This special double-header-end-of-summer Power Line Show features Steve Hayward and Power Line co-founder John Hinderaker venting about the “1619 Project” along with “Lucretia,” Power Line’s International Woman of Mystery. The “1619 Project” is so badly flawed that in the coming weeks we’re going to produce a series of special shows going point-by-point through its poisonous defects, and explaining why the color-blind principles of the old civil rights movement, derived from the Declaration of Independence, are the best hope for unifying the American people.

And that’s just the warm-up act. The second half of today’s show features Steve and John Yoo in a recent joint appearance on the topic of the rot in our universities today. If this combo doesn’t help you milk the soft power dividend in these final dog days of summer, then nothing will.


Readers of Thomas Kuhn’s famous book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions will know his central thesis that when anomalies and contradictions arise in a reigning scientific theory it creates a crisis out of which new theories emerge to replace the old. We may be seeing the beginnings of such a crisis for modern Darwinism, which appears to have gaps and contradictions that can’t be explained or explained away. The rumbles about the anomalies in Darwinism are ruthlessly suppressed in the media and in academia, but as with all such crises, the problems are impossible to suppress forever, and the doubts are increasingly leaking out.

See, for example, David Gelernter’s recent long article, “Giving Up Darwin,” in the Claremont Review of Books, or Ricochet co-founder Peter Robinson’s recent Uncommon Knowledge show with Gelernter, David Berlinski, and Stephen Meyer, on this same subject.


“Prudence” is not just something Dana Carvey liked to lampoon back when President George H.W. Bush was in office. Rather, it is the highest and most essential quality of those superb human beings we used to call “statesmen” before political science and history banished both terms in a fit of egalitarian madness that has yet to abate in our leading intellectual circles.

One antidote to this narrowing of our horizons is Greg Weiner’s fabulous new book, Old Whigs: Burke, Lincoln and the Politics of Prudence, just out from our friends at Encounter Books. Weiner, a professor and currently provost at Assumption College in Massachusetts, sits down with Steve Hayward to talk about how to think seriously about prudence and statesmanship, which begins with a consideration of how to reconcile an apparently glaring contradiction between the political thought and disposition of Burke and Lincoln. Though they were both Whigs and reformers, there are some significant differences. We also veer off into consideration of a related book of Greg’s: American Burke: The Uncommon Liberalism of Daniel Patrick Moynihan.


By popular demand from listeners, this special edition of the Power Line Show features both Kelly Jane Torrance of the Washington Examiner and “Lucretia,” Power Line’s International Woman of Mystery. Kelly Jane is just back from serving as an official election watcher over in Ukraine, and lays out a delightful political scene that does Donald Trump one better in the TV entertainment division. Plus, as Kelly Jane keeps close tabs on Iranian affairs, we go over what’s going on with Iran’s repeated provocations in the Gulf.

Then we turn the mic over to “Lucretia” for some serial rants about the Supreme Court and its unusual mid-summer ruling last week on Trump’s border wall funding, the Mueller investigation and hearing, raising a new dog, and Steve Hayward’s current drinking and grilling habits (which you can see below). Also, we let down the listener who wrote in thinking he had figured out Lucretia’s identity, but alas no, because our Lucretia would never consent to appear on Conversations with Kristol, which is where our listener thought he had picked up a clue.


In recent years an arcane term from political science—the “administrative state”—has become a prominent part of everyday discussion. The administrative state refers to the trend, decades in the making, of transferring lawmaking power away from the legislative branch of government to permanent, unelected bureaucrats and executive agencies. The administrative state undermines a central principle of the Constitution—the separation of powers—and dilutes both responsibility and accountability, as well as putting government beyond the control and consent of the governed—”we, the people.”

As the American Enterprise Institute’s Peter J. Wallison explains in his new book, Judicial Fortitude: The Last Chance to Rein in the Administrative State, this constitutional decay came about because the judiciary abdicated its responsibility to defend the separation of powers decades ago, and Wallison argues why and how the Supreme Court needs to lead the way back to restoring the Constitution. In particular, in this conversation we explore the “non-delegation doctrine” and the effect of the “Chevron doctrine” in supercharging runaway and sometimes lawless government-by-bureaucracy. Judicial Fortitudeis a wonderfully compact, quick-moving yet substance-rich introduction to this issue.


