The Weekend Jolt

National Review

You Broke My Heart. You Broke My Heart.

Dear Kraut-Mick Weekend Jolters,

And all others. Of course Your Correspondent finds the Chris Cuomo diatribe of a troll irresistible. Not so much the diatribe but the claim that calling someone “Fredo” — the older irritated brother of questionable intelligence (“I’m smart. Not like everybody says, like dumb. I’m smart and I want respect!”) who was prone to dabble in familial treachery — was some obvious slur to Italian Americans.

Hey, assa me! Paisans and wanna-paisans, the charge that “Fredo” is an ethnic slur comes as complete news to this soul. “It’s like the n-word for us!” educated Chris.

Huh? Fact is, there is no “n-word” for us cousins of Amerigo Vespucci. Mamma mia what a contrivance!

Since the “Fredo” reference is birthed in The Godfather, Cuomo’s ethnic-victim tantrum immediately reminded me of Jack Woltz, the movie producer (brilliantly played by actor John Marley, in one of the film’s best small roles) determined to prevent “Johnny Fontane” from a career-reviving role. Don Corleone sends consigliere Tom Hagen to Hollywood to convince Woltz to do the Godfather’s godson a solid. Barely into their studio-lot conversation, Woltz barks at Hagen:

. . . Johnny Fontane will never get that movie! I don’t care how many dago guinea wop greaseball goombahs come out of the woodwork!

Hagen’s emotionless interruption to that insult cluster bomb — “I’m German-Irish” — proved one of moviedom’s greatest set ups. Woltz, not missing a beat, editing on the fly, rendered the epic response:

Well let me tell you something, my kraut-mick friend, I’m gonna make so much trouble for you, you won’t know what hit you!

That is professional-grade, creative, on-a-dime-vectoring slurring. Watch the scene here. (You’ll have to look elsewhere for Khartoum’s noggin.) Anyway, Assa Me Truly found the instant ferocity and improvisational talent of Woltz akin to Cuomo’s creativity — conjuring up on-the-spot a factoid, that Fredo equals n-word — and to the CNN anchor’s Defcon One threatening of his troll: I will f***ing ruin your sh** followed by a promise to toss the f***ing punk down the stairs.

Happily: Some NRO writers weighed in on the subject of contrived Italian-bashing. See below. They are but two of the many links that will escort you to tremendous NRO pieces published this past week. Abbondanza! Or as Granny used to say, and I repeat it here phonetically, mangia fai grossa. Which was her way of saying, dig in. But first . . .

Celebrate the Buckley Legacy

On October 30 in Palm Beach, National Review Institute will be holding its Sixth Annual William F. Buckley Jr. Prize Gala, which will honor Rush Limbaugh and Gay Gaines for their efforts and service on behalf of our beliefs, and for their conservative leadership. This will be a particularly special night, so do join us. Consider being a dinner sponsor: Get information here.

Momma Has Set the Table, and You Had Best Take A Heaping Spoonful from Every One of the Fifteen Lip-Smacking Courses or She Will Not Be So Happy

1. Fredo-n’t One. Our new Collegiate Network fellow, William Nardi, calls bullashoota on Chris Cuomo’s claim that “Fredo” is an insult — “N-word” class — of Italian Americans. From his take:

Even the most derogatory term for Italian Americans, “Guido,” shouldn’t be considered the Italian-American equivalent of the N-word. Without question, Italians faced persecution when they first immigrated in numbers to America, but they weren’t enslaved or subject to the indignities of formal segregation either. The suffering isn’t comparable. Wikipedia, which accepts suggestions from its users, lists eleven other slurs besides Guido: Dago, Eyetie, Ginzo, Goombah, Greaseball, Greaser, Guinea, Polentone, Terrone, Wog, and Wop. None of these are nice. None of them are equivalent to the N-word.

I’m half Italian, and despite growing up in an Italian-American community, I’ve only ever heard a handful of these terms. Which tells us something: The prejudice against Italian Americans does not persist in any meaningful way. For years, Italian Americans were “portrayed in parts of the media as ignorant, insular, superstitious, lazy, prone to crime, ignorant of the law, ignorant of democracy and prone to righting wrongs with personal vendettas and acts of violence,” writes Christopher Woolf for Public Radio International. “Police arrest records indicate nothing unusual in the number of Italians involved in crime. And yet they faced discrimination in housing and employment, police brutality and so on.”

The issue was that 80 percent of immigrants were from impoverished Southern Italy and Sicily, and only 50 percent were literate. Men came to find work with the hope of returning to buy their own farm back in Italy. Those who stayed eventually learned to fit in and had kids.

2. Fredo-n’t Two: Joseph Loconte finds a lot of stunad in Cuomo’s bogus slur-claiming. This is a wonderful read. From his piece:

And there is the lyrical mezza stunad, a Loconte family favorite. It is derived from the Italian stonato, “out of tune.” It means you have your head in the clouds, or you’re not paying attention to reality: “Hey, mezza stunad, you walked right past me and didn’t say hello.”

My father was born in southern Italy, near Bari, and my mom’s family (Aiello) emigrated from an island off the coast of Naples, and so these were everyday expressions in the Loconte household.

I should add that throughout the years of the Clinton administration, my father became very fond of the word bugiardo, which means liar. Which brings us back to Chris Cuomo. There is nothing racist about being called Fredo. It means you are dimwitted and insecure, if sometimes well-intentioned. It was a lie to pretend otherwise — a race-baiting slander that has become the immoral reflex of the disciples of modern liberalism.

