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This is Sparta? Who cares? Why should we pay any attention to an ancient Greek city not called Athens? Paul A. Rahe explains in his new book, The Spartan Regime: Its Character, Origins, and Grand Strategy.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Rahe describes what makes the Spartans distinctive, why he studies them as a scholar, and what their story can teach us about statesmanship in the 21st century.

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The First Presidential Debate

 

Not since Godzilla fought King Kong have people so anticipated the confrontation between a radioactive lizard and a brutish ape. The first presidential debate was billed to me by various news sources as the culmination of the campaign a TV event that could rival and surpass the Super Bowl. Naturally I was curious to see it, and like some people who watch NASCAR I was secretly hoping to see something (or in this case someone) crash and burn. I think my first and overall impression of the debate was that while at times spicy it really seemed very conventional overall. So if you didn’t see it, but have kept up with the news of the campaign you aren’t going to see anything new by watching it. Save yourself the 1.5 hours. That said I will go into a more detailed set of impressions about this debate.

First off, I would just like to put my cards on the table here. I am one of those scurrilous people who for a lack of a better term is a NeverTrumper. I don’t like the guy or his policies. I also don’t like Hillary Clinton and I have no plan to vote for her. In fact right now I am likely to vote for no one for president (or maybe Evan McMullin if he is on the ballot in IL, but then again I repeat myself). A recent post by @claire asked us what if anything Trump or Hillary could say at this debate that would change my mind to vote for them. Well whatever that thing was none of them said it. As is my wont I will break this down by the two candidates and give you my impressions of each and how they did.

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Clinton/Trump Debate Wrap Up

 

CtVBmL3XEAAxZ2LThis is a preview from Tuesday morning’s The Daily Shot newsletter. Subscribe here free of charge.

In case you live under a rock or something, on Monday night Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton met for the first of three presidential debates. Beforehand, those in the know estimated 100 million people would watch. If you were not one of them, you are to be congratulated. To call it awful would be an exercise in hyperbolic understatement. It was utterly soul sucking. If for some reason (like, you hate yourself) you want to read a transcript, it can be found here.

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Trump Dominated the First Presidential Debate

 

CtUykGZUIAA4rx8Donald Trump was a dominating force in the first of the presidential debates. First, Lester Holt: He mostly stayed out of the way, letting the candidates speak and interact with each other. Holt deserves much credit for his deft handling of an undoubtedly difficult task. However, Trump also refused to allow Holt to interrupt on the occasions that Holt tried to redirect the conversation, first on stop-and-frisk and then on Trump’s position on the Iraq war. Trump would not allow Holt to take over. In short, Trump did what Mitt Romney couldn’t and John McCain wouldn’t: He refused to allow the moderator and the other candidate to direct the conversation. He refused to buy into the premise of the questions.

Hillary Clinton wore a fake, sickly smile throughout the debate, glancing condescendingly in Trump’s direction and rolling her eyes. “Well, just listen to what he said,” she said at one point. It was as if she thought his mere presence was a joke. Trump, on the other hand, treated Clinton as an equal, aggressively challenging her on repeated points — while being polite. No one has ever challenged her the way Trump did in any of the scores of debates I have watched her in since 2007. When Clinton said 50 national security officials had endorsed her, Trump responded that hundreds of generals have endorsed him and that “I’ll take the generals over the political hacks.” The clear meaning was that Clinton is a political hack. Trump made it more clear at several other points during the debate when he said that she was “all words” and no action, that politicians had ruined our foreign policy, and destroyed the inner cities.

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Ross Douthat Predicts the Outcome of the Debate

 

This strikes me, alas, as only too reasonable. If you can refute it, please do–please.

Hillary Clinton is not a particularly appealing politician. But she is a solid and experienced debater who knows the workings of American government inside and out. A careful, meticulous, unexciting performance of the kind that she has delivered in many debates before should suffice to make her look wiser, safer and more serious than the tabloid character across the stage from her.

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The Government’s Civil Rights Bullies

 

Microsoft Word - 20160908 Peaceful Coexistence 1pmEarlier this month, the US Commission on Civil Rights issued its report Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties. The report, which was occasioned in part by the same-sex marriage debate, tries to determine the correct relationship between antidiscrimination laws and the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion. Currently, persons of religious faith have been legally charged with discrimination under state antidiscrimination laws for refusing to provide their individualized services to same-sex couples because they sincerely believe that marriage is a relationship existing only between one man and one woman. The question is: should they be granted a religious exemption?

The report’s title, Peaceful Coexistence, conveys, perhaps unintentionally, a grim social reality in the United States. Historically, of course, it described the uneasy relationship between the US and the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. In that context, the phrase described how two nations, organized under radically different principles, could avoid the dangers of mutual annihilation through nuclear warfare.

