Immigration and ‘Elites’

by Ramesh Ponnuru

The language of “the elites vs. the people” lends itself all too easily to abuse, but there is a division of opinion on immigration policy that is hard to describe in any other way. CEOs do seem to favor higher and less-policed immigration than the people who work for them; the heads of religious organizations do seem to favor it more than the folks in the pews; and so on. Bryan Caplan, himself a proponent of open borders, says as much:

If public support for immigration is so high, why has political opposition become so vocal? Because public support for immigration, though relatively high [compared to 1966-2002], remains absolutely low. And that’s all it takes for anti-immigration demagoguery to work. The real puzzle isn’t, “Why did Trump take a strong anti-immigration stand in 2016?” but “Why doesn’t every presidential candidate take a strong anti-immigration stand in every election?” And the obvious solution to this puzzle is elite-on-elite pressure: elites are more cosmopolitan than the masses – and shame fellow elites who dissent. Trump won by being the sort of elite who treats elite shame as a badge of honor. [emphasis in original]

I think that’s only part of the story. It’s also true that if you were a leading Republican politician in 2007, say, you most likely genuinely fell on the elite side of the opinion divide — and so did most of the people who talked to you about the issue. But it is an important part of it.

National Review’s Joan Didion

by John J. Miller

Part of the lore of National Review is that Joan Didion once wrote for us, way back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, before she became a famous writer. Netflix recently debuted The Center Will Not Hold, a biographical documentary of Didion, who is 82. It doesn’t mention the National Review connection, but if you want to learn more about it, read this fine piece by Nic Rowan in Acculturated.

Go Ahead, Take People Off the Income-Tax Rolls

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Response To...

A Few Thoughts on the ...

I had hoped that conservative enthusiasm for keeping as many people as possible paying income taxes would peter out after the 2012 election, when the sentiment led Mitt Romney to make his politically damaging remarks about the allegedly irresponsible “47 percent” of people who don’t pay them. But it continues as a piece of conservative folk wisdom, and Veronique de Rugy and George Will have both recently voiced it on NRO. People who don’t pay income taxes, Will writes, have “a vanishingly small incentive to restrain the growth of a government that they are not paying for through its largest revenue source.”

In years of debating this issue, I have never yet found a proponent of this theory — the theory that taking people off the tax rolls makes them more likely to support big government — who has provided a scrap of evidence for it. I’m not looking for peer-reviewed social science. Just show me:

1) that increases in public support for government activism have coincided with increases in the percentage of the population without income-tax liability, or that decreases in both have coincided with each other; or

2) that the groups of people who have mostly left the income-tax rolls over the last two decades — parents leaving because of the child tax credit and voters in the Silent Generation and early Baby Boomers leaving because of retirement — have become more pro-government activism; or

3) that voters make a sharp distinction between payroll and income taxes and consider themselves to be getting off free if they pay only the former.

I don’t believe we have good reason to believe any of these things. For example, the percentage of people paying income taxes was rising before and during the Great Society years. And our federal government was much smaller during the century-plus when nobody at all paid an income tax than it has been since then. (The Founders were intensely concerned about limiting federal power but don’t seem to have considered a make-everyone-pay-income-taxes strategy for achieving that end.)

If the Will/de Rugy theory were right, it would place proponents of smaller government at a dead end. Their anti-tax instincts would be at war with themselves. They would have to raise middle-class taxes today in order to deliver a payoff of lowering middle-class taxes in a hypothetical future. Luckily, there is no reason to think the theory holds water.

Senate Democrats Won’t Say Whether They’d Vote To Expel Roy Moore

by Alexandra DeSanctis

In light of the sexual-assault allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore — along with reports that he habitually attempted to date women who were in their teens when he was in his thirties — National Review Online contacted the offices of every Democratic senator (including the two Independents who caucus with the Democrats: Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine) to ask if they would vote to expel Moore from the Senate should he win election in December.

Only a handful of offices bothered to reply, and all but one — that of Oregon senator Ron Wyden — did not directly address whether or not Moore should be expelled by sitting senators upon his election.

“Roy Moore does not belong in the Senate, period,” Wyden told NRO via email. “He has been accused of awful, unacceptable conduct. I cannot imagine the people of Alabama will elect an accused sexual predator, but if they do, he should be expelled.”

