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Steven Hayward brings you the Power Line Blog's perspective on the week's big headlines. Follow Power Line on Twitter (https://twitter.com/powerlineus) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/powerlineblog). Send any suggestions, tips, and fan mail to powerlinefeedback@gmail.com.


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Steven Hayward brings you the Power Line Blog's perspective on the week's big headlines. Follow Power Line on Twitter (https://twitter.com/powerlineus) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/powerlineblog). Send any suggestions, tips, and fan mail to powerlinefeedback@gmail.com.





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The Three Whisky Happy Hour: Above, Behind, and Below the Law

No sooner do we have a "reunion" episode last week than travel schedules blow it all up again. With John Yoo away on another junket (supposedly teaching a summer law seminar somewhere, but really in search of more elusive McRibs), Lucretia and Steve decided to do a live episode where they pondered what might be called the "meta-narrative" (that would be "McNarrative" to John Yoo) behind the sharply differing constitutional views of left and right. Steve argues that behind the left's primal drive for power that can explain the outcome-oriented constitutionalism of the left on display since the Progressive Era lies a more sinister but less recognized aspect of leftist politics: American leftists are basically socialist revolutionaries, but rather than conduct direct revolution (with certain isolated exceptions), they prefer to use the rule of law to subvert the rule of law. Steve thinks an important clue to understanding this dynamic (about which too many conservatives and Republicans are clueless) can be found in a reconsideration of . . . the Spanish Civil War. (See Nathan Pinkoski's fine essay reviewing the revisionist literature that essentially says everything you think you know about teh Spanish Civil War is wrong, and just imagine what Franco could have done if only he'd had some helicopters.) Lucretia as always is less convinced by Steve's historical analogies and, having had three espressos after lunch and before taping, offers her own special sauce to understanding the problem, yet somehow omitted the usual snark about Steve's whisky of the week, Laphroaig Quarter-Cask. Finally, in honor of Pride Month, some topical exit music this week from the great Jonathan Richman. And thanks to the many Power Line readers who tuned in for the live taping. Sorry we didn't get to more of your questions and comments.


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The Three Whisky Happy Hour: Reunion Episode

The Three Whisky Happy Hour bartenders are finally back in the same time zone, and Lucretia fills in Steve and John about what happened while they were away partying in Europe. We mostly skip over doting on Biden's dotage, and take up Jed Rubenfeld's argument that Trump isn't technically a "convicted felon" yet, and might have strong case for immediate relief from the Supreme Court. We finally have a long-postponed update on the situation in Ukraine, where there have been a number of developments over the last two weeks that make the war more volatile. The French are sending in troops ('advisers,' but that sounds too familiar), while we have apparently greenlit Ukraine to attack inside Russian with our weapons—so long as we approve the targets. What could go wrong? (And why is Hungary opposing the NATO position on Ukraine? Not for the reasons you read in the American media. . .) Finally, for our Article of the Week we take up the issue of climate change litigation, which John wrote about a few days ago for National Review, and which Steve is working separately on an article about European lawfare in this domain.


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Classic Format Edition: Scoping the European Election Scene with John O'Sullivan

BUDAPEST, June 5: This Sunday the member states of the European Union will be going to the polls to elect their members of the European Parliament. I don't exactly know just what the European Parliament does either, and it has become boring viewing ever since Nigel Farage departed the European Parliament after Brexit. But there is intense campaigning underway. The streets of Budapest are lined with campaign posters, and there was a campaign march last Saturday with tens of thousands turning out. Most of the polls suggest that right-of-center "populist" parties are likely to see the largest gains in this round of elections, though likely not large enough to command a coalition majority, but we'll have to see. But wait! There's more! On July 4—an auspicuous day for Americans obviously—Britain heads to the polls for a general election, and all of the polls indicate the Conservative Party is heading for an epic wipeout at the hands of Labour. What explains the Tories' dismal prospects just five years after their largest landslide win in 70 years? To say they have underperformed the last five years under Boris Johnson and his successors is an understatement. From COVID lockdowns to Net-Zero energy madness, who needs the Tories when you can get real socialism from Labour? And just how will the Tories dust themselves off and recover? I sat down a few days back with John O'Sullivan to sort it all out. John has had a long and distinguished career in journalism and politics, having served as editor of National Review in the late 1980s and 1990s, and as chief speechwriter for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for a time. Nowadays he is the president of the Danube Institute here in Budapest, where he overseas an active program of visiting journalists, academics, and political figures from all over the globe.


