The Weekend Jolt

Politics & Policy

The Nino, The Pinta, and the Santa Maria

Dear Weekend Jolters,

I know what the late great Nino Scalia would do when he got his got his Italian up.

More on him below. As for me: Yeah, my Italian up is way up. Don’t let the Fowler fool you — momma was a Marconi, her momma a Pagano, her momma a Contini. These veins pump sauce (not gravy). Anyway, let’s break form and right up front plug Kyle Smith’s brilliant The Left Opens Fire on Columbus Statues, because this knock-em-down nonsense, which I find offensive across the board, fries my capicola and frosts my fagioli when it comes to Mr. 1492.

(Would you be surprised if an FBI wire-tap at the Ravenna Social Club picked up a conversation with Vinny Boobatz and Johnny Bacciagalupe threatening to break the f***ing limbs of sommadem punks who wanna f*** wid da Columbus statue?)

Malocchio to you Antifa and de Blasio hell-benters. And now that that’s done, let’s return to our regularly scheduled newsletter.


There was a single pronouncement this week on NRO: Trump’s Afghan Escalation had this to say in response to the President’s speech:

He had a choice. On one hand, he could follow his instinct to pull out of Afghanistan, act on his many bumptious calls to abandon the war, and please his most fervent supporters. On the other, he could acknowledge the disaster that would result in Afghanistan and potentially the region if he followed this course and instead work toward a more responsible policy. He, rightly, picked the latter option and spoke to the nation about his new strategy last night.

Ear Ye: NRO Podcasts

This week on The Editors, Charlie, Reihan, and Michael talk about adios Bannon, the President’s Afghan speech, and censorship.

Ominous: In the first post-Charlottesville edition of The Liberty Files, David French breaks down the cultural and corporate threat to free speech. Folks, you have to listen.

The Richard Spencers I know (and I do) make it a point to say “I am not that Richard Spencer.” Well, Kevin Williamson, co-host, with Charlie Cooke, of Mad Dogs and Englishmen, interviewed (for the new issue of National Review) that Richard Spencer, who is the main topic on this week’s new episode.

Our new Radio Free California podcast broke ground this week, with Will Swaim and David Bahnsen talking about the negative impact of the Golden State’s taxing the rich, and plenty more. A new episode is going up this weekend (my kingdom for a link!).

Also new: Hillsdale College’s Scot Bertram and attorney Jeff Blehar launched the groovy podcast (in which they ask political types to talk about their musical passions) called Political Beats. In episode one, they discuss Van Halen with Sean Trende from Real Clear Politics.

Speaking of Singing

Just because I want to and can: Here is Peggy Lee is an exquisite rendition of Where or When.

Six NRO Pieces You Should Kindly Read

1. Well she took a little sabbatical and we’re glad it’s over, because NRO is always a better place when Heather Wilhelm adds her weekly smarts to it. Her comeback piece is Government Shutdowns: A (Sort of) Love Letter.

2. Jay Nordlinger was off in Salzburg doing his annual music festivaling: He always returns with exceptional Impromtus offerings. Enjoy his Salzburg Journal, Part I and Part II.

3. This is the kind of confusion-inspiring lunacy that would have Ralph Kramden doing a homina homina homina: Our Elliot Kaufman reports on legislative efforts in California to criminalize “misgendering” people. Here’s a slice:

The “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Long-Term Care Facility Resident’s Bill of Rights” has already been passed by California’s state senate and unanimously recommended by its state assembly’s judiciary committee. It would impose left-wing dogma by force of law if it gets much further.

4. Here’s a two-fer of pieces by Victor Davis Hanson: The first is his brilliant weekly NRO column, Our War against Memory. The second, related, is his syndicated column, The Double Standard in the Progressive War against the Dead. Here’s a selection from the former:

In our race to rectify the past in the present, could Ken Burns in 2017 still make his stellar Civil War documentary, with a folksy and drawly Shelby Foote animating the tragedies of the Confederacy’s gifted soldiers sacrificing their all for a bad cause? Should progressives ask Burns to reissue an updated Civil War version in which Foote and southern “contextualizers” are left on the cutting room floor?

How about progressive icon Joan Baez? Should the Sixties folksinger seek forgiveness from us for reviving her career in the early 1970s with the big money-making hit “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” — her version of The Band’s sympathetic ode to the tragedy of a defeated Confederacy, written over a century after the Civil War. (“Back with my wife in Tennessee / When one day she called to me / Said, “Virgil, quick, come see / There goes the Robert E. Lee!”) If a monument is to be wiped away, then surely a popular song must go, too.

