The Weekend Jolt

Politics & Policy

Nobody Messes with BB. Or BB.

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Or maybe that was about putting BB or baby in a corner. Regardless: See below for the fuller explanation, but we are treating all NR friends these next few fundraising weeks (yes, it’s webathon time!) to a daily photo of Bill Buckley. Today we share this très cool shot of him with brother-in-law Brent Bozell (enjoy this classic NR piece he wrote in 1962, titled “Freedom or Virtue”). BB and BB proved the nation’s premier debate team back at Yale. And they went on to change the world by founding a little magazine.

Buy a Round

At the Rusty Nail on McLean Avenue, rest its soul, where, as the saying went, “Incredible Friends Are Made,” the barkeep played gratis with your fourth drink, you tipped well, and you always bought a round when it was your turn (a convenient time for those tightwads to visit the loo). When it comes to NRO over the years, thousands have bought rounds, and millions have knocked them back. That’s why we’ve been able to keep the lights on, keep the propa ganding. If you’ve quaffed those drinks all these years, maybe it’s time for you to . . . step up. To buy a round for others. Whether a sawbuck or a C-note or somewhere in between, or even more, all money is good at Buckley’s Bar and Grill, and what your generosity buys is sensational to the conservative liver (OK, by mistake I got off at Exit 17, Stupid Analogies). We’ve got the Fall 2017 Webathon underway — we’re hash-tagging it #30DaysofBucktember (Exit 5, Fevered Brain), which you have to admit has some understandable logic.

Anyway, find out more about the important projects NRO is seeking to launch (in addition to our need to pay the usual bills): Read this.


1. We just say no to Alexander-Murray. From the piece:

Senators Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D., Wash.) have crafted a health-care deal that demonstrates why alleged fixes to Obamacare traveling under the banner of bipartisanship are such a non-starter.

2. On NAFTA reform, NR says the trump Administration should use a scalpel, not a chainsaw:

NAFTA has been an extraordinary success, raising U.S. economic growth, creating jobs, and lowering prices. The anti-trade disposition is based largely in nostalgia about 1950s factory towns and the familiar bias against economic interactions with foreigners. Trump fancies himself a master negotiator, but it is not entirely clear that he or his administration understands what actually is on the line when it comes to North American trade and its underappreciated contributions to U.S. prosperity. NAFTA may need some work, but it’s scalpel-work, not chainsaw-work.

3. NR praises the Trump Administration for pulling out of the virulently anti-Israel UNESCO. From the editorial:

Withdrawing makes fiscal and moral sense. Since the U.S. cut off funding to the organization, we have been accruing hundreds of millions of dollars in debt to the group. Critics of Trump’s decision have tended to ignore UNESCO’s contemptible politics and emphasize its other initiatives, which include literacy programs and environmental conservation. But if those programs are jeopardized by a lack of U.S. support, UNESCO has none but itself to blame.


So much ear candy awaits you.

1. The Editors features Rich, Charlie, Reihan, and MBD discussing the president’s healthcare moves, the decertification of the Iran Deal, and the White House’s “non-feud” feud with the Senate majority leader. The new episode even begins with Rich doing a little rap. Listen!

2. On the new episode of The Great Books, John J. Miller talks with UVA English prof Paul Cantor about William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

3. Jay Nordlinger jaws with best-selling author and occasional NR essayist Mark Helprin about his new novel, Paris in the Present Tense, on the nouvel épisode of Q&A.

4. Over at The Bookmonger, JJM takes on VDH as they discuss his acclaimed new book, The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won. If you’re interested, the book was also the theme of this impressive lecture VDH gave at Hillsdale last month.

5. Weekly Standard editor Steve Hayward joins everyone’s favorite dog-chronicler for the brand spanking new episode of The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg.

6. Jerry Brown does the stopped-clock thing: On the new episode of Radio Free California, David and Will discuss the human forces behind CA’s rash of deadly wildfires, they dismiss the state auditor’s investigation of government-worker wrongdoing, and then in a shocker, reflect on those too-rare occasions when Gov. Jerry Brown does the right thing for the right reasons. Mirabile dictu!

Eight (plus) NRO Pieces I Dare You Not to Read

1. Conrad Black discerns a 25th Amendment strategy by Never Trumpers, with some problems.

2. Jonah Goldberg rebuts along the lines of: Enough with this “Never Trump” stuff.

3. And then Jonah writes one of the funniest-titled columns I’ve seen in ages: “Self-Anointed Rainmaker Steve Bannon Dances Only During Cloudbursts.” From that:

If the Bannonistas lose, you can be sure Bannon will insist they were stabbed in the back by the “establishment” and “disloyal” Republicans. And if they win in the primaries or the general elections, it will certainly be due to their own merits and the anger of the GOP base at the Washington dysfunction that fuels right-wing populism these days. When it rains he’ll dance, taking credit for wins he didn’t earn, and he’ll blame losses on the dysfunction he helps fuel.

