Nearly 70 Percent of Californians Oppose Seceding from the Union

by Austin Yack

California’s secession movement, CalExit, gained momentum immediately following Donald Trump’s victory in November, but it seems to have already fizzled out.

“Yes California,” the leading political action committee fighting for California’s independence from the union, capitalized on the shift in public opinion after Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly carried the state on Election Day. Last January, for example, the campaign committee submitted a proposal to Secretary of State Alex Padilla, allowing it to collect the signatures necessary to create a ballot-box measure for the November 2018 election. The proposal, intended to repeal the provision in California’s Constitution that describes the state’s relationship to the union, must receive 585,407 signatures by July 25 in order to qualify for the ballot.

According to a Berkeley IGS Poll published on Monday, nearly 70 percent of Californians say they will oppose the CalExit provisions if it makes it onto the 2018 ballot. The majority of Californians may loathe Trump, but not enough to declare their state’s independence.

The leaders of “Yes California” argue that “the United States of America represents so many things that conflict with Californian values.” Kevin de León, the Democratic leader of the California State Senate, has echoed this sentiment: He and his Democratic legislators — who hold a super majority in both legislative chambers — argue that they ought to resist the Trump administration to safeguard “the values of the people of California.”

Indeed, Democratic legislators have resisted Trump in his mere 69 days in office, and this effort seems to have failed in the eyes of the public. According to the Berkeley IGS Poll, 53 percent of Californians would rather have their state leaders compromise with Trump than oppose him — especially “if it risks negative consequences and losses in federal funding.”

The liberal safe haven can’t always choose the president. It’s time for California’s leaders to listen to their constituents: compromise with the Trump administration, don’t resist.

Replace or Tinker?

by Ramesh Ponnuru

New York Post columnist Seth Mandel says that Republicans should admit that Obamacare is here to stay and push for incremental reforms of the health-care system rather than its repeal. Among his examples of worthwhile reforms are capping medical-malpractice awards, work requirements on Medicaid recipients, and letting insurers sell policies for the individual market across state lines.

None of these policies, it seems to me, should be high on conservatives’ list of priorities. Robert Rector has explained why work requirements for Medicaid are likely to prove impossible to implement. The rules governing medical malpractice should be left under the control of states, not usurped by the federal government. Interstate purchase isn’t going to achieve much, given that health insurance is tied to local networks of medical providers and that the federal government now extensively regulates benefit levels. If this is the sort of thing Republicans can still achieve on health care, then they are better off moving on to tax reform.

Still, Mandel’s advice is a thousand times better than what Republicans are hearing from points left, which is that they should shovel taxpayer money at insurance companies to shore up Obamacare.

All of this advice comes from overreacting to the failure of a deeply flawed bill. Republicans should, because they still can, do quite a bit to make it possible for nearly everyone to buy renewable, catastrophic health coverage and for them to choose between such plans and more extensive coverage on a level playing field. I think moving toward such a system is most accurately described as “repealing and replacing Obamacare,” and that using that description would be more politically advantageous than calling it something else, like “learning to live with Obamacare.” But the description of course matters less than the substance.

House Hearing on Campus Free Speech

by Stanley Kurtz

The Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice of the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “First Amendment Protections on Public College and University Campuses” on Tuesday, April 4 at 11:30 AM. I have been invited to appear as a witness. My testimony will focus on the question of why, despite the many public condemnations of campus assaults on free speech, the problem continues to worsen. Following that, I will outline possible solutions, touching on the state-level model legislation offered by the Goldwater proposal, as well as the plan I’ve outlined for conditioning federal funding on the protection of campus free speech.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at [email protected]

Senator Shaheen Opts to Filibuster

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.), Feb. 7: “Unlike the Republican majority, I haven’t heard any Democrats saying we don’t think that Judge Gorsuch should get a hearing or that he should get an up-or-down vote. Everybody I’ve talked to agrees he should get a hearing and an up-or-down vote.” Within hours she “explained” that a vote to filibuster a nomination counts as an up-or-down vote on one.

This week she confirmed that she will join a filibuster against Gorsuch, which is to say that she will block a final up-or-down vote on his nomination.

Hearings were going to take place whatever Sen. Shaheen thought about them. When she was patting herself on the back for her open-mindedness and fairness, she was piously renouncing steps she had no power to take, and trusting that people would be too unsophisticated to understand the con.

