This special end-of-semester episode features Steve and Lucretia  reflecting on the latest academic hoax that Steve highlighted earlier in the week on Power Line (here and here), and which may have contributed to Higher Education Quarterly having to retract the fake article on how “right wing money” is supposedly pushing colleges and universities to the right and intimidating faculty and administrators. The study was so ludicrous that only a liberal (and apparently the academic “peer reviewers” who signed off on the article) could have believed it.

This opens up a wider window into the question of why leftists—especially on campus—are such miserable, unhappy, and intolerant people, and why they behave tyrannically, increasingly turning our campuses into Stasi-like institutions worthy of East Germany. (Just this week, Columbia University put out a video, posted below, calling on students and staff to “report” people who use incorrect pronouns because of the “harm” and threat to safety such unpure speech acts represent. Suggestion: Why don’t we simply just call everyone “comrade” and solve everything at once.) The answer requires taking seriously the nihilism of the modern left which cannot tolerate any disagreement or challenge to their position because it threatens their very being, while conventional or moderate liberals have been swept too far by the premises of supposedly progressivism to offer effective resistance to the extreme left. Warning: Expect cameo appearances from Harry Neumann and Harry Jaffa along the way!

As Monty Python used to say, “And now for something completely different.” I decided to do a one-off episode about my favorite topic with which to annoy anyone of taste and refinement—a reflection on prog rock, which Jody Bottum once aptly described as “rock and roll gone to college.” It turns out that 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of some of the classic albums from the golden age of Prog Rock, include “Fragile” and “The Yes Album,” Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung,” “Nursery Crime” from Genesis, and “Acquiring the Taste” from Gentle Giant.

Steve Hackett

Back in the sixties Ronald Reagan liked to quip, “A liberal’s idea of being tough on crime is giving longer suspended sentences.” Today’s liberals don’t even bother with lenient sentences; instead, in our current “defund the police, empty the prisons” mania, they don’t even bother charging many crimes or applying significant bail, as we saw in Wisconsin a few days ago.

This week Steve and Lucretia decided to go back to the classics on this issue: James Q. Wilson, Edward Banfield, Heather Mac Donald, and . . . Aristotle (because of course everything needs to go back to Aristotle whenever you can), though Lucretia offers a zesty side dish of modern social contract theory. (Short version: When it comes to crime, “Government—you had one job!”)

This week’s review of the news begins with the two huge stories that broke Friday—the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse (which is causing grief counselors for leftists to work overtime again), and the House passage of Biden’s so-called “Build Back Better” spendathon.  The latter story may seem like a Biden/Democrat triumph, but in fact a closer look shows that this may come to be seen as the week when the wobbly wheels of the Biden administration began to come off completely.

Lucretia and Steve review the whole scene, starting with the reaction to the Rittenhouse acquittal, but then moving to Steve’s theory about what the civil war inside the White House over Kamala Harris really means, and the warning signs all of this should be sending to Democrats. As Thomas Byrne Edsall advised in the New York Times, Democrats shouldn’t panic right now—they should be “going into shock.” (Ditto from Ruy Teixiera—another rare progressive who gets it.)

Steve actually turned up for this week’s show with three different whiskys in hand (Finlaggan, Lagavulin 8, and Bunnahabhain 12—in other words, Islay All the Way!), along with a sampling of the worst-reviewed whiskys ever, though these reviews pale in comparison to the reviews this episode’s panel gives to Democrats just now.

Historian Richard Samuelson joined Steve and Lucretia for this week’s show—which was recorded on Veterans Day with alive audience on Zoom, a day earlier than normal—to go over an all new, 21st Century Democratic Misery Index, the most outrageous part of the farcical “infrastructure week,” the strange reactions to the news of the founding of the University of Austin, and the new malicious deceptions of the New York Times‘ 1619 Project.

We also range over the strange news that some dunderheads in Britain actually think it is news that John Locke read Thomas Hobbes, the Rittenhouse trial, Kamala in Paris, and at the last, the results of a viewer poll intended to settle the Steve-Lucretia feud about peaty whisky, where Steve’s peat bombs narrowly edged Lucretia’s Highland style by less than 2 percent. But there are allegations of voting irregularities, so there may need to be a recount.

