'He Looks Like Some Disheveled Drunk That Wandered Onto the Political Stage'

Republican lawmakers and officials are feeling a moment of relief after the defeat of embattled GOP candidate Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election Tuesday. Moore’s loss to Doug Jones allows Senate Republicans to skirt the fallout of a near-certain ethics committee probe, and potential expulsion, related to Moore’s pursuit of sexual and romantic relationships with teenage girls. Members and officials were quick to issue biting rejections of a top Moore backer and former Trump adviser, Steve Bannon.

12/13/17 1:11 PM

Alabama Slamma: Four Takeaways from Roy Moore's Devastating Loss to Doug Jones

As we sift through the data on Doug Jones' improbable victory, there are already a number of lessons to be learned. The first is that candidates matter—they really and truly do. And the second is that the odds of Democrats taking control of the Senate in 2018 just increased. By a lot.

12/13/17 5:30 AM

White House Watch: Trump Surveys the Wreckage of Roy Moore

Doug Jones’s victory in Tuesday’s special Senate election in Alabama is an “embarrassment,” as one Washington Republican told me. Embarrassing because it’s Alabama, one of the most GOP-friendly states in the country. Embarrassing because the party’s candidate, Roy Moore, was perhaps one of the only Republicans in the state who could have lost the race. And embarrassing because the party’s leader, President Donald Trump, went all in for Moore in the final days before the election.

12/13/17 4:55 AM

Doug Jones Shocks the World

When the last tally showed Doug Jones overtaking Roy Moore and that indecisive needle pointed toward certain triumph, the few celebrants still outside the ballroom hurried to their positions in the victory choir. Local attorney Barry Hair, an Alabamian since ’83, stood in the middle of it all, hardly believing he was about to cheer the election of a Democratic senator from his state. He told me about the frustrations of being a liberal voter here and expressed relief that Alabama was about to escape becoming a national punchline when word came across the projector screen near the stage that we had a winner.

12/13/17 5:55 AM

Russian Dissident: Americans "Can Calm Down" About Trump Threat

Today, after years of Vladimir Putin’s increasingly authoritarian rule, it is difficult to imagine that two decades ago one of Russia’s major television channels could regularly lampoon the country’s leaders in a puppet show (titled Puppets, or Kukly in Russian). In late November, that show’s head writer, veteran Russian broadcaster and author Victor Shenderovich, was on an American tour—primarily for Russian-Jewish immigrant audiences—with a retrospective titled “Puppets Twenty Years Later.” We met for a brief interview in downtown Manhattan shortly before his appearance at the Coney Island YM-YWHA in Brooklyn.

12/13/17 11:49 AM

Tax Cuts for the Wealthy Make True Tax Reform More Difficult

A neighbor has parked his classic Jaguar in front of my apartment building for the last two months. Around it are a new BMW, a Mercedes, and two Audis.

The surfeit of pricey cars on my street is the product of our proximity to two swanky buildings and the fact that Washington D.C., where I live, charges just $25 a year for a resident to park a car in his neighborhood. Meanwhile, the going rate for a private parking space in my neck of the woods is $3,000 a year. In effect, the D.C. government provides a de facto subsidy worth millions of dollars to wealthy people who own nice cars.

12/13/17 12:38 PM

Tuesday Morning Quarterback: Roger Goodell Is Not the Man His Father Was

Since the NFL is subsidized by taxpayers, Roger Goodell's new deal will allow him to stuff about $30 million in taxpayer funds into his pockets. TMQ suspects that would disgust Charles Goodell, Roger’s father. At a moment when the Republican party is engaged in a race to the bottom against itself, the name Charles Goodell should be remembered. As a Republican member of the House of Representatives, then of the Senate, Charles Goodell was the epitome of the responsible legislator. He embodied a sensibility that has nearly disappeared from the American polis: the moderate Republican who views office as a public trust, not a power grab.