Although Cuomo has shown a glimmer of regret for his unhinged, violent outburst, he has revealed himself fully for what he has long appeared to be: a teppista, a thug in a thousand-dollar suit. Cuomo is the ugly embodiment of what is happening in elite circles in America — in politics, in the academy, entertainment, and journalism. Rational debate is being replaced by self-righteous rage, the citizen displaced by the stormtrooper.

Fredo, in fact, would be an improvement.

3. John Hirschauer body-slams Wokeservative Max Boot for another of his Washington Post columns that fan the flames of racial hatred, claiming whites have no grounds for making any complaints for . . . anything. From John’s piece:

Boot’s central contention is that whites in America are beset with a victimhood mentality, one that “can justify everything from a public temper tantrum to a shooting spree.” In the wake of the El Paso tragedy, Boot can make a plausible case that racial grievances (real and imagined) facilitate discord and violence, because, of course, they do. Instead, Boot denounces white-grievance politics (a politics well worth denouncing) while simultaneously granting other grievance groups a blank check to raid the expansive store of imputed guilt and collective punishment. As a matter of course, he favors any repatriation for injustices to which racial minorities and their ancestors may (or may not) have been subject — as long as it’s in an effort to “redress past wrongs,” as he puts it.

His ultimate prescription to the “white people” he instructs to “get a grip” is something like “Stop whining.” And that’s fine; we could certainly stand less whining in the United States. In effect, however, Boot sets up a Faustian choice for “white” readers: Side with the white supremacists and their detestable program, or sell your political soul to Max Boot and become one of the self-loathing whites so paralyzed by intersectional deference that they can hardly advance an argument without first reciting that neutered prelude: “As a straight, white, cisgender man with privilege, I . . .”

If Boot believes what he is saying — and I’m not sure he does — and assumes that “many” Trump supporters believe “that white supremacy is the natural order of things,” then he’d do well to provide them with a better set of options than white nationalism on the one hand and political impotence on the other. Surely there is a third way between a full-throated embrace of white identity and a supine adoption of the politics of self-hatred.

4. Of course Boot opened the Virtue Signal playbook and — aided and abetted by MSM fellow travelers — smeared Hirschauer as a “white supremacist.” John fired back. From his piece:

It only poisons public debate for Boot to pretend that any defection from his ex cathedra declaration of what constitutes a legitimate “attempt to redress past wrongs or foster equal treatment” is a form of white supremacy. No serious or respectable person has any objection to fostering “equal treatment” for all races and ethnicities, but there are basic political disagreements over what an “attempt to redress past wrongs” ought to look like. Should Cory Booker receive reparations from a first-generation Lithuanian immigrant? Should prospective Asian students be discriminated against in college admissions to increase the admission rates of black students? Will we demand that the descendants of American Indian slaveholders pay reparations, too? To assert that any disagreement with Boot on those questions reveals a “fear [of] losing [one’s] privileged position to people of color” or is reflective of white people’s broader “cluelessness” is to do an end-run around a sober argument about what the “redress of past wrongs” means. But I suspect that’s the point.

Mr. Boot proceeded to caricature my work in other places on Twitter. He called a piece that I wrote about the childless Candace Bushnell’s self-described loneliness an attack on “women who don’t produce babies.” The piece makes no such “attack.” It highlights and reflects upon Ms. Bushnell’s own sentiments about the loneliness she has found in her childless golden years. If that piece is an attack on all “women who don’t produce babies,” every critique of Max Boot must be a proximal attack on all men with self-important fedoras and a penchant for smearing their political opponents as racial bigots.

A category that is, thankfully, quite small. In fact, it is limited to Max Boot, who lately, to paraphrase the famous slam of Rudy Giuliani, argues with a noun, a verb, and white supremacy.

5. Dropping the Other Shoe: And then Charlie Cooke weighed in and lambasted Boot for his dishonesty and libeling. From his Corner post:

Those who wonder why so few writers are willing to pen long, thoughtful, descriptive pieces that grapple seriously with the opposing arguments and incorporate honest appraisals of what voters actually want need look no further than this incident for their answer, which is: because bankrupt toadies such as Max Boot use their work as launching pads for calumny. In a sensible world, the editors of the Washington Post would have looked at what Boot has tried to do over the last couple of days, and tattooed “hack” on his forehead. But we are not operating in a sensible world.

Boot’s approach over the last couple of days has not only been at odds with both honesty and honor, it has been at odds with the reputation he had developed as a serious and rigorous thinker. Such as it is, Boot’s newfound modus operandi works as follows: First, he scans entirely innocuous pieces for sentences that he can willfully misconstrue; second, he presents those misconstrued sentences as evidence of a deeper flaw with a person or outlet or institution; and, finally, he submits the conclusions he has drawn as confirmation of why he, Max Boot, convert to truth and light, is on the Right Side of History. Because Twitter is an echo chamber and the Post is one-tracked, he does this safe in the knowledge that those whom his mendacity incites to outrage will never read the primary sources he is corrupting — and that, if they do, they will never comprehend them.