‘A trade war is brewing inside the White House between rival camps’

by Rich Lowry

I never thought there would be any doubt where Trump would come down on trade, but unexpectedly here we are.

How Many Cypriot Bank Accounts Does One Man Need?

by Rich Lowry

This story on Paul Manafort – like all stories on Paul Manafort lately — is disturbing and almost comically true to type.

The Loyalty Oath Returns as the ‘Faculty Diversity Statement’

by George Leef

For decades, American higher education has been caught up in a mania over “diversity.” Most colleges and universities now have at least one course on “diversity” but often more, sometimes mandatory for graduation. (Those courses are invariably Trojan Horses that bring in a host of “progressive” notions to be planted in impressionable young heads.) They have offices of “Diversity and Inclusion,” staffed with lots of earnest believers, college graduates who would have trouble getting a job that didn’t depend on the ability to utter clichés. They have campaigns to “diversify” their faculties, meaning tha they will hire to meet group quotas.

Fitting perfectly into all of that is the nasty development I discuss in my Martin Center article today, the faculty “diversity statement.” Those are statements required of current and prospective faculty members at an increasing number of schools. The point is to help schools separate true believers in “diversity” from those who just pretend or, worse, don’t hold with the tenets of “diversity” at all.

My article was inspired by a recent paper published by the Oregon Association of Scholars on this subject. Diversity statements are big in the Oregon higher-education system. I tip my hat to Portland State political-science professor Bruce Gilley, who has gone out on a limb in blowing the whistle on this development.

Can this juggernaut be stopped?

I think that mandating what amounts to a loyalty oath to a political creed is on thin ice as far as the First Amendment goes. The more expeditious route to go, however, would be to use the Higher Education Act and the Department of Education (much as I’d rather get rid of both) to put an end to “diversity statements.” Make colleges and universities that persist in using them face the loss of federal money. That would do the trick.

No to ‘Racial Impact Statements’

by Roger Clegg & Hans A. von Spakovsky

The Federalist Society blogsite has an interesting post by James Scanlan on proposed legislation in New Jersey that would require racial and ethnic impact statements for any legislative measure that affects pretrial detention, sentencing, probation, or parole policies. Mr. Scanlan notes that racial-impact-statement laws have already, alas, been enacted in Connecticut, Iowa, and Oregon and that similar legislation has recently been introduced in Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, and Wisconsin; and, what’s more, frequently the legislation addresses not just post-arrest and conviction policies, but what is made criminal in the first place.

Mr. Scanlan does a wonderful job of pointing out how this law is methodologically flawed and practically unworkable, and we’d like to elaborate briefly on why the whole approach is bad policy and probably unconstitutional as well.

There are, for starters, no laws that don’t have a disparate impact on some racial or ethnic group — tax laws, antitrust laws, environmental laws, criminal laws, you name it. In the criminal context, this is because human beings don’t commit crimes in the same exact proportion that their particular racial or ethnic group is to the general population, and indeed those proportions change over time.

And what is the government supposed to do with this information, anyway? What it should do, of course, is ignore it: Criminal laws should be written without regard to race, and let the chips fall where they may. It is disturbing to contemplate a legislature carefully crafting a law with an eye on racial and ethnic outcomes; such race-based decisionmaking is precisely what the Constitution enjoins, and its presence will only encourage lawsuits.

But obviously there is an expectation here that the disparities will be addressed and, in some way, diminished. There are two ways that this might be done, both bad.

The first is not to make some type of behavior illegal that should be illegal because it is dangerous or in some other way bad for the community. This will be unfortunate for the public generally, and especially for those who live in the area where the activity is going on — most often, poor urban areas with high crime rates. But as is often the case, the Left appears more concerned with the race of the perpetrator than it is with the race of his or her victims, even though they are usually the same.

The second way to deal with a predicted disparity is to tweak the law so that more white (or, likely, Asian American) people are arrested, too. That’s probably not what the ACLU has in mind, but one could see an effort to bundle together two bills so that there is racial “balance”: the original one that had a disparate impact on blacks, say, and a second one written not because it is really needed but so that it has a disparate impact on whites. So, for example, a bill that increased penalties for some of the types of street crime that happen in poor, inner-city neighborhoods would be combined with a bill that increased penalties for some types of white-collar crime.

The next white-collar criminal prosecuted under that law would then have a ready-made challenge, namely that the law being applied to him was passed with racially discriminatory intent. That’s unconstitutional.

