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January 2018

A Family in History The strange odyssey of the Browders By Jay Nordlinger

Ten years ago, at the home of Robert Agostinelli, the financier and National Review trustee, I met Bill Browder. Browder, too, is a financier, and he was soon to be famous as a truth-telling foe of the Putin regime. “Any relation?” I asked him. He said, “To Earl Browder?”

I thought this was puzzling, because who else could I have meant? Anyway, it transpired that Browder was indeed related — he is the grandson of Earl Browder. “My grandfather was the biggest Communist in America,” Bill remarked, “and I became the biggest capitalist in Russia.”

Earl Browder was head of the CPUSA — the American Communist party — in the 1930s and ’40s. Bill Browder created his hedge fund, Hermitage, in 1996. The Kremlin turned on him hard in 2005, declaring him persona non grata. He had been a thorn in the side of Putin’s oligarchs. In 2008, the authorities arrested Browder’s fearless and whistleblowing lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. They tortured him to death. Real slow, over the course of a year.

That began Browder’s career as a human-rights activist.

At the end of 2016, I read an obituary of Felix Browder, Bill’s father. I then realized why Bill had asked me, those years ago, to be more specific — to be more specific when I asked, “Any relation?” Felix Browder was one of the greatest mathematicians in the world. I don’t know from mathematicians. But others do, and they sometimes ask Bill, “Any relation?”

Earl Browder and his wife, Raisa, had three children, three boys. The first, Felix, became chairman of the math department at Chicago. The second, Andrew, became chairman of the math department at Brown. The third, William, became chairman of the math department at Princeton. And there is more Browder talent where that came from.

Let’s go back to Earl. He was born in 1891 in Wichita, Kan., which is also the home of the Kochs, those illustrious capitalists. America obviously gives birth to many types. Earl’s father was a schoolteacher and a populist — who was kicked out of the school system on account of his populism. He then opened a café. This establishment served, among other people, black people, which was uncommon and scandalous at the time.

Browder went bust, and his children had to leave school and go to work. Earl did this before he was ten. He would educate himself in other ways.

A radical, Earl first went to the Soviet Union in 1921. The dream of Communism excited people from all over the world. He was in the Soviet Union in 1926 when he married Raisa — Raisa Berkman, a lawyer from Leningrad. Their first two sons were born in Moscow. In 1932, Earl returned with his family to America, setting up shop in Yonkers, N.Y. The third son, William, was born in ’34.

Europe’s Energy Crack-Up Europeans scold while the U.S. leads By Rupert Darwall

‘Drugs, human trafficking, weapons. Violent fundamentalism and Islamic terrorism.” Was this President Trump talking about Africa at his recent White House meeting with congressional leaders? Nope: “The problems Africa face are completely different . . . and are civilizational,” France’s President Emmanuel Macron told a reporter from the Ivory Coast at last year’s G20 summit. European leaders like to lecture the world on how to be virtuous, but when you look at what they do themselves, a different story emerges.

Nowhere is the contrast starker than in climate and energy policy. The European Union has set out to show the world how it can be saved from climate change. No country has been more prominent in this than Germany. At the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, Germany reneged on a deal with President George H. W. Bush by advocating targets and timetables for emissions cuts that they had agreed wouldn’t be in the United Nations climate-change convention. Germany pledged to cut its own greenhouse-gas emissions by 25 to 30 per cent by 2005 and subsequently set a 40 percent target to be reached by 2020.

Thanks to German reunification, the first 20 percent was achieved by closing down the former East Germany’s heavy industry and its most polluting power stations. With emissions on course for only a 30 percent cut by 2020, three months ago Chancellor Angela Merkel was forced to explain that it was always clear that it would not be easy to save another 20 percent “at a time of relatively strong economic development.” The more you grow, the more carbon dioxide you produce. Logically, then, decarbonization policies mean lower growth. The elixir of carbon-free growth turns out to be snake oil after all.

Then two weeks ago, in the protracted talks to form a new governing coalition, Germany’s largest parties dropped the 2020 goal. An internal staff paper for environment-ministry bureaucrats acknowledged that missing the 2020 target would be a “disaster for Germany’s international reputation as a climate leader.” Indeed, 2017 was the year when Germany’s much vaunted Energiewende — a blueprint for America’s energy future if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 election — demonstrably failed. Despite fearsome energy-saving policies, energy consumption rose (economic growth, immigration, and cold weather were blamed), greenhouse-gas emissions were flat, and retail electricity prices were projected to rise above 30 euro cents (36.6 U.S. cents) for the first time (the average U.S. residential rate is around 13 U.S. cents).

