Good Karma on the Tarmac

shutterstock_120810115The upside of air travel having become frequently fraught with the perils of delays, cancellations, and indifferent personnel, is that the bar for A Very Good Day is now simply that things work as they ought.

Today is Exhibit One. I missed my flight, but was comforted by the assurance there had been many seats available on the next one. But with only 30 minutes to departure, it turned out they were now all booked. Then, mirabile dictu, my determined US Airways agent suddenly found one seat.

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Jeb Finally Takes on Trump

In case you’ve forgotten, Jeb Bush is still in the presidential race. When he wasn’t raising millions, the former governor has spent most of 2015 alienating the base and shoving size-12 cordovans into his piehole. Now that he finds himself in single digits far behind a former reality show star and a retired neurosurgeon, Jeb is fighting back.

This ad presents the obvious, but seemingly devastating case that Donald Trump is no conservative. He’s for higher taxes, he’s a close friend of Hillary, he’s been aggressively pro-choice, and spent much of his life as a Democrat. The ad doesn’t even get into Trump’s support of the assault weapons ban, expansive use of eminent domain, crony socialism, and myriad other red cards that would boot any other Republican from the playing field.

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Seeking Arrested Development

I met one of those eager young things some time ago. We were on a train to Cambridge (England), and across from us was a pretty, very professional-looking young lady in her late 20s. I struck up a conversation, since I rarely resist the opportunity to harass a perfect stranger, and I love pretending that I am entirely unaware of social niceties and boundaries.

It turned out that she was American (of Asian descent) which explains why she did not know that in England, one does not simply talk to strangers on a train except to complain about something. And so we talked.

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Patrick O’Brian Does the Near Impossible: Describing Music in Prose

hqdefaultAs I watch Bob Corker and his Keystone Kops allow Obama to enact a treaty with 34 votes and as I try to ignore the death dance between the GOP and Donald Trump, I have one reliable source of escape and solace: Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin books. I forget about our self-imposed wounds as I’m transported to the main deck of a British man o’ war in the Napoleonic era.

Last night I read from The Yellow Admiral and came across a passage of pure sublimity.

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Why the GOP Might Just Squeak Out the 2016 Election — Unless the Nominee is Terrible

Goldman Sachs is out with a note about its political forecasting model, and how the economy might affect the 2016 White House race. According to the Goldman model, the fundamental factors that matter most are real GDP, real consumption, and real personal income. With the 2012 election added to the sample, the change in non-farm payrolls also seems to have acquired more predictive power. And the stock market? Not so much.

Timing matters, too. Goldman: “It is only around the current stage of the presidential cycle (i.e., late in the year before the election) that economic variables tend to become useful in predicting the outcome, and not until Q2 of the election year that many indicators reach their maximum predictive value.” The bank also includes whether the incumbent party has held office for at least two terms, kind of a “fatigue” factor I suppose.

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Three Martini Lunch Three Martini Lunch 9/2/15

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty applaud CNN for tweaking the rules to allow Carly Fiorina into the main debate in two weeks, since she clearly stands in the top ten right now. They also groan as 34 Senate Democrats assure the Iran deal will be enacted and they slam the Senate GOP for allowing it to happen. And they rip reports of school officials allegedly sending a girl home with a note forbidding her to continue using a Wonder Woman lunchbox because it has violent imagery.

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Government, Govern Thyself

shutterstock_214071850The purpose of anti-child pornography laws is to protect innocents from exploitation and humiliation, particularly by adults, but also by their peers. Ironically, these very laws — not the actions of the teens involved — are directly to blame for precisely that outcome in a case out of Cumberland County, North Carolina.

Via Reason — though I also recommend this article from the Fayetteville Observer, which has a number of important updates – two North Carolina high school students were charges with multiple felonies last month for exchanging and storing nude photographs of themselves and each other on their phones. The girl subsequently pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge and is on probation, but the boy is fighting the charges and potentially faces 10 years in prison and registry as sex offender.

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The Libertarian Podcast: Birthright Citizenship and Immigration

You’ve heard the Yoo-Coulter debate. Now it’s time for Professor Epstein to weigh in. On this week’s episode of The Libertarian podcast, Richard takes up the issue of whether the Fourteenth Amendment really does guarantee citizenship for children born in America to illegal immigrants, explores the broader development of the law around what it means to be an American citizen, and explains why this issue is forcing conservatives and liberals alike to embrace methods of constitutional interpretation they usually abhor.

You can subscribe to The Libertarian podcast via iTunes or your favorite podcast app or you can listen in below after the jump.

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Katrina Experiences, Part II: Relief Station, Waveland MS


Yesterday, I wrote about my experiences ten years ago setting up a privately-funded relief station in Hattiesburg, Mississippi immediately after Hurricane Katrina had swept through. This installment continues the story — now a week and a half after the hurricane had made landfall — as my team and I headed down to the FEMA “endorsed” station in Waveland, Mississippi. By the time we left, it was supposedly the largest on the coast. I don’t know how accurate that was, but we were definitely the only one I knew of that accepted clothing.

