Wednesday links

by debbywitt

It’s Brave New World author Aldous Huxley’s birthday.

10 Relics From the Horse-Powered City Hiding in Plain Sight.

Why do monks have strange haircuts?

What happens when you leave a tetherball hanging in the forest.

CNN headquarters was built on an abandoned psychedelic theme park. Kind of related: The Business of Building Roller Coasters.

A brief history of prosthetic limbs.

ICYMI, Thursday’s links are here, and include how baby flamingos become pink, the lengths taken to make Abraham Lincoln look good in photos, when Paris flooded in 1910, and why red M&M’s disappeared for a decade.

The Super-Sized College-Curriculum Problem

by George Leef

One of the more foolish notions in American education these days is that students should just “follow their passion” and study whatever strikes their fancy. Most colleges and universities have helped by allowing their course catalogs to expand and expand. Consequently, students often graduate after having taken a hodge-podge of courses that sounded fun and (often) rather easy.

In this Martin Center article, Shannon Watkins looks at this problem. At many schools, students don’t have to ever take a course relating to Western civilization, but they can take courses on sports, entertainment, and “diversity.”

The University of North Carolina is one of the worst offenders, she shows.

On the other hand, however, there are a few schools that have resisted curricular bloat and still have a solid core — such as St. John’s in Annapolis and Santa Fe.

Watkins concludes,

UNC-Chapel Hill and other North Carolina schools should work to develop a general education curriculum that is more intellectually coherent and more conducive to producing graduates ready to succeed in civic life and the work force. Evidence suggests that real reform will require returning to more foundational coursework that has stood the test of time, as well as university leaders courageous enough to challenge students or others who may feel differently.

A Stand-Up Double!!

by Jack Fowler

A most generous friend of National Review Institute has taken a big fancy to our efforts to raise $100,000 to fund the Center for Unalienable Rights, which NRI senior fellow David French (do you listen to his marvelous, weekly The Liberty Files podcast?) will be spearheading for the purpose of defending those hallowed and fundamental things — free speech, free worship, open debate, tolerance, due process, and more — under relentless attack by the leftist, shoot-first Thought Police. This campaign ends July 31, so we are hoping those who want to see NR and NRI even more fully engaged on behalf of those Creator-endowed rights will decide to contribute, which can be done here. As for that generous friend: He will match, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000, any contributions that arrive between now and next Monday.

Why give? Well, there is that incentive. But there’s more, too. Over the next months, as the Center comes into true fruition, David will be traveling to the hot spots of the battle against determined multiculturalism — namely, college campuses — where he will defend free speech and invigorate students who have been besieged by indoctrinating leftist professors. In addition to his regular writings on the topic and the podcast, he will work with NRI staff to join with state-based conservative groups and think tanks who are at the forefront of fighting local leftist efforts to grow the aggrandized and insatiable state, to undermine our traditions and norms, to appease the Left’s gluttonous appetite for power (and to ensure its role as a 21st-century vanguard of the proletariat). That’s why we need a Center for Unalienable Rights.

We’re counting on you to stand alongside us on the ramparts and in the foxhole. Your donation to NRI will be tax deductible. Please make it here.

Sessions, P.S.

by Victor Davis Hanson

Donald Trump’s core support is found among those who want existing immigration laws enforced, an end to state-rights nullification of federal law, and no more legal adventurism that seeks to create new laws ex nihilo. Sessions, in these regards, has been excellent. Even the thought of letting him go is already fracturing Trump’s base; his dismissal would seriously wound the administration at precisely the time it needs cohesion on the health-care and tax-reform debates. Trump apparently has forgotten that one of the reasons he retains support, and why there are several indications that real positive change is in the works, are his excellent seasoned cabinet appointees such as Sessions.

The beneficiary of Sessions’s continued tenure is Trump himself.

Nothing is stopping both congressional-committee and cabinet investigations into collusion allegations involving John Podesta’s various investments or green anti-fracking front groups (once even noted by Hillary Clinton) or the surveilling/unmasking/leaking by Obama officials, or Clinton, Inc.’s sweetheart and leveraged deals with Russian interests.

