

Armond White likes Jeanne: A Second Joan of Arc Film Challenges Us All.

More Armond, who finds Ron Howard’s latest is a bunch of hee-haw hoo-haw: Hillbilly Elegy: Opie and Vance at Yale and Hollywood.

Editorials, Super-Sized

1. The call for student-debt forgiveness falls on deaf ears her. From the editorial:

There is simply no justification for forgiving student debt broadly, even with limits to the overall amount of forgiveness or the income of the beneficiaries. Forgiving college debt is a slap in the face to those who paid down their debts early, those who minimized their borrowing by attending cheaper schools or working during their studies, those who forwent college entirely, and those suffering under other kinds of debt. College-loan forgiveness is also a poor way to stimulate the economy in the short term during the COVID-19 malaise, because there are plenty of groups more deserving, because much of the forgiven debt wouldn’t have been repaid for years anyway, and because the forgiveness would probably be taxed. And it’s virtually guaranteed to be regressive, for the simple reason that Americans who went to college are a richer-than-average bunch. And if debt forgiveness is premised upon the idea that the current lending system is unfair, why should only one generation of borrowers benefit? This will create political pressure, as all “one-time” amnesties do, for repetition on behalf of future borrowers, who will be encouraged to think of debt as free money that will never need to be repaid.

Forgiving debt via executive order poses additional problems. Congress has unwisely granted the executive branch a broad authority to modify, compromise, waive, or release students’ debts, but this was clearly not meant to authorize a mass-scale jubilee, and there are solid arguments that courts should not even allow it. For instance, federal law also directs agencies to “try to collect” the debts they are owed, and as the late Antonin Scalia once wrote, policymakers don’t hide elephants in mouseholes: An obscure provision of the law shouldn’t be taken as a license to ignore the rest of it.

2. With the RCEP emergence, we argue the Trump Administration’s dealings with China have prompted a trade downside. From the editorial:

Still, the sheer extent of the trade zone should worry Washington, which has missed opportunity after opportunity to convert the grievances of China’s neighbors into meaningful policy victories. If previous ASEAN agreements are any indication, the scope of the RCEP is likely to expand over time. And those nations most willing to partner with the U.S. against China — Japan and South Korea — rank among the largest beneficiaries of the agreement. By abdicating our role in the region, we’ve allowed our allies to grow more dependent on Chinese corporations and consumers just as Beijing ratchets up its military and diplomatic aggression.

The Trump administration deserves credit for emphasizing the dangers of China’s economic malfeasance. For too long, Western leaders overlooked the trade barriers, industrial subsidies, and intellectual-property theft that gave China an unfair advantage in international trade. But over the past four years, the White House never delineated clear, cohesive goals for economic policy in Asia, often taking measures at cross-purposes with each other.

3. The Georgia Democrat senator-wannabe is one heck of a radical. From the editorial:

The Democratic candidate’s 2020 campaign promise is impossible to reconcile with his anti-Israeli rhetoric that goes beyond the 2019 letter. “We saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey,” Warnock said in a 2018 sermon. “It is wrong to shoot down God’s children like they don’t matter at all.” Warnock issued that denunciation of Israel after Hamas led a mass incursion of the Israeli border, and the Israeli military responded with the justifiable use of lethal force. But in Warnock’s telling, Israelis are “birds of prey” who viciously kill innocent Palestinians, who are “brothers and sisters.”

Combine Warnock’s dehumanizing rhetoric that compares Israelis to animals with his praise of the notoriously anti-Semitic and anti-American pastor Jeremiah Wright and an even more troubling picture begins to emerge.

The name Jeremiah Wright might ring a bell: A former pastor to Barack Obama, Wright was at the center of the biggest controversy of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary after video of the pastor’s infamous 2003 “God Damn America” sermon surfaced. Obama said he hadn’t heard that particular sermon and condemned it; weeks later, Obama severed ties with Wright and Wright’s church. In 2009, Wright complained that “them Jews” wouldn’t let Obama speak to Wright.

But in 2014, Warnock was still defending Wright and praising Wright’s “God Damn America” sermon. “You ought to go back and see if you can find and read, as I have, the entire sermon. It was a very fine sermon,” Warnock said in a 2014 speech.

4. Fed candidate Judy Shelton gets our thumb’s down. From the editorial:

For many years, Shelton tirelessly advocated a gold-backed dollar, 0 percent inflation, and higher interest rates. After the financial crisis, when the U.S. had a prolonged spell of low inflation and high unemployment, she argued that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to foster a recovery posed too great a risk of raising prices. High and variable inflation, such as we experienced in the 1960s, is an evil that the central bank can and should avoid. Regarding inflation as always and everywhere the chief threat to an economy, on the other hand, is an error that can trap economies in depressions. It is an error to which Shelton’s ideology makes her especially prone.

President Trump has very different views. He wants low interest rates, does not worry about inflation, and shows no sign of caring about the gold standard. During his presidency, these views have been right in their practical upshot more often than not. What is worrisome is the extent to which Shelton has echoed Trump’s views without even acknowledging how they differ from the ones she has expressed in the past, let alone explaining her change of mind. She wanted tighter money in the depths of recession a decade ago, and then advocated looser money at the height of a boom. A steep increase in the price of gold, which once would have alarmed Shelton as an indicator of future inflation, has not given pause to her in her current incarnation.

5. Joe Biden’s immigrations ideas border (rimshot) on foolish. From the editorial:

But the Trump administration managed to get Mexico to agree to the so-called Migration Protection Protocols. This meant that asylum-seekers from countries other than Mexico could be made to remain in Mexico while their claims were adjudicated in the U.S. Also, under the safe-third-country agreements, asylum-seekers could be sent to Guatemala, El Salvador, or Honduras (whichever wasn’t their home country) to apply for asylum there. The theory was that if they were genuinely persecuted in their own country rather than simply seeking to come to the United States, they’d be satisfied to apply for asylum in some other nearby country; as it turned out, not surprisingly, most simply chose to go home when they realized an asylum claim wasn’t a ticket into the United States.

On top of all of this, the Trump administration began to tighten up on the lax way that asylum rules have been interpreted. Under the law, someone is supposed to be eligible for asylum only if he is targeted for persecution because of his race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion — a definition that shouldn’t apply to economic migrants or people who fear domestic or gang violence.