Peter Smith Reformist Pipedreams and Islamic Reality

Muslims individually should, without qualification, be treated as respectfully and kindly as everyone else. However, at another level, it is surely reasonable to ask whether Muslims collectively should be absolved of accountability for the bitter fruits of Islam?

I’ll begin with a provocative question. Steel yourselves. Can those expressing affinity with Mein Kampf and National Socialism be, nevertheless, moderate and peaceful Nazis? I’ll leave the question hanging. And won’t directly come back to it.

Donald Trump got himself into one of those messes of his own making back in August. Having had his scripted response to the events in Charlottesville well received, he couldn’t later resist extemporising by blaming the violence on both sides. Moreover, he made the claim that among the thugs there were fine people on both sides, who had simply come to express their views peacefully on whether a statue of Robert E. Lee should be removed or left in place

Commentators piled on. They need little opportunity where Trump is concerned. Fine people, it was pointed out, do not associate themselves with the Ku Klux Klan, with white supremacists, and with Nazis marching under torches, some chanting “blood and soil”. Fine people, it was said, would have left when they saw the character of many of those marching. They would not have wanted to associate themselves with Nazis and their evil creed.

As relentlessly nit-picking as they are, this time Trump’s critics had a point. Would people of moderate and peaceful disposition march with Nazis? I think not. While freedom of association is important, the company you keep matters; and, most particularly, if you share similar aims. Suppose that those “fine” marchers that Trump referred to, based on his own observations, were, in fact, sympathetic to the KKK. Their apparent peacefulness wouldn’t be enough to let them off the hook.

This brings me to Islam and more pointedly to its followers.

At one level it is essential to distinguish Islam from its followers. In the normal course of every­day life, Muslims individually should, without qualification, be treated as respectfully and kindly as everyone else. However, at another level, it is surely reasonable to ask whether Muslims collectively should be absolved of accountability for the bitter fruits of Islam that are everywhere evident. For it is clear that they have been absolved by the mainstream media, by Christian church leaders, by most of the political class, and even by conservative commentators who are otherwise indelicate enough to use the word Islamic when describing terrorist attacks. You simply don’t get such attacks without the assertion, at some early point, that the vast majority of Muslims are moderate and peaceful and reject violence. Sometimes a figure of 99 per cent plus is used to hammer home the storyline.

Where does this habitual response come from? I suggest it starts with the tendency of human beings to put things having different characteristics into separate boxes or categories. In this case, Islam and Muslims have been put into two non-intersecting categories.

Take Islam first.

An evil alter ego has emerged as a category separate from Islam proper. It’s called Islamism. Islamism is sometimes referred to as “political Islam”. This is the favoured description of Dr Zuhdi Jasser. Dr Jasser is a leading light among those who want to see Islam “reformed”. He’s a medical doctor and former officer in the US Navy.

Near the end of 2015, Jasser, along with another twelve “renegade” Muslims—six of the thirteen are based in America, five in Canada, one in the UK and one in Denmark—signed and publicised a two-page Muslim Reform Movement Declaration. With Martin Luther and Wittenberg in mind, they pinned a copy on the doors of the Islamic Center in Washington DC. I can only guess at the fate of these two pieces of paper, but I can say that unlike Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses Jasser’s Declaration has not spread like wildfire.

Lucinda Spier The Sisterhood’s Self-interested Sophists

The feminism of my youth professed to advocate equality for all, men and women alike. Today that objective lies in ruins, buried beneath policies, attitudes and hypocrisies that see men assailed for being men and the cultural outrages inflicted on Muslim women pointedly ignored.

I consider myself a feminist. But the word “feminist” has become so debased its meaning has been lost, not to mention deliberately distorted from what it was taken to mean in decades gone by. What it meant to me in the Seventies and Eighties, and what it remains today, is equal pay for equal work, equal access to tertiary education and the ability to get a bank loan. It may seem incredible that females once needed the signature of a father or husband but that was indeed the case. Go back a little further and women were generally expected to resign their jobs when they married. Those to whom this sanction was not applied nevertheless received their marching orders upon becoming pregnant. It was unfair, unjust and, sadly, the way things were, which is why it had to change.

I know about the issue of equality between the sexes, which I studied it at university as an elective unit before working for a time in the Office of the Status of Women (OSW) in Canberra. I know all the so-called arguments why women were denied equality and how this imbalance was to be redressed. And I know that some of the prescriptions for redressing inequality were objectionable then and are even more so today. For example, the OSW worked hard to give girls gender-partisan encouragement and advantage in the classrom. A worthy goal, you say, but it came at the cost of boys doing less well. Some 20 years later the results of policies and attitudes overtly favouring female academic performance can be seen in the feminisation of medicine and law. It can also be seen, I would argue, in the declining numbers of young men at universities.

