Harvard vs. Annapolis

If you hear that someone attended Harvard,” Levin offered at an American Enterprise Institute forum, you may conclude that he or she is smart. But if you hear that they attended the Naval Academy, you’ll probably conclude that this is a serious person.”

Yuval Levin via Mona Charen

January 26, 2020

Pious obituary fail

[NNN], age 99, died peacefully on January 17, 2020 and is now with her Lord and beloved husband Don.

Don must have been quite a guy.

January 26, 2020

With friends like this …

There are many things I believe about Donald Trump that his fans will argue with. I don’t see how they can realistically deny this, though:

All along, critics of the anti-abortion movement have dismissed its moral appeals and deployment of the language of civil rights, calling it window dressing on a cause that is really motivated by hostility to feminism — and above all, by the drive to limit women’s autonomy, stymie their career ambitions, and reaffirm the primacy of their social role as mothers.

For decades the pro-life movement has fought this characterization. In doing so, it has drawn on the rhetoric of such anti-abortion crusaders as Richard John Neuhaus, who adapted language from his days marching for civil rights with Martin Luther King, and the rationalist and universalistic moral arguments of legal philosopher Robert P. George, who has appealed to the tradition of natural law theorizing in forging his arguments against abortion.

The moral message of these men is simple and powerful: The fetus is a member of the human species from the time of conception; all members of the human species, no matter how small, weak, or dependent, possess innate dignity and hence a right to life; all abortion is therefore the taking of an innocent human life and so must be outlawed along with other forms of murder. This was a line of argument about the rights and legal status of the fetus, not one about the proper place of women in American society.

But a pro-life movement whose greatest political champion is Donald Trump has no hope for maintaining such a high-minded construal of its motives and priorities. When Trump speaks at the March for Life, the country will see the pro-life cause forthrightly advocated by a serial adulterer who’s repeatedly been accused of rape, who cheated on his wife with a porn star shortly after the birth of their son, and who has been caught on tape bragging about his facility at sexual assault. Trump has spent a lifetime using women for his own gratification and then tossing them away like garbage — and he will now be the most powerful and prominent promoter of a movement that would prevent the victims of such treatment from asserting some modicum of control over its consequences on their bodies and future lives.

Damon Linker

January 26, 2020

Mike Pompeo

I now add to my list of reasons not to vote for Trump Mike Pompeo.

January 26, 2020

A price one must pay

One of the things you do in hearings is you have to sit there and look attentively at people you know have no idea what they’re talking about.

Clarence Thomas via Kathleen Parker

January 26, 2020

The Tell

I continue listening to the New York Times Editorial Board podcast interviews with Democrat Presidential hopefuls.

They went relatively softball on Elizabeth Warren, it seems to me. But this, from their deliberations on Warren, discussing voter hesitancy about female candidates, was revealing:

Voice 1: A woman came within a hair’s breadth of being elected President in 2016, …

Voice 2, interrupting: She was elected!

(Laughter. No objection. No qualification.)

January 24, 2020

The NYT Chooses

I regret that some conservatives are mocking the New York Times Editorial Board’s unique-to-2020 process for interviewing the Democrat hopefuls for endorsement purposes.

I’ve been listening to the podcasts, and I assure you that the interviews (even apart from the deliberations after each interview) are quite revealing — orders of magnitude more revealing than the awful televised debates.

January 22, 2020

Looking in the mirror

It says something not very nice about our country that our Senate will decline to remove Trump from office on the bullshit legal theory that impeachable” = criminal.”

January 22, 2020

No-drama Dhimmitude

Finally, somebody said it: Pete Buttigieg is the stand-in for No-Drama Obama.”

Ironically, the most religious Democrat candidate is among the most opposed to religious liberty, including, by implication, much existing Supreme Court precedent.

But he’s very polite about it.

(Tulsi Gabbard is the only Democrat who’s acceptable on religious freedom, perhaps because of her religious history.)

January 21, 2020

Yes man

The New York Times Editorial Board planned to interview Tom Steyer as part of its endorsement process, but he ended up interviewing himself. Example:

Do I think that all those things you’re saying are true? Yes. Am I someone who’s actually worked on that? Yes. Am I someone who’s taken a pledge to give most of my money away while I’m alive? Yes.

They were all softball questions. More than a dozen Am I” or Do I” softballs.

Was it really annoying? Yes!

January 21, 2020

Oh, please, Ruth!

Ruth Marcus thinks we should compromise her way on the Pronoun Wars.” She faults others’ arguments but her own argument is oh, please” and oh, please again.”

January 21, 2020

Worthwhile political reading.

The full text of the New York Times Editorial Board endorsement of both Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar if very worthwhile reading, but it ignores a ticking time-bomb under Warren and tacitly endorses, in its endorsemen of Warren, continued governance by an Imperial Presidency that does by Executive Order and Regulation what it can’t get Congress to enact — the point Damon Linker didn’t miss. (Its endorsement of Klobuchar hints in passing at actual laws — the best chance to enact many progressive plans could be under a Klobuchar administration” (italics added).