Sessions is not the reason why those deterrent inquiries are not yet barreling ahead; but he may prove invaluable in the future when a number of crises and controversies come to a head, as the Republicans begin to learn that Democrats, in fact, have a lot more exposure to charges of being soft on and colluding with Russian interests than do Republicans. If Trump were to fire Sessions, it would be suicidal; if he thinks berating him encourages other independent and respected cabinet officers to get in line, he is sorely mistaken; if he moves on, lets Sessions do his needed work, and forgets this unfortunate diversion from critical issues, he will be wise.

California Imam: ‘Annihilate’ Filthy Jews

by Elliot Kaufman

Not everything needs commentary; sometimes words just speak for themselves. For example, hear what Imam Ammar Shahin told an audience at Islamic Center of Davis, located across the street from the University of California-Davis, in his sermon on Friday:

Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews. Oh Allah, destroy those who closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Oh Allah, show us the black day that you inflict upon them, and the wonders of your ability. Oh Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them.

Citing an anti-Semitic verse from the Hadith, Shahin added that “Allah does not change the situation of people until they change their own situation. The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews.’”

Shain then made sure to note that “We don’t say if it is in Palestine or another place,” making clear that Jews will be fought and killed everywhere.

It is hard to believe that Shahin, who is teaching the Muslim faith to impressionable students at a public university in America, is spewing this kind of hate about “the filth of the Jews,” whom Allah should “annihilate.” But there you have it. The relevant sections of the video, which was originally posted on the Davis Masjid YouTube channel, is reproduced below, courtesy of the invaluable Middle East Media Research Institute.

 

“Fear and outrage” is how Michael Gofman, a student senator at UC-Davis, describes the reaction in the local Jewish community. In the last few years, Davis’ Jewish community has faced a spate of anti-Semitic incidents, including swastikas drawn on the Jewish fraternity house, and tires of Jewish students’ cars slashed.

Gofman says that when Islamic Center of Davis was vandalized some months ago, the Jewish community rallied in its support. “I understand this is not what most Muslims believe,” he notes, “but now they invite a speaker to call for the annihilation of Jews?”

Imam Shahin, who is Egyptian-born, is an instructor for the Zidni Islamic Institute, a California-based organization that provides “classical Islamic training” in the style of “orthodox Sunni Islam,” according to its website. I wonder if the Institute knows how Shahin feels about Jews. I wonder if they know that he is adding his voice to the massive campaign to incite violence against Jews with lies about the al-Aqsa mosque, lies that have been repeated for almost 100 years now.

In the full video, Shahin even calls on his audience to defend the al-Aqsa mosque, mocking the Muslims who merely watch from afar. His models for action, which he praised, are the Palestinians who fight Israeli soldiers with rocks.

I hope the Zidni Institute and the staff of the Islamic Center of Davis had no clue, but I fear that they knew exactly what he believed—only they didn’t find it objectionable. I fear that this sort of preaching, bringing Middle Eastern anti-Semitism over to American Muslims, happens more than we know; only American Muslims, who hear these sermons, would know for sure. After all, if this imam was not stupid enough to put their own hate on YouTube for everyone to see, we would never have found out about the extremism being spread in Northern California. Apparently Shahin has been an Imam in mosques all over the United States. Did anyone ever object when he said things like this?

Gofman, the student senator, tells me that the response to this incident at UC-Davis has been “muted,” with many people claiming that the Imam was only expressing his “anti-Zionism,” not anti-Semitism. This, I am afraid, is the usual cowardice and the usual apologia one hears when a favored group has wronged a non-favored group.

It goes without saying that Shahin should be fired, and kept away from students at UC-Davis, if possible. Political indoctrination at American colleges is bad enough—do we really need Islamic anti-Semitism added to the mix?

Senate GOP Passes Motion to Proceed on Health Care

by Alexandra DeSanctis

The Senate this afternoon passed a motion to proceed to debate on a health-care repeal bill. Fifty of the 52 GOP senators voted yes, two voted no — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. All of the other 50 senators voted no, 48 Democrats and two independents. As a result, vice president Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking “yes” vote to move on to debate on the bill.