Less unequivocal were statements from the offices of the few senators who so much as replied to emails and phone calls requesting comment.

“Senator Cortez Masto is disgusted by the reports out of Alabama on Roy Moore’s alleged history of sexual assault,” read an email statement from Ryan King, deputy communications director for Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada. “He should do the right thing and step aside.” Since the allegations about Moore surfaced, Cortez Masto has sent fundraising emails in her name for the campaign of Doug Jones, Moore’s Democratic opponent in Alabama.

The office of Senator Sherrod Brown said the Ohio Democrat agrees with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell that Moore should step aside, and he does not believe that Moore should serve in the Senate.

Michigan senator Gary Peters’s office replied similarly, saying Peters believes Alabama voters have a clear choice, and if they do not want a senator mired in scandal, they should not vote for Roy Moore.

Sue Walitsky, communications director for Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, told NRO only: “Senator Cardin supports Doug Jones.”

It is worth asking why Senate Democrats would be so hesitant to say whether or not the allegations against Moore are egregious enough to merit a vote to expel him from the Senate. Perhaps some Democrats would prefer to have Moore in the Senate, in spite of his possible misdeeds, because his presence as a GOP leader makes it easier for the Left to tarnish all Republicans with his unfitness for office.

Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated to include a statement from the office of Michigan senator Gary Peters. This article previously stated that his office had declined to comment on the record.

He Was a Happy Man, But . . .

by Jack Fowler

He did worry about NR. Yep. No, not despair — never despair. That being a sin. But there was a less-than-theological reason for Bill’s refusal to despair: It was that he knew that National Review subscribers believed they were part of a much larger thing. A cause. A mutual one which required their additional selfless help — help they were happy to give.

And “they” (has that included you? — if so, thanks so much) have given now for some 59 years, saving the brassy conservative journal from its near extinction way back in 1958. And saving it year in and out ever since. Back when the doors nearly closed, Bill learned quickly that the business of opinion journalism was less about NR being a business and more about it being a genuine and consequential cause. A thing with an important mission. Which NR remains.

If Bill Buckley were here now — and he is, spiritually, looking over our shoulders (I can smell the peanut butter!) — he’d be urging my colleagues and me to in turn urge you to make NRO’s 2017 Fall Webathon a success. So we (read Rich Lowry’s appeal) follow heavenly orders.

Our goal for the current effort is $200,000. We’re more than halfway there. The proceeds will go towards several vital efforts that will make NR much more stable financially, and expand our outreach, particularly through increased podcasting and video. It’s essential to the institution, and to the broad conservative cause we serve, and the principles we fight relentlessly to protect, that we do this.

We worry, just as Bill did — will our friends be there for us (yet again!)? We hope you will be. Pray you will be. If you haven’t yet, please be part of the NRO 2017 Fall Webathon by making a generous donation here. People who prefer PayPal should contribute here. And, of course, checks, made payable to “National Review” and mailed to 19 West 44th Street, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10036, are happily accepted. Many thanks.

A Pox on All ’Em

by Jay Nordlinger

Response To...

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Rejects Congressman ...

I was interested to read Xan’s post on Carlos Curbelo and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. As a Republican, he has been excluded from the caucus. I think I have been noting these things for most of my career: I remember way back when Gary Franks, the Connecticut Republican, had trouble with the Congressional Black Caucus.

Also, there have always been people who don’t, or won’t, count Cuban Americans as Hispanics. This is an interesting political, semantic, and psychological debate. (Not for nothing have the Cubans been called “the Jews of the Hispanic world.”)

Discussing the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressman Curbelo said this: “Unbelievably, petty partisan interests have led the CHC to formally endorse the segregation of American Hispanics.”

Well, I’ll go him one further: I don’t like these ethnic and racial caucuses at all. I think being in Congress, you ought to be a congressman. The End.

Later.

House Passes Tax Bill

by Theodore Kupfer

Minutes ago, the House passed its version of tax reform, which expands the standard deduction, shrinks the amount of individual tax brackets from seven to four, and cuts the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. The vote was 227–205, with 13 Republicans voting against the bill and no Democrats voting for it.

All but one of the Republicans who voted against the bill represent California, New York, or New Jersey, states with high income-tax rates whose residents could be affected by the trimming of the state-and-local-tax deduction. The onus now falls on the Senate to pass its version of tax reform, and on Republicans to negotiate the differences between the two bills.

