The Risk of Crist

Tonight as the sun sets in Pensacola, Charlie Crist will be the Democratic nominee for Governor of Florida. Yes, there’s a kind of pro-forma primary going on between Charlie and the hapless State Senator Nan Rich, a grating South Florida liberal of the Bella Abzug stripe, but everyone knows it isn’t serious. Crist has been the de facto nominee for over a year, plodding along in his faux-shucks way.

In essence, it isn’t about Crist the candidate. It’s about the Democratic Party. It’s a window into the deep, desperate soul of a state party looking for a foothold back into power. They know Crist is lying to them, and they love it. They know he’s playing them for patsies, and they’re lined up around the block to kiss his manorexic backside.

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Burger King Shrugged

Progressives are outraged. “But that’s so unlike them, Jon.” I know, but this time they mean it.

Burger King, a fast food establishment I last visited during the Clinton administration, has determined that their tax bite is a bit lower if they incorporate in Canada rather than the U.S. Or something like that. I’ll let the experts explain:

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Sam, Bugs, Daffy: Where Do You Fit In?

Recently, an intrepid Rico coined a phrase: “Yosemite Sam Conservative”. To illustrate:

Yosemite Sam

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If You Don’t Find This Funny …

… You haven’t spent enough time around College Republicans.

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Warren Buffett, Tax Hypocrite

The Buffett Rule, named after its impresario, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is simply this: a guaranteed minimum tax for individuals who “make” over $1 million per year.  

Warren likes it, Obama likes it — it’s a very popular rule. Forget, for a moment, that the rule doesn’t really specify what “make” means. Rich people tend to make a lot of money in a lot of different ways. Some of it is “income,” but a lot of it is other stuff, like capital gains. Investors and hedge fund dudes make it and call it “carried interest,” which (as far as I know) isn’t taxed as income. Okay, well, forget those troublesome details. Focus just on the “fairness” issue that the Buffett-Obama axis likes to use.

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Where Do You Give?

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Here on the center-right, we believe that the best and most interesting stuff in life happens without government. Every day people marry, raise families, work, start businesses, trade, and support their communities with neither help nor inducement from the state (though often with its hindrance). Though I argue that we don’t give the for-profit sector nearly enough credit for making our world as prosperous, happy, and moral as it is*, private charities can fill in the gaps where markets aren’t functioning properly.

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In Other News . . .

President Obama took a break from a golf outing on Martha’s Vineyard today to address reporters on the day’s events in Southern California, where ISIS forces had staged an amphibious invasion of Malibu. Stopping at the clubhouse for a hot dog and a soda before heading to the tenth tee, the president gave an unprepared statement about the surprise assault, in which thousands of ISIS fighters came ashore and occupied the seaside city,  home to many celebrities.

“I know a lot of you are concerned,” he said, “as we all are about what happened in California this morning. The video of ISIS fighters beheading the mayor of Malibu is truly disturbing. But I want to assure the American people that we are monitoring the situation there, and we are working with our partners in the international community to formulate what we hope will be an appropriate response. I’m sending John Kerry to Cairo for some frank discussions with somebody – I forget who – but you can trust that Secretary Kerry will figure things out within a few weeks, or months at the most.”

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Richard Dawkins, Eugenics, Conflicting Principles, and Political Reality

With a tweet that spawned a thousand Ricochet threads, Richard Dawkins really stepped in it last week.

The would-be avatar of all things atheist then issued an “It’s-not-me-it’s-you” style apology soon thereafter; this said more about the man’s venal nature than his underlying argument. Unfortunately, people’s first instinct seemed to be to prove Godwin’s Law in the first iteration of the argument in their haste to denounce Dawkins and his admittedly tactless 140 characters.

