Christie’s Last Chance on Guns?


If I were teaching a civics course — and if you are, please borrow this example — I’d include a whole lesson on New Jersey Assembly Bill No. 700. Known as the Childproof Handgun Law, it was passed in 2002 in an attempt to encourage the manufacture of “smart guns.” It’s arguably one of the most foolish laws ever passed from any perspective, perfectly illustrating not only the effects of legislative ignorance and hubris, but also the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cheer most of Nikki Haley’s Republican response to the State of the Union, especially her personal story and the contrast she paints between the visions of Republicans and Democrats.  They also slam President Obama for telling everyone to calm down about ISIS since they can’t destroy our entire nation.  And they shake their heads as Obama contends the arrest of one man for the Benghazi attacks shows he will do whatever it takes to bring terrorists to justice.

The State of Obama Address


president-obama-sotuPresidential State of the Union addresses have something of a checkered past.

What started as an “annual message” in 1790—all the US Constitution dictates is the President “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union”—nominally changed in 1946, then crept into television’s prime time beginning in 1965.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan took the big speech in yet another direction, not for the better: “heroes” in the House gallery. Reagan did it to salute an average Joe named Lenny who jumped into an icy river to save a plane-crash survivor. Since then, it’s been a seemingly inexhaustible supply of human props meant to back a presidential agenda. A pathway to America’s future, it would seem, must include a little pathos.

Iowa: Maybe It’s Time to Let Another State Go First?


rick-perry-visits-iowa-state-fairI was thinking today of the central role Iowa plays in electoral politics. It skews — unsurprisingly — traditional, conservative, and even religious. In fact, I think Iowa’s religious leanings (evangelical especially) cast a long shadow across the whole Republican nomination process. I mean, fer cryin’ out loud, the Iowa caucuses have Donald Trump trying to thump a bible. Huckabee has won here, Santorum too. Their success in this one state carried them a long way into the process, and losing here has eliminated much better-rounded candidates.

Now, what would happen, and what kind of candidates would the Republican Party put forward, if the nomination process proceeded in a different order? What kind of characters would we see making it to the later states if they surfed the wave created by a California win? I’m certain many flyover Republicans would not stand for such a thing, but the immense weight carried by religious voters in Iowa probably drives the coastal elites batty by the time they get their say in the process. Is there a better order? Is this the only way for social values and religious conservatives to have a real say in the nominating process?

Down with the State of the Union


Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.43.09 AMThat may have been the dullest speech from President Obama I have ever heard; certainly, the worst since his last State of the Union. Like his policies and ideas, his rhetoric has lost its luster. I used to watch his speeches and get nervous about how his smooth-talking and charming style could sell the country on his destructive, big government agenda. I don’t feel that worry anymore. When I watch his speeches now, I feel bored and unstimulated. Perhaps he’s gone to the well too many times. Perhaps the “hope and change” optimism is finally gone. All I hear are the same old ideas, talking points, and rhetorical devices we’ve heard repeated ad nauseam throughout his presidency.

I tuned in with the intention of finding material to counter and assumptions to challenge. Honestly, though, I found myself so uninterested while watching that I gave up on whatever policy discussion I was aiming for. The only observation worth mentioning is how utterly pointless the State of the Union is.

The whole event has devolved into a pep rally. It’s embarrassing to watch old men and women — elected officials in the highest offices of the land, no less — cheer like teenagers at the mere mention of a topic. Not a solution to a problem or a method of implementing a policy mind you, just a mere reference to an issue is enough to earn raucous cheering and a standing ovation. It makes me wonder who this is event is for. Well, no it doesn’t. It’s obvious. The president stands and delivers a shallow speech and is inundated with applause after every phrase. We know exactly who this event is for.

Who Would You Invite to the State of the Union?


clint-eastwood-chair-rnc-2012We did it, America! The nation has survived to witness Obama’s last State of the Union address. Granted, he still has 12 more months to let us get taken over by Uruguay or sign an executive order ceding all 50 states to Belgium, but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

As usual, the First Lady invited a slew of special guests to join her in the gallery, a convention first popularized when Nancy Reagan invited Lenny Skutnik, a federal worker who had rescued a plane crash victim from the Potomac.

According to the White House, tonight’s guests “tell the story of the progress we have made since the president delivered his first address seven years ago.” They include Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft; Maj. Lisa Jaster, one of the first female Army Reserve officers to graduate from Ranger School; Refaai Hamo, a Syrian refugee who lives in Troy, Mich.; and Cedric Rowland, a Chicago Obamacare “navigator.”