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The Three Whisky Happy Hour: "Our President Banged a Porn Star, and We Had World Peace."

Lucretia hosts this episode from her bunker in an undisclosed bunker in the desert southwest while Steve and John are still galavanting over in Europe. And as hinted in a Power Line post, she is thermo-nuclear furious about the Trump verdict. Rather than rehash the details of the case, which everyone has picked over thoroughly by this point, the whisky bar considers what at means, and what may or should happen next. Lucretia thinks the American republica died on May 30 (USA, 1776 to May 30, 2024, RIP), while Steve thinks this is another dismal turning point comparable to the way the demagogic attack on Robert Bork in 1987 poisoned and embittered our judicial politics ever since. The connecting thread between the two: Joe Biden, who may be the single-most destructive figure in American politics in the last 50 years—worse even than Obama, who was at least subtle in his contempt for the United States. It was Biden who gave in to the progressive left over Bork in 1987, and now giving in to the progressive left's Trump Derangement Syndrome and warping our legal order. John looks beyond the appeals in the New York courts to a possible motion for a writ of mandamus from the U.S. Supreme Court, while all three whisky swillers agree that gane theory tells us that the only way to stop this kind of partisan lawfare is for Republicans to teach Democrats that two can play this game. And Lucretia has a list! Do Republicans have the stomach for it? Doubtful.


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The Three Whisky Happy Hour: Eugene Konotorovich on the Lessons of Oct. 7

This week's special episode originates in Budapest, where John Yoo and I were presenting at a two-day conference on the decay of the rule of law in Europe. You think things are bad with the U.S. judiciary? It's much worse over here. (I'll post some video highlights when they are available.) In any case, because of the time difference and other challenges, Lucretia couldn't join us, so we have a guest host holding down her spot as the third host (and also to maintain the crucial two-against-John ratio), and we have decided to give him his very own Roman-inspired pseudonym, "Hadleius Arkesius." We indulge way too much time with our opening banter and general discussion of our experience pondering the problem of the decay of the rule of law before getting to the main event, which is a conversation with Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, who is professor of law at George Mason University's Scalia Law School, and head of the international law department at the Kohelet Policy Forum, one of Israel's largest think tanks. Prof. Kontorovich divides his time between the United States and Israel. A few weeks back Eugene wrote a bracing article in Tablet on "The Ugly Lessons of October 7," and we review the article with him along with developments of the last week, such as the move of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Our conversation with Eugene begins around the 18 minute mark.


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The Three Whisky Happy Hour: Bad Lawyers and Worse Decisions?

Listeners want to know from John: did Justice Clarence Thomas let us down with his ruling in this week's 7 - 2 decision upholding the unique funding structure of Elizabeth Warren's Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), which she designed precisely to avoid congressional control as much as possible? John says no, and makes a persuasive three-part case for why Thomas's opinion is thoroughgoing originalism, and good history to boot. If we want to get rid of Warren's regulatory handiwork (AND WE DO!), it will be to be done directly by Congress, rather than indirectly by the courts. This week also marked the 70th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which we have deplored before on account of the poor reasoning for the halfway right result, but a our Article of the Week from our friend Shep Melnick of Boston College draws our attention to some ongoing ambiguities of Brown that still afflict our civil rights law. You'd think after 70 years we might have figured it out, but no—and worse, the ambiguity is likely on purpose, because it suits the shifting strategy and tactics of the identitarian left. Other topics covered briefly this week include the collapsing case against Trump in Manhattan, Trump's VP sweepstakes (you can scratch Kristi Noem from the list), the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and King Charles's ghastly portrait (hard to say which is worse here), Harrison Butker's cultural butt kick, and, finally, how to devise some tests to judge whether higher education is truly reversing its multi-decade slide into pernicious leftism.


