O’Reilly on Ferguson, Sharpton

I’m burning out on the Ferguson coverage, but Bill O’Reilly made some interesting (and heated) points.

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Check Your Email! Now!

When my phone is in my pocket and it buzzes, I feel compelled to check it.  

I thought about that today during the podcast, when James and Peter and I were talking about the telephone and how it can rule your life. I never answer the phone, to be honest. Hate talking on it. But I do feel weirdly compelled to check my email constantly.  

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Why Conservatives Can’t Make Inroads in the Culture

In the last six years, I’ve heard constant laments about how conservatives have lost the culture and how that has ruined our country. I hear apocalyptic predictions and rants about Hollywood, the media, the schools etc. I hear people complain about how we aren’t fighting enough and we’re being too nice to our “enemies.” In short there is a lot of unpleasantness, nastiness, and just flat out whining. 

Case in point is this silly thread, wherein a bunch of members whinge insufferably about one of the most fun and creative philanthropy efforts ever created,  one of the few truly useful and worthwhile things that Facebook has ever contributed to the world: the ice bucket challenge.

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Let’s Be “Virtue Conservatives”

I’m dissatisfied with the term “social conservative.” I’m wondering if we can’t come up with something better.

What is a social conservative, anyway? Just a person who’s religious and cares a lot about abortion? We know the type, but the name is kind of nebulous, particularly when it’s contrasted with “libertarian” (as it so often is), it makes it sound as though libertarians have a real philosophical foundation and social conservatives just have a lot of strong opinions about how people should live (generally rooted in prejudice or blind obedience to religion).

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The Ricochet Podcast
Episode 227: Talk Amongst Yourselves

Its a Riot

This week on the podcast, we’re guest free, but with plenty to talk about: Ferguson, James Foley, Rick Perry, the Minnesota State Fair, DeBlasio learns a life lesson, and last but not least, help us help you: silence Rob Long’s new member pitch from the podcast for all eternity. Click here to find out how.

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Notes On Libertarians and Responsibility

Not wanting to hijack genferei’s response to Rachel Lu’s article on libertarianism and private morality I thought I’d start a second thread.

First, I wholly agree with Rachel that 1) small government requires private morality among its citizens to work; 2) that bourgeois, Judeo-Christian principles have proven themselves to be an extraordinarily robust, well-tested, and effective means of ensuring that morality; and 3) that some flavors of libertarians don’t appreciate either of the former points.  As she puts it:

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A Tale of Two Unscrupulous Governors

NixonRick Scott is a Republican; Jay Nixon is a Democrat. They have this in common, however. Each is the governor of his state; in that capacity, when confronted with a lynch mob stirred up by CNN, NBC, and the like, each demanded that a man be prosecuted; and each did so in circumstances in which it was by no means clear that there was any reason to suppose that the accused had committed a crime.

ScottPolitically, in both cases, demanding that the object of the lynch mob’s rage be prosecuted was in the interest of the governor. Morally, however, this was a craven act involving a sacrifice of the demands of justice for the sake of political advantage. As the police and the local district attorney had determined, George Zimmerman acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. The evidence available at the time was dispositive, as we now all know. When Scott appointed a special prosecutor, he ruined an innocent man’s life. He bankrupted him, and he put him under the sort of pressure that is apt to unhinge a man and destroy a marriage (as it did).

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Obama, ISIS, and Being on the Right Side of History Between Tee Times

obama-vacation-1-300x211President Obama on Wednesday slightly delayed his afternoon tee time to speak about the monstrous beheading of American journalist James Foley by ISIS. It was an underwhelming address from the Leader of the Free World who finds the crown so heavy and bothersome that he puts it down aside the putting green.

In his address, Obama did well in the “sympathy-in-chief” role. I do believe that Obama is horrified and saddened, as all Americans are, about the tragic fate of James Foley. But Obama failed in his actual job — that of a leader who must express genuine and righteous anger about this act of barbarism against all people who cherish liberty.