To paraphrase Karl Marx, a specter is haunting . . . well, just about everybody: the specter of a revival of nationalism. This week Steve Hayward attended the National Conservatism Conference in Washington, which was sponsored by the brand new Edmund Burke Institute. As Christopher DeMuth put it, “who knew that the next big thing would be the nation-state.” Of course if you say you are in favor of “nationalism” these days, right away critics on the left will default to charging that you are a crypto-Nazi, but no one who took in any of the conference could think something so silly. The new nationalism proclaimed at this conference promises to disrupt both left and right. The conference attracted a who’s who of leading conservative thinkers, and a ton of media coverage. It is certain to have a long half-life in our political discourse over the coming months and years, so strap in and stay tuned.

This special edition of the Power Line Show features excerpts from Peter Thiel, Yoram Hazony, and Chris DeMuth, along with a conversation about the scene between Steve and Damon Linker, columnist for The Week. In particular we highlight the re-opening of some old questions about liberal individualism itself, which is at the core of things.


One of my teachers in graduate school, the great constitutional historian Leonard Levy, insisted that “a history must serve its readers with explanations that suit the horizons of their curiosity and with writing that entertains and stirs them.” No one exemplifies that vivid style of biography and history better than Andrew Roberts. I caught up with Andrew in San Francisco this week, where we had a wide-ranging conversation about Churchill, biographical writing, Brexit, Trump, and the prospects for Boris Johnson.

Our conversation was held in front of a live audience, so it has some “authenticity,” as we might say.


By popular demand from listeners, we’re bringing back “Lucretia,” Power Line’s International Woman of Mystery, on this special edition for the July 4 holiday. Many listeners asked us to offer up mini-tutorials on various aspects of the American Founding and political thought in general, so we break down the Declaration of Independence, drawing notice to five key features—including how some of the specific indictments against King George III remain highly relevant to our current moment.

We also have some fun smacking around AOC, Nike, and the liberal freakout over tanks on the Washington Mall, and conclude with some observations on appropriate food and wine for the obligatory July 4 barbecue.


You could be forgiven for thinking this week’s Democratic debates were straight out of an old Monty Python sketch, which prompted Steve Hayward to ring up Power Line’s International Woman of Mystery, “Lucretia,” for a full-tilt boogie rant-fest about what ought to be the two main “Freeport questions” that could unravel the Democratic Party between now and election day next year. Are we really going to bring back busing? And how many genders are there? Maybe we can have a new federal commission to answer that question, alongside the proposed federal commission to study reparations.

But wait! There’s more! Steve shares a little bit of inside info on foreign policy from a key Trump insider, and we get in some licks about traffic, large trucks, California’s ongoing follies, raising a “German” German shepherd, and what’s on the grill for July 4.

The Cuyahoga River on fire. But not when you think.

This Saturday, June 22, marks the 50th anniversary of one of the iconic moments of the modern environmental history—the infamous Cuyahoga River fire in Cleveland. Things were so bad, the legend goes, that rivers were catching fire! But most of what you think you know about that story is incomplete or inaccurate, argues Jonathan H. Adler, the Johan Verheij Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. In a now-famous article, “Fables of the Cuyahoga,” Adler explains “the rest of the story,” to borrow an old saying. Part of that story is about why subsequent national legislation wasn’t always the best or only remedy for environmental problems.

Like most law professors, Jon is an ardent Supreme Court watcher, so we also talk about jurisprudence, the all-important “Chevron Doctrine” that is now subject of many second thoughts and potential revisions, and how a number of common perceptions of the Supreme Court are inaccurate. And since Jon specializes in environmental law, we also spend a few minutes on what else—climate change.