It is not yet clear which version of the bill the Senate will consider in the upcoming 20 hours of debate, which McConnell says will take place in an open-amendment process. Some have suggested that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell should bring up the 2015 Obamacare repeal bill, while others have said he will bring up the current version of the Senate leadership’s revised health-care draft, to be changed over the course of a week through a series of votes on amendments introduced by individual senators. McConnell has not told his colleagues which version of the bill he hopes to pass in the end.

‘. . . But at Least Sessions Is Attorney General’

by Mark Krikorian

Sessions’s presence in the administration has been consolation for many upset by Trump’s various deviations:

Trump is an enthusiastic backer and user of H-2B “Fire Americans” visa? Well, at least Sessions is attorney general.

Trump promised to end the illegal DACA amnesty, but is expanding it instead? Well, at least Sessions is attorney general.

Trump has agreed to bring Australia’s refugee rejects to the U.S.? Well, at least Sessions is attorney general.

“Well, at least Judge Jeanine is attorney general” doesn’t have quite the same ring. If Sessions does end up being forced out, the tolerance for Trump’s policy aberrations evaporates. Trump needs Sessions more than Sessions needs Trump.

Pretending That Trump Is Right to Be Angry at Sessions Isn’t Serious

by Jonah Goldberg

The president’s attacks on Jeff Sessions are fascinating because, as Victor notes below, they undermine so much of the case for Trump himself. As I noted in last week’s G-File, there was a time when the case for Trump among many conservatives rested to a significant degree on Sessions’s support for him. Now, the case against Sessions rests entirely on Trump’s lack of support for the attorney general. Sessions, for good or ill, has not changed. The only thing that’s changed is Trump’s “interests.” I put interests in quotes because I think, objectively speaking, it is not in his interest to fire Sessions or force him to quit. But Trump sees it differently.

One of the things I find most remarkable about all this is how the case for Trump always seems to come back to Hillary Clinton, who — I can report — is not the president of the United States or even a candidate.

I constantly hear that I can’t get over the election and the fact that Trump won. Having taken a vigorous personal inventory of my feelings, I can tell you that I don’t believe this to be the case. But it does seem like some people can’t let go of the election. Every night, Sean Hannity beats on the “real scandal” of Hillary Clinton, as if that story has anything to do with the facts of the Trump presidency. If there’s good reason to investigate or prosecute Hillary Clinton, I’m all for it. But even if Clinton had the book thrown at her, it would not affect the investigations into Trump. In reality, they are independent variables. But in the gaseous world of shout shows and Twitter, they are somehow linked. The binary, seesaw logic of the election still holds that if Hillary is down, Trump is up. It’s all so otherworldly.

All the more so because it was Donald Trump who said after he was elected that Hillary had “suffered enough”:

President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team signaled Tuesday that his administration will not pursue further investigations of Hillary Clinton, backing off a vow on the campaign trail to appoint a special counsel to probe his Democratic rival’s secret email setup as secretary of state and suspected pay-to-play deals involving her family’s foundation.

Mr. Trump labeled Mrs. Clinton “Crooked Hillary” and made charges that she was a corrupt scofflaw a cornerstone of his campaign. The boisterous crowds at this rallies, convinced Mrs. Clinton belonged in prison, regularly broke into chants of “lock her up!”

But the president-elect struck a very different tone Tuesday, arguing that Mrs. Clinton had suffered enough and the country needed to heal.

“I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with the New York Times. “She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways.” He also said the Clinton Foundation has done “good work” [emphasis added].

When Trump said this, there was some grumbling among hardcore Trump supporters. For instance, Peter Schweizer said that Trump shouldn’t even be commenting on a potential criminal investigation. But for the most part, the decision was spun as a sign that the president wanted to be a “president for all.” Now the president is insinuating that Sessions needs to go because he’s refused to prosecute Hillary Clinton, even though the president had made it clear he didn’t want her to be prosecuted.

In other words, whether appropriate or not, the attorney general loyally followed the president’s wishes and now Trump’s stated — as opposed to real — reason for why Sessions should go is that he didn’t contravene the president’s stated desire. It’s all obvious nonsense. But that hasn’t stopped some people from pretending that this a serious argument, because for them the election is never over, and the only enduring principle is that Trump must always “win.”

