August 1, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 5:51 PM


Reagan and Race (JAY NORDLINGER, August 1, 2019, National Review)

I also went to Lou's book President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime. He spends several pages on Reagan and race, treating the subject with nuance and depth. Cannon begins as follows, speaking personally:

I do not believe that Reagan was racially prejudiced in the normal meaning of the term. He had been taught by his parents that racial intolerance was abhorrent, and the many people I interviewed who knew him as a young man were unanimous in believing that he absorbed these lessons. In his autobiography Reagan tells how he volunteered to take Eureka College's two black football players into his home in Dixon after they were refused admission at a hotel. . . . The players were welcomed by Reagan's parents, as Reagan had known they would be. One of these players was William Franklin Burghardt, who had played center on the line next to Reagan. The two became friends and corresponded regularly until Burghardt's death in 1981.

Yes. I next went to a collection of correspondence: Reagan: A Life in Letters. "Dear Burgie," Reagan would begin his letters to his old teammate, and he would sign himself "Dutch."

Throughout his career, or careers, Reagan corresponded with movie fans, constituents, et al. Here is a note to Mr. Freddie Washington of Moss Point, Miss., published in A Life in Letters. The date of the note is November 23, 1983 (during Reagan's first term as president).

I've been frustrated and angered by the attempts to paint me as a racist and as lacking in compassion for the poor. On the one subject I was raised by a mother and father who instilled in me and my brother a hatred for bigotry and prejudice, long before there was such a thing as a civil rights movement. As for the poor, we were poor in an era when there were no government programs to turn to. I'm well aware of how lucky I've been since and how good the Lord has been to me.

In many of his letters, Reagan defends his record as governor of California -- this is particularly true of letters written between his governorship and his presidency. In August 1979, he sent a long, detailed letter to Mr. Lennie Pickard. Here is just a taste:

I realize there is a great lack of information about what I did as governor of California and it increases the farther east you go. As a result of this, I know that the minority community has an impression that I have little or no interest in their problems. When I became governor I discovered that after eight years of liberal Democratic rule in Sacramento, very little outside of rhetoric had been done for the minorities. The civil service regulations were such that it was virtually impossible for a black employee of state government to rise above the very lowest job levels. We got those rules changed.

Etc., etc. One more taste, from this letter:

My first few years as governor were during the period when people talked of long hot summers to come. We had had the Watts riots just prior to my taking office and racial tensions were very high. Without informing the press, I traveled up and down the state meeting with minority groups and leaders, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in headquarters they had in various community projects. I wanted to know firsthand what their problems were, what was on their minds, and what we could do to change things.

In quoting these things, am I excusing Reagan's remark to Nixon in 1971? No, no. I am saying: For chrissakes, there is a bigger picture. Life is often messy, and Reagan had a long one, not without messiness -- personal, professional, political, and so on. He was a man.

No one wants their heroes to be as human as we are.
Posted by orrinj at 5:41 PM


Democrats Rebuke Obama's Legacy at Their Own Peril (Josh Kraushaar,  Aug. 1, 2019, National Journal)

Any Democrat watching the last two nights of presidential debates would be struck by the absence of praise for the party's most popular president in memory: Barack Obama. Aside from Joe Biden, none of the 20 candidates on the debate stage had many fond memories of the legacy of the man that no Democrats dared criticize during his eight years in office.

That's political malpractice. The day that Obama has become too conservative for the Democratic Party is the day that the Democratic Party has lost touch with mainstream America. And it's why Biden, one of the few candidates to proudly tout his associations with the former president, came out on top Wednesday night.

Joe is the frontrunner because he's not out of touch with the mainstream Party.

Posted by orrinj at 5:35 PM


Tarantino's Most Transgressive Film: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood celebrates values that have been repeatedly dismissed as dangerous and outdated. (Caitlin Flanagan, 8/01/19,  The Atlantic)

The movie is about Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Rick Dalton. But this is Brad Pitt's picture, and he carries it so easily that you don't realize it until the end. Rick is the washed-up star of a TV Western, whose career has wound down to guest-star appearances on other actors' Westerns (in the career-killing role of villain), heavy drinking, and indulging in fits of crying. He's weak. Pitt is Cliff Booth, Rick's stunt double, the one who does all the dangerous things and who--literally--takes no credit. Rick is so dependent on Cliff that he has hired him as driver and houseman, a role that should diminish Cliff in our eyes--1968's Kato Kaelin--but doesn't. Cliff is cool, funny, laconic, and tough. His competence and emotional reserve make us more aware of Rick's weakness. So it's a depth charge of misgiving to learn that he's not welcome on some television sets. He brings a bad energy, apparently, because many people believe he killed his wife. It's an anvil dropping: Is he a threat? Did he do it? In the one flashback, the truth is never revealed. For most of the picture, we know we can't trust him, and Pitt plays with us throughout, one moment charming, the next lost in something inward.

At the end of the movie, after he's redeemed tenfold, we realize who he was all along and why we couldn't help falling for him--a hero. Rick spent the movie trying to portray a hero; Cliff spent it being one--and like all heroes, he didn't spend any time bringing attention to the fact. The beautiful teenager who keeps trying to get him to give her a ride finally succeeds, but when she tries to seduce him, she doesn't have a chance. He spares her feelings by telling her that it's because she doesn't have a photo ID to prove she's over 18, but that's not the reason. He doesn't need "affirmative consent." He has a code: A man doesn't sleep with teenagers.