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The Libertarian Blind Spot on Policing

In my column this week for Defining Ideas from the Hoover Institution, I look at the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and the reaction they’ve inspired in the press. One of my conclusions: that many libertarians have gone overboard with otherwise legitimate concerns about policing. As I note:

It is not that I entirely part company with modern libertarians on all issues relating to the police. It is that I would like to see libertarians of all stripes slow down their denunciation of public authorities, without whom we cannot enjoy the ordered liberty that we all prize. The correct attitude on the police force is to see it as a regrettable necessity, but a necessity nonetheless. Without police intervention, many cities in this country would turn into Iraqi-style war zones. The point remains true even if it is the case, as it is in Iraq, that most people have a strong desire to live out their lives in peace. So long as some fringe groups are intent on using violence, they can force everyone else to follow suit, until by degrees entire nations can be plunged into chaos and sectarian violence unless there are some organized institutions to protect us.

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Kevin McCarthy, Standing Athwart Jerry Brown

In the final clip from my recent conversation with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy for Uncommon Knowledge, we turn to California politics — specifically to the future of the Golden State’s high-speed rail project, a topic on which McCarthy has become a thorn in the side of Governor Jerry Brown:

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Another Personal Indulgence: The Crucible Edition

Globe2It is the last step, the last big test before graduation. Fifty-four hours of being stretched to the limit. Forty-five miles of marching. Two and one-half MREs. Seventy recruits that trained side by side for the last 12 weeks acting as one unit.

At the end they meet at a replica of the Marine Memorial from Arlington National Ceremony. Here, a Chaplain says a prayer, the Drill Instructors will shake each hand and then place in that hand the Globe and Anchor and address the recruit as “Marine” for the first time.

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C-SPAN’s Conversation with Tim Groseclose

Earlier this year, the folks from C-SPAN’s Book TV sat down with Ricochet’s own Tim Groseclose to discuss his book Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind, preview his subsequent volume (since released), Cheating: An Insider’s Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLAand explain why Professor Groseclose was leaving Southern California behind for a new academic home on the East Coast.

Watch the video here.

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No Correlation Here. Move Along, Please.

Do not attempt to draw any conclusions from this fact, delivered without meaningful context, from the Washington Times:

Since Illinois started granting concealed carry permits this year, the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year, according to police department statistics. Reports of burglary and motor vehicle theft are down 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In the first quarter, the city’s homicide rate was at a 56-year low. We all know that’s impossible.

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Government to Track ‘False, Misleading’ Ideas on Twitter

Nope, this isn’t unsettling:

The federal government is spending nearly $1 million to create an online database that will track “misinformation” and hate speech on Twitter.

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The Best-Case Scenario for Automation? Still Worrisome for Workers

Just how much should workers really worry about the rise of the robots? Will technological advancement make most workers better or worse off?

Economist David Autor offers what is probably a best-case scenario in his new paper “Polanyi’s Paradox and the Shape of Employment Growth.” Autor argues that “journalists and expert commentators” who fret about automation fail to understand that (a) many complementarities between man and machine will raise wages for the tech savvy; (b) the decline of middle-skill jobs should ease since many of the remaining jobs — medical support, skilled trade — require both routine task skills and skills involving “interpersonal interaction, flexibility, adaptability and  problem-solving;” and (c) machines are limited by their lack of common sense and intuitive understanding of how the world works. For instance: A human doesn’t need to scan a database of images to figure out what a chair is or what makes for a good chair. (Here is decent New York Times summary of the paper.)

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Which Movies Always Get to You?

Here’s a thesis I’ve held for a long time: we tend to use movies as narcotics. Sure, you might take intellectual content away from certain films, but the point is more often to have a synthetic emotional experience. Comedies are a laughter drug. Romantic films are a love drug. Horror movies are a terror drug — an impulse I don’t really understand, but one that sustains a pretty robust market.

Of course, we’ve all seen plenty of efforts that fail to yield the intended effect. Comedies that fall flat. Romances devoid of chemistry. Horror films that elicit more laughter than fear. So how exactly do filmmakers find that emotional pressure point that makes a film resonate? Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Don Steinberg looks at this question in one specific application: how do movies make us cry? The answer depends in large part on who’s watching:

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On Being “The World’s Policeman”

In the most recent Need To Know, Jay Nordlinger and Mona Charon had an extended conversation about America’s role in the world (Want to join the conversation on this episode? Yet another great reason to join Ricochet!). Beginning at 34’40”, Jay offered the following in response to American war-weariness over Iraq and the Middle East:

I don’t want to be the world’s policeman; I barely want to be my own policeman!  But as Jean Kirkpatrick said, what if there’s a world criminal? What are you going to do… to keep him from your doorstep? Wait until he’s at the doorstep? Inside the house?  No American wants to be the world’s policeman, but the new world criminal, it seems, is Islamofascism. And are powerful people going to let it run rampant or not? 

