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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Birdies Sing and Everything

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Looking ahead, and westward, Yours Truly encourages our Golden State friends, sun-kissed misses and all others, to whip out the calendar and pencil in some dates for the big shindigs National Review Institute is planning for the end of this month. Two of its most popular fellows — local boy Victor Davis Hanson and Bronx-bred Andrew McCarthy — will be featured in a trio of forums, in Newport Beach (June 24), Fresno (June 25, and actually, at the Harris Ranch in Coalinga), and San Francisco (June 26).

Andy will speak about the Mueller investigation — the topic of his forthcoming book Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency — which he has written about extensively over the past two years. Victor, whose 2019 book The Case for Trump ...

June 08 2019

VISIT NATIONALREVIEW.COM

Birdies Sing and Everything

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Looking ahead, and westward, Yours Truly encourages our Golden State friends, sun-kissed misses and all others, to whip out the calendar and pencil in some dates for the big shindigs National Review Institute is planning for the end of this month. Two of its most popular fellows — local boy Victor Davis Hanson and Bronx-bred Andrew McCarthy — will be featured in a trio of forums, in Newport Beach (June 24), Fresno (June 25, and actually, at the Harris Ranch in Coalinga), and San Francisco (June 26).

Andy will speak about the Mueller investigation — the topic of his forthcoming book Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency — which he has written about extensively over the past two years. Victor, whose 2019 book The Case for Trump has proven a big best-seller, will speak about the current administration from a classicist's perspective, drawing on Western literary and historical traditions to understand our contemporary politics.

Each forum begins at 5:00 p.m. with a welcome reception and registration, followed by the moderated discussion between VDH and Andy, and then . . . another reception, winding down at 7:30 p.m. But then that is followed by an exclusive dinner with our fellows for NRI event sponsors. Be one! Join us!

Get complete information here. And remember: This may also be your big opportunity to tell me to my face everything you can't stand about the Weekend Jolt.

Editorials

1. Tariffs come at a big price — to American consumers and importers. And, yes, exporters. We are critical of the Trump administration's call for sharp tariffs on Mexico. From the editorial:

A 5 percent tariff on Mexican goods would notionally amount to about $17 billion on U.S. imports from Mexico, touching everything from industrial components to fruit and crude oil. In reality, it is difficult to say how much money would be raised, because buyers respond to tariffs in unpredictable ways. In any case, many of those costs will be borne by American consumers and — this cannot be emphasized enough — American businesses that rely in some part on imported inputs. More important, it would cause uncertainty around a North American supply chain that has evolved organically over many years as the result of enormous investment by American companies and their business partners.

President Trump envisions a tariff that will potentially ratchet up to 25 percent.

The president here is unnecessarily complicating his own life. He has just overseen the successful renegotiation of NAFTA, which will be reconstituted as the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA). But that agreement has not yet been ratified — not by the United States, and not by Mexico. Imposing punitive tariffs over a policy dispute unrelated to trade five minutes after negotiating a new trade pact makes the Trump administration — and the United States — look like an unreliable negotiating partner. Mexico is not wrong to resent it, and even Trump allies such as Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) are against him on this.

2. Joe Biden, as a senator, was a consistent vote against the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions. In the last week, he has flipped on that. Then flopped, and then, reflipped. So much for personal conviction. We editorialize on the presidential wannabe's repugnant politics. From our editorial:

Biden managed to enrage pro-abortion and left-wing activists just before dashing the hopes of moderates. He raised the visibility of the issue of Medicaid funding of abortion — a policy American voters oppose 58 percent to 36 percent, according to a 2016 poll conducted for Harvard — before deciding to take the unpopular side. For all the confusion Biden caused about his own position, his caving sent a very clear message that pro-life Democrats and those with moderate views on abortion will not be tolerated in the Democratic party.

As a matter of policy, Biden's final decision to embrace extensive taxpayer funding for abortion is a moral disgrace. Before the passage of the Hyde amendment, Medicaid paid for an estimated 300,000 abortions annually. The Hyde amendment has saved the lives of more than 2 million human beings over the a last four decades, according to a recent study by the Charlotte Lozier Institute. An earlier study from the Guttmacher Institute found that where states use their tax dollars to fund abortion under Medicaid, women on Medicaid had an abortion rate four times that of women not on Medicaid. (In states that do not fund abortion, women on Medicaid were 1.6 times as likely as women not on Medicaid to have abortions.)

Twenty Rowdy, Relevant, and Rocking NRO Articles of Import and Intellect that Will Require Your Full Reading and Thereby Result in an Even Higher IQ!

1. YouTube gives conservative funnyman / wise guy Steven Crowder, targeted by Vox writer Carlos Maza, the Pontius Pilate treatment. Kevin Williamson explains the rage that has become part and parcel of American social media. From his essay:

The Crowder episode is not quite as dramatic as that, but it unfolded along the same lines. When Maza lodged his complaints about Crowder — whose actual offense, it should be noted, was occasionally vivisecting Maza's purported acts of journalism — the powers that be at YouTube did their best impersonation of Pontius Pilate. They found no fault in the man — or not fault sufficient to show he had broken the terms of service. Crowder's content "did not violate our Community Guidelines," YouTube said.

And then, predictably, it changed its mind and caved to the mob, "demonetizing" Crowder's programming. And YouTube amended its views: "Even if a creator's content doesn't violate our community guidelines, we will take a look at the broader context and impact, and if their behavior is egregious and harms the broader community, we may take action." Which is to say: It doesn't matter if Steven Crowder follows the rules if the mob hates Steven Crowder. Dennis Prager, a mild-mannered Jewish talk-radio host who does a weekly segment on happiness, has discovered the same thing: Because he takes a traditionalist view of family, religion, sex, and community life, his "PragerU" videos have been restricted on YouTube and removed by Facebook, while his advertisements have been prohibited by Twitter.

