White House Watch: The Mueller Investigation Closes in on Manafort

The squeeze is on Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump’s campaign who has become a major target of special counsel Robert Mueller’s aggressive investigation. The latest details from the Washington Post describe email evidence that Manafort offered “private briefings” about the Trump campaign to a Kremlin-backed billionaire.

09/21/17 5:42 AM

Is ESPN Hurting Because of Politics or Cord-Cutting or Overspending on League Contracts?

What happened to ESPN?

Everyone has their own explanation. Conservatives says the channel got too political. Cable executives say the company has gotten caught up in the cord-cutting revolution. Internet evangelists say that Bristol never figured out the internet. Finance people say that the company overpaid for content in the form of long-term league contracts, which were improperly valued and left no room for maneuver.

All of these explanations are correct.

We could argue over how to rank them in order of importance. My own ranking would be: (1) Overpaying for broadcast rights; (2) Cord-cutting; (3) Politics; (4) Internet. But no serious appraisal of ESPN can deny that all four are at play.

09/21/17 11:10 AM

This Randy Bryce Ad Attacking Paul Ryan Is the Most Dishonest Commercial of the 2018 Cycle

Randy Bryce is a plain-spoken iron-worker running against Paul Ryan in Wisconsin's 1st District. Bryce's first campaign ad turned him into an instant-celebrity, complete with massive social shares, lots of donations, and a hipster nickname ("IronStache"). No one seemed to notice that Bryce's spot is one of the most dishonest political ads in recent memory.

09/20/17 11:15 AM

Strong Woman Writes Memoir on the Burdens of Leadership

On the same day last week, two Democratic women published political memoirs. One was a frank and engaging tale of butting heads with the media and doing battle with an upstart populist progressive. The other was written by Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton's What Happened is a litany of excuses and little else and so, of course, it garnered all of the attention. But Eva Moskowitz’s account of founding New York’s Success Academy Charter Schools, known for their rapid growth, high-stakes lottery admissions, and “no-excuses” recipe for excellence, is a worthier read.

The shared pub date was unintentional, so far as Moskowitz knows.

09/21/17 5:49 AM

Don't Forget About Lindsey Graham's Other Big Proposal

There has always been one feature that distinguishes Lindsey Graham from his almost-peers in the Senate: a self-deprecating sense of humor. This characteristic often obscures another engaging characteristic of Graham’s: raw courage.

So it should have come as no surprise that the senator from South Carolina took the opportunity of a seminar at Yale University to take on the Republican establishment once again—this time to declare that the climate is changing and that the cause is man-made activity which produces carbon-dioxide.

Forget for a moment whether Graham is right or wrong: The point is that when he believes he is right he doesn’t worry if he is out of step with the received wisdom of his

09/21/17 6:01 AM

Tuesday Morning Quarterback: What's Behind the Perception of the NFL's Declining Quality?

Ye gods the Bills at Panthers game was awful to behold, and not just because no touchdown was scored. This game was so bad, the football gods were looking for something to watch on Netflix.

09/19/17 10:30 AM

Differences Remain Between Congress and White House on Tax Reform

Senate Republicans warn that a coming proposal from the 'Big Six' coalition will be 'advisory.''
Sep 21, 2017
For months, GOP leadership from both houses of Congress along with Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin and NEC director Gary Cohn have huddled over Republican plans for tax reform, laying the groundwork for a plan each group could support. But that “Big Six” coalition has its limits, and Senate Republicans are cautioning that its proposal, which is set to be released next week, will be merely “advisory,” and that every senator in the Republican caucus will have the opportunity to push for changes in the bill. “Tax reform is always the hardest,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch said Tuesday. “It’s more complex, more difficult, more chances that you’ll have  Read more