12/12/17 10:30 AM

Afternoon Links: Ranking the Chains, the Best Roy Moore Reactions, and the End of 'Pivot to Video'

Plus: Omarosa leaves the West Wing
Dec 13, 2017
Ranking the best national chains. Tom Sietsema, the Washington Post's food critic, spent some time at D.C.-area chain restaurants. His rankings are as critical as they are for D.C.'s finest food purveyors. Biggest loser? Buffalo Wild Wings. Biggest winner? Cracker Barrel. Sonny Bunch's favorite, Chili's, mustered a C-. Collected thoughts on Roy Moore's defeat. Here's NRO's Michael Brendan Dougherty: You’re not helping the pro life cause or the faith by voting for creeps whose election confirm to everyone else that both the cause and the faith are just means for fleecing dim witted suckers. Here's our very own Bill Kristol back in August: Perfect end to 2017Aug 15:  Read more

Actually, Barbara Comstock Has Taken the Lead on Combatting Sexual Harassment

Jennifer Rubin is wrong.
Dec 13, 2017
Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post took time recently to accuse Republicans, specifically Representative Barbara Comstock of Virginia and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina of sounding “altogether too complacent, too passive and too resigned” to Roy Moore’s failed U.S. Senate candidacy. Moore, of course, spent the last several weeks giving conflicting answers in response to accusations that he is a child molester. Comstock, representative for Virginia’s 10th district, has spent her time very differently. She has taken a leading role in pushing for congressional reforms aimed at combatting sexual harassment. She, alongside Jackie Speier (D-Calif.  Read more

And the 2017 Hypocrisy of the Year Award Goes To . . .

The competition this year was unusually fierce.
Dec 13, 2017
It was a close call, but China finally edged out Congress for the Hypocrite of the Year Award. Congress grabbed the lead when Republicans, who bemoaned the wreckage President Obama did to the nation’s credit by adding some $7 trillion to $9 trillion to our national debt, decided that adding to our debt is really a good way of stimulating growth. And simultaneously Democrats, who cheered Obama on as he ladled red ink over the nation’s ledgers, expressed outrage at Republicans’ willingness to add $1.5 trillion—or is it $2.2 trillion, or perhaps only $0.5 trillion, no matter—to the IOUs we are leaving to our children. Hypocritical, but not good enough for first prize. China was not to be outdone.  Read more

Prufrock: Repulsive Utilitarians, Moses Mendelssohn on Friendship, and an Atheist Critic of Natural Selection

Also: Judith Butler against free speech, mixed reviews of The Last Jedi, and more.
Dec 13, 2017
Reviews and News: English utilitarians were the most progressive of any of the modern reforming groups. They were also “repulsive,” Helen Andrews argues, “in manners, in conduct, in personality.” In Comment, Yuval Levin writes about the Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn and friendship: “Toleration did not amount to peaceful mutual disdain...It could be much more than that precisely because of friendship. Indeed, the idea of friendship was central to Mendelssohn's response to the pressures he confronted. Friendship could help avoid turning disagreement into hostility.  Read more

The Best Christmas Song of the Millennium

It's Matt Pond PA's 'Snow Day.'
Dec 13, 2017
Very few songs have joined the Pop Christmas Canon in the last forty years with only two at present being considered for inclusion, in my estimation: The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" and Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne." Both differ from most of the other songs in the oeuvre by the fact that neither can be remotely called a happy song: in Fairytale, a couple wistfully recounts their unraveling relationship—and their careers and lives as well—amidst the glory around them that is Christmas in New York City. In the "Same Old Au Sang Lyne," the protagonist runs into an old flame in a convenience store on Christmas eve and they polish off a six-pack in his car while reminiscing.  Read more

California Dream?

More like Republican nightmare.
Dec 13, 2017
In the game of electoral addition, Republicans find themselves calculating a doubtful future in California. A dizzying carousel of unfavorable statistics reminds the national party that the Golden State, once reliably red, is now hostile political territory. Decades of changing demographics, shifting ideological preferences, and evolving economic and cultural trends have led to sobering figures. As of early 2017, barely 25 percent of California voters affiliated themselves with the GOP. The last Republican presidential candidate to win California was George H.W. Bush in 1988. In last year’s election, Hillary Clinton enjoyed the most lopsided victory since Franklin Roosevelt beat Alf Landon in 1936.  Read more

If Doug Jones Loses, Don't Attribute It to Any Old Tribalism

Dec 12, 2017
The New York Times suggested there would be two lessons from a Roy Moore victory: “It would illustrate the enduring limitations of Democrats in the South and suggest that the tug of partisanship is a forbiddingly powerful force.” I don’t buy either takeaway, based on Alabama’s demographics and politicos I’ve talked to in the state. One: Democrats’ limitations are exaggerated in this state. “Democrats have no real infrastructure in Alabama. Jones has to pretty much do it on his own,” Cameron Smith, a political columnist for AL.com and general counsel for the D.C.-based R Street Institute, told me recently.  Read more