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Do You Trust the System?

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Let’s play a little game. Imagine for a moment that you’ve been accused of a crime. As a good citizen, you go through the motions…arrest, bail, arraignment, hire the best damned lawyer you can, assist in preparing your defense, etc. You are a model prisoner during your short stay beneath the court house, unlike certain district attorneys lately in the news. The charge is a serious one, and the evidence is dicey; however, the crime you’re accused of is an emotional hot button issue. 

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The Inevitable Happens: China Develops Its Own OS

China, the world’s largest country, one of the world’s fastest growing economies, one of the world’s fastest growing military powers, also has a robust industrial policy. From the NYPost:

In May, China banned government use of Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest operating system, a blow to the U.S. technology firm’s business which raised fears China was moving to protect domestic firms. Microsoft is also under investigation for anti-trust violations.

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Kevin McCarthy on the 2014 Election and its Aftermath

In this next clip from my recent interview with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, I ask him to handicap the outcome of the 2014 midterm elections — and to lay out precisely what a Congress under unified Republican control might be able to accomplish during Barack Obama’s final two years in office. Take a listen to his answers and let us know in the comments what you make of them:

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License to Breed

On the last episode of the Ricochet podcast, our heroes discussed the difficulty of encouraging people — but especially impoverished minorities — to have and raise children under the right circumstances; i.e.,  in wedlock and within stable family structures. James mentioned the hypothetical possibility that we could require people to obtain a “parenthood license” before we permit them to breed. He figured such a thing could never happen. People would be outraged. It would be worse than the voter ID debate.

I’m inclined to differ. I think many liberals would love this idea. In fact, some of them already do, and sadly, some libertarians are happy to join the chorus:

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“When The Game Stands Tall” And My IMDB Formula For Films with Christian Content

WGST_DOM_1SHEETHere’s how it works for me: I see Jim Caveizel promoting his new film, When The Game Stands Tall, on Raymond Arroyo’s show on EWTN; he’s so intense, so purposeful. I’m sold. I’m going to see it. I look it up on IMDB.com. It has a 6.9 (out of 10) rating. I add two points because I believe there is a league of people giving 1 (out of 10) ratings to any film with a positive Christian message. So I’m excited to take my wife to a 8.9 rated film. That’s a guaranteed winner.

I see the film. I am right. It deserves an 8.9 rating. Why do I have to do such math? Who are these people dragging down the ratings of positive films? That’s rhetorical. Of course we know who they are. Most negative reviews I read of the film don’t just pan it, they ask people not to see it. They want to destroy the kinds of messages these films bring and ruin their business. Well, I’m telling you the opposite: see this film. See it soon so the box office results will not hinder this kind of filmmaking in the future.

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Since Sufficient War is Unrealistic, What is the Best Course of Action?

Libertarians are often accused of being unrealistic or ideological and are forced to give secondary positions, since their ideal is not possible.  They are told: high immigration is unrealistic, getting government out of marriage is unrealistic, and legalizing drugs and such is unrealistic.

That’s fine, but it’s unrealistic to think Americans are willing to engage in the kind of war that stands of chance of obliterating ISIS, or even to engage them enough to reduce the threat.  Yet, pointing this out causes many conservatives to yell all the louder about how dire things are, as if doing so will make things possible. It won’t.

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Pathological Proportionality

ISIS White House

A long, long time ago — almost three months to be precise —President Obama spoke at West Point, where he declared that, “[T]he United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary … when our people are threatened; when our livelihoods are at stake; when the security of our allies is in danger.” Then, as if sensing the sort of creeping moral clarity that rattles the metaphorical fine china at the New York Times, he added that, “…in these circumstances, we still need to ask tough questions about whether our actions are proportional and effective and just.” Question: What constitutes a proportional response to the beheading of an American journalist?

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