‘Can Only Trump Survive Trump?’

by Rich Lowry

In my Politico column today, I wrote about Alabama:  

Ed Gillespie ran away from Trump and lost in Virginia. Roy Moore ran toward Trump (with a lot of excess baggage) and lost in Alabama. One was a wonky establishment Republican careful to sand away any hard edges in his political persona; the other was an obstreperous and ignorant insurgent Republican who prided himself on his outrageousness. It didn’t matter.

They both were defeated the same way, holding their own Republican voters, but getting overwhelmed by a tide of millennials, suburbanites and minorities motivated by their abiding animus toward Trump.

The backlash that conventional wisdom thought Trump would create among these voters in 2016, to his own detriment, is coming about in 2017, to the detriment of his fellow Republicans. They can’t rely on the circumstances or the personal qualities that helped Trump get over the top last year.

Does This Mean We Don’t Have to ‘Bow Down’ to the President Anymore, Omarosa?

by Jim Geraghty

Former “The Apprentice” contestant, Trump campaign surrogate, and White House staffer Omarosa Manigault, back in September 2016: ”Every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”

Omarosa Manigault, this morning: ”As the only African-American woman in this White House, as a senior staff and assistant to the president, I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people. And when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear.”

If only someone had warned her.

The Mouse Buys the Fox

by Jim Geraghty

From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

The Mouse Buys the Fox

Back on the old television show Fringe, there was a fictional megacorporation called Massive Dynamic that advertised with the vaguely ominous slogan: “What do we do? What don’t we do!”

How long until we feel that way about Disney-Fox, or whatever the new merged megacorporation is called?

Walt Disney Co. is close to a deal to acquire a large piece of 21st Century Fox Inc., people familiar with the situation say, in a pact that could help the entertainment giant accelerate its ambitions in streaming media, shore up its television business and grab hold of lucrative movie franchises.

The deal, expected to be announced Thursday, would value the assets Disney is acquiring at $60 billion, including debt. Those assets include the Twentieth Century Fox movie and TV studio, cable channels including regional sports networks and key international properties. They don’t include properties such as Fox News and broadcast assets.

If Disney can afford to buy almost every entertainment brand in the world… I guess they were right, it really is a small world after all.

The bad news about this deal is that one super-conglomerate will soon own and run so many of our entertainment options. Ask any new parent how much Disney stuff they have in their house. Disney owns Pixar. Disney owns Star Wars. Disney owns Marvel’s superheroes. Disney owns the Muppets. Disney owns ABC television, ESPN, and half of A&E. Disney owns 30 percent of Hulu. From your youngest years with Mickey Mouse and the Muppets, to Star Wars and Marvel, to ESPN, to A&E, you’re probably watching a Disney product at every stage of life.

More than a few conservatives contend they see some heavy-handed propagandizing in Disney’s entertainment options. The controversies about ESPN growing more political are well-covered. Julie Gunlock recently laid out the increasingly crass and activist tone on the programs of the Disney Channel and Disney XD. Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, has grown increasingly vocal about topics like the DACA program, the Paris climate accords, and gun control.

Even if the new mega-company is relatively apolitical, at what point do arguments about a monopoly or a near-monopoly kick in for the world of entertainment?  Hey, it’s not like we’ve just heard about monstrous abuse in the entertainment industry enabled by particular individuals having the ability to create or destroy careers in Hollywood, right?

The good news is that in the world of the movies, the X-Men can now join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Way back when, Marvel Comics sold the rights to make movies about their superheroes to several different companies: 20th Century Fox got the X-Men and related mutant characters like Deadpool; Sony bought the rights to Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, Universal had the Hulk, and New World Pictures bought the rights to the Punisher. When Marvel Studios launched, it had the rights to what was left over… and what rights had returned back to the comic book company. It turned out Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America were pretty popular in their own right, and Marvel was able to reach a deal with Sony to bring Spider Man back into their universe and share the profits. (Thus the in-joke of the title of this summer’s movie, “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”)

Actor Chris Evans jokingly pitched, “Who do I talk to about a Cap/Human Torch buddy comedy spin-off? I’m thinking Planes, Trains and Automobiles meets Parent Trap.” (The joke is that he played both characters.)