What I hear in modern feminists’ rhetoric is that no longer do these professional women want equality. Rather, they want to be more than equal, having adopted the strange idea that there should be some kind of payback or penalty for past male wrongs — the sins of the fathers being visited upon their sons, so to speak. Your ever-ready-with-a-quote-and-grievance modern feminist want to be compensated for men having had a better a deal than women in the past. The stupidity of this idea manifests itself in the utterances of women who claim to speak for all women when they are the chief recipients and beneficiaries of the attention they demand and attract. On an individual level, the likes of Germaine Greer and Anne Summers did enormously well out of feminism. It made their careers and, in the case of Greer, a lot of money from sales of The Female Eunuch.

This idea of being “more equal” extends to quotas in the workforce which see second-rate candidates — indeed, in some cases incompetent candidates – employed and promoted ahead of competent men solely by virtue of their gender. Clearly, the merit principle is dead and Australia is much the poorer for that.

This push for affirmative action against men is abhorrent, denying as it does the very idea and principle of gender equality for which women of my generation fought. More than that, it is a philosophy that tilts the playing field in favour of ‘’professional women’’ motivated by self-interest and agendas of personal advancement.

The most pressing issue for true feminists should be the inenviable position of Muslim women, whose value is reckoned to be half the value of men. Why is female genital mutilation so often glossed over? We have clinics for the treatment of mutilated women and girls, yet we see very few prosecutions. Why must women cover their bodies outside the home while men don’t? Sharia law, which derives its authority from the Koran, completely controls woman’s lives.

“Deflections – Watch What Gets Done, Not What Is Said” Sydney Williams

In days of old, knights used shields to deflect arrows and spears. Today, planes dispense chaff or utilize sky shields to deflect in-coming missiles. But, in the world of politics, words are the means by which the tide of battle is turned – attention deflected away from deeds to malapropisms. This is especially true when the enemy is President Trump. Peggy Noonan recently wrote on the subject: “Deflection as a media strategy has become an art form.” The self-righteous (and self-serving) statement/question by April Ryan – cited in the rubric above – is an example.

Ms. Ryan’s question was rhetorical. It was used to make a point, knowing it would be the story. She may even have expected Mr. Trump to respond; for she, like most of her fellow travelers, see him as vulgar, arrogant, sexist, racist, xenophobic, and stupid. His character, faulty at best, is denigrated further, because his politics are disliked. It is easier to impugn character than to challenge policies, especially those that have helped those the Left claims to support: Black unemployment, the lowest in over forty years, and women’s unemployment, the lowest since October 2000.

Parents, teachers (and the Clintons) would have us do as they say, not as they do. But Carl Jung suggested we are what we do. Jesus, as quoted in Corinthians, said: “Do as I do…” Mr. Trump’s syntax and Tweets can be grating and inimical, but his deeds have been positive. Regulation has been reduced, taxes have been lowered, and the economy is experiencing its fastest growth in a decade. Obama’s “nanny state” is being dismantled. Russia and China, contrary to expectations, have been put on notice. Israel is again our friend. NATO is stronger, as more countries have increased contributions close to the requested 2% of GDP. Relations with Japan and Taiwan have improved, and 98% of the land held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been recovered. The Mullahs of Iran are being called out for what they are – unrepentant dictators – as is Kim Jong-un of North Korea. Brussels is not seen as the capital of a self-proclaimed moral, unified Europe, but as an impediment to national and individual freedom. And, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has stood up for real human rights and faced down illiberal members of the UN Human Rights Council.

Mr. Trump, with his off-color and politically-incorrect statements, makes an easy target. But, despite cries of ‘for shame,’ it is not his character that really bothers the left – after all, these are the people that brought you Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken and the Clintons – it is his policies. Progressives prefer a paternalistic state, with them in charge. As for Ms. Ryan, Mr. Trump had the correct response: He ignored her.

Palestinians: No Difference Between Fatah and Hamas by Bassam Tawil

Sometimes it seems as if Fatah and Hamas are competing to show which party hates Israel and the US more.

This call is a clear message to Palestinians to launch more terror attacks. This, in fact, is the real “license to kill” that Fatah has been talking about. It is not Trump who gave Israel a “license to kill.” The real license is being issued here by Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah.