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Why I’m a Reagan and You Should Be Too…

 

Approximately two months ago I sent a personal message to our beleaguered administrator @max that was short and to the point: “How do I cancel recurring payment for Ricochet?” The reply I received was equally short, and due to the internet’s inability to convey tone I read it as curt: “In your profile, click on Settings, then Billing.”

Fearing that Max had mistaken my PM as an indication that I wanted to quit Ricochet in a huff, I quickly assured him I simply wanted the chance to change my membership level if I so desired. I didn’t think much about that conversation until this morning when I received an email notifying me that my membership was set to expire in four days.

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In a totally uncoordinated, totally accidental, totally coincidental coincidence, major news outlets run totally coordinated attacks on Trump totally not taken word for word from Hillary Clinton’s website which said totally the same thing. Plus cultural correspondent Michael Knowles via satellite from the Writer’s Room. Barely.

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Will This Be the No-Fun Presidency for the Next POTUS?

 

Why does anyone want this job if you can’t do the fun stuff that makes voters happy: cutting taxes and spending money? From the WSJ:

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are likely to recite their varied promises for fresh government spending at Monday’s first presidential debate. One reality they’re unlikely to note: Whoever wins in November will enjoy far less latitude to spend money or cut taxes than any president since World War II. Not since Harry Truman will a new leader enter office with a higher debt-to-GDP ratio. And for the first time in decades, the new president will face the specter of widening deficits despite a growing economy. “The next president, no doubt, is going to be very constrained,” said Rep. Charlie Dent, a Pennsylvania Republican who sits on the House appropriations committee and hasn’t endorsed anyone for president.

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It’s a special pre-Presidential debate episode of HWX with Brian Ward and Paul Happe. They set the stage with some in-depth analysis of Hillary’s vital signs and Trump’s surging poll numbers. Also coverage of Hillary’s latest attempt to humanize herself, and we have exclusive audio, of Comedy Central’s upcoming Roast of Hillary Clinton.

 

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America shake their heads at the pre-debate circus, including the Clinton campaign demanding that Lester Holt play fact checker. They also slam Ted Cruz for endorsing Trump after saying in July he would not be a “servile puppy” to someone who attacked his wife and father. And they laugh as Bernie Sanders, who ran a campaign calling for a political revolution, tells his supporters not to cast protest votes for third party candidates.

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November Gift Giving Guide: In Support of the Chia Pet

 

Cqj6tPnVYAAFHSaSometimes a Chia Pet is the proper gift for even the most serious, formal occasion. For instance, if you give a questionable gift for a serious occasion and it turns out to prove deeply flawed, you look foolish and may irreparable harm to your relationship and those you love. But a Chia Pet isn’t questionable. It isn’t a deplorable choice. It’s just obviously, intentionally wrong.

And sometimes, you don’t have a choice.

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In the inaugural episode of OppCast, hosts John Hart and Ellen Carmichael break down how the current state of American society led to the crazy political year of 2016. Plus: Opportunity Lives contributor Patrick Brennan joins to discuss an innovative fix to the controversial minimum wage increase.

OppCast is a weekly podcast from Opportunity News Media that cracks through the surface of political commentary to reveal the people and passions behind the headlines. Amidst all the negativity in today’s media, we strive to focus on the positive stories in American politics: the doers, the reformers, the people who are making an impact both in Washington DC and your own community.

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Should the Mob Be Appeased, Even Without Evidence?

 

080111gaygoggles7Monday’s Los Angeles Times features a story on the recent police shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte. Running under the headline “How two police shootings of black men sent Tulsa and Charlotte in different directions,” the article appears to endorse the notion that police officers involved in controversial shootings should be criminally charged as quickly as possible in order to avoid rioting.

“In Tulsa, Okla., on Thursday,” the story says, “a group of 50 demonstrators was preparing to march when people suddenly started cheering. ‘Have some ice cream!’ activist Shay White told demonstrators from a microphone. The officer who shot Terence Crutcher had just been charged with manslaughter. White told everyone to go home to rest, and the crowd quickly obliged.”

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Permalink to Remaining #NeverTrumpers Now Officially More Catholic than the Pope

Remaining #NeverTrumpers Now Officially More Catholic than the Pope

 

This week in a lengthy statement posted on Facebook, Senator Ted Cruz (in the charming locution used by Laura Ingraham at the Republican National Convention) put on his big boy pants and endorsed the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, for President. Cruz thereby undermined the remnants of the #NeverTrump movement whose adherents continue to oppose Donald Trump and argue that they are supporting conservative principles while doing so.

