What Does It Take to Declare a School ‘Unsafe’?

by Jim Geraghty

From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

What Does It Take to Declare a School ‘Unsafe’?

Something has gone terribly wrong in the public school system of Montgomery County, Maryland.

Only one of the two Rockville High School students charged with rape last week knew the freshman girl whom he’s accused of brutally attacking inside a bathroom stall, authorities said.

The 17- and 18-year-old students arrested Thursday did not share classes with the girl and had no prior contact with Montgomery County police, Capt. James Humphries and Montgomery County Public School officials said during a Tuesday evening press conference.

During the briefing at the district’s Rockville headquarters, MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith sought to address the shock, criticism and concern coming from the governor’s office, White House and the community in the wake of the alleged attack.

The two accused students—Henry Sanchez-Milian, 18, and Jose Montano, 17,—had arrived from Central America within the past year, and their arrest has set off a firestorm of debate about immigration and county education policy. In an address to the media, Smith pleaded passionately against using sweeping generalizations and denounced the surge of racism that he’s seen since the arrests.

County citizens have since learned that an illegal immigrant can be 18 years old, enroll in the public schools, undergo no background check, and because they have no verifiable high school credits, automatically be enrolled as a freshman, putting them in the same classes as 14 and 15-year-olds. Under the law, the school cannot ask about the student’s immigration status; the school system chooses to not perform background checks on incoming students.

In this light, the shock is not that this happened, the shock is that this hasn’t happened until now.

Here’s the assessment from the district superintendent, Jack Smith: “This horrible incident shouldn’t change anyone’s mind that those schools are safe for our students and we work very hard and our families and our community works very hard to keep all children safe in Montgomery County.”

Just stop. After you’ve had a brutal rape in your school during the school day, you can’t say that your schools are safe anymore. You don’t get to brag about what a terrific job everyone is doing at keeping them safe.

Montgomery County officials are quick to emphasize that they aren’t a “true” sanctuary city:

The county and City of Rockville for many years have had a policy in place that directs their police officers not to ask about an individual’s immigration status during interactions. However, the county and city both share information about individuals who are arrested with federal agencies such as the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in case those agencies have pending issues with the individuals. This policy, according to county officials, is different from true sanctuary jurisdictions that don’t cooperate with federal immigration agencies.

I’m reminded of Chris Rock’s routine about wanting special credit for meeting standard obligations. “We share information about individuals arrested with the FBI and immigration”? That’s what you’re supposed to do! What do you want, a cookie?

Music ’n’ Dictators (a Troubling Combo)

by Jay Nordlinger

On the homepage today, we publish a piece called “‘Step, Step, Step’: On paeans to dictators and other difficult music.” Where does that title come from? There is a song called “Footsteps,” a paean to Kim Jong-un, the current Kim on the throne in North Korea. “Step, step, step — the footsteps of our General Kim. The whole nation follows as one: step, step, step.”

An instrumental version of this song was played by an orchestra in New York not long ago. If you would like to hear this opus, go here. Catchy little bugger.

In my essay, I also mention a cantata by Prokofiev, a great composer: Hail to Stalin. Prokofiev wrote it in 1939, in honor of Uncle Joe’s 60th birthday. It is a much better piece than “Footsteps” — go here. Still, you may not want to spend much time with it, for it can make you queasy.

“Never before were the fields so green. With unprecedented joy the whole village is full. Never before for us has life been so joyous.”

Those are the opening words. The piece also says that Stalin “hears all, sees all” — which, you have to admit, was kinda true.

Wednesday links

by debbywitt

How Far Back In Time Could You Go And Still Understand English?

A History of Tug-of-War Fatalities.

The Science of Facial Hair: What Signals Do Beards, Stubble, and Mustaches Send to Others?

It’s William Shatner’s birthday: here he is in 1978 ’singing’ Rocket Man, plus a Star Trek/Monty Python mashup.

’London Bridge is down’: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death.

Why We Have Such Complicated Feelings About Eating Horses.

ICYMI, Monday’s links are here, and include silent film-era movie effects, vintage armored cars, blowing up a watermelon with 20,000 volts of electricity, and the first day of Spring.

