Well now we’ve done it! This week Lucretia and I decided to take a break from downing whisky shots over the latest crazy news headlines and drag listeners back into the classroom for a new mini-series. I get lots of emails and comments from listeners and readers about why we surrender the term “liberal” to deep leftists who are profoundly illiberal. It’s a great question, and so Lucretia and I decided to take this as an opportunity to offer an extended excursion into how Leo Strauss handled this question in the Preface to his essay collection Liberalism Ancient and Modern.

Strauss wrote the preface to this collection way back in 1968, and while some specific references are obviously dated (such as the Vietnam War), the main arguments are remarkably prescient for our current moment of badly politicized and degraded liberal education in the universities. One of the things Strauss says in this five page preface is, “Liberal education is not the opposite of conservative education, but of illiberal education.” And he also says, “Progressivism is indeed a better term than liberalism for the opposite to conservatism.”

This week’s three whisky happy hour centers around three percentage numbers: 99, 93, and 100. In looking at the latest craziness from higher education, Lucretia and I conclude scientifically that 99 percent of all college professors give the other 1 percent a bad name (sort of like lawyers); the “93 percent of protests are peaceful” sounds about as meaningful as “the Japanese flyover of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 was ‘mostly peaceful’ except for 5 minutes or so;” and that we’re still locking down the country even though 99.9 percent of COVID-19 cases aren’t fatal; and another scientific estimate that 100 percent of Atlantic magazine stories about Trump are literal fake news. (Dan Rather, call your office?)

We also drink to President Trump’s executive order banning “critical race theory” training sessions for federal employees and what should come next; the case for looting In Defense of Looting; and how long before Kamala Harris’s picture ends up on milk cartons since she seemed to disappear from the campaign scene this week, while “Dr.” Jill Biden (don’t you ever forgot the doctor part of her name!) is traveling “virtually” to Wisconsin this week, which sounds rather more like the astral projection popular in Marin County, where, coincidentally, a high proportion of anti-vaxxers will heed Harris’s call not to take any vaccine that Agent Orange recommends.

Today is the 4th anniversary of the appearance of one of the most memorable political essays in American history, “The Flight 93 Election,” written by the pseudonymous author “Decius.” It began with this memorable attention-grabber:

2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Trump the Dictator is messing with the U.S. Post Office in an attempt to steal the election. He’s removing blue boxes from corners! He’s taking mail processing machines out of service! He’s tying the shoelaces of mail carriers! Can artificial snowstorms be far behind? Or genetically modified super dogs to chase mail carriers away?

This is one of those frenzied stories that has taken wing but deserves to be marked “returned to sender.” As it happens, one of the members of the Postal Service Board of Governors, John Barger, is an old friend of mine, and when I read in the Los Angeles Times that protesters were turning up at his residence, I decided it was time to ring him up and work through some of the myths about what is really going on. Bottom line: there’s nothing to this story. The problems with mail-in balloting won’t be because of any problems with the Post Office. This is a story with no forwarding address. But it may just be part of a larger narrative the left is unspooling to base a challenge to the election if it is close.

After a one week hiatus for jury duty, the Three Whisky Happy Hour with Steve and Lucretia is back, but with a role-reversal: Lucretia bartends this week! Partly this is so Lucretia can school Steve on how to think about vigilantism and the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who has been charged with murder for what appears to have been self-defense in the Kenosha riots earlier this week.

Our second flight of whisky is inspired by Joseph Epstein’s commentary in today’s Wall Street Journal on “Today’s College Classroom is a Therapy Session,” in which we drink to and reminisce about having one of the toughest “tough guy” professors—the late constitutional historian Leonard Levy. He was terrifying in the classroom in ways that wouldn’t be allowed today—and an experience neither of us would trade for anything. Students today have no idea what they’ve lost with our new emphasis on “safe” and “nurturing” classrooms.

This week’s Power Line Three Whisky Happy Hour finds Charles Lipson bellying up to the bar for a flight of whiskys that begins with a tale of his mis-spent youth discovering the “bootleggers and Baptists” hypothesis in the course of violating numerous federal and state laws, as well as his legendary Henry Kissinger impression.

We take up three topics to go with three shots of whisky: the rapid transition from “broken windows” policing to “break our windows” policing, as Charles explained in his terrific RealClearPolitics column on this topic late last week. Then we turn to analysis of the surprise announcement of the Israel-UAE rapprochement last week, which took everyone by surprise. More to come perhaps? Finally, what does Charles make of the presidential race, and Biden becoming Kamala Harris’s running mate?  We all agree that Harris “doesn’t wear well,” but that doesn’t mean the Harris-Biden ticket can’t win.

