Hearings by the Republican majority on recent scandals have been mostly ineffective. In the IRS hearings, three former or current heads of the IRS were key witnesses. Those of us who stayed up with the Lois Lerner epic became familiar with the disdain exhibited by John Koskinen, the current head of the IRS, when he testified.
What the committee seems to do – I am talking about any investigating committee in recent history — is to get the head of the agency or subject under consideration and grill him or her. What happens is that the committee and the public gets the “ignorance of the chief.” The top people don’t know any details. This is true in two senses. If the witness is hostile, and they always are, then they can use ignorance as a delaying tactic. Even if, mirabile dictu, they are willing, they are still lawyers and administrators who deal with paper and people on a very high level. Details are not their forte.
Purchasing a defensive firearm is not a (pardon the pun) one-shot deal. You’re making the most adult decision you’ve ever made in your life, namely, taking personal responsibility for the safety of your loved ones. As Marty McFly might say, “that’s heavy.”
A firearm is not a talisman of self-protection: You don’t buy one and then leave it in a place of veneration in your home so it will somehow provide an umbrella of protection to all who dwell within. A pistol has to be readily accessible in order to be effective, and that means having it near you both when you’re inside and outside your home.
It should come to no one’s surprise that the Obama Administration quickly lauded the recently announced deal on justice between the Colombian government and the Marxist, narco-terrorist guerrilla group, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). After all, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has used the Obama playbook on Iran to push through his historic peace accord with the FARC: Start negotiations without preconditions with a terrorist sponsor or organization, draw redlines only to capitulate later, and promise one thing to its electorate while doing the opposite.
Let us suppose that a rich man — a very, very rich man, such as, for example, Jack Ma, who possesses a net worth of some $20 billion — makes a straightforward proposition to the Vatican.
Aware that Pope Francis speaks constantly about the plight of the poor, an inspired by the Morris West novel, Shoes of the Fisherman, which culminates in a decision by the pope of the day to sell all the Vatican’s treasures to avert a famine, Mr. Ma has decided to make an offer for one Vatican treasure in particular: the Pieta.
The Martian features Matt Damon as NASA astronaut Mark Watney, who with a six-member crew including commanding officer Jessica Chastain, is on a month-long science mission on the beautifully desolate surface of Mars. Of course, one month is only the planned duration of their stay on the surface; the deep space transit to and from Mars takes several hundred days each way, which becomes important later in the film.
We enter the story partway into the surface mission. The crew is collecting Martian soil samples when NASA sends them an urgent message about an impending storm. The storm is apparently so severe that the rocket which is supposed to lift the crew back into space at the end of their mission won’t survive the harsh winds on the ground. So the crew is forced to abort their surface mission and perform a hasty emergency launch. In the rush and confusion, Watney is left behind, presumed dead. All of this introductory material is completed in a very breezy few minutes, plunging us right into the survival story.
It’s Friday, which means it’s time for Amelia Hamilton to answer your questions about play dates, air strikes, and jerkfaces.
My daughter has a friend she really enjoys and wants to hang out with. After exchanging numbers with the mother and even meeting for some time at the pool, mother will not respond to any further invitations. My daughter was desperate for her friend to come to her birthday party, but texts and emails were never returned. I’m assuming they are simply not interested in having new friends, and that’s fine, but I don’t know what to tell my daughter. How can I explain to her that, sometimes, people are “just not that into you?” — Mystified Mama
Fall TV has begun and in spite of the fracturization of media consumption, enough people still watch the Big Four (and CW) that the rhythms of fall, spring and summer programming persist. Entertainment sites tout the cool shows to recap and analyze “The Walking Dead” in its various forms, “Game of Thrones,” and whatever show HBO is taking too seriously this season.
But what are people really watching and why? There are two shows I’m looking forward to this fall:
I met you in the rain on the last day of 1972, the same day I resolved to kill myself. One week prior, at the behest of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, I’d flown four B-52 sorties over Hanoi. I dropped forty-eight bombs. How many homes I destroyed, how many lives I ended, I’ll never know. But in the eyes of my superiors, I had served my country honorably, and I was thusly discharged with such distinction.