According to the crime statistics amassed by the FBI for 2015, it is an unfortunate, and politically incorrect, fact that African Americans commit crimes at a greater rate than other racial and ethnic groups including Asian Americans, whites, and Hispanics. But the reason for this is that too many African Americans grow up in homes without a father and live in broken and dysfunctional communities; and those problems will not be solved, and indeed will be exacerbated, by the Left’s ignoring and excusing this reality and instead insisting that any disparity is due to “institutional racism” in our criminal justice system.

Looking at the Good and Bad Changes from Trump After 69 Days

by Jim Geraghty

From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt…

Looking at the Trump Record After 69 Days

The good things to come out of the Trump administration so far:

  • The nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
  • Most of the cabinet picks, particularly Secretary of Defense Mattis, Secretary of Education DeVos and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. Ryan Zinke, riding his horse to work and allowing his employees to bring their dogs to their offices, appears on track to be the most lovable Secretary of the Interior ever.
  • Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley already forced the resignation of a UN official who called Israel an “apartheid state” and issued a report citing a scholar who defended the Boston Marathon bombings.
  • The approval of the Keystone Pipeline and continuing construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • The border wall construction process is beginning, albeit very slowly. Customs and Border Protection issued requests for proposals and prototypes of wall construction.
  • The stock market boom, perhaps best reflected in the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumping from 18,807 to 20,701 (although it was as high as 21,115 a few weeks ago).
  • Many of the corporate announcements of hiring sprees are repackaging of previously-announced hiring plans, but it’s still nice to see daily headlines of companies hiring in big numbers.
  • In February, NATO’s secretary general announced that the 2016 defense expenditure of the Canadian and European member countries was 3.8 percent higher than expected.
  • Bombing of ISIS has ramped up considerably, up to 500 to 600 airstrikes per week. Yes, this means increased civilian casualties, as ISIS hides behind civilians. Secretary Mattis put it directly: “There is no military force in the world that has proven more sensitive to civilian casualties. We go out of our way to always do everything humanly possible to reduce the loss of life or injury among innocent people. The same cannot be said for our adversaries.”

The bad things to come out of the Trump administration so far:

  • Tweeting that President Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower, an accusation that no one could find any evidence to support.
  • Not merely the inability to pass health care reform on the first try, but the clumsy way it was handled, with Trump clearly not caring about the details and Bannon trying to bully the House Freedom Caucus, telling them they had “no choice” but to vote for it.
  • Trump continues to make big promises with few details on how he’s going to make it work. Last night he said, “I know that we are all going to make a deal on health care. That’s such an easy one.” Is it? Is it really?
  • The administration had a series of defeats in court; the initial travel ban appeared to be hastily-written, ignored career lawyers of DHS, and created chaos at the nation’s airports.
  • The FBI is investigating whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia on illegal hacking of places like John Podesta’s computer and the DNC and other efforts to influence the election.
  • The outlook for tax reform is complicated by the failure to get health care reforms done first, as the reforms were supposed to create the savings to pay for the tax cuts. Ditto for the dreams of a big infrastructure bill.
  • It’s very early, but there are signs that the “energized Democratic grassroots” storyline isn’t just media wish-fulfillment. Just as Republicans woke up and got active as the Obama era began in 2009, Democrats may be the same…
  • We’re cool with a president frequently golfing now, huh, conservatives?
  • We don’t care if White House visitor logs are no longer accessible to the public, huh? We’re fine with the Trump administration being less open and transparent than the Obama administration?

Yesterday I wrote about one of the more bewildering and unnerving early stumbles of the administration, a persistent complaint about the “deep state” while failing to nominate anyone for hundreds upon hundreds of important positions. Yes, the Senate could confirm the 40 or so nominees faster, but the Trump administration just looks flatly unprepared for one of the key tasks of governing.

I’m sure everyone will have their own additions to these lists…

Rooms of Our Own

by Jay Nordlinger

Today’s Impromptus begins with a tale of two sculptures: Charging Bull, the Wall Street icon, which was placed there after the Crash of 1987, as a symbol of American resilience and dynamism; and Fearless Girl, which was placed in front of the bull this year in order to make a statement about gender equality in the financial sector.

The bull used to be something good, you see (good if you appreciate American capitalism). Now it has been rendered something bad, something menacing, to be stood up to. Neat trick, right? And a dirty trick, in my opinion.

