Do Cops Look for an Excuse to Shoot?

shutterstock_157183979The next time you hear someone complain that police officers are always looking for an excuse to shoot people, ask them to consider recent events in California.

On Oct. 24, Deputy Danny Oliver, of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, and Investigator Michael Davis, of the Placer County Sheriff’s Department, were shot and killed by Marcelo Marquez, a twice-deported illegal immigrant from Mexico.

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The Ricochet Podcast
Special Podcast: The Seven Deadly Virtues: Conservative Writers on Why the Virtuous Life is Funny as Hell

UnknownLast night at the luxurious AEI headquarters in Washington DC, Templeton Press hosted an event for their new book The Seven Deadly Virtues: 18 Conservative Writers on Why the Virtuous Life is Funny as Hell.

On the panel, a few funny conservatives you may have heard of: Jonah Goldberg, Rob Long, James Lileks, Jonathan V. Last, Christine Rosen, and P.J. O’Rourke.

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Nixon’s Goes To Ricochet

nixon5ajpg-bb784feb1f756b28As has been noted elsewhere, this week’s Ricochet Podcast will be delayed until Friday, but we think it’ll be worth the wait. This week’s guest: the great Harry Shearer.  You may know him as heavy metal bassist Derek Smalls from This Is Spinal Tap, or as the voice of Montgomery Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner and numerous other characters from The Simpsons,  or perhaps you’re a fan of the Chris Guest ensemble comedies Best In Show or The Mighty Wind, or the hundred or so other credits in his illustrious career.

But we’re going to be talking to him about his latest project Nixon’s The One, his uncanny recreation of key moments from the Nixon Oval Office tapes.

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Karl Rove Strikes Again

I’ve got it, I’ve got it. I have finally figured it out. This whole Ebola kerfuffle is the work — drum roll, please — of that consummate Machiavel: Karl Rove.

It could not be otherwise. Who else could have invented Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC? Who could have instructed him to say that, if we sit on a bus next to someone who has been exposed to Ebola, we should not worry one whit, and then to add that, if you have been exposed to Ebola, you should not ride on a bus? Someone should investigate how Dr. Frieden wormed his way into the Obama administration. I myself smell a rat. It had to be the work of that mastermind of wickedness — yes, yes, I mean, the evil Karl Rove.

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So This Is How Quantitative Easing Dies…

…with a whimper.

The Federal Reserve was expected today to end quantitative easing, and it did.

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Catcalls and the Death of Chivalry

Savages around the globe are murdering young women, selling them into sex slavery, and tossing acid into their faces. But a new viral video wants to redirect our outrage to another battleground of the global war on women: catcalls.

The video appeared yesterday in my Facebook feed with an image of a female and the headline “This is what it’s like to be catcalled on the street 108 times in a single day.” At first I thought it a humblebrag, but soon discovered it was yet another campaign to make men feel guilty.

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Uncommon Knowledge: Peter Thiel on the Virtues of Monopolies

In this final excerpt from my recent conversation with Peter Thiel for Uncommon Knowledge, he defends the part of his recent book (Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Futurethat has received the most attention, not to mention criticism: his contention than entrepreneurs ought to be pursuing monopolies. What say you, Ricochet? Convinced?

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Ricochet Membership Week: John Yoo

img-john-yoo-new-hr-scholar-image_101107300961-e1413392070695All this week, Ricochet contributors are telling you why they choose to make the site their online home — and why they’d encourage you to join us by becoming a member. Today a message from longtime Ricochet contributor John Yoo, Professor of Law at the University of California—Berkeley and Richard Epstein’s partner-in-crime on our Law Talk podcast:

I wake up in the morning, surrounded by redwoods, chirping birds, and the smell of coffee. I am ready to charge out the door and engage with the great issues of the day. But then, like Sheriff Rick in The Walking Dead, I realize that something is very, very wrong. There are no conservatives about. The coffee has been lovingly hand-washed after being plucked from the droppings of Central American bats and is accompanied by stern glances at my use of paper cups.

