More on Iran’s Illegal Seizure of the Maersk Tigris


Maersk-TigrisLast week, Claire posted about Iran’s seizure of a Marshall Islands-flagged container ship, MV Maersk Tigris. To recap, the Iranians decided to demonstrate, yet again, that the U.S. is a worthless ally by seizing a cargo ship flagged by a country that we pledged to defend. It appears that the seizure is based on an Iranian court judgement against Maersk, which chartered the vessel.

Eugene Kontorovich, on the excellent Volokh Conspiracy blog, analyzes Iran’s legal claims for seizing the Maersk Tigris and concludes that the country doesn’t have a leg to stand on:

Maritime law in fact allows nations to arrest foreign vessels for certain kind of claims, or maritime liens, and the cargo dispute between Iran and Maersk qualifies. However, the arrest of ships engaged in innocent transit is limited under the United Convention of the Law of the Sea, and general custom, to a limited set of claims involving the vessel itself…

Your Top Two, Number-One Priorities


William_CaseyLast week, I suggested that Republicans should identify a short list of easy, low-risk, political victories with a mind toward establishing credibility and gaining momentum toward bigger, riskier, more important projects. That begs the question of what those bigger priorities should be, and that makes for some difficult decision making. As my dad’s former boss, Director of Central Intelligence Bill Casey, once explained to him:

If you’re brilliant, you can accomplish one thing. If you’re a genius you can accomplish two. The trick is to figure out the two things you want to get done, forget everything else, and be willing to take the beating you’ll get when everyone complains about all the things you didn’t get done.

So, Ricochetti, what are the two policy priorities the Republicans should pursue in 2017, should they win the presidency and hold congress? Bear in mind that we can only expect one of them to get done if the new president and congress are brilliant.

They Said If I Voted Republican in 2012, Cultural Issues Would Dominate Politics and They Were Right!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the years following the election of President Obama, Instapundit made a habit of pointing out how dire predictions made by the Left often came true. The horrors were visited upon us not by John McCain or Mitt Romney, but by Obama himself. Here’s a sampling of what I’m talking about.

One of the things we’ve heard repeatedly is that the GOP wants to fight the culture wars and people just don’t want to talk about those things. Plenty of free advice has dispensed over the years saying that if Republicans want to ever win a Presidential election again, they better stop talking about social issues – American’s doesn’t want to hear it. Well, perhaps the Democrats should take that heed that advice themselves as we approach the 2016 elections.

A string of recent stories have highlighted the Left’s engagement in the culture wars and their desire to push social issues to the forefront of people’s minds.

About Those Smoking Guns


In January, Robert F. McDonnell, 71st governor of Virginia, was sentenced to two years in prison followed by two years of supervised release after his conviction on 11 counts of public corruption. He, and especially his wife, behaved badly. But it’s worth taking a closer look at what was considered criminal in McDonnell’s case, because, at least so far, some in the press are suggesting that Hillary Clinton’s conduct must meet a much higher threshold to be considered problematic.

When ABC’s George Stephanopoulos interviewed Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash on Sunday, Stephanopoulos played the informal role of Clinton defense attorney. Skipping right over the truly squalid appearance of conflict of interest inherent in the Clinton Foundation accepting contributions from nations and firms having business before the State Department while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State, Stephanopoulos focused only on law breaking. “Do you have any evidence that a crime may have been committed?” he demanded. When Schweizer said he thought the material he, the New York Times, and others unearthed certainly merited further investigation, Stephanopoulos jumped on it: “But a criminal investigation? . . . Is there a smoking gun?”

Fix the Secret Service Already


shutterstock_159559880We learned this week that the Secret Service dawdled for an entire year before fixing a broken security system at the home of former president George H. W. Bush.

The Secret Service itself is looking pretty broken these days. A few weeks ago, two drunk agents returning from a party drove right through an active bomb investigation outside the White House. They didn’t notice that their colleagues were examining a suspicious package.

In 2012, a number of agents were found to have engaged prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia during a presidential trip. At least one of the prostitutes had links to a major drug cartel, according to investigators.

What Good Are Principles If You Won’t Stick to Them?


m-8458Last November, the people of Georgia State House district 102 reelected me to a third term. A few weeks ago, my 5th Legislative session ended. During the past five years as an elected official, I’ve learned a lot – not just about the legislative process – but about what makes a good legislator.