Biden is pledging to destroy this entire architecture, and his aides have been telling reporters that this is exactly what he will do. The rollback will court another border crisis that even the most migrant-friendly administration will be hard-pressed to manage (many of the photographs of cages at the border that spread on social media to condemn Trump’s policies actually dated from the Obama years). Biden also may bring into the U.S. the tens of thousands of asylum-seekers currently waiting in Mexico, which, barring stringent controls, would likely lead to them staying here forever.

6. The display of the Trump legal team has proven troubling at best, disgraceful at worst. From the editorial:

If there’s serious evidence for any of this, Giuliani and co. need to produce it immediately. Waving around affidavits at a press conference without allowing anyone to examine them doesn’t count.

The claims by the Trump team and its allies in court have been as far-reaching as possible and still haven’t come close to supporting the kind of feverish charges made yesterday afternoon. These cases have been dismissed or were whittled down until, as Andy McCarthy has noted, in Pennsylvania the Trump team isn’t even challenging enough ballots to come within hailing distance of overturning Joe Biden’s 83,000-vote lead — although we understand that the team is now attempting to file yet another amended complaint that would revive previously abandoned fraud charges and add still more.

The same is true in Michigan. Since courts generally won’t consider fraud claims that don’t involve enough votes to make a difference in an outcome, this is a major blow against the Trump litigation strategy. Giuliani tried to spin the Trump team’s withdrawal of its suit in Michigan as a big win — the litigation, in his telling, is no longer necessary because the team got the remedy it was seeking, namely a delay in the certification of the vote in Wayne County. In reality, the Wayne County vote was certified earlier in the week, even if the two Republicans on the board of canvassers now say they regret their vote.

Links Round Two, But This Time Attended by Big Ladles of Nutritious, Scrumptious Conservative Wisdom

1. Victor Davis Hanson considers how the Left will wage war in the Georgia special senate elections. From the analysis:

Remember how the stealthy Left won back the House in 2018 on the deception that veterans, conservative women, and moderate business people were running as Democrats to reclaim their party from the socialists?

So too radicals Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff will campaign as third-way Bill Clinton circa 1992 — on the correct assumption that the hard Left tolerates these deceptions for the greater good of getting power over the supposedly blinkered nation.

For a few weeks during the campaign, both Warnock and Ossoff will shed their former fringe-liberal positions on abortion, guns, support for fringe leftists, open borders, the new Green Deal, radical identity politics, and Israel. Then, like shedding a constraining exoskeleton, all that moderate sheath will be replaced by a renewed robust liberal coating after the election.

Just as the pollsters disgraced their profession to massage the vote in November 2020, so too will they at some point show a blue surge and all sorts of bizarre and contorted reasons why particular demographics have switched, flipped, evolved, and changed to supposedly make Georgia a blue state? If a disreputable Washington Post and ABC could claim that Trump was toast in being down in Wisconsin by 17 points five days before the election, why won’t they broadcast late-December polls showing Perdue and Loeffler as down by 10 and sure losers in Georgia?

2. Robert Stein advises a reconsideration of economic policy if the GOP is to assemble a viable political coalition. From the analysis:

In addition, the GOP needs to address crony capitalism, which often exacerbates the gap between the rich and poor. All else equal, more economic growth is always better than less, but all else is rarely equal. Citizens don’t just care how much they have; they care how much they have relative to their neighbors, their co-workers, their relatives, their friends, even the images they see in the media. The problem is that policies that directly redistribute income tend to deaden work incentives. Meanwhile, raising the minimum wage can throw low-skilled workers out of jobs.

One idea is to ban the use of stock options for corporate insiders. There are plenty of legitimate incentive-based reasons for a company to offer stock options. The problem is that options can also put pressure on insiders to lean on accountants or adopt business practices that temporarily fool investors into thinking a company is worth more than it really is, so the insider can cash out a massive payday. By contrast, restricted stock, where an insider has to hold stock for at least several years, doesn’t generate short-term thinking among insiders hell-bent on hitting artificial targets. Entrepreneurs who create wealth would have no problem shifting into restricted stock.

Another way to address cronyism is to gradually and dramatically raise capital standards for the largest financial institutions. Periodic financial crises have made it clear that when push comes to shove, the federal government will bail out the largest banks. One way to try to prevent a future crisis is to tightly regulate them, but regulators don’t always know what’s best, or they get captured by the industry. In addition, a tight regulatory regime opens the door to abuse, like requiring banks to pursue politically favored goals.

3. Boris Johnson has shed the populist skin. Jay Elwes finds a technocrat emerging, ready to do business with a likely new president across the Big Pond. From the article:

Johnson’s failure to secure a post-Brexit deal with the EU (at least at the time of writing) jeopardizes that carefully struck balance, and Biden has made his view of this very clear. In a tweet in September, he wrote: “We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit. Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.” The message is clear — fix Brexit, don’t mess up Ireland, then we’ll talk trade.

Johnson was Trump’s man in Europe. Could he ever play the same role for Biden? Perhaps. After all, Johnson has the great advantage of not really believing in anything, which makes him very adaptable. Biden’s victory could make compromise with the EU seem more appealing for Johnson, especially now that his more extreme advisers have left Downing Street.

Sections of the Conservative Party would regard any compromise with Brussels as a betrayal. But the British electorate is suffering from political fatigue. The last five years have been a frantic dash from one self-induced crisis to the next. Britain had a general election in 2015, the Brexit vote in 2016, another general election in 2017, and then another general election in 2019, and now the final Brexit deadline is approaching at the end of this pandemic year — the whole thing has felt like government by whirlwind. It has to stop eventually, and the mere fact of Biden’s victory could help to bring a conclusion.

Johnson’s time as a populist has come to an end. That may help to resolve his immediate political problems (although a new, ambitious climate plan announced on Wednesday may take him into dangerous territory with some of his base) and endear him to the president-elect. But when the next election comes around, the people who voted for Brexit and who gave him a landslide victory in 2019 may not be so forgiving.

4. More Boris: Madeline Kearns contemplates whether Johnson and Biden can be BFFs. From the article:

It is well known that the Democratic Party is more Europhilic than it is Anglophilic. The Obama-Biden administration was skeptical of the idea of Brexit to begin with. Obama famously warned that Britain would be at the “back of the queue” in terms of a U.S. trade deal, should it actually attempt to leave the European Union. In a post-Brexit world, a trade deal with the United States is of far greater consequence to Britain than it is to America. Johnson needs Biden to cooperate — but the dependency is not mutual for Biden.

