Good Friday Morning and Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you and your family have had a happy and blessed Thanksgiving. I know I did and I’m thankful for everyone who reads these weekly emails/posts. I have a section written up about all the things I’m appreciative of at the end of the newsletter today. I’ve included some of my favorite podcasts, which you should add to your collection for any travel you do this season.
I’m leading off with a section building off the litany of sexual assault allegations in the news. It’s the story that’s snowballing into one of the most massive scandals the country has ever seen. At this point, you can only compare it with the McCarthy era in the 1950’s. The middle section deals with a small story dropping over Thanksgiving about Michael Flynn cooperating with Mueller’s investigation. Links follow.
New this week at the Conservative Institute
My column this week focuses on the allegations surrounding Al Franken, and why it speaks volumes about how Democrats are defending him. He’s utterly expendable from a political cost analysis, yet he’s being protected by people purely on tribalistic grounds. In the end, Democrats are the very war on women they claim regarding Republicans.
The Avalanche of Sexual Assault Allegations Continues
The latest allegations coming from Congress involved House Representative John Conyers. Documents were leaked to the press showing that Conyers settled a sexual harassment complaint against his office using taxpayer money. It’s the latest allegation against another powerful politician whose party refuses to hold its members responsible.
Conyers could be the first of many leaks and stories out of Congress. $20 million in taxpayer money has been spent on settlements relating to sexual harassment and other problems. Representative Ron DeSantis (R-FL) says he is working on legislation that would unseal all those records and prevent taxpayer dollars from being used as a kind of slush fund for sexual assault hush money. This is legislation I endorse entirely and want to be passed by Congress. But if it did happen, it could cause a massive upheaval, as Conyer’s lawyer suggests:
If people were required to resign over allegations, a lot of people would be out of work in this country including, many members of the House, Senate and even the president
Congress shouldn’t be able to hide the actions of Representatives. Nor should Congress be able to have the public write off wrong-doing like sexual assault. All of that should be public record and expenses paid out of pocket if proven correct.
Right now, no one is resigning or getting out of races, no matter what they did. Whether it’s Al Franken, John Conyers, Roy Moore, or anyone else. Both political sides are locked in a zero-sum game where nothing their people do is worthy of condemnation. The question is how long people can hold out while the allegations continue to mount?
I don’t have a lot of answers there, but I do know that there’s no sign this is going to blow over anytime soon. The original McCarthy era Red Scare lasted a decade before cooling. The sexual assault scandals plaguing multiple industries is only a few months old.
Michael Flynn is back and may be working with Mueller’s probe
The New York Times dropped an interesting tidbit on Thanksgiving: Michael Flynn abandoned the Joint Defense Agreement he had with the Trump legal team. The NYT’s story doesn’t say that explicitly, but legally-speaking, that’s what is going on here.
Flynn and Trump’s team each have individual legal exposure to Mueller’s probe. A typical tactic when multiple potential defendants are involved in white collar crime is the use of a joint defense agreement by defense attorneys. What this allows is for the defense attorneys to share information between each other and their clients, to coordinate plans and defenses in the case without breaking the attorney-client privilege. If anyone wants to cooperate with the state, they have to announce they are leaving the agreement.
You can leave a joint defense agreement for any number of reasons. However, given Flynn’s outspoken fears about his son being charged as a part of Mueller’s investigation, it’s reasonable to conclude Flynn is trying to cut a deal. Trump’s legal team is positioning themselves like they believe that too. Jay Sekulow called the move “not unexpected,” and later tried to distance Flynn from the White House by saying Flynn’s security clearance came from the Obama administration.
So what does all this mean? It’s hard to say at this point. But after the indictments of Paul Manafort and crew, you have to think Mueller is trying to flip Flynn or get information to charge other people in the White House. Legal moves like this one could signal more significant steps to come; just as Mueller’s raid of Manafort’s home predicted his later indictment.
What I’m thankful for this year
Aside from the obvious things I’m grateful for this year, like family, friends, and health. I thought I’d touch on a few things I’m grateful for after watching news events in 2017.
First, I’m grateful for readers here and at the Conservative Institute. I hope both continue to grow over the next year and I hope everyone continues to spread the news on this newsletter and the work within it.