(These episodes of conservative-leaning writers and broadcasters making themselves highly dependent on the whims of California-based technology companies attest, I think, to the wisdom of National Review's business model.)

2. More Crowder: David French sizes up the options conservatives have if the movement wishes to end Silicon Valley's bias. From his piece:

But to say that there is no easy way to combat the challenge of social-media censorship is not to say there is no way at all. Persuasion, engagement, and market pressure are preferable to attempts to recruit the government to erode First Amendment protections that, in other contexts, stand as a firewall protecting conservative causes and conservative speakers from the emerging culture of coercion.

To rebuild a culture of liberty online, conservatives have to engage two audiences, first and most directly the small audience of men and women who hold the levers of corporate power. Do not presume bad faith. Do not presume that every key executive in every social-media company has closed his or her mind. In fact, we've seen persuasion work. We've seen accounts reinstated and apologies issued. It happens.

3. Want to get kidnapped? Try being a journalist in Venezuela. Annika Hernroth-Rothstein tells a terrible tale of what happened to her, just one of many stories of some brave souls trying to tell the world about the chaos created by Maduro and his regime of socialist thuggery. From her account:

It's explained to me that I will be left under Jorges's supervision and be allowed to spend three hours at my hotel, under constant surveillance by the armed men and their associates, in order to raise the $20,000 and wire it to an account that will be provided by the man with the braces. As a sign of good faith, $1,000 will be collected immediately upon arrival to the hotel and handed over at a drop-off point by José in one hour.

"Can I trust you? Is it wise of me to tie my fate to yours? I am doing this for you now but I need to know you understand the consequences." Francisco Jorges stares at me and I nod, once again, because I have no real words for what is happening.

When I get out of the car, the man with braces grabs my hand to shake it. "When you've done this, when the money is paid in full, you won't hear from us ever again — your problem is solved."

4. The "Frenchism" fracas / debate has led Matthew Continetti to map the Right, with its shifting 2019 boundaries. From his analysis:

Ideas matter. But the relation of ideas to political action is difficult to measure and often haphazard. The line between shaping a politician's rhetoric and decisions and merely reflecting them is awfully fuzzy. The conservative intellectual movement, in addition to generating excellent writing, has had seven real-world applications since its formation after the Second World War: originalism and supply side economics in the 1970s; welfare reform and crime policy in the 1980s and '90s; educational choice and reform over the last two decades; James Burnham's anti-Communist strategies that found expression in the Reagan Doctrine; and the counterinsurgency plan known as the "surge" that prevented the defeat of American forces in the second Iraq war. There have been other successes, for sure, but also plenty of setbacks. What's important to remember is that liberals as well as Republicans, conservative activists, and conservative intellectuals contested every single one of these policies.

The story goes that, for many years, American conservatives adhered to a consensus known as "fusionism." Economic and social conservatives put aside their differences. Freedom, they decided, was necessary for the exercise of virtue. The struggle against and ultimate defeat of the Soviet Union was more important than domestic politics or intramural disagreements. Conservative intellectuals eager to privilege either freedom or virtue like to attack this consensus, which they often describe as "zombie Reaganism." The truth is that the strength of fusionism always has been exaggerated. The conservative intellectual movement has been and continues to be fractious, contentious, combustible, and less of a force than most assume.

5. Michael Brendan Dougherty takes on classical-liberalism purists. From the beginning of his reflection:

Are classical-liberal principles sufficient for conservatives and their political action? Or are they insufficient? Do conservatives need to employ or cultivate something beyond them in politics? And what might that be? This is the heart of a debate running fitfully through the American Right. It's a debate that we've had before. But it's worth having it now, trying to depersonalize it, and moving forward.

First we have to clarify what we mean by classical liberalism. In the little series of essays, volleys, and personal attacks about the future of the American Right, there is a kind of intellectual shortcut at work. It goes something like this: The best of America's founding principles are modern Enlightenment principles, a body of thought that could be called "liberalism." And people who declare themselves classical liberals today, whether they be centrists who defend a "liberal world order" or libertarians and conservatives, are the true bearers of this tradition. One often hears them say that because the American Constitution is a liberal one, the work of conservatism is the preservation of a liberalism, "classically understood."

6. Frank Lavin looks dismally at the U.S.–China trade negotiations, and finds they offer nine lessons. Here are two:

Five. Communications and positioning drive behavior. When the U.S. publicly signals that progress had been made, we might see that as a sign of goodwill while the Chinese might infer that they could game the process. Their (inaccurate) conclusion: The U.S. was so wedded to an orderly finish that there was no chance Trump would respond as he did. Yet Trump had shown for over two years that he is not concerned about being a disrupter and he is comfortable with turmoil.

Six. Economic rationalism is subordinate to economic nationalism. Most or all of what the U.S. is seeking in these talks is in China's interest. Lower tariffs, more competition, reduced government subsidies, lower inflation. China frequently praises the value of market economics, but when it is asked to move in that direction, nationalism combines with bureaucratic inertia and fear of the unknown to dominate.

7. Helen Raleigh reflects on the 30th anniversary of the PRC's brutal Tiananmen Square crackdown. The Commies still continue to lie. From her piece:

On the fateful day of June 4, 1989, we woke up to the news that Tiananmen Square had been cleared out, without any official explanation of what had really taken place. In the following days, there were rumors about innocent people being killed in the square, but the government insisted that no one had died. People who participated in the protests were quietly being persecuted. Family and friends whispered that many university students who graduated in the summer of 1989 were sent to work in remote areas as a punishment for their participation in the protests. But the biggest question on the minds of everybody who wasn't in Beijing on that fateful day was: What truly happened in Tiananmen Square?