Johnson has reason to be concerned that there may be personal, as well as political, hostility emanating from the incoming president. Biden has described Johnson as a “physical and emotional clone” of Trump. Perhaps this helps explain why Johnson, during his 20-minute phone call with Biden, went to great pains to emphasize his liberal bona fides. He invited Biden to the UK’s COP26 conference on climate change in 2021, and even gave Biden’s campaign slogan a try, saying that he is “looking forward to strengthening the partnership between our countries” and “building back better.” A senior official in Johnson’s government told CNN that there’s “relief on our side that we are going to be dealing with someone more consistent and reliable.” Which sounds like a very strategic leak.

5. More Kearns: The time has come for a pushback against the Gender Ideologues. From the piece:

So does Biden approve or disapprove of medicalizing gender-confused youth?

Certainly, the mainstream American media approve wholeheartedly. In one recent report, CNN highlights that “since the start of the 2020 legislative session, at least six states have proposed to restrict transgender minors’ access to gender reassignment treatments, including surgery and hormone therapy.” These states include South Dakota, Florida, Missouri, Colorado, and South Carolina. The story cites Ryan Thoreson, a Yale Law School lecturer and “an LGBT rights researcher” at Human Rights Watch calling such laws “unusual” as well as “alarming.” CNN concludes that “access to healthcare might be the latest, and perhaps most extreme, attempt to curb transgender rights among state legislatures.”

But in reality, the debate is not about “transgender rights” at all (gender-dysphoric people have the same rights and health-care options as everyone else), but whether it should be legal to permanently alter the fully functioning bodies and sexual development of physically healthy children. Progressive pundits frame the debate as being between the enlightened Left and the regressive Right, but this narrative collapses under scrutiny. For instance, Netflix recently promoted a series called The Baby-Sitter’s Club starring a 9-year-old “transgender girl,” Kai, whose mother previously told Good Housekeeping how she had come from a fundamentalist Christian community. Kai’s mother noticed that, as a baby, he preferred girls’ things, but she wasn’t initially “ready to face the fact that my one-and-a-half-year-old child was a girl.” Two years later, after “sidelong glances and questions” from friends and inquiring about Kai’s “feminine behavior,” her family began “questioning whether Kai was gay,” before ultimately arriving at the conclusion that he must be transgender. For anyone paying attention, this — the attempt to physically change a child’s body because he is exhibiting behavior the parent deems inappropriate for his sex — is clearly the real conversion therapy.

6. Obama’s disdain for Netanyahu gets the attention of Jim Geraghty. From the article:

The portrait of Netanyahu that Obama paints — he writes that the prime minister’s “philosophy neatly aligned him with the most hawkish members of AIPAC, as well as Republican officials and wealthy American right-wingers” — is a particularly unflattering one, and he closes on a dark note, suggesting that Netanyahu and other leaders in the Middle East never seriously intended to seek a lasting peace:

I couldn’t help feeling a vague sense of disquiet. The speeches, the small talk, the easy familiarity — it all felt too comfortable, almost ritualized, a performance that the four leaders had probably participated in dozens of times before, designed to placate the latest U.S. president who thought things could change. . . . In the months to come, I’d think back often to my dinner with Abbas and Netanyahu, Mubarak and King Abdullah, the pantomime of it, their lack of resolve.

There’s just one glaring complication to Obama’s cynical interpretation, and that’s that Netanyahu is still leading Israel, and in just the past few months his government has signed major diplomatic agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan. This would suggest that he is more than willing to sign treaties, as long as he feels certain that they won’t harm Israel’s security interests. Obama’s failure to facilitate diplomatic breakthroughs between Israel and Arab or Muslim states was not, it turns out, the fault of Netanyahu’s intransigence; it was the fault of his own unworkable approach to the problem. No wonder he’s still grumbling about it.

7. Red China’s dominance in strategic materials is something Mackubin Owens argues should worry America. From the piece:

Today, U.S. dependence on these strategic materials poses a looming threat to America’s position in the world. The U.S. Departments of Defense and the Interior have deemed 35 minerals “critically important” to national security and the nation’s economy, including 17 minerals (rare-earth elements, or REEs) that are acutely important to the manufacture of missiles and munitions, hypersonic weapons, and radiation-hardened electronics, as well as such consumer goods as cellphones and catalytic converters in automobile engines. To cite just two examples, each F-35 fighter requires 920 pounds of REE, and each Virginia-class submarine needs ten times that amount.

U.S. dependence on strategic minerals is a result of the failure of U.S. policymakers to recognize the inability of free markets and free trade to address strategic issues. In general, free markets are efficient in allocating resources, and free trade works best when all parties abide by the rules. But when actors such as the PRC flout the rules and pursue predatory policies to direct resources to their own strategic advantage, “free trade” becomes a dangerous fiction that undermines a truly liberal global system. China has repeatedly demonstrated an inclination to use its growing power to undercut accepted rules and coerce other countries.

We have seen this dynamic at work over the past two decades. On the domestic side, the United States was producing a diverse mix of minerals as recently as the turn of the century, but a variety of market forces led to a decrease in U.S. mineral production and processing. With the shutdown of many domestic mines, U.S. dependence on minerals from abroad has doubled. China is now a major supplier of half of the United States’ strategic minerals, including metals for electric-car batteries and weapons systems.

8. More Red China: Michael Auslin tracks the Commies fisticuffs with Democracy. From the beginning of the piece:

Whether due to the COVID-19 pandemic that began in Wuhan, China, or thanks to Beijing’s increasingly intimidating, if not aggressive, behavior in recent years, one of the more dramatic shifts in global opinion has started a long-overdue reconsideration of the liberal world’s relationship to the People’s Republic of China. In addition to a raft of high-level policy statements from the Trump administration, including the 2017 National Security Strategy, the 2019 Department of Defense Indo-Pacific Strategy report, and the 2020 “United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China,” a number of independent reports have been tracking Beijing’s predatory and threatening policies, whether in economics, security, or civil society.  After decades of turning the other cheek to Beijing’s abuse of the free world’s open societies, all in order to maintain trade relations that themselves were turning increasingly one-sided, liberal states have begun the process of recalibrating their ties to China.

