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Jerry Moran: Bad cop

For 20 years or more, I've been used to thinking of Jerry Moran as the "good cop" in a state full of bad cops. Some of that's personal: He's got a background among Kansas Mennonites, like I do, and I was predisposed to the tribe, I guess. When I'd encountered him in a professional setting, he was far more congenial than, say, Pat Roberts, whose good humor leaves a sour aftertaste.

But after his vote today to proceed on a Senate healthcare bill that doesn't exist, I must finally concede: He is a congenial coward. The Hamlet act he pulls is a way of luring moderates and the occasional liberal (guilty!) to his side even as he votes conservative when push comes to shove.

This is possibly purely a fault of my own interpretation: Moran has never claimed to be anything but conservative. But his unwillingness to commit until very late on controversial issues — the characteristic that defines his political career — fooled me into thinking maybe it was possible to p…
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The untold story of how Harry Reid helped give us Donald Trump

I've got a story to tell, one that's out there on the public record, but one that hasn't been much remarked upon.

It takes place during the Obama-Romney campaign of 2012. During the campaign, Mitt Romney was proving reluctant — as Donald Trump was, after him — to release some pertinent personal financial information. So Sen. Harry Reid, then the leader of Democrats in the Senate, decided to make a big deal about it.
Saying he had “no problem with somebody being really, really wealthy,” Reid sat up in his chair a bit before stirring the pot further. A month or so ago, he said, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called his office. “Harry, he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years,” Reid recounted the person as saying. “He didn’t pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that’s true? Well, I’m not certain,” said Reid. “But obviously he can’t release those tax returns. How would it look?I wrote at the time that "Reid’s allegations look and smell a lot like bullcr…

The unexpected, lovely humanity of "Spider-Man: Homecoming"

Three thoughts about “Spider-Man: Homecoming” just as soon as I learn that with great power comes great blah-blah. (Also: Spoilers.)


• There’s really not much interesting to say about most Marvel movies anymore. They’re big, they’re expensive, they’re usually reasonably entertaining for a couple of hours and that’s it. I’ve been partial to the “Captain America” movies — the first because it took place in a different era and thus felt substantially different from the rest of the MCU — and the second because it so effectively echoed 1970s paranoid thrillers, right down to the Robert Redford.
I’m not sure that the new “Spider-Man” movie is all that different, but it has two scenes going for it that I want to linger on. Again: Spoilers!
• The first scene: When Peter Parker shows up at his date’s house to take her to homecoming. The door opens and what do we realize: The dad of Peter’s crush is also the movie’s villain — Michael Keaton, playing the Vulture. The next few minutes are both some…

Me @TheWeek: Block Christopher Wray's nomination to the FBI

In a stunning failure of self-promotion, I neglected to mention here my debut at TheWeek.com. I'm really thrilled to have been published there — the ranks of commentary writers are about as good as any publication in the country, so I feel lucky.

The subject of my debut? Christopher Wray, Donald Trump's nominee to lead the FBI. My take? Don't confirm him:
There's an old legal concept known as "the fruit of a poisonous tree." The idea is that if evidence is tainted — say, if police got a confession without reading a suspect his rights — then all information learned as a result of that evidence is inadmissible in court. The message to lawyers is clear: You don't get to take advantage of doing things the wrong way.  American government is not a court of law. But with President Trump, there's plenty of reason to think that the tree — the whole damned orchard, in fact— is filled with toxins. It's obviously not a good idea to halt all governance while D…

The straight line connecting tribalization, demonization, and Trump's Russia scandal

I’ve been thinking about this awful tweet from the awful Dennis Prager.

Which led me to this tweet this morning quoting a Fox News personality:
And I’m a bit discouraged. 

Let me preface: I’m not quite a “pox on both your houses guy.” All things being equal, I find liberalism superior to conservatism, and I don’t make apologies for it. But I do think political tribalism blinds us to the ways that we’re very similar to our rivals, and that awareness of those similarities is a hedge against hubris.

Among Democrats and liberals, I often hear a refrain that goes something like this: “Republicans don’t play by the rules. They’ll do anything to win, and when it comes down to it, they’ll stick with each other. Not like our side, which is weak and too willing to play by the rules. We have to be as tough as they are.”

Having spent time in the out Internet provinces of both conservatism and Trumpism, I can tell you this: Rank-and-file Republicans and conservatives say precisely the same thing about …

If Donald Trump was a good human being, we wouldn't be in this mess

I've been wondering lately: What would the world be like if Donald Trump was a good guy and not a man of such transparently ill character whose corruption and classlessness infects all around him?

A pause: I don't like attributing character flaws to people with whom I disagree. Usually, they're good — or good enough — people with different opinions! But with Trump, the crappiness of his character is key to the critique of him. It's unavoidable.

Let's apply the question to this week's big scandal — the newly reported meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer he thought might provide Russian government dirt on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.

If the people around Donald Trump had been both smart and patriotic, we wouldn’t be waking up this week to news that his son met with a Russian lawyer to dig up “dirt” in Hillary Clinton. We would’ve found out last summer — and it might’ve provided the boost he needed to win the presidency.

News of Trump…

Why smart conservatives should love the Bechdel test

I'm shocked, shocked that a National Review writer has decided to take issue with the "Bechdel test." The test, as I'm sure you know, is a very simple way to check if your movies have even a moment in them that isn't dude oriented. Here's Wikipedia:
The Bechdel test asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added.And here's NRO's Kyle Smith:
In the past few years, the Bechdel Test has begun popping up casually in reviews like a feminist Good Housekeeping Seal of approval. Take this appreciation last month of the 1992 film A League of Their Own, published by Katie Baker on the site The Ringer: “It is, in my possibly blinded by love but also correct opinion, one of the best sports movies there is. And it is an honest ode to women and sisters and friendships, with a story that breezes through the Bechdel test by the e…