People Who Need ‘People’

by Jay Nordlinger

I open my new Jaywalking with a little meditation on the people. I mean, “the people” as a phrase, in the mouths of politicians. I even play a little music — the opening of Frederic Rzewski’s variations on “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!” (Rzewski is a dyed-in-the-wool leftist, but, I must tell you, he is also a good composer.)

A while back, when I wrote about “the people” — the exploitation of that phrase and concept by demagogues and power-graspers — I heard from a philosopher friend of mine, who quoted Francis Lieber. This is the German refugee who eventually settled in the United States and wrote the “Lieber Code,” i.e., the rules of engagement for the Union Army in the Civil War. This was a prelude to the Geneva conventions.

In his Manual of Political Ethics (1839), he writes,

Who are the people? Is it one individual or a number of individuals, called, for convenience sake, by one name …? Are the people an aggregate of a number of individuals with one mind, one will, one impulse, or do the people consist of a majority and a minority? Giving unbounded power to the people means, then, nothing less than giving unbounded power to a majority …

Often, when people speak of “the people,” they are not even speaking of a majority — rather, they are speaking of people like themselves (however numerous).

In any case, I don’t get too philosophical in this podcast — too Lieberesque. But there should be some food for thought, and a little music to go with it.

P.S. On Need to Know, Mona Charen and I welcome Gabriel Rossman, the UCLA professor who wrote a wise and much-noticed piece on campus conservatives, and the invitations they issue. Then Mona and I talk over the world a bit. Since she mentions the phrase “smooth operator,” and its origins, we of course end with Sade, singing.

Robert Mueller’s Alarming, Reassuring Indictment

by David French

Earlier today Robert Mueller’s office announced the indictment of a Russian “Internet Research Agency” and a number of Russian nationals for various crimes related to their efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. For those who haven’t had time to read the entire 37-page document, the indictment alleges a comprehensive scheme to use social media to sow discord in the American electorate. Yes, it alleges a campaign to help Donald Trump (and Bernie Sanders), but it also demonstrates an intent to generally sharpen American political divides and radicalize American citizens. Here’s the key paragraph:

While there will be ample time for a more comprehensive evaluation of the indictment, I wanted to expand upon my comment in the tweet. How can an indictment be both alarming and reassuring? It’s simple. I don’t want foreign powers engaging in domestic disruption operations, and I don’t want to see domestic political campaigns cooperating with foreign foes. We have evidence of the disruption operation. We do not have evidence of collusion.

I’m alarmed by the Russian actions. The indictment alleges a long-running effort (one that included identity theft in the United States) to undermine America’s already-weak public trust and — ultimately — to take sides in an American political context. Moreover, this is but one aspect of the overall investigation into Russian disruption operations. The social media program isn’t necessarily related to Wikileaks and the email hacks, and it’s far from certain the indictment encompasses the whole even of Russian social media efforts.

But what’s alleged is bad enough. The Russians sought to generate street protests, suppress voter turnout, and spread disinformation. At one point the cost of the campaign exceeded a million dollars per month — a drop in the ocean of campaign spending but certainly large enough to reach a significant number of Americans. Though Russian actions were of debatable effectiveness (the indictment is largely silent regarding their real-world impact), they were unacceptable. Full stop. I’m reminded of Senator Ben Sasse’s words last March:

Russia is not unaware of our own distrust of each other. Russia is not unaware of our own increasing self-doubt about our shared values. Russia is today very self-consciously working to further erode confidence in our self-government by pulling at the threads of our public and civic life.

That’s all true, but here’s what’s reassuring (at least so far) — there’s no evidence in the indictment of knowing American cooperation with Russian plans, nor is there evidence that could reasonably lead a person to conclude that Russian efforts swung the election. Either conclusion would cause a political meltdown. Neither conclusion is present in the indictment. 

There’s one more reassuring element in the indictment. It should help put to rest the notion that Mueller is single-mindedly focused on “getting” Trump to the exclusion of more fully investigating the totality of Russian campaign efforts. To fulfill his mandate to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” by necessity he must examine the nature of Russian operations. This isn’t just an “obstruction” investigation. It’s an investigation yielding results that America needs to see. 

