The Redhunter Catches You

by Jack Fowler

As Corner readers know, NR is moving, downsizing, and discovering in the process — we have come across 17 copies of the beautiful hardcover edition of Bill Buckley’s acclaimed 1999 novel, The Redhunter, a novel based on the life of WFB’s late and famous/infamous friend, Senator Joe McCarthy.

Would you like a copy? This is from WFB’s private stash. We aren’t taking them with us (no room for these big books, well over 420 pages each!) so we are happy to sell you a copy for $20.00. That will include shipping and handling charges. Get your copy of The Redhunter direct from the NRO Store, and we humbly suggest you act now, because when we make these offers, everything goes in a flash.

Anti-Radical-Muslim Activist Group Labeled a ‘Hate Group’ by Southern Poverty Law Center

by Ericka Andersen

Maajid Nawaz runs Quilliam, a London-based organization that aims to counter jihadism and extremism around the world. Nawaz, who considers himself a former Muslim radical (and still identifies as Muslim), is now fighting back against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has labeled his organization a “hate group” for its strong stance against radicalism. For the record, the SPLC also put Ayaan Hirsi Ali on their list.

Nawaz has filed a lawsuit against SPLC and many are left wondering how Quilliam could have received such a label in the first place. He has admitted he feels like there already is a target on his head from certain people in the Muslim community.

Nawaz appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday to explain the controversy — and point out how well-meaning liberals are often way off the mark when it comes to their criticism. He calls it “the bigotry of low expectations,” saying that liberals fight for causes like gay rights and women’s rights in America but refuse to allow people like him to fight for those issues within their own communities. Some liberals commonly ignore the fact that gays are often murdered by being thrown off of buildings — or that countries such as Pakistan support spousal abuse.

Maher pointed out that most Muslims are not extremists, but there are many who are. Nawaz said that London police have said they need to be monitoring 23,000 jihadists in London in order to adequately prevent more terrorist attacks. The problem? They only have the capacity to monitor 3,000 — and that’s in London alone. Nawaz then points out there are even more ideological Muslims who won’t attack, but would support the attacks. The numbers are staggering.

It’s a scary shame that leftist extremists aren’t willing to take Nawaz — or Hirsi Ali — seriously. Just recently, Hirsi Ali and another anti-extremist, Asra Nomani, testified before the Senate. Nomani told Fox News that Democratic female senators refused to even look her in the eye when she addressed them about the abuse happening to women at the hands of Muslim extremists. Watch:

“Just as we are invisible to the mullahs at the mosque, we were invisible to the Democratic women in the Senate,” the two women wrote in a New York Times op-ed following the hearing, in which they were asked no questions. “When it comes to the pay gap, abortion access and workplace discrimination, progressives have much to say. But we’re still waiting for a march against honor killings, child marriages, polygamy, sex slavery or female genital mutilation.”

When will progressives join Nawaz, Hirsi Ali, and Nomani in their fight to against Islamic radicalism destroying lives around the globe?

Some Progress against the Evils of Civil Asset Forfeiture

by George Leef

Kevin Williamson nailed the truth in his recent essay — civil asset-forfeiture laws are indeed the death of due process. Justice Thomas sees that clearly and perhaps a majority will be persuaded the next time a case involving those laws reaches the Supreme Court.

However, the widespread opposition to allowing police to seize an innocent person’s property simply on suspicion that it was somehow involved in or resulted from a crime is having an impact at the state level. In Colorado, Connecticut, and Illinois, bills have either been signed or have reached the governor’s desk that make their laws less amenable to abuse by police who want to engage in some legal plunder. And in Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court has ruled in an ugly case (a 72-year-old woman was going to lose her house because her son sold some drugs in it) that the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against excessive fines applies to such forfeitures. That decision will cut into the profitability of civil asset forfeiture.

I discuss those advances in my latest Forbes article.

Sadly, Congress is sitting on its hands. A bill that would defang this viper as practiced by the federal government, the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act, is stuck in its respective Senate and House committees. Yes, Congress is busy, but in the past there has been heavy support from Democrats and Republicans for the legislation. Getting the FAIR Act passed shouldn’t be terribly hard. Months ago, President Trump (after meeting with some sheriffs in Texas) indicated his opposition to reforming civil asset forfeiture, but it might be possible to get him to see that signing a reform bill into law would be most popular in lower-income and minority communities. If he wants to increase his support there, that would be a good move. In any case, repairing the damage civil asset forfeiture does to due process of law should need no political calculus.

How the Logic of Tribalism Is Driving the Health-Care Debate

by Jonah Goldberg

I’m just thinking out loud here. But it seems to me this is one of those moments in American politics where no one can simply say what they really think or want. As Yuval noted yesterday, big chunks of the GOP-controlled Congress just don’t want to deal with health care or repeal Obamacare. As both the House and Senate legislation demonstrate, they’d rather tinker with it than tear it down. But they can’t say that. So, they’re claiming this is a repeal of Obamacare. It’s not. But it is a repeal of the Medicaid expansion that was glued onto Obamacare.