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Bonus Classic Episode: 'The Unprotected Class' with Jeremy Carl

This classic format episode features Steve in a one-on-one conversation with with Jeremy Carl, author of a dynamite (almost literally) new book entitled The Unprotected Class: How Anti-White Racism Is Tearing America Apart. Jeremy commits heresy in this book, offerng statistics that you aren't supposed to mention, and truths that, in an earlier age, might have got you burned at the stake. In publishing this book Jeremy joins the ranks of fellow brave souls such as Heather Mac Donald, Steve Sailer, Zach Goldberg, and a handful of others who do not shrink from challenging the enforced orthodoxy that approves of anti-white discrimination and scapegoating. It is, Jeremy rightly notes, a formula that if continued much longer will divide the nation so badly that we won't be able to live together. He thinks the old fashioned principle of basic human equality rightly understood, and old ethic of the "melting pot" that brought together different ethnicities into a common citizenship and shared national identity needs to be restored, and soon. He offers some suggestions, some difficult, some happily already starting to happen. One good sign: the book is getting a lot of attention. Maybe the ice is finally breaking.


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The Three Whisky Happy Hour: Judges Without Judgment?

John Yoo hosts this week's episode from exile in Austin, Texas, where he humors Steve and Lucretia's the extra-legal views on the Trump trials and tribulations in a Manhattan courtroom, and speculate how Trump's "Letter from the Rikers Island Jail" would read (though it will be more likely in the form of Tweets or TruthSocial posts). Have we discovered a trial judge who seems to have no judgment at all. Certainly we have a president without judgment, and we begin with pondering the question of just when it was that Bernie Sanders became president, because it is impossible to see how a Sanders administration would differ from everything the Biden administration has done. Steve notes a recent American Conservative article that picks up on parts of the Hur report on Biden. While everybody focused on the parts of the report that dealt with Biden's senility, other parts of the report show that Biden has actually had terrible judgment for his entire political career. Finally, we look at Steve's City-Journal article on the parallels between 1968 and today, and wonder how it is possible for so many of our "leaders" in high education to have so little good judgment or common sense about what ought to be done. (Lucretia recommends pepper-bullets, which sound like some kind of high-velocity jalapenos.)


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Bonus Episode, Three Whisky After Hours: What To Make of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act

There was a lot of listener and reader interest in our too brief comments on the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act in our last episode, and we realized this issue deserved keeping the whisky bar open after the usual 2 am closing time to extend our treatment of the issue, yielding this short special episode. To recap: Lucretia thinks it is a stupid idea (hence, "Don't murder a man who is committing suicide"), while John thought it was also unsound on basic free speech principles. Steve was, naturally, in the middle, ending up as road kill for his analysis of why Republicans thought there were some political mischief to be made. So we decided to order another round of drinks (or, in Lucretia's case, four margaritas to honor Cinco de Mayo) and try to go through the issue more thoroughly, especially taking account of David Bernstein's observations at National Review Online that there's a lot of disinformation about what the bill does and doesn't do. We also wanted to take up the argument Harry Jaffa argued more than 60 years ago that a free society could, under certain circumstances, curtail the speech of Nazis, Communists, and . . . anti-Semites? . . . in defense of a free society. Jaffa argued: “Does a free society prove false to itself if it denies civil liberties to Communists, Nazis, or anyone else who would use these liberties, if he could, as a means of destroying the free society? The answer, I believe, is now plain that it does not. Is saying this I do not counsel, or even justify, any particular measure for dealing with persons of such description. What is right in any case depends on the facts of that case, and I am here dealing only with principles, not their application. However, those who think every denial of civil liberties is equally derogatory of the character of a free society, without reference to the character of the persons being denied, make this fundamental error: they confuse ends with means. . . [But] it is seldom either expedient or wise to suppress advocacy of even inhuman doctrines in a community like ours, it is not for that reason unjust.” Does the current campus scene arise to this standard? What does prudence counsel? The normally quarrelsome threesome at the whisky bar arrive at surprising agreement on the matter. Hint: We rather like Jaffa’s conclusion to his classic essay: “The more we can accomplish by opinion, the less we will have to do by law.”