Anyway, that’s what I lead with. And, after myriad peregrinations, I finish with an item on Robert McCloskey, a political scientist at Harvard who died in the 1960s (and was the father of Deirdre McCloskey, who is well-known today). Robert McCloskey was a favorite professor of a friend of mine. I wish I had studied under him myself.

One of my in-between items is about rooms. Huh? Room 34 of Britain’s National Gallery contains British paintings from 1750 to 1850. On Twitter, Daniel Hannan declared this “arguably the finest room in the world.”

That got me to thinking: What is the finest room in the world? And what are our criteria? I always thought that the Main Reading Room in the Library of Congress — Jefferson Building — was kinda fine. Mighty fine. Then there are rooms in Italy. So many …

(I should put in a plug for the Grosser Saal of the Mozarteum, Salzburg.)

If you’d like to play, please write me at [email protected]. Tell me what you think is the finest room in the world.

Our own room, ought that to be the finest? Why, sure. Charity begins at home. And, more specifically, in the sanctity of our very own room, which should provide comfort and order — and, as a bonus, reflect a little beauty. A blessed asylum.

P.S. We remember, of course, Room 222, of television past.

P.P.S. The Topkapi Palace, in Istanbul, contains a dozen rooms that might vie for “finest.” (I’ll stop now.)

California’s Radical Pro-Abortion Regime

by Wesley J. Smith

Response To...

Democracy Dies in Darkness

I am continually stunned at the energy and sheer ruthlessness of Planned Parenthood defenders—including the desire to ruin the lives of those who draw blood from the abortionists by pulling back the curtain to reveal the organization’s true character.

But indicting David Daleiden on 15 felony counts crosses the border of legitimate law enforcement to using the law as a weapon of tyranny.

This isn’t the first time Daleiden was indicted. A Texas DA tried the same gambit after the Attorney General instructed that he investigate Planned Parenthood. Those charges were thrown out of court.

California is as radical as radical gets, so I am worried Daleiden will have a much more difficult time obtaining justice there.

Oakland jailed Walter Hoye, an African American pastor–unconstitutionally, it turned out–for holding a sign that read, “Jesus loves you, Baby, let us help.” inside an abortion anti-protest bubble zone. 

The state permits non-doctors to perform abortions, because there never can be enough.  It also requires crisis pregnancy centers to list information where abortions can be obtained.

And as for Daleiden receiving a fair trial from a California jury pool: Ai, yi, yi!

If Daleiden had only gone after a pig farm or stockyard with undercover videos, he would have a much easier time!
 

Paralyzed Man Moves Arm With Brain Implants

by Wesley J. Smith

Futuristic medicine is here. 

A paralyzed man was able to move his own arm using electrodes implanted in his brain and arm. From the Sky News story:

Bill Kochevar, 56, was paralysed below his shoulders in a cycling accident eight years ago but can now grasp and lift objects after having two pill-sized electrodes implanted in his brain.

The electrodes record the activity of brain neurons to generate signals that tell another device to stimulate muscles in the paralysed limb.

During trials held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Mr Kochevar raised a mug of water to his lips and drank from a straw… Mr Kochevar, from Cleveland, said…”For somebody who’s been injured eight years and couldn’t move, being able to move just that little bit is awesome to me.”

Fabulous!

This wonderful success story required researchers engaging in what I call the “grim good” of animal research, including conducting experiments on monkeys over many years to test safety and methodology. 

So to those animal rights activists who continually lie by claiming we receive no material benefit from research on monkeys and other animals, and to the more radical among them who harass and threaten researchers and their families for conducting experiments using monkeys, mice, rats, and other animals in order to help suffering mankind: Pfffft!

Democracy Dies in Darkness

by Kevin D. Williamson

David Robert Daleiden, who produced those embarrassing undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood executives engaged in grotesquely cavalier behavior that at times looks an awful lot like fetal organ trafficking – remember the Lamborghini lady? — is being charged as a criminal in California, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Irrespective of how one feels about his videos, this is outrageous. He and his colleague, Sandra Merrit, are charged with 15 felonies, among them “conspiracy to invade privacy,” which is a pretty good working definition of investigative journalism. This is pure political retaliation and an abuse of power by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who would be removed from office in a self-respecting state. 

Democracy dies in darkness, right?