This is no easy task for America or other states, after nearly a half-century of engagement. How to reduce supply chain vulnerability without crashing current manufacturing models, how to support Taiwan and Hong Kong in the face of Beijing’s aggressive actions, whether to keep admitting hundreds of thousands of Chinese students to American universities, how to keep doing business with Chinese firms while defending rampant theft of intellectual property, the “to do” list goes on and on. The difficulty is a testament to just how thoroughly the post-Mao PRC intertwined itself with free economies and societies around the world, while at the same time resisting much, if not all, pressure to liberalize in turn. Despite decades of optimistic comments from Western leaders, including U.S. presidents, China under current Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping has become an even more repressive and insular state, committed to the Leninist control by the CCP, and steadfastly opposed to liberal notions of free speech and free association. The PRC’s techno-authoritarian surveillance state has taken the world’s leading technologies, many originated in Western research institutes and universities, and twisted them into a comprehensive network of social control. Western businesses, media, universities, and the like have all submitted to Beijing’s pressure, self-censuring and apologizing for remarks critical of the PRC.

9. Michael Brendan Dougherty finds the calls for student-loan debt forgiveness to be an intra-class boondoggle. From the article:

Democrats want to prove they are the party of the marginal and oppressed. But they also want stuff for their kids.

Every Democrat constituency is currently trying to reinsert its policy goals into the discussion, as President-elect Joe Biden begins to announce the members of various task forces and select people to nominate for cabinet positions. It doesn’t matter if Joe Biden campaigned explicitly against these policies and beat other Democrats who advocated them — with a tiny majority in the House, and perhaps no Democratic control of the Senate, the party has an incentive to unite, and an incentive to at least hear everyone out.

Of particular interest are the affluent voters, who mostly live in the inner-ring suburbs and whose ongoing defection to the Democrats in 2018 and 2020 helped determine their success. These voters want their taxes lowered, via a repeal of Trump’s cap on tax deductions covering state and local taxes. They also want to see student debt canceled. Chuck Schumer, revealing little faith in the ability of Democrats to win special Senate elections in Georgia, announced rather preposterously that Joe Biden could, by executive order, cancel up to $50,000 of debt per student debtor. This roughly hints at the plan put forward by Senator Elizabeth Warren to cancel student debt.

10. David Harsanyi says now, more than ever, the Electoral College must be held sacrosanct. From the essay:

One must read to the end of the Washington Post’s editorial, “Abolish the electoral college,” before hitting on the real reason the Post’s editors want to upend the long-standing constitutional institution. “Mr. Trump’s election was a sad event for the nation,” notes the Post, “his reelection would have been a calamity.”

Maybe, maybe not. That’s a matter of partisan perspective. Those who are genuinely concerned about the future of American governance would be calling to strengthen institutions that provide political stability, not destroy them. But when your concerns about “American democracy” are really just a euphemism for partisan power grabs, you end up making lots of sloppy arguments. . . .

The fact that the Electoral College doesn’t align with the “popular vote” isn’t alarming, it is the point. If the Electoral College synchronized with the outcome of the direct democratic national vote tally every election, it wouldn’t need to exist. It isn’t a loophole, it is a bulwark.

The Electoral College exists to diffuse the very thing the Post claims is most beneficial: the “overbearing majority,” as James Madison put it. If majoritarianism is truly always the best means of deciding an issue, then the Post would support a mere majority of states being able to overturn the First Amendment or decide abortion policy.

11. More David: He attacks Raphael Warnock’s blood libel. From the piece:

The propensity of liberal politicians to frame every policy issue or conflict as racially motivated is a sad reality of contemporary American politics. But if that is to be our metric, then it’s worth noting that Israel is home to a sizeable Arab minority, one afforded more rights than Arabs anywhere else in the Middle East. The economic destitution of Palestinians is self-perpetuated by corruption, rigidity, and radicalism. Even the Arab League is slowly abandoning their cause. The notion that a wealthy liberal nation such as Israel, which signs peace agreements with any Arab country that engages, has an interest in keeping its neighbors poor is a complete fiction. The only faction in this quarrel arguing for ethnic partition is the one demanding a Jew-free West Bank.

Yet I remain skeptical that the issue of Israel resonates in any serious way with liberal Jewish voters — in Atlanta, or anywhere else. Consider that no president in history was as antagonistic toward the Jewish state as Barack Obama. Not only did he persistently undercut the elected government of Israel, but he also worked to prop up the theocratic, Holocaust-denying terror regime in Iran — a policy opposed not only by the conservative Likud party but by center-left Israeli parties as well. Obama’s binary-choice framing regarding war and peace with Iran, since debunked by events, was only slightly less ugly than his intimation that those who opposed him harbored dual allegiances. Yet Obama’s Jewish support remained high. This is partly because American Jews aren’t single-issue voters. It’s also partly because of the glowing coverage of the echo chamber created by the mullahs’ stateside champion, Ben Rhodes. But the most important explaining factor is that progressivism is displacing traditional Jewish values. Progressive Jewish organizations are far likelier to defend Ilhan Omar than to defend Benjamin Netanyahu. This, too, is a sad reality. It is more likely that the criticism of Warnock is aimed at Georgia’s Evangelical Christians, who are often more concerned about the security and prosperity of the Jewish state than left-wing Jews.

12. Signs of the Times: John Loftus looks at the virtue-signaling front lawns of America. From the piece:

More of these signs had sprung up weeks before the election, and even after. Some are placed outside boutique clothing stores, while others dot the town green. In every instance I saw the sign in a residential neighborhood, the home hosting it was quite nice, sometimes with Range Rovers or BMWs parked in the driveway.  Through the windows, you could see people working remotely, in cushy home offices, safely quarantined from COVID and other stark realities.

The signs are my own daily reminder that the term “Orwellian” has become a go-to cliche to describe genteel progressivism in 2020. In George Orwell’s 1984, the ministries of the totalitarian Oceania display the Party’s slogans on the pyramid-shaped government buildings. “War is Peace,” claims the Ministry of Peace that engages in endless wars. The mendacious Ministry of Truth wants everyone to know, “Ignorance Is Strength.”

Rich progressives want others to know how superior they are, morally and intellectually. In practice, however, they undermine their most cherished slogans, like Orwell’s Ministries. Black lives matter! Never mind that they balk at the idea of building low-income public housing units in their own town. Science is real! Never mind that they believe in gender fluidity and various “isms” that defy the very real study of biology.