The Russian Indictments

by Rich Lowry

A couple of points: 1) The indictments are clearly an exemplary act, since the Russians are never going to go to trial. I’ll defer to our lawyers on the legal wisdom of that, but as an American, I’m glad to see these people called out by name and their malfeasance aired out in detail; 2) The political activism described is amateurish, sometimes laughably so; 3) Although the Russians wanted to help Trump, they also wanted to sow chaos generally — and organized anti-Trump events after the election; 4) Mueller still may have evidence of collusion that we haven’t seen, but the indictments, with their emphasis of the unwitting interactions of Americans with the Russian operatives, seem to point the other way.

Coverage of the Florida Tragedy is Driven by Anger, Not by Race

by Jonah Goldberg

I’ve largely stayed out of the latest frenzy of commentary about the shooting in Florida, because as I’ve written many times before, I hate the post tragedy argle-bargle (how much I hate it is on full display in today’s G-File). Everything has been said before – itself an indicator of how depressingly common these horror shows have become – but it appears the media must make sure that everybody says it again, only louder.

Still, I found Nicolle Wallace’s statement today to be particularly galling, which is saying something given the riot of galling commentary out there. Newsbusters has the full write-up but the gist is this mass murder is getting so much attention because the victims were white. “We’re talking about this because, let’s be honest, 17 white kids were [killed].”

First of all, I have a hard time believing that MSNBC wouldn’t have saturation coverage of the mass-murder of 17 black kids. If Wallace’s indictment of the media reaction is to be taken seriously, it has to include not only her show, but her networks (both NBC and MSNBC). Does she really mean to say such a thing? If the charge of institutional racism has merit, then this is a classic example of self-owning.

Second, I find this argument hard to square with another prominent line of media criticism. Fox News and other conservative outlets have been harshly criticized for hyping the death toll of African Americans from gun crimes in Chicago in recent years. I’ve thought some of that criticism had merit, and still do. But if we’re to take this argument at face value, then Fox should be praised for shining a light on an issue that other networks – presumably because of their institutional racism – were comparatively uninterested in.

This horror show is bad enough. There’s no need to leach the attendant passion and pathos in order to advance other grievances not in play. I wish these events got less wall-to-wall coverage because I think it encourages copycats. But I think the coverage is understandable. People are rightly interested in, and horrified by, the wanton murder of children, full stop. Race has nothing to do with it.

A Specific, and Unheeded Warning to the FBI

by Jim Geraghty

On the heels of yesterday’s discussion of just how many “red flags” surrounded the Lakeland shooter, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a stunning statement that confirms that sometimes, someone can see something, say something… and law enforcement authorities will not act upon the warning:

On January 5, 2018, a person close to Nikolas Cruz contacted the FBI’s Public Access Line (PAL) tipline to report concerns about him. The caller provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.

Under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life. The information then should have been forwarded to the FBI Miami Field Office, where appropriate investigative steps would have been taken.

We have determined that these protocols were not followed for the information received by the PAL on January 5. The information was not provided to the Miami Field Office, and no further investigation was conducted at that time.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a released statement, “I am committed to getting to the bottom of what happened in this particular matter, as well as reviewing our processes for responding to information that we receive from the public.”

This comes after separate federal authorities failed to put the proper information into National Instant Criminal Background Check System, mistakes that failed to prevent gun sales to the shooters in Charleston and Sutherland Springs, Texas. In the case of the Charleston shooter, the FBI failed to properly enter into its database the information that had been provided by local law enforcement; in Sutherland Springs, the the killer was convicted of domestic violence in 2012 and he received a “bad conduct” discharge from the military. But that information, too, failed to reach the background check database.

The public would like to have faith in law enforcement, and we recognize that FBI employees are fallible human beings. But this is heartbreaking and egregious.

Scott Pruitt’s Flying First-Class Was Avoidable, But Not a Scandal

by Philip H. DeVoe

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to fly first- or business-class is hardly a scandal. According to a Politico report, it turns out the decision was his security team’s — not his — and was taken after “he was approached in the airport numerous times, to the point of profanities being yelled at him and so forth.”

Politico’s source, EPA Office of Criminal Enforcement director Henry Barnet, is a career law enforcement official, who joined the EPA under Obama’s administration in 2011. He added:

“The team leader felt that he was being placed in a situation where he was unsafe on the flight . . . We felt that based on the recommendation from the team leader, the special agent in charge, that it would be better suited to have him in business or first class, away from close proximity from those individuals who were approaching him and being extremely rude, using profanities and potential for altercations and so forth,” he said.