4. Our esteemed editor, Mr. Lowry, sees a lot of “cognitive dissonance” in the presidency. From his new column:

Trump’s decision to end Obamacare’s cost-sharing-reduction payments made sense as a political strategy only if he wanted to pressure congressional Republicans into a bipartisan deal. The termination of the payments wasn’t going to discomfit the Democrats, who could scream “sabotage” and blame Trump and Republicans for every failing of Obamacare going forward. It was nervous Republicans who were going to feel compelled to remove the political heat by propping up Obamacare.

5. David French scolds judges who defy the law to defy the President.

6. John O’Sullivan explains the misunderstood nature of populism. From the piece:

In recent years, however, liberalism has come to mean the proliferation of liberal institutions — the courts, supra-national bodies, charters of rights, independent agencies, U.N. treaty-monitoring bodies, etc. — that increasingly restrain and correct parliaments, congresses, and elected officials. This shift of power was questionable when these bodies merely nullified or delayed laws and regulations. But more recently they have taken to instructing democratically accountable bodies to make particular reforms and even to impose them on the entire polity through creative constitutional and treaty interpretation. Their decisions have concerned a wide range of official powers from welfare rules through gay marriage to regulations on migration and deportation (of, among others, convicted terrorists). Liberal democracy under this dispensation becomes the undemocratic imposition of liberal policies — which, incidentally, is the core of truth in Viktor Orban’s somewhat misleading advocacy of “illiberal democracy.”

7. Ben Shapiro laments Hollywood’s creepiness.

8. Not everything is filth. Kathryn Jean Lopez’s joyful interview of Dominican Sister Joseph Andrew about vocations is tonic for the soul.

BONUS: All I can say about this brilliantly written Kevin Williamson essay is INCOMING! Wow. Heads will explode, names will be called, middle fingers will be extended. But: Can that boy ever write!

BONUS BONUS: Blow blah-blah blasted. Great piece by Kyle Smith on a notorious NY Times blowhard Hitler-smearing Donald Trump. Writes Kyle:

As far as I’m concerned, what Blow has accomplished is not unlike the discovery of penicillin, or the theory of relativity. It is certainly, as he says, completely unheard-of — a “shock,” as he puts it — to hear someone compare Trump to Hitler. The intellectual history of our age must henceforth be divided into the period before and after Blow built the conceptual framework connecting Hitler to Trump for the very first time.

Seven Pieces from Other Places That Might Tickle Your Fancy

1. This isn’t an article — it’s an entire magazine. NR’s great pal, Daniel Hannan, last year launched The Conservative, a quarterly that bills itself as “A periodical publication by the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists.” You can access a PDF of the most recent issue here.

2. The anti-Israel Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (“BDS”) movement is losing badly in most places but for its safety spot, the UN, reports Evelyn Gordon for Commentary.

3. More from Commentary: A symposium on taking President Trump seriously.

4. Ga Ga Goo Goo: Look at this headline from a story by Zach Swaim at The College Fix: “University provides practice costumes to teach students how to dress for Halloween.”

5. What Not to Wear: More from The College Fix, this time with Jennifer Kabbany reporting on college administrators engaging in Halloween-sanity. From her story:

“Unacceptable costumes” listed on a University of St. Thomas diversity flier are “wearing Native American headdresses, dressing up as a ‘Mexican’ by wearing a sombrero, dressing as a ‘geisha,’ any form of blackface.”

“Cultural appropriation is defined as ‘the act of taking intellectual and cultural expressions from a culture that is not your own, without showing that you understand or respect the culture,’” explains a University of St. Thomas diversity memo to students.

“This can be as simple as wearing a Dashiki without knowledge or respect to West African culture, and as serious as wearing a fake Native American headdress without any regard of its sacredness,” adds the memo. “It generally incorporates a history of prejudice and discrimination by perpetuating long-standing stereotypes.”

6. Alan Dershowitz contends Iran is violating both the spirit and letter of the Obama Iran Deal. Please read his strong commentary at Gatestone Institute’s terrific website.