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The Three Whisky Happy Hour: "Never Murder a Man Who Is Committing Suicide"

Lucretia hosts this week's episode, reminding us once again that Republicans are living up to their reputation as "the stupid party" with the proposed "Anti-Semitism Awareness Act" that seems to have overlooked this quaint old thing called the First Amendment. Steve gamely tries to defend the political strategy behind it, but Lucretia is having none of it (putting her in rare alignment with the New York Times), wondering why anyone would want to distract attention away from Democrats tieing themselves in electoral hangman's knots over the anti-Semitism raging wild inside their party and their wholly-owned subsidiary college campuses. Republicans ought to impose a gag order on themselves, and crusade against the gag order on Trump in his current trial in New York. Concerning which, John has several observations. And about that campus scene: another week, and another data point for Steve's thesis that "it's going to get worse before it gets worse." About the only sensible conclusion is that somewhere in the Great Beyond, Tom Wolfe is behind the whole current scene. Maybe we can still get a sequel from him, Bonfire of the Inanities.


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Victims of Communism Memorial Day

Today is May Day, but also the Victims of Communism Memorial Day, and as such today is the prefect days for this classic-hybrid format podcast, featuring Steve Hayward in a conversation with Elizabeth Spalding, chair of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. (Elizabeth is also Senior Fellow at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and Visiting Fellow at the Van Andel Graduate School of Government at Hillsdale College.) The Foundation has opened the Victims of Communism Museum in downtown Washington DC, and you should put it on your itinerary for your next visit to the nation's capital. We call this a "hybrid" format because it comes in two parts. Following the conversation with Elizabeth, this episode offers Steve's recent speech at the Victims of Communism Museum about Reagan and Churchill on the Cold War, a major part of Steve's book about the two great statesmen.


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The Three Whisky Happy Hour: Sober Thoughts on Immunity

We're going up a day earlier than usual this week, partly because our constantly irregular travel schedules complicated things again, but more importantly to be timely, as John, Steve, and Lucretia have LOTS of thoughts on the Supreme Court argument Thursday about whether ex-presidents should enjoy broad immunity for any or all acts they took while in office. Steve and Lucretia think the president does, while John thinks textual support for the proposition is lacking. Steve and Lucretia respond with an appeal to first principles, and enlist as an expert witness Harvey Mansfield, because of his unique book on the inherent ambivalence of executive power even in a constitutional republic, Taming the Prince. As usual, we fought to a draw. Our second subject is the ongoing Kristalnacht on campus. There's not much new to say except to calibrate how cowardly university administrators continue to be, and note that even some liberals, like George Packer in The Atlantic (who provides our article of the week, "The Campus-Left Occupation That Broke Higher Education") are starting to figure out what conservatives have known about higher education for two generations now. It's as if no one ever bothered to notice Closing of the American Mind.


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The Two Whisky Happy Hour: Will It Get Worse Before It Gets Worse?

This week's ad-free episode is probably better thought of as a Two Whisky Happy Hour, because John Yoo is away on a lecture- and Philly-cheesesteak-procurement tour back east, and Lucretia is out of action right now, too, though she appears in this episode by proxy, so to speak. So two whiskies it is. Last weekend, Lucretia and I offered a keynote session for Ammo Grrrll's annual CommenterCon conference in Phoenix, which is an annual gathering of Ammo Grrrll's best friends and devoted fans from around the country. My theme was "Will it get worse before it gets worse?", and Lucretia offered some thoughts on the future of free speech. We had some technical difficulties with our sound recording devices, so the recording has a sudden and noticeable quality shift right in the middle, and you can't always make out the audience questions perfectly, but we think listeners will still enjoy most of it.