Krauthammer’s Take: ‘There’s Going to Be a Sea Change in Opinion’ on Illegal-Immigrant Sanctuaries

by NR Staff

Discussing the alleged rape of a 14-year-old Maryland student by two illegal immigrants, Charles Krauthammer argued that publicity around cases like this has the potential to change public opinion about how best to protect communities in the face of illegal immigration:

It takes an incident like this and the coincidence of it happening during a debate in Rockville, in this area, about becoming a sanctuary city, to make bleeding-heart liberals wake up to the reality of life. This sanctuary-city proposal would probably have passed until this. Now, people realize you can be as generous and humanitarian as you want, but the risks here are great. They may not be a huge number of cases. But it takes only one this egregious. The fact that this 18-year-old was released by ICE in Texas is scandalous. They should never be released. We talk about the vetting of immigrants from other countries, how about vetting them when they are in the country? I think there’s going to be a sea change in opinion when these cases proliferate, and even liberals are going to think they really ought to protect their own communities and their own children rather than open the doors without asking any questions.

Watch: Sasse Questions Gorsuch and Chastises Democratic Colleagues

by Austin Yack

In today’s Supreme Court nomination hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch, Republican senator Ben Sasse (Neb.) questioned Gorsuch on a variety of issues, and chastised his Democratic colleagues for asking Gorsuch to set his legal ethics aside to “play politician on TV today.”

Watch the whole video here:


Beware a Turn to the New Yorkers

by Rich Lowry

The Washington Post had a story over the weekend that rang true to me about how the deepest split in the White House isn’t between Bannon and Priebus but between them (and everyone allied with them) and what the article calls the “New Yorkers,” i.e. Gary Cohn, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump et al. I’m guessing that is in this context that Ivanka’s move into a White House office should be interpreted. Conservatives and populists can argue about the merits of Trump’s agenda and what that agenda should be precisely. But all of us should agree that Trump pulling a semi-Schwarzenegger and giving the non-ideological New Yorkers the upper hand would be an enormous problem. It would mean that immigration enforcement, conservative judicial appointees, and much else would be thrown into doubt, while Trump’s unorthodox behavior presumably would stay the same. In this scenario  Trump’s victory in November would be wasted on — to use an example from the Post story — cozying up to the likes of Justin Trudeau.

Gorsuch on David Foster Wallace

by Kevin D. Williamson

If I hadn’t been enthusiastic about Gorsuch before, I would be now. But what I really want to know is: What does he make of the end of Infinite Jest?

Feinstein’s Questioning of Gorsuch Reveals Her Misunderstanding of the Supreme Court

by Austin Yack

Senator Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, unwaveringly questioned Judge Neil Gorsuch in his Supreme Court nomination hearing today. But rather than grill Gorsuch on his former rulings, or ask questions that would reaffirm his impartiality if nominated to the bench, Feinstein used her time to ask questions pertaining to his political beliefs.

Feinstein received nearly identical answers — that Gorsuch strives for impartiality and it would be unfair to future litigants if he revealed his political beliefs — time and time again.

On the Second Amendment, Feinstein asked whether Gorsuch agreed with Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, a Supreme Court ruling that affirmed an individual’s right to possess firearms, or Justice John Paul Stevens’s dissenting opinion.

“Both Justice Scalia and Justice Stevens wrote excellent opinions in that case,” Gorsuch said. But, he explained, a nod in agreement with one opinion or the other would indicate to future litigants that he has already determined the outcome of their cases. “Whatever is in Heller is the law, and I follow the law,” he said.

Feinstein’s follow-up question? Whether Gorsuch agreed with Scalia’s opinion in Heller, specifically regarding his decision that military-style weapons may be banned.

“It’s not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, senator,” Gorsuch said. “Respectfully, it’s a matter of it being the law, and my job is to apply and enforce the law.”

But Feinstein refused to accept that answer yet again, further asking which opinions by Scalia that he disagreed with. After Gorsuch explained why the question was inappropriate, Feinstein quipped, “Then how do we have confidence in you, that you won’t just be for the big corporations? That you will be for the little man?”

It seems that Feinstein and many of her Democratic colleagues do not set impartiality as a requirement for Supreme Court Justice nominees. Advocating the Democratic party’s agenda, however, is a necessity.


‘Justice-Involved’ Individuals

by Roger Clegg

The Trump administration’s Department of Labor headlines a press release today with this “euphemism of the decade” used by the Obama administration. Come on — don’t elections have consequences?

Another Reason Why College Costs So Much

by George Leef

It’s so tempting and easy for college officials to spend money on things that look nice in press releases but don’t accomplish much good. (They’re no different from politicians in that regard.)