For more on the Senate bill, see National Review’s editorial.

Judge Declares a Mistrial in Senator Menendez’s Bribery Trial

by Philip H. DeVoe

New Jersey senator Bob Menendez’s bribery trial ended in a mistrial after the jury failed to return a verdict twice, first on Monday and again earlier today.

According to a note penned today, the jurors said they were unable to return a unanimous verdict on any of the 18 counts and unwilling “to move away from our strong convictions.” U.S. District Court judge William Walls, who presided over the case, made his decision after interviewing the foreman, at least one other juror, and both lawyers.

After the jury informed Walls that it remained deadlocked this morning, Walls rejected the prosecution’s suggestion that the jury return to deliberation or give them option of issuing a partial verdict. According to the judge, such action would go down “the slippery slope of coercion.”

The prosecution has the option of retrying Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor, though it is unclear as to whether it will do so. Both men were charged with participating in a bribery scheme whereby Menendez exchanged political favors for financial benefits from Melgen.

Nancy MacLean’s Deceitful Democracy in Chains Fails to Win National Book Award

by Jibran Khan

It is with great relief that I announce that Duke University professor Nancy MacLean did not win the National Book Award for Nonfiction, for which her book Democracy in Chains was a finalist.

MacLean casts the Nobel Prize–winning economist James Buchanan in the role of grand conspirator who aimed to destroy American democracy as a response to racial integration.

This assertion is absurd on its face. The real Buchanan was a strong scholar in the public-finance tradition, who worried about not only state-enforced racism, but the tendency of people to self-segregate by race and class. This supposed right-wing conspirator wrote a book about his liberalism called Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative.

The Indian economist and philosopher Amartya Sen, a fellow Nobel laureate, considered Buchanan our age’s equivalent of Adam Smith and the Marquis de Condorcet. Indeed, so influential was he that his analyses of political action inspired the best-ever TV comedy, the BBC’s Yes, Minister.

Democracy in Chains, which has been thoroughly debunked by left, right, libertarian, and center, is no good-faith critique. It features fabricated quotes and ellipses to flip the meaning of actual quotes, and invents “facts” out of whole cloth.

Buchanan’s closest collaborators teach at Duke, but MacLean never once approached them as sources for her study, which is a bit like being Representative John Lewis’s neighbor and writing a book about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. without ever asking him questions.

As a historian, I found the nomination of such a book for such a prestigious award to be distressing. While it is unfortunate that she still received recognition as a runner-up, it is a relief that she didn’t win.

Let us hope that the Bannonization of my discipline does not continue unabated.

Al Franken May Be Guilty of a Sex Crime

by David French

The picture of Al Franken apparently groping a sleeping Leann Tweeden isn’t just repugnant; if he committed this act in multiple American jurisdictions, he’d be guilty of a crime. For example, in my home state of Tennessee, the felony of “sexual battery” would clearly cover Franken’s behavior. Tennessee Code Annotated Section 39-13-505 defines sexual battery as follows:

(a) Sexual battery is unlawful sexual contact with a victim by the defendant or the defendant by a victim accompanied by any of the following circumstances:

(1) Force or coercion is used to accomplish the act;

(2) The sexual contact is accomplished without the consent of the victim and the defendant knows or has reason to know at the time of the contact that the victim did not consent;

(3) The defendant knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally defective, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless; or

(4) The sexual contact is accomplished by fraud. [Emphasis added.]

A separate section of the Tennessee code defines “sexual contact” as “the intentional touching of the victim’s, the defendant’s, or any other person’s intimate parts, or the intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the victim’s, the defendant’s, or any other person’s intimate parts, if that intentional touching can be reasonably construed as being for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.” A person’s “intimate parts” include the “primary genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttock or breast of a human being.”

I use Tennessee law as an example simply because I’m most familiar with it, and Franken would have a defense against similar claims brought in other jurisdictions — either that he didn’t actually touch Tweeden or that the purpose wasn’t “sexual arousal or gratification.” But this is just one law. New York prohibits “forcible touching.”

