What is it about this era that we seem to be surrounded by such hubris? Whether it’s Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, oblivious to the danger in which he puts the lives of Afghans who trusted us, or Dr. Donald Berwick and his blithe willingness to be the arbiter of everyone’s medical decisions and practices, or the proposal — coming from the same Congressional clowns who created the mortgage mess — that it’s the mortgage brokers ought to be finger printed, there’s an entire class of people that is convinced that they are smarter, wiser, and more moral than the rest of us – when in fact precisely the reverse is likely the case.

Good Newt, Bad Newt


I attended the Newt Gingrich speech that James Pinkerton writes about below, and had a slightly different reaction. I thought Gingrich’s presentation and bearing clearly signaled he intends to run for president. (He could always get cold feet before next spring, though.) He was serious, he was clear, and he had his wife introduce him to the audience in what seems to have been a way to raise her (appealing) profile. Watching Gingrich, there was no question in my mind that he takes ideas seriously and would be a formidable contestant in any debate. That’s the good Newt.

The bad Newt shows up when we discuss his style. Gingrich’s rhetoric is tart, sarcastic, and occasionally pedantic. He has a tendency to ramble — the speech went on for more than an hour. You’d be forgiven for having the impression that Gingrich likes to hear the sound of his own voice.

Will Newt Gingrich lead the next populist revolt? (The MSM is making it easy for him.)


Newt Gingrich delivered a strong speech today at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, denouncing Islamic Sharia law and further denouncing those non-Muslims who would allow Sharia to emerge in the West–in the name of tolerance, multiculturalism, or just plain woolly-headed-ism. The former House Speaker also repeated his call to block the building of an “Islamic center” just a few hundred feet from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan.

The reaction within the room was extremely positive, but the reaction from the MSM is likely to continue to be negative. Time magazine’s Joe Klein, who has occasionally had nice things to say about Gingrich in the past, recently called him a “a complete jerk.” Over at The Atlantic, Max Fisher rounded up anti-Gingrich commentary under the headline, “With War on NYC Mosque, Has Newt Gingrich Lost It?”

Out-Grossing Ursula’s Bedbugs


Like Ursula, I don’t generally think of myself as a precious girly-girl. But while scanning through our local newspaper so better to serve you with valuable insight into Turkish high politics, I came across this item, to which I am not having the most manly and stoic of reactions:

Istanbul residents are facing concerns about the quality, not just the quantity, of the drinking water in the city’s dams following a report of dark, foul-smelling liquids flowing from a pipe into a key reservoir.

Anne Rice Denounces Christianity


As reported in the wonderful “First Things,” Gothic spook writer Anne Rice claims she’s still a Christian but she’s evidently fed up with organized Christianity and the Catholic Church. She gave a list of reasons like she refuses to be anti-gay, anti-democrat, anti-science.

Wow, she was really getting some bad information if she thought you have to be those things to be Catholic. She doesn’t know the first thing about Catholicism if she hasn’t figured this stuff out yet. Who needs her? We don’t. Cuckoo, cuckoo….

Barcelona and Friends Ban Bullfighting


Don’t be fooled by people asserting this is the first step toward a nationwide ban in Spain or France. To the rest of Spain, this will have the same impact as a ban on pet shops in San Francisco would have on Texas.

When people tell me that Barcelona is their favorite part of Spain I say, “really, it’s my least favorite.” Sell-outs!

Cameron’s Astonishingly Stupid Ankara Speech


James Poulos just dropped me a note to ask what I made of David Frum’s theory about David Cameron’s astonishingly unctuous Ankara speech. (Actually, it’s not Frum’s theory, it’s Frum’s secret cynical French informant’s theory, but that train of possessives would be hard to follow.) To appreciate just why the speech was so egregious–if it isn’t already self-evident–I commend to your attention both Melanie Phillips‘ perfectly correct observations about it and those of Michael Weiss.