I still believe people run for office out of a genuine desire to serve their community. Almost without exception, people across the political spectrum run because they have an idea or a set of principles they believe will improve the lives of their neighbors. To be sure, people stumble along the way, make mistakes, become corrupt, or generally abandon the idealistic views they held when they first ran for office. Not everybody loses their way, however. In my experience, many legislators try to do the right thing. In our increasingly cynical society, I wish more people could see the good things I’ve seen while in the Legislature.

One bad thing I’ve observed in the Legislature are those who, over time, drift away from the principles they once held. Most often it’s because they’ve come to the conclusion that the system will never change. There’s good reason to think that. Government is often like the Borg from Star Trek — some eventually conclude that resistance is futile and join the collective.

Pre-Orders: Bad for Video Games & Primary Candidates


republican-destinyI’m a gamer. I haven’t been able to play very much lately because of school, but I’ve still been burned by more than a few video game pre-orders in my time. The first game that comes to mind for me is Destiny, which was hyped as the biggest game since Halo (whose series has made $3.4B). Press was extremely positive, and huge numbers of people pre-ordered the game without an inkling of what, exactly, it would be like. “Order early and get exclusive armors, weapons, and abilities,” said the ads. The video game masses were swayed by trinkets and a rabid fan base that will like the game no matter how flawed it might be. Most of us went along with it because the hype train for this game was huge, and who doesn’t like getting on the right hype train early? After all, the studio behind Halo was creating Destiny, so it stood to reason that Destiny would be at least as good as Halo. Right?

Wrong. The single player story was short, buggy, unfulfilling, boring, and hobbled by the need to purchase downloadable content (DLC), not just to enhance the game, but to simply complete the story. Destiny is not the only game to have issues with living up to the pre-order hype. Sim City (Really any game from EA), Assassin’s Creed Unity, and more have had issues.

I feel like this is an interesting parallel to primary races. Right now, we have a multitude of candidates that all of our friends want us to throw money at for what is, essentially, a pre-order. “Donate money to Ben Carson,” says my uncle. “Ted Cruz is a great candidate, and I’m sending him money,” says my dad. The problem I have with this is that why should we send any money to candidates who haven’t proved anything during this primary? Sure all of the current Republican candidates have great resumes, have accomplished a great deal, and all of them are smart. But why should everyday people be expected to pre-order a candidate at this point in the race?

Ricochet: Home of the Conservatarians?


41HW16e6UrLLast year, my good friend Will Patrick, here in Tallahassee, Florida, introduced me to the Ricochet podcasts. The first episode that caught my attention was one dedicated to President Reagan’s first meeting with Gorbachev at Reykjavik. It was fascinating.

For more than 10 years, I have been involved in the conservative/liberty movement through my current work at The James Madison Institute (JMI) in Florida, and previously with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI). Between what I read and the many speakers I get to meet and hear from in person and at conferences, I felt like I had a great grasp on all the top scholars and thinkers in the movement. However, the Ricochet podcast has served to introduce me to so many more, including people like Avik Roy and Charles C.W. Cooke. During my many travels visiting JMI’s supporters around the state of Florida, I listen to the podcast almost religiously and find it quite entertaining and thoughtful. [Editor’s Note: Want to become a member of Ricochet and get a free month on us? Join today and use the coupon code APRIL for your discount.]

After hearing Charlie Cooke on the Ricochet podcast several times, I migrated over to his Mad Dogs & Englishmen podcast. And I recently read his fascinating new book, The Conservatarian Manifesto (of which I will soon post a review).

Member Post


I did some intense digging on the web, and discovered some of Hillary’s “I’m A Real Person” itinerary.  I don’t have the details on the dates or locations, but it’s worth a look: 0600:  Have doppelganger take van to gas station, pump gas, return to Motel Six.  [Media coverage of me pumping gas like a […]

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If Hillary Is Your Champion, You Don’t Need An Adversary


mao_suitIn a normal world, the very thought of the person who sat idly by while four Americans were besieged and murdered at one of our embassies now wanting to be our “champion” would cause every heart in the country to go into immediate arrest. Unhappily, the world is no longer normal, leaving a small and regrettable percentage of the American electorate who will now invite the Inspector Clouseau of American politics to minister to their whims and desires. But, to be sure, they won’t be the same people who learned from experience the pitfalls of placing their hopes and trust in Hillary Clinton.

“Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion,” announced the person who looked upon the wreckage and misery that accompanied her husband’s serial sexual abuse of “everyday Americans” and decided to attack his victims. According to the Daily Mail, Bill Clinton’s infamous wagging finger and the “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” whopper was orchestrated at the direction of Hillary, who took the wrong side in the real War on Women. Remarking — when she returned to the White House following her “vast Right wing conspiracy” television interview — that “I guess that will teach them to [expletive] with us.” Except that it wasn’t “them [expletive-ing] with,” the Clintons, but rather the Clintons [expletive-ing] with them!

But the War on Women can be fickle after all, as Kathleen Willey — another of Bill’s Fondle U. alumna — observed when she said of Hillary “The point is what this woman is capable of doing to other women while she’s running a campaign basically on women’s issues.” Then again, what difference at this point does it make?

The Libertarian Warmist Brigade


shutterstock_170221427Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Professor Jonathan Adler, a scholar with “strong libertarian leanings” urges conservatives to accept man-made global warming, even though it is not “ideologically convenient.” Although I doubt whether his embrace of anthropogenic global warming (AGM) is all that inconvenient — a surefire way for any conservative to gain mainstream credibility is to take up some liberal cause, and lately that means either climate change or same-sex marriage — Adler does, I think, make two important points: 1) one’s ideology should not influence one’s conclusion about climate change (or lack thereof), and; 2) belief in man-made global warming does not necessarily mean that you endorse loony left solutions to climate change.

Fair enough, but Adler himself does not summon any evidence in favor of human-caused warming.  Instead he cites an article in Reason by libertarian science writer Ronald Bailey, who makes the case for AGM. But none of Bailey’s evidence proves any link between human activity and climate change. Indeed, I don’t think he even presents evidence of a long-term warming trend: he cites no data earlier than the 1950s, and much of his data is from the last couple decades — surely a mere blip in climate terms.  Bailey concedes that scientists can only speculate as to the reason for the 17-year hiatus in global warming, and he declares that the growing extent of Antarctic sea ice is “a climate change conundrum.” Other than that, it’s a slam dunk case for AGM.

Ricochetti: is this the best evidence there is for AGM?  I’m not convinced, but if you are, come out and make the case.  There’s nothing to be ashamed of – with Adler and Bailey, you’re in very respectable company.

The Cop Was Wrong, but How Wrong?


Shooting_of_Walter_ScottMy most recent contribution over at PJ Media concerns the police shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston. I don’t defend Michael Slager, the now-former police officer who killed Scott, as it’s clear he was wrong on many levels. But there is a question of just how wrong he was. From the piece:

Whatever Slager’s crimes, there is still a moral distinction to be made between a cop who errs, even as catastrophically as he did, and someone who kills in the course of a robbery or a gang feud or some other act of depravity. When the process has run its course, he will have earned the punishment the law prescribes for him. He has tarnished the police profession and made our job more difficult, but I cannot bring myself to hate him.

As happens most often on almost any website you could name — all except Ricochet, that is — the comments quickly became a cesspool into which I choose not to immerse myself. But, as always, I’m grateful for the opinions of the more informed and civilized community to be found here. Please read the whole thing let me know your thoughts.

Christie Starts the Ball Rolling?


Yesterday, Gov. Chris Christie gave a speech in New Hampshire advocating for means-testing Social Security, starting with those who have a post-retirement annual income of $80,000 and completely phasing it out for those with more than $200,000. While this is likely an attempt to revive his flagging electoral chances in the primaries, it demonstrates leadership by tackling entitlement reform, the ‘third rail of American politics:

The Race for Second?


Paul pauses during a network news interview on Capitol Hill in WashingtonThere is no next-in-line for the GOP nomination this cycle. We had one of the least-inspiring candidates the last time around — last two times? — while the other candidates all sputtered and fell.

This means the race is wide open, and we’ve already had much better talent announced already than we’ve had in the recent past (admittedly, not the highest bar to clear). But I think the vast majority of people, whether or not Scott Walker is exactly their man, don’t see any of the senators pictured here as having what it takes to make it.