Afternoon Links: Oberlin Facing Budget Woes, Roy Moore & Evangelicalism, and Big Netflix

Plus, the missing cornerstone.
Dec 12, 2017
How we got here with Roy Moore. On Twitter, Alex Burns has a (sad!) look back at how the GOP arrived at today's predicament with Roy Moore. It's a choose your own adventure. Remember those? Except with this one, Republicans always lose. Oberlin faces budget crunch. Yesterday, we shared the story of a small Ohio bakery suing Oberlin college. Today, Inside Higher Education reports: Oberlin College has been showing signs of strain as leaders of the well-off liberal arts college in Ohio seek to close a multimillion-dollar budget deficit driven by lower-than-expected enrollment this year.  Read more

Tawdry Tweets

Hosted by Eric Felten.
Dec 12, 2017
Today on the Daily Standard Podcast, White House Watch columnist Michael Warren talks with host Eric Felten about the President's latest problematic tweet. The Daily Standard podcast is sponsored by Away Travel: Your luggage shouldn’t cost more than your plane ticket. Away Travel’s luggage is designed with the highest quality materials, and still under $300. For $20 off a suitcase, visit AwayTravel.com/standard. This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.  Read more

The Substandard on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Dec 12, 2017
In this latest micro episode, the Substandard gets ready to watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi. JVL hasn’t been this excited since Revenge of the Sith. Vic wonders if Luke will drive a Nissan. Sonny has already seen it—and what he reveals will leave you stunned. Set for stun! This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to the Substandard on iTunes, Google Play, or on Stitcher.  Read more

Trump's Rhetoric Against Journalists Doesn't Threaten the First Amendment

It shows its strength. Therein lies the paradox of presidential powerlessness.
Dec 12, 2017
There’s a specter haunting Donald Trump’s presidency: the specter of powerlessness. All people who run for the U.S. presidency crave power, of course. Fundamentally, that’s why they run. What made Trump different was that he was so open about his motivations. Barack Obama cloaked himself in selflessness—he ran on hope and change, you see—but fundamentally he was a brutal political operator who had harbored political ambitions for decades by the time he ran for the White House. Trump donned no such mantle. One particularly telling example came during the 2016 primary debates when he told Jeb Bush, ““The World Trade Center came down during your brother's reign.” Not  Read more

Prufrock: The Many Russian Revolutions, the World's Greatest Snooker Player, and Why God Is Not Nice

Also: A new optical illusion, how a poll made a university, and more.
Dec 12, 2017
Reviews and News: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the many stories of the Russian Revolution: “The novel’s events take place in Petrograd/St. Petersburg (both names are used for the same place) from Thursday, 8 March, to Monday, 12 March. When the narrative reaches the last day, the action has the feeling of being followed minute by minute. A supposed bread shortage—due to snow, trains bringing grain to the city are delayed—agitates the civilians, and when soldiers are asked to take up arms against fellow Russians they refuse. The domino effect is exacerbated by inaction and error-ridden commands.  Read more

Editorial: A New Intifada?

The gates of hell remain closed.
Dec 12, 2017
Last week, President Donald Trump openly acknowledged what everybody knows: that Jerusalem in the capital of Israel. He promised that the United States would build an embassy there and thus defied America’s foreign policy establishment, the European Union, the British foreign secretary, the French president, the pope, transnational policymakers of every sort, and governments other than Israel across the Middle East. According to the received opinion, recognizing Jerusalem rather than Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital would provoke Islamic radicals to violence and jeopardize the “peace process.” Some violence took place over the weekend. Protesters made trouble outside the U.S. embassy in Beirut; security  Read more

Where Is Roy Moore? Mostly Not on the Campaign Trail.

His surrogates are pushing voters to support 'President Trump's agenda' more so than the embattled judge.
Dec 11, 2017
How does an accused sex offender go about getting elected to public office? With Alabama’s special Senate election taking place Tuesday, Republican Roy Moore has chosen to pursue a bold strategy: putting on the full armor of Trump and vanishing almost entirely from the voters’ view. In the closing days of a campaign, your typical candidate pinballs from event to event, trying to forge a personal connection with as many voters as possible. You can sleep when you’re elected.  Read more

RNC Committeewoman's Resignation Over Moore Support Reveals Party Divide

Fellow RNC members' reactions to Joyce Simmons's departure vary from disapproval to applause for her principled stand.
Dec 11, 2017
Members of the Republican National Committee are responding to the news that Joyce Simmons, committeewoman for Nebraska, resigned her post Monday in response to the RNC renewing its support for Roy Moore. In an email to her fellow RNC leaders, Simmons wrote: “I strongly disagree with the recent RNC financial support directed to the Alabama Republican Party for use in the Roy Moore race. There is much I could say about this situation, but I will defer to this weekend's comments by Senator Shelby,” Simmons wrote, invoking Alabama senator Richard Shelby’s statement to CNN on Sunday. His state, Shelby said, “deserves better.  Read more

Afternoon Links: Criminalizing 'Fake News', The End of Free Speech, and the Bridge to Nowhere

Plus, a bakery sues Oberlin.
Dec 11, 2017
The end of free speech? Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason has an excellent cover story about how "the left eats its own and the right shows its true colors." Here's my favorite part: The people wielding those "No Free Speech for Fascists" placards don't really know what they're asking for. If the justification for restrictions on the speech of one man is violence committed by another, there can be no end to the litany of people who may be gagged in the name of order. Extremism is generally frowned upon in American politics, and rightly so. But defense of speech rights is one place where absolutism is not only healthy but necessary.  Read more

Alabama Down to the Wire

Hosted by Eric Felten.
Dec 11, 2017
Today on the Daily Standard Podcast, senior writer John McCormack talks with host Eric Felten about the closing days of Tuesday's Alabama special election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions. The Daily Standard Podcast is sponsored by DonorsTrust. DonorsTrust is the community foundation for the liberty movement. If you want to support groups committed to limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise with your charitable giving, you should learn how DonorsTrust can simplify your giving. Go to donorstrust.org/standard right now to get your free Investing in Liberty guide. This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.  Read more

It's Star Wars Time, Again

Do we have to do it this year, too?
Dec 11, 2017
The new Star Wars movie is here. Or almost here. I don’t really know and I really don’t care. Do you? The Last Jedi comes out three days from now and for the first time in my life I’m not even sure I’m going to bother seeing it. I’ve hated Star Wars movies before. Heck, only three of the eight entrants in the series are good and the rest range from flawed (Return of the Jedi) to bland (The Force Awakens) to insultingly, indulgently awful (the prequels). And yet. As one of the cowboys says soulfully in Brokeback Mountain, “I wish I knew how to quit you.” Star Wars is an enormous, outsized part of my childhood. I watched the movies over and over. I dressed up as Darth  Read more

Prufrock: In Praise of High-Tech Weapons, Space Travel in the Age of Aquarius, and the Plague of Deconstruction

Also: The life and paint of Johannes Vermeer, and more.
Dec 11, 2017
Reviews and News: The moral case for high-tech weapons. Helen Andrews examines the competing visions of space travel and commune living in America: “In one sense, most communes were a failure while the space program was a success. Considered from another angle, however, the commune movement may have exercised a stronger influence on American culture. NASA stopped sending people into space in 2011. Yet you can buy organic yogurt at every supermarket.” Maggie Smith’s poem “Good Bones” went viral in 2016. A. M. Juster reviews the poem and Smith’s latest collection: “Smith's use of the cliché ‘I keep it from the children’ as a refrain flags the moral dimension  Read more

Shock Poll: Fox News Shows Roy Moore Losing by 10 Points

Fox's polling unit goes against the herd.
Dec 11, 2017
A Fox News poll released on Monday shows Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones ahead of Republican Roy Moore by 10 points. That’s different from what other polls are showing—the RealClearPolitics average has Moore up by 2.5 points, with polls ranging from Fox’s 10-point lead for Jones to a 9-point lead for Moore according to Emerson. So is Jones going to win by double digits tomorrow? We don’t yet know. As I and others have explained, the Alabama Senate special election is hard to poll. Nobody knows exactly who is going to show up to a special Senate election in Alabama with a scandal-ridden Republican candidate.  Read more