Krauthammer’s Take: In the Fall, ‘Obamacare’s Problems Are Going to Really Come to the Surface Again’

by NR Staff

Charles Krauthammer suggested that the demise of the American Health Care Act is not the end of Republican attempts to undo Obamacare:

I don’t think there’s a reason why it had to be pronounced dead. The president had an ultimatum. He decided he would stick to it. He decided that, as a result, he would not be involved. That’s fine. It’s still an open question whether they Republicans in the House and in the Senate can negotiate among themselves. They were not that far apart. I have been advocating this other alternative where you abandon the restrictions that are imposed by the reconciliation process, meaning you stuff the bill with all the kind of stuff you were going to add later, stuff that would appeal to the Freedom Caucus. You put that in the bill and toss it over to the Senate, and if Senate Democrats want to filibuster, fine. So, I think there are several options. I don’t think they are that far apart. I think it’s perfectly reasonable they could negotiate a deal among themselves. And I do think that in the fall, when Obamacare’s problems are going to really come to the surface again — spiking premiums and deductibles, and it gets worse every year — there will be less nostalgia for Obamacare then you have found in the current debate.

Dangers and Promises: A Tour with Eliot Cohen

by Jay Nordlinger

Almost 15 years ago, Eliot Cohen published Supreme Command, a book that made a big splash. He’s still splashing. His new book is The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power & the Necessity of Military Force. And he is my guest on Q&A (here).

Cohen is one of the leading national-security scholars in our country. He is an adviser to presidents, would-be presidents, secretaries of state, would-be secretaries of state, and others. In this podcast, I ask him to take a tour with me, and we do.

We start nearby — Mexico. And go to Europe. And Russia. And Japan. And North Korea. And China. And Iran. And elsewhere. We also discuss the terror war and the arena of “cyber” — cyberwarfare, cyberintelligence, and so on.

Toward the end of our podcast, we talk about the Trump administration, which features many of Cohen’s longtime friends and comrades. How will it all turn out? Well, who’s to say?

After I finish a conversation with Eliot Cohen, I feel my sense of the world is heightened. I’m talking about its dangers, sure — for that is Cohen’s specialty: dangers — but the world’s promises as well. It ain’t all bad.

And this podcast is all good, thanks to Cohen. Again, here.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley: ‘The Days of Israel-Bashing Are Over’

by Paul Crookston

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stated that she is aiming to change the culture at the U.N., and she has started by defending the international community’s favorite punching bag — Israel. At an event with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) yesterday, Haley described the U.N.’s animus toward Israel as “ridiculous” and confirmed that “the days of Israel-bashing are over,” drawing loud applause:

If you challenge us, be prepared for what you’re challenging us for, because we will respond. The next thing we did was we said, “The days of Israel-bashing are over.” We have a lot of things to talk about. There are a lot of threats to peace and security. But you’re not going to take our No. 1 democratic friend in the Middle East and beat up on them. And I think what you’re seeing is they’re all backing up a little bit. The Israel-bashing is not as loud. They didn’t know exactly what I meant outside of giving the speech, so we showed them.

She went on to explain how she got the U.N. to refrain from placing a former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority into a top-level position: “What it means is, until the Palestinian Authority comes to the table, until the U.N. responds the way they’re supposed to, there are no freebies for the Palestinian Authority anymore.”

She also demanded that the U.N. withdraw a report from the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia that labeled Israel an apartheid state — and withdraw it they did:

So then they tested us again. And a ridiculous report, the Falk Report, came out. I don’t know who the guy is or what he’s about, but he’s got serious problems. Goes and compares Israel to an apartheid state. So the first thing we do is we call the secretary general and say, “This is absolutely ridiculous. You have to pull it.” The secretary general immediately pulled the report. And then the director has now resigned.

Last thing. So for anyone that says you can’t get anything done at the U.N., they need to know there’s a new sheriff in town.

She also expressed a commitment to reverse the Obama-era trend of playing softball with Iran and Russia in the Middle East:

The reason it’s concerning is because when the Iran deal took place, all it did was empower Iran, and it empowered Russia. And it emboldened Iran to feel like they could get away with more. You can put sanctions on a country. To take sanctions away, it’s very hard to go back and put sanctions back on.

So what we have said is we’re going to watch them like a hawk. We’re going to make sure that every single thing they do is watched, processed, and dealt with.