Afternoon Links: There is Crying in Baseball, a Cereal Revolt, and Coke at BYU

Plus, a World Series contest and the 30 Under 30 awards vote!
Sep 21, 2017
This online psychic cleaned up. Down in Texas, a Democratic state legislator is facing trial for misdemeanor charges for a few of a series of accused fraudulent acts. This story is all kinds of crazy. The legislator is Dawnna Dukes, who is in her 12th term in the Texas House. Here's a taste of the crazy. Dukes is accused of "giving a taxpayer-funded raise to a legislative aide to cover gas money for driving Dukes’ daughter to and from school." She allegedly falsified travel reimbursement vouchers for days she didn't come to work. Which, given that she has shown up late to court hearings in this case so many times the judge threatened to hold her in contempt, makes some sort of sense.  Read more

In Pursuit of the Second Best Policy

From floods to immigration.
Sep 21, 2017
Forty years ago the economists Finn Kydland and Ed Prescott wrote a paper (for which they later won the Nobel Prize) observing that there are situations when the government makes a promise it can't be expected to keep, and that policy inevitably reflects that reality. For instance, they observed, the best policy regarding floods would be to simply disallow all construction in a floodplain, or at least forswear any public financial assistance to people who do build there and subsequently have property damaged by a flood. However, such a promise cannot be kept: the political pressures to help victims will be too great to resist.  Read more

Prufrock: Neuromush, in Defense of Moderation, and Public Theology Today

Also: A new history of 19th-century Britain, accounts of addiction, revisiting "La bonne chanson", and more.
Sep 21, 2017
Reviews and News: Neuroscientist David Poeppel has noted that we still don’t understand “how the brain recognizes something as basic as a straight line.” This hasn’t stopped writers of popular books from using fMRI scans in arguments on all sorts of things—from empathy to economics to Shakespeare. The result is neuromush: “Stephen Poole described this phenomenon as ‘an intellectual pestilence’, and observed how putting the prefix ‘neuro’ to whatever you are talking about gives a pseudo-scientific respectability to all sorts of meretricious rubbish.  Read more

The Substandard on mother! Worst Movies Ever, and Ice Cream

Sep 21, 2017
On this latest episode, the Substandard discusses mother! and movies they never want to see again. Sonny admits he used to love Baskin Robbins bubble gum ice cream—two treats in one! JVL just might pay 7 euros for Irish ice cream. Vic refuses to pay $60 for steak. It’s a classic First World episode. Plus a word from our sponsor that’ll have you on the edge of your seat! The Substandard is sponsored by the Dollar Shave Club. Get their $5 starter box (a $15 value!) with free shipping by visiting dollarshaveclub.com/substandard. This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to the Substandard on iTunes, Google Play, or on Stitcher.  Read more

TMQ Podcast Week 2: Is the NFL's Quality in Decline?

Plus, what Don Shula really wants to see in an NFL coach.
Sep 20, 2017
Many football enthusiasts are asking—what’s happening with quality of play? Join Gregg Easterbrook and editor in chief Stephen F. Hayes as they discuss week two of the 2017 NFL season on the Tuesday Morning Quarterback podcast. This podcast can be downloaded here. Don't miss an episode! Subscribe to Tuesday Morning Quarterback podcast iTunes feed here.  Read more

Trump Sees Polling Bump after Hitting August Low-Point

Sep 20, 2017
After a months-long slide in the polls, President Trump has enjoyed a small bounce-back so far in September. The latest data came Wednesday in a Politico/Morning Consult poll, which shows Trump up to 43 percent from his nadir in August of 39 percent. From Politico: Some polls suggest Trump’s slight bump is the result of Republicans and some independents coming home. In this week’s POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, Trump was at 80 percent approval among Republican voters — up from 73 percent at his low-water mark. Among independents, Trump has bounced 5 percentage points, from 35 percent to 40 percent. Trump’s approval rating was virtually unchanged among Democratic voters, however.  Read more

Afternoon Links: Amazon's Baby Blunder, Understanding the Juggalos, and the Death of the Movies