I understand that the Editorial Board endorsement is not the same as the newspaper’s endorsement. I still like Damon Linker’s case for Biden, and probably would prefer Klobuchar to the others as his younger alternative.

January 20, 2020

Linker delivers

Damon Linker calls his column The strongest case for Joe Biden, and he delivered what I consider a very strong case indeed.

January 20, 2020

Gratifying yet worrisome

… defamation as a business practice was once upon a time what bottom feeders did for the shock value, not regular practice for the media of record.

Peter Van Buren, The Covington Kids’ Revenge, One Year Later

It’s gratifying to see CNN brought to its knees, but the reported $25 million settlement seems excessive to me, as it would yield to Nick Sandeman a perpetual incomee in the high-six or low-seven figures. That does not plausibly represent a realistic estimate of the damage done him.

January 20, 2020

Wiley Trump

One good thing about surrounding yourself with tawdry gangsters and grifters is that if they flip on you, you can claim they have no credibility because they’re criminals.

Michelle Goldberg

January 18, 2020

The child-care problem nobody’s talking about

There was also in the debate a kind of detachment from real life. A voter asked: How will you prioritize accessing quality affordable child care?” The candidates were indignant that women can be held from the workforce by the high cost of child care. Pete Buttigieg vowed to get federal dollars” involved, and spoke of stunted careers. Ms. Warren said, My plan is universal child care for everyone.” She told of how she was almost forced off track” by child care problems. Mr. Sanders said, Every psychologist in the world knows 0 through 4 are the most important years of human life, intellectually and emotionally.”

No one spoke with compassion for parents, for mothers who forgo the earnings and status (“I have a job”) and relationships (“I’m not lonely all day”) of having a job to stay home with kids under 4. No one said that actually a lot of parents think the most important thing is to stay home and raise the kids, that many struggle to do it, and we might want to help them. No one noted we don’t give any particular honor to those who stay home, even though our culture depends on them.

What seemed to guide all the answers was a technocratic assumption that it’s best for little children to be raised by well-compensated strangers as mom is absorbed into the workforce, where she’ll finally achieve full self-actualization.

It was all so . . . cold. And detached from real life as many live it.

Peggy Noonan

January 17, 2020

Why people hate the press

To the Democratic debate Tuesday night in Des Moines.

It contained my favorite panel-candidate moment of this cycle.

Bright young woman journalist: Sen. Sanders, I do want to be clear here, you’re saying that you never told Sen. Warren that a woman could not win the election?”

Sanders: That is correct.”

BYWJ: Sen. Warren, what did you think when Sen. Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”

Warren: I disagreed.”

It was like Judge Judy on drugs:

Ernie, did you hit Peggy on the head?”

No, of course not.”

Peggy, how did you feel when Ernie hit you on the head?”

The moment went uncorrected. This is why people hate the press.

Peggy Noonan

January 17, 2020


I know of two places in Greater Lafayette, Indiana to get superior burgers:

  1. Bru, downtown, part of a small chain.
  2. Bryant, on U.S. 52 just west of West Lafayette (a one-off theme restaurant in the same Greek family with Christos, Red Seven and Café Literato).

Having been to both recently, my wife and I give the edge to Bryant, though Bru has 50-100% more variations on the burger theme.

I do not consider 5 Guys to even be a candidate for superior burger.” And I’m not considering steakhouses that may offer a burger or two.

January 16, 2020

Immanent red herrings

I’m pretty sure I wrote publicly (recently, and somewhere I can’t identify) that I now thought the killing of Qassim Suleimani was illegal because the case that there was an immanent threat had fallen through.

I should have known better. Immanent threat” was a just a bad rationale Team Trump put forward. It was bad becasue it was (a) unnecessary and (b) unprovable without compromising intelligence sources in most cases.

David French, who actually has expertise in the law of war, explains the better rationale — which he considers conclusive — in the middle portion of this Advisory Opinions podcast. Basically, it’s that we were in Iraq legally fighting terrorism, Suleimani’s Iranian proxy terrorists had attacked our embassy three days earlier, Suleimani had entered Iraq to meet with his proxy terrorists, and command and control figures like Suleimani are fair game in such circumstances.

French’s colleague Sarah Isgur agrees on the facts but thinks those facts per se describe an immanent threat.

(None of this is meant to imply that the killing was wise.)

January 16, 2020

O tempora! O mores!

Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial will be perilous for the reputation of Chief Justice John Roberts,” insists the New York Times.

Why should it be?

… The answer turns out to be O tempora! O mores! The Supreme Court is still reeling from a series of ugly confirmation battles that placed two of Mr. Trump’s nominees on its bench,” Liptak writes. Indeed it is reeling, but the reputational blot there is on Senate Democrats who cynically embraced a rape hoax for their own narrow partisan ends. That’s a neat political strategy: Attack an institution and then demand that it do things your way because it is under attack.

One might be forgiven for suspecting that this is a cynical ploy.

Kevin D. Williamson

January 16, 2020

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