The Weekend Jolt

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The Nightmare Sugarplum

Dear Weekend Jolter,

I write this on Thursday. You get this on Christmas Eve Eve. Who knows how many popes and presidents will be born in the intervening days? So you’ll forgive if this epistle proves untimely or insufficient. That said, this is the cover of the new issue of National Review. If you are a subscriber to NR’s digital edition, you can read Kevin Williamson’s cover piece here.

Now that is the alternate to a sugarplum vision that I find perfect for this Christmas weekend, and for any weekend: Scott Pruitt dancing inside the fevered heads of miserable Leftists. I love it!


There’s been but one this week so far, and it’s on the tax bill passed by Congress and signed by the President. Yep, it is quite complimentary: “While the bill is nobody’s idea of perfection, it is nonetheless a solid accomplishment and we are glad that Congress is moving quickly to pass it.”


1. As Advent and Hanukkah crest, The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg features our host discussing big things with American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks. They meditate upon various topics, including but not limited to finding meaning in life, what’s next for American politics, and what’s so special about the French horn.

2. Over at the new episode of Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie talk about the folly of selling one’s soul in order to oppose the president more vigorously. In other words, they address the Trump-can-do-no-right mantra of Washington Post “conservative” blogger Jennifer Rubin (more below).

3. Political Beats takes us into the Days of Merry with Scot and Jeff talking to blogger extraordinaire Stephen Miller about Oasis.

4. Jaywalking ambles down a long path: Shostakovich, Mendelssohn, politics, bees — and the birds and the bees. It all ends with a Christmas song, so listen and enjoy!

5. In the new Bookmonger, John J. Miller interviews author Robert W. Merry about his new biography, President McKinley: Architect of the New American Century.

6. Tis the season at The Great Books podcast: JJM is joined by Hillsdale’s Dwight Lindley to discuss Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.

7. Radio Free California comes in hot: David and Will shout at each other about the GOP tax plan; carbon-emitting wildfires; San Francisco’s recently deceased mayor, Ed Lee; and Dennis Prager’s federal suit claiming YouTube and Google have censored his conservative speech.

8. In the new Liberty Files podcast, David and Alexandra discuss the latest Democratic talking point, that tax cuts represent “theft,” and they weigh in on the matter of Never Trump in 2017. That podcast comes fast on the heels of the previous episode, in which David and Alexandra chatted about a big scoop in Politico, the national debate over the conservative Christian response to Trump, and the problems that kept a good Star Wars movie from being great.

9. Last but never ever least, The Editors features a no-politics Christmas-is-here podcast in which Rich, Reihan, Charlie, and MBD talk about their favorite books.

Deck the Halls with Twelve NR Must-Reads or I Get the Fat Guy to Do the Coal Thing

1. Media bias explains why the tax-reform bill is seemingly so unpopular with American voters. Alexandra DeSanctis explains in The Corner:

But another crucial component of the bill’s stunning lack of popularity surely stems from the amount of misinformation floating around about the substance of the bill, perpetuated by biased media outlets. Just this morning, for example, the New York Times opinion newsletter called the bill “a huge handout to corporate America,” completely ignoring the fact that the bill will lower taxes for a shocking 80.4 percent of Americans, according to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center.

2. The kids are starting to die from hunger in Venezuela. But as Jonah Goldberg discusses in his new column, socialism’s allure persists.

3. Trump’s Good Year I. Rich Lowry says give credit where due. And it’s due:

It is sound and fury signifying a discernible shift of American government to the right. It’s hard to see how a conventional Republican president would have done much better, except if he had managed to get Obamacare repealed, which was always going to be a dicey proposition given the narrow Republican majority in the Senate.