In the Biden era, how many more “In This House” signs will pepper the most affluent zip codes across the country?

13. More Loftus: There’s a crisis in online learning. From the article:

McKinsey & Company sounded the alarm back in June. The report projected that, should in-class schooling return completely by early 2021, students with normal remote setups will have lost the equivalent of three to four months of in-classroom learning. Students who experience low-quality remote learning will have lost around seven to eleven months of in-classroom learning. And students who had no instruction at all over course of the pandemic will have lost close to a full year, even more, of in-classroom learning. The study also found that loss of learning affects one’s average lifetime earnings, economic productivity, and health.

Based on anecdotal evidence, college students are also struggling. Visiting my alma mater last month, I was struck by the weariness of students I encountered daily. It seemed they spent almost no time on academics outside their biweekly Zoom classes. Students who spent hours upon hours indoors, glued to their computers and phones out of necessity, were never truly engaged with their lectures, presentations, and homework. Sometimes other distractions, namely TikTok, took precedent. Meanwhile, few kids ever made the trek to campus, though it was open for outdoor studying. Given the option to return to class in person, most students opted out due to their own fears of COVID-19. I suspect, however, that there is another reason: an escalating sense of complacency. If you are someone who thinks American higher education has turned into a day camp, you will be saddened to hear that this problem has grown worse in the COVID era.

For college students in particular, the dip in education quality might only represent the tip of an iceberg — a potential mental-health crisis stemming from significant changes to school life. Results from one study hinted at measurable increases in anxiety and depression among college students, as one-third of the 30,727 students surveyed over the past summer had depression and anxiety. A study from Texas A&M University conducted surveys with over 195 students, 71 percent of whom said they experienced marked levels of anxiety since the outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent changes to education experience. This being college, it’s fair to ask whether this leads to heavier drinking and drug use to alleviate anxiety and, quite frankly, boredom. It’s one thing to binge drink once a week at a party; another thing entirely to binge drink daily after hopping off a dull Zoom lecture.

14. Related: Frederick M. Hess and Matthew Rice report on the mounting evidence on the real cost of remote learning. From the piece:

If remote learning was as effective as in-person learning, even modest risks might seem unnecessary. But evidence suggesting that the costs of closure are substantial continues to accumulate. In a new national survey of more than 2,000 teachers and principals, the RAND Corporation this past week raised additional doubts about remote learning. The on-the-ground take of these educators closely tracks other warning signs we’ve seen.

After the chaos of last spring’s makeshift worksheets packets and sporadic Zoom lessons, it was a given that students would be behind this fall. Consistent with analyses that projected widespread learning loss, 66 percent of teachers surveyed by RAND reported that most students are less prepared to do grade-level work this year than last year. When contacted in October, just one in five teachers said they had covered the same content that they’d covered in the same time window last year.

Meanwhile, despite promises that this fall’s remote learning would be much improved over last spring’s stopgap efforts, the RAND survey suggests that the challenges continue. Teachers providing fully remote instruction report that only three-fifths of students have completed most or all assignments, while those providing fully in-person instruction say that 82 percent of their students have completed most or all of their work. And teachers in a fully remote setting were twice as likely as those teaching in person to report a dire need for strategies to keep students engaged and motivated.

15. Tobias Hoonhout and Ryan Mills check out Do-as-I-Saydist Gavin Newson’s restaurant antics. From the analysis:

Napa restaurateurs struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic met the news that California governor Gavin Newsom isn’t practicing the COVID guidelines that he preaches with outrage, despondence, and resignation.

“Disgraceful,” was the reaction from Napa Chamber of Commerce board member and world-renowned truffle chef Ken Frank. Could Newsom, who was pictured sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with prominent lobbyists at an upscale Napa Valley birthday dinner earlier this month, ever recover? “I don’t know. But he made his own bed, now he has to sleep in it,” Frank, who owns the Michelin-starred La Toque restaurant, told National Review.

“Extremely disappointed,” Bettina Rouas, owner of riverfront bistro Angele, added. “We’ve all been doing whatever we can to follow suit — and then to have our governor eat indoors, with a party of twelve, with no masks, and it’s not even family members. It was disappointing and disheartening.”

Mick Salyer, who started in the Northern California restaurant scene 30 years ago in the dish pit and now owns Napa staples Zuzu and La Taberna, described himself as a “pretty strong supporter” of Newsom. But the stunt, which the governor apologized for — “I need to preach and practice, not just preach,” Newsom said Monday — still stung, especially after photos were released showing the governor lied in his apology about the dinner being held “outdoor.”

16. More Tobias: The smearing of Madison Hawthorn, courtesy of a fake quote, gets deserved profiling. From the analysis:

Soon-to-be the youngest member of Congress, North Carolina Republican Madison Cawthorn has already faced a media onslaught that dishonestly cast a 2017 Instagram post, which showed his visit to Adolf Hitler’s World War II retreat, as neo-Nazi propaganda. Members of the elite press rekindled their misguided outrage on Monday in response to a quote that was falsely attributed to Cawthorn.

In a wide-ranging interview with Jewish Insider, Cawthorn admitted that “it does not look like Donald Trump is going to be the president,” described sharing common ground with Joe Biden on “infrastructure reform,” and expressed an interest in reforming America’s “terrible” foreign policy. He also said he was “looking forward” to meeting Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) — whom he described as someone “of conviction.”

For the mainstream press, however, the major takeaway was Cawthorn’s comment about his religious convictions.

“Newly Elected GOP Congressman Madison Cawthorn Has Tried to Convert Jews to Christianity” reads a fear-mongering headline in the Daily Beast.

17. Michael Hendrix argues that housing regulations are devastating America’s cities far more than a pathogen. From the piece:

The shortage of housing in America’s major metros is expected to worsen in the next year. “The supply of homes is tighter than ever, and home prices are growing at the fastest rate in years,” said Taylor Marr, the lead economist at Redfin. Upwards of 23 million Americans are planning to move thanks to the flexibility of work from home, according to Upwork, with major cities like New York and San Francisco expected to take the biggest hit in large part due to high housing costs. There are also more people crowding into existing living spaces, turning them into dry tinder for deadly contagions. More young Americans live at home now than during the Great Depression, with more crowding occurring in major metros. And New York City’s high rates of unemployment have likely done little to alleviate the city’s 45 percent rise in severe overcrowding, defined as more than one-and-a-half people per bedroom, since 2005.