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The Three Whisky Happy Hour: Letter from the Birmingham Starbucks Edition

Steve hosts this crisp episode despite his creaky voice from a springtime bug (and Lucretia is partly hobbled, too) covering a lot of ground, starting with a brief recap of the latest (unanimous!) property rights victory at the Supreme Court, but then moving quickly on to initial reactions to the outbreak of World War III yesterday. What to make of Iran's attack on Israel? Many things are not clear about this impetuous scene. Closely related, while the Biden Administration seems determined to tamp down the prospect of a wider war in the Middle East, it seems to be inviting one with Antony (Blank) Blinken saying a week ago that Ukraine should or would become a member of NATO. Are they trying to make Russia dig in, or draw the U.S. more directly into the war (which NATO membership would require)? We also ponder J.D. Vance's very clear-headed New York Times op-ed that reviews the grim math of the Ukranian battle scene, making us wonder whether the Biden Administration has any strategy at all beyond "fight to the last Ukranian." Then we ponder briefly the astounding scene of the anti-Semitic protests in the back yard of Berkeley Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, with Steve arging that to see this incident as a matter of the limits of free speech is woefully inadequate. But the bulk of the episode is devoted to analyzing the latest abortion controversies, starting with the Arizona Supreme Court decision upholding the validity of Arizona's pre-Roe statutes, and observing as usual the way this narrow and largely technical ruling is being mis-reported in the media and misrepresented by the left. The main portion of this segment, though, is devoted to Trump's announcement that he does not support federal legislation of abortion and wants to leave the issue iup to the states. Does this make him the modern-day equivalent of Stephen Douglas, as John Davidson argues in our Article of the Week over at The Federalist? Lucretia will startle many regular listeners with her analysis of the matter, to which John and Steve largely agree. In fact, it is an amazing how much agreement we had this week, but perhaps because we recorded in the morning sans-whisky, and with Steve and Lucretia ailing.


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The Three Whisky Happy Hour: On Earthquakes, Physical and Political

John Yoo takes command of host duties this week, as Steve was on the road at an academic conference at City University of New York, where a knowledgeable faculty member remarked that he was surprised Steve didn't need an armed guard. The conference was largely devoted to the intellectual history of the liberal tradition, and was designed perfectly to induce a scornful snort from Lucretia who disdains all such flim-flummery. The bonus was that Steve apparenlty brought an earthquake with him, and we're not referring to his conference paper! Aside from these unexpected things, there were fresh tremors for Trump's legal problems, Biden's long-expected turn against Israel that was designed to appear to a constituency of one (hint: the person insists on being called DOKTOR), fresh encomiums for Mitch McConnell (okay—it was not unanimous), and finally into some tremors for the income tax. As Stan Evans liked to say, "Any country that can land a man on the moon can abolish the income tax," and now a member of the House has proposed repealing the 16th Amendment. Especially salient in light of the pending Supreme Court case that might allow the government to tax unrealized asset gains (a back-door wealth tax), which will guarantee that the government will adopt a de facto policy of 10 percent inflation forever.


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The Three Whisky Happy Hour: To Obscenity and Beyond

This week's episode has it all, starting with the lamentable fact that when you hear "porn is everywhere these days," it included even the Powerline website this week, and then proceeding to the obscenity of the John Eastman disbarment, the disappointment with the 5th Circuit's decision preventing Texas from securing its territorial integrity, on how best to squash squatters, and a vigorous argument about the legacy of the recently deceased Joe Lieberman. (Steve and John give Lieberman a thumbs-up, while Lucretia. . .) All three of us independently chose the same article for our picks for Article of the Week—Walter Russell Mead's Tablet magazine piece entitled "Twilight of the Wonks." It has some magnificently harsh language about the leaders of our elite educational institutions, such as "moral jellyfish," and leaders who are "careerist mediocrities who specialize in uttering the approved platitudes of the moment." We're less sure about Mead's diagnosis about the role of narrow specialization in the decay of our universities. At least we have Krispy Kreme donuts coming soon to McDonald's to look forward to.


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The Three Whisky Happy Hour—With a Twist!