(Here’s The Band knocking that out — what a performance.)

5. America is Frenchifying. Zut! That is the blunt message of a series of essays that Paris-based conservative Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry is writing for NRO. You do yourself a disservice to ignore. Here they are: Part I, Part II, and Part III.

6. Rich Lowry’s new column explains “Trump’s Evil Empire”:

For many Republicans, what matters most about Donald Trump is that he’s demonstrated resolve against the enemy — not the Islamic State or the Taliban, but the media.

Six Worthwhile Pieces from Others

1. Why do they hate me? Well, because they just do. As Giullio Meotti writes in an excellent new piece for Gatestone Institute, “It is our very existence that is unbearable to jihadists.”

2. Matthew Hennessey is a really talented guy (I wish would be writing for NR!) who makes his home at the Wall Street Journal. We won’t hold it against him. Just to prove it: You should read his take on New Hampshire’s savage opioid problem. It’s powerful.

3. Good old reliable Modern Age: founded by Russell Kirk, now celebrating its 60th anniversary, and in its last great issue, serving up exceptional content, like this Roger Scruton piece, “The Threat of Free Speech in the University.”

4. Incoming freshmen at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, received their marching order: Confront racism and privilege. Nathan Rubbelke of The College Fix has the story.

5. As the statues tumble, it is timely to ask: What is the critical role “civil religion” plays in American life. University Bookman editor Gerald Russello does just that, of Yale’s Philip Gorski, author of American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present. Check out their discussion here.

6. Another unintended consequence of some big (and expensive) government-policy scheme. City Journal’s Howard Husock explains how Section 8 housing vouchers “abet, just as pre-reform welfare did, the formation and continuation” of single-parent households.

I Had Shots with the Sheriff

But I did not have shots with the deputy. OK, that was dumb. Sorry, Mr. Clapton. Anyway, if you’re in NYC on Tuesday, September 14th, why not plan to have shots or a brewski or twoski with the Sheriff, David Clarke, who will be joining my pal Rita Cosby (you need to catch her weekly radio show) for a Pubs and Politics discussion at The Cutting Room on East 32nd Street. They’ll be discussing Trump, Charlottesville, terrorism, and plenty more. I’m planning on bellying up to the bar myself.

You can order your tickets here.

Book ’Em Dano!

Even if your name isn’t Dano, we have plenty of book news for you all. For starters: Next week the copies of Neal Freeman’s collection, Skirmishes, arrive hot off the press. In its way, it is a terrific history of the modern conservative movement. Get a copy, for just $25, which includes shipping and handling, from the NRO Store.

OK, I promised you more Nino, and here it is: In just a few weeks Scalia-Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived will be out. This remarkable collection was put together by the justice’s son, Christopher J. Scalia, and the emperor of NRO’s beloved Bench Memos blog, our pal Edward Whelan. Use that link above to order a copy via Amazon.

Douglas Murray is so brilliant it’s not funny. You may want to get his new book, The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam. Heck, forget the “may” — just order it now.

And finally, make sure you scroll to the bottom of this epistle and click on the link for Rogue Heroes.

NR Institute News

Theodore Kupfer has just started his gig as the new William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism (he joins Alexandra DeSanctis, now in her second year as a Buckley Fellow). Kudos. Here’s a terrific piece he penned earlier this week on the injection of politics into sports by ESPN and Colin Kaepernick’s flying monkeys.

Also: Sign up for Kathryn Jean Lopez’s weekly newsletter highlighting all the great stuff she is up to at NRI’s Center for Religion, Culture, and Civil Society.

I’m tuckered out. How the heck does Geraghty do this every day?! Before saying adios let me encourage you to maybe consider some of the corporal works of mercy (or even just one: find some time to maybe visit someone who is sick), pray for wisdom and patience, don’t litter, hold the door for that little old lady, and if the occasion merits it, admit you are wrong, say “I’m sorry,” and maybe even try “thank you.” Speaking of which — thank you to all who subscribe to NR, support NR, share our stories, encourage us, and join us atop the ramparts and in the foxholes.

OK, Elvis is about to leave the building. God’s blessings and graces on you and yours. Enjoy what remains of this weekend.

Jack Fowler

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”