Two classes of American city should concern us: those like New York and San Francisco with severe, decades-long housing shortages resulting in a lack of affordability (worsened by today’s economic woes), and those like Austin or Sacramento where heightened demand outpaces the capacity to build. New York City built fewer housing units over the past decade than during the Great Depression, and rents are still historically high even after pandemic-fueled flight. Meanwhile, only 128 people on net were moving to the Austin metro area prior to this year, even as the city become the priciest housing market in Texas.

In both cases, unnecessary and burdensome regulatory barriers are stifling housing supplies as demand increases, pushing up the cost of housing. Local zoning rules and permitting regulations dictate what you can build, where you can build it, and who can live where. As a result, rents and home prices have been rising faster than incomes for the past two decades, particularly for cities with good job markets — a trend the pandemic has only worsened.

18. Kyle Smith has had enough of Barrack Obama’s babblings about suppressing free speech. From the piece:

It’s crazy that Obama thinks the existence of a free press is, on balance, worse for his party than for Republicans; it’s crazy that Obama, a former constitutional-law lecturer, thinks there is some previously unnoticed truth clause in the First Amendment; it’s crazy that he thinks his idea would pass muster with a judiciary that is at the moment more supportive of the free exchange of ideas than in any previous period in American history, especially given the current makeup of the Supreme Court; it’s crazy that Obama thinks that Clinton narrowly lost her bid for the presidency, and Biden narrowly won his, because swing voters decided either that Biden is a socialist or that she is in league with pedophiles. It’s also crazy that Obama hasn’t noticed there are already “standards within industries” to limit the spread of information uncongenial to Obama’s party, revealed in Twitter and Facebook’s publicly admitted efforts to stop the New York Post’s reports about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop from spreading, a determined effort by mainstream-media outlets to ignore or downplay the story, and the startling admission by the editor of the New York Times that he removed accurate information from an already-published story centering on a sexual-assault allegation against Joe Biden because Biden’s campaign complained.

Moreover, the examples Obama cites hardly make his point for him. There is as much evidence that Hillary Clinton was involved in a pedophile ring as there is that Donald Trump has been a Russian asset since 1987, but one of these fanciful theories languishes in the fever swamps of the information ecosystem while the other landed the cover of New York Magazine and was asserted by a conspiracy theorist, Jonathan Chait, whom Obama had previously legitimized by inviting him to the White House for an off-the-record chat.

19. Florida voters approved a $15 minimum-wage referenda, so Ryan Mills anticipates the wreckage of the economic hurricane. From the piece:

But it’s not hurricanes or algae or a global pandemic that have owner Jay Johnson worried about the future of his business. It’s the passage of a constitutional amendment by Florida voters earlier this month that will increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, and likely blow a massive hole in his restaurant’s already tight budget.

The state’s hospitality industry, which relies heavily on tipped employees and young workers learning basic job skills, will be hit particularly hard by the wage increases.

To survive, some restaurateurs are contemplating prices increases, staff cuts, payroll changes, and incorporating more technology. Others are pondering just shuttering their doors.

Johnson had hoped to have a strong restaurant he could one day hand off to his now-teenage daughter, if she were interested. But now he’s not so sure. The mandated wage increases “absolutely could” threaten Bubba’s viability as a business, he said. Restaurants like his – full service and family owned, catering to middle-income diners – are among the most vulnerable to the wage increases.

He understands that many Floridians who voted for the amendment were simply trying to give lower-wage workers a pay bump. But they didn’t see the full picture, he said, and local news paid the issue scant attention. Johnson estimates his labor costs for his 35 employees will increase by about $85,000 after the first year of the phased-in increase. That money has to come from somewhere.

20. James Burnham’s decades-long, ever-brilliant column, “The Third World War,” began with National Review’s premier issue. From the piece:

A traditional military commander, in his estimate before committing his forces to a battle or campaign, will never omit consideration of the geographical terrain over which he will have to move and fight. The totalitarian strategists of our century have learned to give the same scrupulous care to the political climate and terrain in which they plan to conduct their operations. To the strategists of the Kremlin, Hitler’s experiments seemed to confirm a general rule that modern democratic governments become paralyzed at the approach of elections; or, more accurately, that the energies of democratic governments become so obsessively focused on the inward electoral process that there is no surplus energy for positive and effective external action.

In the United States the 1956 election is already in process, troubled and intensified by the President’s illness. We can be sure that this outlook was a major determinant of the specific content of the current Soviet tactic — rather more basic, let us say, than the reputed temperamental differences between Khrushchev–Bulganin and Stalin–Beria.

The Geneva spirit as the Kremlin interprets it — that is, smiles as a cover for sharp, undercutting political blows — is admirably fitted to press the juice of an election year. Each political party in a modem democracy must, according to the Communist reasoning, strive to outdo its rivals in promising the voters peace and good times. Therefore no party can scorn the proffered smiles or promote an effective counter to the blows. To do either would prove it an Enemy of Peace.

21. Glasnost is expounded, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn considers its wooing of the exile. From the piece:

During recent months, my name has been bandied about in the USSR. In rumors — that I’ve already lodged an application with the Soviet embassy to return. But also in public. Aleksandr Podrabinek suddenly (on March 5, 1987, the day of the Soviet denial about the publication of Cancer Ward, although this was mere coincidence) wrote a letter to the government saying that now, with the onset of glasnost, it would be intolerable hypocrisy to continue to hush up Solzhenitsyn, who had called for honest and total glasnost 18 years ago — and he suggested repealing the decree that had stripped me of citizenship, giving me the opportunity to return to Russia; and that I be published in massive print runs. He made the letter public one month later. Then, another month later, he, a man who’d been in internal exile not very long before, was suddenly visited in Kirzhach by the Communist Party district committee secretary for propaganda, bearing the official response that “the Central Committee is looking into Solzhenitsyn’s case.”

This response was not binding upon them in any way (although they most probably did have discussions of some sort). Was it to give me a pretext to jump first, if I really was pining to return? But my return right now would be a huge propaganda success for the authorities, especially if secured without concessions.

For my part, although I understood all the lack of commitment, the expedience of this gambit, my heart still beat faster. After all, the wall is slowly melting — it’s melting, and my exile is coming to an end! And, indeed, given my age, it’s one of my last hopes.