Cruz avowed that his reasons for endorsing Trump were twofold. The first reason was that he had made a pledge which he felt obliged to keep. That’s all well and good.

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What Gay activists and the media do not understand about morality and choice.

 

Last week’s publication of a survey of hohe relevant scientific literature regarding gender identity and the biological basis if any for homosexuality has reignited the debate over whether homosexuality is a moral choice or an inborn trait analogous to race. The survey found that there is no conclusive evidence that being gay or transgendered has a genetic origin. The gay rights community has falsely claimed the survey places the burden on those who are skeptical of the claim, as if the burden of proof is on those skeptical of a proposition to disprove the contention rather than the reverse. More importantly, however, even if it were true that sexual preference is genetic, that would not take homosexuality out of the realm of moral debate the way gay activists claim it would.

First, gay activists are trying to flip the burden of proof onto the skeptics. If homosexual preference is the result of some genetic or other physiological process, it is observable. The debate over whether homosexuality is genetic is a physical rather than metaphysical debate. Physical processes and characteristics are observable and predictable. If no one has yet found some predictable and observable process that results in people having a sexual preference for the same sex, then the default answer is that it homosexuality is not the result of a genetic or physiological phenomenon. If something can be seen but is not seen, we don’t assume it is there until we see it. So the burden of proof lies with those who claim that sexual preference is somehow genetically driven.

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Can the NeverTrumps Save the Republican Party–The Math

 

I regard as sincere the NeverTrumps strategy to oppose Trump in order to save the Republican Party and conservatism. But will opposing Trump save the Party? What are the merits of this strategy? Here at Ricochet, the discussion of this topic is a well trodden path but rhetorical discussion is subjective and never definitive. So where has it gotten us? The mathematics of the situation may offer a better analysis.

Screen shot 2016-09-23 at 10.03.01 AMThe Republican Primary Electorate by the Numbers

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Connect the Dots

 

A good friend sent me this article. Her name is Chris Rubin and I think the article makes some sense out of FBI Director Comey’s actions.

I have been following Hillary’s email scandal since it started and today I feel like I have just watched the last scene of The Sixth Sense. As Bernie Sanders said in a debate with Hillary, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.” Bernie was right, it was never about Hillary’s emails.

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Saturday Night Science: Idea Makers

 

“Idea Makers” by Stephen WolframI first met Stephen Wolfram in 1988. Within minutes, I knew I was in the presence of an extraordinary mind, combined with intellectual ambition the likes of which I had never before encountered. He explained that he was working on a system to automate much of the tedious work of mathematics—both pure and applied—with the goal of changing how science and mathematics were done forever. I not only thought that was ambitious; I thought it was crazy. But then Stephen went and launched Mathematica and, twenty-eight years and eleven major releases later, his goal has largely been achieved. At the centre of a vast ecosystem of add-ons developed by his company, Wolfram Research, and third parties, it has become one of the tools of choice for scientists, mathematicians, and engineers in numerous fields.

Unlike many people who founded software companies, Wolfram never took his company public nor sold an interest in it to a larger company. This has allowed him to maintain complete control over the architecture, strategy, and goals of the company and its products. After the success of Mathematica, many other people, and I, learned to listen when Stephen, in his soft-spoken way, proclaims what seems initially to be an outrageously ambitious goal. In the 1990s, he set to work to invent A New Kind of Science: the book was published in 2002, and shows how simple computational systems can produce the kind of complexity observed in nature, and how experimental exploration of computational spaces provides a new path to discovery unlike that of traditional mathematics and science. Then he said he was going to integrate all of the knowledge of science and technology into a “big data” language which would enable knowledge-based computing and the discovery of new facts and relationships by simple queries short enough to tweet. Wolfram Alpha was launched in 2009, and Wolfram Language in 2013. So when Stephen speaks of goals such as curating all of pure mathematics or discovering a simple computational model for fundamental physics, I take him seriously.

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Giving the Benefit of the Doubt and Voting One’s Conscience

 

I did not vote for Donald Trump in the primaries. Nor did I vote for my preferred choice in the primaries. By the time the primaries reached Michigan, my preferred choice had dropped out. So had my second choice. So had my third. By the time the primaries came to my state, I had to choose who the best remaining viable candidate was. That was Ted Cruz. Unfortunately, he did not win the nomination.

Now, the primaries were a rough fight and many of the candidates came out bruised up, including Cruz. Trump had insulted his wife and made accusations against his father. Slights of that kind can take time to heal. At the convention, Senator Cruz said, “Vote your conscience.” I agreed with that and intended to do so.

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