Campus-safety initiatives are abundant and costly, as Alex Contarino shows in this Martin Center article.

The problem is that college campuses are already very safe — even those in inner city areas, such as Temple — and marginal increases in safety come at high cost. Contarino writes,

Most of the dangers students face are beyond the control of campus administrators — either occurring outside of their purview or stemming from larger social issues. Not surprisingly, the extra spending on campus security has been unsuccessful in curbing the most pressing safety issues, such as alcohol-fueled assault and sexual violence.

These initiatives cost money, of course, and drive up the already exorbitant cost of college.

School officials might say that they are having a positive impact in one area — excessive drinking. That is slightly down among college students, but as Contarino points out, it is also down among young Americans generally.

“Student safety should be a top concern,” Contarino concludes, “but no amount of spending will make every street off-campus safe, and administrators are still a long way off from changing the campus culture of drinking.”

Yes, Cut the After-School Program

by Jason Richwine

President Trump’s budget would zero out funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, an after-school program aimed at improving academic outcomes. The budget blueprint says the 21st Century program “lacks strong evidence of meeting its objectives.” That’s an understatement. As my former colleague David Muhlhausen has detailed, the Education Department sponsored a multi-site experimental evaluation of the 21st Century program. The final results, published in 2005, showed basically no effect on academic outcomes and negative effects on child behavior.

A lobbying coalition of academics, bureaucrats, and school providers has formed around the 21st Century program, and its supporters quickly moved to disparage the gold-standard evaluation. They offered the familiar excuses common to other program failures, including a perennial favorite: “We believe [insert name of program] is much more effective now than at the time it was evaluated.” Since evaluations are rarely conducted on the fly, that excuse can be recycled ad infinitum. Nevertheless, a New York Timesfact check” bought into the coalition’s storyline, dismissing the gold-standard evaluation as “early research” and then proceeding to cite state-level studies that do not use random-assignment methodology. The purported test-score gains even in these non-experimental studies were unimpressive.

Similarly, an article for Time claims “several studies” support after-school programs, but none is an actual test of the 21st Century program’s effectiveness. For example, the Education Department says that 30 to 40 percent of participants improved their math and English grades during the year, but there is no mention of how any control group performed. (The New York Times “fact check” also cites this data but misreports it as a 30 to 40 percent improvement in grades.) The Time article goes on to cite studies that say it is bad for children to go hungry, which is not exactly the same question as whether after-school programs are effective!

Does all of this mean that after-school care is never helpful to anyone? Of course not. Research in this area should and will continue. Perhaps there are targeted ways in which after-school care could help especially vulnerable kids. The 21st Century program, however, is not a good use of limited resources. Its funding should be either returned to the taxpayers or redirected toward programs with demonstrated effectiveness. More broadly, a $559 billion deficit means the government must set very careful priorities with its spending. If we cannot eliminate even a small program that failed its own government evaluation, then there is little reason to believe the government will ever get those priorities straight.

Derek Walcott, R.I.P.

by Ian Tuttle

Lost amid last weekend’s headlines about guitarist Chuck Berry and reporter Jimmy Breslin was the death, also, of poet Derek Walcott.

The recipient of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature, Walcott was a native of the island of Saint Lucia, and his was a self-conscious poetry of the sea. “The sea is always present. It’s always visible,” he told The Economist once. “All the roads lead to it. I consider the sound of the sea to be part of my body. And if you say in patois, ‘The boats are coming back,’ the beat of that line, its metrical space, has to do with the sound and rhythm of the sea itself.” Sometimes, he gloried in tropical sunshine; often, though, he was acutely aware of the sea’s fearsome power. His most ambitious work, the 300-page poem Omeros, recast Homer’s Odyssey in the Caribbean. Here, the sea’s power is as much social as natural; the sea is the medium for the great movements of history that have shaped the region, such as colonialism and the African slave trade.

Walcott is often considered a “political” poet, and in certain respects he was. But he was more than that. He was, finally, writing about love — for place and people and the sacred. “The fate of poetry,” he wrote, “is to fall in love with the world.” That is reflected in the simple lines of “To Norline,” from his 1987 collection, The Arkansas Testament:

This beach will remain empty
for more slate-colored dawns
of lines the surf continually
erases with its sponge,

and someone else will come
from the still-sleeping house,
a coffee mug warming his palm
as my body once cupped yours,

to memorize this passage
of a salt-sipping tern,
like when some line on a page
is loved, and it’s hard to turn.