Are we possibly headed to a complete electoral and political meltdown in November, complete with riots in the streets and threats of secession by some states? Last week something called the Transition Integrity Project (TIP) made huge news with a 22-page report on a simulation exercise of scenarios of what might happen in the event we have a contested election in November. A bipartisan groups of political luminaries, including former RNC chair Michael Steele, former Michigan Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm, and all-around liberal potentate John Podesta, conducted the simulation, and it set off a media frenzy over the prospects of either Trump or Biden contesting the election result right up to inauguration day, with potential riots in the streets, and “Seven Days in May”-sounding concern over what the military might do!

Nils Gilman

This especially fast-paced edition of the Three Whisky Happy Hour with “Lucretia,” Power Line’s International Woman of Mystery, gets off track right at the start, when an incidental mention of the famous 1978 Bakke case turned into an extended revisionist “what if?” thought experiment.  From there we turn our attention to logging the accelerating BGR (short for “Biden Gaffe Rate”), which reached two-a-day by the end of this week. How high will the rate go if Biden actually emerges from his basement between now and November and actually campaigns?

From there we read some tea leaves around the question of whether the country has reached a turning point in reaction to the rioting and leftist agitation. A number of events this week suggest we have.

America’s newspaper of record—which is the Babylon Bee of course—is out with the headline, “Biden Campaign Says He Is So Close to a VP Pick He Can Smell Her.” The Bee really needs to stop scooping the New York Times. In any case, in this episode of the weekend happy hour Lucretia and I survey the box canyon Biden has got himself into by pledging to pick a woman running mate who essentially has to be a woman of color. And we give our predictions of who it will be when (and if) Biden clears his head.

Then we move on to the wider issues behind Trump’s tweet about possibly postponing the election. We get into some details about voting, mail-in and provisional ballots, ballot counting, precinct management, and other aspects of the matter that have drawn surprisingly little attention from the non-stop media panic about the election, and believe me, you’ll be wanting a double-shot of whisky after you hear us.

I’m starting to come to the view that having K-12 education and colleges and universities shrink because of COVID-19 might be one of the bits of good news arising out of the pandemic. Our universities are the principal source of the noxious ideas that are plaguing the country right now, and decades of conservative attempts to reverse this slide or reform campuses have proven largely unavailing.

Arthur Milikh

Lucretia and I are already departing from our nascent Islay-Highland-Irish whisky flight format because we have a guest bartender and malt master on with us for this weekend’s episode—John Yoo! John not only knows the deep history of fine Japanese whiskies, but also the Constitution and presidential power. He has a terrific new book coming out on Tuesday, Defender in Chief: Donald Trump’s Fight for Presidential Power.

The book explores how John came to change his mind about Trump, seeing in Trump’s conduct in office a clear pattern of defending the proper constitutional prerogatives of the presidency, and helping to restore the separation of powers to their intended dimensions. Along the way Lucretia baits John about whether the Supreme Court was a good idea in the first place, and Steve likes John’s “hypothetical”idea for having Trump designate all of his hotels and properties as national monuments.

The estimable New York Post reports on a clear example of “expert” junk science that purports to prove that “men should limit alcohol to just one drink per day.” This is clearly the first step to full communism, plus an obvious ham-handed attempt to shut down our brand new Three Whisky Happy hour. Lucretia and I counter with the supreme wisdom of Lady Thatcher, who once wrote a friend, “Scotch is one British institution which will never let you down.” (In other words, just like Rick Astley.)

Anyway, “Lucretia” (Power Line’s International Woman of Mystery) and I are not deterred by this fake news and used it as an excuse to run long with this episode and refill our glasses often with a flight of Highland and Japanese malts, pondering whether keeping our public schools locked down this fall might actually backfire on the left; the broader significance of the drive to reverse a previous diversity-promotion tactic—blind auditions for symphony orchestras—because they aren’t producing the “right kind” of diversity; and a lightning round where we beat up on the Lincoln Project, whether violent protestors should be sent to Gitmo, and why the media is ignoring the epidemic of suspicious church fires in Europe.

For our 200th podcast, we assembled all four Power Line Beatles, John, Paul, George and Ringo Steve and Scott, to kick around various current topics, including Steve’s own experience with cancel culture, the state of the presidential race, whether the United States might actually break up after this election regardless of who wins, and above all some reflections on 18 years of Power Line, where we have (according to our site meter) posted over 57,000 items.

This special episode is a crossover event, edited down from a live VIP chat session held late in the week, in which we took audience questions. So once you’d paid your Ricochet monthly dues, you should consider becoming a Power Line VIP subscriber, too. You not only get ad-free access to the site, but invitations to participate in special events and occasional premium content.

Steve and “Lucretia” are back with another “Three Whisky Happy Hour” to end the week, dishing out a sweet Irish whisky to go with our idea for the attack ad we hope the Trump campaign will run against the Democrats, a mild American bourbon whisky for the uneven Harper’s magazine statement opposing “cancel culture;” and a bracing peaty/smoky Scotch whisky to ponder the question of whether universities have passed the point of no return, such that conservatives ought to give up trying to reform them and now seek simply to destroy them instead, as Arthur Milikh argued a few months ago in National Affairs. We take up these subjects, and our whiskys, in the proper way, which is neat.  Cheers!