Humiliation as a Tool of Personnel Policy

by Rich Lowry

Obviously, and as has already been noted in this space, the way Trump is treating Jeff Sessions is just wrong. No one deserves this, let alone an early Trump-endorser who is pushing some of the central elements of the Trump agenda. But it looks like Trump is trying to humiliate Sessions into resigning and if that doesn’t work, will fire him. Perhaps the pro-Sessions rescue operation now being mounted by conservatives will stay Trump’s hand. Otherwise, he’s going to risk collapsing the top echelon of his Justice department, and causing a political storm that could have lasting consequences for his agenda and his standing with his party.

Back From the Dead

by Rich Lowry

Amazingly enough, it seems fairly likely — although there are no guarantees — that the Senate leadership will get the motion to proceed today to begin the debate on the health-care bill. And there’s a pretty good chance the GOP will at least pass some small vehicle to get to a conference with the House, which would allow more time to clear various technical hurdles — e.g., CBO scores of various new proposed amendments — and perhaps to forge a consensus on the underlying policy. Ideal? No. But kicking the can down the road in a messy, melodramatic process would be more than seemed possible a week ago.

Some Hijinks on the Harvard Fraternity Ban

by Noah Daponte-Smith

A couple of weeks ago, Harvard made a controversial announcement — a committee of faculty, administrators, and students had recommended that the university institute a ban on social groups, including fraternities, sororities, and final clubs. Accompanying the decision was an explicating report, which declared such organizations contrary to Harvard’s core values and noted that only a small minority of the committee’s members opposed the ban.

If the Harvard Crimson is to be believed, though, that claim may in fact be utterly baseless. The Crimson reports that the ban garnered only seven of the 27 votes on the committee and that two other proposals — forming a new committee on social groups and banning only gender-exclusive organizations — received far more votes at twelve and eleven respectively. (There was no limit on the number of options for which members could cast ballots.) With the initial vote inconclusive, the Crimson reports, the committee met once more without student members to talk it over, after which its leaders drafted a report recommending a ban on social organizations anyway.

There are (at least) two possible ways to read this. The first is somewhat innocuous: After months of debate culminating in a less-than-decisive vote, the committee’s leaders tried to represent the position they believed came closest to the group’s consensus opinion, taking into account the magnitude of fervency on all sides of the debate. The less charitable reading is that the administration had intended the committee to produce its desired outcome from the very beginning and always planned on overruling it if its decision was not to the administration’s liking. How you read it will depend on a variety of factors — your attitude towards the ban your preconceived opinion on faculty governance, and your thoughts on bureaucracy, among other things.

On balance, I’d say the second is more likely. The Harvard administration — proceeding downward from President Drew Faust and Dean Rakesh Khurana, the committee’s co-chair — has exercised a certain vigilance on the social-groups question for some time now, beginning with the original decision to ban members of single-gender organizations from receiving nominations for prestigious scholarships and holding leadership positions in campus organizations. And it would not be the first time that a bureaucracy has formed a committee to legitimate the decision it planned on implementing anyway. The only difference here is that the committee did not, in the end, entirely agree with the administration, and that the Crimson found out.

There is another domain along which the controversy has some salience. This is the ongoing decline of faculty governance at our nation’s universities; in its place is the ever-encroaching power of the autonomous bureaucracy. The committee of faculty, administrators, and students was assembled in part to ameliorate concerns among the faculty regarding the administration’s apparent usurpation of control over a crucial facet of undergraduate life. That the administration seems to have overruled the committee’s indecision suggests that the bureaucratic agglomeration of power may be a phenomenon propelled by its own momentum, one easy to start rolling but nearly impossible to stop.   

Trashing Jeff Sessions — Enough Already

by Victor Davis Hanson

President Trump has made the point for the nth time that the recusal of Jeff Sessions on matters of alleged Russian collusion invariably led to a series of events that culminated in the appointment of Robert Mueller, a prior associate of James Comey’s, to investigate Trump with a veritable blank check and a cadre of mostly liberal attorneys, fueled by a hysterical media ready to make them all Watergate-like folk heroes if they come to Beltway-correct conclusions. I fear we could soon be in Lawrence Walsh/Javert territory.