Joseph Brodsky said of Derek Walcott, “He is the man by whom the English language lives.”

Dead at 87. R.I.P.

It’s Not Worth Sacrificing Anyone’s Integrity to Defend Trump’s Tweets

by David French

Response To...

A 140-Character Flaw

Over on the homepage, Rich lays out chapter and verse the multiple political problems Trump’s tweets create — problems that are different and worse for a president than a candidate. It’s all so ridiculous because it’s all so unnecessary. An effective presidency doesn’t require shoot-from-the-hip tweeting. In fact, Trump’s tweeting habits are so far mainly undermining his effectiveness. 

The tweets, however, are exposing something else in many of Trump’s friends and supporters — an extremely high tolerance for dishonesty and an oft-enthusiastic willingness to defend sheer nonsense. Yes, I know full well that many of his supporters take him “seriously, not literally,” but that’s a grave mistake. My words are of far lesser consequence than the president’s, yet I live my life knowing that willful, reckless, or even negligent falsehood can end my career overnight. It can end friendships instantaneously. Why is the truth somehow less important when the falsehoods come from the most powerful and arguably most famous man in the world?

I’ve watched Christian friends laugh hysterically at Trump’s tweets, positively delighted that they cause fits of rage on the other side. I’ve watched them excuse falsehoods from reflexively-defensive White House aides, claiming “it’s just their job” to defend the president. Since when is it any person’s job to help their boss spew falsehoods into the public domain? And if that does somehow come to be your job, aren’t you bound by honor to resign? It is not difficult, in a free society, to tell a man (no matter how powerful they are or how much you love access to that power), “Sir, I will not lie for you.”

The 1990s are instructive. I distinctly recall Democrat friends who not only defended Clinton on the narrow grounds that his White House affair (and subsequent lies and attempts to cover up that affair) weren’t grounds for resignation or impeachment. Fine. Make that argument. But all too many people went farther, denigrating the sanctity of marriage vows and longing for the alleged moral sophistication of the European model — a model where the wife and mistress can stand side-by-side at a president’s funeral. Fast forward to 2017, and some people laugh at a commitment to truth as “weak” in much the same that some Democrats laughed at a commitment to fidelity as “unsophisticated.”

We don’t know what happens behind closed doors, and it may well be the case that advisers are diligently and faithfully trying to convince the president to put down his phone. I hope that’s what’s happening, and perhaps one day their efforts will bear fruit. But for now consider the storylines that are being lost or swamped in the midst of presidential tweetstorms: 1) significant progress in the fight against ISIS; 2) an ongoing stock-market rally that directly defies leftist predictions in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s victory; and 3) one of the most-respected Supreme Court nominees in a generation. Indeed, think how much Trump’s tweets about wiretapping ended up stepping on the news about Gorsuch’s first day of confirmation hearings. Think about how much Trump’s mistaken (or deliberately false) tweets about NATO are needlessly complicating our alliances. Is this behavior in America’s best interests? I don’t even believe it’s in Trump’s best interests.

GOP gratitude for beating Hillary Clinton cannot and must not extend into acceptance (or even endorsement) of presidential dishonesty and impulsiveness. Trump isn’t just doing damage to himself. As he lures a movement into excusing his falsehoods, he does damage to the very culture and morality of his base. The truth still matters, even when fighting Democrats you despise. 

Gorsuch: ‘There’s No Such Thing as a Republican Judge or a Democratic Judge, We Just Have Judges’ (VIDEO)

by Ericka Andersen

Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch began the second day of confirmation hearings today with a reassurance for Democrats, saying:

“There’s not such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge, we just have judges.”

Of course, here at National Review, we’ve already given our seal of approval — and everything written here still stands.

Check out some of these other Gorsuch quotes that should get you excited about his nomination as well:

Ends, Means & Zombies

by Jonah Goldberg

Note: Spoilers ahead.

It’s been a while since there’s been any zombie blogging around here. I think the last time we talked about The Walking Dead, David French and others were complaining that the show had become too dark. But I haven’t given up on TWD, and, despite some clunky storytelling here and there, I think this season has been pretty good.

Oh, by the way, did anyone notice that lying people into war is cool again? The Walking Dead has already made its peace with the logic of preemptive war (both with the Governor and then, really, with the Savior outpost that Rick & Co. thought was the entirety of Negan’s empire). Some people complain about it, but the interesting thing is that most people seem to be fine with it.