Second, I’m thankful for Federalism. The Founding Fathers established an incredible system of government that has survived World Wars, Civil Wars, unrest, and populism. Over the last year, the US Constitution and federalism has proven more than up to the task of reigning in cultural excesses. The value of federalism proves it deserves defending.
Finally, I’m thankful for the increasing number of podcasts on the right. As a long time listener to podcasts, I’ve often found the conservative side of podcasts to be lacking. There are many liberals in the podcasting space growing large audiences (the latest being the Crooked Media crew and their Pod Save America podcast). Websites like National Review no longer ignore the media space and have started a collection podcasts. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order:
- The Commentary Magazine Podcast: Commentary Magazine is a well known conservative publication in what I’d call elite intellectual circles on the right. You may not have heard of it, but it’s highly influential and drives conservative thought among thought leaders in the conservative movement. The podcast is run by John Podhoretz, Noah C. Rothman, and Abe Greenwald.
- The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg: The newest podcast on this list, hosted by author, speaker, and conservative public intellectual, Jonah Goldberg. I highly recommend you listen to all the episodes on here. The first episodes with Ben Sasse and Steve Hayes of the Weekly Standard are excellent. One of his most recent episodes with Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon, discussing the intellectual history of conservatism, is also great.
- Mad Dogs and Englishmen: This podcast is hosted by two of the best writers/editors at National Review: Charles C. W. Cooke and Kevin D. Williamson. They discuss politics and other topics of the day.
- The LadyBrains Podcast: A rotating cast of some of the brightest and smartest ladies on the right you’ll find. They discuss everything from life, politics, to what they call “dumb” things.
- The GLoP Culture Podcast: One of the best podcasts on the Ricochet network is the GLoP culture podcast, hosted by John Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg, and Rob Long. They discuss culture, movies, music, and stories from Hollywood as Rob Long sees it. It’s thoroughly entertaining with a ton of pop culture references.
- The Editors: National Review’s editors hold a roundtable discussion of the week’s events and their thoughts on it. They also share their favorite articles from the week.
- The Weekly Substandard: Three nerdy guys talk pop culture, movies, and TV and rank everything along the way. Highly entertaining.
- Political Beats: The music nerd’s podcast. The two hosts, Scot Bertram and Jeff Blehar, bring on a well-known political or media person and talk about their favorite musicians and bands. The focus tends to be on rock and pop bands so far.
Those are some of my favorites. But if you’d like an even more extensive selection, hit up National Review or the Ricochet Audio Network, to see an even more enormous variety of podcasts that have sprung up in the last few years. There’s a comprehensive and growing selection, from general to specific. Odds are some niche subject you’d enjoy listening to is covered.
Best links from the web this week
Is the World of Journalism More Like Hollywood Than It Wants to Admit? – Jim Geraghty, National Review
The Human Longing for Gratitude: A Thanksgiving Reflection – Joseph Mussomeli, The Imaginative Conservative
Ten Years Ago Today – David French, National Review
WaPo Reporter Goes Rogue, Gives Strategy Briefing to Secret Dem Donor Conference: National reporter Janell Ross helped donor group craft liberal economic message without notifying superiors – Brent Scher, The Washington Free Beacon
Is Virginia Permanently Blue Now? There are lessons for both Republicans and Democrats in Ralph Northam’s victory. – David Byler, The Weekly Standard
Campus Conservatives Should Check Their Own Trolling; Want serious discourse? Invite serious people. – Nick Phillips, The American Conservative
Trump, CNN, and the Corruption of Conservatism: Power over principle. – Noah C. Rothman, Commentary Magazine
Taking Harassment Seriously Requires Serious Distinctions – Jonah Goldberg, National Review
Sex, lies & excuses: Partisan madness on predators – John Podhoretz, The New York Post
Satire piece of the week
U.S.—New documents recently uncovered by Smithsonian historians confirmed that the group of pilgrims and Indians who gathered for the first Thanksgiving argued vehemently about politics throughout the course of the meal.
The newly discovered journal seems to indicate that just after giving thanks for the meal, one Pilgrim from England drank too much mead and began to rant about “making the colonies great again,” kicking off several hours of hostile glances, passive-aggressive remarks, and flat-out argumentation.
Thanks for reading!