Plus, will Alexa remember you after you're gone?
Sep 20, 2017
YOU get a baby, YOU get a baby, EVERYONE GETS A BABY! If you're not hip to the popular memes kids are using, that's an Oprah reference. Amazon mistakenly sent out an email to lots of people yesterday—perhaps hundreds of thousands—suggesting somebody bought something off of their (in most cases non-existent) baby registry. Unfortunately, the glitch brought some temporary pain to those who struggle with infertility. For others, there was momentary fear that Amazon knew something they did not. Whoops! Juggalos, how do they work? Our own Andrew Egger went to find out, as the intensely loyal followers of the Insane Clown Posse had a rally on the national mall to protest their treatment by law enforcement.  Read more

Survey Confirms What Many Suspected: Free Speech Is in Trouble

Many college students have beliefs about the First Amendment that are troubling, incorrect, or both.
Sep 20, 2017
Comes this week from the Brookings Institution a new survey by John Villasenor demonstrating that undergraduate students at four-year colleges and universities have no idea what the First Amendment means. Most believe that hate speech is constitutionally unprotected. Half think it’s fine for a student group to disrupt a speech by a very controversial figure whose views it disagrees with. Almost 20 percent say it’s OK for a student group to use violence—yes, violence—to prevent the speaker from speaking. A majority believe that compliance with the First Amendment requires a student group sponsoring a controversial speaker to also offer a speaker who takes an opposing view (it does not).  Read more

Trump Tap Vindication?

Hosted by Eric Felten.
Sep 20, 2017
Today on the Daily Standard podcast, senior writer Michael Warren comes by to talk with host Eric Felten about what to make of CNN's report that, during the campaign, Paul Manafort was the object of a federal wiretap. The Daily Standard podcast is sponsored by the Dollar Shave Club. Try their $5 starter box (a $15 value!) with free shipping by visiting dollarshaveclub.com/weeklystandard. This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.  Read more

The Unaccountable IRS

From the Sept. 25, 2017, issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
Sep 20, 2017
To understand the pragmatic realities of federal governance in the 21st century, one must recognize the existence of a fourth branch of government: the administrative state. We have some two million federal bureaucrats with extraconstitutional legislative powers. Not only do they write the reams of regulations that order our lives, they have the authority to enforce them capriciously. And thanks to absurd civil service protections, it is exceedingly difficult to hold them accountable for abuses of power, even when Congress demands it. Of course, you can’t censure federal bureaucrats for their crimes if you don’t even try.  Read more

Married, Bored, and Confused

From the Sept. 25, 2017, issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
Sep 20, 2017
Even if you hold no religious beliefs, you might want to consider adopting some simply for the sake of your wedding. That’s the conclusion I reached after attending several secular nuptial ceremonies in the years after college. There was little worse than listening to vows that had been made up by the bride and groom. Even the ones that are written by professionals are pretty bad—like this one I came across while researching a book on interfaith marriage: I, [Groom], take you, [Bride], with all my heart and soul, to be my wife, my friend, my love, and my lifelong companion. I promise to respect that our ideas and opinions may differ, and to remember that yours hold as much truth and value for you  Read more

The FDA Old Guard Backtracks on Rare Diseases—Again

From the Sept. 25, 2017, issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
Sep 20, 2017
Once again officials within the FDA are proposing to put other interests over the needs of dying patients, predominantly children. For more than three decades a group of FDA civil servants aligned with Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen has fought accelerated review of breakthrough drugs for devastating diseases. In the mid-1980s AIDS activists were the first to loosen the grip of this unholy alliance. Without the persistent campaigns of ACT UP and other activists, the FDA would not have approved the first AIDS treatment, AZT, in 1987.  Read more

