Can Anti-China Tariffs Revive American Steel?


Sure, Donald Trump mused about returning to the gold standard during the campaign. But as president, he’s really more of a steel bug than a gold bug. “American steel” to be specific. To Trump, the decline in steel production and steel worker’s jobs are emblematic of lost American greatness. And when Big Steel is back, so will be America. As Trump put it last summer: “We are going to put American-produced steel back into the backbone of our country. This alone will create massive numbers of jobs.”

So with his First 100 Days almost complete, Trump is looking to make a down-payment on his American steel promise. Reuters reports:


The Question I Would Have Asked


Last night I had the good fortune to be invited to an event at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute in Simi Valley, CA entitled “A Nation Engaged: Power and The Presidency” hosted by NPR News and featuring our beloved patron and founder @peterrobinson and noted Reagan historian Craig Shirley. The discussion that flowed from this pairing of Reagan aficionados was not quite what I expected (although given the participants and the venue not entirely surprising) but, as always with these kinds of things, very enlightening.

The evening began with the audience being lead through the Pledge of Allegiance, and as an immigrant I must say that these small slices of American ritual really do provide a sense of community and shared identity. While my libertarian lizard brain rebels at the idea of pledging allegiance to any government or flag, my sense of American-ness was moved.


The Champs-Elysées Attack and the Election


I’m sure you’ve heard that last night, a terrorist opened fire on the police on the Champs-Elysées, killing a police officer and wounding three more. The security forces quickly shot him dead. The Champs-Elysées was evacuated, though it’s back to normal now. It seems there’s still a suspect at large, though news of this is only breaking now and sketchy. (Update: It’s being reported that police have detained three of the terrorist’s family members, but I haven’t seen confirmation of this.) The attacker was as usual known to police; he’d been arrested in February on suspicion of plotting to kill officers but released for of lack of evidence.

Although terrorism always takes you a bit by surprise, I’ve never been less surprised by a terrorist attack in any city I’ve ever lived in. We all knew full well this was highly likely to happen before the election on Sunday. It’s been the subject of much grim speculation here and black humor. An attack was just recently thwarted in Marseilles. I’d be equally unsurprised if there’s another one before Sunday.


March for Science


Do you have march fatigue yet? The left apparently does not, so we’re in for some street theater on Earth Day, April 22, with the so-called March for Science.

It’s hard to think of a better way to undermine the public’s faith in science than to stage demonstrations in Washington, DC and around the country modeled on the Women’s March in January.

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Balanit: My Life as a “Mikveh Lady”


Sometime in the spring of 1976, the rabbi found out that Mindy’s husband was smoking with his Sunday School students. They were the usual rum lot of high school age boys whose interest in religion had ceased with the cashing of their Bar Mitzvah checks; they put up with Eliyahu’s class for the sake of a reliable source of weed. A very unpleasant conference with the rabbi and the synagogue board was followed by a heated exchange with several outraged parents. Mindy and Eliyahu decided it was time to fulfill their dream of “making aliyah” — moving permanently to Israel. As their departure date neared, Mindy asked if I wanted to take over her job as balanit or attendant, at the mikveh.

The San Francisco mikveh (“ritual bath”) was in the Bnai David synagogue in the Mission District. Built in 1908 after the Earthquake, most of the congregation by then had long since departed, but the mikveh remained in use. Orthodox synagogues do not necessarily include a mikveh in their building plans, but this congregation, established in the 1880s by Eastern European Jews, was the first strictly Orthodox community in San Francisco. It is said that people came from as far away as Nevada to use the mikveh. The pool was unusually large — a dozen people could immerse at one time.


Georgia’s 6th: What Does It Mean for Trump and the GOP?


The short answer: nothing!

Graphic: The New York Times.

As you probably know, Georgia’s 6th Congressional District was previously held by Tom Price, who is now the Secretary of Health and Human Services, which is why the seat was subject to a jungle primary between Democrat Jon Ossoff and 11 Republicans.

Price won the district by double digits in November while Trump barely defeated Clinton. The seat has been held by a Republican since the Carter presidency, so how unusual is it that Jon Ossoff won 48% of the vote?