This is odd in many ways. Donald Trump vowed not to touch Medicaid. He also doesn’t seem to like either bill on the merits, but he desperately wants a big legislative win and the ability to say he repealed Obamacare. So, in policy terms, the voters who believed Trump when he said he wouldn’t touch Medicaid are getting screwed, but it seems many of them — or their anointed representatives in right-wing media — don’t care, because they too want Trump to have a big political win more than a much more difficult policy win (and for the Democrats to have a big political loss).

Meanwhile, the Democrats know that Obamacare has been a huge albatross for their party and understand that the best thing that could happen for them is if the Republicans agreed to keep Obamacare in name (i.e., abandon the rhetoric of “repeal”) but do whatever is necessary to make the thing work. But the GOP is doing the opposite. It’s largely keeping Obamacare in terms of policy (at least the really popular parts) but rhetorically its claiming to destroy Obamacare utterly. So, both the Democrats and the Republicans end up claiming this is a repeal of Obamacare when it’s not. It’s all a war for the best spin, not the best policy.

In different times, a Republican president might have come in and, like Eisenhower did with the New Deal, say, “We’re not going to throw away all that stuff, but we are going to fix it and shave the rough edges off.” A mend-it-don’t-end-it rhetorical approach to Obamacare would win over enough Democrats and moderate Republicans to pass a serious (albeit way-too-statist for me) health-care bill that gave Obama credit while reworking the whole thing.

But in our universe both sides are locked into psychological positions and they cannot stomach the idea of not winning the zero-sum rhetorical war of “we won and they lost!”

I’m not saying that alternative universe would be better. For instance, I wish Eisenhower had been more hostile to the New Deal. But I do think it’s an interesting example of how rhetoric and the logic of tribalism is driving the debate far more than policy is.

Two Gun Cases the Supreme Court Won’t Hear

by Robert VerBruggen

There was a lot of action at the Supreme Court yesterday, hidden among which were decisions to take a pass on two Second Amendment cases.

One of them, Peruta v. California, involved that state’s strict standards when it comes to public gun-carrying; applicants for a concealed-carry permit must show “good cause” to the satisfaction of county law enforcement, and open carry is banned almost entirely. The Ninth Circuit upheld the “good cause” requirement as interpreted by the plaintiffs’ local sheriff — the only provision the plaintiffs directly challenged, though they also requested “any further relief as the Court deems just and proper” — and that ruling will now stay in effect in that circuit. Justices Thomas and Gorsuch protested the decision, essentially endorsing the idea that there is a Second Amendment right to carry a gun and saying the Ninth Circuit should not have limited its analysis to the “good cause” requirement, as opposed to the right to carry in general.

That distinction is important. As I noted last month in my piece about concealed-carry reciprocity, it’s hard to argue there’s a right to bear a concealed weapon, because concealed-carry bans have a long history and have typically been upheld against challenges under the Second Amendment and similar state constitutional provisions. There is a good case, however, that open carry is a constitutional right, or at least that states must allow one or the other. The plaintiffs in the case should have more explicitly challenged the regime as a whole rather than focusing on their sheriff’s interpretation of “good cause.”

In the other case, Sessions v. Binderup, the Third Circuit had reached a pro-gun decision, holding that two men convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors had not committed “serious crimes” and could not be barred from gun ownership. (Though misdemeanors under Pennsylvania law, the crimes — corruption of a minor and carrying a handgun without a license — carried long enough potential sentences to be considered “felonies” under the federal law against felon gun possession. Both men ended up paying fines but doing no jail or prison time.) Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor would have heard the case but did not issue an opinion explaining their reasons.

NR Institute Seeking Regional Fellows in Dallas and San Francisco

by Jack Fowler

National Review Institute (NRI) is seeking applicants for its Fall 2017 Regional Fellows Programs in San Francisco and Dallas. The ideal applicant will be a mid-career professional, working in a non-policy professional setting. Past Fellows have represented diverse industries, and professions ranging from oil and gas, venture capital, real estate, medicine, sporting industries, law enforcement, education, nonprofits, and the arts. The Program takes place over eight moderated dinner discussions. The 2017 Class will run from mid-September to mid-November. Moderators include popular writers/speakers at National Review and leading academics at local universities. The cost? Free. The rewards? Plentiful, and lasting a lifetime. The deadline to apply is July 15. To do that, and to find more information about the Program, visit NRI here. And if you don’t live in Big D or SF, but know folks who do and who might be NRI fellow material, please share this with them.

The Relevance of the ‘Collusion with Russia Isn’t a Crime’ Argument

by Andrew C. McCarthy

Response To...

Why Argue That ‘Collusion with ...

Jonah, I imagine I was one of the first commentators to posit the argument that “collusion with Russia” (without further defining what ‘collusion’ means) isn’t a crime. There are two reasons why the argument remains relevant. Although it could be argued that one is moot, I don’t think it is, for reasons I’ll get to.