While she cannot reverse it now, Haley did criticize the Obama administration’s abstention allowing Resolution 2334 to pass. The resolution condemned Israeli settlements, even in Jerusalem, and she declared that its adoption “showed the United States at its weakest point ever” in the U.N. She described a renewed American leadership that does not shy away from taking a stand: “Leading is saying and doing things when it’s not comfortable.”

It’s no wonder that David Horovitz of the Times of Israel declared her the “undisputed star” of the conference. This reassertion of U.S. leadership in the U.N. is a welcome change from the Obama administration.

Forbearance

by Nicholas Frankovich

Lionel Trilling wrote of F. Scott Fitzgerald that “he really had but little impulse to blame, which is the more remarkable because our culture peculiarly honors the act of blaming, which it takes as the sign of virtue and intellect. ‘Forbearance, good word,’ is one of the jottings in his notebook.”

Jack and Jay both salute Linda Bridges for her graciousness and restraint. I think of it as verbal non-violence. She could have been a sharp-tongued polemicist, given her gifts, but she chose to use them as she did, conscientiously, like a Seventh-day Adventist serving the war effort as a medic. Words have the power to kill as well as to give life (Prov. 18:21). In that sense (as in others), Linda was pro-life. She spoke and wrote accordingly.

American Stoicism

by Peter Augustine Lawler

So I gave a talk last weekend at the Ciceronian Society at Louisiana State University last weekend. It was on American Stoicism.

Another speaker (much more popular) was Rod Dreher, talking about his Benedict Option. One of the many charming things about his presentation is that he talked about actual Benedictines. He reminded is that the actual Rule of Saint Benedict is really boring, because it lays out in meticulous and loving detail a coherent, stable, and only moderately disciplined way of life. The Benedictines, as orders go, have typically had moderate and highly civilized views, and they have always been countercultural, but never in an alarmist way.

Now my view of American Stoicism, which is moderately critical, pretty much comes from the philosopher-phyisician-novelist Walker Percy.

It was inevitable that I was asked what I thought of Rod’s fine (and hugely successful) new book on the BO. Well, for one thing, our country can always use more BO, which means more people living like the Benedictines and more people living in highly civilized, highly relational, countercultural ways in general.

Now, a dumb thing I said is that Walker Percy liked and I like TV too much to be whole-hog on the BO front. But, you know, it turns out that Percy was an oblate (or sort of fellow traveler) of the Benedictines of St. Joseph’s Abbey in his chosen home of Covington, La. And he’s buried on the grounds of that abbey. Nobody thought more highly of the Benedictines than he did, although he wasn’t actually called to be one.

So a more serious answer is that I thought that the BO often needs a dose of American Stoicism — or the virtues of magnanimity and generosity (and some honor in general) to supplement Christian love. That means, among other things, that people living the Benedictine Option aren’t absolved of their relational duties to the wider community and to their country. To some extent, the actual Benedictines can be given a pass, but their monasteries are single-sex and don’t include children.

Now, Rod has said more than once, to be fair, that he actually agrees with that criticism, which is why he’s moved from his hometown of St. Francisville, La., to the fairly big city of Baton Rouge to send his kids to a classical school.

What comes next is a dense, four-paragraph summary of the genealogy of magnanimous American Stoicism, which has, as you can see, largely divested itself of its racist, classist, and even sexist baggage. Today, the option it presents is virtuous alternatives to the intrusive expert scripting of ordinary lives by Democrats such as Hillary Clinton, the demagogic populism that deforms Trumpism, and the oligarchic individualism of too much of establishment conservatism. For a primer on democratized Southern Stoicism, I suggest you review the fabulous TV series Friday Night Lights.

I apologize that this summary is written so densely, but I will unpack it later.


Southern Stoicism and Magnanimity in America
Alexis de Tocqueville explained that the two indigenous countercultures in America were New England Puritanical Christianity and the Southern aristocracy. The Puritans, in a way, made a contribution to American magnanimity by defending Sunday as a day of restful leisure, reminding the busy Americans that they were born for more than a merely material existence as beings with a high, singular, and more than merely biological destiny. Tocqueville also said that the Southerners, despite the monstrous injustice of race-based slavery, had the virtues and vices of any aristocracy. He didn’t speculate about the American future in light of that fact, assuming that the inevitable disappearance of the slave-based society would lead to the assimilation of the South into the universalism of middle-class thought and morality.