22. More Solzhenitsyn: The writer, attentive to his craft, while something lurks. From the piece:

But it’s all a matter of scale. This petty nonsense ended on September 8; on the afternoon of the 11th, I was sitting as usual at my little desk beneath the birches, near the pond, on our plot fenced off by wire netting about two meters high. No one from the outside ever came there, and my family were at least 100 meters away, up the hill. But here — only chipmunks dashing around. I wrote in this solitude summer after summer, my soul unbound. A steady breeze is blowing, concealing any rustling. My eyes are on the paper. I can hear nothing and see nothing in my peripheral vision. Only when I happen to look up do I see a magnificent powerful copper-colored creature passing by on a raised path a meter and a half from my head. Could a dog be that size? whose dog? and so noiseless? I turn my head as it goes by, and behind the trunks of the birch trees I see the first wolf, which has already gone past. Now it has turned to look at the one behind and is baring its teeth in its long snout, as if asking why it’s lagging behind. Now I can see the second one in full. It’s gone by to catch up with the first. They’re gone.

I didn’t have time to gather my wits or to prepare myself. There wasn’t so much as a stick to hand in any case. The wolves passed by calmly and utterly soundlessly along our usual well-trodden path through the property. My desk, though, was in a hollow, so that they had passed within less than two meters, level with my shoulders, and nothing would have prevented either of them from leaping at my throat. Had God delivered me? were they not hungry? (My neighbor says they don’t live around here: they come in from Canada following the starving moose; it had even been on local radio.)

23. Armond White likes Jeanne, a study in faith, skepticism, and power. From the beginning of the review:

The audacious French filmmaker Bruno Dumont presents Joan of Arc (Jeanne) as more than a sequel to his 2017 Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc. Having exhausted the ideas of the first film, Dumont goes back at the subject to find new relevance. He presents the saint’s final agony — her personal and public trial — so that her inquisition reflects today’s moral chaos.

Dumont changes Joan’s martyrdom at age 19 to the ruthless hostility faced by a girl half that age (ten-year-old actress Lise Leplat Prudhomme portraying the Maid of Lorraine). She suggests a pretty version of global-warming icon Greta Thunberg, but this daring young movie heroine won’t make the partisan Time magazine’s cover because Dumont isn’t interested in political conformity. Prudhomme’s innocence and her steady stare seem to go right through her examiners straight to us, challenging our sense of what it means to be young, inspired, dedicated, holy, mortal.

For Dumont, revisionist history — and revisionist filmmaking — is not a matter of do-over. It’s about starting over and for reasons that we must heed.

24. More Armond: In Hillbilly Elegy, he finds Ron Howard posing as a populist. From the beginning of the review:

Ron Howard’s film version of the J. D. Vance bestseller Hillbilly Elegy owes surprisingly little to Mayberry RFD or The Andy Griffith Show, which loom large in Howard’s acting career. Instead, movie auteur Howard adapts Hillbilly Elegy according to the pampered ignorance of his Hollywood upbringing. The film shows shallow — fake — empathy with the Appalachian background that begins Vance’s humble brag about leaving backwoods hollers and winding up at Yale University — the foundation of his Millennial bona fides as an expert on American class issues in the wake of Obama’s caste divide.

Class issues are what make this auto-biopic insulting. Opie, that is, Howard, seems insensitive to personal facts of upward mobility. Vance (played by husky Gabriel Basso) goes to Yale after serving a tour of duty in Iraq, hooks up with a beautiful Indian co-ed (Freida Pinto, who tastily resembles cooking show star Padma Lakshmi), then looks back on his crude, slatternly family with semi-affection.

Affection is mostly shown to Vance himself, through the film’s awkward dependence on flashbacks-within-flashbacks (from Jackson, Ky., to Middletown, Ohio), that depict his struggle more melodramatically than that of the fortunate, ungrateful child in Stella Dallas. But not even Stella Dallas herself (Barbara Stanwyck’s most affecting film role in King Vidor’s classic 1938 weepie) was as spectacular a loser as Vance’s drug-addicted mother Bev (Amy Adams), who is the epitome of underclass victimization.

From the Conservative Solar System

1. At The Wall Street Journal, Jason Riley exposes the elite’s hatred of Justice Clarence Thomas. From the article:

Justice Thomas has long argued that racial preferences not only stigmatize black achievement but are far more likely to help those who were already better off rather than the black underclass in whose name these policies are advocated. When the likes of Joy Reid knock him for this view, they are acting in their own self-interest, not in the interest of most black people.

This divergence in opinion between intellectuals and the broader society isn’t unique to blacks. White intellectuals don’t speak for most whites, either. Still, confusing the wants and needs of most black people with those of black elites can lead to dire consequences for the former. Blacks overwhelmingly support school choice, for example, while groups like the NAACP, which claim to speak in the interest of the black poor, oppose vouchers and want a moratorium on public charter schools. That position benefits the NAACP, which is rewarded with donations from teachers unions, but how does it help a poor family with children trapped in a chronically failing school?

The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this year brought nationwide calls from black activists, elected officials and the media to “defund the police.” But when the people forced to live in high-crime neighborhoods were consulted, only a small percentage cited overpolicing as the problem. A Gallup poll released in August reported that 81% of black respondents wanted the police presence in their community to remain the same or increase, while only 19% wanted it reduced. In a separate survey released last year, 59% of black residents of low-income neighborhoods said that “they would like the police to spend more time in their area than they currently do,” versus only 50% of white residents.

2. At the Kirk Center, Francis Sempa reminds us of Reinhold Niebuhr’s assessment of the crisis of our civilization. From the article:

Niebuhr called liberals “soft utopians” whose primary faith is in “progress.” Liberalism, he wrote, fails “to understand the tragic character of human history.” Emerging from the French Enlightenment, liberalism, Niebuhr explained, believes in the perfectibility of man as the eventual destiny of historical progress. Liberalism, he wrote, is “primarily faith in man; faith in his capacity to subdue nature, and faith that the subjection of nature achieves life’s final good.” Liberalism, he continued, is a form of “blindness” on the part of, mostly, intellectuals for whom God is rationalism, progress, and reason. “It is a blindness,” Niebuhr insisted, “which does not see the perennial difference between human actions and aspirations, … the inevitable tragedy of human existence, the irreducible irrationality of human behavior, and the tortuous character of human history.”