It’s interesting that we are seeing the argument pop up more often now. When I first advanced it, there was a very specific purpose. The federal regulations governing when (a) a “special counsel” should be appointed, and (b) a Justice Department lawyer (including the attorney general) is disqualified from participation in a matter, do not apply unless conduct occurs that warrants a criminal investigation — i.e., there needs to be a crime. Because special counsels (or their precursors, special prosecutors and independent counsels) can so undermine an administration’s capacity to govern, I was arguing that, in the absence of some solid evidence that a crime had been committed, there was no basis in law to appoint one.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein identified the counterintelligence investigation of Russia’s interference with the election (the “Russia investigation”) as the trigger for the special counsel appointment. But a counterintelligence probe is not a criminal investigation. It is an inquiry into the actions and intentions of a foreign power, and is not premised on a crime’s having been committed.

Similarly, the Russia investigation was not a basis for Jeff Sessions to recuse himself. Here, I note that Sessions’s premature decision to recuse, in the absence of a criminal investigation, has had momentous consequences — e.g., the Justice Department permitting then-Director Jim Comey’s March 20 testimony that announced an investigation into Trump collusion with Russia without clarifying that Trump was not a suspect; and Rosenstein’s appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel despite the absence of basis for a criminal investigation.

Now that Mueller has been appointed and Sessions has recused himself, it could be argued that it is pointless to keep repeating the argument about the lack of an underlying crime. But I disagree. One of the reasons the regs call for a criminal investigation before a special counsel is appointed is to impose some parameters on what the special counsel is permitted to investigate. If Mueller’s jurisdiction is not tied to specific transactions in which it is reasonably suspected that an identifiable criminal offense was committed, then there are no limits on him. Practically speaking, a counterintelligence investigation does not impose any limits on an investigator — it is an information-gathering exercise, not the collection of evidence with an eye toward prosecuting a particular offense. Without limits, Mueller’s investigation is a fishing expedition in the nature of a general warrant: a prosecutor with an unlimited budget, significant autonomy from DOJ and no judicial oversight, sicced on one target to keep looking for something incriminating.

So, I think it is important to keep pointing out that collusion with Russia is not a crime because (a) Rosenstein should supersede his current directive and specify what transactions and suspected crimes Mueller is permitted to investigate; (b) if that does not happen, it may become necessary at a certain point to question the legitimacy of Mueller’s investigation and the need for it to continue. It is one thing to tolerate the damage an investigation necessarily does to an administration if there are real crimes involved; it would be ludicrous to abide it if there are not.

There are also continuing questions about the scope of Sessions’s recusal. It is thus worth continuing to point out that the recusal was unnecessary because it was not predicated on a criminal investigation. The fact that Sessions stepped back from the “Russia investigation” in an abundance of caution does not mean his ability to function as AG should be questioned. (Recall that there was controversy over whether he should have participated in the deliberations over Comey’s firing. The FBI director is one of the AG’s most important subordinates; if the AG cannot weigh in on how and by whom the FBI is run, he can’t functionally be AG.)

It is very true that if campaign collusion with Russia happened, it would be very damaging for Trump. I’ve been arguing that if there was collusion with Russia, it would be beside the point whether a prosecutable crime occurred; collusion would probably be an impeachable offense. But I have to say “probably” because it would depend on the nature of the collusion.

Impeachment-and-removal is a political remedy (not a legal one) premised on the unfitness of the official for the responsibilities of the office. With that in mind, I agree that if Trump were found to have colluded in Russia’s interference with our election process in a meaningful way, impeachment would be automatic — I would certainly support it under those circumstances. On the other hand, some of the asinine things that have been suggested as collusion (e.g., Trump joking that he hoped Russia had and would release the thousands of emails Hillary Clinton withheld from the State Department) are too trifling to be regarded as meaningful or impeachable.

The term “collusion” has been bandied about in a fast-and-loose way. I continue to think there is merit in pressing people on exactly what they mean when they make a “collusion with Russia” claim. And for the legal reasons that apply to the scopes of Mueller’s jurisdiction and Sessions’s recusal, I still think it’s worth pointing out that “collusion with Russia” is not a crime unless the collusion rises to the level of prosecutable conspiracy — i.e., an agreement by two or more people to commit a specified violation of the criminal law.

Tuesday links

by debbywitt

Today is Helen Keller’s birthday. Here are quotes, links, some history, and a selection of (non-PC) jokes.

14 of History’s Craziest Baldness Cures.

Would Your Dog Eat You if You Died? 

Awkward Pregnancy Photos.

How Animals Develop Regional Accents: Whales, bats, and birds have local dialects.

Why Do Onions Make Us Cry?

ICYMI, Friday’s links are here, and include the forgotten undercroft of the Lincoln Memorial, tunnels dug by giant sloths, how much businesses pay to get on those big blue exit signs, and how to steal pizza without anyone knowing.

Why Keep Colleges from Being Responsible Lenders?

by George Leef

Putting the federal government into the business of financing higher education was a great blunder, with adverse consequences daily. Among those consequences is the fact that some 8 million Americans are now in default on loans that probably would never have been made by real lending institutions with their own money at risk.