In Marvel’s comic-books, all of these heroes operate in the same world and have cross-over adventures pretty regularly, and that’s one of the aspects that makes Marvel’s movies fun. Thor needs help from Doctor Strange, Iron Man is mentoring Spider-Man, Captain America’s third movie featured a conflict that affected just about every heroic character seen so far. But the X-Men can’t appear (and don’t appear to exist in Marvel’s cinematic fictional world so far) because 20th Century has the rights.*

(It’s fair to wonder if this separation is actually for the best, because the Marvel comics universe featured a world where the X-Men and mutants were distrusted and feared by the general public for their powers, while the Avengers were largely trusted and celebrated. More than a few writers struggled to write around that contradiction. The real reason is that the two sets of characters were created to tell two different kinds of stories – one for classic adventure stories and the other for an allegory about discrimination and being an outsider.)

*One odd exception: In the comics, the super-fast Quicksilver was a longtime character in both the Avengers and the X-Men series, and so the studios negotiated for two slightly different versions of the character to appear in the separate movie series.

Personally, I’ve Never Dreamt of Sugarplums

by Jack Fowler

And I bet you haven’t either, even though it’s the time of year for that. But I bet you have thought about making special choices for charitable (tax deductible!) giving – it’s the time of year for that too. We encourage you to consider National Review Institute as a recipient for such generosity. If for no other reason than this: Its powerful array of fellows constitute NRI America’s premier conservative journalism think tank. The collective wisdom and influence of these writers – each one possessing great talent and persuasiveness – are key to defending the principles you cherish and hope to see propagated, promoted, and promulgated (proudly and profoundly!) now and for future generations. With your selfless support — which you can donate here — NRI carries out the mission especially entrusted to it by Institute founder William F. Buckley Jr.

Of whom, and of whose legacy, NRI Fellow Jay Nordlinger writes today. Wonderfully. Give it a read. Be persuaded. (And maybe later check out Jay’s relatively new podcast, Jaywalking).

Other fellows have other wonderful things to say about what NRI does. For example, Kevin Williamson wrote an excellent piece making the case about NRI’s Buckley Journalism Fellowship program (this year it stars Alexandra DeSanctis and Teddy Kupfer). And then Rick Brookhiser revealed his thoughts on the importance of NRI’s Regional Fellowship Program. And Jonah Goldberg, in his most recent G-File, gave a great overview of NRI’s broad array of consequential programs.

Hey: We don’t do programs for programs’ sake, or fellowships for fellows’ sake. NRI does what it does, and darned well, in order to carry out, in its special way – amplifying and complimenting the efforts of your favorite magazine and website – the two-fold Buckley mission of standing athwart history yelling stop, and looking ahead to the future – a month, a year, a generation from now – to make sure conservative principles are sustained and thriving.

This is what we do. And this is what you want done. But the doing and the done-ing only happen with your help. As Jonah put it

because most people have lots of things going on in their lives — work, family, friends, faith, hobbies, etc. — not everyone can give as much of themselves to the conservative cause as we do here. But the only reason we can do as much as we do is because of you and people like you. We live every day knowing that we are indebted not just to Bill Buckley but to the numerous people who give what they can to keep the mission alive.

So please donate to NRI’s End-of-Year appeal – it’s seeking to raise $250,000. Boy do we have a long way to go. Help us reach it: You can make that generous contribution here. Of course, you can send a check (payable to “National Review Institute”) to the new digs at 19 West 44th Street, Suite 1701, New York, NY 10036. Many thanks.

Oh, and one last thing: What the heck is Santa feeding those reindeer? One of them is green!

Our Man in the Middle East

by Jay Nordlinger

Ryan Crocker is my guest on Q&A, here. He is one of the outstanding U.S. diplomats of our time. In addition to his other posts, he was ambassador to Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Nothing but the easy assignments for him, as you can see. George W. Bush, in the last days of his presidency, hung the Presidential Medal of Freedom around Crocker’s neck.