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Video: Lileks, Long, and Goldberg on The Seven Deadly Virtues

Last night, Rob Long, James Lileks, and Jonah Goldberg joined up with Christine Rosen, P.J. O’Rourke, and Jonathan V. Last at the American Enterprise Institute to discuss their contributions to the new book, The Seven Deadly Virtues: 18 Conservative Writers on Why the Virtuous Life is Funny as HellWe’ll be releasing this program as a podcast shortly, but in the meantime you can watch video of the event below:

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Podcast: Breaking Down the Senate Races, with Doug Rivers and David Brady

If you’ve reached that point in the election cycle where you’re starting to obsess over the details of every close Senate race, this is the podcast for you. In this special midterms show from the Hoover Institution, I talk with Doug Rivers — chief scientist at the polling firm YouGov LLC and a Senior Fellow at Hoover — and Hoover Senior Fellow David Brady about the state of the most closely-run races going into Election Day. We look at the numbers and the trendlines for virtually every major race that’s going to be significant on Tuesday night. Think of it as the political junky’s equivalent of NFL Sunday Ticket. Listen in:

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On Parental Rights

On the website Neurologica — branded as “Your daily fix of neuroscience, skepticism, and critical thinking” — talk has turned to parental rights. Steven Novella, MD asks:

[Should] desperate parents, regardless of their educational or cultural background… have absolute authority over the treatment of their very sick children, or does the state have some authority and responsibility to defend the welfare of every sick child?

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Our Ebola Policy: Serious Grounds for Distrust

As you may have noticed, we now have at the federal level two, perhaps three, policies for dealing with those who have spent time in the countries in West Africa where Ebola poses health risks.

We have one policy for the soldiers we dispatched to the region. Before returning to the United States, they are going to be put into quarantine abroad for 21 days.

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Six Days Remaining — Pick Your Senate Six-Pack

As the late Casey Kasem would have said: “And now, on with the countdown . . . number six”. In the 2014 election, that can mean only one thing: the chance of Republicans making a net gain of six Senate seats and regaining control of “the world’s most deliberative body” for the first time since giving it away in the 2006 midterm vote.

What’s the easiest way to count to six? Try: by units of three.

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Criticism of Jeb Bush on Taxes is Very Strange

JebFrom the Washington Times:

There is something about taxes, spending and the name “Bush” that can set conservatives on edge, especially now that Jeb Bush is talking like a man who might run for president.

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Ricochet Podcasts Update

shutterstock_183925652Two programming notes for dedicated listeners to Ricochet podcasts. First, due to scheduling issues, this week’s episode of the flagship Ricochet podcast (with special guest Harry Shearer) will be released on Friday.

Second, we hope you’ll join us next Tuesday, November 4, for a special election night podcast that will be streaming live on the site beginning at 8 PM Eastern/5 PM Pacific. We’ll be welcoming guests from throughout the country to give you the latest on the midterm results and look ahead at the prospects for the next few years. Join the Ricochet Midterm Elections Pool today and then listen in on Tuesday to keep track of the results in real time.

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Why Poe Is Important

Why do we still love Edgar Allan Poe? Why do so many of us pick up our favorite copy of his works when October arrives, nestle beside the lamp late at night, and hope to hear the wind howl outside as we re-read “The Raven” or “The Tell Tale Heart”?

His detractors would tell us that there are a myriad of reasons to forget Poe and — frankly — they have some excellent points. The horror in his tales is heavily wrapped in the baroque prose and dense vocabulary of mid-19th Century romantic idiom. His stories have been adapted, borrowed from, and plagiarized to death. They have been served up in expressionist colors, campy Vincent Price comedy, and gory slasher style rip-offs. Some critics have suggested that Poe was a parodist, arguing that the joke is really on us, his fans. There certainly is tongue-in-cheek humor, overblown rhetoric, and heavy-handedness all pointing to an author having fun at his reader’s expense (at least at times). Others argue he is a more than a bit derivative, and if you read through his whole oeuvre, you will also find him repetitive.

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The Party Of Government

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 3.18.46 PM

Only one thing can be said with confidence about the upcoming midterm elections: that semi-retired lawyers will retain a majority in both houses of Congress.

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Announcing Ricochet’s 2014 Midterm Elections Pool!

ricochet_logo_tote_bag-r6ac46b350a784636bfaca42676325f60_v9w72_8byvr_324We’re a week away from Election Day and that means that it’s time to put yourself on the line with midterm predictions. For this year’s elections, we invite you to leave your comments predicting (A) how many seats Republicans will end up with in the Senate and (B) which specific states the GOP will win (and possibly lose, if you’re feeling bearish about the likes of Georgia, Kansas, or Kentucky). Whoever comes closest will be the recipient of a brand new Ricochet tote bag (or, if you’ve already received a tote bag as part of your Reagan membership, a gift of comparable value).

Feel free to leave House and gubernatorial predictions as well, but the Senate races will be the sole standard for winning the contest. And, Ricochet contributors, we want to hear from you too — but no swag for you. We’ve heard the stories about John Yoo selling Ricochet coffee mugs out a van in Oakland. Leave your predictions below.