And thus the feedback loop is completed. In return for being so flattered, Boot’s readers provide him with wild, conspiracy-laden confirmations that the target he has chosen is indeed perfidious — confirmations that allow him to backfill his story on the fly, to flesh out any subsequent columns he feels compelled to write on the topic, and to insist that any pushback he receives is affirmation of his original critique. By this discreditable process did Boot’s nasty little lie about John Hirschauer’s original criticism become first an “attack”; then a “white supremacist” or “alt-right” attack; then a sign of the institutional decline of a magazine he once admired; then a sign of how awful that magazine has always been; and, finally, an indictment of the entire conservative movement in America that is apparently worthy of a prime-time appearance on CNN. Would that Boot had a sober friend who, early in his spiraling, could tell him, “Max, you messed up here.” Evidently, he does not.

6. Various Dem prexy candidates are marking the Ferguson riots’ 5th anniversary by repeating the lie — blatant — that Michael Brown was murdered. David French takes on PolitiFact, gutless in its refusal to call out the Dems Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren) for lying. From his piece:

Let’s now turn to PolitiFact’s extraordinary analysis. It starts out promising, with an early confession that “in discussing the case with legal experts, however, we found broad consensus that ‘murder’ was the wrong word to use — a legal point likely familiar to Harris, a longtime prosecutor, and Warren, a law professor.”

But hold on, says PolitiFact, we shouldn’t necessarily be focusing on, you know, actual words. That could be problematic. No, really, that’s where this “fact-check” goes next:

That said, experts who have studied police-related deaths and race relations said that focusing too much on the linguistics in controversial cases comes with its own set of problems.

And what are those problems? Well, according to these “experts,” examining the “linguistic distinction” at issue feels “like an attempt to shift the debate from a discussion about the killing of black and brown people by police.” Consequently, “rather than discussing the need for de-escalation tactics and relations between police and communities of color,” the “experts” claim, “this has become a conversation about legal terms. Quite frankly, it’s a distraction that doesn’t help the discussion.”

And whose fault is that? It’s the fault of senators who didn’t just engage in “linguistic distinctions” but rather made legally and factually false assertions.

Don’t tell PolitiFact, however. It said that because “the significance of Harris’ and Warrens’ [sic] use of the word is open to some dispute, we won’t be rating their tweets on the Truth-O-Meter.”

7. Helen Raleigh bemoans Hong Kong’s tragedy. From her piece:

As Hong Kong is losing economic importance, Beijing has sought to exert a greater degree of control over the city, sending police from the mainland to Hong Kong to arrest city booksellers and a Chinese tycoon without regard for the city’s own judicial system. City authorities, meanwhile, have shown that they’re more than willing to suppress Hong Kongers’ freedom in order to please Beijing: Human-rights activists and foreign journalists, including Victor Mallet of the Financial Times, have been denied visas, while the city’s courts sentenced nine leaders of the last big protests, 2014’s Umbrella Movement, to prison. On the eve of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover in 2017, the Chinese Foreign Ministry declared “now that Hong Kong has returned to the motherland for 20 years, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, as a historical document, no longer has any realistic meaning,” essentially abandoning any pretense that they would keep the promises they made to Britain and Hong Kongers when the city was handed over.

In short, Beijing is no longer committed to the “One Country, Two Systems” framework. The extradition bill was a trigger and a final wake up call for Hong Kongers. Once Lam’s government showed that it had no interest in defending residents’ cherished political freedoms and independent judicial system, they knew that they had to act. What started as an effort to defeat the extradition bill has since turned into a broader anti-government protest movement that demands more political freedom, including universal suffrage. In a way, this is the protesters’ Alamo, their Battle of Thermopylae. They refuse to lose their freedom without a fight.

8. Whether or how the U.S. can help a post-Brexit U.K. — a matter which has great implications for Irish relations (which are a keen interest to many a Capitol Hill lawmaker) — is laid out by Chris Gavin in this worthwhile analysis. From the piece:

Regardless of whether Britain leaves the EU, and with or without a deal, peace across the island of Ireland and ongoing enforcement of the GFA remain essential. The PM recently made clear that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Britain will not enforce a hard border, border checks, or physical barriers; furthermore, he reiterated Britain’s commitment to the Union and the GFA, as well as a restoration of the devolved assembly in Belfast. The separatist Sinn Féin party, predictably, has called for a referendum on Irish reunification in the event of a no-deal Brexit, but no serious official thinks that no-deal could return Northern Ireland to The Troubles, the sectarian strife that plagued the region until the adoption of the GFA in 1998.

Unfortunately, Ireland and the EU have used the border question as a cudgel against London, insisting the backstop must stay in any withdrawal deal, and have used the specter of The Troubles to raise doubts even in Washington. Nevertheless, public support in Ireland for PM Leo Varadkar’s hardline Brexit stance has dropped dramatically, and senior officials in Dublin are similarly beginning to question his approach. Given this growing dissatisfaction and Ireland’s heavy economic ties to the U.K., the negative impact of a no-deal Brexit could force Varadkar and the EU’s hands over the backstop.

Ultimately, both Britain and the U.S. can take steps to allay some of the concerns over Northern Ireland and its role in trade negotiations. First, Britain’s new ambassador in Washington will have the ability to restructure the embassy’s operations in the U.S. The Irish embassy has been extremely influential on Capitol Hill, and the British should emulate Ireland’s impressive congressional engagement efforts to build enduring personal relationships with key members on the various armed-services, foreign-affairs, and trade-related committees. Along with frequent engagement by high-level British officials during visits to Washington, the embassy’s regular efforts to keep U.S. policymakers informed of goings-on in London could help reassure weary members of the U.K.’s commitment to the GFA and bolster Anglo–American legislative ties.