7. Hat tip to my old pal Rebecca Ryskind Teti for posting (via Facebook) links to a series of pieces on what she calls “the latest in an excellent series debating the question of the nature of the American founding.” So here is where the trail begins:

a. Robert Reilly (another pal of old) writes this smart essay for Claremont Review of Books asking “Do her principles doom America to moral and cultural decline?” What compels RR to put pen to paper is the contention that “the American Founding was a poison pill with a time-release formula. We are its victims.” He says this view “has been gaining strength among Christians.”

b. Then at the Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse blog, Patrick Deneen, one of Reilly’s principle targets, rebuts him (the lead-in to his piece says Reilly’s “call to man the battlements of classical liberalism is an attempt to short-circuit the possibility of a real revival of Catholic political thought in America.”

c. Then Reilly returns fire.

d. And fires some more.

If you like intelligent back-and-forth on fundamental principles, you’ll dig this.

Keeping Up with Appearances

Rich Lowry will be on Face the Nation on Sunday. If you’re not in church, you had better be watching!

Book ’Em

Dano. Rimshot! OK, we have a number of books that should be of interest to you.

1. So boy oh boy were we surprised to discover that Rob Long, whose columns (“Letters from Al” and “The Long View”) have run in NR for a generation (literally, as Joe Biden wouldn’t say), has a new book out. Bigly: Donald Trump in Verse. Ignored, yes — but we still luv Rob and want to show him some book love. Let’s roll out the publicist’s copy explaining why you need to order a copy:

Bigly is hilarious compilation of memorable quotes from President Donald Trump arranged as poetry that will have the president’s fiercest supporters and harshest critics asking the same question: Can a president appoint himself Poet Laureate? Divided into sections on Life, Love, Beauty, and Death — and including a dedicatory haiku by Milo Yiannopoulos, a foreword by How to Lose Friends and Alienate People author Toby Young, and poignant editor’s notes that reveal the hidden meaning in Trump’s expert verse — Bigly is a must-have for political junkies who’ve been following President Donald Trump’s unconventional speeches, interviews, complaints, jokes, quips, and witticisms.

2. We’ve talked up Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived and yep, we do so again. Pal James Rosen, yes, the editor of last year’s best-selling Buckley RIP collection, A Torch Kept Lit, calls it “engrossing and invaluable” in his glowing review in the current NR.

3. Repeat kiss for Mark Helprin’s new novel, Paris in the Present Tense.

4. MAGA cat-nip: No one is more American than my Down Under mate, Nick Adams, who you may have seen on FNC. He’s got a new book out, The Case Against the Establishment. And he said that if I don’t give it a plug I can expect a boomerang upside the head.

Roast Goldberg

Commentary’s annual dinner will feature a roast of NRO’s founding editor, the roasters to include the aforementioned Messers Lowry, Long, and Hayes, plus Brett Baier and Scott McLucas. John Podhoretz emcees the affair, which takes place November 7th in NYC at the Plaza Hotel. Get complete information here.

Stand Up for the Babies

1. New York-area pro-lifers: There is still time to get your ticket for the Human Life Review’s annual Great Defender of Life Dinner honoring Carly Fiorina. It takes place on Thursday, October 25th in NYC. Do it!

2. Washington D.C.-area pro-lifers: Divine Mercy care’s annual gala takes place in Herndon on Saturday, November 4th at the Hilton Washington-Dulles Airport Hotel. Bring your dancing shoes and you’re encouraged to wear a Yankees cap.

Tax-Reform Fight

If you think corporate welfare stands in the way of real tax reform, then you are going to love this ad. Find out more from Freedom Partners‘ effort to expose “Who’s Jeopardizing Tax Reform.”

RIP Helen DeVos

You remember the old Bible parable of the talents. Whether Helen DeVos, wife of AmWay founder Rich, was given one or five or ten by the Good Lord, she returned them hundred-fold. The family generosity and charity knew little bounds. She was a friend of National Review. She lived her faith in a most enviable way. May she have Eternal Rest and may her family have God’s comfort. The Grand Rapids News published a nice piece on her life.


A Bronx Tale: Last week (October 11 to be exact) was the 50th anniversary of baseball nerdery. Not yet a Red Sox hater, watching Game Six of what was a tremendous World Series between the Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals, excited by a string of home runs (Yaz, Reggie Smith, and Rico Petrocelli), in pencil I wrote the score down on a wrinkled piece of loose leaf, stuck the paper in my teeth, got on our one creaky bike and rode around the block a dozen times, an enthusiastic mumble-yelling 7-year-old town crier. Yeah, as Bugs would say, what a maroon, and I can only imagine what the neighbors said. But geez, baseball in October does something to you. (By the way, hard as they tried, close as they came, the Red Sox were no match for Bob Gibson in what might be considered the greatest single-series performance by any pitcher — and he even homered in Game Seven.)

A dios

Have a terrific weekend. Count your blessings, thank God for them, kiss the kids, apologize for once, offer up your sufferings for the souls in Purgatory, and root for the Yankees!

Jack Fowler


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