The Weekend Jolt

NR Insider

Sue City, Sue

Dear Jolters,

Happy Weekend to you all. Hey, unless you live off the grid, in which case you wouldn’t be reading this, I’m figuring this is just another one of those days when you might need electricity and gasoline, right? Please know that the providers of that make-things-go and turn-things-on stuff, let’s call them “energy companies,” are being targeted, in a new way (“way” as in “shakedown” and “scheme”) by lefties and their buddies in Democrat-run municipalities and counties.

The shtick is this: Claim that climate change will make the oceans rise and thereby create massive-costing infrastructure needs (such as sea walls) that must be bankrolled (costing billions upon billions) by those nefarious energy companies. Why? They’re to blame, that’s why. So money needs to be yanked out of the 401(k)s of pensioners and the portfolios of middle-class stockholders via massive lawsuits. To pay for the sought infrastructure. And of course the fees of the well-meaning trial lawyers. Got that?

If you live on or near coastal H2O, a version of this lawsuit may be coming to a city near you soon. So you’ll want to read Jibran Khan’s excellent analysis of the New Big Progressive Project.

Hey! Maybe you should read about Sue City, Sue while listening to Gene Autry sing Sioux City Sue. There’s an idea!


1. Imagine a census question asking about. . . citizenship! Of course, that launched a liberal freakout, about which an NRO editorial says in part

The more deranged corners of the Left, meanwhile, have declared that the president wants to root out unauthorized immigrants and deliberately engineer an undercount to ensure that Republicans remain in control of the government. Of course, a citizenship question is just that: Respondents will not be asked about their legal status. And in the event that the census actually undercounts the population in immigrant-heavy regions, red states such as Arizona and Texas would lose House seats and electoral votes.

In reality, the Commerce Department is making a mundane change to grant a December request from the Department of Justice. The Justice Department said it needed more data on the location of voters to buttress its enforcement of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits states from passing racially discriminatory election laws. The scope of that provision has been interpreted very broadly to block assorted redistricting efforts and to require majority-minority districts, and the DOJ says it needs more data to properly enforce the law.

2. This Trump attack on Amazon is just plain wrong. Our editorial tells the President to knock it off. From it:

The reality is that Amazon is a success story of American capitalism. Bezos and his team have revolutionized retail — just as the big-box stores did decades ago — and branched out into numerous other areas as well, reinvesting the money they make in new ventures. This has brought efficiency and high-paying jobs to the U.S. and, yes, seriously challenged older and less efficient retailers.

The company should be celebrated, not targeted for a presidential jeremiad, whatever the Washington Post decides to publish.

My Kind of Town

The final installment of National Review Institute’s barnstorming nationwide forums to celebrate the life and legacy of Bill Buckley takes place this coming Thursday, April 12, in Chicago at the Mid-America Club, and yes — you really have to be there. Rich Lowry will kick off the morning with remarks about the WFB Legacy, and some reflections on current conservative contentions. Then, Jay Nordlinger will engage with Al Felzenberg, author of the acclaimed 2017 Buckley biography, A Man and His Presidents, about WFB’s “Conservative Movement,” and next, Rich will again take the stage to converse with Matt Continetti on “WFB’s Journalism. Finally come a reception and lunch, at which David French will offer a keynote titled “The Kids Aren’t Alright: How the Culture Is Killing Free Speech” (ain’t that the truth?!).

I’ve been at all of the forums (NYC, D.C., Houston, Dallas, Palm Beach, San Francisco, and Newport Beach) and if you are into taking my word, then please go — they have been terrific, and that’s an understatement. Chicago will be no less a grand time. To sign up (and maybe to become a sponsor) click here.


1. Back by popular demand on The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg is none other than the Kornhusker Kid, Senator Ben Sasse. The duo prattle brilliantly about cybersecurity, congressional dysfunction, populism, and cryptozoology. Strap on the headphones, pilgrim, and listen up here.

2. If you ain’t listening to the Great Books podcast, hosted by John J. Miller, you are doing yourself a real disservice. Why not check out the new episode, in which JJM and University of Wisconsin prof Duke Pesta discuss Christopher Marlow’s Dr. Faustus. Yes? Good! Do listen here.

3. And if you liked that episode of The Great Books, you’ll love the previous one, in which JJM and Hillsdale prof Brad Birzer dig into J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s. . . precious! Listen here.