Waveland and neighboring Bay St. Louis had been absolutely slammed by the hurricane, with a storm surge of more than 19 feet. The closer we got, the more apparent the devastation was.

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A VirtuCon Manifesto

shutterstock_244246870That’s VirtuCon manifesto, not the VirtuCon manifesto. I suspect there are more visions of how virtue theory and conservatism could interact than there are actual VirtuCons. This rough first draft is a contribution to the conversation Rachel Lu rekindled last week — see Tom Meyer’s response and the conversation that followed it as well — about what an emphasis on virtue means for other parts of the conservative worldview.

Please note: The word “virtue” has recently (in the last century or so) undergone something of a change in meaning. The “virtue” in virtue theory harks back to the older meaning. Do not be misled by this choice of vocabulary, imposed by some 2,000 years of philosophical reflection.

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What’s the Purpose of American Power?

flagFor their 30th anniversary, the National Interest ran a symposium. They asked 25 well-known figures what, if anything, should be the purpose of American power.

Here are the replies from Graham AllisonTom CottonLes GelbGrover NorquistAnne-Marie SlaughterIan BremmerPaul KennedyJoseph NyeJohn MearsheimerRuth WedgwoodRobert ZoellickMichael LindKishore MahbubaniGideon RachmanFerdinand MountPaul PillarWilliam J. BurnsGideon RosePaul SaundersPaula J. DobrianskyYoichi FunabashiRobert W. MerryDavid BromwichGary Hart, and Zalmay Khalilzad.

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Back to School: Austrian School

What has Government Done to Our Money?Please take this as penance for my recent, and recently-deleted, post regarding the Fed. Out of that regrettable conversation came, I hope, one good thing: an opportunity to open a door for the genuinely curious who wonder what I’m so worked up about. Specifically, let me present a good launching point. It isn’t a massive scholarly tome, but it isn’t (or at least isn’t merely) opinionated handwaving.

What Has Government Done to Our Money? and The Case for the 100 Percent Gold Dollar is Murray Rothbard’s famous manifesto on sound money. First published in 1963 in the style of a pamphlet designed for mass distribution, it is one of his most influential works.

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What Makes an Adult?

Convocation Remarks for the Incoming Class of 2019 at Merrimack College:

Not long ago, my youngest daughter Anne and I were crossing a street together. I stepped off the curb into the crosswalk and leaned out so I could see beyond the line of parked cars. As I did so, I reached back to keep my darling daughter from walking before I could be sure it was safe.

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CNN Improves Debate Rules; Fiorina the Big Winner

When facing a 17-person GOP field, cable networks had a debate dilemma: limit the number of participants or install bleachers. They chose the former, but their process is deeply flawed. Serious candidates like Perry and Jindal are shouting to an empty auditorium while vanity projects like Huckabee use the debate to hawk his book. (Buy Giblets, Gullets & Grifters, available now at your local Bass Pro Shop!)

In theory, if someone did well in the first B-list debate, they would advance to the main stage the next time around. Carly Fiorina was the obvious standout of the Fox News forum, so most observers assumed she would appear at the adults’ table for CNN’s round two. Not so fast…

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‘To Those That Were Robbed of Life…’

Pope Francis babyTO THOSE WHO WERE ROBBED OF LIFE: the unborn, the weak, the sick, the old, during the dark ages of madness, selfishness, lust and greed for which the last decades of the twentieth century are remembered….” C. Everett Koop, MD

Much has been made of the recent decision of Pope Francis to allow priests to absolve those involved in the grave sin of abortion. Catholics and non-Catholics alike who depend on the major media for what this means might misinterpret his letter. Many outlets are reporting that this decision leaves the possibility that the act of an aborting a child might no longer be a grave sin, or was not a grave sin in the first place. This is not the case.

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American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone – a Review

AmericanDreamsIn this campaign book Marco Rubio sets out his stall as the unapologetic Reformicon candidate. He writes clearly and with verve about his plans for tax, education, and entitlement reform, if somewhat less clearly about why he should be the one to execute them.

Being something of a Reformicon skeptic, however, I found it hard to get excited. There are the usual anecdotes about “Marge and Homer of Springfield” who have been done down by the system – or, at least, the parts of it he wants to change – and how his (or Mike Lee’s and his, or Paul Ryan’s and his, or Yuval Levin’s and his) policy prescriptions will make things all right again for them and the middle class. If you’ve read the lawnmower book you know the drill. If you’ve read much of Ricochet you also know the usual objections.

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My Time as a Ricochet Summer Intern

shutterstock_284543039As I end my month-long internship, I’m looking back on all the opportunities I had to write for Ricochet and to learn about running a website. My first task was to help create a Ricochet style guide. Before I had started this internship, I had no idea what a style guide was but, with the help of one of the editors at Ricochet, I learned fairly quickly. The process taught me various grammatical rules and even what should and shouldn’t be capitalized to make Ricochet consistent and aesthetically pleasing.

With my interest already being rooted in the editorial side, I was excited to write and can gladly say I’ve written two posts for Ricochet. From showing why increasing the minimum wage would lead to more unemployment to repeatedly calling Democratic governors’ offices to ask their views on Planned Parenthood, it has been a great learning experience.