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A Story of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Before I left Istanbul, Forbes commissioned me to write a story about Suna Kıraç, the ninth-wealthiest person in Turkey, a woman who can now speak only with her eyes. I did my best, but they didn’t feel it met their needs: They spiked it. 

The ice-bucket challenge seems to have brought to public consciousness the idea that, if only enough money is spent, ALS can be conquered. It reminded me that this was still in my files, unpublished. It’s very long. Forbes may have been right to think that no one would want to read it through. But who knows.

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A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

For those who may have missed it, Richard Dawkins has been live-tweeting his own decline into senility. Never one to miss out on an opportunity to portray the Catholic Church as evil, Dawkins tweeted out a New Republic Story about a woman in Ireland who was denied an abortion, and also forcibly prevented from killing herself by starvation. While decrying this “Medieval torture”, Dawkins dropped this gem:

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 12.02.16 PM

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Escalation Summer

obama“Blessed are the peacemakers.” That’s what the Man said. Notice He didn’t say “peace lovers” or “peaceniks”; he said “peacemakers.”

Everywhere you look, crises rage. Ukraine, Iraq, Ferguson, the border—it’s Escalation Summer. Is there a peacemaker in the house?

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Grant Me Freedom and Small Government — But Not Yet

libertinesda mihi castitatem et continentam, sed noli modo — St Augustine

Ricochet contributor Rachel Lu wrote an article in the FEDERALIST yesterday, taking the left-anarchist wing of the libertarian movement to task for wanting to dissolve the bonds of family and community. At least I think that is who she is attacking — it is never quite clear who actually holds the views she disagrees with (although she almost implies it is Ben Domenech). Nevertheless, the core of her argument is that, yes, freedom is great and all, and small government is a fine idea in theory, but until a strong conventional morality is re-established in society they are just too dangerous.

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Humans First

The other day, a friend of mine was asked to present the conservative view of climate change to an environmental group. He thought it fair to begin by letting them know where he stood:

If doing so would enable me to save one human baby, I would personally kill every polar bear in existence with my bare hands.

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Richard Dawkins Is the Best Argument for Religion

Atheist Pope Richard Dawkins has bared his barren soul yet again, this time on Twitter.

Earlier today, someone mused how they would handle a pregnancy if the fetus was found to have Down syndrome, calling it a serious ethical dilemma. Pish posh! Matters of life and death are dead simple to Professor Dawkins.

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The Mayor of New York Encounters Something Known as Reality

bill-de-blasio-may-face-impossibly-high-expectations-as-new-york-mayorA friend who teaches economics points out this headline in today’s New York Times:

De Blasio Encounters Rising Friction Over Liberal Expectations

“It is amazing.” my friend writes, “what having to balance a budget in the face of pension and wage demands from the teachers union, the police union, etc., will do to temper one’s liberal dreams.”

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The Trouble with Racial Stereotypes

Liberals are furious with conservatives for “blaming the victim” in the discussion of events in Ferguson. The left and right are assuming their usual positions, with liberals emphasizing that African-Americans are disadvantaged in America today, and conservatives emphasizing that they are suffering from deeper problems within their own culture.

Actually, it’s both. American society is not systematically structured to keep the black man down. Cultural breakdown is a much bigger problem. That breakdown may be rooted to a significant extent in historical injustice; in fact, I think it is. (Of course, misguided Great Society attempts at do-gooding are also part of the problem, but why was the black community in particular so devastated by that? Mainly, I would argue, because it was especially vulnerable and lacking in resources following centuries of slavery, segregation and racial oppression.)

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Obama’s ‘Platitudes’ for ISIS

I read the transcript of President Obama’s statement today on the murder of journalist James Foley and a few phrases really jumped out: “Their ideology is bankrupt.” “…a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.” “…we share a common security and a common set of values.”

How about just calling the terrorists what they are — evil incarnate — and then pledging to obliterate them? (Because as far as I can tell, the most we’re doing is “containing” the caliphate today.) 