John, Scott, and Steve got together for a new edition of Power Line. Paul was unable to join due to a dentist appointment, which raises the question: would you rather get a root canal, or watch tonight’s State of the Union speech? Topics include the epidemic of mass sexual assault in Europe, and the podcast winds up with a terrific interview with Senator Jeff Sessions, which covers tonight’s speech, the omnibus budget bill, the filibuster, and more. You won’t want to miss it!

Don’t forget to subscribe to Power Line on iTunes and never miss an episode. 

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud Rand Paul for boycotting the undercard debate because it’s insulting and pointless. They also groan as Pres. Obama promises to give a State of the Union address that focuses on himself and that will pit the public against Congress. And they wonder why Jeb Bush is trying to score points against Marco Rubio on immigration, given his own support for a path to citizenship.

Deciphering Trump


TRUMP-IMG_3769Back in September, I was in Sydney, Australia, and I attended a program sponsored by a local conservative organization. The topic was the upcoming US presidential election and the state of the Republican primary: who’s up, who’s down, who’s the likely Republican nominee … you know, the usual stuff.

One of the panelists, a political consultant, was called upon to read the tea leaves. He described the Trump appeal as the American electorate “letting off some steam” and expressing their anger with the establishment political class. But not to worry, he said, echoing the mantra of the punditry class on both sides of the Pacific: This was a momentary thing, and would pass.

During the Q & A afterward, I politely posited that the electorate was not letting off steam but, rather, building it up. When Trump declared his candidacy back in June, he polled just a few percent in the public opinion polls. By July, he equalled Jeb Bush. Since November — when Ben Carson briefly matched him — he’s risen steadily to the mid 30s of support.

Member Post


In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis said that we don’t need Christian leaders or doctors or teachers — we need leaders, doctors, and teachers who are Christian and live that way themselves. I am a fervent, practicing Evangelical (we go to what was John Piper’s home, a Baptist church in Minneapolis) who does not see a […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Clinton Announces She’s for Taxpayer-funded Abortions


Via NRO, Hillary Clinton wants to end the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother. Via C-SPAN, here’s the relevant portion of the speech in question, in which she also praises Planned Parenthood, whose political action group has already endorsed her for president.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review react to a Hillary Clinton email that seemingly tells an aide to strip the the secure markings off a report and send it non-securely.  Jim explains why he believes a convention of the states to amend the Constitution needs to wait until the nation is more constitutionally literate.  And they slam Sean Penn for meeting with El Chapo while the drug kingpin was on the run.

Scandals Won’t Be Enough Against Clinton


640px-Hillary_Clinton_Testimony_to_House_Select_Committee_on_BenghaziHillary Clinton is a horribly corrupt human being. Conservatives know it. Liberals know it. The Clintons know it. It’s an important issue that should be part of the campaign against her.

That being said, it would benefit Republicans to tone-down the criticism of Clinton’s scandals. It may seem difficult to do, considering just how awful she really is and how tempting it is to lay out all her devilish activities from Arkansas to Benghazi. But talking about her scandals as much as Republicans do — and in the way we do it — dilutes the actual significance of her corruption and takes away from our vision.

Again, I’m not saying we should ignore her scandals. Rather, we should bring them up when they’re relevant — and on sparse occasion — so people know about the issue and get how corrupt she is. Basically, we should use them as a push factor away from the Left to complement a strong pull factor from the Right.

The Curious Cost of Preventing Rabies


RaccoonI was reading the news this morning and came across this item: How rabies is suddenly on the rise in Canada. (A hitchhiking raccoon, apparently.) When I got to the last paragraph, I saw something I didn’t understand:

Plenty of Canadians are bitten by rabid animals each year, of course, but they are usually saved by a $1,500 (post-exposure) injection of rabies immunoglobulin. If the injection is given before symptoms arise, it is universally effective at stopping the infection.

1,500 Canadian dollars? That’s about USD 1063,87. That’s really expensive.

What’s Your Most Embarrassing Vote?


hanging-chad-guyWe haven’t all been good conservatives. Some of us in the naivety of youth used to vote straight Democrat. Others were never liberal, but did stray here and there, like punching a chad for Mondale. Whether Rubio or He Who Shall Not Be Named is nominated, half the right will be gritting their teeth and casting a vote they’ll feel ashamed of. So now is a perfect time for us to confess our electoral sins. Let me start.

It’s no secret that I used to be a leftist, and not long ago. The first time I voted was in 2008, and it was for Barack Obama. While I’m not overjoyed with that, I can’t say I have confidence we’d have been better off with John McCain. He was one of the fathers of “campaign finance reform” and a man who joined the Republican party not to promote fiscal responsibility but to prove he’s always the most reasonable man in the room. McCain would likely have picked up where the Bush administration left off, expanding government and spending into oblivion — when he wasn’t busy declaring war on the other 193 UN member states. Oh, I’m being unfair to the old saber-rattler. With the guidance of his vice-president, he would’ve finally brought a peaceful resolution to the ghastly and protracted War on Christmas.