4. John Schilling took the helm at American Federation for Children when Betsy DeVos left to become Education Secretary. In the new episode of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen, he discusses the state of school choice with the program’s amazing host. Do pay heed here.

5. We’re Number One! In Homelessness! That’s the primo subject yapped about by Will and David on the new edition of Radio Free California. Catch the wisdom here.

6. Bookmonger is back in the NRO saddle. JJM talks to William Galston about Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy in the return episode. Sit down, clam up, and listen here.

7. Oh, yeeeeahhh! On the new Jaywalking episode, Mr. Nordlinger plays some Louis Armstrong, rap, and Rosemary Clooney, and talks politics, persecution, Russia, Harvard, and more. Come-on-a my house and enjoy the ear candy.

8. John Gizzi knows where all the bodies are buried, which may be why he is the guest on the new episode of The Jamie Weinstein Show. Catch it here.

9. Funkmasters Scot and Jeff bring Terry Teachout on the new episode of Political Beats and they all jam about The Band. Get into the groove here.

10. Over at Ordered Liberty, David and Alexandra ask why soldiers at war sometimes exercise greater discipline than police at home. Catch the new episode here.

A Big Loaf of Vitamin-Rich NRO Slices to Help Strong Bodies Grow in 12 Ways!

1. More Amazon: Michael Tanner says there’s no going back to the 1950s. From his piece:

The big problem with Trump’s view of Amazon is not that he gets his facts wrong. By now, we should be used to “taking Trump seriously but not literally,” in Salena Zito’s memorable phrase. And commentators are probably wrong that Trump’s attacks on Amazon stem solely from pique at aggressive media coverage from the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Trump has been attacking Amazon for years, starting long before Bezos bought the Post.

The much bigger issue is Trump’s Bernie Sanders–style misunderstanding of economics and his nostalgia for an imagined 1950s America.

2. Even More Amazon: Despite what The Donald says, it isn’t a villain, as Rich Lowry explains in his new column. A slice of it:

If there wasn’t Amazon, someone would have invented it, or at least the basic model of leveraging new technologies to transform retail. Beginning in the late 1980s, the advent of big-box retailers brought a productivity revolution to the industry. Now, e-commerce is challenging the big-box retailers in their turn.

This is how the American economy works. Eventually, it grinds the high and the mighty into the dust. In the 1910s, the U.S. government desperately wanted to break up U.S. Steel; a hundred years later, the company accounted for less than 10 percent of U.S. steel production. In the 1990s, the U.S. government wanted to keep Microsoft from dominating computing; 20 years later, it doesn’t even make the list of Big Tech boogeymen anymore.

3. Aaaa. . . Shaddap! On the Corner, Hans von Spakovsky explains just how wrong retired SCOTUS robe John Paul Stevens is about the Second Amendment.

4. Andy McCarthy scores the “specific guidance” memo Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein gave the Special Counsel Robert Mueller about his without-end-amen investigation. Here is a slice of Andy’s very important analysis:

From the outset, I protested that Rosenstein’s order appointing Mueller violated governing special-counsel regulations. They make the trigger for such an appointment the existence of a “criminal investigation of a person or matter,” which some conflict of interest prevents the Justice Department from conducting in the normal course — requiring that an attorney from outside the U.S. government be assigned to conduct the criminal investigation (see 28 CFR Sections 600.1 and 600.3). To the contrary, Rosenstein’s order disclosed no basis for a criminal investigation and indicated no crimes that had allegedly been committed.

Instead, the deputy attorney general assigned Mueller to conduct a counterintelligence investigation. To wit, Rosenstein defined the probe as “the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James B. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017.” In that testimony, Comey had quite explicitly confirmed a counterintelligence probe: “I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election” (emphasis added).

5. Jonathan Tobin explains why the Trump Trade War might prove to be a November Nightmare.

6. PC progressives can resort to sexual assaults, homophobic slurs, and more that would spark outrage should a conservative have so transgressed. Victor Davis Hanson reveals the double standard.

7. The New York Times’s Nick Kristoff gives a how-to seminar — SRO for straw-men — on debating in favor of gun control. Poor Nick: David French’s column disarms him.

8. A juicy, meaty, 10-course new Jay Nordlinger Impromptus column awaits.

9. This is the kind of piece that gets the passions going. So be it. Ed Conard argues that Americans cannot subsidize low-wage cities. Read it.