Tocqueville was wrong about that assumption. Well, far from completely wrong, but wrong enough. As the philosopher-physician-novelist Walker Percy explained in his remarkable “Stoicism in the South,” the Southern aristocracy had a coherent philosophy that reflected a real form of human excellence rooted in the virtues of magnanimity and generosity. The leading Southerners often took at their guide the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius, thinking of themselves as gifted with natural and social privileges that generated corresponding responsibilities and as living as rational fortresses that allowed them to display the virtue required to handle any contingency. Stoicism was not a theme in the antebellum literary output of the South; all of the literary energy was consumed defending slavery. But it was a more prominent part of the Southern literature that flourished after the war, which reflected the consciousness of dispossessed aristocrats.

My talk addressed the most coherent form of Stoicism presented by William Alexander Percy. Walker Percy’s critical reception of the Stoicism of the man who raised him helped him to develop a kind indigenous American Thomism through reconciling what’s true about classical magnanimity with Christian love. I also talked about how Southern Stoicism became American Stoicism through Harper Lee’s portrayal of the magnanimity of Atticus Finch in defending the egalitarian rule of law from racist populism.

I concluded with the significance of the most democratized form of Southern Stoicism in places such as the novels of Charles Portis (particularly True Grit) and Tom Wolfe (particularly A Man in Full) and on the screen in movies such as Mud, Loving, and American Sniper and the TV series Friday Night Lights.

Yes, ‘Assault Rifles’ Are Good for Home Defense

by David French

One of the consistent arguments advanced in favor of banning so-called “assault rifles” from the civilian market is the assertion that they’re somehow inappropriate for home defense. Tell that to this guy:

Gunfire rang out Monday afternoon in a home in Broken Arrow, an Oklahoma city 15 miles southeast of Tulsa. Three intruders were killed after the son of the homeowner fired a semiautomatic rifle in what local law enforcement officers later described as an act of self-defense, though their investigation remains open.

The intruders — a 16-year-old, a 17-year-old and a man thought to be 18 or 19 — had smashed open the back door of the house, the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted to Facebook. Their plan was burglary, authorities said.

They wore gloves, masks and all-black clothes, Wagoner County Deputy Nick Mahoney told Tulsa World. Two of the teenagers were armed, one with a knife and the other with brass knuckles.

The semiautomatic rifle was reportedly an AR-15, exactly the type of gun that numerous liberals tell conservatives that they don’t “need” for self-defense. As I wrote last year:

[W]hen your life is on the line, what do you want? More accuracy or less? More firepower or less? More recoil or less? More reliability or less? It’s always interesting to take a relatively inexperienced shooter to a range, let them first shoot a handgun (where the bullets generally scatter all over the target), and then hand them an AR. Even rookies will shoot far more accurately with far less recoil. It’s just easier to use.

But don’t take it from me. A number of self-defense experts also choose AR-style rifles to defend their own homes, and as the rifle continues to grow in popularity I would expect more stories like the report out of Oklahoma. An AR-15 isn’t the right self-defense solution for everyone, but for those who know how to use the weapon and can safely store it while still maintaining quick access, it can save innocent lives. 

The Tax-Revenue Raiders and the NFL’s Ominous Future

by Jim Geraghty

From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

The Tax-Revenue Raiders and the NFL’s Ominous Future

The National Football League is testing the patience of fans once again.

For the third time in fifteen months, an NFL franchise is moving to a new city. Last year the St. Louis Rams became the Los Angeles Rams; the San Diego Chargers moved up the coast to become the Los Angeles Chargers and will play next season in a converted soccer stadium. Monday, the league’s owners voted to approve the Oakland Raiders move to Las Vegas.

The taxpayers of Nevada – or more specifically, hotel guests – are ponying up a large sum of cash to make the move happen:

The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved $750 million of public money to build a football stadium in Vegas, presumably for the Raiders, who have been lobbying for a move to Las Vegas.

The public money would be raised through hotel taxes.

“We are excited and thanks to the committee,” Raiders owner Mark Davis told USA TODAY after the committee vote Thursday.

How’s this for chutzpah? Davis asked Raider fans to come out and cheer until the team officially moves in 2019 or 2020 (depending on how fast they can complete the new stadium).

“The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA. We know that some fans will be disappointed and even angry, but we hope that they do not direct that frustration to the players, coaches and staff. We plan to play at the Coliseum in 2017 and 2018, and hope to stay there as the Oakland Raiders until the new stadium opens. We would love nothing more than to bring a championship back to the Bay Area.”