This episode could be mistaken for the Three Martini Happy Hour, because this week's episode comes with a tangy twist. John Yoo is away this week, so we brought in a ringer to take his place: Prof. Hadley Arkes! Thus this episode become a Positivism-Free Zone, in which we review the deepest ground of the natural law unencumbered by John's usual alarums, excursions, and errors. The episode comes in three parts: Hadley made some news yesterday, celebrating the retirement of the noted Notre Dame Law professor Gerard V. Bradley, who will be joining Hadley at the James Wilson Institute on Natural Law and the American Founding. From there Hadley proceeds to answering the question that we've been kicking around ever since the Dobbs decision, namely, just how should pro-life politicians break out of their self-imposed muteness about abortion. Hadley has the strategy. Finally, we spend some time toward the end getting down some of Hadley's "origin story" that brought him to Leo Strauss's classroom at the University of Chicago back in the 1960s, and key friendships made along the way—especially our late friend and unsung hero Michael Uhlmann. Note: We had some internet glitches while recording this episode that weren't easily edited or smoothed over, so we ask listeners' indulgence with these hiccups, in return for which we'll present this installment ad-free.


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The Three Whisky Happy Hour: Hur, Harried, Hopeless, and Fiery!

Move over "Republicans pounce" as the favorite media deflection. We now know that when an old man yells at clouds—or members of Congress—the media fall in line and declare it "fiery." Well the 3WHH is authentically fiery! Four habanero spicy! This week more than ever. After dissecting the Hur testimony and its missed opportunities, we take on the issue of whether Biden is playing senile on purpose, what to make of the Tik-Tok forced sale proposal, what to make of Chuck Schumer's proposal for an putsch in Israel, and finally, another round in the ring on constitutional originalism, prompted by Frank DiVito's article out this week, "Can Constitutional Originalism Overcome Our Crisis?"


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The Three Whisky Happy Hour: Normalizing Dishonesty Edition

Lucretia hosts this week's episode, which we recorded in the morning over coffee instead of whisky because travel schedules prevented the normal and proper Friday evening happy hour, and guess what? We're even worse without whisky! Among the news and issues treated this week: Why Biden isn't FDR (he's not even Harry Truman); why this was the worst SOTU (Lucretia offers a different acronym) speech ever; whether there are signs of life for the GOP in California after all; how immigration and abortion are playing out in the campaign cycle so far; how to think about the Supreme Court decision in the Colorado case dealing with Trump's eligibility for the ballot (hint—it ain't over till it's over); and finally, can Harvard be serious in asking for a government bailout? The unifying theme here is galloping dishonesty, which is being normalized more and more every day. Our articles of the week are (from Steve): Daniel Patrick Moynihan's classic essay "Defining Deviancy Down," newly salient in an age of truth-denying euphemisms like "justice-involved youth" and "newcomers" instead of "migrants" (which was a substitute for "illegal alien"); Lucretia ponders the challenges of Alex Berenson's Substack article on new threats to free speech; And John draws our attention to the original 14th Amendment article from Baude and Paulson that brought us to the Supreme Court steps earlier this week, plus responses (also here) that got overlooked at the time, now largely vindicated.


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The Three Whisky Happy Hour: Eye-Bleach Edition

This episode has everything: a how-to guerilla guide to improving your McDonald's hamburger experience; a spirited discussion of the Alabama Supreme Court decision that defines frozen embryos as persons (Steve thinks the media is willfully misreporting the decision—John is not so sure); those crazy new presidential rankings from political scientists—and even some soft-core porn! Say what? Well, it turns out that that Judge Arthur Engoron, who oversaw Trump's alleged fraud trial in New York City, apparently has a case of Anthony Weiner envy, and posted some rather racy locker room pics of himself some years back. And right in the middle of our discussion Lucretia flashed the pictures up on the Zoom screen, sending John and Steve rushing for some eye-bleach. There must be something in the bottled water Manhattan Democrats drink. (And doesn't Engoron sound like the name of a dwarve or elve who goes bad in Lord of the Rings?) Click through the link here if you are brave. In any case, we do finally get around to a new segment of the 3WHH, where we note three articles from the last week for what they can tell us about something. John chose those stupid presidential rankings; Lucretia chose an MSNBC article from leftist columnist Paul Waldman that unwittingly admits that everything conservatives say about the administrative state is completely true; and Steve picked Karol Markowitz's NY Post column reflecting on how recent social science that ratifies the conservative view that two-parent families are the best way to raise children is so contoversial with the left, which is no surprise.