#TheResistance was a bit blindsided by this news, especially given that it is their own lack of civility that is responsible for the “scandal.” And so they have switched their argument, contending now that Pruitt deserved the abuse he received for polluting the environment, and calling him a wuss for having to switch seats. Here’s Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin:

Apparently, individuals going up to the E.P.A. administrator and making completely factual statements was a bridge too far . . . It’s not totally clear why the security team believes that only people flying coach think Pruitt is a prick who deserves to be told as much, but perhaps they’ll address that at a later date.

So, no, Pruitt’s first-class seat selection is not a scandal. It is unnecessary, though, and if Levin and Co. want the waste to stop, a good start would be advising their friends to stop verbally assaulting federal officials in airports and on-board planes. (And mailing manure and white powder to their houses.)

Houston, We Have Conference

by Jack Fowler

Dallas, too. On Tuesday, March 6 (Big D), and Wednesday, March 7 (Houston), the NR gang will be in Texas as part of National Review Institute’s cross-country “Remembering William F. Buckley Jr.” program to champion the Buckley Legacy as we mark the tenth anniversary of our founder’s death. In Houston, David French, Kevin Williamson, Rich Lowry, Lee Edwards (author of the acclaimed biography, William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement), and I will be discussing WFB’s life, his consequential legacy, and free speech — a big issue for Bill and for our movement. For more information about the Houston forum, click here.

The Dallas event is a little different. It will take place at the Debate Center at Old Parkland, and it will feature a debate, with David French and Jim Campbell taking on Lawrence Sager and Nelson Tebbe, over the Masterpiece Cakeshop case that is before the Supreme Court this term. Old Parkland is a beautiful setting for what is sure to be a truly invigorating forum. Do join us: Get complete information here.

National Review Summer Internship

by NR Staff

National Review is accepting applications for its summer internship. The intern will work in our New York office, receive a modest stipend, participate in every part of the editorial process, and have some opportunities to write. The ideal candidate will have an excellent academic record and some experience in student or professional journalism. If you wish to apply, please send a cover letter, your résumé, and two of your best writing samples (no more, please) to editorial.applications (at) nationalreview.com.

The Editors: Another Horror

by NR Staff

Check out the latest episode of The Editors, in which Rich, Reihan, Michael Brendan Dougherty, and Dan McLaughlin discuss the shooting in Florida, Congress’s immigration debate, and more.

You can subscribe to The Editors on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, and TuneIn. You can also download this episode here.

Is an Assault-Weapon Ban the Solution?

by Robert VerBruggen

Louis Klarevas of the University of Massachusetts at Boston contends that an assault-weapon ban would result in “drastic reductions in what I call gun massacres,” meaning incidents in which six or more people are killed. His data indicate that fatalities from these incidents fell during the years the previous assault-weapon ban was in effect:

The pattern here is real; it shows up in the data set compiled by Mother Jones — which puts the fatality cutoff at four, includes only incidents that occur in public, and excludes gang activity — as well. As you can see in a chart made by Alan Reynolds at Cato, while the ban years included a rash of school shootings including Columbine, they also included some unusually calm years in the early to mid 2000s. It’s worth noting, though, that if you look at all incidents including four or more fatalities, the pattern is no longer evident.

In addition, while recent shootings with incredibly high body counts have involved assault weapons, most mass shootings in general actually involve handguns. Indeed, in the Mother Jones data set, I can find fewer than 20 shootings that (A) involved assault weapons, (b) had six or more fatalities, and (c) were committed in the 30 years from 1984 to 2014. Splitting so few shootings into three periods and looking for a trend is a dubious exercise, though for what it’s worth there’s still a dip in fatalities.

My skepticism of banning assault weapons has always primarily relied on the questionable nature of the distinction. These are not fully automatic military weapons that spray bullets when you hold down the trigger (though “bump stocks” can now make them behave like that, and we should do something about that); they fire once per trigger pull, just like many hunting rifles, and in fact often use smaller-caliber ammunition. Capping magazine size might allow someone to tackle a shooter while he’s reloading, and would apply even if he’s using a handgun instead of a rifle, but it also restricts people’s ability to defend themselves against more typical acts of violence (police do not limit themselves to ten rounds), and extremely high-capacity magazines jam more often.

These data don’t eliminate that skepticism of mine, but they’re worth noting and considering.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on The Jamie Weinstein Show

by Jamie Weinstein

My latest podcast, with Ta-Nehisi Coates, is now up. I encourage you to take a listen.

Though Coates and I have significant differences in our worldviews, the conversation is respectful, and I think insightful. We discuss everything from police shootings, to why he admires Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant so much, to why he left Twitter.