Second, since his appointment in 2017, U.S. ambassador to Great Britain Woody Johnson has been a strong advocate of U.S. interests in government circles across London and rural areas alike. The new British ambassador should take advantage of his/her new role and promote British interests across the U.S. Diplomacy should be more than just a heavy presence in Washington and New York. Frequent engagement across the country, from Phoenix to Philadelphia, can remind everyday Americans and government alike of Britain’s commitment to every facet of the special relationship.

9. Leftist Democrats are intent on exposing and vilifying conservative political contributors, and Jeremy Carl makes the case for why donor-privacy laws are more needed than ever before. From his piece:

But even disclosure of only the largest donors, bundlers, and fundraisers has underrecognized downsides. Democrats and Republicans alike have used big-money disclosure requirements to compile lists of politically active corporations and political-action committees, indicating that they had to pay up to play. At other times, nongovernmental organizations have culled lists of major donors to the opposition to send them threatening letters, an action similar to Representative Castro’s.

Such tactics are used most effectively against those supporting unpopular or controversial political causes — and the ability to preserve the privacy of supporters of such causes has long been legally recognized as a public interest. For example, in the unanimous decision in NAACP v. Alabama (1958), the Supreme Court upheld the NAACP’s rights to keep its membership rolls (and therefore its donors) private and to withhold them from the state of Alabama even in the face of a state subpoena.

In an excellent critique of disclosure laws in City Journal, Bradley Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and arguably the leading conservative scholar of campaign finance, argues that the fetishizing of disclosure “has added to a political climate in which candidates are judged by their funders rather than their ideas.” Furthermore, as Smith contends, the notion that these smaller donors “need to be publicly disclosed to prevent corruption is a proposition that can scarcely be stated with a straight face.”

Disclosure laws are particularly useful to punish those whose ideas differ from those of elites. Even though Proposition 8 (against same-sex marriage) in California commanded majority support from the electorate, several donors to the campaign for it lost their jobs when their donations were disclosed. None had given at a level at which they meaningfully affected the election. All had their personal privacy invaded when there was no compelling public reason for their political donations to be made public.

10. Clean and efficient: nuclear power is reliable, and, says Jonathan Lesser, needs to be embraced. From his piece:

That means the next hurdle is making the nuclear-power industry viable — a technological and political challenge. First, there is cost. Small modular reactors (SMRs), 50 megawatt (MW) in size, promise lower costs thanks to standard designs and modular construction. The most advanced design is by NuScale Corporation, which will provide a complete “nuclear plant in a box” (albeit a 76-by-15-foot, 700-ton box). The first NuScale SMRs are slated to be installed at the Idaho National Laboratory and operational by 2026. Small modular units, if successful, will be small enough to be installed as electricity demand increases, while avoiding the whale-like financial commitments of the current crop of 1,000 MW reactors.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, is permanent storage and disposal of spent fuel. For nuclear power to remain a viable energy technology, this issue must be addressed. In fact, 14 states, including many with nuclear plants currently operating or retired, have prohibitions or restrictions on construction of new plants until a permanent repository for high-level waste has been identified.

Nuclear-waste disposal is not a technological issue, as some critics contend. Rather, it is a political one. Spent nuclear fuel, which remains radioactive for thousands of years, can be disposed of safely. Finland has taken the lead on the issue and is constructing a permanent underground depository. The project has been supported by the government and, most importantly, by the local community. And for good reason. The science supports the safety of their approach. Spent fuel can be safely stored deep underground in stable rock formations, such as the granite bedrock in which the Finnish site is being constructed.

11. Michael Brendan Dougherty takes on the upscale-lefty wagon-circling over service jobs that attend to their particular lifestyles. From the beginning of his piece:

Do you have good help? Are you good help? In the past week, The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson wrote about the rise of “wealth work,” the explosion of service jobs in which a larger share of Americans help their richest neighbors look and live better. Thompson writes that there is “something queasy about the emergence of a new underclass of urban servants.”

The article occasioned a slight back-and-forth between policy gurus on Twitter. Marco Rubio’s chief of staff, Mike Needham, sardonically observed, “We are going to be so proud to leave our children a nation of manicurists, massage therapists, and barre instructors.” This led to some tut-tutting by liberal pundits who believed that Needham was disrespecting service workers. One former member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers retorted, “Children—would you rather teach barre, give therapeutic massage, or assemble screens on a line all day?”

In turn this led Oren Cass, a former Romney adviser and author of The Once and Future Worker, to respond, “It’s remarkable, the instinct to defend a labor market drifting toward service work for the rich. As I keep saying, the left-of-center won’t be vindicator of workers’ interests, its platform will be built around upper-class priorities and redistribution.”

Cards on the table: I’m with Needham and Cass. There’s nothing wrong with being a barre instructor. There’s nothing wrong with detailing cars. But we should be wary of the social and political effects of an economy that encourages the creation of these types of jobs instead of others.