A person is guilty of forcible touching when such person intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose:

1. forcibly touches the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person, or for the purpose of gratifying the actor’s sexual desire;

Obviously, prosecution would be difficult — combining statutes of limitations questions with jurisdictional issues (where was the picture taken? what law applies?) — but I highlight these statutes simply to note the gravity of Franken’s actions. And I’m just analyzing here the incriminating picture. Don’t forget, Tweeden also accuses Franken of forcibly kissing her and putting his tongue in her mouth. Unless there is missing context or more to the story than Franken’s lame excuse of a joke gone awry, then Franken should step down. There’s no room in the Senate for a man who has likely committed a sex crime.

Suddenly, Taking Sexual Harassment Seriously Could Cost an Incumbent Democrat

by Jim Geraghty

Response To...

Report: Al Franken Groped a ...

Yesterday I wrote that long-delayed reckonings about the harassment and potential crimes of Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy are welcome, but they are arriving at a distinctly convenient time for the Democratic party.

Today we’ll see whether Democrats and various voices on the left are willing to confront inappropriate behavior on the part of a Democratic lawmaker in office. As our Theodore Kupfer writes below, KABC radio host Leeann Tweeden says that Senator Al Franken groped and forcibly kissed her on a USO tour in 2006. While most people are likely to respond to the photo, the described behavior deserves its own focus:

He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said “OK” so he would stop badgering me.

We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.

I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time. I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth. I felt disgusted and violated.

The statement from the senator is not really much of a denial: “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

What is the appropriate response or consequence of this kind of gross behavior? Franken can hardly ask that it be dismissed as a youthful indiscretion; he was 55 at the time.

Democrats are likely to be divided in their responses. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri stated on Twitter, “I’m shocked and concerned. The behavior described is completely unacceptable. Comedy is no excuse for inappropriate conduct, and I believe there should be an ethics investigation.”

But then there’s Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who, when asked about the Franken allegations, responded, “You guys need to find something more interesting.” UPDATE: The reporter clarifies that Whitehouse said this before being asked about the Franken accusations… which is a pretty glaring error. 

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Rejects Congressman Curbelo for Being Republican

by Alexandra DeSanctis

This morning, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) announced that it has rejected Florida congressman Carlos Curbelo’s request to join the group. Curbelo is a Republican representative elected to the House in 2014; he was born in Miami to two Cuban exiles who fled to the U.S.

The CHC issued the following statement regarding today’s decision:

After due consideration, the CHC determined not to accept Rep. Curbelo’s request. The CHC isn’t just an organization for Hispanics; it is a caucus that represents certain values. This vote reflects the position of many of our mem­bers that Rep. Curbelo and his record are not consistent with those values.

“It is truly shameful the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has decided to build a wall around the organization to exclude Hispanic-Americans who aren’t registered in the Democratic Party. This sends a powerful and harmful message of discrimination, bigotry, and division,” Curbelo said after the CHC announced it decision. “Unbelievably, petty partisan interests have led the CHC to formally endorse the segregation of American Hispanics.”

Curbelo is exactly right. This decision on the part of the CHC amounts to nothing less than the weaponization of race, a transparent effort to reinterpret race as a set of ideological beliefs rather than an inherent part of one’s identity. In doing so, the CHC has revealed itself to represent not Hispanic Americans as a whole, but only those Hispanic Americans whose opinions conform totally to progressive ideology.

Uh-Oh

A Familiar Smell

by Jay Nordlinger

All of us are shaped by our times and places. How could it be otherwise? When I was growing up (in America), the anti-Semitism of the Right was generally a thing of the past. We were aware of it, of course — but chiefly as an historical phenomenon. The Left was fast becoming the locus of anti-Semitism. And it seemed to begin in Moscow.

Later, there was the “BDS” movement, targeting Israel. It became increasingly hard to distinguish criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism, plain and simple. Paul Johnson told me once, “Scratch someone who is anti-Israel, and you won’t have to dig very far until you reach the anti-Semite within.”

Right and Left often switch places, or seem to. I discussed this several years ago with Ed Koch (who was always a fantastic interviewee). What I mean is, we discussed Left, Right, and anti-Semitism. For that interview — filmed — go here.

In my Impromptus today, I have a variety of items, as usual, including one on Nigel Farage, the UKIP man in Britain (and campaigner for likeminded people around the world, including Alabama’s Roy Moore). On his radio program, he made some head-scratching remarks about the “Jewish lobby” in America. Perhaps he was not at his clearest-thinking.