Only later, when I came to the U.S., did I learn the answer: Armed troops had fired indiscriminately on crowds made up of unarmed students and civilians. I saw photos, including the famous image of the Tank Man, a lone figure standing in front of rows of tanks. I read eyewitness accounts and news reports, and learned the estimated death toll was in the thousands. Thousands more were persecuted afterward. I was shocked and felt sick to my stomach.

8. More China, plus some Russia: Jim Geraghty looks at a new book by ABC's Jim Sciutto and finds a former Obama minion critical of his old boss's foreign policy. From the beginning of the piece:

At the end of 2011, Jim Sciutto moved to Beijing to become chief of staff and senior policy adviser to U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, after spending a decade as ABC News senior foreign correspondent. After his two-year stint in China, Sciutto returned to the world of journalism and was named CNN's chief national-security correspondent. This move from a position in the Obama administration to a major cable-news organization led to familiar complaints that Sciutto was biased, and that he would be unlikely to assess his former colleagues and bosses fairly.

But anyone who wanted Sciutto's new book, The Shadow War: Inside Russia's and China's Secret Operations to Defeat America, to offer a flattering portrait of the Obama administration will be deeply disappointed. In fact, anecdote by anecdote, chapter by chapter, Sciutto assembles a stinging indictment. (He's also not all that impressed with most of the Trump administration's moves, although he credits it for "aggressively calling out Chinese theft of U.S. secrets.")

It's easy to forget just how stubbornly naïve the Obama administration could be in its dealings, particularly with Russia. It began with Hillary Clinton's infamous "reset button" ceremony with Russian foreign minister Sergi Lavrov and continued with the president's 2012 debate comment that "the 1980s are now calling to get their foreign policy back, because the Cold War's been over for 20 years." Obama declared at the G-7 summit in 2014 that Russia was a "regional power" and that its territorial ambitions "belonged in the 19th century." But Obama's 21st-century worldview had no effective response to those ambitions.

The Shadow War isn't merely Sciutto's personal assessment. Many of the most stinging passages quote Geoffrey Pyatt, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2013 to 2016. Pyatt describes a meeting early in his time in that post with European Union official Stefan Rule during a conference in Yalta, Crimea: "It was the first time I had ever met him, and he came on very, very strongly and said basically, 'Where the hell are the Americans? Don't you realize that there is a great struggle that's going on right now to define the future of the European periphery? We need an engaged America.'"

9. A guy makes a goofy video about Nancy Pelosi, and the MSM police at the Daily Beast hunt him down, expose him, and proudly pound their chests. Rich Lowry sees shabby journalism at its 2019 best. From his new column:

Widely criticized for its decision to name the man — or in online parlance, "dox" him — the Daily Beast defended its story as a way to show "that disinformation isn't the purview of Russia alone." But who ever believed this?

The Left is so obsessed with the idea that Russia, after its desultory social-media campaign in 2016, pulls the strings of our democracy that it assumes every noxious piece of content on the Internet might have been cooked up in a Russian troll farm.

Even if it's relevant that someone in the Bronx rather than St. Petersburg produced the video, that didn't require naming the man — let alone citing an Instagram post of his using an abusive term to refer to a woman who allegedly kicked him on the subway, detailing his employment history, talking to his ex-girlfriend, or delving into his guilty plea to a domestic violence charge and an outstanding warrant for his arrest on a probation violation. (The man denies many of the details of the story.)

All of this was completely gratuitous. The balance, which any responsible publication should have considered, between the public benefit of naming the man (none) and the personal harm that might be done by naming him (considerable) isn't even close.

Of course, it matters that he is a Trump supporter. Outlets like the Daily Beast don't make a routine practice of hunting down trolls who are producing the vast sea of anti-Trump material online, because they don't consider spoofing or maligning Trump to be a threat to democracy or at all undesirable.

10. Cory Booker has a housing-subsidy proposal. And Robert VerBruggen exposes it for its stupidity. His analysis.

11. Joe Biden has a "Clean Energy Revolution" plan. Deroy Murdock looks at the price tag: It's $1.7 trillion. From his column:

Former vice president Joe Biden's Clean Energy Revolution exploded on the launch pad Tuesday. Large, now-attributed passages of his manifesto against so-called global warming initially were lifted from other publications. Biden's plagiarism recalled his flat-out theft of a speech by far-left British parliamentarian Neil Kinnock in 1987.

But Biden's plan is far worse than just partially stolen. It confirms that the "centrist" Biden is just another big-government leftist, hooked on high taxes and reckless spending.

Biden's Revolution is a $1.7 trillion tax hike. It enshrines his pitch to voters in South Carolina and elsewhere: "First thing I'd do is repeal those Trump tax cuts." Biden pledges to rescind the tax relief that has resuscitated U.S. industry, revived 3.2 percent GDP growth, and reduced unemployment to 3.6 percent and historical or near-record lows for blacks, Hispanics, and women.

After siphoning $1.7 trillion from America's productive sector, Biden would follow the liberal playbook: Assign Washington-based experts to redistribute this bounty more wisely and justly than the bedraggled American people ever could.

12. Percolating through the courts is a case with massive destructive potential, writes Joel C. Peterson: It's Love Terminal Partners v. United States, and when it comes to confiscating property, if you thought Kelo was bad, you ain't seen nothin' yet. From the analysis:

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution mandates that private property cannot be taken for public use "without just compensation." But this clause was eviscerated by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Love Terminal Partners v. United States, which held that any property not earning a current positive cash flow can be taken by the government without a dime of compensation. Unless this ruling is reversed on appeal, it will have a devastating impact on the value of millions of properties with excellent prospects for appreciation but no current tenants. And it will put all real-estate investments not earning money at risk of being stolen by the government.