His cynical French friend, writes Frum,

Member Post


Peter Robinson points out that people don’t much remember the Cold War anymore. I am concerned that in a few more years nobody will remember the Constitution either. Consider the following news from Massachusetts — no, not the brouhaha over John Kerry’s failure to cough up $500K in sales tax on his yacht, this is […]

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Member Post


It’s one for the ages as Robinson, Long, and Lileks are joined by conservative thinker, writer, climatologist, Obama Administration Czar, and some TV game show hosting thing he does on the side, Pat Sajak. In fact, we’ll skip the traditional summary and rundown this week and just say that If you’ve never heard Pat talk […]

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The Narrative


Ricochet member Confucius, the Œcumenical Volgi, just sent me this video clip from 60 Minutes. It’s extremely important–I hope you’ll all watch it.

A former member of a Muslim extremist group tells Lesley Stahl the reason for the increase in home-grown jihadists like the U.S. Army major accused of shooting 13 at Ft. Hood is an ideology called “the Narrative,” which states America is at war with Islam.

Ricochet College Entrance Exam


We’ve all seen the surveys—the ones showing how poorly informed Americans are about basic stuff like history, civics, science, and geography. So let’s pretend Rob and Peter decide to take this problem into their own hands. Let’s help them create a Ricochet College entrance exam for 17 year-olds.

Can you think of some sample questions that would uncover a young student’s basic grasp of history, science, art, and music? (Perhaps there’d be a separate test for math, literature, and grammar, and we could add an essay at some point.) But let’s start with some short-answer questions/requirements.

The United States Treasury is Running Out of Suckers


I’m a fan of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who has written beautifully about the business of understanding financial risk. His most recent book, The Black Swan, has been talked about to death in the wake of 2008’s financial collapse, but for my money his earlier book, Fooled By Randomness is a lot more accessible.

In an interview in the current issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, Taleb offers a very basic strategy for personal financial management:

Speaking of Tattoos


The rise in the number of Ataturk-signature tatoos here–a deliberate protest gesture–is interesting:

According to Garcia, whose mother is Turkish and father Spanish, the signature comes from the document Ataturk signed to abolish the old Arabic-based Ottoman alphabet for Turkey to start using the Latin-based one; a well-understood step to make Turkey more similar to Europe.

AZ Opponents Want Sanctuary: 14 Year Old Girls Want To Go To Raves


I was on Redeye with Greg Gutfeld last week in New York (which is a genius show by the way, it’s a shame they have to resort to me), and I made the point that there is no way to logically argue against the attempts by Arizona to reform its immigration law. Everyone who tries just ends up making zero sense with circular reasoning apparent to everyone but themselves. They sound like a 14 year old girl trying to argue why she should be able to stay out all night at a rave. The real answer is “because she wants to and all her friends are going to be there.” There’s no other argument.

Hon. Susan Bolton doesn’t want to support it, so she’s put forth some illogical arguments so she can “go to the rave” with all her friends. Her friends are at the rave. She wants to go there too. If she can’t go she will “miss out” and not be “cool” anymore. If we don’t let them go to the rave, they will all have tantrums.

United States v. Arizona


Working my way through Judge Susan Bolton’s 36 page opinion in United States v. Arizona proves once again that dense technical law is often the source of great political struggles. Her opinion spends lots of time on the question of whether there is sufficient irreparable harm to allow for the United States government to get an injunction before the statute goes into effect. She also gave effect to the severability provision of the Arizona statute that let many of its provisions survive, even as others were struck down. I have no question that under the federal law of preemption, if the Arizona statute does frustrate the enforcement of the federal standards it must give way. What preemption says in effect is that under our constitutional order, the lowliest federal statute or regulation takes precedence over any state law, including all constitutional provisions and all legislation.

The World War II case of Hines v. Davidowitz is a powerful weapon for the federal government in this case with respect to the key provisions of the statute that deal with stops, detentions and arrests on the one hand, and with the presentation of papers on the other. If there is any action by the state that increases the burdens on the federal government, there is a credible case for preemption. I do not agree with Judge Bolton’s interpretation of the statute on some key points, and think that it was unwise of the federal government in this case to seek an injunction against the enforcement of the statute before it was put in effect. But as a matter of black-letter law, the U.S. is likely to win on appeal—and face the political consequences of taking a strong stand on a highly popular and highly divisive law.