Another item in my column goes like this:

A man posing as a Washington Post reporter was trolling around Alabama. He was offering cash in exchange for dirt on Roy Moore. Between $5,000 and $7,000! He was trying to discredit the Post’s reporting, of course.

And what was he calling himself? “Bernie Bernstein.” Interesting. Wonder if the name was chosen at random. Could just as easily have been “John Smith,” right? Or even “Lucy Hickenlooper.”

(This was the real name of Olga Samaroff, the pianist who married Leopold Stokowski, the conductor, who was also married to Gloria Vanderbilt, who is Anderson Cooper’s mother.)

“Never look at the comments,” some say. It’s true that there is a lot of the smelly, to go with the sweet. (Like life itself?) I peek in now and then, to see what’s up. I appreciate the sweet, naturally. I appreciate the reasonably critical. I even appreciate some of the artful, or piquant, smelly.

But today there was this, re “Bernie Bernstein”:

Don’t you think the fact he would use that name might warrant not criticism of him, but rather self reflection among the Jewish elites and perhaps even some concern that Leftist Jews have gone so far that normal people simply expect any member of the Lügenpresse to have a Jewish name?

Lügenpresse, of course, is that old Nazi term, recently revived. It means “lying press.” It is a version of “fake news,” or “FAKE NEWS!!!!”

For decades, the founder of our magazine, William F. Buckley Jr., worked his tail off to divorce conservatism from anti-Semitism. It was one of his (many) mitzvahs, so to speak — one of his good deeds. In recent years, I have seen an explosion of anti-Semitism on the right, and “seen” is the right word, for there is no doubt it has always been there, only submerged. The social media coax it out of the woodwork. (The social media, it’s true, coax everything out of the woodwork.)

What do “Left” and “Right” mean, really? More and more, I find those terms confusing, or slippery. What is Putin? What camp does he belong to? He’s an enduring KGB officer, yes, but looked up to by rightist movements everywhere.

Earlier this week, I did a “Stockholm Journal” and touched on a party, the Swedish Democrats:

They have their roots in Nazism. They are nationalist and populist. They are anti-EU and anti-NATO. Generally, they are considered right-wing. But are they left-wing? Does it matter?

There is a point at which Left and Right join . . . 

Anti-Semitism and other ugly, often murderous isms, we will always have with us, apparently. I suppose the only answer is to keep them at bay — eternal vigilance, which may be tiring, but which is less costly than inattention.

‘Roy Moore Is Pure Steve Bannon’

by Rich Lowry

I wrote about the Alabama Senate race today in the context of the Steve Bannon insurgency:

Roy Moore is the Steve Bannon project in a nutshell.

For the former Trump operative, the Alabama Senate candidate’s tattered credibility is a feature, not a bug. If Moore had well-considered political and legal views, good judgment, and a sterling reputation, he’d almost by definition be part of the establishment that Bannon so loathes. Since Moore has none of those things, he’s nearly an ideal representative of the Bannon insurgency.

Events in Alabama make it clear that Bannon’s dime-store Leninism — burn everything down, including perhaps the Republican Senate majority — comes at a considerable cost. In this project, the truth doesn’t matter, ethics don’t matter, and standards don’t matter. Being anti-establishment is an escape clause from personal responsibility, and #war means proudly defending the indefensible.

Once you’ve devoted time and energy building up the career of white-nationalist fellow traveler Milo Yiannopoulos the way Bannon did at Breitbart, there is nothing that you aren’t willing to do.

Report: Al Franken Groped a Radio Host in 2006

by Theodore Kupfer

KABC radio host Leeann Tweeden says that Senator Al Franken groped her in 2006, when Franken was a comedian and the two were on a USO entertainment tour. Tweeden tells the story on the KABC website:

As a TV host and sports broadcaster, as well as a model familiar to the audience from the covers of FHM, Maxim and Playboy, I was only expecting to emcee and introduce the acts, but Franken said he had written a part for me that he thought would be funny, and I agreed to play along.

When I saw the script, Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a kiss. I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd.

According to Tweeden, Franken, saying they needed to “rehearse” the part, forcibly kissed her when the two were alone backstage.

Later on in the tour, Franken groped Tweeden while she was asleep — and Tweeden includes a photo of the act. “I couldn’t believe it,” Tweeden writes. “I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.”