In our Q&A, we talk about the State Department, about which Crocker is very concerned. We also take a tour — to Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and elsewhere. Crocker illuminates issues past, present, and even future.

With Ryan Crocker, you’re in the hands of someone who knows what he’s talking about. This is a good feeling, even when the issues are terribly grim. Again, our podcast is here.

Pay Hasn’t Stagnated for Fifty Years

by Ramesh Ponnuru

“Real average hourly wages have not increased for fifty years.” That arresting claim appears in an essay by Matthew Schmitz in the latest issue of First Things. And you can find some support for that reading of the data. The Pew Research Center reports that the average wage in 1964, in 2014 dollars, was $19.18. In 2014, it was $20.67. If that’s right, then something has gone really wrong with our economy, and the political upheavals we have been through look small and long-delayed.

But there are two reasons not to take this apparent stagnation at face value. First, it ignores the growth in non-wage compensation, such as health benefits. Wages have shrunk as a percentage of total compensation. (Pew mentions this issue.) Maybe the balance between wages and benefits has gotten out of whack, as I believe, but that’s a different problem, demanding different responses, than stagnation in total compensation would be.

Second, it is based on the wrong measure of inflation. Figure 2 in this report by Scott Winship gives us more relevant information: the growth in compensation for the median male worker since 1967, properly adjusted for inflation. He finds that figure has risen by 31 percent. Presumably including women in the figures would make the growth trend look even better.

Whatever other concerns we should have about our economic system, it does not seem to have yielded stagnant pay for five decades.

Today’s Young Adults Are (Probably) Not Particularly Promiscuous

by Robert VerBruggen

In his letter to the fictional protagonist of “Cat Person,” my colleague Kyle Smith writes:

Robert is your seventh sexual partner. You’re 20 years old. Margot, I don’t know what the right number is for you, but seven is too many.

 . . . 

I’m from Gen X, two generations older than you, and I can tell you that, not that long ago, seven sex partners might have been considered a fairly robust tally for a lifetime. But for a 20-year-old? I know guys from college who married the third or second or even first girl they ever slept with. Needless to say, going back to a generation before me, seven sex partners in a lifetime would have been considered a startling number.

I hate to admit it — as someone whose 1984 birth arguably makes him a candidate for Generation X — but it’s unlikely that today’s teens and young adults are drastically more promiscuous than Generation Xers were. There’s just not much evidence of it in the survey data, and while surveys about sexual behavior are hardly perfect, I’d argue they’re more reliable than the sense we might get from pop culture.

In her book iGen, the psychology professor Jean Twenge pulled together some numbers on teens, finding that whereas the typical Gen X teen lost his or her virginity in the tenth grade, today that tends to happen a year later. The drop is biggest among ninth graders; nearly 40 percent of them had had sex in 1991, but fewer than 25 percent have today.

Twenge finds that overall sex-partner counts are falling across generations too. And for my review of Mark Regnerus’s Cheap Sex, I dove into the data myself, focusing on people in their 30s to account for the possibility that later generations are getting started more slowly but then making up for lost time:

I couldn’t find any trend for men. . . . Their median number of sex partners [since age 18] was six in the 1989–98 [General Social Surveys] (which I combined to boost the sample size a bit), six in the 2000–08 period, and . . . six once again in the four most recent surveys, conducted between 2010 and last year.

Women’s median has climbed from three to four over the same period, though it’s hard to tell if they’re actually having more sex or if they’re just more willing to admit it these days. After all, sex-partner surveys are notorious for producing the mathematically impossible result that men are having more sex with women than women are having with men.

Unfortunately this survey isn’t a great fit for 20-year-old Margot’s situation, because it asks about partners since age 18. Among women age 20 to 24, however, the median has held steady at two since the 1990s. In the 2010s, just over half reported two or fewer, with another third reporting three to six. There does seem to be an increase in sex-partner counts in the three-to-six range (which in the 1990s applied to just a quarter of young women), but no increase in young women reporting seven or more. As above, it’s hard to say whether this is a change in honesty or a change in behavior.