So in retrospect, the recusal was probably a political mistake, given that a seemingly principled decision — most observers in the administration at the time seemed to think that Sessions’s recusal at least temporarily silenced the baying wolves — was soon seen by anti-Trumpers as weakness to be exploited (the subsequent hysterical media-driven feeding frenzy quickly turned on everyone from Representative Devin Nunes to Trump’s own family) rather than probity to be appreciated. Sessions’s own current remarkable Stoicism in the context of Trump’s attacks perhaps reflects that had he to do it over again in light of what followed, he might have not recused himself.

But all that said, Trump is said to value loyalty and competence. And Sessions is the epitome of both. He was a force for immigration enforcement and an advocate of the ignored muscular working classes long before Trump; it was his advocacy of these issues which drew him to Trump’s 2016 populist campaign, and prompted his early and almost solitary support for Trump. He is a good man with the legal and political experience to make the fundamental changes at the Justice Department that returns it to enforcement of existing laws rather than its past errant role under Holder and Lynch of a creator of progressive agendas masquerading as an enforcement agency.

Politically, Trump made his point. Again, any further public criticism of Sessions undermines two of Trump’s strengths, acknowledged even by his enemies: one, that he is loyal to those even under fire who were willing to take a risk and support him when few would; and, two, he has a proven ability to appoint superb professionals who know what they are doing and yet are not part of the deep state (McMaster, Mattis, Pompeo, etc.).

It’s past time to let Sessions do his job and move on.

Donald Trump, Raging At His Own Cabinet

by Jim Geraghty

From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Donald Trump, Raging At His Own Cabinet

President Trump, discussing repealing Obamacare, February 28: “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”

A comment attributed to the president on infrastructure, earlier this week: “The president — echoing his ill-received remarks about repealing the Affordable Care Act — has told people around him that he did not expect the process to be this difficult, according to one longtime adviser.”

“If [Attorney General Jeff Sessions] was going to recuse himself he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.” President Trump in a New York Times interview last week.

“So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?” – President Trump on Twitter yesterday.

Yesterday: “Trump was asked by a reporter if Sessions should resign. As interns laughed around him, Trump shook his head, rolled his eyes and smirked.”

President Trump on Twitter this morning: “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign – “quietly working to boost Clinton.” So where is the investigation A.G… Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!

President Trump, turning to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price at yesterday’s event with the Boy Scouts: “By the way, you’re going to get the votes? He better get ’em. He better get ’em. Ah, he better — otherwise, I’ll say, ‘Tom, you’re fired!’” (Why is the president counting on his HHS Secretary to persuade those final reluctant Republicans? Didn’t he tout himself as the ultimate dealmaker?)

Everything is so much more complicated than he thought . . . and yet the president insists upon publicly attacking the people whom he selected to help enact his agenda.

Krauthammer’s Take: Kushner’s Statement ‘Rings True,’ Sessions a ‘Dangerously Wounded Man Walking’

by NR Staff

Jared Kushner’s message to Senate investigators on his dealings with Russia will keep him in the clear for now, Charles Krauthammer argued today. However, Trump’s “beleagured” Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, finds himself in hot water.

Krauthammer breaks down the palace intrigue shaking up the White House today:

I thought it was a very effective statement. Look, his defense essentially is that I was a naive, inexperienced, careless at times, clueless at times, rookie in all of this. And to me, it rings true. It’s not the greatest of defenses. It’s not exactly the one you want to go to, but you have to, in this case. And I think he comes out as a guy who’s being fairly open about what he did. There are a few phrases there that are very lawyerly like, “I never relied on Russian funds in my business.” Rely is an interesting word, implying that there might have been loans or other stuff we don’t know about. But overall, I thought it was a good statement, and it looked like he’s clean. As for Sessions, I said on Friday that he’s a wounded man walking. I would revise that after that Tweet today from Trump. I think he’s an extremely, dangerously wounded man walking, and I think it’s now only a matter of time. The only reason possibly for Trump to refer to the AG the way he did is that he wants his resignation, and it seems to me that he’ll get it very soon.