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Progressives Just Don’t Wanna Have Fun

Today’s sage advice from the progressive left: it’s a given that you should eat organic and locally grown food, but if you’re out at a trendy restaurant serving this kind of food, you should also consider the morality of the business’s practices. Namely, are they paying their servers a fair wage? Are they paying a rent that is respectful of the community (i.e. did they force out another tenant that could not pay such a high rent)? Are they contributing to gentrification?

Per this essay posted a few days ago at

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Uncommon Knowledge: Peter Thiel on the Limits of Artificial Intelligence

In our recent sit-down for Uncommon Knowledge, I asked Peter Thiel — with, you’ll note, an assist from Ricochet’s own John Walker — about the prospects for artificial intelligence. What say you, Ricochet? Is Thiel right about the (perhaps inherent) limitations?

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(Past) Time for a Free Market in Organ Transplants

Recently, a distinguished list of academics signed an open letter to President Barack Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell, Attorney General Eric Holder, and the leaders of Congress. The letter implored the administration to take prompt and effective steps to end the shortage of organs now available for transplants, especially kidneys. Its signatories announced: “We call for the swift initiation of evidence-based research on ways to offer benefits to organ donors in order to expand the availability of transplants.“ As I explain in my new column for Defining Ideas at the Hoover Institution:

I chose not to sign that letter. It was not because I disagreed with its unhappy diagnosis that the chronic shortage of organs available for transplants, especially kidneys, is inexcusable; on that point, the letter was spot on. Rather, I refused to sign because I believe that the letter’s call to action was hopelessly slow in the face of an unending cascade of unnecessary deaths. If heeded, its call will be the latest in a long series of well-intentioned failed attempts to end the government scourge created by the current ban on kidney sales. This ban was implemented by the National Organ Transplantation Act (“NOTA”) of 1984, sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch and then-Representative Al Gore. NOTA’s central provision makes it illegal to “acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer” an organ to another person for “valuable consideration,” which with minor exceptions blocks both cash and in-kind payments.

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Against Exemptions

640px-Kirpan_smallIn Washington State, an elementary school decided to relax its “zero tolerance” knife policy to allow a Sikh student to carry a small kirpin — a symbolic dagger all Sikhs are required to carry at all times — to class. Kirpins have been a legal headache for similar prohibitions for some time, and Sikh groups have successfully lobbied and litigated for legal exemption to these rules on the grounds that they impede their religious practices.

But, as noted in Reason, this unfortunately leaves all the other students in the district at the mercy of an absurd rule that treats anyone caught carrying a pocketknife as a nascent mass-murderer. If all religious Sikh students can be trusted to carry a small knife safely and responsibly, why can’t other students?

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Another Failed Hunt for Red October

In 1981, the very year I was born, a whisky-class Soviet submarine ran aground in restricted waters near a Swedish naval base on the Baltic Coast. This event was dubbed “Whisky on the Rocks”, and was one of many known Soviet intrusions on Swedish territory during the Cold War. It was later made public through reports published after the fall of the Soviet Union – 50-odd Soviet operations had taken place in our waters after the end of World War II. Once the submarine was found, the Soviets apologized for what they called “an honest mistake.” While the explanation was accepted as an official matter, we everyday Swedes went back to warily watching our powerful neighbor flex its muscles in apparent provocation.

As the wall came down along with the Soviet Union, Swedish authorities exhaled and saw an opportunity to drastically cut military spending: scrapping compulsory military service, halting ongoing defense programs, and slashing billions off the defense budget, all while claiming that the threat had been removed and the money would be better spent elsewhere. Military personnel went public, blowing the whistle on what they saw as an historic mistake, but politicians took no heed. Or most of them, I should say. In 2007, continued cuts lead to the resignation of Defense Minister Mikael Odenberg of the Conservative Party, who said “I have to be able to look myself in the mirror and defend these cuts to our military personnel. I cannot, and therefore I must resign”.

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Ricochet Membership Week: Claire Berlinski

All this week, we’re running testimonials from Ricochet contributors as to why you, dear reader, should sign up for Ricochet membership (starting as low as $5 a month) or upgrade to Thatcher or Reagan-level memberships if you’ve already joined at our bargain-basement Coolidge level. Today, we present longtime Ricochet contributor (and former editor) Claire Berlinski:

ClaireThe founders of Ricochet were ahead of their time in observing that the Internet lacked a place to debate right-of-center politics in a civil, respectful and useful way. Their idea was simple: no flame wars, no swearing, no personal attacks. That idea was so simple, and so obviously desirable, that only Utopians would ever imagine that it might happen for free. Fortunately, the founders of Ricochet were conservatives.

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