The case has its roots in the Wright Amendment. This anti-competitive law was designed to protect Fort Worth's interest in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport by sharply restricting flights out of Love Field Airport in Dallas. Sponsored by the late House speaker Jim Wright, this artificial restriction on competition created a business opportunity at Love Field, where a group of investors poured millions of dollars into building a state-of-the-art air terminal. For a while, the investment paid off: The new Lemmon Avenue Terminal earned revenues from an anchor tenant, Legend Airlines, and from Delta Airlines. But Legend went bankrupt in 2000, just before the whole industry was devastated by the events of 9/11. Industry leaders American, Delta, and United subsequently declared bankruptcy, and eight legacy carriers became four.

13. Kat Timpf researches the researchers' research, and reports on the woke conclusion that Dodgeball is a form of oppression. From her article:

I know that these researchers would probably say that I just don't get it, that they're just smarter than I am, that I just haven't thought about it enough or learned enough. The truth is, though, there's a such thing as thinking about something so much that you lose track of how simple it really is in reality. Too much thinking can often make things more complicated than they really are, and this is definitely an example of that.

Yes, dodgeball encourages competitiveness. Yes, the stronger, more athletic kids are going to be more successful at it than the weaker ones, but what game doesn't have winners and losers? I mean, seriously, this is so ridiculous. If we thought about all children's games through this kind of social-justice lens, kids wouldn't be allowed to play any of them. After all, couldn't you say that a game like musical chairs just isn't "inclusive" enough, that it actually promotes exclusion? Couldn't you argue that games like tag and hide-and-seek encourage stalking behaviors? Or that Simon Says teaches women that they have to do what men say? Like, why isn't it "Sara Says," patriarchy?

14. Matt Continetti finds much to praise in President Trump's D-Day speech. From his piece:

The address deserves a wide audience not only for its content but also because it fits into the larger themes of this presidency. Speaking from what he described as "Freedom's Altar," Donald Trump once again made the case for reviving America's national spirit, sovereignty, and strength.

Trump told the story of D-Day and of some exemplary GIs before an audience that included more than 60 veterans of the landings themselves. Adding to the poignancy of the scene was the knowledge that the Greatest Generation is slowly fading into posterity. "When you were young, these men enlisted their lives in a Great Crusade — one of the greatest of all times," the president said. "Their mission is the story of an epic battle and the ferocious, eternal struggle between good and evil."

15. How I love ya, how I love ya, my dear old . . . Armond White sees the Tate Taylor-directed Ma as the kind of cliché black-mammy stereotype Hollywood would create, and that Tinseltown deserves. From his review:

Taylor, who directed the sickeningly sanctimonious The Help in 2011, doesn't seem to get that Ma operates as a black-mammy stereotype. It is played by The Help's hard-staring Octavia Spencer, first seen dressed in pink slacks and print scrubs, walking a three-legged dog from her job as a veterinarian's assistant. This perverse matriarchal figure turns mammy stereotypes upside down: Not benevolent in the Hattie McDaniel, Louise Beavers, Butterfly McQueen tradition, she's sneakily malevolent, a woman who takes service employment to mean subservient. And her resentment is lethal.

[John] Waters is so outré that he stays ahead of the progressive curve. He would understand Ma to be a comedy of revenge (like his slatterns in Female Trouble), while Taylor lags behind in Hollywood's race-and-gender sweepstakes and directs for pathos.

Spencer's post-Obama Mammy indulges the underage teens in her small town — buying liquor for them and inviting them to use her basement as a place to party. She concocts a scheme to get back at their parents who had, a generation before, subjected her to unforgettable humiliation. (And it continues when the circle of cruel, fickle teenagers text "Everybody block Ma for good!")

16. Kyle Smith praises Denis Do's animation film about the madness of communist Cambodia, Funan. From his review:

Funan is a human drama, not a history lesson, and yet Do nails both the specific and the general horror of collectivization. The Communist Party, Angkar (literally, "the Organization"), is on a demented crusade to create "new people" out of the Cambodian citizens. The family's Western-style clothes must be turned in and replaced by loose black unisex two-piece garments: the People's pajamas. "We're all the same now," a revolutionary says, exultant. Women's hair gets chopped off, and women and men work side by side in hard labor. Everyone lives off rice; to shake fruit out of a tree is to risk execution by the regime. The people don't dare eat the People's fruit.

The script doesn't attempt to capture the big picture of what happened in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, but by exploring a single family's plight as it gets sucked into the maelstrom, it makes for a profoundly insightful exposé of how collectivism actually works. Funan isn't merely first-rate for an animated movie, it's important by any cinematic standard, and implicitly it shames the world's leading film hubs for almost completely ignoring this bloody chapter in history. The Khmer Rouge killed, via starvation and mass execution, nearly a quarter of the population of their country. What has Hollywood had to say about this in the last 44 years? Well, there was The Killing Fields, back in 1984. That was pretty much it.

17. More Kyle: He . . . glows . . . about the HBO miniseries Chernobyl. It's a "brilliant" indictment of socialism. From the review:

I can scarcely praise Chernobyl enough. Creator Craig Mazin's five-part miniseries, which just wrapped Monday night, is a masterful suspense tale directed with nerve-shredding gusto by Johan Renck: a whodunnit looking backward in time as the characters try to figure out the cause of the 1986 catastrophe but also a mystery moving forward, as the specialists try to figure out how to save millions from dying. It's a terrifically stimulating lesson on the details of nuclear energy that artfully weaves in reams of expository and technical dialogue without ever disrupting the drama. Around the edges it courses with Kubrickian black comedy: The phrase "It's only 3.6 roentgens" ought to enter the language as shorthand for any absurd effort to downplay bad news. Chernobyl is an exceptionally compelling human drama: The soot-faced leader of a company of miners is an archetype for all of the brave and suffering working men down through the ages who have had to put their backs into the job of correcting mistakes made by their educated betters. The way Mazin distills the complexity of the situation into potent dialogue is a marvel. Overarching all of the above is Chernobyl's most vital quality: Its devastating exposure of gigantic political failure.

18. Even More Kyle: Ron Howard's documentary, Pavarotti, is "unspeakably beautiful." Mamma mia! From the review's conclusion:

Pavarotti developed a mania for charity and dragged U2's Bono with him. He demanded that the Irishman write a song for him and leverage it to benefit the children hurt by the war in Bosnia in the 1990s. Bono blanched at the prospect, plus he was busy recording in Dublin. Pavarotti kept calling. "Is God at home?" he would say. He chatted up the Italian housekeeper so she would hound Bono as well. "The technique is humility, which is of course a very mischievous trick," Bono recalls. Then the great tenor showed up on Bono's doorstep, with a camera crew, or rather, in Bono's words, a "f***ing camera crew." The resultant hostage-video style footage of Bono is priceless: He grudgingly commits to a charity performance with Pavarotti in the latter's hometown of Modena later that year. On, er, what date? "September 12," his captor dictates. "September 12," says Bono. The song finally created, by Bono and his fellow son of a tenor, the Edge, was the gorgeous "Miss Sarajevo," which uses Pavarotti's voice like an appeal from heaven.

As Pavarotti devoured life, however, he left some around him emotionally famished, and to Howard's credit he spends a considerable portion of the film weighing the damage of philandering. Adua Veroni, the tenor's wife from 1961 to 2000, reflects on dealing with Pavarotti's many affairs, and his children were aghast when he took up with Nicoletta Mantovani, a woman 34 years his junior. Yet towards the end there was reconciliation if not quite forgiveness. Terminally ill with pancreatic cancer, which claimed his life in 2007, Pavarotti explains his deepest regrets: He wishes he had been a good husband and father. A man who had millions in the bank and the adulation of the world neglected the most basic duties, and that's a life lesson as well.

19. Mexico, which promotes a liberal "asylum" policy, is in reality a free rider, says Mark Krikorian. From his piece:

Of course, Mexico has little incentive to agree to take back third-country nationals once they've crossed into the U.S.; in the game of asylum hot potato, we've lost. Hence the tariff threat, to try to change the Mexicans' incentives.

But as a matter of principle, the U.S. demand that Mexico sign a safe-third-country agreement is stronger than it looks. It's not just that Mexican authorities often look the other way — or even provide assistance — as hundreds of thousands of foreigners pass through its territory on the way north. Rather, the possibility of asylum in the U.S. serves as way for Mexico to avoid the consequences of its own very expansive asylum laws.

Mexico is a signatory to the 1951 Convention (and the 1967 Protocol, which expanded the refugee treaty from just Europe to the whole world). Under that treaty, the definition of a refugee is anyone outside his country who is unwilling to return because of a "well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion." This definition has been added to U.S. law.

20. A Dutch girl is brutally raped by two men. She becomes so depressed that she wants to die, and three years later, at the age of 17, with the complicity of her parents and doctors, she starves herself to death. This, write Maddy Kearns, is how the mentally struggling are treated in the Netherlands. From her commentary:

In her short life, Pothoven had endured horrific sexual abuse. In her award-winning autobiography, she explained that she was assaulted at the age of eleven and then raped by two men at the age of 14. After this, she developed depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anorexia. She underwent psychiatric treatment and attempted to take her own life multiple times. Pothoven told De Gelderlander of the "humiliating" and "degrading" experience of involuntary procedures.

None of this should be taken lightly. But neither should the fact that she was a deeply traumatized teenager who might have changed her mind, as teenagers often do.

One of the biggest objections to euthanasia is that, once you okay it in certain circumstances, it is very difficult to keep the gates "narrow." Those who seek to introduce assisted dying in Britain, for instance, argue that it ought to be for adults who are terminally ill. But in other countries this position was soon after extended to those who are chronically ill, or — as we have seen in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Holland — to children. Besides, what about the mentally ill? Or those who, after some tragedy or trauma like Pothoven, want to call it quits?

Critics often dismiss this "slippery slope" argument, suggesting that it is overwrought. It isn't. But to be fair, it is — or at least it should be — a secondary point. The primary objection to euthanasia is philosophical, not pragmatic: Absolute autonomy is not sufficient as a justification for state-sponsored suicide, because every member of society is inexorably connected. And so, when a given member desires to kill herself, much is at stake for all of us in how we respond.

Won't You Let Me Take You on a Sea Cruise?

Inspired by Frankie Ford, I want to urge you to join us this August, from the 24th to the 31st, on the National Review 2019 Canada/New England Conservative Cruise, a Montreal-to-Boston beaut that is going to be an amazing week of great sites and discussions of current events. Get complete information at nrcruise.com/canada.

While we've got water on the brain . . . how about a potential European riverboat charter? One is in the works: NR is looking to charter AMA Waterways AmaMora for an April 2020 journey from Basel to Amsterdam. We will be making a final decision on the trip on Friday, June 15, so there is still time be part of it. Get complete information and reserve one of the AmaMora's beautiful staterooms at nrcruise.com/rhine.