Exploiting Space: To Greedily Go (and That’s a Good Thing)

by Andrew Stuttaford

I posted something here yesterday about efforts to regulate commercial exploitation of the moon — and beyond, among other matters citing the activities of For All Moonkind, a group that is reportedly pushing the United Nations to protect the six Apollo landing sites.

Protecting those sites struck me as a worthwhile objective, but I was worried that extending (or reinforcing) terrestrial jurisdiction beyond our planet and its immediate vicinity could discourage the adventurers, scientists, inventors and investors needed to proceed further with the commercial exploitation of, well, space. So far as that is concerned, the basic principle that should apply, I argued, is ‘finders, keepers.’

The folks at For All Moonkind quickly tweeted to say that they were “not looking to tie the hands of entrepreneurs.” They were “just trying to save some history.”

Fair enough.

I explained that I was “all for preserving the history. Just to want to make sure the legal regime that does so only does that.”

In that context, this report from Digital Trends makes encouraging reading.

Here’s an extract:

It used to be that laying claim to space rocks was tricky business, but thanks to some forward-thinking legislation enacted in recent years, many of the legal hurdles standing in the way of these space mining operations have been ironed out.

Up until recently, there weren’t many ratified international laws or treaties regarding resources found outside of our planet. In 1967, we got the Outer Space Treaty, which establishes broad parameters about the use of space for peaceful purposes, and also specifically states that no country can own anything outside of Earth. Obviously, this agreement isn’t exactly ideal for anybody looking to set up a moon mining operation.

But the game changed two years ago. In 2015, the Obama administration pushed forward the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act. This legislation essentially works around the semantics of existing treaties, and enables individuals to recover resources in space without outright claiming sovereignty over the lunar land that the resources were taken from.

Credit where credit’s due: That was a good move.

“Think of these planets as international waters,” says [Naveen] Jain [the co-founder and chairman of Moon Express, “arguably the world’s foremost lunar mining company”].  “Nobody gets to own the underlying things, but they can use the private resources,” “They [can] own the fish and the oil … we as a private company are flying under the U.S. flag, in some sense then, we are a ship in international waters.”

With the legal framework in place to determine who owns the rights to any resources recovered on the moon and beyond, the doors of opportunity have been flung wide open. There’s a massive hoard of loot floating over our heads, and whoever gets there first basically has carte blanche to mine it — we just have to make the trip.

And the moment when this comes to pass might be sooner than we expect:

Believe it or not, there are already a handful of private space companies racing each other toward the launchpad. In late 2016, Moon Express…received approval to launch a moon mission. This marks the first time the government has approved a private mission beyond Earth orbit.

“We go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is profitable,” jokes…Jain, co-founder and chairman of Moon Express, invoking John F. Kennedy’s famous Rice University moon speech.

Finders, Keepers: That is the way to go.

Kushner’s Russia Statement Is Plausible — But Is It Enough to Convince Congress?

by Austin Yack

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, released written remarks on Monday before a closed-door meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee. The takeaway: Kushner maintains that he never colluded with Russian officials to help his father-in-law win the presidency.

Kushner confessed that he did attend the highly politicized meeting with Donald Trump Jr., a Russian attorney, and other officials, but left the meeting after determining that his “time was not well-spent at this meeting.” “In looking for a polite way to leave and get back to my work,” Kushner recalled, “I actually emailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for ten or so minutes and wrote ‘Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.’”

He also vehemently denied the allegation that there was contact between him and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign. His alibi? After Trump won the election, Kushner asked Kislyak who in the Russian government he ought to reach out to (i.e., someone who has direct contact with Russian president Vladimir Putin). “The fact that I was asking about ways to start a dialogue after Election Day,” Kushner said, “should of course be viewed as strong evidence that I was not aware of one that existed before Election Day.” Ultimately, Kushner denied that he or anyone in the meeting with Kislyak suggested creating a secret back channel between the Trump team and the Russian government.