12. Kyle Smith applauds lefty comic Ricky Gervais’s disdain for his co-ideologues’ penchant for jumping into the PC time machine in order to punish. From his analysis:

Gervais is an atheist, but even he takes note of how efforts to enforce dogma now come primarily from the woke and secular Left. “If you say the wrong pronoun it’s a blasphemy. . . . They stick ‘phobia’ on the end of a word and then you’re racist if you don’t agree with an idea. It’s like me getting offended by someone making fun of maths. Doesn’t change it. Science doesn’t care about your feelings.” He sounds a more optimistic note than I would about where all this is heading when he avers that we’re coming out of the Dark Ages of wokeness: “There are blips, but I think truth is too strong in the end.”

I’m not convinced there’s much of a market for blunt truths anymore, but I’m grateful that there are comedians such as Gervais who are willing to tell it.  Intermediaries are making it difficult, though. He made The Office for the BBC, but he detects a chill in the air at the Beeb and elsewhere. He says broadcasters are “scared of saying something that offends anyone. So they don’t defend it, they just go, ‘Don’t do that.’” When Gervais explains the joke to them, “they go, ‘Yeah, but we’ll have to write letters and people will think we’re bad.’ So it’s not what’s right and wrong anymore, it’s, ‘Ooh, I don’t want to write any letters.’” So maybe the Dark Ages aren’t exactly ending. “They’re winning,” Gervais says. “The people who bully people, saying ‘you can’t say that,’ they’re sort of winning. Because a lot of people go, ‘Oh, I’m not going to say it anymore; my wife’s scared to go out.’ And that’s like terrorism, it’s verbal terrorism.”

13. More Kyle: He has nice things to say about The Peanut Butter Falcon, which stars Zack Gottsagen, striking a blow for our Down Syndrome brothers and sisters. From the review:

Though this is a formula picture that occasionally ventures into hokey territory (notably in its climactic moments), it’s engaging and warm throughout. The odd-couple road movie is one of many sturdy formats in which the major Hollywood studios have lost interest, but as with other genres (such as soapy dramas and rom-coms), low-budget indie filmmakers have filled the gap. The main difference is that such movies no longer command large marketing budgets, so they may escape your attention.

As its mismatched pals splash through the tidelands, The Peanut Butter Falcon fairly glows with local color and oddball characters, such as the blind backwoodsman who first threatens to shoot the boys but then gives Zak a full-immersion baptism to underline his rebirth away from his minders at the nursing home. All he wants is a little help finding his way to a training camp run by his professional-wrestling idol, Saltwater Redneck (Thomas Haden Church), whose routines he knows from ancient VHS video tapes. Bonding drunkenly with Tyler over a campfire, Zakc dreams up his pro-wrestling persona: Peanut Butter Falcon. Zak has never learned to swim, but that’s because he has simply never been taught that, or much of anything else.

The subtext is the shameful way people with DS have been dismissed or abandoned, sometimes in the name of protecting them. Zak’s caregiver from the nursing home, Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), tracks him down with the best intentions, but she is the personification of the smothering embrace of the feminine, the maternal, and the statist instincts, the impulse to bubble-wrap everyone, especially those labeled vulnerable. When she catches up to Zak, she fusses with his shirt, to Tyler’s disbelief: “He can put his own shirt on, he’s 22 years old,” Tyler says, not mentioning that thanks to him, Zak also has learned to handle a shotgun.

14. Armond White finds Good Boys an act of confused adolescent smut-peddling by Hollywood hipsters. From his review:

Good Boys is a step down from Freaks and Geeks and Superbad (the latter recently celebrated in a Times lifestyles piece), differing mainly in the title’s half-baked profession of innocence. Max, Thor, and Lucas talk like the most obnoxious children (“We’re not kids, we’re tweens!”). Actually, they’re the worst example of media brats — pop-culture sponges who can’t comprehend the meaning of what they soak up from Fake News and Public Service Announcements, which amount to the same thing thanks to the media’s social engineering.

That’s the film’s conceit, revealed as writer-director Gene Stupnitsky and co-screenwriter Lee Eisenberg listlessly present the boys’ run-on malaprop gags, especially by flaunting the outrageousness of children dropping the F-bomb, eagerly imitating teenagers who are titillated by hip-hop obscenities. Yet these tweens are also confused by the culture’s mixed messages. (“You should never call a woman a ‘skank’!”) The irony — or hypocrisy — starts with smut-peddlers Stupnitsky, Eisenberg, Rogen, and Goldberg always trading on immaturity and irresponsibility. (They also shamelessly steal from Eddie Murphy’s hilarious highway sprint in Bowfinger, betting on the audience’s cultural ignorance.)

These Hollywood hipsters have the gall to sentimentalize their impudence: The Bean Bag Boys are ethnically diverse, like an Animaniacs version of the Freaks and Geeks cast; they’re intimidated by bullying; sensitive to the specter of parental divorce; and constantly perplexed by influences they don’t understand. The film begins with a choice anachronism: As Max prepares for a moment of juvenile self-abuse, the soundtrack blasts Chakacha’s 1970 soft-core moaning disco “Jungle Fever” then shifts to modern trap music, Lil Pump’s “Multi Millionaire.”

15. Thomas Massie and John Lott take big issue with “red flag” laws being recommended in the wake of recent mass shootings. From their analysis:

During the first nine months after Florida passed its red-flag law last year, judges granted more than 1,000 confiscation orders. In the three months after Maryland’s law went into effect on October 1, more than 300 people had their guns confiscated. In one case in Arundel County, a 61-year-old man died when the police stormed his home at 5 a.m. to take away his guns. Connecticut and Indiana, which have had these laws in effect for the longest time, have seen increasingly large numbers of confiscation orders.

Little certainty is needed. Initial confiscations often require just a “reasonable suspicion,” which is little more than a guess or a hunch. When hearings occur weeks or a month later, about a third of these initial orders are overturned, but the actual error rate is undoubtedly much higher. These laws make no provisions to cover legal costs, and many people facing these charges do not retain counsel.

These laws let the government take firearms away from people who are arrested but not convicted of crimes. Even simple complaints without arrests have been enough. That is quite a violation of due process, and hopefully the courts will strike down this provision. Gun-control advocates have resisted making this rule explicit in the laws, presumably out of fear that it would create problems in the courts, but presentations before the State Uniform Law Commission make it clear that these actions are quite common. Also, courts frequently take into account other factors, such as gender and age, in predicting the chances that someone will commit a crime or commit suicide. This can be seen as a discriminatory practice.

It has always been possible to take away someone’s guns, but all 50 states have required testimony by a mental-health expert before a judge. Under red-flag laws, however, expert testimony will no longer be used. Gun-control advocates argue that it’s essential not even to alert the person that his guns may be taken away. Hence, the 5 a.m. police raids.

About Next April

Hey, you: Come on the NR 2020 Rhine River Cruise. You’ll find tutti informazzione here. And share no acida about bogus Italian.

Andy’s Book Opens Big, and Rush Limbaugh Sings Its Praises.

Andy McCarthy’s new book, Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency, saw its official publication this week, and the book has roared to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list. On release day, Rush Limbaugh spent a lot of time discussing the book. Here’s a slice from the transcript:

But let me tell you what’s unique about this one, ’cause I just told you there have been a lot of books about. I’m not saying that those previous books missed the point. They all had their own premise. They all had their own objectives. This context — the context of Ball of Collusion — is something that I haven’t seen that book yet. It starts with the premise that Obama politicized the intelligence agencies of this country, that Barack Obama and the hierarchy of his administration politicized law enforcement for eight years.

McCarthy demonstrates that none of this could have happened were it not for figures in the Obama administration, high-ranking figures in the Obama administration. This was the politicization of the Department of Justice by a sitting president of the United States. So why should anyone be surprised that they needed to manufacture a political narrative based on cooked-up intelligence and oppressive law enforcement processes? They had to do what they did.

There was no evidence! There was no evidence ever suggesting Trump had ever colluded with Russia, and yet look what happened: 2-1/2 years every day in the shameful New York Times, the incompetent Washington Post, not to mention all the cable networks spreading one lie after another in the form of anonymously sourced leaks “from current and former government intelligence officials,” “former and current law enforcement government officials,” what have you. The media was complicit in this.

The media knew full well what this was all about, and the media became active participants in it rather than unattached agencies doing actual journalism. They needed to manufacture a political narrative based on made-up intelligence, based on oppressive law enforcement processes, and they didn’t think twice about doing it. They never had a single doubt. This was the overall weaponization and the politicization of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice and intelligence agencies for the express purpose of overturning the results of an election that was legal and duly constituted in 2016 — starting from the beginning.

Leaving no stone unturned and answering every question you would have. You ever read a book and an allegation is made or a point is made, and you have a question about it? “Where would that coming from?” Every question that you ask, every question that will be raised reading in this book is answered in this book. It is meticulously footnoted, meticulously evidentiary. It leaves nothing to chance and nothing to doubt. But the most important thing about it is that it is readable.

It’s not esoteric, and it’s not published for a select few who have a certain level of legal or law enforcement background. It’s written for everybody to be able to understand it because it is paramount that this not happen again. It’s paramount that the American people learn exactly what happened here, how it happened, why it happened, who was responsible for it in hopes that it never does happen again. Even though it is continuing to this day with these ginned up so-called impeachment hearings that Nadler has admitted are taking place now.

Related: We’re celebrating Andy Week with book excerpts. Here’s one: Hillary Ruins the Plan.  Here’s another: A Brief History of Election Meddling. And here’s another another: The Election Is Legitimate Only If the Democrats Win.

The Six

1. In The National Interest, Mark Rosen finds a cold setting for the Cold War. From his piece:

The Arctic is a growing market for bilateral economic activity but worldwide trade is growing rapidly between Russia and China. In June 2019, Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin signed deals valued at US $20 billion in various sectors including nuclear power, hi-technology, e-commerce, 5G communications, etc. This came on the heels of a more than 20 percent increase in bilateral trade in 2018 and projections by the Chinese Commerce Ministry assert that bilateral trade will increase to over US $200 billion per year. A large portion of that increase will almost certainly involve Arctic natural resources.

What should be of greatest concern to U.S. and allied navies are recent reports of Russian requests that China help finance and develop Russian ports and infrastructure along its Northern Sea Route. These press reports are fully consistent with China’s unabashed discussion of China’s wishes to “work with all parties to build a “Polar Silk Road” by “encouraging its enterprises” to “participate in infrastructure construction” for polar routes, including (by name) the Northwest Passage (NWP) and NSR. There have also been sporadic reports of China expressing an interest in developing the route and some Canadian academics have been promoting it as a way to jump-start the route’s commercial viability.

The implications of China owning a large “stake” in what will likely become strategic Arctic waterways is concerning since China could use its economic leverage to deny passage to U.S. or allied ships or those ships that threaten its interests. To be clear, this has not happened and China has not declared that this is one of their strategic goals; but, money talks! It is also not that far-fetched for China to use its investments along these routes as the premise for building or financing ports and infrastructure. According to Becker, Downs, et. al., this nationalist investment pattern has followed in South Asia and West Africa with mostly State Owned Chinese Enterprises (SOEs). With those actions (commercial on their face) came the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, which began using the facilities to support their vessels’ routine deployments and also started threatening those that might interfere with China’s right to make investments and use military force to protect Chinese nationals and their property interests. China’s July 2019 white paper, “China’s National Defense in a New Era,” makes very clear that it will develop bases and overseas logical facilities to address current “deficiencies” in the ability of the PLA to protect its citizens residing overseas and their interests (including commercial enterprises). By contrast, the U.S. National Security Strategy (December 2017) and the National Defense Strategy (2018) are silent on the point of whether U.S. defense investments and military power will be used to protect U.S. citizens abroad or U.S. overseas commercial investments.

2. Better watch what we say on the NR cruise: at Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman reports that free speech is being strangled in Canada. From the piece:

Canada already has hate speech laws in its criminal code, according to which anyone who publicly “incites [or willfully promotes] hatred against any identifiable group” commits an indictable offence”. The “identifiable group “includes “any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability.” Section 318 prohibits advocating or promoting genocide.

To some, however, the criminal code on hate speech is apparently not enough. In June, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, in a report titled “Taking Action to End Online Hate,” recommended that the Canadian government establish a “civil remedy” for those who claim that their human rights have been violated. After hearing a large number of witnesses, the majority of the Committee suggested that Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act – or something similar to it – be reinstated.

Section 13 was a very controversial provision, repealed in 2013 under the Stephen Harper government after being criticized by free-speech advocates for enabling censorship on the internet. Section 13 stated that it was discriminatory for people to communicate via computer or on the internet “any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination”. [Emphasis added]

3. Peter Wood reflects on Myron Magnet’s book, Clarence Thomas and the Lost Constitution, for The University Bookman. From the review:

A significant stretch of Magnet’s short book is a chapter—“Who Killed the Constitution?”—that provides deep background on how the U.S. Supreme Court, step by step, shifted from interpreting the Constitution to what we laymen might call making stuff up. No doubt it is more complicated than that. Making stuff up usually involves a lot of dignified chin pulling and circumnavigation of common sense. And making stuff up isn’t some newly discovered human faculty that emerged on Woodrow Wilson’s birthday or when Justice Owen Roberts weighed FDR’s Court-packing plan and decided he liked the extra-Constitutional New Deal just fine. Making stuff up is what powerful, self-interested people always do when they can. Absent a strict division of legislative, executive, and judicial powers and a system of checks and balances, rule by fiat is inevitable.

Magnet takes us back to the post-Civil War era during which the Supreme Court eviscerated the Fourteenth Amendment in its Slaughter-House Cases (1873) and Cruikshank decision (1876). The Slaughter-House Cases stripped Southern blacks of most of the civil rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. It did so by “interpreting” their rights as citizens to be only their rights under federal law, and excluding their rights under state law. The individuals who brought the case lived in New Orleans, which allowed Louisiana to return its black citizens to a position of peonage. In the Cruikshank case the Supreme Court allowed the perpetrators of a racial mass murder (the Colfax Massacre) to walk away scot free because the Court interpreted the Bill of Rights as only guaranteeing that the U.S. Congress wouldn’t abridge those rights. But if Louisiana wished to abridge them, so be it.

Step by step, the Supreme Court created the tools that allowed the South to unwind the Constitutional protections created by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, thus bringing Reconstruction to an end. Magnet doesn’t allow indignation to get in the way of his building out the story of the Court’s transgressions. His prose is mercifully free of the muse of crankdom that dooms so many attempts to explain the errant ways of the Court from the New Deal through the Warren years. A cool head makes this chapter a perfect set-up to explain Thomas’s unusual jurisprudence.

4. A British university is banning meat in order to fight climate change, but The College Fix wonders, with sarcasm, why stop at rib roasts? From the editorial:

Shoes. Shoes, when you think about them, are rather unnecessary. Human beings already come pre-built with shoes—they’re called feet. There’s no reason we need to use up precious fossil fuels manufacturing these redundant consumer goods. Any shoes that make it onto campus should be burned. If students truly feel they need feet covers, they can be issued a complementary set of post-consumer 100 percent recycled brown paper bags, as well as several hanks of twine for tying them around their ankles.

Knives and forks. Flatware makes up a considerable amount of the dirty dish stream in dining halls. But—again—human beings already possess these devices: They’re called hands and fingers! Indeed, your human appendages are better tools for eating than a flimsy piece of fashioned metal could ever hope to be. All flatware should be decommissioned, smelted and re-cast into a statue commemorating the unjust colonial expropriation in which all universities are complicit. Anyone caught bringing personal flatware onto campus should be sentenced to thirty years hard labor.

5. Hokey, Not Hokey: College-freshman orientation is a woke-athon on many a campus. At The Federalist, Penny Nance describes what she saw of her son’s official howdy-do this week at Virginia Tech. From her commentary:

What followed went from slightly bothersome to downright alarming. The college filled the next two hours with speaker after speaker who introduced themselves with not just their names and titles but also preferred pronouns — as in, “Hi my name is Penny Nance, and I identify as she and her.” At first, parents were slightly surprised; by the end, they were mad.

