Who (Or What) Makes a Good Neighbor?

Neighbors have changed a lot since I was a kid. The days of borrowing a cup of sugar from the neighbors seem to be gone but what else has changed? We’ve lived in the same house for almost 29 years and were the first here when the subdivision was developed. It’s the usual suburban raised ranch with similar houses nearby. We’ve got enough space between the homes that we aren’t right on top of one another but we can still see (or hear) what’s happening and sometimes it’s not good. Not good at all.

Some of the neighbors are great. Friendly, helpful and wonderful to have in the neighborhood…but some of the others make you scratch your head and wonder why they just didn’t buy a place out in the country so they could do whatever they want.

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Regulatory Capture in Connecticut, Headed Your Way

I’ve written here before about the waaaaaay toooooo coooooozy relationship between Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy and Northeast Utilities, the Hartford-headquartered Fortune 500 company that dominates the highly regulated electricity market in New England (and which has paid mucho dinero over the years to Malloy’s close political allies).

Northeast is the parent company of Connecticut Light & Power, which serves 1.1 million people in Connecticut, including the Hennesseys. Now, from the Department of You Will Pay One Way or the Other comes this jolting bit of news about an impending electricity rate hike in the Nutmeg State:

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Thoughts on the Left’s Assessment of the World’s Good Guys and Bad Guys – and of Offensive and Defensive Weapons

As I was exercising tonight, random thoughts popped into my head, as I was thinking more about the Israel v. Hamas conflict. So please indulge my stream of consciousness as I think through a few questions.

Is there a parallel between the left’s opposition to SDI in 1980 – going so far as to propagandistically call it “Star Wars,” implying it was offensive, rather than defensive in nature — and the pathetic assessment by some on the left today that the war in Israel is unfair, in part, because Israel’s Iron Dome has caused a disproportionality of casualties?

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The 80s Called

ronald-reagan-bear

A popular debate tactic for Team Chicago in the election of 2012 was to paint Mitt Romney as an Etch a Sketch candidate eager to return the world to a Cold War stalemate even as he warned of the serious consequences of an administration more interested in counting spilled toothpicks. Barack Obama addressing growing threats in Moscow, Iran, Afghanistan, the West Bank, and Central America took a back seat to hilarious one-liners referencing Gordon Gekko and Ivan Drago.

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The Sarah Palin Channel: Will It Fly?

PalinVariety:

The Sarah Palin Channel, which costs $9.95 per month or $99.95 for a one-year subscription, will feature her commentary on “important issues facing the nation,” as well as behind-the-scenes looks into her personal life as “mother, grandmother, wife and neighbor.” Palin serves as executive editor, overseeing all content posted to the channel.

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How Do You Merge? Early or Zipper?

TrafficFinally! Research that’s actually useful!

When you’re driving on the highway and you see a lane closed ahead, what do you do? Do you merge quickly into the other open lane? Or do you zoom ahead and try to merge at the last minute?

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On the 209th Birthday of Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville — Beware the Vacuum of “Individualism”

Alexis de Tocqueville, the great commentator on America, was born in Paris on yesterday’s date in 1805. Alexis’s father, Hervé — the Comte de Clérel de Tocqueville — was, early in life, an officer of King Louis XVI’s Constitutional Guard. At 21 years old, he married Louise Madeleine Le Peletier de Rosanbo, the granddaughter of Malesherbes — famously one of the King’s defense attorneys before the National Convention. The King’s trial was in December 1792 and a year later Alexis’s parents were thrown into prison to be guillotined. But with the revolt against Robespierre beginning 220 years ago this month, they escaped the fate suffered by so many friends and family. If the Jacobins had been more efficient, this world would not have been given an Alexis de Tocqueville.

Though it is heartwarming to read Tocqueville as a flatterer of America — giving us an Ol’ World pat-on-the-back for our “townships” — the truth is that he challenges us more than he compliments us. We should not read him to tell us why America is great; we should read him to learn about where we have been and where we likely will dare to go.

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Ricochet Tuesday Essay Assignment

Recently tweeted by novelist Stephen King:

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 2.15.57 PM

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2016 Ahoy!

I try to stay away from too many 2016 speculations and predictions, because we still have three months of festivities in this election cycle.