This week’s edition of the Three Whisky VERY Happy Hour revels in schadenfreude over the spectacle of the left freaking out over the election results on Tuesday. As political philosophers we try to go beyond the usual political punditry to get at the heart of the matter, explaining why the left’s dime-store Hegelian historicism (“the side of history”) that informs their moral smugness makes it necessary to charge that the only reason they lost was that Americans are irredeemably racist. Keep it up Dems: I’m sure you can lose even more votes next time with that line.

The episode is extra long, but there was so much to celebrate that even Lucretia’s normally coal-black soul was brighter than usual (“I only wore black once this week,” she admits). In addition to the election results, we also have some quick examinations of the latest COVID news, especially the madness of the employee vaccine mandate that is certain to backfire, the feeble results of the COP 26 climate hootenanny, some cautions about falling for a possible bait-and-switch in the Biden “Build Back Better” plan still bouncing around the House now that the “infrastructure” bill has passed (hint: it’s not about the spending—it’s about raising taxes), the final straw in cancel culture, and a few observations what special counsel Durham’s arrest of Igor Danchenko, who sounds like a minor character out of Rocky & Bullwinkle. And of course some new whisky reviews!

The title of this week’s episode—”Let’s go Bruno”—requires some explanation, though you’d be right in assuming that “Bruno” fills the same place as “Brandon” in the more familiar slogan of the moment. In this case it refers to the famous and celebrated child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim. Lucretia was struck by Ann Bauer’s searing article in The Tablet, “I Have Been Through This Before,” which recounts the awful abusiveness and quackery of Bettelheim which somehow never drew any critical attention, and suggests some obvious parallels with today’s COVID mandate mania, not to mention a parallel public celebration of an obviously defective doctor whose name rhymes with grouchy.

Sample from Bauer:

Unfortunately we weren’t able to fix up the usual online recording session for this week’s Three Whisky Happy Hour, and attempted to assemble in person ahead of the Claremont Institute’s annual dinner at Huntington Beach, this year with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (who was terrific, by the way). But we were outside, with not enough time to get organized—and without any whisky!—and the result was a bit of a train wreck. But at least it’s short! (As I used to say when I still showed up for road races in my dotage, “I may be old and fat, but I’m slow! My strategy is to start of slow, and tail off from there.” Well we kind of live up to that here.)

Our irregular sidekick Richard Samuelson joined us, and then halfway through Jeremy Carl wandered by, so we made him sit down and join us with no preparation. We tried to cover Last Week in Wokeness and a few other things, but I’m not sure we really got anywhere.  But we got so many emails from disappointed listeners than we decided to throw this episode up (literally) and let you decide.

What do baseball and politics have in common? I have no idea, but Henry Olsen does. Actually, the kinds of data measurements we use in baseball can be applied to politics as well, and few do it better than Henry. So in this “classic format” episode, we talk about why President Biden is just biding his time in office, having squandered his election by mis-reading the public mood, and how this may very well tip the off-year gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey to Republicans, as it did in 1993 and 2009, when, in what has become a recurring pattern, Democrats overreach.

Then we talk about baseball—in particular the decline of starting pitchers and .300 hitters, and the rise of the so-called “bullpen game.” Give me those old 20-game winners like Jim Palmer and .325 hitters like Rod Carew and Pete Rose, please.  But you’d expect this from a reactionary like me.

Lucretia, looking typically unconvinced by one of Steve’s arguments.

This week’s episode, recorded with a live audience on Zoom, was off the hook a little more than usual, as Lucretia was in a grumpy mood (despite Steve changing up his whisky selection in a futile attempt at appeasement), and audience questions and comments came flying in fast and furious. Yet somehow we managed to cover a lot of territory, from an after-action report on this year’s Indigenous Peoples Day Columbus Day holiday, to some new perspectives in the “voting irregularities” of the 2020 election, to the glories of Popeye’s fried chicken, which apparently triggers the snowflakes at Yale Law School.