The Brand New June 24, 2019 Issue of NR Magazine Is a Treasury of Wisdom, and Here Are Four Precious Gemstones of Brilliance

The new issue sports a Roman Genn cover (it's been a while!) and numerous exceptional essays. We'll highlight these four:

1. Kevin Williamson's cover essay scores the Trump tariffs' blowback on American farmers. From his essay:

So, here's the thing about soybeans. Americans produce beaucoup soybeans. Brazil and Argentina, being in the Southern Hemisphere, produce gigantic crops in the U.S. off-season. China has a powerful hunger for soybeans, albeit a mostly indirect one. Two kinds of creatures walking this earth really like eating soybeans: pigs and hippies. Chinese people do eat soybeans, too, but what the nouveau riche Chinese palate has a real taste for just now is pork and, to a lesser extent, chicken. That's a pretty predictable thing following a pretty familiar pattern: When poor countries become less poor— though with a per capita GDP of less than $9,000 a year, down there with Cuba and Kazakhstan, China is by no means a rich country—the first thing the people usually spend their newly disposable income on is more and better food, which in much of the world means more and better animal protein.

The world is hungry for protein, and the American Heartland is the Saudi Arabia, the de Beers, and the Fire Creek gold mine of protein, including soy protein. Kevin Scott's soy protein comes out of the ground, goes into the hopper and then down to the silo, rides the rails from South Dakota to the Pacific Northwest or the Gulf of Mexico, is loaded into shipping containers or massive PANAMAX bulk carriers, some of which are specially outfitted for carrying grains or soybeans with their hulls sloped at 45 degrees to make stevedoring easier, and then continues on to ports around the world, Chinese ports such as those at Dalian and Nantong prominent among them. At some point along the way, the beans get ground into meal, and that meal goes into animal feed—down the gullets of Chinese chickens or, more likely, into the monogastric digestive tract of a Chinese pig. And thence into the butcher's case at whatever the Chinese answer to Piggly-Wiggly or Whole Foods or Albertson's is. That's what used to happen. That's what's supposed to happen.

And along came Trump.

2. Andy McCarthy gives chapter and verse about the bull doodie that is the main ingredient of Christopher Steele's infamous (shoddy!) dossier. From his analysis:

Nevertheless it's worth asking: Just how reliable was Christopher Steele?

Steele was a virulently anti-Trump partisan. The media Democrat encomia therefore hail him as a meticulous former British intelligence officer with a formidable record. So highly regarded was he that MI6 put him in charge of the investigation of the Putin regime's brazen murder in London of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian-intelligence operative who had defected to Britain. Less often mentioned is that Steele had been Litvinenko's handler when he was poisoned in 2006. Steele, we're further told, was so well connected that he was chosen to run MI6's all-important Russia desk. Well, yes . . . but he ran it from London. In the late Nineties, through no fault of his own, his cover in Moscow, along with that of scores of other spies, had been blown. When he was retained to pen the dossier reports, he hadn't been to Russia in nearly 20 years. His recruiter and collaborator was the self-professed "journalist for rent" Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter. Simpson had co-founded a so-called intelligence firm, Fusion GPS, which had been contracted to do anti-Trump research for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee by Perkins Coie, their law firm.

3. John J. Miller profiles the "Tea Party" governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, fresh from a tough GOP primary contest (he won) and heading into a reelection battle this November. From his piece:

Now Democrats are dreaming of a big upset in a deep-red state. If they can beat Bevin in November, they'll create a sense of momentum on the eve of the 2020 election. Kentucky is one of three states to elect a governor in the odd-numbered year before a presidential contest (the others are Louisiana and Mississippi). This quirk of the political calendar means that Kentucky stands to receive an outsized share of attention this summer and fall as reporters and pundits watch Bevin's race, pick apart what happens, and search for signs of what's to come. In a profession prone to gasbaggery, they'll gather a scarce resource: new data. On the night of November 5 and in the days that follow, they'll use it to opine on what the fate of Bevin reveals about the reelection prospects of Trump.

The political class may be especially disposed to overinterpret Kentucky's results in 2019, because four years ago it arguably underinterpreted them: Few saw Bevin's come-from-behind performance in 2015 as foreshadowing the surprise of Trump in 2016. "It's easy in hindsight to make these connections," says the governor on the short flight to Somerset. He ticks off the similarities: Like Trump, he has a background in business. He was running for what would become his first political office. Much of his party's establishment opposed him. Trump's campaign, he says, "was a scaled-up version of what I had done in 2015."

Whatever Bevin's story teaches about Trump, however, it may say even more about the future of conservatism at a time when the word's very meaning is up for grabs. His governorship has tested the viability of an agenda of labor-market and entitlement reforms, and his victory or defeat later this year will help answer the question of whether a tea-party upstart can shift from populist protester to accomplished government executive.

4. Viva Warren G. Harding! David Harsanyi uses the "Happy Warrior" column space to reflect on list-makers who love to rank presidents, and the qualifications they should use, but don't. From his column:

Take C-SPAN's Presidential Historians Survey, in which nearly 100 "historians and biographers" rated 43 presidents on ten qualities of leadership to tally their scores. The categories used in this pseudo-historical assessment—public persuasion, crisis leadership, moral authority, administrative skills, relations with Congress, vision and setting an agenda, equal justice for all—are all useful, but mostly political considerations.

It rarely occurs to our list-makers, it seems, that presidents can be supremely talented politicians, wielding power with great skill and gravitas, and still do great damage to the office and the nation. Never do these historians evaluate presidents on their most difficult, and often most precarious, political decision: not to use their power.

The president's charge isn't to create intergenerational welfare programs, or to placate journalists with platitudinous sound bites, or to engage in friendly bipartisan relations with Congress, even if those acts seem to be most admired by historians. The oath of the presidency doesn't even read "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and exhibit great moral authority."