The most newsworthy part of the podcast: Coates reveals he sent a letter to President Obama after he left the White House expressing disappointment that the former president had been accepting paid speaking gigs. “I just think that you take money from a group of people, and you end up around them quite a bit, and that probably affects your worldview,” Coates explained.

Though Coates says he accepts money for speeches, he said that is different because “I don’t owe my prominence to the democratic process and people investing their hopes and dreams in me.” And while many politicians accept paid speaking gigs once they leave office, Coates said Obama promised to “be cleaner” during his presidential campaigns.

“I think people actually saw them that way,” Coates added. “I think that when you do that, people view you on a different level. I think, given the general and, I think, correct discomfort that people have about stratification in terms of income and wealth in this country, I mean it’s bad to take however amount of money, 200,000, whatever it was, you know what I mean, to talk on Wall Street. I just don’t think you have to do that.

Coates isn’t sure if Obama ever read the letter.

I encourage you to listen to the entire interview.

Time to Fix the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

by Iain Murray

The Trump administration’s proposed budget contains an interesting line item that isn’t mentioned in the summary text. It calls for reductions in spending at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). What makes this different from any of the other spending reductions in the budget is that, currently, the CFPB doesn’t get any funding through the budget process—a situation that would have shocked the Founding Fathers, who invested Congress with the power of the purse. It’s a sign the administration may be serious about fixing the many problems with the CFPB.

Many are convinced that the CFPB is unconstitutional. It is an independent bureau headed by a single director, not a multi-member commission, which is how most independent agencies are structured. That director exercises considerable power, because the president cannot remove him except “for cause,” such as malfeasance. The director does so with a budget requested from the Federal Reserve, not from Congress—and the Fed is required to honor that request up to a certain limit.

The director orders criminal investigations, enforcement actions, and rulemakings, giving him significant executive, legislative, and quasi-judicial powers—all without effective oversight from the president or the Congress.

The full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals recently disagreed that this strange mix of powers and unaccountability was unconstitutional (reversing an earlier decision by a three-judge panel of the same court). The full court reasoned that the principle of independent agencies, which lie outside the president’s control, was established in the 1930s, that several such agencies have had single directors, and that some institutions, like the Federal Reserve, get their funding outside the congressional appropriations process. Therefore, all Congress did when it created the CFPB was to build on several precedents, which had passed muster with the courts individually.

This is a problem. If this ruling stands, it will give a green light to Congress to continue creating agencies designed to operate without meaningful oversight from the elected branches. In essence, Congress will be able shirk its legislative duties by creating a fourth branch of government to which it can delegate such powers, to be staffed with occasional appointments to it from the executive office—and the judiciary will have no power to stop it.

Keep reading this post . . .

Friday links

by debbywitt

Geronimo died on February 17 in 1909 – some history, quotes, a brief biography, and why we yell his name when we jump out of planes.

Bird Feeders Are Changing the Course of Evolution.

The strange tale of triplets separated at birth.

How to survive cold and flu season: advice from 1761 (the orange rind in the nostrils method).

Pushing the Limits of Extreme Breath-Holding.

Did Medieval People Reach Old Age?

ICYMI, Tuesday’s links are here, and are all Valentine’s Day-related: the science of chocolate, St. Valentine history, vintage cards, and aphrodisiacs.

We Need an Accurate National Conversation About Guns

by Jim Geraghty

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

We Need an Accurate National Conversation About Guns

Thank you, Washington Post, for stepping up to the plate and correcting a widely-cited and shared piece of misinformation in the aftermath of the Florida shooting. There have not been 18 school shootings in the United States so far this year.

The figure originated with Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit group, co-founded by Michael Bloomberg, that works to prevent gun violence and is most famous for its running tally of school shootings…

It is a horrifying statistic. And it is wrong.

Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings. Take, for example, what it counted as the year’s first: On the afternoon of Jan. 3, a 31-year-old man who had parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. Several hours later, he killed himself. The school, however, had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers. There were no students.

Also listed on the organization’s site is an incident from Jan. 20, when at 1 a.m. a man was shot at a sorority event on the campus of Wake Forest University. A week later, as a basketball game was being played at a Michigan high school, someone fired several rounds from a gun in the parking lot. No one was injured, and it was past 8 p.m., well after classes had ended for the day, but Everytown still labeled it a school shooting.

We keep hearing, “we need to have a national conversation about guns,” and then we keep hearing statements from those same voices that are simply not true. If we’re going to have that national conversation, I want the other side to do its homework first.