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In Which (I Argue) the Financial Times Gets it All Wrong

Herewith, a screenshot from the webpage of the Financial Times at this hour.  


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Uber: Poster Child For Free Markets

Last night, my wife had a stomachache and asked if we could take a taxi home from work rather than the metro. I’ve had mixed experience with cabbies and — given the combination of high price and great unpredictability — I avoid taxis wherever I can. Still, I wasn’t the one with a stomachache, and a few extra dollars is a small price to pay for a happy and comfortable wife.

I was all ready to hail a cab when I remembered that I had a $20 credit toward my first ride with Uber, the online driver service/app, so I decided to give it a try. Result: I’m never taking a cab again.

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The Indictment of the Outlaw Rick Perry

One of my favorite tools for discerning what liberals actually believe is to examine the values, motivations, and actions they project on conservatives. Projection is filthy addiction, and our friends on the Left suffer from it in spades. The Deep State, in their minds, is a conspiracy of big corporations, elected officials, conservative activist groups, friendly government insiders, and right-wing activists. In their minds, the conservative movement is comprised of entirely amoral, secretive Masters of the Universe willing to use any means to defeat them and plunge America into darkness. We’re a tireless, perfectly coordinated, politically murderous, all-seeing, all-knowing alliance fueled by racism, Red Bull, and Koch money. As. If.

I wish the right had more consistency of purpose, more ability to paper over our intra-party differences, and more bloody-mindedness when it comes to the destruction of the other side, but the fact is that our end of the Deep State pool is mostly suited for toddlers and old folks doing water aerobics. Skill for skill, we’re a pretty good match; but for unity, determination, bloodthirstiness, and willingness to do the politics of personal destruction, we’re amateurs.

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ISIS Interrupts the Narrative

BvZ5vBrIgAAv3ChAfter witnessing four nights of incited mayhem on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, I made a personal declaration on Twitter that I would no longer retweet or tweet at members of the media in Ferguson who were sensationalizing the standoff between the police and the rioters. It’s become clear they have inserted themselves into the story and made it more about a political ideology (the man putting us all down) than about the facts of the investigation of Michael Brown’s death.

Every tweet about being shoved, arrested, manhandled or just plain being treated rudely now serves the sole purpose now of goosing ratings and clicks. This is not justice for Michael Brown or Darren Wilson. This is Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers come to life, with the media becoming the story. In lower Manhattan, they stood around and recorded members of Occupy Wall Street clashing with police. In Missouri, they are declaring themselves the Occupiers.

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Podcast: Are We Living in a Libertarian Moment?

The press sure seems to think so. Perhaps you read Robert Draper’s recent piece in the New York Times about libertarianism getting its day in the sun (a piece that included appearances by Mollie Hemingway and Ben Domenech). Well, who better to ask than that libertarian eminence grise Richard Epstein? Does he think that libertarianism is about to have an outsized impact on American politics? Does he accept the notion that it’s heretofore been a marginal force? And what does he think libertarianism’s weaknesses might be in the world of practical politics? All is revealed below:

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Are We Really a Throwaway Culture?

yardI hear often that ours is a throwaway culture. If we’re done with an item, we toss it in the garbage. Although our household produces several full garbage bags each week for the dump, I can think of a number of ways our communities ”re-use, re-purpose, and re-cycle” useful items that pre-date that popular phrase by decades.

  1. Garage Sales — Get rid of old stuff by selling it on your driveway. People will flock to your house and haul it off happy, and you’ll end up with some extra cash. Win-win.

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To Whom It May Concern

[Editor's Note: This post is a follow-up to the author's earlier account of having her luggage -- which had an Israeli flag on it -- vandalized while traveling from her home in Stockholm to Amsterdam on the first leg of a trip to Israel.  She has subsequently decided to emigrate from Sweden].

“Let me be very clear: This is not 1939. We will not see death camps in Sweden in five years. Is the situation dire? Yes, absolutely, but we must remember that this is not 1939.”

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