“And then, we will leave.” As ESPN’s Mike Greenberg observed, this is like your spouse announcing they’re divorcing you in two to three years because they’ve found someone better, but they expect you to love them until they leave. His colleague Dan Graziano offered a twisted thought: If the Raiders, who made the playoffs last year, won the Super Bowl this year or next, would the city of Oakland throw them the traditional parade?

I am sure I disagree with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff on almost everything, but she’s completely in the right here when she says, “I am proud that we stood firm in refusing to use public money to subsidize stadium construction and that we did not capitulate to their unreasonable and unnecessary demand that we choose between our football and baseball franchises.” This came down to one city/state putting a ton of taxpayer money on the table, and another city/state refusing to do so.

Each time a franchise succeeds in getting a shiny, state-of-the-art, luxury-box-laden stadium heavily financed by the taxpayers, it increases the incentive for other owners to pressure cities for the same deal. Marcus Thompson II, writing in the East Bay Times (which used to be the Oakland Tribune) wonders which city will get a raw deal next:

One: will the other 32 owners just let the San Francisco 49ers expand its kingdom and have a top-five market to itself? All the while, the Raiders dip into the Los Angeles fan base.

Two: how long before another team in a small market — which just saw a major market open up with an abandoned fan base and a potential boon in revenue — tries to make a move on Oakland?

The Jacksonville Jaguars owner has plenty of money. Can the Titans survive long term in a college town in Nashville? How committed are the Bengals to Cincinnati?

Don’t give me the they-would-never speech. It’s been proven that emotional, fan-centered view is just a marketing ploy. The NFL owners will go where the money is.

Wait, there’s one more ominous angle, from a Deadspin commentator: Let’s take an NFL team, a roster of 53 athletic young men, some as young as 21 or so. Some of them are making enormous amounts of money; the league minimum is roughly $465,000. They are active from mid-to-late July to January, or February if they’re in the playoffs. Sometimes, when injured, they have significant amounts of time away from the regimented routine of the season… now let’s put all of those young men in Sin City, surrounded by casinos, clubs, strippers, and every other temptation under the sun. What’s the worst that could happen, right?

How many years until a player gets caught in gambling scandal?

There’s genuine reason to wonder if the future of the NFL is as bright as the owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell have come to expect.

The NFL went through a bout of sudden franchise moves in the mid-90s. The Raiders moved from L.A. back to Oakland, the Rams moved to Saint Louis, the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore and renamed themselves the Ravens and the Houston Oilers moved to Memphis and eventually renamed themselves the Tennessee Titans.

The NFL’s popularity wasn’t hurt by that franchise roulette, but the situation is different now. Back in the 1990s, the economy was running good-to-hot and the public was a less wary of giant taxpayer expenditures on stadiums to host eight to twelve home games a year. (And that’s counting the preseason.)

In 2016, the NFL’s television ratings were down 9 percent from the previous year in the regular season and down 6 percent in the playoffs. Undoubtedly some of that represents exasperation with the likes of Colin Kaepernick. But there are a lot of complaints of fans that won’t go away if Kaepernick keeps his word and stands for the upcoming season: sloppy play, long commercial breaks, long instant-replay delays, too many games being played between the Thursday Night Game, Sunday’s games, the Sunday Night Game, and the Monday Night Game, overseas games in London starting at 9 a.m. Eastern…

One other major factor for the future of the sport: I occasionally see voices on the Right scoffing at parents who won’t let their sons play football, contending this is an example of over-protectiveness or “snowflake culture.” Well, 12 former NFL players are telling their sons and grandsons the same thing, players like Harry Carson, Mike Ditka, and Troy Aikman. At age 44, Brett Favre said he doesn’t remember his daughter’s soccer season. Most of us will go through life and never suffer a concussion, or only experience one or two. Former Jets receiver Al Toon was diagnosed with nine during an eight-year career. (Toon says he has lingering conditions but “nothing significant.”) How many concussions can a young man suffer before serious long-term damage occurs? When it’s your child, how many hits to the head seem like “too many”?

You can go through life with a sore knee. You need a functioning mind for the rest of your life, long after your playing days are over. Parents and grandparents being extremely wary about concussions on their sons’  developing brains doesn’t strike me as being overprotective. It strikes me as being extremely careful about the risks and rewards.