This week’s special guest is Col. Austin Bay, author of a lively new book on foreign affairs and grand strategy, Cocktails From Hell: Five Complex Wars Shaping the 21st Century. Austin Bay has an extraordinary biography, including earning a Bronze Star for his service in the Iraq War. But that is only the beginning. Austin is the author or co-author of more than a dozen books (including a novel or two), a widely syndicated columnist on military and foreign affairs for Creators Syndicate, associate editor at StrategyPage, a frequent guest on TV and radio, and a fellow blogger for our friends at Instapundit. Did I also mention he plays jazz piano and has a Ph.D in English literature from Columbia?

Our leisurely conversation covers a lot of ground, including China, Iran, North Korea and the Congo (yes—the Congo), as well as some detours into the legacy of Andy Marshall, the great strategic thinker who passed away recently. (Marshall had the nickname “Yoda” around the Pentagon.) And since the book title refers to cocktails, we get Austin’s favorite recipe as a bonus.


This week’s two-part episode features Power Line’s own Scott Johnson reporting on the verdict today in the Mohammed Noor case—the Minneapolis police officer who was convicted last month for murder in the shooting of Justine Damond. Then we shift focus dramatically, talking with Prof. Joshua Dunn of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Matthew Peterson, vice president for educational programs at the Claremont Institute, about the latest bitter internecine fight on the right about “David Frenchism.” I didn’t know this was even a thing, but the very impressive Sohrab Ahmari thinks there is, and has stirred up a ferocious debate.

But the conversation quickly turns to one of the underlying issues behind the recurring debate on the right—namely, what kind of country are we? Are we a classical civic republic depending on and dedicated to promoting a virtuous citizenry deliberately, or are we a classical liberal republic closer to Rand Paul’s ideal world? This is not a new debate, but it has fresh salience at the moment.


This week my guest is the person who deserves to be known as the Robert Caro of energy history—Robert L. Bradley Jr. Rob is the founder of the Institute for Energy Research, one of the best go-to sources for information and analysis about energy (and especially debunking the nonsense energy romanticism of the left), but most important for our purposes is the author of several astounding histories of the energy industry in America. His latest book is Enron Ascending: The Forgotten Years, 1984-1996. Rob had a front row seat to the meteoric rise and ultimate collapse of Enron as director of public policy analysis and senior adviser to Enron’s CEO, Ken Lay.

Enron Ascending is the third volume of a four-volume series (the final volume will be about the last years and ultimate collapse of Enron in 2001) that has an important common theme—political capitalism, which might be thought of as something like “crony capitalism,” though Rob is more precise than that. Far from being a market failure of capitalism, the Enron story is what Rob calls “contra capitalism,” and warns that we have more Enrons in our future if we attempt the “Green New Deal.”


I’ve decided that “populism” is when the wrong person or party wins a democratic election. Certainly the way the media and liberal elites have reacted to the Liberal Party’s upset win in Australia bears this out (keep in mind that the Liberal Party in Australia is the conservative party, but what do you expect from a country in the southern hemisphere). The media horror over Australia has been short-lived however, because the populists look set for major gains in the European Parliament elections currently under way. The wipe out of the Brexit-fumbling Tory Party in Britain has at last cost Theresa May her job, and the prospect of Boris Johnson becoming the next prime minister is Freddy Kruger territory for the media, who are also upset that India’s voters decided to return the retrograde pro-American Prime Minister Modi to office by a landslide. What’s a liberal elitist to do?

Well, one thing a liberal elitist ought to do (but probably won’t) is listen in to Henry Olson as he explains what’s going on. No one knows the data better than Henry, and I got him to give us his expectations and predictions for what’s next, including why Jeremy Corbyn will never make it, but why Joe Biden just might. Plus there’s a little baseball and soccer banter at the end, to send us off into our Memorial Day weekend.