This week’s episode is sans-guests and sans-metaphysics, as Lucretia and Steve kick around the news of the week, which is a mix of the usual ominous portents from Washington, along with some evidence that Democrats are in free-fall with the public.

First up is a look at the egregious Department of Justice letter identifying parents protesting at local school board meetings as a threat to the regime (in an ironic way, the DoJ is right!), wondering just what the federal question under the law is, and noting how this step certifies the open contempt Washington has for local self-government (thank you for your candor Terry McAuliffe!). Then we look at the Ezra Klein NY Times article about Democratic data-maven David Shor, who is trying to warn Democrats that the public is swifty turning against them. Steve offers some historical perspective to show how insane Democrats are in thinking they can govern the country as though they had the same kind of huge and durable majorities that FDR and LBJ had once upon a time.

We’re a day late with this week’s episode because Lucretia and Steve had the opportunity to catch up live with the Pacific Research Institute’s education expert extraordinaire Lance Izumi in San Francisco, to talk about what’s going on in the world of K-12. Lance is the author of the forthcoming book entitled The Homeschool Boom, but also helpfully fills us in on the backstory of how Japanese whisky originated and came to take its place as a rival to the finest Scottish whisky. And we also get some confessions about his unlimited collection of minor league baseball team uniforms (yes, including even the Toledo Mud Hens). This is only fitting for the person whose unofficial PRI title is the Gilbert & Sullivan Fellow in Sartorial Splendor. (Look up his Facebook page photos if you doubt us.)

Among the news items we review about why home schooling is going to continue growing rapidly is Gov. Newsom’s mandate that all school children will need to be vaccinated to attend public and private schools. There are reports that inquiries to home schooling websites from California parents have soared in the three days since this announcement, and 160,000 students have already de-enrolled from the public schools in California since COVID began. We also contemplate how Virginia’s Terry McAuliffe let the progressive mask slip when he blurted out that parents shouldn’t have any influence on what is taught in public schools. Nothing shouts contempt for self-government in the most important matters than telling parents, “shut up.”

With all the controversy over General Mark  Milley’s direct contacts with senior Chinese military leaders, his apparently extensive contacts with journalists, and the confusion or contradictions over what advice he and others gave to President Biden about our endgame in Afghanistan, I decided to reach out to Mackubin T. Owens, decorated Vietnam War vet, long time friend of Power Line, professor at the Naval War College, and author of numerous articles on books on civilian-military relations.

Among his books that bear on this subject include US Civil-Military Relations After 9/11: Renegotiating the Civil Military Bargain, and What Military Officers Need to Know about Civil-Military Relations (with co-author Christopher Robertson). Also not to be missed is his 2015 article in Strategic Studies Quarterly, “Military Officers: Political without Partisanship.” And above all, see his brand new article in Strategic Studies Quarterly, “Maximum Toxicity: Civil-Military Relations in the Trump Era.”

We’re a day late because of travel problems, and Steve is working on a backup computer because he left his laptop behind at his office on Friday, but this allowed us finally to book historian Richard Samuelson to join the happy hour to talk about . . . history. Specifically, what the hell has happened to history? It’s not just that the academic field has gone left like everything else; it has become narrow, mediocre, and . . . boring. Richard breaks it all down for us, with some cheers and side rants from Steve and Lucretia.

From there we do a deep dive into the Arizona election audit, and kick around the two big stories of the end of the week: the revelation, in the New York Times of all unexpected places, that the FBI had an informant inside the Proud Boys on January 6, and the revelation that the Biden Administration admitted 12,000 Haitians from under the Del Rio Bridge scene. It is extremely unlikely than any of this number were properly processed.

Steve’s happy place!

Steve returns as host this week, and after some of the ritual lover’s quarrel over whisky (including a celebration of Steve’s happy place—see nearby pic), Steve and Lucretia get down to the main business, which is slagging the left, and taking on the problem of “scientific expertise” in modern government.

