Author Archives: Paul Mirengoff

Populism and the administrative state

Featured image Steve Bannon’s days as an influential player may be over. If so, what is his legacy? It’s not the election of President Trump. This was down to Trump himself, as the president likes to remind us. Nor is Bannon’s legacy hanging tough on “Billy Bush weekend,” though at times this seems to be what he is most proud of. And his legacy is not blowing a safe Senate seat in »

Steve Bannon’s limited, modified grovel

Featured image Today, Steve Bannon issued a statement expressing regret “that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding [Donald Trump Jr.] has diverted attention from the president’s historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency.” Bannon rejected the idea, attributed to him by Michael Wolff, that Trump Jr. did anything “treasonous” by meeting with Russians during the presidential campaign. He said his remarks were directed at Paul Manafort. Bannon’s »

Rethinking Iran

Featured image It’s not yet clear whether the Iranian regime will succeed, for now, in stamping out the protests against it. Regardless, Bret Stephens says the protests have made apparent the need to reject the conventional wisdom about the regime. Stephens describes the conventional wisdom as holding that Iran “is a dictatorship with democratic characteristics, and that it’s riven between hard-liners who want to make it more repressive and militant and reformists »

Making sense of the Steele criminal referral

Featured image Yesterday, Scott discussed the referral of Christopher Steele to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. The referral was made by Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham. The crimes Steele may (or may not) have committed are violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, based on “false statements investigators have reason to believe Steele made to them about the distribution of claims contained in the [anti-Trump Russia] dossier.” Note that Sens. Grassley »

Sad news from Ohio

Featured image Josh Mandel, the former Ohio state treasurer, has withdrawn from the Ohio Senate race because his wife is seriously ill. “Understanding and dealing with this health issue is more important to me than any political campaign,” Mandel said. He did not say what the health issue is. Mandel was expected to be the Republican nominee to oppose Sen. Sherrod Brown this November. Many considered him the GOP’s strongest candidate for »

Steve Bannon, David Stockman, and the need to spill one’s guts to liberals [UPDATED]

Featured image Jonah Goldberg says he’s “struggling to think of a comparable figure in American political history who squandered real power and influence as completely and quickly as [Steve] Bannon has.” The closest he comes is Father Coughlin from the 1930s. I can come no closer. However, Bannon’s fall reminds me of what happened to David Stockman in the 1980s. In some ways the comparison seems inapt. Stockman, who served as President »

Michael Wolff, fabulist

Featured image Michael Wolff is the author of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, the scathing book that describes alleged dysfunction and infighting at the White House. He’s the guy to whom Steve Bannon apparently decided to spill his guts. But is Wolff a reliable chronicler? Paul Farhi, the Washington Post’s liberal media reporter, doesn’t seem to think so. He writes: A provocateur and media polemicist, Wolff has a penchant »

Chai Feldblum removes picture of President Trump

Featured image It’s standard practice for U.S. government officials to have a picture of the president and the vice president on their office walls. The protocol is that the president and the vice president are displayed side by side in the center of the wall, with the president on the left and the vice president on the right. The government supplies the pictures and helpfully slots them into a frame permanently placed »

Trump abolishes voter fraud commission

Featured image Last night, I argued that the fall from grace of Steve Bannon is leaving too much influence in the hands of the New Yorkers and the Generals who dominate President Trump’s inner circle. Neither of these two power centers has much commitment to, or even familiarity with, modern conservatism and its concerns. Now comes word that President Trump is disbanding the commission he established to investigate voter fraud. White House »

After the Trump-Bannon divorce

Featured image I have viewed President Trump as bridging the divide in the Republicans party between its establishment and populist-nationalist wings. Trump attempted to play that role in 2017. For example, he supported the establishment candidate in the Alabama Senate primary, but then bucked the establishment by backing the populist candidate in the general election even after that candidate found himself in severe difficulty. Trump also bridged the gap in the realm »

Senator Mitt Romney?

Featured image Sen. Orrin Hatch’s retirement has created a clear and possibly smooth path to the Senate for Mitt Romney. What kind of a Senator would Romney be? I think he would have been a fine president. Constrained by the GOP’s conservative base, Romney likely would have been a solidly conservative president. His mastery of detail and his administrative ability likely would have made him a successful conservative president. Administrative ability counts »

The “Iran First” uprising

Featured image There are enough causes of the protests rocking Iran that it’s tempting (as is usually the case with hindsight) to deem it over-determined. However, the spark may have been the leak last month of the government’s proposed budget. According to Thomas Erdbrink of the New York Times: Iranians discovered that billions of dollars were going to hard-line organizations, the military, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and religious foundations that enrich »

Maggie Haberman goes off the deep end

Featured image Maggie Haberman may have great sources, but it sometimes seems that the New York Times’ ace reporter isn’t very bright. More likely, though, she’s just too quick on the trigger when it comes to bashing President Trump. Readers may recall this tweet from Haberman: Other than San Bernardino shootings, has there been a terrorist attack involving a non-US-born attacker since 9/11? Um, yes. The Boston bombers, Times Square bomber, underwear »

Is Obama responsible for the Iranian protests?

Featured image Close readers of Power Line won’t be completely surprised by the wave of protests in Iran. A few months ago, we reported that the Iranian émigrée communities in the U.S. and France were buzzing about reports of anti-regime protest activity in Iran. Even so, I did not expect protests as intense, widespread and (so far) persistent as the ones that have broken out recently. It can be argued that, in »

Two strands of Never-Trumpism

Featured image I see the Never Trump movement splitting into two strands. John described the first strand here. It’s the view that most of the things Trump has done as president in terms of personnel and policy are desirable but that they are outweighed by the things Trump does that, in Bill Kristol’s words, “degrad[e] our public life.” So stated, this strand of Never-Trumpism is hard to defend, for the reasons John »

The Iran protests: Will the regime retain its grip?

Featured image When anti-regime protesters become deadly serious, the questions become: (1) Is the regime willing to shoot them en masse and, if so, (2) will its forces do so. If the answer to either question is no, expect the regime to become the former regime. Regimes typically are willing to shoot protesters if they deem it necessary. However, there are exceptions, for example when the foreign power that supports the regime »

From the Carlos Danger files

Featured image The indispensable Judicial Watch, after protracted litigation in federal court, has forced the State Department to begin releasing Huma Abedin’s work-related documents that were found on Anthony Weiner’s personal computer. The documents were provided to the State Department by the FBI, which reviewed them as part of its investigation of the Hillary Clinton email server scandal. The first public release of these documents came on Friday, December 29. Judicial Watch »