There’s an analogy to torture. As I’ve written before, many people understandably and defensibly argue that torture in and of itself is always wrong and evil. I don’t subscribe to that categorical view for the simple reason that it’s easy to imagine situations where torture would be, at least, a necessary evil.

But I don’t even have to imagine it, Hollywood does that for us routinely. Scriptwriters frequently devise scenarios where the audience clearly wants the hero to beat some important piece of information out of the bad guy. My point isn’t that we should allow torture because there’s a compelling fictional case for it in reruns of 24. My point is just that if you get to create your own facts, it’s easy to create scenarios where it’s right to do bad things. You can say “it’s just a movie” or “it’s just a TV show” but law schools teach by creating hypothetical situations every day.

Anyway, in the second-to-most recent episode (“Bury Me Here”), Richard (a “knight” of the Kingdom) basically creates an elaborate ruse to convince Ezekiel to go to war. It involves, among other things, stealing a cantaloupe — turning a melon into the equivalent of the Ems Telegram. Until recently, Morgan had been the conscience of the show, or at least the champion of pacifism. Now, he’s not only in on the deception, he murders someone to see that Richard’s plan comes to fruition (people who’ve seen the episode will nod to my spoiler-avoidance on this plot point).

It seems to me that Richard is right. The Saviors must be defeated. Negan must be killed. Those are worthy and necessary ends. The question, therefore, becomes “What means are justified to achieve them?”

Trump Smiles at Rising Unemployment Among Free-Agent Quarterbacks

by Jim Geraghty

President Trump, at a rally in Kentucky yesterday: “It was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick [free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick] up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump… Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that.”

From the Bleacher Report article by Mike Freeman:

“He can still play at a high level,” one AFC general manager said. “The problem is three things are happening with him.

“First, some teams genuinely believe that he can’t play. They think he’s shot. I’d put that number around 20 percent.

“Second, some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team. I’d say that number is around 10 percent. Then there’s another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.

“Third, the rest genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did [kneeling for the national anthem]. They want nothing to do with him. They won’t move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did.”

No doubt, if you’re the general manager of an NFL team and you sign Kaepernick, you run the risk of Trump tweeting about you. But there are other factors at work here.

Kaepernick began 2016 competing with Blaine Gabbert for the starting job as quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, and then-coach Mike Chip Kelly named Gabbert the starter to begin the season. Gabbert played pretty badly in the first five weeks, and Kaepernick won his starting job back, but… the results were still pretty ugly.

The 49ers were terrible last year, finishing 2-14. The team was near the bottom of the league in points scored and total yards per game and dead last in passing yards per game. Fans, analysts and coaches can argue how much of the blame falls on Kaepernick, who started 11 games and played in 12. He was sacked 36 times in that limited playing time last year. (Oof!) He had some great games, like his three-touchdown, 113-rushing yard day against Miami, and some awful ones, like his December collapse against the New York Jets, when he completed only 8 of 18 passes for 38 yards over the final three quarters and overtime. (This is reportedly one of the reasons the Jets weren’t interested in signing him, although it’s hard to picture Jets owner/longtime GOP fundraiser/U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Woody Johnson being a big Kaepernick fan.) If you’re wary about Kaepernick, there’s enough reason to worry that after 171 sacks and a level of play that has either plateaued or declined, his best years are behind him.

Now on to the quarterback’s highest-of-high-profile form of protest. Do you think Kaepernick’s sudden status as a political celebrity and the attending media attention helped the 49ers last season, hurt the 49ers, or had no difference? Even if the overwhelming media scrutiny was just a small hindrance, how many coaches and general managers want to take on that grief and aggravation? Putting together a winning season in the NFL is hard enough. Yes, Kaepernick said he won’t be kneeling during the national anthem this year. But what if there’s another high-profile case of police brutality or Kaepernick finds some other cause he’s willing to kneel for?

Right now it appears that to the NFL teams looking for a quarterback in the free agent market, Kaepernick represents too much risk for too little reward. Tomorrow that could change; the entire league is only one torn anterior cruciate ligament away from being turned upside down.

Separately… is it really the job of the President of the United States to keep controversial quarterbacks unsigned in the free agent market? Doesn’t the commander-in-chief have bigger things to worry about?

One Man’s Vocation

by Jay Nordlinger

Last week, I was in Washington, sitting at lunch with a colleague of mine. I said I had to scoot off to the American Enterprise Institute to record a podcast with its president, Arthur Brooks. “The most interesting man in Washington, D.C.,” said my colleague.