Though, speaking of moral authority, the two top-ranked presidents are almost always Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, and really, who are mere mortals to quibble? After that, however, we see an unhealthy adoration of power, which speaks to a misunderstanding of the presidency itself.

Also in the issue: A special section on The Law, with pieces by David, who opposes federal district court judges making nation-binding decisions; Charlie Cooke, who writes on the liberal culture's growing antagonism towards free speech; Dan McLaughlin, who unpacks the Democrats' terrible idea of court packing; and Jonathan Adler, who attacks the High Court's horrendous Chevron precedent, which empowers the bureaucrat over the legislator.

The Six.

1. Father George Rutler, this side of the confessional, takes to Crisis to lambast the mendacity of public officials, focusing on presidential wannabe Kirsten Gillibrand, eager to rewrite Catechism. From his piece:

While experience cautions theologians against the quicksand of politics, politicians frequently rush into theological matters where angels fear to tread, as Senator Gillibrand did on May 29 in a broadcast on National Public Radio. She announced that the Church is wrong about abortion, same-sex "marriage," and the male priesthood. This puts her at odds with all the saints and doctors of the Church, and Jesus Christ. The latter sent his Holy Spirit on Pentecost to lead the Church into all truth, and it is hard to believe that he reversed himself in the recent years of our Republic. Since it is "impossible for God to lie" (Hebrews 6:18), the Lord would be at a disadvantage were he to run for the Senate from New York. This would be a trifling matter were it not for the fact that Senator Gillibrand tells Catholics that she is a Catholic. Nevertheless, she seems certain that the Church's teaching on essential dogmas are quixotic, as she put it: "And I don't think they're supported by the Gospel or the Bible in any way. I just—I don't see it, and I go to two Bible studies a week. I take my faith really seriously."

On various issues, Gillibrand has boasted about her "flexibility." This was evident in her positions on gun ownership. Running for Congress in 2008 from a district populated by hunters, she wrote: "I appreciate the work that the NRA does to protect gun owners' rights, and I look forward to working with you for many years." After enjoying a 100 percent approval rating from the National Rifle Association as a Representative, she became a supple Senator and soon switched mental gears, earning an "F" from that same NRA which she then described as "the worst organization in the country." Such flexibility reminds one of Ramsay MacDonald whom Churchill likened to the Boneless Wonder of Barnum's circus: "A spectacle too demoralizing and revolting for my young eyes."

This mendacity became bolder on June 2 in a televised Fox News "town hall" forum when she said that "infanticide doesn't exist." Thus she ignored the "late-term" abortion bill signed by Governor Cuomo on January 22, as he sat next to a smiling Sarah Weddington, counsel to the lying, and later repentant, plaintiff in the Roe v. Wade case. In his own Senate days, Mr. Obama led the way as a paladin of infanticide. The Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, who knows what he is talking about as a pediatric neurologist, admitted with insouciance: "If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother."

2. At Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh exposes the Iranian–Palestinian plan to hamstring President Trump's efforts at a Middle East peace conference. From his analysis:

As the US administration prepares to roll out its long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East, also known as the “Deal of the Century,” Iran appears to be increasing its efforts to help its allies in the region try to thwart the plan.

Recently, Iran seems to have stepped up its political and military support for radical Palestinian groups that are staunchly opposed to any peace agreement with Israel. These groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, do not recognize Israel’s right to exist and are publicly committed to its destruction and replacement by an Iranian-backed Islamic state.

Iran, of course, has long shared the same ambition of destroying Israel and has never hesitated to make its position known to the world. In several statements during the past few decades, Iranian leaders have been frank about their wish that Israel be “a one-bomb country.”

3. At College Fix, Christian Schneider checks out the very active doings of the Speech Police at the University of Illinois. From his report:

But while many universities have bias response teams, what seems to set the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana apart is that its team has a sort of punitive arm to it, the lawsuit alleges. Many campus officials who run the bias response teams say they simply collect the data, but UICU appears to take it a step farther by either foisting educational conversations on students or barring them from talking about certain subjects or even contacting other students.

Among bias complaints fielded during the 2017-18 school year, Resident Assistants reported that they saw the word "retarded" and a drawing of a penis on a bulletin board while they did rounds. In response, there was a floor meeting and a floor email about this incident.

In another case, an RA in University Housing reported that when on rounds she noticed a white board that asked passersby to rank the "best language." The list included several languages, both real and fake, in addition to some programming languages. One option was "Mexicanese." The housing staff met directly with the affected parties and held an educational program for students, according to the university's report.

Other complaints dealt with professors. In one instance, a student emailed a professor asking about taking a history class and the professor responded by giving the student information about African Studies when she didn't ask about African Studies. In response, a "member of the team met with the student and followed up the Chair of the department, who followed up with the professor," the report stated.

4. Marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the great Mackubin Owens takes to Law & Liberty to honor Operation Neptune, the naval operations that were central to the overall Operation Overlord. From his essay:

The landings at Normandy on that Tuesday morning in the spring of 1944, and the campaign to liberate Europe that followed, are among the great enterprises in human history. For Americans, Operation Neptune, and especially D-Day, ranks among the country's most epic campaigns and battles, alongside Gettysburg, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and Iwo Jima. It deserves to be studied—and remembered—by generations. When we look back on great events, there is a tendency to assume that success was somehow preordained. But as the example of D-Day shows, the actors in this great drama had to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

The invasion's failure was a distinct possibility. What would have been the consequences? It would certainly have changed the course of history. To begin with, the war would have been lengthened and the strategic position of the United States and Great Britain in Europe weakened vis a vis the Soviet Union, which might well have ended up dominating not only Eastern and Central Europe at war's end but also Western Europe. Even a stalemate between Germany and the Soviet Union would have meant a whole Continent condemned to live under totalitarianism. A lengthier war would have given Nazi Germany more time to carry out its policy of destroying European Jewry.