In an effort at looking “responsible” several years ago, our wonderful politicians decided to punish colleges that have too many students defaulting. That had a big impact on some lower-end colleges where a high percentage of the students are of doubtful academic drive and ability. In order to protect their eligibility for federal Pell Grants, they decided to stop allowing students to attend if they are also taking out federal loans. In North Carolina, a majority of the state’s community colleges have decided to do that.

But why make them either drop out or accept the federal loan programs entirely? Wouldn’t it make sense to allow school officials to decide whether or not to allow a student to take out federal loans based on their assessment of each student’s likely prospects for success — that is, graduating, finding employment, and paying off the debt? You might think so, but that isn’t allowed.

In today’s Martin Center article, Shannon Watkins writes about all of this.

“Leaving federal loan programs,” she writes, “is the only option many colleges have to protect their Pell Grant eligibility. That’s because another option — minimizing default risk on the front end of the financial aid process — is not open to them.”

The Education Department ran a pilot program for several years that did allow schools to discriminate on the basis of a student’s likelihood of defaulting, but that program has been terminated and the department apparently won’t continue it. Leftists are cheering that decision, such as the New America Foundation, which frets that many low-income students will be excluded from loan eligibility if colleges say, “No federal loans if you want to enroll here.” To the Left, excluding any student is bad, but most of those students who might be excluded have other options for the post-high-school training they need.

Watkins’s conclusion makes good sense: “Penalizing schools for high student loan default rates is sensible, but only if they are given flexibility to try to stop the problem before it arises.”

Three Thoughts on the Masterpiece Cakeshop Cert Grant

by David French

Today the Supreme Court granted review in Masterpiece Cakeshop v.  Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This is an important — and dangerous — case for civil liberties. It involves a bakery owner who refused to bake a custom cake for a gay wedding, and Justice Kennedy may well be the swing vote. I have three initial thoughts:

First, don’t let anyone tell you that this case is about status-based discrimination. The bakery is no more discriminating against gay people than a baker discriminates against white people if he declines to bake a Confederate flag cake. The baker bakes cakes for gay customers. He didn’t want to lend his talents to send a specific message — namely, approval of gay marriage.

Second, don’t let counterfactuals dissuade you from embracing liberty. A number of people are asking whether the state should “let” a baker decline to bake a cake for an interracial marriage. Here’s the bottom line: Creative professionals should never be required to lend their unique talents to express any form of message they dislike. Don’t make black lawyers oppose civil rights, don’t make liberal fashion designers design clothes for conservative politicians, and don’t require racists to design cakes for interracial couples. Some people use liberty wisely. Some people abuse liberty for immoral ends. But we can’t limit liberty only to the wise and just. 

Third, if Justice Kennedy views this case primarily through the LGBT lens, then the First Amendment may well lose. Kennedy is obviously proud of his long line of LGBT-friendly precedents, and that pride has even led him to a relatively rare First Amendment misstep, so it will be critical to explain to him (and the other justices, of course) that this isn’t a case about “discrimination” but rather about forced speech. Framing matters, and the other side will wrongly frame the case as raising the specter of Jim Crow. The right framing is found in the First Amendment. 

My Twitter timeline is already filling with people talking about this case — with far more heat even than the Supreme Court’s travel ban decision. Expect a building media frenzy, one dominated by allegations of hate and bigotry. The sexual revolutionaries are butting heads with the First Amendment. May free speech prevail. 

In the U.K., Normalcy Returns to the Tory Administration

by John O'Sullivan

Today’s deal between the Tories and the Democratic Unionists is one more sign that at least a limited normalcy is returning and that the Tory administration is likely to remain in office for several years, possibly for a full parliamentary term of five years — as argued in yesterday’s column. It guarantees DUP support for the government on “confidence and supply” terms and is renewable at the end of each parliamentary session. That means it will last until Brexit — and its key domestic votes on the Great Repeal bill — is through parliament.

It also seems to have been reached without the Tories surrendering anything very much — certainly nothing that they would not be surrendering anyway as a result of their not getting the hoped-for landslide. Everyone knew that the “dementia tax” and the proposed cuts in social spending on the elderly were doomed anyway. This agreement means that the Tories can now claim they got something — i.e., several years of power — in return for ditching them. And, finally, the financial cost of the deal — about $2.2 billion — is modest in terms of today’s debased political economy.

Nothing is certain, but this deal gives the government an effective majority of 22 votes. Since a handful of Labour MPs will cross the floor to support Brexit if it’s in trouble, a serious government defeat on it would need a career-ending rebellion by between twelve and 20 Tory Remainers. And since all the Tories ran on a manifesto pledge to implement a “clean Brexit,” that would require a dishonorable suicide by all concerned. Suicide by Tory pols I can imagine; dishonorable conduct too; but the two combined? That would take us into strange depths of the Tory imagination that even an experienced clinician like myself cannot plumb or, on this occasion, quite envisage.