I don’t want to hear CNN lamenting that Florida doesn’t require a concealed carry permit for an AR-15 or shotgun. (They are too large to conceal.) I don’t want to hear people referring to the AR-15 as an “automatic assault weapon” and I want them to learn the difference between automatic and semiautomatic, and which kind is already illegal. I don’t want to hear about “the gun show loophole” unless the shooter purchased his gun at a gun show. (To the best of my knowledge, not a single mass-shooter has done so.) I want former presidents to stop asserting that it’s easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than buy a computer or a book.

If someone wants to ban AR-15s, I want them to say so. I also want to know what they want to do about the 5 million to 10 million AR-15s already in private hands. I want them to realize that if they don’t grandfather in the already-owned ones, they will instantly turn millions of law-abiding Americans, who have never fired a shot in anger, into criminals. If a gun control advocate proposes a buyback program like Australia’s, I want that person to recognize that the compliance rate down under was about 20 percent and it created a violent black market for guns. If a gun control advocate calls for law enforcement to confiscate AR-15s from private homes, I want that person to realize that they’re calling for violent chaos. And I want them to know that as long as groups advocate ideas like this, the line “no one wants to take away your guns” is a disingenuous lie.

Oscar, Willie, Goody, and Other Greats

by Jay Nordlinger

A couple of weeks ago, Oscar Gamble died. He was a baseball player, for the Cleveland Indians and other teams. He happened to be the first ballplayer I ever saw, live and in the flesh. I wrote about this in my column yesterday.

My dad took me to my first Tigers game. I want to say I was about ten. We were playing the Cleveland Indians. My dad and I walked into Tiger Stadium and there was Oscar Gamble at the plate. He was taking batting practice. I recognized him from news photos, and maybe from television: His terrific Afro was bulging from under his helmet. I knew instantly that it was Gamble.

A reader writes,

I loved it when Oscar Gamble came to the plate, Afro dwarfing the batting helmet atop his head. Your remembrance of seeing him in the flesh brought back a very pleasant memory of my own.

I saw my first baseball game on Patriots’ Day at Fenway Park in 1972. Our seats were along the third-base line, allowing for a great view of the leftfielder.

The opposition on this morning (11 a.m. start on Patriots’ Day) was your Tigers. Eight years old at the time, I was mesmerized by Willie Horton — by his idiosyncrasy of wearing his batting helmet while patrolling the outfield. It was unusual then. It is unusual now.

I later read that Horton used only one batting helmet throughout his career. Apparently, he painted it to match uniform colors when he played for Texas, Oakland, and Seattle. That’s much mileage on a helmet assigned double duty over the span of a long, illustrious career.

I don’t remember the final score of the game, but Mickey Lolich pitched, so the Red Sox never had a chance.

On my bedroom door were two posters: Beethoven and Lolich.

A distinguished lady writes,

Don’t want to be smug, but my uncle was Goody Rosen, who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and was an All-Star in 1945. I spent my childhood hanging out with my dad and Dixie Walker and the rest. Dixie was so tall, he was much more impressive than my uncle. (Goody was one of the first Canadian and Jewish ballplayers in the majors.)

Great stuff.

What’s Up in Dubuque

by Jay Nordlinger

Is social conservatism dead? Of course, it exists in the abstract, or in individual belief. But I mean as a political force. Is there any life in it?

Yesterday, I had a couple of items in my Impromptus column, including one that noted a headline: “New Parents Kylie Jenner & Travis Scott Are ‘Not Officially Living Together.’” Is that not a headline for our times? They are not married. Or even living together — officially.

I wrote, “I will give you an old, old saying — from the Paleolithic era: ‘There are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents.’”

One more item:

I’ll tell you how much of a dinosaur I am: Steve Wynn has been removed as finance chairman of the Republicans because of sex-abuse charges against him. That aside (and it’s a lot to put aside): He is a casino operator. So is President Trump, for that matter, or a former one (and we can leave aside Wynn’s coziness with the Chinese Communist Party).

The fuddy-duddy traditionalist party, the GOP, is stocked with casino operators. And these places are as destructive as they are popular: destroyers of families, lives, and souls.

How many social conservatives are there left in the country? Can we meet at a Denny’s in Dubuque?

Several readers wrote me to say they’d be happy to join me at the Denny’s. One reader said, “I just checked: There is one Denny’s in Dubuque — but at least two casinos.”