You can hear Arthur Brooks on this Q&A.

We talk about some of the issues that have bubbled — roared — to the surface: nationalism, populism, “globalism.” Americans are a non-envious people, says Brooks. But, in tough times, we may claw at one another, like the French (à la française).

What we have now, says Brooks, is a “dignity gap”: a gap between those who can hold their head up and those who can’t, or think they can’t. This is a lousy gap. Everyone must have his dignity (a wholesome dignity).

Eventually, America will be back, says Brooks, and we will enjoy getting richer together. This is the “American magic.” Also, we will enjoy seeing people around the world prosper beside us.

I was charmed by the following statement (among many others that Brooks made): “This country was built by and for ambitious riff-raff.” May the ambitious riff-raff keep coming, and make this country boom.

Brooks is a musician and once made his living as a French-horn player. It did not especially satisfy him, however. He read what Bach said when asked why he wrote music. “The aim and final end of all music,” said the great composer, “should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” Brooks found his vocation, his true vocation. Economics and public policy? Sure — the kind that lifts the down and out into a much better life.

Enough of my scribbling. Our podcast, again, is here.

The FBI’s Coming Catch-22

by Jim Geraghty

From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

The FBI’s Coming Catch-22

FBI Director James Comey, testifying before Congress yesterday:

The FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.

He later added, “We’ve been doing this — this investigation began in late July, so for counterintelligence investigation that’s a fairly short period of time.”

Late July? When did the FBI think it was pertinent to tell the public?

Talk about a Catch-22. If the FBI finds evidence of some collusion or violation of U.S. laws, it’s an epic scandal, will set up Democratic conspiracy theories for years, will take a sledgehammer to public faith in the Trump presidency… and everyone will rightly ask why the FBI couldn’t uncover anything, or even inform the public about the investigation, until after the election. Heck, not even until after the inauguration!

If the FBI doesn’t find evidence of some collusion or violation of U.S. laws, it’s an epic farce, where the Trump administration can rightfully ask where they can go to get their reputations back.

The jump headline on page A2 of this morning’s USA Today says Inquiry could drag on for years. I realize counter-intelligence investigations take a long time to do correctly and completely, but what is the consequence to Russia or any other foreign power if the consequences to their actions don’t arrive until years later?

That’s a Rap

by Jay Nordlinger

In today’s Impromptus, I quote Bryce Harlow, the aide to Eisenhower and others: “Trust is the coin of the realm in Washington, D.C.” It is the coin elsewhere as well. When President Trump talks — no matter what he says, or tweets — there are people who say, “Oh, that’s Trump being Trump. Don’t take him so seriously, and certainly don’t take him literally!”

Well, what a president says is important. A lot of people believe him, whoever he is. And Americans want to believe their president. Why shouldn’t they? A president ought to tell the truth (like everyone else).

A post-modern, or post-truth, or alternative-truth, presidency should be desired by no one, of any political stripe.

Anyway, I begin my column today with an item on this theme. And I end with an item on LeBron James, the NBA star known as “King James.” Here on the Corner, I’d like to publish some mail. And speaking of King James …


You’ve had a couple of language notes recently on the King James Bible. This reminded me of something I heard on a podcast about the Bhagavad Gita. One of the most popular translations was done by a gentleman named Juan Mascaró in the ’60s. The BBC podhost said that, in his opinion, one reason that translation is so popular — particularly for young Hindus who grew up in the West (like me) — is that it’s redolent of the King James Bible. Those of a Western linguistic bent are drawn to it.

And before any SJWs start whining about “cultural appropriation,” my older relatives (born and raised in India, and students of Sanskrit) assure me that Mascaró’s translation is accurate linguistically and spiritually.

In an Impromptus last week, I had an item on Chance the Rapper, who recently donated $1 million to the Chicago public schools. He is a religious rapper, singing, “When the praises go up, the blessings come down.”

A student at Arizona State, Stefan Modrich, sent me a piece he wrote about Chance, religion, and politics. And in a note to me, he said,

Chance led a group of young voters to the polls in 2016, and most of them probably cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton. I’m not suggesting he could seamlessly be converted into some kind of Bruce Springsteen for the Right, but I would like to think that if he met with people like Mia Love, Ben Sasse, and Tim Scott, he could become a beacon for an entirely different — and refreshingly new — youth movement.