Franken has responded to the report in a statement. “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell called for an investigation of Franken by the Senate Ethics Committee. “As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this,” McConnell said. “Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable — in the workplace or anywhere else.”

Environmentalism’s Worsening Anti-Human Infection

by Wesley J. Smith

As I wrote in The War on Humans, environmentalism has become increasingly anti-human, both in proposed policies — such as those that would reduce economic vitality and thwart human thriving — and in the goal of reducing human population.

The latter goal would require particularly tyrannical impositions to actually effectuate. Voluntary family planning offers great benefits. But actually reducing our numbers would require iron-fisted tyrannical measures.

After all, China’s brutal one-child policy has only slowed the country’s population growth. The actual Chinese population has not diminished — and the slowed growth came at tremendous cost to the happiness of the people and profoundly distorted its demographics. Indeed, the demographic problem — tens of millions more men than women — that the policy spawned recently induced the Chinese tyranny to generously (he wrote sarcastically) allow its people to now have a second child.

Environmentalists and their assorted allies get angry that most people don’t think that fighting supposed global warming is a priority item. Part of that may be because they continually show how out of touch they are with the joys and aspirations of regular — by which I mean sane — people.

Latest example from bioethicist (of course!) Travis Rieder, who compares having a child to releasing a murderer from prison to kill again. From“Science Proves Kids Are Bad for Earth:”

If I release a murderer from prison, knowing full well that he intends to kill innocent people, then I bear some responsibility for those deaths — even though the killer is also fully responsible. My having released him doesn’t make him less responsible (he did it!). But his doing it doesn’t eliminate my responsibility either.

Something similar is true, I think, when it comes to having children: Once my daughter is an autonomous agent, she will be responsible for her emissions. But that doesn’t negate my responsibility. Moral responsibility simply isn’t mathematical.

Good grief, have three kids and it is like letting Charles Manson out of prison? Rieder considers his putative grandchildren to be “emissions”? This is how Trump wins!

Rieder wants us all to have one fewer child:

Humanity grew up in relatively small groups; Rules like “don’t harm others,” or “don’t steal and cheat” are easy to make sense of in a world of largely individual interactions.

That is not our world any longer, though, and our moral sense is evolving to reflect that difference. Moral decisions are no longer about math; Being a part of the solution matters.

The importance of this argument for family size is obvious. If having one fewer child reduces one’s contribution to the harms of climate change, the choice of family size becomes a morally relevant one.

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Blah. Blah. Blah.

It is worth noting that Rieder has, in other places, advocated “punishing people” who have children. This, at a time when Western Europe and Japan are having too few children, leading to a demographic crisis.

Meanwhile, people living in the developing world have many children because of sheer survival needs.

Here’s an idea. Allow the use of fossil fuels to build an electric grid throughout Africa and I’ll bet the birth rate would drop. But greens don’t want to do that. They insist the destitute wait until it can all be created with renewables, meaning wait for decades. That’s anti-human because it dooms people to shorter and far more difficult lives.

And here’s another: Dr. Rieder should mind his own business about whether and when people decide to have children. The earth will be just fine whatever they decide.

The Story of This One Gun Is the Story of a Straw Purchaser

by Jim Geraghty

From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

The Story of This One Gun Is the Story of a Straw Purchaser

The Washington Post offers a well-reported, detailed odyssey of how one 9mm Glock 17 pistol changed hands several times and was used in multiple shootings and crimes within just a few nights in 2014.

The gun was purchased in Manassas by Jamal Fletcher Baker, a young man with no criminal record or record of mental illness. But Baker lied on the required paperwork, Federal Form 4473, and declared he was buying the gun for himself when in fact he was purchasing it for an unemployed aspiring rapper nicknamed “Stunna.”

If we want to stop gun crimes, we probably need to stop letting straw purchasers off the hook. As my colleague Kevin Williamson points out, prosecutors may have understandable reasons to be less than fully enthusiastic about pressing charges in some of these cases: “the nature of the people making straw purchases — young relatives, girlfriends who may or may not have been facing the threat of physical violence, grandmothers, etc. — made prosecuting those cases unattractive.” Kevin points out that if you put some gang member’s grandmother in jail for a long time, you may actually deter future use of grandmothers as straw purchasers.

The gun was then used in a shootout at a party; as the Post notes, “suspects, victims and party-goers refused to cooperate with detectives.”