Cliff faces great danger at the Manson compound to make sure an elderly man of his slight acquaintance is safe. He doesn't start fights, but if he gets into one, he'll lay out the challenger. His dog loves him, he doesn't like to see a man crying, and he's got his passions under control. One afternoon, he climbs to Rick's roof to fix his television antenna, a potent symbol of Rick's failing television career, but also one more reminder of their relationship: Rick's things are broken, and Cliff repairs them. In the bright sun, he takes off his shirt (heaven help us) and then he hears music from the house next door. It's Tate, alone in her room. He glances over--does he see her? Maybe. But he's not a man who climbs on roofs for a peep show, and he turns back to his work. Most of all, he's loyal--even when Rick might not deserve that loyalty. In the end, he's Gary Cooper facing Frank Miller all by himself.

We can't have a movie like this. It affirms things the culture wants killed. If men aren't encouraged to cry in public, where will we end up? And the bottom line is the bottom line: Audiences don't want to see this kind of thing anymore. The audience wants the kind of movies the justice critics want. But the audience gave Once Upon a Time in Hollywood the biggest opening of Tarantino's career. The critics may not get it, but the public does. 

Posted by orrinj at 2:41 PM


The Gun Industry Is Not As Untouchable As Everyone Thinks (NICOLE ALLAN, AUG 01, 2019, Slate)

 PLCAA does shield gun manufacturers, distributors, and dealers from liability in many situations where, say, an auto company might be on the hook, it allows for suits against those who break the law when selling a gun that's later used in a crime. These types of suits have been brought against irresponsible solo gun dealers since PLCAA was passed, but recently, they are being used to target the gun industry titans: Remington, Colt, Smith & Wesson. Plaintiffs' lawyers with no prior experience suing the gun industry have been mobilized by mass shootings in their communities--last weekend's in Gilroy, California, being just the latest--and are thinking up new kinds of claims. In looking at PLCAA afresh, they see not a blanket ban but one that makes key exceptions for egregious conduct. A few courts have been receptive to these tactics so far, sparking new hope that it is possible to hold the gun industry accountable.

In March, the Connecticut Supreme Court shocked the legal world by ruling in favor of the families of children killed in the Newtown shooting. These families focused in part on Remington's advertising of the AR-15 used in the massacre--ads that extolled its military style and suitability for combat, brandishing the slogan, "Forces of opposition, bow down." In knowingly marketing the weapon to civilians for use in military-style combat, the plaintiffs argued, Remington violated Connecticut's law against unfair trade practices.

Josh Koskoff, lead lawyer for the Newtown families, had never heard of PLCAA until he started researching this case. "I can see why people look at it and just give up," Koskoff says. "We almost did. It's like looking at Mount Everest and you're wearing sandals and you're supposed to climb." But he thinks that his lack of experience suing the gun industry--his expertise is medical malpractice--was helpful insofar as it allowed him to approach the law without assumptions. "We were able to look at it with a wider view. I think that was a real advantage to our ability to see causes of action that maybe others couldn't see or felt would be too much of a burden to overcome."

Koskoff's decision to use Connecticut's consumer protection law paid off in two ways. First, the state Supreme Court held that the Newtown families' claims were exempt from PLCAA because they fell under the law's "predicate exception," which permits lawsuits where a manufacturer or seller of a firearm used in a subsequent crime "knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing" of that firearm. Second, the court found that regulation of "advertising that threatens the public's health, safety, and morals" was such a core state power that even PLCAA's most ardent congressional supporters did not intend to take it away. 

Posted by orrinj at 2:38 PM


U.S. manufacturing struggling as tariffs bite; job market healthy (Lucia Mutikani, 8/01/19, Reuters) 

U.S. manufacturing activity slowed to a near three-year low in July and hiring at factories shifted into lower gear, suggesting a further loss of momentum in economic growth early in the third quarter as trade tensions between Washington and Beijing persist.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


Will Netanyahu's Putin connection backfire in his hunt for votes? (Ksenia Svetlova, July 31, 2019, Al Monitor)

On July 28, Tel Aviv residents were surprised to find a huge poster of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin smiling at each other on the outer wall of Metzudat Zeev, Likud's headquarters in the city. "Netanyahu, a different league," the poster read. Similar posters showing Netanyahu with US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also been displayed. These images, distributed via social networks and WhatsApp as well, are part of the Likud's new campaign, which also includes footage from Netanyahu's meetings with the three leaders.

As fate would have it, a day before the campaign launched, Russian authorities arrested more than 900 people in Moscow during an opposition protest that the police violently dispersed. The juxtaposition of events generated a lively debate in the media and via social networks in Hebrew and Russian, where many noted the anomaly in the height of Netanyahu and Putin as depicted on the poster: Putin, at a height of 170 centimeters (close to 5 feet 7 inches), looks a little taller than Netanyahu, who is 184 centimeters tall (6 feet tall). Other commenters remarked that they have no problem with contacts between Israel and Putin-led Russia, but what does bother them is using the image of a leader of an undemocratic nation in an election campaign. 

"It was strange for me to see this photo [of Netanyahu and Putin], when a moment ago I saw my friends getting clobbered on the streets of Moscow," Roman Goldshteyn, who immigrated to Israel from Moscow three and a half years ago, told Al-Monitor. Goldshteyn, who participated in opposition protests while living in the Russian capital, called on his friends to come to Likud headquarters to join a protest under the banner "Israel Without Putin."

"I see how Netanyahu and his coalition are trying to change the nature of the government so that he can continue serving as prime minister," Goldshteyn told Detaly, a Russian-language news website, on July 29. "In my opinion, we, Russian speakers who emigrated from there recently, especially know how dangerous this is for all Israelis, regardless of their political outlook. Our role is to show this to them."