4. Trump’s Good Year II: In his new column, Conrad Black says it was a clear success. And he’s enjoying saying so:

For all of these and many similar reasons, the assertions of even fair-minded and perceptive commentators that Trump has done poorly in holding only 37 to 40 percent popular approval is mistaken. Considering the sustained assault of 90 percent of the media, in which the normal honeymoon for a new president has been replaced by a daily media assassination squad, he has done well. In the post-Watergate era of the criminalization of policy differences, instead of waiting a while before firing the nuclear option as accusers had with Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton, Trump’s enemies fired this blockbuster after a few months. Undismayed, he has ripped open the facade of the Justice Department and the FBI and exposed morally corrupt hacks within, while heaping praise on the FBI rank and file. At year’s end, his enemies, battered and almost unrecognizable from reruns of their gamecock assurance of a year, let alone two years, ago, are reduced to the shabby jobbery of claiming he is about to fire the special counsel. Trump has cooperated entirely with the special counsel, who has illegally seized evidence from the General Services Administration, recruited and tolerated hysterically anti-Trump people on his staff, and relied on the unspeakable Steele dossier, while a senior Justice Department official has been caught red-handed in improper contact with Steele, with whom the official’s wife worked during the election preparing the anti-Trump dossier.

5. Trump’s Good Year III. Well, not that much. Ben Shapiro though will praise Trump’s December. From his piece:

So yes, conservatives should celebrate Trump’s successes. But then we should call for Trump to act in ways that generate goodwill with Americans as a whole. If the conservative agenda is now lashed to Trump personally, it’s imperative that Trump act as a cork rather than an anchor.

6. SJWs roar, MSMers hyperventilate, Dems howl. But in reality, maybe things really ain’t all that bad. Heather Wilhelm ponders and explains:

Well, there’s always next year — in life, bad times can come at a moment’s notice. (In fact, Murphy’s Law suggests a Russian-led coup or a hostile and terrifying space-alien invasion will arrive the moment this column is published.) But until then, here’s the truth: While the world is not perfect, and never will be, we live in a wildly prosperous nation with unprecedented political freedoms. We have much to be thankful for. More importantly, not everything in life is about politics. The sooner we recognize that, the better 2018 will be.

7. The Rubin Con I. “We deserve better critics than this,” writes Charlie Cooke in his masterful critique of the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin. Of the Trump-can-do-no-right-ever Rubins. From Charlie’s piece:

The descriptions above Rubin’s byline have come to seem tragically misleading. Contrary to popular myth, she is not in fact writing from a “conservative perspective,” but as just one more voice among a host of Trump-obsessed zealots who add nothing to our discourse. In so doing, she does conservatism a sincere disservice. Whatever its shortcomings — and they are many — the American Right is too complicated and too interesting a force to be ruined or consumed by a single preposterous president. Conservatism in this country long predated Trump; for now, it is tied up with Trump; soon, it will have survived Trump. Rubin’s Jacobin willingness to throw the baby out with the bathwater suggests that she, like so many others in the conservative-nay-resistance does not much understand the philosophy at all. What, one might ask, separates her from possessed apologists such as Tomi Lahren? We deserve better critics than this.

8. The Rubin Con II: In the Atlantic, Trump despiser David Frum, armed with Nerf bullets, fires back in defense of Rubin. Which, Charlie writes in a rejoinder, did him the favor of proving his original point.

9. The Rubin Con III: Jonah piles on Frum, charging him with grossly distorting (as some kind of moral cave-ins) the stances of Trump critics.

10. You think that’s yours? Guess what? Congressional Democrats think its theirs. And David French calls them out for their increasing hatred of private property. From his piece:

Note the key words. A tax cut is a “heist.” It’s “looting” the government’s money. You’re “robbing” and “ransacking” the middle class. Schumer is the most measured, and even he acts like the government is “giving” people money by granting a tax break.

Yes, part of this is just talking points. They’re words chosen to win a news cycle. But they also betray a deeper problem. Taken at face value they represent a fundamental redefinition of private property. It’s part of the Democratic march towards socialism, and it doesn’t just have implications for tax rates, it has grave consequences for civil liberties as well.

11. Hans von Spakovsky and Roger Clegg reveal the bogus science behind “implicit racism.”

12. Related: Clay Routledge takes on the Leftist campus identity-politicos whose goal is to divide. From his piece:

Consider the growing boldness of anti-white campus activism. A recently published op-ed in a Texas student newspaper informed white students that their “DNA is an abomination.” Many on the left are quick to dismiss such outlandishness as a fringe concern. They assert that it represents just a small group of student activists, and they’re not wrong. But it is important to ask where that small group of students gets its ideas. Follow the breadcrumbs and they will lead you back to departments in the social sciences and humanities that have anti-white racism (and anti-male sexism) baked into their most fashionable theories, some of which not only peddle trendy forms of prejudice but also declare reason and science to be tools of white supremacy.