But I can’t resist enlisting the Ricochet community in a quick, unscientific poll about the 2016 race. Answer as many, or as few of these as you like — and rest assured they’ll be processed in the Establishment’s HQ deep in the volcano lair. Results will be tallied in the supercomputer located in the (former) Nazi moon base on the dark side of the Moon.

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Ayn Rand v. Paul Ryan

RyanThe Ayn Rand Institute is disappointed in Paul Ryan. Here the House Budget Chairman goes to all the trouble of rolling out an anti-poverty plan, and he somehow forgets to obliterate the safety net. What gives? Does Ryan remember nothing from the Ayn Rand reading of his youth? Someone delete the Summa Theologica off his iPad ASAP!

Here is ARI’s Don Watkins:

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‘Good vs. Evil’ vs. ‘Weak vs. Strong’

As the fight rages between Israel and Hamas-led Gaza, those supporting Israel shake their heads at progressives around the world. How can a movement which boasts of its dedication to tolerance, feminism and LGBT equality endorse a terror state founded on thuggery and theocracy?

Israel is a modern, multicultural nation in a sea of medieval misery. Women can vote, gays can marry, and Arabs can serve in government. Just over the security fence, women are subjugated, gays are lynched, and there isn’t a Jew to be found (unless he has been kidnapped).

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Spotted at Walgreens: American Exceptionalism

I saw this sign at my local Walgreen’s and I have to admit my first reaction was irritation.

Walgreens

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Conservative Classics: Oakeshott’s ‘Rationalism in Politics’

OakeshottMichael Oakeshott (1901-90) was one of the great conservative thinkers of the last century. After serving in World War II, Oakeshott was appointed Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics (LSE), where he replaced Harold Laski. The two men could not have been more different: Laski was a Marxist thinker and a life-long apologist for socialism; Oakeshott was an important conservative political philosopher.

The year he joined the faculty of the LSE (1947), Oakeshott published an essay, “Rationalism in Politics,” which has become one of the classics of conservative thought. In this age of Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, an unfettered EPA, Common Core, the exponential growth of government regulations, ad nauseum, this essay deserves to be read widely (a pdf copy of the essay is available here).

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On the Border

cuellarandcornyn

Last week, I came across this fascinating article at Fox News Latino about Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat representing the 28th congressional district of Texas. It seems the Congressional Democratic leadership doesn’t care much for Dr. Cuellar these days:

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Americans Go Broke Faster

I don’t really know what to make of this. Daniel Gros, Director of the Brussels-based Center for European Policy Studies, suggests that one reason the American economy is healthier than Europe’s is because we go broke fast, get to declare bankruptcy more quickly, and are able to wipe our debts away with less fuss. From Project Syndicate:

Millions of American homes that were purchased with subprime mortgages have been foreclosed in recent years, forcing their owners, unable to service their debt, to leave. But, as a result of no-recourse mortgages in many US states, the entire mortgage debt was then extinguished, even if the value of the home was too low to cover the balance still due.

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I Believe We Have a Duty to Condemn Anti-Semitism and Unprovoked Acts of Aggression Against Israel

Throughout my lifetime, everyone I know has decried anti-semitism and denounced the genocidal horror of the Holocaust, many virtually implying it could never happen today. Surely we are more enlightened now. “Never again.”

We tend to look upon the German population at that time with disdain for standing silent and/or acquiescing in the slaughter of innocent Jews, as if to suggest such passivity or tolerance for unspeakable evil could never happen among civilized peoples.

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Obama Says Something Useful and Important

There were people — smart people, some of whom I know well — who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because they thought, in the words of someone I know who grew up in the south, “it was time.” Time for America to have a black president.

These people were mostly conservative, all Republican, all southern — they carried with them the invisible guilt and shame that a lot of older folks I know from places in the south do. We can debate whether it’s real or not, or justified or not, or foolish or not — we all have opinions on that. But the folks I knew who pulled the lever for Obama in 2008 (and, for the record, none of them did in 2012) did it because they felt that a moderate black president would, on balance, be good for the country.