It’s a national story. Last month, a group of 11 women (10 of whom are black) were escorted off the Napa Valley Wine Train, allegedly for loud and obnoxious behavior that elicited complaints from other passengers. Today, they are suing the Wine Train for $11 million alleging discrimination.
The women were members of a book club who saw were simply having a good time. Been there; done that!
A big topic of conversation in the Beltway and beyond is the new Republican leadership elections scheduled for next week. While most are asking who will replace Boehner’s team, the more important question is what will they do differently?
There’s a great opportunity for new GOP leadership to differentiate themselves, which will start the process of taking advantage of their majorities in both houses. It’s past time for Republicans to move legislation that Democrats can’t duck and that will advance our strategic interests and policy goals, and it’s what Americans want to see Republicans do.
From the Interactive Heatmap of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Rankings.
We’re #3! In its latest report, the World Economic Forum — the Davos people — ranks the US economy as the world’s third most competitive, behind Switzerland and Singapore. So actually the US is the most competitive large economy. From the report:
The United States retains 3rd place. Although many risks arguably loom on the horizon, the country’s recovery can build on improvements in institutions—government efficiency is rated higher than in previous years—its macroeconomic environment, and the soundness of its financial markets.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are impressed with National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke for exposing liberals who demand we “do something” to stop mass shootings but don’t actually have any ideas. They also sigh at another disappointing jobs report. And they have fun with the news that eight members of the Iranian women’s soccer team were actually men.
In science, when you conduct an experiment to test a theory and get a result you didn’t expect, you learn from the experience and re-think your theory. But what do you do in politics, when you implement a policy you were certain would succeed but which fails miserably? We’re about to find out.
For seven years now, President Obama has been conducting what may well be one of history’s greatest political experiments. His revolutionary theory — which this Copernicus-from-Chicago articulates with such supreme confidence that he’s persuaded American voters to elect him twice to the presidency — is that the world would be a safer, less violent place if the United States played a smaller role on the global stage. At the core of this theory lies his hypothesis that American military power is more the problem than the solution; that our over-reliance on guns rather than brains had de-stabilized key parts of the world, such as the Mideast, that would otherwise have been more peaceful and prosperous.
A friend, an economist at a big-time university, sends along the following materials, asking, impishly, “Is there a pattern here?” First, from the United States, in “Conversations with Tyler”:
TYLER COWEN: Let’s start with some questions about stagnation, Peter. At any point, if you care to add other topics of your own, please do so. You’re well known for arguing, well, “they promised us flying cars and all we got is 140 characters”; “technological progress has slowed down.” How is it you think that we’re most likely to get out of the great stagnation, when that happens?
There’s a deep sense of disillusionment and malaise here in Japan. Perhaps, rather than sleeping through politics, the country is just ignoring it. Remember the 80s, when this country was going to take over the world? Many people (including me) spent that decade learning Japanese in school, preparing for a future when we’d need language skills to impress our bosses.
As it happened, I did need it. But that’s just me. For the rest of the Western world, the takeover got lost in two decades of Japanese economic recession and general stagnation. The economy has been so sluggish – and for so long — that it’s hardly even a political issue any more. Successive governments have pulled so many levers, pumped so much new currency into the economy, that it’s like watching one of those movie scenes where a character continues to perform violent CPR on some lifeless unfortunate, with ever more desperation, while everyone stands around pitying them.
My husband has always admired certain things about Eastern cultures, particularly their view of time. The Chinese did not sell the island of Hong Kong to the United Kingdom, they leased it for 99 years. When the deal was made, Britain was a superpower and China was unstable, to say the least. A little over a century later, Great Britain is not so great anymore, and Hong Kong — with all its wealth and innovations — is a jewel in the crown of China. A long game, indeed.
The concept of time preference is an interesting one, and one given a lot of credence to in Austrian circles. The Wikipedia article explains the it as “the relative valuation placed on a good at an earlier date compared with its valuation at a later date. [...] Someone with a high time preference is focused substantially on his well-being in the present … while someone with low time preference places more emphasis than average on their well-being in the further future.” So, a person with a high time preference wants instant gratification, while someone with a low time preference is willing to delay their pleasure.
Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $26 million in Q3, and from 650,000 individuals. This is only $2 million less than Clinton raised in Q3, and the broad base of support means he’ll be able to raise more in the future. Sanders stands a great chance to win in Iowa and New Hampshire, and would get further bumps in support from these wins. I don’t see his supporters switching to Clinton, but as the scandals continue, I can see Clinton supporters looking elsewhere. Also, in 2007, Edwards was in the race, which lowered Clinton’s support. When Biden enters, the pattern will repeat.
Sanders is drawing huge amounts of small-dollar donations via the Web. That means two important things: (1) Sanders has been able to concentrate on meeting and greeting potential voters rather than spending his time courting donors, and (2) He has been able to conserve money because he isn’t spending cash on lavish events for donors.
By now many of you will have heard of the abomination in Oregon. I send my prayers and thoughts to both the victims and the families. I can’t imagine what it must be like for the victims’ and survivors families right now as they try to come to terms with their whole world falling apart. There is an old Irish phrase at times like these: you never know the day nor the hour. It is very apt as a warning after an event or tragedy like the above, but before — silent; as people make life choices with little thought to the afterlife. After all why should he, why should she? They are not going to their maker today, right?
I have never experienced anything like this in Ireland, and I hope to God I never will. My parents’ generation and some of my friends have, but me, no, thank God. The Troubles up North ended when I was a child, so thankfully I never knew the bombings and murders of the paramilitaries. Sadly I assume many of you on Ricochet in America know or have come into contact with evil like above. I can only imagine it is horrible. I pray for you too.
President Obama delivered an angry statement on the Thursday shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, OR. “Each time we see one of these mass shootings,” he said from the White House briefing room podium, “our thoughts and prayers are not enough.
In a 15-minute statement, Obama stressed that the US is “the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every couple of months.” He praised the gun control efforts in Australia, a nation that conducted a mass confiscation of firearms from its citizenry.
Russia has moved militarily into Syria, ostensibly to fight ISIS, though those in the know say its true aim is to bolster the Assad regime. Whatever the case may be, the red line was crossed by president Assad a long time ago and ISIS has done nothing if not grown in strength over the past several years.
So we have a bit of a standoff between Putin’s Russia and Obama’s America. Whatever the motives may be, some things remain certain: the Syrian people still suffer, ISIS still grows in power, influence, and ability to cause mayhem, and the Middle East is a shambles.
The bride, Edda, was 20, glamorous, and well connected. The groom came from a prominent family. Their wedding was Italy’s social event of the year in 1930. If the occasion was marred in any way, it was through the inability of the bride’s father gracefully to part with his first-born daughter. He was so distraught that when the couple drove off for their honeymoon on Capri, Dad followed them for miles in his own car until Edda finally stopped, marched back to his car, and told him he had to turn around and go home.
That is our introduction to Edda Mussolini, and her father, Benito, in Jay Nordlinger’s gripping new book Children of Monsters: An Inquiry Into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators. “I have managed to bend Italy,” Mussolini once said of his daughter, “but I doubt I will ever be able to bend Edda’s will.” She remained a loyal daughter despite everything; including what you might suppose would be an irreparable rift — that Mussolini ordered the execution of her husband. If it strikes you as odd to see a man who crushed liberty in Italy and allied himself with one of the worst mass murderers in history as a sentimental father, you are in for more such surprises in Jay Nordlinger’s stories. You will also see that plot line repeated — Saddam had two of his sons-in-law shot.
The progressive/left-wing response to the new Brookings study on inequality is obvious, right? From “Would a significant increase in the top income tax rate substantially alter income inequality?”:
The high level of income inequality in the United States is at the forefront of policy attention. This paper focuses on one potential policy response: an increase in the top personal income tax rate. We conduct a simulation analysis using the Tax Policy Center (TPC) microsimulation model to determine how much of a reduction in income inequality would be achieved from increasing the top individual tax rate to as much as 50 percent. We calculate the resulting change in income inequality assuming an explicit redistribution of all new revenue to households in the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution.