We need you to join Ricochet.
Help us meet this month's goal of 1,500 new members!
390 new members 1,110 to go!

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America get dizzy as Donald Trump articulates his third immigration position in less than a week. They slam Hillary Clinton for her race hypocrisy and liberals for watering down “racist” by accusing every Republican of being one. And they shudder at the growing fringe trend of women marrying themselves.


“Pay To Play” Is Too Innocuous


The great unwashed — the low information voter, the people inhabiting the left side of the bell curve, and (more to the point) Clinton supporters — don’t get it. One could easily think “pay to play” means going bowling or the admission to an amusement park. Of course, we here at Ricochet know what Hillary Clinton has done and would continue to do as president, but we’re among the one percent of informed voters.

Can you think of a better way to describe what Clinton, the State Department, and the Clinton Crime Foundation have done that would be more easily-understood by the average voter ( remember you are not an average voter). We need a bullet point or a bumper sticker. Have any?


christian-toto-son-This week, The Conservatarians, aka Ricochet Editor-in-Chief Jon Gabriel and Heatstreet contributor Stephen Miller — welcome movie critic Christian Toto to talk about the best films of the summer and the movie industry in general. Jon and Stephen also chat about John Oliver’s dishonesty on charter schools, and the latest developments in the election.

Intro and outro music is “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Stephen’s song of the week is “You Ask Me To” by Waylon Jennings, and Jon’s is “Cumbia de Donde” by Calexico. To listen to all the music featured on The Conservatarians, subscribe to our Spotify playlist! You should also subscribe to this podcast and give it five-star, glowing reviews on iTunes.


Please Support Our Sponsor!

The Great Courses

In Defense of Juries


shutterstock_121502677In a recent Investor’s Business Daily column, Yuri Vanitek suggests that citizen juries be replaced by a panel of professionals. He makes the argument that experts can do a better job determining guilt or innocence than regular folks, saying, “Imagine if modern hospitals relied on 12 random people, selected from a local phone book, to determine medical treatment — and refused to consider the counsel of doctors and nurses.” Considering the sometimes woeful results of jury trials, it sounds like a reasonable idea. It’s not.

As the brilliant G.K. Chesterton argued, there are some things too important to be left to experts. On professional judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and other officers of the court he said:


Can We Still Trust Our Military?


shutterstock_244390996Many of our Ricochetti are active in, or retired from, the military and I thank them with deep gratitude for their service. But this year, reports regarding our military’s abilities to manage effectively, operate efficiently, and take security seriously have shaken my faith in it. The latest report of the Department of Defense’s Inspector General included a mind-boggling finding: The US Army has so poorly managed its finances that it has had to make trillions of dollars in adjustments to “create an illusion that its books are balanced.” That’s right: trillions. From Reuters:

The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up. As a result, the Army’s financial statements for 2015 were “materially misstated,” the report concluded. The “forced” adjustments rendered the statements useless because “DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions.”


The Night Shift: One Reporter’s Life Covering Chicago’s Violent Crime


shutterstock_309339200I felt dirty, short of breath, and my chest was tight. I could taste the stink of cigarette and weed smoke and liquor and had the smell of blood stuck on my tongue.

In our continuing quest to find ways to Make Ricochet Great Again, I’ve brought you another long-from article that I encourage you to read in its entirety. This one, “Three Years of Nights,” is from Chicago Magazine. Its author, Peter Nickeas, spent three years working the overnight violent crime beat for the Chicago Tribune and the time obviously marked him. By the end of the article, I think a little of what he saw will mark you too.


The Tragedy of 2016


Hillary Clinton’s speech about Donald Trump and the alt-right is excoriating. She didn’t need to lie, spin, or exaggerate. All she needed to do was describe Trump and the company he keeps. She did so competently.

The odds seem to me overwhelmingly high that she’ll be elected. She may well be working with a Democratic Congress. GOP primary voters handed her the only candidate in the firmament whom she could handily trounce.


Hillary’s Felonious Friends in Virginia


Clinton McAuliffeTerry McAuliffe is a Hillary Clinton pal. He fronted $1.3 million for her house in Chappaqua. We should all have such friends. Thanks to the Republicans who shut down the government in 2013, McAuliffe is now the governor of Virginia, a swing state, and thus in a position to help Mrs. Clinton get another house – on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Any governor has political strings to pull, but Governor McAuliffe is going beyond sharing voter information, get out the vote operations, and other traditional political tools. He’s creating new voters by unilaterally restoring voting rights to 206,000 convicted felons. McAuliffe is focused on this: In 2012, Barack Obama’s margin of victory in Virginia was 3.88 percent, which represented 149,298 votes.


We heard a lot this election cycle, from the Democrats especially, about making college education affordable if not free. And it seems the media is full of stories of students graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and in this economy, no clear job path to allow them to pay it off. Meanwhile, public university tuitions are rising to unprecedented levels, levels on par with their private counterparts, while private institutions around the country are going belly up. How do we fix this?

Jason Delisle is a resident fellow at AEI where he studies higher education financing with an emphasis on student loan programs. He started out on Capitol Hill, working for Representative Thomas Petri and then the Senate Committee on the Budget. Before joining AEI, he was the director of the Federal Education Budget Project at New America.


John Timoney, RIP


49068935It crossed my mind last week to add my humble voice to the chorus of appreciations of the life of John Timoney, the one-time first deputy commissioner of the New York Police Department and former chief of police in Miami and Philadelphia. Timoney died this month—far too young at 68—after a battle with lung cancer.

I hesitated to chime in, in part because so many worthy tributes found their way online and into print. A New York Times obituary called him “a swaggering cop, straight out of central casting, with a Bronx brogue.” What could I possibly add? I only met him once. I thought it best to keep my thoughts to myself.


In a sampling of recent news stories, Richard Epstein tackles the NLRB’s ruling allowing graduate students to unionize, a federal judge’s injunction against the Obama Administration’s transgender restroom regulations, and a move to restore voting rights for ex-cons in Virginia.


What a Time to Be Alive. Really. Why Don’t We Believe It?


twenty20_f3243af1-5703-4d84-b4cb-16583a79e80e_tunnel_light_optimism_pessimism-e1471985273737An excellent piece in the UK Spectator by Johan Norberg tackles one of my favorite issues: Why are we so pessimistic these days? After making the case that advanced economy citizens live in a veritable “golden age,” Norberg tries to explain why so many disagree:

In almost every way human beings today lead more prosperous, safer and longer lives – and we have all the data we need to prove it. So why does everybody remain convinced that the world is going to the dogs? Because that is what we pay attention to, as the thoroughbred fretters we are. The psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky have shown that people do not base their assumptions on how frequently something happens, but on how easy it is to recall examples. This ‘availability heuristic’ means that the more memorable an incident is, the more probable we think it is. And what is more memorable than horror? What do you remember best – your neighbour’s story about a decent restaurant which serves excellent lamb stew, or his warning about the place where he was poisoned and threw up all over his boss’s wife?


“Put not your trust in Princes,” says the Bible. You shoulda listened to the Bible! The last podcast before the Klavanless Weekend begins…


Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America dissect Donald Trump’s massive shift on immigration policy towards allowing the “terrific” illegal immigrants to stay if they go through a process – the very policy he blasted during the primaries – and they marvel that many of his strongest supporters are perfectly fine with it. They also hammer Hillary Clinton for saying there is a lot of smoke but no fire behind evidence a majority of her private meetings while at the State Department were with big Clinton Foundation donors. And we unload on the Republican Louisiana lawmaker who wants to force people to be certified and pay a permit fee to rescue their neighbors during natural disasters.


Trump Softens on Immigration, Coulter Follows Suit

Coulter Trump Book Sm
My slight edit of Coulter’s book cover.

Talk about bad timing. Wednesday night at the Breitbart Embassy in DC, Ann Coulter held a book signing for In God We Trus… oops, I mean In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome. Earlier that day, Donald Trump told Sean Hannity that he was “softening” his position on immigration, the main issue that made Coulter and a plurality of primary voters select him as the GOP nominee. Oh, to be a fly on the wall at that confab.

Coulter’s book makes the argument that “[T]here’s nothing Trump can do that won’t be forgiven. Except change his immigration policies.” On MSNBC’s “Hardball” she said, “This could be the shortest book tour ever if he’s really softening his position on immigration.” So there’s absolutely no way the passionately anti-immigration author could support her candidate’s flip-flop, right? Sorry, but we’ve got books to move:


Why Are We So Dumb About Healthcare?


Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 11.20.03 AMWhen Sarah Palin first started talking about “Death Panels,” I cringed: Not because the prospect of a government panel empowered to make medical decisions on citizens’ behalf wasn’t totally creepy (it was) but because private insurance does the same thing. Now, I’d argue that a system based on free-market, private insurance has, regardless, enormous advantages to the alternatives, but this doesn’t mean that private insurers don’t sometimes need to be cold-hearted bastards. The sad fact of life is that there’s no way to pay for top-end medical care for everyone, so some form of rationing (even the free-market kind) is inevitable.

But for some reason, nearly every society tries to pretend otherwise. Some of this can be explained away as leftism, but it always seems to hit healthcare the hardest? Consider, for example, how Senator Bernie Sanders made “Medicare for All” a major part of his platform, but not “SNAP for All.” Via Megan McArdle, part of the answer may be that human beings are hard-wired to see providing healthcare as a social good in itself, rather than treating the matter as service we trade for. From a paper by economist Robin Hanson, whom McArdle cites, this may explain many of our irrationalities regarding health care:

Ricochet Member FeedUpvoted by R> Members

Simple Life


wedding ringsI am a monogamous married man. I am not a romantic person, but I do love my wife dearly. I enjoy a simple life with her.

I do not have an ex. No ex-wife, no ex-in-laws, no alimony, no child support, no lawyer. My wife is the mother of my children, which also simplifies their lives. Our kids never had to keep a personal scheduler to know which home to go to after school. They never had to do that blended family thing.

Ricochet Member FeedUpvoted by R> Members

A turning point on “trigger warnings”?


I’ve spent a lot of time on university campuses. I arrived at my first a month shy of my 18th birthday, and though I’ve changed positions and locations since then, I have essentially never left the university environment. My father, who took a jaded view of my career path, was once asked during a prospective juror interview if he had any children. He dryly informed the judge that his elder son was “still in college”. I was, at the time, in my early 40s and an associate professor. And yet, to him, I was “still in college”.

Over my forty years “in college”, I’ve witnessed the unmistakable and enervating shift of campus discourse towards groupthink. The modern terms are “microaggressions” and “privilege”. Diversity means embracing people who look different, but only if think precisely the same way. Haters that see hate in everyone except themselves. Orwell himself would recognized what the political correctors have done to the concept of “tolerance”.


No Is Not Enough



Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving. It may succeed by its resistance to current tendencies in slowing down undesirable developments, but, since it does not indicate another direction, it cannot prevent their continuance. It has, for this reason, invariably been the fate of conservatism to be dragged along a path not of its own choosing. — F.A. Hayek

I come to praise conservatism, not to bury it. For as much as I tussle with my fellow conservatives on Ricochet, as a conservative libertarian, I consider myself a fellow traveler and a member of the tribe.


The Core Dilemma of Immigration


shutterstock_220487467On the Corner, Mark Krikorian writes:

[T]he disposition of the 12 million illegals already here is not the core dilemma we face. The core dilemma is how to we make sure we don’t end up with another 12 million illegal aliens. The very act of accepting the anti-borders crowd’s version of the “core dilemma” represents a surrender – once you’ve bought into their proposition, you’re left only to negotiate the price. (Fred Bauer makes a similar point about the “Amnesty Trap.”) As NR’s editorial put it: “Once the illegal population has measurably diminished, then we can have a discussion about what to do with the balance of the illegal population.” In other words, this is a secondary question, not the “core dilemma.” Until Republican politicians – all of them, not just Trump – internalize that fact, they’re going to remain at a disadvantage, always in the defensive when discussing illegal immigration. “Enforcement First” isn’t just a slogan – it’s a strategy.


This Might Hurt A Little


shutterstock_367395575The cost of living is going up. That is, the cost of staying alive if you’re someone who carries an EpiPen. Epinephrine is used for severe allergic reactions and if you don’t have it in some situations you’ll die. I can get a vial with 2-3 doses and some needles for a couple dollars and I hand these out to my flock for home use but the portable auto-injector now runs $550 (more according to the WSJ). These pens were over-priced at $100 nine years ago, but the price rose steadily and a competitor vanished.

Commercially insured patients have 80 percent of out-of-pocket costs covered (by the nasty crony manufacturer) while the company sticks it to the insurance carriers, who stick it to the patients and the doctors. This idiocy known as coupons partially allows for inflated costs and the rest is cronyism and a failing medical system.