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Study: Piketty Tax Plan Would Boost Equality by Making Rich Less Rich. But Poor Would be Poorer Too

Margaret Thatcher once accused a Liberal member of parliament of wishing to have “the poor poorer provided the rich were less rich.” The Iron Lady would probably say much the same to economist and inequality researcher Thomas Piketty after the reading the following analysis from the Tax Foundation. The report looks  at the results of Piketty’s suggestion to implement “top income tax rates of 80 percent on income above $5 or $10 million” and “50 or 60 percent on income above about $200,000.” Below are some of the key findings:

*If ordinary income were taxed at the top rates of 80 and 55%, our model estimates that after the economy adjusts, total output (GDP) would be 3.5% lower, wage rates would drop 1.6%, the capital stock would be 7.4% less, and there would be 2.1 million fewer jobs.

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Realistic Scenario Speculation Thread: What Happens After November?

now whatRepublicans are salivating at the prospects of the upcoming election. The Senate seems to be within reach, and, true to form, we have entered “do nothing” mode in hopes of winning by inertia, just like what got us over the line in 2012… er… wait…

Anyway, Republicans are sliding towards a “victory” of sorts, and if all goes well, we’ll have Mitch McConnell to navigate the media and cultural landmines for the next two years while we wait with bated breath for Democrats to squeak out another Presidential win in 2016.

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Three-year-old Drummer Wows Orchestra Crowd

A musical interlude, if you don’t mind. Russian’s Lyonya Shilovsky is just three years old, but that doesn’t prevent him from setting the tempo for the Novosibirsk Symphony Orchestra.

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Progressive Philosophy of Minimum Wage

I was catching up on Jonah Goldberg’s piece of last week on Elizabeth Warren and the broader progressive desire to keep big business as a lap dog, and clicked through to David Harsanyi’s piece at The Federalist on Elizabeth Warren more generally. David, in turn, linked to Warren’s “Eleven Commandments of Progressivism,” one of which is: “We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage.”

After quelling my reflexive irate reaction about the economic idiocy pertaining thereto (lost jobs at the margin, fewer first jobs for teenagers, etc., etc.), I started thinking about the implications of the above “commandment” and realized that the key phrase is “work full-time and still live in poverty.” The progressive worldview implication, I believe, is the plain reading of the words: a belief that no one should fill their days with work, but still be poor. (I’ll leave alone for now the begged question of the definition of ‘poor,’ at least as pertains to life in the U.S.)

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Michelle Nunn Loses Track of Secret Campaign Plans

National Review’s Eliana Johnson has been doing yeoman’s work in her short tenure at the prestigious conservative site. Today she released another blockbuster that sheds light on one of the Democrats more promising midterm recruits.

Johnson caught win of a confidential campaign plan for Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn that details all of her strengths along with many, many weaknesses. It also classifies various Americans by race, religion and orientation:

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It Takes a Village to Slaughter a Mob of Zombies

ZombiesThe wifey and I just finished the last season of The Walking Dead that is available on Netflix. (I’m far too cheap to go out and buy the DVDs or pay for cable). It’s a helluva show, filled with all the things good zombie shows have to offer: ethical choices, dissected human relationships, and, of course, the evisceration of scores of the undead.  

The most fascinating thing about the show to me, though, is how it depicts the behavior of people in the absence of the state. In the world of The Walking Dead, moral authority within a group is achieved by proving that you have value to those around you via your actions and personal traits. Will you carry your own weight? Check! Will you be kind to the other members of the group? Check! Are you willing to occasionally cleave a former neighbor’s skull to protect our newly-minted society? Check! Are you willing to do all of this voluntarily, with no coercion from the group as a whole or any individual? Check! You’re in, buddy! Give that man a machete!  

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A Dispatch from the Army War College

After my post on Friday about Montana Senator John Walsh’s attempt to blame on PTSD the fact that he plagiarized large segments of his master’s thesis at the Army War College, I received this bit of insight from a current student in that same program, which he has generously allowed me to share with you:

I liked your post on John Walsh. I would only note that the part about the difficulty of the Army War College’s masters degree program is wide of the mark. While I thought your comment hilarious about VDH writing a 14-page paper so quickly (and that is probably no exaggeration), the war college program is in fact quite rigorous. I know. I am in it. This is run to the standards of a graduate-level civilian university, not a typical Army training school.

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