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The NLRB’s Labor Market Mischief

shutterstock_62462134Under last week’s decision by the Democratic majority on the National Labor Relations Board, we are about to see a dramatic shift in what constitutes an “employer.” Before this ruling, that term covered firms that hire their own workers, and the NLRB subjected those firms to the collective bargaining obligations under the National Labor Relations Act. Under its new definition, the majority expanded that term to cover any firm that outsources the hiring and management of employees to a second firm over which it retains some oversight function. In its decision, the NLRB refers to such firms and those to whom they outsource the hiring as “joint employers.” No longer, the majority says, must the employer’s control be exercised “directly and immediately.” Now “control exercised indirectly—such as through an intermediary—may establish joint-employer status.” As I note in my new column for Defining Ideas:

…[T]he new joint employer rules will likely batter today’s already grim labor market, as they will not only disrupt the traditional workplace but will completely wreck the well established franchise model for restaurants and hotels. As the majority conceded, the so-called joint employer does not even know so much as the social security number of its ostensible employees. It has no direct control over the way in which the current employer treats its workers, and yet could be hauled into court for its alleged unfair labor practices. That second firm knows little or nothing about the conditions on the ground in the many businesses with which it has forged these alliances, which eases the operations for both. Those advantages will be lost if the joint employer rule holds up in court. At the very least, the majority’s decision would require each and every one of these contracts and business relationships to be reworked to handle the huge new burden that will come as a matter of course, leaving everyone but the union worse off than before.

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Contextualizing America’s Screwdriver

SuzhouThis post addresses the second entry in Dr. Berlinski’s list of noteworthy news items posted yesterday, August 31, 2015. The full list can be found here.

Allow me to introduce you to my keyboard. My keyboard is a Logitech K330. It was built in Suzhou, a city in China about the size of Chicago. Suzhou was founded over 2,500 years ago and has been an important center of Chinese culture since before Christ. With elegant pagodas overlooking beautiful bridges spanning peaceful canals, Suzhou’s is often called the Venice of the East.

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Political Correctness Creates Fools, Bullies, and Cowards

pronouns29n-2-webChroniclers of academic insanity have a real beaut on their hands at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Apparently the apparatchik in charge of something called the Office of Diversity and Inclusion invented a series of new pronouns to ensure that all the institution’s incoming Babes in Toyland will be accepted regardless of their gender or species preference. Old-fashioned designators such as “him” and “her” must now succumb to the brave new world of “ze, hir, zir, xe, xem, and xyr.” Fortunately for the Klingon-challenged among us, this edict is accompanied by a chart illustrating the old terms and the proposed new ones.

That covers PC and fools. What about bullies? Oh my. So much evidence, so little time! At the risk of pointing out the obvious to weary culture warriors, let’s throw out a few oldies but goodies anyway. Zo, sie zay zyr liken de traditional marriage? (Sorry, still trying to get those pesky pronouns correct). Bigot! Homophobe! You probably also eat at Chick fil-A, which everyone knows is run by Christians. Or Nazis. Same thing, right? Speaking of which, comparisons of Nazis with radical Islamists are not welcome, regardless of what the two groups share in terms of historical connections and committing unspeakable barbarisms. Above all, do not refer to undocumented immigrants as ‘illegal aliens’ or ‘Democrat voters-in-waiting’, lest you be accused of being a Hater, Divider, Racist, or Republican. And sink that anchor babies talk. In fact, shut up already!

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Really, Cato? Nothing Better To Do?

shutterstock_179087879Like prosecutors, activists should employ discretion, giving some thought to the best allocation of their talents, efforts, and scarce resources. If you’re a national, libertarian think tank operating in 2015 America, you’ve no shortage of causes worthy of your attention.

That’s why I’m a little confounded — not a lot, a little — that the Cato Institute filed an amicus brief in federal court on behalf of the polygamous family featured on TLC’s Sister Wives. The show documents the life of a polygamist family, including patriarch Kody Brown, his four wives, and their 17 children.

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Three Martini Lunch Three Martini Lunch 9/1/15

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review react to a body language expert concluding Hillary Clinton is “discombobulated” over her email scandal. We also scream as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to push for a defunding of Planned Parenthood because Pres. Obama wouldn’t sign it. And we’re stunned as David Petraeus suggests teaming up with Al Qaeda to push back against ISIS.

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Turkey Arrests VICE Journalists

A Turkish court leveled formal charges of terrorism at three VICE News journalists and their colleague yesterday.

The Iraqi journalist Mohammed Ismael Rasool, and two British journalists, Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, were detained late Thursday evening and taken into custody in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır. So was their driver, who was released. They’ve been accused of working for both the PKK and ISIS, prompting some foreign observers to announce that Turkey has gone “bat-[redacted] insane,” but as my fellow Turkey-watcher Erik Meyersson notes, for journalists in Turkey, especially Kurds, “this kind of Kafkaesque repression is mostly referred to as: Monday.”

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