Everyone younger than yours truly is an insufferable snowflake. That goes without saying. But the evidence for increasing promiscuity is spotty at best.

On Twitter, Democrats Dramatically Mischaracterize Doug Jones’s Victory

by Philip H. DeVoe

Every election seems to bring with it a torrent of wild extrapolation, and last night’s was no different. On Twitter, and beyond, elated Democrats were quick to draw all sorts of conclusions that do not seem to be supported by the evidence. Among them, that Alabamians are now comfortable with the progressive platform in toto:

Here’s a piece from Esquire titled “I Saw a Miracle in Alabama Last Night.” I’ll spare you the click: Nowhere does the author mention Moore’s sexual misconduct, instead focusing on Jones as the harbinger of a revolution. Jones, the author alleges, probably “recognizes that winning the vote in Alabama the way he did is a revolutionary act.”

Julian Castro, Obama’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, suggested Texas would be the next state to flip:

Keep reading this post . . .

The Media, Trump, and Nixon

by Conrad Black

From my most recent NRO article, about the media’s treatment of Trump: “Specialists in aberrant mass psychology will one day derive great interest and perhaps generate much enlightenment on what it is that has possessed a wide swath of highly intelligent and generally civic-minded Americans to lose their minds on the subject of President Trump. The hatred of Nixon was a little more comprehensible because of the role he played in generating support for the Cold War and resistance to Soviet encroachments and some of the gratuitous and nasty things that he said and did in those efforts, including some reflections on President Truman, Secretary of State Acheson, Congressman Voorhis, and the unfortunate darling of the contemporary left, former Soviet spy Alger Hiss.” 

Whether you agree or disagree, your comments are, as always, most welcome.

Why Is Trump Renominating Chai Feldblum to the EEOC?

by Roger Clegg

President Trump has announced that he is renominating liberal activist Chai Feldblum to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “Why in the world is he doing that?” asks Powerline, and that’s a very good question (my only quibble with Powerline’s analysis is that this is not exactly being done in the dark of night, because I first saw it on the White House website).

The EEOC enforces the antidiscrimination laws for the entire private sector, so it’s an extremely powerful agency, and all the more so because it operates largely outside of executive-branch control. I noted last summer that the administration has not recognized the importance of the president’s nominations to this agency, and this is more evidence of that. Here’s hoping that whatever deal is being sought here doesn’t go through and that the president reconsiders this dubious decision.

A Nervous Breakdown in the Press

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Becket Adams has a good run-down of “Ten Terrible Days in the Life of Political Journalism.”

In Bloomberg View, I write about how poorly the press is handling the Trump presidency. Botching stories is part of the problem, but there’s more to it than that. An excerpt:

Some media organizations are patting themselves on the back for no obvious reason. CNN’s “this is an apple” ad suggests that its reporting simply describes things as they are — apples as apples — contrary to what the disinformation campaigns would have you believe. The ad is misleading both about what CNN does and why conservatives dislike the network: It doesn’t just report plain facts, and most critics aren’t upset when it does. . . 


If Passed, GOP Tax Reform to Take Effect in February

by Jibran Khan

In remarks at the White House a few minutes ago, President Trump announced that the GOP tax plan will go into effect in February, if it is passed.

Details about the finalized bill should be released later today.

How Trump Won and Moore Lost

by Ramesh Ponnuru

What happened in Alabama last night bore some resemblance to what most political operatives in both parties, and most political journalists, expected to happen in the 2016 election: The Republican candidate would offend and repulse voters in both parties, leading to high Democratic turnout and leading Republicans to vote for the Democrat, stay home, vote third party, or write someone in.

So why did it happen for Doug Jones but not for Hillary Clinton? The obvious beginning of the answer is: Jones was a better candidate than Clinton. He didn’t, for one thing, have her 25 years of baggage. And the accusations against Moore were of course significantly worse than the accusations against Trump.

There were a few other differences. The stakes for Republicans were lower. Keeping a seat in the Senate wasn’t as good a reason for overlooking the Republican candidate’s flaws as taking the White House. Democrats were less complacent: They thought Moore was going to win, where last year they thought Trump couldn’t. And there was no Electoral College to magnify the Republican candidate’s advantages with some demographic groups and thus turn a popular-vote loss into an election victory.

And so something like the coalition that most Democrats and Republicans expected to defeat Trump in 2016 prevailed in Alabama in 2017.

As Expected, a Rate Hike from the Fed

by Theodore Kupfer

In a widely expected move, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) raised the target federal-funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point this afternoon (to an upper bound of 1.5 percent). The governors of the Federal Reserve also kept their forecast for future rate hikes essentially unchanged, with the main change being a slightly higher prediction for the federal-funds rate in 2020. The move signals that the Fed expects to continue on the cautious path that has been characteristic of the institution under Janet Yellen.

The FOMC released a statement repeating language it has used since June to explain the rate hike. “The labor market has continued to strengthen and economic activity has been rising at a solid rate,” it said. It still expects inflation, which has consistently fallen short of its 2 percent target, to reach that number eventually. The expectation of sustained growth and inflation motivates the Fed to raise interest rates so the economy does not overheat.

There are signs that the Fed expects tax reform to boost economic activity. It revised its expectation of GDP growth upward from 2.1 percent to 2.5 percent, and Yellen told reporters that the FOMC expects tax reform to give a “modest lift” to growth. But the higher growth estimate could owe to other factors — like a predicted pickup in global growth — and Yellen cautioned observers that there is “considerable uncertainty” with regard to the tax-reform bill. “My colleagues factored in the expectations of fiscal stimulus” into their forecast, Yellen said, adding that such expectations have been figuring into their forecasts throughout the year. In any event, the Fed does not appear to think tax reform will produce strong enough growth in 2018 to warrant further rate hikes.

Meanwhile, the only substantive change the FOMC made to its statement indicates that it is concerned about downside risks. Where previous statements spoke of the expectation that labor-market would “strengthen somewhat further,” this time the FOMC said it expects conditions to “remain strong.” “It is true that wage gains have been modest,” Yellen said, but she said the labor market is “in the vicinity of full employment.” Yellen will be replaced by Jerome Powell on February 3 if he is confirmed by the Senate.

The Walking Dead Limps On

by Jonah Goldberg

Okay, it’s been a few days, and I assume everyone who still cares about The Walking Dead — a shrinking group of people according to the ratings — is probably caught up. Still if you didn’t watch Sunday’s mid-season finale, you should probably skip this — and maybe the finale, too. I try to minimize Spoilers though.

On one of the first episodes of my podcast, David French said that one of his main problems with TWD is that the crew goes from being Seal Team Six to the Keystone Cops, sometimes in the same episode (or something close to that). That problem hasn’t ended – it’s intensified: Every episode, I expect to get mad at the characters for one stupid decision or another.

In fact, it’s hard for me not to have outright contempt for a lot of the characters, which is a bad place for a show to be. I’m not talking about the supporting players, or the villain, or the Trash People (don’t get me started); I mean the main characters. Sunday night’s show featured the death (presumably) of a major character. The network promoted this death as a huge blow to viewers, sort of like the death of Ned Stark in Game of Thrones. I suspect it will be greeted by many with relief.

But even if you’re angry to see the character go, the real problem is that the show is simply a hot mess. This is the case from the jumpy editing that always makes you feel like you missed last week’s episode for about the first 15 minutes of each show to the ridiculously inexplicable tactics and motivations of the characters to the tedious debates about morality.

Don’t get me wrong: I have no problem seeing people wrestle with moral dilemmas, but many of these moral dilemmas were weighty subjects in previous seasons, when the threat of the new world was fresh and unknown. By this point, the survivors should know who they are, what they’re willing to do, and stop whining about it. Such debates feel more like filler and laziness than attempting to entertain the audience.