There Is a Precedent for North Korea's Nuclear Threats—the Euromissiles Crisis

And President Trump would be wise to study Reagan's response.
Sep 20, 2017
The forces driving North Korea’s nuclear weapons program are reminiscent of Cold War strategies pursued by the Soviet Union. Most notable was Moscow’s decision in the mid-1970s to deploy 243 SS-20 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) with three independently targetable warheads apiece and a range of 3,000 miles, putting major Western European capitals in their crosshairs. Aside from their explicit military capability, these mobile missiles epitomized a move by Moscow to decouple the United States from its transatlantic allies, whose security rested on anticipation that a Soviet invasion of NATO territory would precipitate a U.S. nuclear strike against the Soviet Union.  Read more

Prufrock: How AC Changed the World, Televangelist Hedonism, and the Problem with Teaching Today

Also: Joseph Bottum on violent protests, Philip Jenkins on The Dawn of Christianity, classic films on Netflix, and more.
Sep 20, 2017
Reviews and News: How air-conditioning changed the world: “In the beginning, it wasn’t the heat, but the humidity. In 1902, the workers at Sackett & Wilhelms Lithographing & Printing Company in New York City were fed up with the muggy summer air, which kept morphing their paper and ruining their prints. To fix the problem, they needed a humidity-control system. The challenge fell to a young engineer named Willis Carrier. He devised a system to circulate air over coils that were cooled by compressed ammonia. The machine worked beautifully, alleviating the humidity and allowing New York’s lithographers to print without fear of sweaty pages and runny ink. But Carrier had a bigger idea.  Read more

White House Watch: Was Donald Trump's Big Speech to the United Nations a Success?

The president goes big at Turtle Bay.
Sep 20, 2017
President Trump's highly-anticipated speech to the United Nations called for sovereignty and unity, took aim at the failure of socialism in Venezuela, and put Iran and North Korea on warning. Read more

Trump Takes Aim at the Rocketman

Hosted by Eric Felten.
Sep 19, 2017
Today on the Daily Standard podcast, deputy managing editor Kelly Jane Torrance talks with host Eric Felten about the President's speech before the U.N. general assembly. 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

Afternoon Links: Terrible Millennials, Grimy Monuments, and a Welcome Deportation

Plus, a quirky look at the 2016 electorate.
Sep 19, 2017
Lasers to the rescue. One of the beautiful parts about my commute into Washington, D.C., from suburban Virginia is crossing the Potomac. Before we moved offices in 2015, I'd drive by the Lincoln Memorial every day. It was like living in a movie. Now, even though our new office is merely two streets over from our old one, it's faster for me to drive across the 14th Street bridge, where I see the Jefferson Memorial. I've always been more partial to Lincoln than Jefferson, but in recent years the Jefferson Memorial has gotten ... grimy.  Read more

White House Signals Support for Graham-Cassidy

VP Pence reportedly helps round up votes for the last-ditch health-care reform bill.
Sep 19, 2017
President Donald Trump will sign the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill if it passes Congress, CNN first reported Tuesday. After weeks of silence on the bill, the White House is throwing its weight behind Republicans’ latest Obamacare health-care reform package, which would redirect federal funds spent under Obamacare to the states in the form of block grants for health-care spending. While Trump attended the U.N. General Assembly, Vice President Pence traveled to Washington to announce the administration’s support for the package at the GOP Senate policy lunch.  Read more

Prufrock: Dante as Theologian, 'The Peregrine' at 50, and the Qudra Oases

Also: Leonora Carrington's flapdoodle and alchemy, a selective account of all things Victorian and Edwardian, and more.
Sep 19, 2017
Reviews and News: Leonora Carrington’s flapdoodle and alchemy. A man in the South after the Depression: Edwin M. Yoder reviews Jennifer Ritterhouse’s book on Raleigh News and Observer’s Jonathan Daniels. A monumental but selective account of all things Victorian and Edwardian. The use of the term “Anglo-Saxon” to refer to the ideas and culture of English-speaking countries has increased markedly over the past twenty years in France. Why? “And why have the French continued to use it when few in the English-speaking world do?” A truly original book on Dante and what it means to write theologically. A French murder and its aftermath.  Read more