Perhaps most noteworthy, though, is Kushner’s reasoning for failing to disclose Russian meetings in his security-clearance filing. His assistant, Kushner said, was under the impression that the entire form was completed; he had told the assistant that a particular section of the form had been finalized, which caused the confusion. “Because of this miscommunication,” Kushner said, “my assistant submitted the draft on January 18, 2017.” And contrary to media reports, the meetings with Russian officials were not the only meetings mistakenly withheld: “In the accidental early submission of the form, all foreign contacts were omitted.”

It remains to be seen whether members of the Senate Intelligence Committee will buy this narrative.

Re: The Left’s Backward-Looking Racial Narrative

by Roger Clegg

Response To...

The Left's Backward-Looking Racial Narrative

I have just finished reading part I of Jason Riley’s new book False Black Power?, which NRO is excerpting today, and I want to recommend it right away as highly as I can (full disclosure: Mr. Riley recently joined my organization’s board of directors). I’ll write more when I finish part II, in which the always-interesting John McWhorter and Glenn Loury offer their critiques and Mr. Riley responds.

It’s a short book (only 122 pages), and I’m savoring every paragraph. The thesis, in brief:

The major barrier to black progress today is not racial discrimination and hasn’t been for decades. The challenge for blacks is to better position themselves to take advantage of existing opportunities, and that involves addressing the antisocial, self-defeating behaviors and habits and attitudes endemic to the black underclass.

Churchill, Hitler, and Islam

by Daniel Pipes

Winston Churchill disparaged the impact of Islam on Muslims in his 1899 book, The River War:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy.”

Adolf Hitler admired Islam, as quoted by Albert Speer in his 1969 book, Inside the Third Reich:

You see, it’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn’t we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?

Comments:

(1) The arch-enemies of World War II agreed in their perception of Islam as a martial faith — except that Churchill rued its “fanatical frenzy” and Hitler admired its representing the opposite of “meekness and flabbiness.”

(2) These positions echo in the West today. Paul Weston, a right-wing candidate for the European Parliament, took a stand by reading publicly from of The River War, leading to his arrest. Fascists still admire Islam’s perceived ferocity and want to ally with it: “I offer my most sincere best-wishes to those who wage holy Jihad against the infrastructure of the decadent, weak and Judaic-influenced societal infrastructure of the West,” wrote August Kreis, an Aryan Nations leader, sounding like Hitler.

(3) Today’s Left sees Muslims not as bellicose but as victims exploited by capitalism, tormented by Zionism, and victimized by “Islamophobia.” This marks a new understanding, one with no World War II precedent.

(4) How Westerners see Islam and Muslims can say more about them than about Islam or Muslims.

What’s the Matter with Democrats?

by Jonah Goldberg

The Democrats have unveiled their new slogan: a “Better Deal.”

We are in the minority in both houses of Congress; we cannot promise anyone that this Congress will begin passing our priorities tomorrow. But we have to start raising our voices to present our vision for the country’s future. We will seek the support of any Republicans willing to work with us, but more important, we must start rallying the American people to support our ideas.

In the last two elections, Democrats, including in the Senate, failed to articulate a strong, bold economic program for the middle class and those working hard to get there. We also failed to communicate our values to show that we were on the side of working people, not the special interests. We will not repeat the same mistake. This is the start of a new vision for the party, one strongly supported by House and Senate Democrats.

Our better deal is not about expanding the government, or moving our party in one direction or another along the political spectrum. Nor is it about tearing down government agencies that work, that effectively protect consumers and promote the health and well-being of the country. It’s about reorienting government to work on behalf of people and families.

When it’s time to columnize on it, I’ll look at the specific policies they’re pushing more closely. But two thoughts immediately come to mind. First, it is just amazing how the New Deal remains an organizing principle and cargo cult for Democrats almost a century later. I mean, the word “Deal” is hardly subtle.