Hence D-Day can be understood on several levels. As noted, at the strategic and policy levels, success on 6 June required successes in other theaters: the Eastern Front, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific. Fortunately, despite the fact that the Allies were at odds ideologically—the Soviet Union on the one hand and the United States and Great Britain on the other—they operated in concert, albeit not perfectly. The Axis, although composed of countries with similar ideologies, failed to cooperate or coordinate their efforts. Thus the Allies were free to deal with the three Axis powers separately.

5. More from Law & Liberty, as Titus Techera revisits the great fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and says its rebuilding must also initiate a conversation amongst the French elite about reevaluating their embrace of secularism. From his piece:

The status of Notre Dame and the purpose of its rebuilding will reopen the theological-political problem people believe to have been settled by the laicization of 1905 and will thus renew a great political quarrel in France. How Catholic is France? Macron spoke in his usual empty words, saying the history of France and the destiny of France are more or less the same, and they require this rebuilding, and it shall be done—the people want it. We must hope he will now become more thoughtful about why Notre Dame matters to the French, beyond tourism or a vague sense of pride.

The theological-political problem I mentioned is itself part of the history of Notre Dame. Before it was laicized by the Third Republic along with all French churches built before 1905, it was desecrated with great energy during the First Republic soon after the French Revolution. Nevertheless the French celebrate both the Revolution and Notre Dame.

The question concerning rebuilding Notre Dame thus points to the massive political conflict in France in our own times. The Fifth Republic itself is in crisis. On the one hand, Macron is the favored son and champion of the France of the prospering cities and the upper classes. But his supporters are far fewer than his great victory in the second round of balloting might suggest—far fewer than polls themselves may suggest, which nevertheless reveal his unpopularity.

On the other hand, the opposition to Macron is united only in disliking him with various degrees of intensity. Much of the population, perhaps a majority, doesn't really believe he has their best interests at heart. It would be very difficult to persuade them they are wrong.

6. At the James G. Martin Center, Daniel Kline looks at the firing of witch-hunted researcher Noah Carl by Cambridge University's St. Edmunds College, and deciphers the lefty playbook when a witch-hunt is the play called for. From his analysis:

I was the external examiner on Dr. Carl's DPhil from Nuffield, Oxford, so I am familiar with his work. It is a data-intensive investigation of cognitive ability (or intelligence) and its correlates, including ideological views, trust, and self-rated happiness. He wrote a report for the classical liberal Adam Smith Institute on why British academics lean left, and argued that intelligence does not work as explanation. He has published several analyses of the Brexit vote. He follows the scientific literature in recognizing that both "nature" and "nurture" affect the development of cognitive ability. He has not conducted research on race or ethnicity as factors in cognitive ability, but he has written a courageous and thoughtful essay about the ethics of preemptively shutting down such research.

Dr. Carl, then, is a serious and highly accomplished researcher who simply does not conform to leftist ways of interpreting the world and who is not cowed by leftist taboos. As such, he has been singled out as a miscreant. Disgraceful means have been used to take him down. The charges are defamatory.

I read about the rescinding in a May 1 article in Varsity. No less than three times does the article quote Dr. Carl's former employer saying that he had "collaborated with a number of individuals who were known to hold extremist views," without naming a single such individual. It notes that Dr. Carl attended a conference on intelligence research. Many enemies are quoted, calling him a racist, etc., but not a single friend or defender.

Baseballery

Intrigued as we all are by the question, I wonder how Lou Gehrig performed when the Yankees first called him up in 1923? Your Truly took to Baseball-Reference.com to find the info. And lo and behold, interesting things were stumbled upon.

Yes, about Lou, but not so much about him. The Iron Horse (who didn't become a full-time Major Leaguer until 1925) dabbled in the minor leagues in 1923 and 1924, playing for the Eastern League's Hartford Senators, and was called up on occasion by the big team in The Bronx. Gehrig's first truly great game came late in 1923, in a September 28 contest at Fenway Park, in which the Yankees beat the begeebers out of the Red Sox, 24–4. Gehrig got four hits, three of them doubles, and drove in four runs. (Babe Ruth slapped five hits, including a home run, and catcher Wally Schang also got five hits and drove in as many runs.)

The truly amazing thing about the beatdown can be found in the Boston side of the box score. Howard Ehmke is best remembered as Connie Mack's surprise starter in the first game of the 1929 World Series, in which the veteran, gangly "slowball" hurler pitched a 3–1 complete game victory over the Chicago Cubs — 13 of whom went down on strikes. Ehmke would also start Game 5, but lasted just three and two-thirds innings (the As would win the game and the series in dramatic fashion with three runs in the bottom of the 9th).

Back to that Fenway Park game in 1923: Ehmke, then playing for the Red Sox, and figuring as the staff's ace, started that game. He went six innings. He gave up 21 hits and 17 runs — 16 of them earned. (Reliever Clarence Blethen gave up nine hits and seven runs in the game's three remaining innings.) Ehmke's performance — the opportunity for Gehrig's first great performance — has to be one of the worst outings in MLB history.

A Dios

So many years later, oremus: For those who died on the beaches and amongst the hedgerows, for those who fell from the skies, let us pray for the peaceful repose of their souls, and ask the Creator for assurance that their wounds, real and spiritual, are eternally healed.

God's Blessings and Graces on You and Yours,

Jack Fowler

Who is the willing recipient of your gossip and grammatical nit-pickerry via missives sent to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

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