Does that mean that Theresa May is out of the woods and can now look forward to remaining Tory leader and prime minister indefinitely? Not quite. My guess is that if she is still PM at the time of the Tory conference in October, she will still be in office until Brexit is safely accomplished in a little over two years. The overwhelming need for stability until then will keep her in Downing Street. What will happen then will be determined by how well she has performed in matters additional to Brexit in that period. If her reputation has recovered, she may stay on and even fight an election. But if not, the achievement of Brexit would enable her to retire honorably amid restrained applause. We’ll see. But her position is currently strengthened by a series of other developments. In short order, therefore:

1. As we move on from election night — when the shock of the result discombobulated the Tories — people are examining the statistics of recent elections and noticing that Mrs. May not only did not actually lose but even improved the Tory popular vote considerably. As the blogger Backencher pointed out:

The Tories have been, ever since 2005, increasing their share of the vote on an almost linear scale. Michael Howard, in 2005, gained 32.4% of the national vote for the Tories. From then onwards, the electoral figures speak for themselves: 36.1% (2010) ⟶ 36.8 (2015) ⟶ 42.2% (2017). It is clear that the Tories increased their vote most under Mrs May, not her immediate predecessor. David Cameron increased the Tory vote by 3.7% in 2010, then barely 0.7% further in 2015. Mrs May, however, increased the Tory vote by 6%. Her share of the vote is exactly that of Mrs Thatcher in 1987, and only 0.2% lower than Thatcher’s 1983 landslide.

The landslide didn’t happen this time because the Labour vote rose too — though to 2.4 percent behind Mrs. May’s total. Those figures make nonsense of much Tory journalism post-election, which has been lamenting that Toryism no longer appeals to the electorate and that some new form of Cameronian “modernization” is needed. The above statistics show that analysis to be the opposite of the truth — especially when we recall that the only memorable slogan of modernization was that Tories should “stop banging on about Europe and immigration” (which now looks like the worst political judgment since Ted Heath asked Britain, “Who governs Britain?” and the voters replied, “Not You.”). As all of this sinks in, the Tory party is likely to slowly reassemble behind May for the medium term.

2. Indeed, the “Big Beasts” of Toryism are already urging this course with increasing firmness. Brexit secretary David Davis, who would probably win a leadership election held now, did so on the Sunday television shows — yes, we have them in Britain too — in unmistakable terms. He declared very simply that he believed May to be a good prime minister who deserved to remain in office. That reflects, among other things, the belief of Brexiteers (now the overwhelming majority of Tories in and outside parliament) that May is committed to a “clean Brexit” by her record. She simply can’t betray the Leave camp without destroying herself. None of the presumed Remainers in the Cabinet — home secretary Amber Rudd, chancellor Philip Hammond — have anything like the status or popularity to challenge her with any prospect of benefiting themselves. Hammond in particular, who has been successively a strong Euroskeptic, a weak Remainer, a strong Remainer, and now a worried, head-shaking, equivocal Leaver, gives opportunism a bad name.

3. Jeremy Corbyn’s rock-star moment is unlikely to last — no, that’s too weak: Jeremy Corbyn’s rock-star moment cannot last. He’s a courteous and even charming extremist, but his extremism is real and on the record. To put it as bluntly as I can, he was a friend of Adams and McGuinness when the IRA was bombing London and Manchester. Not even the middle-class rock-star groupies who were cheering him at the Glastonbury festival this weekend can blind themselves to that record indefinitely. And it will be drawn to their attention. On the Reaction website, Bruce Anderson speculates that the second explanation of a Tory victory in the next election will be Jeremy himself — and his supporters:

Now that he appears to be a candidate who could win the Premiership, he and his closest associates will come under scrutiny. This will not be the crude, cack-handed nonsense that we saw during the last campaign . . . Some of the Cor-bennites are very nasty indeed. The SWP seems to have infiltrated their presence in the social media and to be determined to perpetrate vile abuse. That will not work for long. Most British voters have a sense of how politics ought to be conducted, and the adolescent rabble which now worships Mr Corbyn will put enough people off to help kill his chances.

4. In the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell fire — which was also the aftermath of the election — a mood of anti-Tory hysteria gripped the parties, the media, and the voters. It became the conventional wisdom that the fire had been the responsibility of the “Tory cuts’” and de-regulation by the national government and the local authority. That view explains in large part why May was booed when she visited the Grenfell site. Since then it has become clear that this “narrative” is nonsense. Other local authorities — notably, Labour-controlled Camden Council — and the National Health Service had installed the same cladding on their buildings. This was the result not of de-regulation but of (perverse) regulation; it was not the result of cost-cutting — indeed it was part of the expensive rehabilitation of these properties; and it occurred under governments of both parties. As the Left’s narrative dissolves — perhaps to be followed by a very different explanation of the fire — so will the anti-Tory narrative evaporate.

5. Indeed, it’s already happening — and for a very British reason: the weather. Britain, especially London, has been suffering from an unaccustomed heatwave since the election and the Grenfell fire. It raised the temperature politically, too. People living through it, as I did not, say that it gave political life a nightmarish quality, as during the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death, with an atmosphere of suppressed violence and hostility to authority. The temperature is now declining sharply as Britain regains its usual summer coolness.