10. It’s pretty warm at California State University, Chico, but Kat Timpf finds plenty of snowflakes nonetheless. College Republicans staged an “I’m pro-gun, change my mind” event. You can imagine what ensued. If you can’t, there’s the story.

11. So, what’s the catch? The NFL’s news and bizarre dictat re-defining a pass reception has made a bad rule worse, says Graham Hillard. From his excellent piece:

The new system, in other words, will look a lot like the old one, with the single wrinkle that an excessively complicated system characterized by subjectivity will now be transformed into an excessively complicated system characterized by subjectivity whose inputs are partly invisible. That this will be done in the name of “correctness” or “getting it right” or “finding a solution” will only add insult to the injury of joyless games that peak in anticlimax and last forever. The updated rule will fail just as the last one did, because — conservatives of the world, hear your motto — there is no solution.

12. Michael Brendan Dougherty cranks out an exceptional review of Ross Douthat’s To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism. You don’t have to be a Fowler-class papist to find MBD’s piece well worth the read. Here’s how it ends:

The Church wants to welcome families that are broken. Its pastors tire of the cold language of “irregularity” that greets them as they seek their way back to religion. But Douthat’s book, which begins on a personal note, speaks for all those who — like him, and like me — come from complicated family situations, and who found, in the unchanging doctrine of marriage, a credible witness of God’s mercy in our age. We want a Church that adopts into itself the children and parents of broken families, but what we fear is a Church that in its haste to make us feel “welcome” would ultimately bless the sins that estrange us from our siblings and parents. And if it can tolerate and bless these sins, whom will we call upon when faced with our own family difficulties?

There should be another question that haunts Catholic bishops, if they believe. If the Church is, as Scripture says, the Bride of Christ, how will the Bridegroom react to finding his beloved thinking so fondly of divorce and remarriage?

13. On the Stephon Clark shooting, retired L.A. cop Jack Dunphy takes issue with David French’s rejoinder to Dunphy’s rebuttal to French’s column, in which he explains why he found the shooting “deeply problematic.”

14. George Weigel weighs in on the insanity at Holy Cross over the crackpot theology professor who believes the Passion of Jesus was an actual incestuous homoerotic experience between Gods the Father and Son. From his piece:

Frolics in the sandbox of postmodern queer theory and gender theory were not exactly what John Henry Newman had in mind in describing what a university ought to be. It might help those hiding behind the barricades of academic freedom at Holy Cross to remember that, if they hear from a sufficient number of alumni and parents prepared to say, “Enough of this foolishness is enough.”

Never-Trump Delusion Debate

1. Our jefe, Rich Lowry, pens a column (“The Never Trump Delusion”) that ends

A realistic attitude to Trump involves acknowledging both his flaws and how he usefully departs from a tired Reagan nostalgia. By all means, criticize him when he’s wrong. But don’t pretend that he’s just going away, or that he’s a wild outlier in the contemporary GOP.

2. Brothers Goldberg and Ponnuru tag-team the response, asking: Delusion? What delusion? A slice:

Many of the people who approve of the job Trump is doing are open to criticisms of him, and indeed agree with a lot of the criticisms. People who speak as though Trump can do no wrong are probably a minority even among Republicans and they are certainly one among the public at large.

Regardless, criticisms of Trump can be valid even if he is likely to be the Republican nominee in 2020, and should be voiced when valid. Rich wisely concedes the point; but if it is conceded, pointing to Trump’s strength within the party is no response at all to those criticisms.

3. Then Dan McLaughlin turns off the Yankee game and dives in, pretty deep. From his two cents:

But very few political commentators can or should stay hermetically isolated from the day-to-day realities on the ground. We are often engaged not only in debating what is theoretically desirable but what is politically practical, and the unspoken hope of almost every op-ed piece is that somebody in a position of official power will be influenced by it. We opine, inevitably, on questions of who should run for office or win primaries, who should be nominated or confirmed, what bills should be passed or vetoed, which controversies are legitimate and which are nonsense. The direction and health of the Republican party, which for better or worse is still the only practical vehicle for American conservatives to accomplish anything in public policy, remains a matter of urgent concern if conservatives are to be anything besides an amusing and esoteric debate society. Conservatism survived Nixon, but it did not survive entirely unchanged, nor will that be true (unfortunately) of Trump.

4. Volleying, Jonah responds to Dan.

5. And then, when all was quiet, El Jefe wrote a longish piece telling Ramesh and Jonah that oh yeah, there is a delusion. Read Rich’s response here.

Seven Suggestions from Co-inhabitants of the NR Solar System

1. Brad Miner, our former literary editor, has cancer. He writes about it in The Catholic Thing. The piece, “A Very Long Lent,” is worth your while.

2. Your Tax Pounds at Work: At Gatestone Institute, Douglas Murray writes on how British taxpayers are funding Palestinian textbooks that teach kids how to become violent little buggers and terrorists.

3. A college-debate “special tournament” held at the University of Vermont banned men from competing because, well, as you know, men are rapists. The College Fix has the warped story.

4. At Reason, Nick Gillespie checks out the expert angst over the popular response to the Roseanne reboot.

5. The Pronoun Wars are upon us. At Minding the Campus, Daphne Patai explains.

6. The U.K. Labor party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has a problem with Jews, which seems to be part and parcel of leftist economics, explains Theodore Dalrymple for City Journal.

7. John Bolton’s appointment as President Trump’s national-security adviser has rattled the Muslim Brotherhood “echo chamber,” writes amigo Ben Weingarten for The Federalist. From his essay:

Bolton’s endorsement of designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization illustrates a keen understanding of the size, scope, and nature of the Islamic supremacist threat that the national security and foreign policy establishment lacks. It is a proxy for a worldview that if followed to its logical conclusion would turn our largely futile efforts to beat back jihadists over the last 17 years on their head. This view takes Islamic supremacists at their word in their desire to impose upon us the Sharia-based, totalitarian theopolitical ideology to which they adhere. Hence the pushback.

You’ve Just Got to See Midnighters

Long ago one of our smart and happy NR warriors was Alston Ramsey, a Dartmouth College grad who plied his trade here (writing, editing) for a while, and who even helped WFB assemble the material for Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription: Notes & Asides from National Review. One day he cheerfully gave everyone socks (pop owned a hosiery manufacturer), but I digress: He left to become a speechwriter at DoD, and then found himself in Hollywood, where, along with big brother Julius — director of television shows (The Walking Dead, Krypton, many others) — he (they) have written, produced, and directed a film noir movie getting great acclaim, Midnighters.

Jay Nordlinger interviews Alston about the film in a recent Q&A podcast (it’s a lot of fun). And Kyle Smith gave it a socko review. From his piece:

I hesitate to mention Joel and Ethan Coen, but Midnighters, which is currently playing in a few theaters and available via on-demand television, is written by one brother (Alston Ramsay) and directed by another (Julius Ramsay), and their droll winking at genre conventions even as they expertly conjure up suspense and shock suggests an appreciation of the Coens’ method. In particular, their film recalls the Coens’ unnervingly assured first effort, Blood Simple (1984). Julius Ramsay has an eye for the kind of delicately grueling detail that becomes inevitable once you decide to do a Bad Thing — say, the way a paper towel looks when it’s absorbing as much blood as it can hold. Alston Ramsay, without doing any socio-cultural posturing, nevertheless assembles his script in layers, keeping the surprises coming along with hints of raised-eyebrow commentary. Twice, men come to harm because they’re distracted by their own lasciviousness, in a tidy little rebuke to what feminists call toxic masculinity. So, too, can the Ramsays pull off a joke so subtle you might easily miss it, as when two people are chatting about a woman’s work problems — “She’s been under a lot of pressure lately” — and we cut to the same woman with a knife being held to her throat.

Here’s the trailer. Go see it (you can even watch it now, online).

Aye Eye

1. On the new Uncommon Knowledge, Peter Robinson interviews Ross Douthat about his new Pope Francis book, To Change the Church.

2. When the government wants your house. . . in order to give your property to someone else. John Stossel revisits the shame known as Kelo.

3. In the new Prager U video, Dennis himself stars and discusses when the moral equivalency of societies. . . ain’t.

Department of Self-Promotion

It will end with taxing the air we breathe. But as they journey to that eventual insanity, Connecticut Democrats have concocted a new way to try to lighten your wallet. I try to explain it here.


1. As the new film on Ted Kennedy’s nefarious “incident” releases nationwide, NR has reached into the vaults to republish many of the pieces we published at the time. Among them: this September 20, 1969, Bill Buckley column, “After Chappaquiddick.” Look the rest of ‘em up.