The show is also inheriting many of Game of Thrones’s timeline problems, but these problems are far less forgivable for a show that’s supposed to be based in the real world (more or less). For instance, it seems like Maggie has been pregnant for several years now, and she still isn’t showing. Conversely, it’s supposed to be just a few years since the zombie apocalypse and the Trash People already have a dialect that seems like a cheap Star Trek rip off. I half expect the leader of Garbage Nation to start yelling, “Brain and brain, what is brain!?

Erik Kain makes a good case for firing the show runner (Explicit Spoilers), which I think makes sense. In the near term though, I have one concrete suggestion. Kill Negan. Kill him soon. Kill him painfully and move on. I think Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a great actor, but someone made a terrible decision in how he portrays Negan. The ideal villain is someone people love to hate. Negan isn’t that. People hate him, but that’s it. There’s no love. He’s annoying as Hell. I don’t mind his cruelty and all that. But his dialogue and mannerisms are simply unentertaining and unbelievable. It’s an incredible waste.

I’ll see the show through to the end, just as I did with Lost and Battlestar Galactica and Dexter — other shows that squandered the loyalty of their audiences. I’ve invested so much time, and I feel like I should write about it to the end. But it’s not a good sign that I am relieved it won’t be on again until February.

How Much Credit Should Alabama Republicans Get for Moore’s Defeat?

by Robert VerBruggen

I’m as relieved as anyone that Roy Moore will not be joining the Senate, and the conservatives who stayed home, wrote in a candidate, or voted for Doug Jones were a necessary ingredient in that outcome. But it’s also worth noting that the margin was just 1.5 percentage points. Most Republican voters pulled the lever for Moore.

One instructive exercise is to compare last night’s vote counts with those of the 2014 gubernatorial race, considering the overall totals were pretty similar — roughly 1.2 million then, 1.3 million yesterday. (Jeff Sessions was elected as a senator that year too, but ran unopposed.)

Alabama’s incumbent Republican governor, Robert Bentley, won 747,000 votes in 2014. Roy Moore won 650,000, or 87 percent of that number. For every eight Alabamians who voted Republican for governor in 2014, about seven Alabamians voted for Moore yesterday.

The 2014 Democratic candidate won just 427,000 votes, compared with 671,000 for Doug Jones, a 57 percent increase. Some of this is no doubt Republicans who switched — but increased Democratic turnout, especially among African Americans, seems to be a major factor.

Roy Moore would have won if he’d matched Bentley’s vote total; instead, he lost about 100,000 votes. But even 100,000 outright defections to the Democrats — i.e., ignoring the fact that many Republican voters likely stayed home and 23,000 people wrote in candidates — wouldn’t have been enough to close the 2014 gap. For that we need to thank Alabama Democrats for stepping up and making a special effort in a statewide race.

Senate and House GOP Make Tax Deal

by Jibran Khan

House and Senate GOP leadership have reached a preliminary deal on the tax bill. While the deal harmonizes provisions that have passed both the Senate and House, it is possible that it will raise the ire of some legislators who advocated a different direction for reform.

The new bill would reduce the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, rather than the original 20 percent, in order to fund a reduction of the top individual tax rate to 37 percent.

It also reduces the tax deduction for pass-through companies (the majority of businesses, which are taxed through the owners’ personal taxes) to 20 percent, down from 23 percent in the original bill. The effect of this change will be reduced somewhat by the change in top tax rate; this is because pass-through business taxes are essentially the individual rate minus the deduction, so in this case it would be 27 percent.

The mortgage interest deduction will be retained, though capped at $750,000. It is not clear whether the new bill will grandfather existing mortgages (as the House bill did) or eliminate the deduction for equity interest (as the Senate bill did).

A more detailed announcement should be coming later today.

What We Know about Al Franken’s Replacement

by Alexandra DeSanctis

The short answer: Not much. Minnesota governor Mark Dayton has announced that he will appoint current lieutenant governor Tina Smith to fill Senator Al Franken’s seat, after Franken promised to step down in the wake of several sexual-misconduct allegations against him. Smith will serve a one-year term, after which she will run in a special election to complete the last two years of Franken’s term.