Along with all the above developments, politics may be entering a cooler phase, too.

A Space Needle, Spaciness, Needles . . .

by Jay Nordlinger

In Impromptus today, I have a few notes on Seattle — about its go-go capitalism, for example. (There is more than flakiness in Seattle.) I have received several e-mails from Seattle — not from City Hall, but from residents. I would like to publish one of them. But first, some quoting — some quoting from my column:

On the streets of Seattle, there are almost as many beggars and vagrants as there are in San Francisco. Why is this? The welcoming of it, of course. But a lady I talk to also ventures another explanation: the relaxation of drug laws. People are strung out, lying there. Or they are reasonably awake, trying to get money for their next hit.

I don’t know. I do know this: People who are in favor of drug legalization tend to see no evil — no evil in consequence of legalization. And people who are against legalization probably see too much evil.

One more note from my column, before I get to the e-mail:

I understand, very well, the freedom arguments in favor of drug legalization. I have a wide libertarian streak. But let me tell you: Drug users are some of the least free people I have ever seen. They are in bondage.

Okay, the e-mailer from Seattle (who is a longtime and canny correspondent) says,

Giuliani governed New York on the “broken window” theory. Seattle is experimenting with the opposite. The city is littered with broken windows, so to speak.

I was one of those libertarian-leaning Washingtonians who voted to legalize pot a few years ago. I regret it. I don’t care if people smoke it in their homes or other places that aren’t public, but it has become very common to see it almost anywhere. I spend a lot of time in our beautiful parks and it’s really annoying to have to steer my kids away from the stoners. The initiative itself banned public pot-smoking, but the powers-that-be don’t care.

A while ago, a Seattle cop was disciplined (and pilloried publicly) because he was writing too many citations for public pot-smoking. That sent quite a message to his colleagues, I’m sure.

Recently, a local radio host reported that at an event (protest) dealing with the homeless, a junkie shot up heroin in sight of several officers. A reporter asked what they were going to do about it and they responded with something like, “It’s not a departmental priority.” I bet that the cops were frustrated by this, but when the city gets cops in trouble for enforcing drug laws, they will stop doing so.

I don’t take my kids to downtown Seattle parks much anymore and worry a bit about my wife working there. I could go on about the homeless tents, but I have some serious summer playing to do with my boys . . .

Serious summer playing with one’s boys. That is one of the things these months were made for.

Senator Sanders’s Wife Lawyers Up after Allegations of Bank Fraud

by Austin Yack

Senator Sanders’s wife, Jane, has hired two prominent attorneys — Burlington, Vt.-based attorney Rich Cassidy and Washington, D.C.-based attorney Larry Robbins — as she continues to fight long-standing allegations of bank fraud.

During Mrs. Sanders’s seven-year tenure as president of Burlington College, a now-defunct liberal-arts college, the college sought to expand its campus by purchasing 33 acres of land near Lake Champlain for $10 million. But Burlington College had nowhere near $10 million to spend; its total annual budget was less than $4 million. As a result, Vermont’s Educational and Health Buildings Finance Agency offered Burlington College $6.5 million in tax-exempt bonds, and People’s United Bank agreed to give Burlington College a $6.5 million loan to purchase the bonds. That bank loan was contingent on Sanders’s promising that she had secured $5 million in donations and $2.4 million in confirmed pledges (i.e., donations that Burlington College officials had not yet received but that would be coming soon).

Despite her promise, it seems that Sanders had not secured these funds before accepting the loan.

“Burlington College ran into trouble almost immediately after the loan repayments were due,” Politico reports. “For the first fiscal year after the deal was signed, Jane Sanders signed documents that confirmed pledges of $1.2 million. But according to Burlington College financial records obtained by VTDigger, the college received only $279,000.”

The FBI is currently investigating whether Mrs. Sanders committed fraud when she told People’s United Bank that she had confirmed pledges. One confirmed pledge of $1 million, it turned out, was to be paid after the donor’s death, not in the next few years, as Sanders had stated. It is also possible that Senator Sanders will find himself under FBI investigation for involvement in securing the bank loan. In a letter sent to federal prosecutors in early 2016, Brady Toensing, an attorney and former chairman of Trump’s Vermont campaign, “alleged that Senator Sanders’ office had pressured the bank to approve the loan application submitted by Jane Sanders,” Politico reported. It is “a serious ethical violation” for a sitting U.S. senator to pressure a bank, the letter concluded.

Mrs. Sanders resigned from her role as president shortly after securing the loan in 2011. Between 2010 and 2016, Burlington College raised only $676,000 in donations, a small percentage of the $2.4 million promised. In May 2016, Burlington College went bankrupt.

Color-Coded Meds

by Roger Clegg

Professor Mark J. Perry has posted some important data that show graphically (in both senses of the word) the extent to which racial preferences are used in medical-school admissions. “Bottom Line: Medical school acceptance rates in recent years suggest that medical schools must have ‘affirmative discrimination’ and ‘racial profiling’ admission policies that favor black and Hispanic applicants over equally qualified Asian and white students.”