I suppose that’s about the right American ratio!

This morning, Ronan Farrow has a story titled “Donald Trump, a Playboy Model, and a System for Concealing Infidelity.” According to the story, he met her at the Playboy Mansion in L.A., where he was shooting an episode of his TV show.

For years, the conservative movement railed against “the Playboy Philosophy” — a philosophy whose holiest ground, so to speak, was Hef’s mansion. Do we now back a president who is an embodiment of that world? What a strange, strange trip this has been.

As a reader remarked, “If you can’t beat ’em, be ’em.”

Poetry

by NRO Staff

Before the Fall

Heart-faced Tyto alba to hunt takes flight

To wind, to wing, in barest light

Through shadows draped with care across the sky

Comes with the dark her hidden cry

 

Wise the hands which craft the night

In which too few take meet and just delight

Stars like virtues, rich stones plainly set,

Whose beauty we oft ignore, and so can forget

 

Distorted, distracted, is our weakened sight

Squinted, stunted, we cannot see to praise aright

And fears consuming of ill in darkness done

Makes us moonlight, starlight, cool night shun

 

For we have fallen from a distant, happy height

A time when owls and stars our wonder did excite

A time exultant whose faint echoes still recall

When we walked at peace in darkness before the fall

– Sean Edward Kinsella

This poem appears in the March 5 print edition of NR.

National Review Summer Internship

by NR Staff

National Review is accepting applications for its summer internship. The intern will work in our New York office, receive a modest stipend, participate in every part of the editorial process, and have some opportunities to write. The ideal candidate will have an excellent academic record and some experience in student or professional journalism. If you wish to apply, please send a cover letter, your résumé, and two of your best writing samples (no more, please) to editorial.applications (at) nationalreview.com.

‘Frankly, the United States Is under Attack’

by Jay Nordlinger

This morning, I read this: “The British government has named and shamed Russia as the culprit in a massive ransomware attack last year that targeted Ukraine and then spread across Europe, costing companies more than $1.2 billion in damages.”

This reminded me of Theresa May, the British prime minister, last November: “We know what you are doing.” She was talking about Russia, and its attempts to upset “the international order,” as she said. She went on to say, “And you will not succeed — because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of Western nations to the alliances that bind us.”

I wonder whether that is true.

I also thought of Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, speaking earlier last year. Without blushing, he called such outlets as RT what they are: “agents of influence.” And he did this with Vladimir Putin standing right next to him.

This very week, our own director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, said this to the Senate Intelligence Committee:

“There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations. … We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen, and other means of influence to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States.”

Coats then made the powerful statement, “Frankly, the United States is under attack.”

All the while, we read reports that President Trump still will not concede that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and is sowing chaos on other fronts as well. This is abnormal. The leaders of Britain and France are highly important, and so is our DNI. But, to be blunt, the president of the United States should be leading on this.

Is he playing some complicated chess that simpletons are unable to see? Would that he were. In any event, the issue of Russia and its efforts to undermine liberal democracies is one to be confronted. It ought to be confronted with a mixture of calm and urgency, if that is possible (and it is).

Democrats are hot on Russia, and Republicans, many of them, would rather look away, or obfuscate. (Not Dan Coats, obviously.) This is entirely political. We can all understand that. But as far as I’m concerned, Republicans and conservatives should think about this issue, and talk about this issue, just as they would if a Democrat were in the Oval Office.

Let me close with an excerpt from an article in the Hill. It gets to the heart of the problem.

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said Tuesday that President Trump’s insistence that the Russia investigation is a “hoax” is preventing the U.S. from confronting the issue of Russia’s election meddling.

“My problem is, I talk to people in Maine who say, ‘The whole thing is a witch hunt and it’s a hoax because the president told me,’” King said, speaking at Tuesday’s hearing where intelligence leaders testified about national security threats.

“We cannot confront this threat, which is a serious one, with a whole-of-government response when the leader of the government continues to deny that it exists,” he continued. …

King pleaded with intelligence officials to “persuade” Trump to separate the issue of election meddling from the question of collusion.

The Truth about ‘White Supremacy’

by NR Staff

National Review’s latest digital magazine is out today for subscribers, featuring Kevin D. Williamson on the intellectual emptiness of “white supremacy.” Also inside you’ll find Robert VerBruggen on the encouraging future of racial integration and Douglas Murray on Edward St. Aubyn. 

For access to this and more from the best conservative writers, subscribe to National Review’s digital magazine here, and print magazine here.