Andrea del Castagno, Last Supper


This very large fresco has been a secret for most of its history. It was painted in the 1440s for the cloistered nuns of Santa Apollonia in Florence, which is why it was very rarely seen by outsiders. Eventually, it was covered in plaster, which is why it’s so well preserved, unlike the scenes above it. We have it rediscovered only since the suppression of the nuns by the military in the 1860s, and can now marvel at the poetic effect it achieves and see in what its greatness consists. Indeed, authorship itself was unwittingly a secret, but that, too, has been resolved. The last secret, not likely of resolution, is the story of the author. Castagno is little known except by slander and by his works, and the slander is not honest either. The most famous chronicler of Renaissance Italy, Vasari, offers a great big lie of a story accusing him of murdering another painter out of jealousy–so far as anyone can tell, the lie is meant to explain the dramatic quality of Castagno’s painting–his characters have no softness about them. Art history could step in to help us in our time of need, explaining what painting looked like before him and afterward, but that’s too much of a distraction. We can only attend to the mysteries in the painting itself.


Markets in Everything, Including Life


I had a conversation the other day with the folks at MTV about why I think the GOP got its voters wrong. Much of it will be familiar to you if you listen to The Federalist Radio Hour, but here’s a portion of it that sparked some controversy.

“I think the real problem is that a lot of the religiously minded [wanted and still want] to use the power of government to try to create the society that they wished [existed] within the United States. This is not something that’s new, of course. Now, there’s a good side to that, which is, of course, the civil rights movement, and the kind of effort that you saw America’s Christians play in that role. You saw it, of course, in the antislavery movement, well before that. But you also saw it in [those who were] basically being busybodies about the way people live their lives. The question I would [ask] to social conservatives is: Are you confident that the way you view a life well-lived is a compelling enough model that it will win on its own merits?


O’Reilly on His Way Out at Fox News?


The rumor mill keeps spinning faster. From New York magazine:

The Murdochs have decided Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end. According to sources briefed on the discussions, network executives are preparing to announce O’Reilly’s departure before he returns from an Italian vacation on April 24. Now the big questions are how the exit will look and who will replace him.


France and Your Faithful Correspondent Go Insane


I don’t know how other journalists are even reading the news fast enough to make their deadlines right now. It’s easy enough to criticize the media; I do it all the time; I even do it more than anyone, I reckon. But this week all I can say is that I admire any colleague who managed to do the one thing a journalist has got to do to survive in this business: submit his report before the story’s no longer news.

I’ve been writing two pieces this week, one about last Sunday’s referendum in Turkey, the other about the upcoming election in France. I’ve worked to the point of near-tearful exhaustion on both, but neither are done. Nor, I fear, will either be finished before they’re no longer of use to any editor. So much has happened, so fast, and there is so much to explain, that I just can’t do it quickly enough. Those who can do it will be published; and even if their articles are riddled with errors of fact and interpretation or horrors of English prose, it is only right that theirs will be published and mine will not, because editors do need to fill their pages with something, after all. They can’t wait for writers like me to figure out how to compress my frantic thoughts about the history, the drama, the complexity, the personalities, the sheer weirdness of these epic events into “Five Facts You Need to Know Today” — and I can’t even blame them for it. The chief attribute you need to succeed in journalism is the ability to get 800 readable words on an editor’s desk before the day’s end, every single day, and I don’t have it. When yesterday Theresa May yesterday announced her plan to call a snap call a snap general election, my first thought was that another election was going to do me in — and I didn’t just mean the stress of living through it, I meant the prospect of explaining it.

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Seth and the Waterbed


Water is heavy. This was a lesson I learned in my freshman year in college, back more years than I care to remember. It was something I learned in class, but the lesson was underscored by my first-ever roommate, Seth. It is not his real name – for reasons obvious as this story progresses.

I was accepted to the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering. How far back? Back a few years after the Great Aerospace Bust left engineering graduates unable to find a job more challenging than pumping gasoline upon graduation. Not just baccalaureate degree holders, but rather those with masters and doctorates. In some ways folks looked on engineering grads the same way we view those with worthless studies degrees today.