Second, focusing on economics alone may make sense for internal party reasons and for external marketing ones. After all, you can always get Democrats to agree on more government activism and intervention. What you can’t do is get them to agree on cultural issues. And that’s a big problem for them. The Democrats have a brand problem. Schumer says that they’re going to focus on the concerns of working families. No doubt many of those concerns are economic. But as anyone who has kids can tell you, these are not the only concerns parents bring to politics. The Thomas Frank school says that voters who care about social issues don’t understand their own interests. This has always struck me as nonsense. The voters’ real interests are defined by what they think is important. So that includes everything from race and abortion to guns and gay rights to free speech.

The Democratic party’s base literally and figuratively — coastal elites, liberal Millennials, various ethnic and sexual minorities, environmentalists, feminists, etc. — is full of people who define politics about more than kitchen table economics. You can claim that, say, abortion is solely an economic issue. You can even believe it. But you can’t argue that the Handmaid’s Tale cosplay crowd sees it that way.

Chuck Schumer probably has the discipline to stay on message, but I sincerely doubt the rest of the party does. Bill Clinton understood that he could only focus on his “Putting People First” platform after he reassured voters that he wasn’t going to kowtow to the party’s left flank. That’s why he threw Sister Souljah under the bus, campaigned on welfare reform, and took time off from the campaign trail to oversee the execution of a mentally retarded man.

Politics have changed a lot since then and so have the demographics of the country and the Democratic party. But it’s hard to think of the Democratic politician out there who has either the courage or the cynicism to similarly stand up to the left-wing base and the media outlets that run interference for them. Virtue signaling is too central to both parties these days to think that you can skate by just talking about college tuition and apprenticeships for very long.

Smuggling Deaths: What Is to Blame?

by Mark Krikorian

In the wake of the death of ten illegal aliens Sunday in a truck trailer in San Antonio, enforcement opponents were quick to assign blame. The League of United Latin American Citizens e-mailed a statement within hours calling for amnesty as the way to avoid such tragedies: “It also underscores the urgent need for a comprehensive solution to our country’s broken immigration system.” Rep. Joaquin Castro said “This represents a symptom of a broken immigration system that Congress, of which I am a part, has had the chance to fix but has not.” Similarly, ThinkProgress wrote that “Once Trump’s border wall is built, more tragic deaths like this could happen.”

And they’re right.

Foreigners sometimes take foolish risks to sneak into the United States precisely because we have limits on immigration which we try to enforce. But there are no limits we could impose, no rules regarding immigration that would not exclude scores of millions from coming here who would otherwise want to.

So while LULAC and Rep. Castro are correct in their diagnosis, their proposed solution is inadequate. The most recent attempt at “comprehensive immigration reform,” the Gang of Eight bill, for instance, would only have doubled legal immigration to two million a year, and almost doubled guestworker visas. Does anyone think that would satisfy demand for residence in the U.S.? If anything, like all previous increases in immigration, it would have created new cross-border networks that would have stimulated increased desire to move here, and thus increased smuggling and increased likelihood of deaths such as those we saw yesterday.

There is only one way to truly avoid such tragedies — abolish immigration regulation altogether. No numerical caps, no welfare bans, no education requirements, no health checks. I await the Cato Institute white paper making the case for that.

Meanwhile, here in the real world, the culprit is not immigration limits as such, but nominal immigration limits which aren’t adequately enforced. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made this point:

Sanctuary cities entice people to believe they can come to America and Texas and live outside the law. Sanctuary cities also enable human smugglers and cartels. Today, these people paid a terrible price and demonstrate why we need a secure border and legal immigration reform so we can control who enters our country.

Such enticement is caused by more than just renegade sanctuary Democrats nullifying federal law. Without E-Verify and worksite enforcement, we send the message that hiring illegal aliens is okay. Without prosecution of immigration-related Social Security fraud and tax fraud we send the message that lying and cheating is okay. Without tracking the departure of temporary visitors, and following up on those who overstay, we send the message that violating the terms of admission is okay.

Foreigners hear that message loud and clear, which is why they’re so willing to pay criminals to smuggle them here.

At least the kooky libertarians who oppose any limits on immigration are being honest. The more conventional supporters of “comprehensive immigration reform” claim to support immigration limits but oppose meaningful enforcement of those limits.

Listless and desultory enforcement of immigration laws is a prescription for more tragedies. Abolish all immigration laws, or start enforcing them for real.