And, as is almost always the case with university admissions (see numerous studies by the Center for Equal Opportunity here), race is weighed not lightly but heavily indeed:

For students applying to medical school with slightly below average GPAs of 3.20 to 3.39 and slightly below average MCAT scores of 24 to 26 . . . , black applicants were more than 9 times more likely to be admitted to medical school than Asians (56.4% vs. 5.9%), and more than 7 times more likely than whites (56.4% vs. 8.0%). . . . Compared to the average acceptance rate of 16.7% for all applicants with that combination of GPA and MCAT score, black and Hispanic applicants were much more likely to be accepted at rates of 56.4% and 30.5%, and white and Asian applicants were much less likely to be accepted to US medical schools at rates of only 5.9% and 8.0% respectively.

We find the same pattern of acceptance rates by ethnic/racial groups for applicants with slightly above average academic credentials. . . . For example, for applicants with MCAT scores of 30 to 32 (slightly above average) and GPAs between 3.40 to 3.59 (average) . . . , the acceptance rates for blacks (86.9%) and Hispanics (75.9%) were much higher than the acceptance rate for whites (48.0%) and Asians (40.3%) with those same academic credentials.

Professor Perry also notes, “Even if factors other than GPA and MCAT scores (which are probably the two most important ones) are considered for admission to medical school, wouldn’t it still be very hard to conclude that admissions policies to medical schools are completely ‘race-neutral’ and completely free of any ‘racial profiling’ practices that favor blacks and Hispanics over equally qualified Asians and whites?” Yes, professor, it would.

This discrimination is obviously a bad thing for the white and Asian students who were denied admission and now may not become doctors. It’s bad for patients who will not have doctors as good as they might have had otherwise. It’s bad for future medical research and teaching. And, because of the mismatch problem, it’s not even a good thing for many of the black and Latino students who do get admitted. This unfair and pernicious discrimination should stop.

Uncommon Knowledge: Governor Bruce Rauner and the Budget Crisis in the Land of Lincoln

by Peter Robinson

The 42nd governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, is my guest on Uncommon Knowledge to discuss Illinois’s budget crisis. With the end-of-the-fiscal-year deadline (June 30) looming ever closer, Governor Rauner and Illinois House majority Democrats will have to come to an agreement to get the budget passed and prevent Illinois’s bond rating from being downgraded to junk, causing Illinois to lose investment-grade status. Peter Robinson and Governor Rauner discuss this financial crisis and Rauner’s goals for the budget. He insists that no budget will be passed unless it is a balanced budget that includes, but is not limited to, term limits, consolidating the government, and pension reform.

There’s No Such Thing as Just Short on the GOP Health-Care Bill

by Rich Lowry

This feels like one of those dynamics where if there are three hard Republican “no’s” on the bill (which is quite plausible), another dozen or so senators will oppose it, too. So, it’s either 50 votes for it, or 35.

‘It is not sufficient for us simply to add more people to Medicare or Medicaid to increase the rolls, to increase coverage in the absence of cost controls and reform.’

The U.S. Should End Its OECD Subsidies: It’s Good Policy and Self-Protection

by Veronique de Rugy

Tomorrow, the Committee on Appropriations’s Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs is having a “United Nations and International Organizations — Budget Hearing.” The witness will be U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley.

I, for one, am very much looking forward to this hearing. As a reminder, the Trump budget called for reducing spending on contributions to international organizations by approximately $786 million. We will still be spending $900 million in Fiscal Year 2018 on international bureaucrats, according to the Major Savings Document (pg. 71). But that’s down from the $1.68 billion we spent in Fiscal Year 2017. For the figures from the analytics tables, check pg. 14 of this document (or pg. 778 of the book).

It called for an interagency strategic review to prioritize payments to organizations “that most directly support U.S. national security interests and American prosperity. NATO, for instance, would continue to be fully funded. In contrast, funding for organizations that work against U.S. foreign policy interests could be terminated.”

As I wrote a few weeks ago, while the level of spending cuts as envisioned by the Trump administration is unlikely to occur, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) should be placed first on the chopping block for its use of American taxpayer dollars to push for higher taxes and bigger government in the U.S. and around the world. In that post, I wrote about many of the ways the OECD works against U.S. interests.

This morning, Dan Mitchell at the Cato Institute has a good summary of why we are so eager to see America’s OECD subsidies cut. He writes:

My main gripe is that the OECD, in hopes of propping up the European welfare states that dominate its membership, tries to enable big tax increases by undermining tax competition.

It also galls me that the bureaucracy reflexively embraces just about every kind of tax hike, including class-warfare taxes on income, big new energy taxes, business taxes, and money-vacuuming value-added taxes.

Additionally, I get irked when the OECD advocates other big-government policies such as Keynesian spending, green energy, and government-run healthcare.