Smith has been lieutenant governor of Minnesota since 2015 and before that served as Dayton’s chief of staff. According to the Mercury News, she managed Walter Mondale’s unsuccessful Senate campaign in Minnesota in 2002 and worked for Minneapolis mayor R. T. Rybak’s office before managing his campaign for governor. Smith also held a marketing position at General Mills, which is based in Minnesota, and founded her own public-relations firm.

She has had little time holding public office herself to give an indication of her political stances on most issues, although it’s reasonable to assume she’s fairly progressive, like Dayton and Franken. Interestingly, Smith served for several years as a vice president of Planned Parenthood’s affiliate covering Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Meanwhile, Franken has not set an official date for his resignation.

Andrew Sullivan Sounds Off — On Everything

by Jamie Weinstein

My podcast interview with Andrew Sullivan is now up, and it’s a doozy. We get into just about everything, from why he thinks Donald Trump should be removed from office, to his criticism of the #MeToo movement, to a rather heated conversation about his view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

No matter your ideology, I suspect there are points you will be nodding in agreement with Sullivan and points where you will be screaming at the podcast in rage at him. 

Sullivan says, for example, that though he wants President Trump removed from office, he is fine with Mike Pence taking over. 

“I’m desperate for Mike Pence to take over,” he exclaimed. 

Though Joe Biden might be his preferred 2020 presidential candidate, he doesn’t think Biden could survive the scrutiny of the current #MeToo moment. 

“In this climate with men with their hands over everything, I mean the man is straight out of the 1950s,” Sullivan explains. “He’s grabbed more boobs and cupped more butts than I think anybody could imagine. It’s part of his charm, of course, that he’s so unreconstructed, and I would still vote for him.”

He also thinks the #MeToo movement has gone too far. 

“I just don’t think that Al Franken did anything that required him resigning from office,” he said. “I just think that was a disproportionate punishment for what seemed to be rather petty, if tawdry and kind of pathetic and not that admirable. But I don’t think it’s, ‘I have to resign from the US Senate for those reasons,’ especially not when we have a president who’s done far, far worse, bragged about it, and he’s still president.”

As for the gay rights movement, of which Sullivan has been on the forefront for decades, he thinks it’s almost outlived its purpose. 

“Generally speaking, my point of view is the whole point of a civil rights movement is to end. You’ve achieved certain things. You’re done. Now get on with your lives, ” he argued. “And I think it was one of the most controversial things I ever said in the gay community early on was my goal was to shut the gay rights movement down because we’ve succeeded. And I think we almost have, and I want to shut it down after that.”

Sullivan also discussed his friendship with Matt Drudge, whom he considers a “crazy genius.” And in case you are wondering, Sullivan is still a Trig Truther. “I do not believe her story about that [Sarah Palin’s] pregnancy,” he said. “I don’t. I defy anybody to believe it.”

There is so much more in the podcast. Give it a listen.

Uncommon Knowledge: The Second World Wars with Victor Davis Hanson, Part II

by Peter Robinson

Could the Axis powers have won? What are the counterfactuals for World War II? Find out in Part II of this episode as military historian, editor of Strategika, and Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow Victor Davis Hanson joins me to discuss his latest book, The Second World Wars.

If Hitler had not attacked Russia or the Japanese had not attacked Pearl Harbor, the USSR would have never turned on Germany and the United States would have never entered the war. Hanson argues that the leaders of the Axis powers overreached in their strategies, which ultimately caused their downfall. Hanson also explores the counterfactual surrounding the American commanders and the “what-ifs” that could have prevented American success in the war.

Victor Davis Hanson also reflects on his own family history and connections to World War II and how it shaped him as both a person and a scholar in his life today. He talks about his motivations to write his latest book, The Second World Wars, and how his family history and the current political climate inspired him to write it

Part I one the conversation is here.