The glorification of terrorists and the denial of Jewish rights and history have always been a main pillar of the ideology of Abbas and Fatah. They have worked hard over the past two decades to create the false impression that they differ from Hamas. It now appears that the jig is up: their true colors are showing for all to see.

Is there any difference between the “moderate” Fatah faction headed by Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas?

In recent weeks, Fatah, which is often described by Westerners as the “moderate” and “pragmatic” Palestinian faction, has escalated its rhetorical attacks against Israel and the US to a point where one can no longer distinguish between its rhetoric and that of Hamas.

Like Hamas, Abbas’s Fatah regularly glorifies terrorists and encourages Palestinians to take them as role models. This is the very Fatah that is supposed to be Israel’s peace partner and whose leader, Abbas, claims that he is still committed to the “two-state solution.”

The latest example of Fatah’s glorification of terrorists came last week, when the Israel Defense Forces killed Ahmed Ismail Jarrar, of Jenin, in the northern West Bank. Jarrar belonged to a terror cell whose members murdered Rabbi Raziel Shevach two weeks ago.

Although Jarrar is believed to be a member of Hamas, Fatah was quick to publish posters depicting him as one of its “martyrs.” In one of the posters, Fatah described the slain terrorist as a “hero” and “martyr of Jerusalem.”

Fatah’s student faction at Al-Quds University also confirmed that Jarrar was one of its members. In a statement published hours after the terrorist was killed, the Fatah Shabiba [Youth] Movement at Al-Quds University boasted that he was “one of our prominent leaders and a member of our administrative body.”

The Great Incomplete Politically Correct US Terrorism Report! by A. Z. Mohamed

While the report reveals that approximately 46% of those convicted of international terrorism-related offenses from 9/11 through the end of 2016 (254 out of 549 individuals) were not U.S. citizens, it does not identify the number and nature of offenses they committed, their manner of entry, countries of origin, religion, or other related information.

The report presents illustrative examples of foreign nationals convicted of international terrorism-related offenses. All are Muslims — based on their being connected to Islamist groups recognized as terrorist organizations. Yet the report does not mention this. Moreover, a search of the report for the words “Muslim” or “Islam” produces only two matches: one in relation to ISIS’s goal of establishing an “Islamic caliphate,” and the other in reference to the “Islamic State in Iraq.”

The report also fails to include — or flatly ignores — significant findings to raise awareness of the threat to Americans’ safety. Among these are, not surprisingly, evaluating how effective or ineffective the US government’s policies and procedures are in screening and vetting people hoping to come to the United States.

The recently released report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) on the threat of international terrorism — a requirement of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorists Entry into the United States — falls sadly short.

The Executive Order requires information regarding:

the number of foreign nationals in the U.S. who have been charged, convicted, or removed from the U.S. based on terrorism-related activity;
the number of foreign nationals in the U.S. who have been radicalized in the U.S. and engaged in terrorism-related acts; and
the gender-based violence against women in the U.S. by foreign nationals.

Yet the current report does not provide any numbers for those or a lot else.

Disabilities R Us By David Solway

Over the last decade, programs to accommodate students with disabilities have been installed at most institutions of higher education, spurred largely by government mandate. Like George W. Bush’s failed No Child Left Behind Act, with Title I provisions to aid the disadvantaged, the thinking is that no student should be left behind owing to disability. This measure is a subset of the “social justice” movement that seeks to equalize job and social outcomes irrespective of talent, competence, personal input, and professional responsibility.

Nobody wants to de-privilege the disadvantaged or the suffering. The disability fetish, however, has adversely affected the performance of the average student, created enormous difficulties for teachers, and complicated administrative procedures to the point of functionary chaos.

I have recently examined an accommodation document issued by a university, which I won’t name. The data are stunning. Student A requires extended time for assignments and exams. Student B requires a word-processor with spell- and grammar-checker. Student C must not write more than one exam per day. Student D requires one day between exams. Student E requires “mind maps” (i.e., cheat sheets). Student F needs N.C. (noise-canceling) headphones to prevent distraction. And so on all the way down the alphabet. Indeed, even as I write, a professor at the University of Guelph has been suspended for allegedly chastising an anxiety-disability student.

There are at least six obvious problems with the disability regime of the modern university, listed here in random fashion.

First, there is the problem of invisible disabilities, which far outnumber physical ones. When is test anxiety, for example, anything but a normal occurrence, and why should it be classed as a pathology requiring accommodation? We have all been through this and survived.

Though many disabilities may be genuine, the opportunity for suddenly developing a qualifying infirmity is immense and has undoubtedly been taken advantage of by the thousands. A number of disabilities can easily be faked; in addition to test anxiety, there are agoraphobia, depression, bipolarity, panic attacks, “struggles with mental health” – and those that aren’t deliberately manufactured may still be more a matter of interpretation than a measurable impairment.