I also don’t like the OECD’s dodgy, dishonest, and misleading use of data on issues such as poverty, pay equity, inequality, and comparative economics.

And, to add insult to injury, the bureaucrats at the OECD get a special exemption so their gold-plated salaries are tax free, even though they spend so much time trying to impose higher taxes on the rest of us.

For all of you who wonder why we should care about a report-writing organization, I would say that the OECD, which is dominated by Western European welfare states, has actually been leading aggressive real-world campaigns such as the anti-tax-competition one mentioned above. The reality is that their efforts have had very negative ramifications for lower-tax jurisdictions. In addition, the OECD continues pushing an awful multilateral convention that was signed by President Obama, which if ratified by U.S. Senate (down the road when the Democrats are back in power), would force us to automatically share personal-financial information with some of the most corrupt and unsavory governments around the world.

In other words, no, the OECD isn’t just your usual wasteful international bureaucracy with a preference for big government. These bureaucrats are actively meddling in the world of policy, always on the side of bigger government and less privacy, with real-world consequences for the rest of us.

Hopefully, tomorrow’s hearing will get us closer to the goal of defunding them.

Finding the Roots of Violent Campus Protests

by George Leef

As our campus “progressives” (actually, they’re primitive tribalists) grow increasingly bold and violent, it’s worth asking where such behavior has its roots. In Friday’s Martin Center article, Assumption College political-science professor Geoffrey Vaughan suggests that it has been taught to them. After noting that Vice President Pence had a large number of students walk out of his commencement address at Notre Dame last month, Vaughan writes,

The real power of political correctness that legislators and even the vice president would like to combat does not reside in particular offices or paid positions. The power resides in faculty and administrators who almost universally support it and increasingly see their jobs as developing support for it among students.

He’s right. Many professors and administrators see themselves as “change agents” who care more about inculcating what they think are the correct values rather than to have them master fields of knowledge and understand how to use reason. (All the talk you hear about how colleges teach students “critical thinking” is just a smokescreen for indoctrination.) They want to change students, not educate them.

There lies the root of the problem. Higher education has been thoroughly infiltrated by the Left, which uses it for its goals of remaking America according to its collectivist/authoritarian notions.

Vaughan concludes, “Free speech is important, but without a culture willing to engage in what others say, it merely provides a podium in an empty room. So two cheers for legislation that protects our freedom to address it, but hold that third cheer for a while. We need to address the very idea of what education is before this problem can be solved.” The “progressives” have their idea about what education is and (using vast amounts of other people’s money), they have pretty much succeeded in imposing it on the entire nation. Those of us who have a different idea need to either retake the institutions or create new educational models that don’t involve immersing students in the leftist view of the world.

Why Argue That ‘Collusion with Russia’ Isn’t a Crime?

by Jonah Goldberg

So far there is no evidence of “collusion” between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. And if they ever find any, I suspect the culpability will land at the feet of politically expendable characters such as Roger Stone or Paul Manafort and not the president.

To date, the best argument the Russia-obsessed have is Donald Trump’s own words and actions: His obsession with the unfairness of the investigation, his refusal to acknowledge that Russia meddled in our election (at least until his latest tweets on the subject), and his odd reluctance to speak ill of Vladimir Putin and his desire to be more chummy with the dictator.

None of that, however, is proof of anything other than the well-documented habit of the president to say things that don’t help him.

But there’s a new argument coming down the pike these days that I find particularly odd. A number of people are starting to make the case that even if Trump did collude with the Russian government, that wouldn’t be a crime. My friend Brit Hume made that case on Fox News Sunday. From a Newsweek story:

“Can anybody identify the crime? Collusion, while it would be obviously alarming and highly inappropriate for the Trump campaign, of which there is no evidence by the way, of colluding with the Russians,” said Hume, “It’s not a crime.”

Last week on his radio show, Sean Hannity made a similar argument:

“They might say as a Trump campaign representative, ‘wow you have that? Tell the American people the truth. Let them see it themselves, release it.’ Is that a crime, to say ‘release it’? To show the truth? To show damaging information?”

Now, the Newsweek article asks a bunch of legal experts who think this is wrong: Colluding with Russia could run afoul of several laws. Maybe those experts are wrong. I honestly don’t know, but it’d hardly shock me if Newsweek went quote-shopping for the story.

Still, I think this argument is a dead-end. One could also just say, as many have, that it doesn’t matter because the Department of Justice as a rule won’t indict a sitting president. The fact remains that if Donald Trump did actually work with the Russians — again, there’s no evidence that he did — it would be an enormous calamity for his presidency. It would certainly fall under the entirely elastic and political definition of impeachable offenses — at least if the Democrats take over Congress.

Moreover, I don’t see how this argument helps the Trump White House. “Even if I did it . . . ” is never a strong defense and it comes across as a grudging confession of wrongdoing.

We know the president often takes his cues from Fox News and supportive pundits elsewhere. Mainstreaming the argument that it’d be no big deal if Trump conspired, even after the fact, with the Russians over the hacking of the DNC server etc. amounts to giving the president terrible political advice.