2. Kyle Smith weighs in: Had this movie been released in the 1970s, Ted’s career would have been kaput. From his piece:

Yet this potent and penetrating film is not merely an attack piece. It’s more than fair to Kennedy in its hesitance to depict him as drunk on the night in question, and it also pictures him repeatedly diving into the pond on Chappaquiddick Island, trying to rescue his brother Bobby’s former aide Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara). He may or may not have made such rescue attempts. Moreover, as directed by John Curran (The Painted Veil), the film is suffused with lament that a man in Kennedy’s position could have been so much more than he was. Yet Ted, the last and least of four brothers, was shoved into a role for which he simply lacked the character. That the other three were dynamic leaders who died violently while he alone lived on to become the Senate’s Jabba the Hutt is perhaps the most dizzying chapter of the century-long Kennedy epic.

3. Armond White has seen the film and is very impressed. From his review:

In terms of both film and political history, Chappaquiddick is also a classic. Curran (and screenwriters Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan) break away from the Kennedy legacy so beloved by mainstream media. But these filmmakers also oppose the Millennial tendency toward demonization. Maybe every media consumer should see this film to appreciate the humanity that Curran and company display. They commemorate Kopechne (Kate Mara’s performance blends simple sweetness and cagey ambition) and sympathize with Kennedy — balancing the motives of both follower and icon. This is the rare occasion when partisan animus is ignored to facilitate an understanding of human culpability. The movie doesn’t exonerate Kennedy, but it challenges viewers to ease off their judgmental reflex.

Baseballery: Oh, Brother!

The unexpected idea struck the fevered brain: Did the Brothers Torre (Frank and Joe) and the Brothers Aaron (Hank and Tommie) all take the field at the same time for the Milwaukee Braves? Alas, no, since Frank was traded after the 1960 season to the Phillies, and Tommie didn’t play his first Braves game until 1962.

BUT! At least one time all four were on the field at the same time: On July 22, 1962 at Connie Mack Stadium in the City of Brotherly Love, with Joe catching, Hank in right, and Tommie at first for the Braves, Frank got up to pinch hit for the Phillies (he singled, to no avail — the Braves won, 5-2).

So coolio, that — two pairs of brothers playing in the same game. And on the field at the same time.

And then the fevered brain wandered deeper into the decades and asked: Did the Cardinal brother aces Dizzy and Daffy Dean ever pitch in the same game (kinda doubtful, no?) against the Pittsburgh Pirates and face that Hall-of-Fame-ous fraternal duo, Paul and Lloyd Waner?

Omigosh omigosh — it happened! On a sweltering August 4 in 1935 at Shibe Park in St. Louis, during the second game of a doubleheader. Dizzy started, and threw junk: in five innings he gave up five earned runs. Brother Paul (who had pitched one inning of the first game and got the win when the Scards scored in the bottom of the tenth) relieved Brother Dizzy and lasted for three scoreless innings (Bill Walker, who relieved Paul, got the win when the Cards scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to prevail, 6-5). As for Big and Little Poison, each had two hits (Paul clocked a solo home run off Dizzy in the third inning).

So, an encore coolio — another two brother-pairs playing in the same game.

But still fevered, the brain wondered about a fiver: Could the Brothers Aaron duo have played in the same game along with the Brothers Alou trio (Jesus, Matty, and Felipe)?

Folks, it happened: On September 17, 1963, at Milwaukee County Stadium, with Tommie and Hank in the lineup for the Braves (unrelated but interesting: So was Joe Torre), Momma Alou’s three boys all were in the lineup for the San Francisco Giants (one of the eight times they played in the same game). The Giants prevailed, 11-3. Tommie Aaron, pinch-hitting for Milwaukee, ended the game by grounding into a double play.

Ultra coolio!

A Dios

Today (Saturday) is the last of Passover, and for my Orthodox pals, tomorrow is Easter. Appropriate wishes of happiness and God’s special graces to all. Tonight, putting aside all my concerns over filioque, I am in Seattle to see my buddy Jason become a member of the Greek Orthodox faith and to celebrate the amazing (so I am told) Easter Vigil services, allegedly followed by a feast into the wee hours, and who doesn’t want to be engorged with lamb and baklava at 2 a.m.?!

God bless,

Jack Fowler

P.S.: is my email, and you can write me on just about anything, although I can assure you I have no idea what to say about pinochle, calculus, Estonian literature, and the Lifetime Channel, to name just a few of many thousands of subjects that expose my utter ignorance.


The Latest