Lucretia assumes hosting duties for this week’s potpourri of a show because Steve is recovering from major surgery, which he relates at the show opening today. (It includes a theological dimension!) But while Steve is improving, the recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom appears not to be. Steve explains the reasons why the polls show a strong turnaround in Newsom’s favor over the last week to 10 days, and why Larry Elder’s campaign has not been as effective as it could be.

From there Steve and Lucretia share their own reminiscences of the morning of 20 years ago—Steve from just three blocks away from the White House, and Lucretia over in Europe—and then answer the question: are we better off than we were 20 years ago? The answers are less than reassuring. President Biden’s absence from a public speaking role today underscores the problem that is getting more difficult for the White House to conceal with every passing day: the man isn’t up to the job. And that’s even more worrying that the larger geopolitical scene of the moment, which is distinctly more ominous than it was 20 years ago.

Next Tuesday, Encounter Books will publish Glenn Ellmers’ magisterial intellectual biography The Soul of Politics: Harry Jaffa and the Fight for America, and Glenn joins us this week to walk through some of the highlights in the book in what is turning out to be a month-long “Jaffapalooza.”

Naturally, we draw Glenn into our running argument about the problems of communicating the proper understanding of the principle of equality in an age of raging “equity,” which is not the same thing. But from there we move on to surveying the capacious mind of Jaffa, including his excellent but overlooked work on Shakespeare, and how, over course of 40 years, he changed his mind about Lincoln and the American Founding.

Glenn had access to a large number of Jaffa’s early letters and papers that no one has seen before, such as his extensive correspondence with Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey (among others) over the years.

This week’s episode is a Biden-free zone, so if you’re looking to avoid the Biden-Afghan collapse story, this is the show for you.

Instead we decided to circle back return to an argument Steve was losing badly at the end of last week’s episode with Michael Anton, and go into greater depth on the meaning of equality in American political thought. To recap, Steve argued that the critics of “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence—from Tocqueville to today’s “paleoconservatives”—have a point, at least historically considered, and that the simple and laudatory instinct of Americans that “you are not the boss of me” is insufficient and prone to the defects of cognitive dissonance.

We’re not done thrashing the Afghanistan disgrace, so we coaxed Michael Anton (the Power Line podcast’s most frequent guest it turns out) to join us for a few quaffs. We use three of his recent articles to launch our discussion, starting with “Afghanistan: Doomed from the Start.” But we use a section from the middle of this essay, on the blunders of our advisers in the Middle East who don’t understand our own Constitution but presumed to advise Iraq and Afghanistan about how to write theirs, to pivot to the crisis here at home.

Along the way, though, Michael has been having some very polite arguments with some of the leading “Paleoconservatives,” who for various reasons didn’t like President Trump’s 1776 Commission that was set up in explicit opposition to the pernicious 1619 Project. From there we have a vigorous argument amongst ourselves about how to think about—and more importantly argue in public about—the place of equality in America, deriving from the famous phrase “All men are created equal.” (The two Anton articles that bear on this are “Could the Founders Have Done Better?“, and “Getting Right with the Founders.”)

We weren’t able to do an episode for our regular Saturday time slot last weekend because Steve was on the road, so we’re doing this mid-week show with a special return guest, philosopher Spencer Case, who in a previous life served in the U.S. Army in deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. While supportive of our military mission, he had misgivings about how it was all going during his Afghan deployment in 2009 and 2010.

Then Steve and Lucretia discuss at length whether conservatives should turn against the military, or at the very least the politicized and bureaucratized military leadership. They spend a lot of time discussing a savage article by an anonymous serving general officer posted by Glenn Reynolds on Instapundit, which says, among other bracing things, “Unreformed, the Department of Defense is an inscrutable labyrinth which invites fraud, waste, and abuse.” To which Steve proposes: maybe we should cut the Pentagon budget in half. The left has always hated the military, while the right always defended it and wanted to spend more, even with its waste and extravagance. But perhaps that support was a contingent relic of the Cold War? What does it mean for the American military if both the left and the right dislike it?