BONUS: Do always check out Photoshop of the Day.

We Interrupt this Newsletter

Think about your favorite writers, realize they are likely NRI fellows, and then commit to contributing to National Review Institute’s End-of-Year Appeal. Kathryn Jean Lopez makes the case.

Eight Pieces from Our Friends — We Encourage You to Read Them, Too

1. At the University of California, San Diego, student Gregory Lu hung flyers on campus depicting the murdered Kate Steinle with the caption “She had Dreams Too.” And then the Thought Police got involved. Jennifer Kabbany of The College Fix has the maddening story.

2. Being a conservative think tank in the Era of Trump. As Ringo sang, it don’t come easy. At The Atlantic, Tevi Troy considers the situation.

3. Nice job by Penny Nance in USA Today piece reminding us all how Anita Hill — just tasked by Hollywood executives to oversee a discrimination commission — once upon a time defended perv Bill Clinton. At length.

4. Kudos to Legal Insurrection boss William Jacobson for exposing how Palestinian activists exploit children to gotcha Israeli soldiers. From his piece:

As we have thoroughly documented over the years, the Tamimis, led by father Bassem Tamimi, regularly send children to try to provoke a confrontation with Israeli police and soldiers in order to get a reaction that will be captured on video and in photos.

The children are accompanied by a phalanx of videographers and photographers just waiting to turn the video and images viral. This video, shows how it’s done. (For this performance, Ahed gained international fame, and was awarded a medal by the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan).

5. Hard to imagine E.B. White getting edited . . . but it’s true!

6. David Bahnsen takes to Forbes to make the case why the new tax-reform law is broadly benefitting. From his piece:

An economy that distributes its rewards across all income levels, to all classes of people (for those inclined to talk in such Marxian speak), which strives to drive an aspirational society, is one that absolutely has to focus on productivity. When there are incentives for expanding productivity, or better still, elimination of headwinds to productive capacity, the results will not be merely rising asset prices, but actual organic growth as capital investment drives activity.

(By the way, you really need to pre-order his forthcoming book, Crisis of Responsibility: Our Cultural Addiction to Blame and How You Can Cure It.)

7. City Journal has published Jonathan Haidt’s Wriston Lecture on “The Age of Outrage: What the current political climate is doing to our country and our universities.” You can read it here.

8. Canada is obsessed with Islamophobia. And that’s not a good thing. Judith Bergman has the story for Gatestone Institute.

For Christmas

1. Charlotte Hayes, writing about “The Perils of Christmas Eve Sermons” in Acculturated, referenced what is said to be one of the great Nativity sermons, preached by Anglican minister Lancelot Andrewes before King James I on Christmas Day in 1622. You can find it here.

2. WFB’s sister, Aloise Buckley Heath, penned a number of wonderful Christmas stories. Enjoy this one: A Trapp Family Christmas.

3. Star in the Night is one of Hollywood’s best-ever shorts. Its wonderful cast includes Lynne Baggett and the delightful J. Carrol Naish. Trust me on this one.

4. Judy wants you to have yourself a merry little Christmas. So do I.

James, the Greater

Heritage Foundation has a new president: Kay James. And she’s terrific. I’ve known her for three decades, and can attest that she is the happiest of warriors. We wish her well. At the same time, we note that Heritage’s past and then interim president, Ed Feulner, has many fans here and across the fruited plains who hold him in the highest esteem for all that he has done for conservatism over the decades. Back to emeritus, we hope uninterrupted and enjoyable.

Keeping Up with Appearances

Shinier than tinsel and a brighter than a tree sagging with Christmas lights, Rich Lowry will make your Christmas Eve all the merrier and wiser and conservative-ier with his appearance on ABC’s This Week. Grab a cup of nog and watch.

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Scott Walker, Mark Hemingway, Andrew Roberts, Ian Murray, John O’Sullivan, John Drogin, Buck Sexton.


Three Hall of Famers were born on Christmas Day: Ricky Henderson, Nellie Fox, and Pud Galvin. And Billy Martin kicked the bucket on the 25th in 1989. We hope he was not thrown out of the Big Game.

A dios

Faithful friends who are dear to us — thanks for all you do to help NR and NRI. A Happy Christmas to you and yours, and Tiny Tim too. May your days be merry and bright.

Jack Falalalala

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