Every person on the stage looked exactly as you would expect them to identify. At that point, I noticed all the new students’ badges contained not just their names but also their preferred pronouns because the school had made it part of registration. The heavy-handed diversity lecture that followed seemed rather tame in comparison. Parents left the venue in shock. . . .

At one point, after dinner, they sent parents off to oblivious sleep while they lectured students on not making assumptions about each other’s gender or sexuality. Were they suggesting students ought to be fluidly “exploring” their gender and sexuality, as if it were some expected adventure? In the era of “Me Too,” that seems off message.

The school constantly defined and showcased identity group politics, but certainly not all identities. It’s apparently way cooler to be a minority trans woman with food allergies than simply to be an American college student. Interestingly, the university offered Halal food but no certified kosher meals. Religiously observant Jewish students, tough luck, but if you are vegan, you’re in business.

6. In Modern Age, Glenn Ellmers assesses the state of the battle for America’s soul. From his essay:

The two most obvious targets for whittling down the oligarchy’s haughtiness are social media and the elite universities. Facebook, Google, and Twitter have become shockingly open about their censorship of conservative viewpoints. The Ivy League and its companion schools such as Stanford and the University of Chicago provide the credentials, indoctrination, and network of connections that support the regime’s singular claim to rule: the supposedly objective—but in fact deeply illegitimate and self-interested—authority of specially trained experts.

The power of technology and education to cultivate loyalty to the regime is perhaps a more potent force even than the vast bureaucracy of the government. No corrective action can hope to succeed without bringing under prudent direction the technological innovation that Aristotle warned against, the Founders too blithely accepted, and the Progressives endorsed. Likewise, education—to which Aristotle devotes the entire last book of the Politics as “the object above all” for a healthy polity—must be wrested back from the control exercised by the left ever since John Dewey penned Democracy and Education in 1916.

Thinking like traditional conservatives rather than Aristotelian legislators, some on the right will bristle at such interference in “private” institutions. But these entities long ago ceased to operate as merely private agents; they are political actors, serving political agendas as the propaganda and ideology arms of the regime. We can—to satisfy the sticklers for the letter of the law—observe some legal niceties for now. The social media companies are natural monopolies akin to public utilities; and their terms of service abuse traditional contract law. (Why can Twitter, for example, use arbitrary standards to destroy the content I created by deleting my account without warning?) The universities rely heavily on federal funding, which creates an obvious opening that the Trump administration, to its credit, seems to be using to protect freedom of speech.

Baseballery

Baseball’s rhetoric unfolds over the years. High heat, dingers, gone yard, and such were terms likely never heard by Babe, Lou, and Ty in the era of can of corn and the eephus pitch and folly floaters. Never heard in the youth of Yours Truly was “walk off.” Normally a new baseball phrase or obsession (bat speed!) gets the curmudgeon juices flowing, but this one is actually a good term: It 1) describes a worthwhile fact that 2) contains inherent drama and the fulfillment of dreams. What little guy didn’t imagine swatting the come-from-behind game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth?

Of course, if your team is on the losing end of that drama, the dream is more like a nightmare. One week in 1961, the Minnesota Twins — newly resettled having shed its Washington Senators location and name — had a heap of them. Despite a great start to the season (the 18–14 Twins were in second place on May 20), by early August they were in 8th place, looking at 9th, and found themselves 20 games behind the league-leading Yankees.

Of which: Having dropped two games to the Orioles, the Twins headed to the Bronx, for a four-game series. The Walk Off gods were waiting.

On Friday night, August 2, before 24,109 fans in the House that Ruth Built, the Twins lost 8–5 in the bottom of the 10th when reliever Bill Pleis served up a three-run homer to Johnny Blanchard. The next day the Twins lost 2–1, albeit not via walk-off (though it was close: Mickey Mantle’s triple in the bottom of the 8th broke up a 1-1 tie.)

Then came three consecutive walk-off defeats. In Sunday’s doubleheader before a crowd of 39,408, the Twins’ Bill Tuttle broke up a 5–5 score with a 10th-inning solo homer off Whitey Ford, but Blanchard kyboshed a victory when he led off the bottom of the frame with his own solo shot to tie the knot again. It wouldn’t be broken until the Yankees batted in the 15th, when a bases-load ground ball by Yogi Berra handed the Bombers a 7–6 victory. In the nightcap, a single by the Yanks’ Clete Boyer secured another walk-off win, driving home Mickey Mantle in the bottom of the 9th to earn the Bombers a 3–2 victory, and a series sweep.

But the misery had one final chapter: Off to Boston the next day for yet another doubleheader, in the first game, the score tied at 4, with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, rookie Carl Yastrzemski singled home the winning pitcher, Mike Fornieles — who had doubled off Twins’ starter Don Lee. It was the Twins’ fourth walk-off loss in five games. Hard to have had a worse week.

A Dios

Do say your Hail Marys, but not while fishing in the middle of a lake with the enforcer of the brother you tried to have killed doing the rowing. That said, pray for a pal of NR now enduring grueling chemo. God’s will be done, of course, but shoot for stars and ask for a miracle.

God Bless You, and All Those You Love, and Even Those You hate,

Jack Fowler, who awaits your elaborations on (or direct descriptions as) insulti Italiani at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

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