Liberals mistake progress in science, technology, and knowledge for advancement in human nature and behavior. Such illusions, Niebuhr wrote, should have been refuted by the horrors of the twentieth century. “Since 1914,” he wrote, “one tragic experience has followed another, as if history had been designed to refute the vain delusions of modern man.” Yet, liberals maintain their faith in historical progress — their faith in man as the center of the universe. To Niebuhr, this was a profound spiritual crisis. “[T]he modern world,” he wrote, “does not believe in sin. Our secular age has rejected that doctrine more whole-heartedly than any other Christian doctrine.”

Human beings, Niebuhr explained, are not perfectible. They “are both strong and weak, both free and bound, both blind and far-seeing.” Throughout history, humans have shown a lust for power; this is especially true in the political realm. Humans are not always or even mostly virtuous. Progress in science and knowledge, after all, has coincided with genocide and war.

3. At The Pipeline, Jack Dunphy considers how citizens should defend themselves, if the police will not. From the article:

One can well imagine how CNN and their ilk would report matters if there had been even the slightest evidence that Trump loyalists had been the aggressors in these “clashes.” Indeed, though CNN was meticulous in naming the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters among the Trump supporters, implying without actually stating that these groups were the source of the troubles, nowhere in their report will you find any reference to Antifa or Black Lives Matter.

This is the type of willful blindness that arouses suspicion and contempt of the mainstream media among conservatives, even those who under ordinary circumstances would be disdainful of groups like the Proud Boys but nonetheless would stand with them if forced to choose between them and the Marxist attack squads seen terrorizing senior citizens, women, and children on Saturday.

All of which raises the question: Now what? Will the 73 million Americans who voted for Trump, even those who never considered attending a rally or sporting a MAGA hat, will they allow themselves to be abused in public by these self-appointed monitors of public discourse? If we assume Joe Biden is sworn in as president on January 20, dare we also assume he will make any effort to tame these violent fringes of the far left?

4. At The Washington Times, Joseph Curl reports on Barack Obama’s continued America-bashing. From the article:

Mr. Obama’s dim view of America is mirrored by former first lady Michelle Obama. As her husband wrapped up the Democratic nomination in 2008, she let fly her real feelings: “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” Until then, she apparently was not a fan.

Of course, The Washington Post loved Obama’s new America-bashing book, offering this insight in a piece by Eugene Scott.

“To some pundits, the election of a Black man signaled the beginning of a post-racial America. But Trump’s election signaled the exact opposite, and perhaps the beginning of an unapologetic embrace of White-identity politics that had not been seen at the top levels of government in decades. By calling it out directly, Obama could lead some Americans to entertain the idea — and perhaps do some self-reflection — that perhaps they would not have, had it come from any other person than one of the most popular politicians in America,” Mr. Scott wrote Monday.

Perhaps Mr. Obama — the first Black president in history and now worth some $40 million — will one day see himself as emblematic of America’s promise.

5. At Gatestone Institute, Con Coughlin reports on how the EU’s lax security empowers Islamic terrorists. From the beginning of the piece:

The latest wave of Islamist-inspired terror attacks to strike Europe has yet again exposed lamentable flaws in the ability of European security agencies to provide adequate protection for their citizens.

In all three instances — the attacks in Paris, Nice and Vienna — it has emerged that those held responsible for carrying out the attacks had links to global jihadi networks that went undetected by European security officials.

Moreover, the ease with which some of those involved in the attacks were able to travel freely across the continent has once more raised concerns about Europe’s lax border controls as defined by the European Union’s Schengen Agreement, and the ability of radicalised jihadis to exploit them.

In the most recent attack in the Austrian capital Vienna on November 2, it transpires that the 20-year-old gunman who killed four people and wounded 22 others before he was himself shot dead by police had travelled to neighbouring Slovakia in July to buy ammunition.

This was after the terrorist responsible for the atrocity, Kujtim Fejzulai, had been released early from prison in December after serving two-thirds of a 22-month term for trying to join ISIS in Syria.

6. At America, J.D. Flynn argues against the abortion alternative and tells of the joys and challenges of raising Down Syndrome kids. From the reflection:

But I have realized they are not unique because they suffer. They are unique because they do not hide suffering well. It does not occur to them that suffering might be secret or a source of shame. I mask anxiety with a veneer of confident affability. I know how to make it seem I am doing better than I am. I have picked up the idea that I should project strength, independence and poise.

My children have no such pretenses. They are exposed and vulnerable, and they challenge me to live that way. It rarely makes me comfortable. But I have found it often leads to real intimacy and authentic friendship.

My children do not exist to teach me lessons, but they have. They have taught me that it is a gift to spend time in the company of someone, with no thought given to the passage of time or the tasks to be completed. They have taught me that independence is a myth and interdependence a strength. They have taught me that love comes from seeing a person as they are and not from technocratic assessments of what they can do

7. At The College Fix, Ashley Carnahan reports on a Miami Law School professor who anticipates his demise because he refuses to apologize for pro-Trump social-media activity. From the article:

A pro-Trump professor at the University of Miami Law School said he expects school officials to fire him for his social media comments in support of President Donald Trump and his other comments on the 2020 presidential election.

Dan Ravicher, a law professor at the private university, recently came under fire for his tweets leading up to Election Day as well as his tweets in the subsequent days. Ravicher warned of potential protests if Trump won re-election and he also made comments about the voting patterns of African-American and Latino voters.

Now, Ravicher said that he believes he will be fired soon by the university.

“It’s all very ambiguous as a result of the university sending mixed signals,” Ravicher told The College Fix via Twitter messaging on Monday, in response to questions if there had been any disciplinary action taken against him and if he will be teaching in the spring semester.

A Dios

Prayers please for Hunter, Francesca, Gerald, and Valerie, all who are dealing with cancer and tumors. The cancers are aggressive and vindictive. The hosts are decent and dignified. Prayers too please for this institution, which has just marked its 65th anniversary. We here say our own, of thanks, for those who have stood by National Review through thick and thin, and quite frequently in the foxhole.

Between your receiving this and the next missive falls Thanksgiving.  Thank you Squanto! May yours be deeply meaningful, enjoyable, filling. Save Your Humble Correspondent a drumstick.

Would that Our Creator’s Divine Peace Descend on You and All,

Jack Fowler, a man with an email account of jfowler@nationalreview.com should you seek to correspond.

 

 

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