Gov. Kristi Noem

The centerpiece of this week’s show is an in-depth interview John Hinderaker conducted this week with South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, who has charted her own course in managing the COVID-19 pandemic in her state, refusing to shut down the state’s economy, and getting out ahead of the virus with a common sense approach. Gov. Noem is getting high marks for her steady and independent leadership, gaining her a place on the “great mention” list of potential presidential candidates in the future. She says she has no such plans at the moment, but you never know!

By popular demand we’re bringing “Lucretia,” Power Line’s International Woman of Mystery, back to the show, and we’ve decided to start our own “Three Whisky Happy Hour,” because why should Greg Corombos and Jim Geraghty have all the fun (and the booze) with their Three Martini Lunch. As Lucretia is a champion whisky drinker, we decided to offer up American bourbon, Scotch (the more bracing Islay and Highland single malts), and Irish (sweeter) whisky varieties to match up with the crazy, outrageous, and sweet stories of the moment—in today’s case, more egregious cancelings, the Redskins’ capitulation, and the overdue arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, and what we think the sequel is likely to be besides six more months of Jeffrey Epstein memes.

This inaugural episode ends with some cooking and drinking tips for the July 4 holiday, including the best way to annoy your nearest climate change fanatic. (Hint: It involves grilling.)

Daniel Mahoney of Assumption College has a short and compelling essay up today at Real Clear Politics on “What Does Our Nation Mean to Us? Rejecting the Culture of Hate.” I decided to post our regular weekly podcast a couple days ahead of schedule to match up with Dan’s article because it meshes perfectly with the conclusion of our wide-ranging conversation about the roots of our present discontents.

With everyone comparing the dismal events of this year with our previous annus horribilis of 1968, I wanted to walk through the other great eruption in May 1968 in France. A lot of Americans don’t know much about that episode, and its powerful and lasting impact on French intellectual and political life. Few Americans know more about French politics and intellectual life than Mahoney, and along the way we survey some leading French thinkers then and now, some well-known like Raymond Aron and Pierre Manent, and some less well known, like Claude Lefort.

But ultimately we conclude with some reflections on the deep crisis of the moment here in America, and with Dan’s rousing charge: “We need a Gaullist moment and we need Churchillian fortitude.” Listen here for more, but also see his article mentioned above.

When I heard the news that the nihilist mob plans to take down the statue of Theodore Roosevelt astride his horse in front the Natural History Museum in New York City, I knew I had to ring up Jean Yarbrough, the Gary Pendy Sr. Professor of Social Sciences at Bowdoin College, and author of the best book on TR’s political thought and legacy, Theodore Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition.

As one of the creators of the Progressive movement a century ago, TR’s record and legacy is a mixed bag, with a lot to criticize. Prof. Yarbrough walks us through how to think about TR, balancing his admirable traits alongside his more doubtful ideas. If TR is going to be toppled, let’s do it the right way.

Yarbrough connects the current statue smashing with broader currents and undertows of our intellectual scene today, in particular the egregious 1619 Project, about which we have had lots to say (and we’re not done!). And then at the end I draw out some thoughts from Prof. Yarbough about one of her principal teachers in graduate school, the “terrifying” (as Jean calls her) Hannah Arendt.

On Wednesday, “The Beatles” (John, Paul, George and Ringo Scott, and Steve) got together for a live online VIP chat session, covering everything from the riot scene, the fall election, statue-tipping, The NASCARash, and other sports. A lot of VIP members who couldn’t make the show asked if we’d make available a recording, and we decided to make a highlight reel into a podcast and offer it to the public. If you’re a VIP member, we thank you, and if you’re not, here’s a sample of the live, interactive meetup you can participate in for just a few dollars a month.

I edited the show down by more than a third, cutting out not merely redundancies, but an interminable reminiscence of the Minnesota Twins move from DC to Minnesota back in the ancient of times.  Some other episode perhaps.

This week’s guest is Michael Shellenberger, the founder and president of Environmental Progress, and author of an important new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. Most books about the environment typically feature breathless panic about how the world is coming to an end. Michael’s book is a rare outlier that debunks the extremism of most such apocalyptic claims, which too often are the predicate for not just bad policy, but counter-productive policy when it comes to environmental improvement in poor nations.

Michael began his intellectual and political odyssey on the left, and has by degrees migrated to the center, along the way coming to support nuclear power as the most important current alternative energy source for limiting greenhouse gas emissions.  But the book goes well beyond the issue of climate change to lay out a vision of what Michael calls “environmental humanism”—a conception of environmental protection that puts humans beings at the center of the story, a welcome contrast to the often explicit misanthropy of many modern environmentalists.

I’ll add as a personal note that I’ve known—and learned much from—Michael for more than a decade, and our episodic collaborations have been one of the more rewarding experiences of my professional life.