In 2012 I went for a (slight) upgrade, but it still won’t win me any friends around here. Disillusioned with Obama for a number of leftist reasons — his failure to fulfill his promise on closing Guantanamo, the signing the 2012 NDAA, more war in the Middle East, no public option, crackdowns on medical marijuana dispensaries, and so on — I wrote-in Bernie Sanders. At the time, I admired him for not being part of the establishment and openly describing himself as a socialist. Now I look at him as a coot with a dim understanding of economics, but at least he’s good on gun rights and he’s not a rat like most politicians. Still, four years of Obama was enough. America deserved better, and Romney was better. Of course, the election hinged on my vote, so I apologize for letting America down.

Tense, Boring, and — Squirrel!


IMG_2862It seems the natives are getting restless again, and you can trust me on that, speaking as the least restful nativist ever to grace these pages with thoughts from my viscera (thanks, Mona!). Like any place on the Internet, we have skillful trolls and blunt-force trolls, and here we pride ourselves on quality. It’s money well-spent.

The U.S. News and World Report cites a survey that has Trump pulling almost 20 percent of Democrats, as Hillary’s Hail Rodham play peters out at the fifty-yard line. Many people will say that this is inconceivable. “Inconceivable!” There, I said it for you.

In 2008 and 2012, what was inevitable for the GOP is exactly what happened, but the Democrats have some experience that we lack. In 2000, inevitable blowhard Al Gore was ensconced and lost, and in 2004, the inevitable wooden bore Kerry did the same. So when the inevitable no-man Hillary stepped up in 2008, a different whirling blade mowed her down. I do believe that Hillary would have lost to McCain-Palin and an energized, unified establishment-conservative party. Can’t prove a counterfactual, so it’s offered for your consideration.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Ian Tuttle of National Review applaud Taya Kyle for pointing out the Obama hypocrisy on guns and explaining why we need the right to keep and bear arms.  They also shudder as terrorism arrests in the U.S. show more holes in our refugee screening.  And they scold Mike Huckabee for claiming evangelicals aren’t with him this time because he will address abortion and marriage and they just want the issues to raise money.

Structural Reform and 2016


fortuneI have a prediction: Whoever wins the 2016 presidential election will serve only a single term in office. There are simply too many structural reforms that have to happen over the next four years for it to be otherwise. Here is a brief list:

  1. Healthcare, costs too much.
  2. Entitlements, too generous.
  3. Labor markets, too rigid (in oh so many ways).
  4. Immigration, needs controlling.
  5. Education, too expensive and corrupt.

Then there are the nasty ethnic crises waiting to pounce on America once it becomes clear that the government cannot keep its entitlement promises without transferring large amounts of wealth from younger, less-white workers to older, lilly-white retirees.

That said, I think a Republican president could do a lot of good. As the party of smug, upper-middle-class narcissists, the Democrats have a built-in incentive to inflame ethnic conflict. The GOP, on the other hand, has a big incentive to minimize it. That could make all the difference in whether we wake up to an EU-style American Union in 2020, or if we continue as the United States of America.

A Warning from a Canadian Conservative to the Republican Party


shutterstock_49662091I think the Republican establishment should be thanking Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

Why? Because the real existential danger to the Republican Party is neither Ted Cruz nor Donald Trump, but rather a viable conservative third party rising up from the grassroots. Since 1856 was the last year that a major political party was replaced in the US, many American readers might be forgiven for being skeptical. But as a Canadian conservative, I have seen it happen with my own eyes.

I keep returning to the Canadian Federal Election of 1993 because it holds so many lessons for the current American political scene. To understand how, a little history is in order. In the 1984 federal election, Brian Mulroney won the highest majority government in Canadian history. But in 1993, his successor in the Prime Minister’s office, the hapless Kim Campbell, proceeded to lose in the biggest landslide in Canadian history after a mere four months in office. In that year, the Canadian Parliament had 295 seats and the Mulroney-led Progressive Conservative (PC) Party held 169 of them. After election night, they were down to two. You read that right; they retained only two seats. So what happened?

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud the Republican Congress for getting an Obamacare repeal and a bill to defund Planned Parenthood to the president’s desk.  They also react to the Saudis starting to seek stronger ties with the Russians.  And they discuss John McCain’s suggestion that the eligibility of Ted Cruz deserves further scrutiny.