Lo and behold, I opened up this morning’s Wall Street Journal to see a weekend interview with this week’s guest, historian Wilfred M. McClay of the University of Oklahoma, about his brand new book Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story. In the course of our conversation, we cover not only what’s wrong (but also partly right) about Howard Zinn, but how Bill got the audacious idea to write such an ambitious book, why most American history textbooks are so bad, some of our favorite historians past and present, including Kenneth Lynn, Richard Hofstadter, and John Lukacs, and many others.

Toward the end, we pivot to talking about Bill’s experience teaching the legendary “W.H. Auden Syllabus,” which is the great books course Auden taught at the University of Michigan in 1941. The ambitious reading list—nearly 6,000 pages in one semester!—was wrapped under the course title “Fate and the Individual in European Literature,” and this replication of the Auden course, which can be compared with drinking from a fire hose, has been a hit with students, notwithstanding the fact that the course is advertised as “the hardest course you’ll ever take.” Proof that good students like a challenge, and respond to classic literature when taught in a serious was, as Bill explains here.


This week Steve Hayward talks with economic historian Phillip Magness, co-author (along with Jason Brennan) of a brilliant new book, Cracks in the Ivory Tower: The Moral Mess of Higher Education. This splendidly written and fast-paced book vindicates Stan Evans’s first rule of insufficient paranoia—no matter how bad you think things are, when you look closer, you find out it’s even worse than you thought.

Crack in the Ivory Tower explains how colleges and universities are guilty of the same kind of false advertising that would draw a consumer protection crackdown on any other large industry, how the humanities are continuing to grow despite declining student interest or demand, why administrative bloat is out of control, and how faculties continue to trend far to the left.


This week Steve Hayward talks with Charles Lipson, the Peter Ritzma Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Chicago, about how to talk and argue about matters amidst the increasingly bitter polarization of our time. But along the way we revisit his idiosyncratic intellectual odyssey that brought him from rural Mississippi to the Ivy leagues. In addition to his academic work on international relations, you can read Charles’s popular writing on current events at RealClearPolitics, where his most recent article explores how the spying on the Trump campaign in 2016 may come back to haunt Joe Biden’s candidacy.

The main takeaway from our discussion is “no ad hominem arguments.” If we all strove to live by this rule, this would be a better world. But you’re going to want to stick around to the very end of the conversation, where Charles indulges us with his spot-on Henry Kissinger impersonation.

Justine Damond

Scott Johnson has been covering the trial of Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, who was charged in the fatal 2017 shooting of Justine Damond. This afternoon the jury returned a guilty verdict on the counts of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. This trial has been closely watched because of the suspicion that officer Noor was accredited as a police officer for political reasons—a potential aspect of the story that did not come out in the criminal trial, but may yet emerge in the civil suit Damond’s family has pending against the city of Minneapolis.

In this special midweek edition of the Power Line Show, Scott joined Steve Hayward moments after arriving home from the courthouse after the verdict and offers his reflections not only on the trial itself but on the wider issues that this story has involved from the outset.


I’ll bet you didn’t know you need a federal disaster management plan for your pet rabbit if you use your pet rabbit as part of a magic act for birthday parties. Well, you did, until the U.S. Department of Agriculture got embarrassed by the adverse publicity for this abject stupidity, but it is of a piece with the proposed European Union regulation on the proper length and curvature of bananas offered up by European grocers, because of course consumers are incompetent to judge bananas for themselves in the produce section. No wonder Britain voted for Brexit.

In this episode Steve Hayward offers up another of his lectures from his ongoing series for the William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale, and explains that what is deplored as populism is partly a healthy reaction to the overweening governance of the modern administrative state. This lecture makes a grand tour from Max Weber through the American Progressives and culminates with the late Christopher Lasch, who foresaw our current populist moment in many ways.


Gene Dattel is Steven Hayward’s extraordinary guest on this week’s show. Gene is the author of a book that deserves to be much better known—Reckoning With Race: America’s Failure (Encounter Books). This remarkably compact book is brimming with details about and revisions to the standard narratives of race relations in America from the colonial era right down to the present. Gene’s complete command of this subject—stemming partly from growing up in the Mississippi delta but also from wide reading and study—is on full display in this far-reaching conversation.

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