Which factor actually endangers residents of the inner city more, legal gun purchases or the “snitches get stitches” mentality?

After the party shooting, someone gave the gun to a Romeo Hayes, who ended up in a dispute and another series of shootings the following night. The first is with Shaquinta Gaines, an off-duty D.C. police officer, who attempted to pursue Hayes’s vehicle in her car. Then Hayes encountered Thurman Stallings, a D.C. police detective, who also attempted to intervene. Hayes shot the detective several times. (Thankfully, Stallings lived to tell the tale, including in court.) The gun disappeared for a time, and is then was recovered months later, found “tossed under a car after a police chase by a man whose relatives lived in Poppa’s housing complex.”

The Post story may not have intended this point, but the article illuminates the futility of most of the arguments for gun control we see after mass shootings. The gun was not purchased at a gun show, so there was no “gun show loophole” to exploit and the initial purchaser passed the background check, so the tired cry of “universal background checks!” is meaningless here. The existing “universal background checks” are why these young men with criminal records use straw purchasers. And the straw purchasers either do not know or do not care that they are enabling those who will commit shootings in city streets.

The good news is that Baker was indeed prosecuted for lying on the federal background check form, and sentenced to more than a year in prison. Hayes was sentenced to ten years in prison.

The Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project

by Roger Clegg

I’ve written before about the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project (RTP), but this is a good week to do so again, because it’s time for the former’s annual convention and, since the meeting’s theme this year is “Administrative Agencies and the Regulatory State,” much work of the latter will be showcased directly or indirectly.

The basic idea of the RTP, which began about a year-and-a-half ago, is to foster a nationwide conversation about areas where the costs of regulation exceed any benefits. The RTP consists of twelve working groups — Antitrust & Consumer Protection, Cyber & Privacy, Energy & Environment, Enforcement & Agency Coercion, FDA & Healthcare, Financial Services & Corporate Governance, Intellectual Property, Emerging Technology, Labor & Employment, Race & Sex, Regulatory Process, and State & Local — with an impressive array of scholars, professors, lawyers, and professionals who analyze how specific regulations can stifle innovation, impede opportunity, and harm the very people they were designed to help. To this end the RTP publishes white papers, posts podcasts, records videos, hosts teleforums, and holds events across the country to explore the strengths and shortcomings of government regulations and policies. Input from the public is eagerly sought.

Just to give you the flavor: Earlier in the year the RTP released a paper prepared by its “Race & Sex Working Group” (love that name, and I’m proud to be a member of it). The paper critiqued three areas of Obama-administration overreach by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights: transgender bathroom and locker-room access under Title IX; investigations by universities of sexual-assault and harassment claims, also under Title IX; and requirements that school-discipline policies not have a “disparate impact” on the basis of race, under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Here are links to the project’s homepage and an introductory video. Its work is worth following.

The Stigma of Gantryism

by Jay Nordlinger

In Impromptus today, I begin with Roy Moore, and related matters. I thought I would say a little more here.

When Moore first came to national attention — some 20 years ago — I was favorable toward him. I was defensive of him. Why? He had placed the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. He was in trouble for it.

I thought it was wonderfully natural to place the Ten Commandments in an American courtroom. This is the foundation of our law, as Moore said. I was sick of “the naked public square,” to use a once-current phrase.

But then — we have Moore today.

Let me quote from my Impromptus:

A lot of good Alabamians, no doubt, contributed to Moore’s charity, the Foundation for Moral Law. (Wonderful name, wonderful concept.) He ripped them off, using the foundation as a personal piggy bank. And now he has ripped them off in another way, you could say: He has embarrassed them and the “cause.”

For years and years — ever since the Scopes trial in the 1920s — the religious Right has tried to escape the stigma of Gantryism. And time after time, the Roy Moores — the Jimmy Swaggarts, the Jim Bakkers, the Falwell Juniors — kill them.

At least that’s the way I see it . . . 

Many years ago, I was talking with David Pryce-Jones, after I had returned from the Middle East — from Egypt, specifically. P-J made this remark: “Wonderful people, betrayed by their intellectuals.”

A true and deep statement. And evangelical Christians, it seems to me, have been betrayed by their leaders, time after time.

Which leads me to Billy Graham — who stands ever taller, I think (and he is 99). There is someone evangelicals can look up to. Who does not cause them embarrassment.