Cory Booker Meets Ted Kennedy’s ‘Racist’ Ghost By Pedro Gonzalez

According to the those on the political Left, America has always been a nation of, by, and for immigrants, in terms undefined, unregulated, and unlimited. But inclusive rhetoric is a recent development in U.S. immigration policy, one that stands in stark contrast with our nation’s former longstanding practice of prudent, selective immigration.

Progressives seem to forget it was Democrat Ted Kennedy, on the eve of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, who assured an uneasy Congress that “our streets will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually.” Turns out there were 1.8 million immigrants in 2016 alone. That line didn’t age well, did it?

Kennedy promised the bill “will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and deprived nations of Africa and Asia.”

Some might say Kennedy was tacitly mollifying a concern about America being overwhelmed with immigrants from what, based on desperately impoverished conditions therein, might be considered “shithole” countries. There’s nothing inherently wrong with what Kennedy said. Nations have the right to regulate immigration, after all.

“Complicit” With What Now?
But how would Senator Cory Booker react to those remarks today? I can’t see Booker slamming Kennedy like he did Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, whom he likened to a Nazi enabler when she failed to rebuke President Trump’s remark that she didn’t hear, because she wasn’t in the room.

Neilsen, the consummate professional, remained calm against Booker’s tirade. “I decline to spend any more of my time responding other than to say the obvious—I did not and will not lie under oath and say I heard something I didn’t,” Nielsen said.

How principled, genuine even, of Nielsen—Lindsey Graham could learn a thing or two from her. Booker was left with his “tears of rage” at Neilsen’s “complicity” in enabling a racist America wherein we do the unthinkable: control our borders, enforce immigration laws, dictate who may immigrate, and upon which conditions they may remain.

Mythologies of Illegal Immigration By Victor Davis Hanson

The illegal immigration debate has come to a head once again. Congress remains at an impasse over a temporary spending bill that Senate Democrats refuse to support unless it includes a provision that would allow several hundred thousand illegal aliens to remain in the United States without fear of deportation. It’s a tiresome ploy by the Democrats, abetted by their allies in the media, using deceptive language to paint a false picture that blurs the distinction between legal and illegal, citizen and foreigner, justice and injustice.

Enough obfuscation. Here are some of the most pernicious myths of illegal immigration, debunked.

The System is “Broken”
Broken for whom exactly? Not for Mexico and Latin America. Together they garner $50 billion in annual remittances. The majority of such transfers are likely sent from illegal aliens.

Some of that largess is also subsidized by the entitlements American taxpayers pay that free up this disposable cash for sending abroad. In the eyes of Mexico and Latin America, the only thing that would make our system appear “broken” would be enforcing existing U.S. immigration law.

Or perhaps “broken” would be defined as novel ways of paying for Trump’s wall—by either taxing remittances or so discouraging illegal immigration that a reduction of dollar outflows could be counted (at least rhetorically) as down payments on border construction.

The immigration system is also clearly not broken for the Democratic Party. It has turned California blue. It soon will do the same to Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico, and someday may flip Arizona and Texas.

If the statist, redistributionist, and identity politics principles of the Democrats no longer appeal to 51 percent of the electorate, then why would they give up on the annual investment in nearly hundreds of thousands of new arrivals that by some means, and in the not too distant future, would translate into loyal, politically predictable voters for whom this approach to politics is second nature?

Employers believe the system is anything but broken. Any good news for the country about skyrocketing minority employment numbers is likely to be bad news for them if it means declining numbers of cheaper illegal aliens to hire. Open borders have ensured the hiring of industrious workers at cheap wages while passing on the accruing health, educational, legal, and criminal justice costs to the taxpayer. The present system is “working” well enough for this crowd; its possible replacement instead would be defined as “broken.”

Ethnic tribunes support illegal immigration. If the border were closed and the melting pot allowed to work, the façade of identity politics would vanish in a generation.

Recently added accents would be dropped. Hyphenated names would disappear. Trilled r’s would become rare. La Raza/Chicano/Latino Studies programs would become about as popular as Basque or Portuguese. If immigrants from Mexico came in measured numbers, legally, with high-school diplomas, and along with diverse immigrants from all over the world, then rapid assimilation and integration would soon render them politically individuals, not tribes. Someone like California Senate Leader Kevin de León (born Kevin Alexander Leon) would never have needed a preposition and an accent mark.

Broken? More likely, most welcomed.