This leads to speculation of what exactly Cruz, Rubio, and Paul are trying to accomplish by running. Sure, it will expand their national profile, and that’s usually a good thing for the narcissists who think they can and should rule others. Maybe they are trying to influence debate and nudge the platform and eventual nominee in their preferred direction.

Stephen Harper Should Play the Anti-American Card


imageWith a federal election coming up later this year, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s campaign strategy of using wedge issues to separate his principal opponent from Canadian voters while strengthening his bond with conservatives is coming into focus.

Regarding the former, he’s championed the construction of the Victims of Communism memorial in Ottawa, which has elicited shrieks of outrage from the Ottawa intelligentsia (as well as specious excuses from the Liberals). Again, the politics here are designed to separate voters of Polish, Ukrainian, and other Eastern European extraction — and, for that matter, non-European refugees of communism, such as the Cambodians — from the Liberal Party. In the latter mode, he’s commented on Bill C-42 – designed to deregulate gun ownership, as well as rural citizens’ need for guns to defend themselves.

As I have said a number of times before (here and here), another excellent wedge issue Harper might exploit is the Keystone XL pipeline, whose Congressional approval President Obama has recently vetoed. Traditionally, Harper’s Conservative Party has been seen in Canada as the pro-American party due to the Conservative’s natural ideological sympathy with the American system of government. The Liberals have used this to insinuate Conservative disloyalty to Canada. With Keystone XL, however, the roles are reversed: Harper can play the anti-American card against the Liberals, who are forced by their ties to environmentalism, to oppose a project that is indisputably good for the Canadian economy. So far, so good.

New Video, New Campaign, A New Hillary?


Under the guise of how to keep an idiot in suspense, I spent a good part of my Sunday waiting for Hillary Clinton’s much-anticipated Twitter announcement.

And then it came – surprise! – John Podesta, her campaign’s senior advisor, issuing this email to Mrs. Clinton’s fan base: “I wanted to make sure you heard it first from me – it’s official: Hillary’s running for president. She is hitting the road to Iowa to start talking directly to voters. There will be a formal kickoff event next month, and we look forward to seeing you there.”

Rubio Makes it Official


shutterstock_180970304 (1)From the New York Times:

MIAMI — Senator Marco Rubio of Florida told his top donors Monday that he was running for president in 2016, becoming the third Republican to officially enter the contest.

Mr. Rubio will make a formal announcement Monday evening here, when he is expected to present himself as the embodiment of generational change who can unite the Republican Party’s factions and offer economic solutions for the 21st century.

Asset Forfeiture Reform in New Mexico


384px-Governor_NewMexicoLate last month, the New Mexico legislature passed a bill — with no opposition in either chamber — reforming civil asset forfeiture, a process that is sometimes abused by law enforcement to seize citizens’ private property without their being convicted of a crime, or following a minor traffic violation. Worse yet, under some arrangements with the Feds, police departments can keep the money to use for their own budgets. No one knew whether Governor Susana Martinez would sign SB 560, and the clock was ticking before the legislature’s session ended. Well, she has done it!

Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has signed into law House Bill 560, the state’s broad asset forfeiture reform legislation. The bill, introduced by Republican Rep. Zachary Cook, had complete bipartisan approval in the state’s split House (controlled by Republicans) and Senate (controlled by Democrats).

More from Reason:

Handicapping the Republican Presidential Hopefuls


shutterstock_121492783The biggest issue with the current crop of Republican presidential candidates rests in the one characteristic they all share: that they are all politicians. Okay, so Dr. Carson is no politician, but he’s not a viable candidate, either. Let’s start with Jeb Bush. He used to be the most conservative of the Bushes, but he traded that in for what I’m sure he believes is practicality. It’s not. It’s not even compromise. It’s weakness. The media senses it, and they cheer for him. DocJay is right: Jeb is Hillary’s mark and nothing smacks more of politics than the Bush Dynasty.

Scott Walker is a fighter, no doubt, but his hands are still stained permanently with the ink of taxpayer dollars. In his short life, he’s been a politician… and nothing else. Chris Christie was a prosecutor before he immersed himself in politics. If there’s one thing nearly as disqualifying of politicians as politics, it’s the practice of law and — worse yet — the practice of law on the government payroll. Private practice is narrowly qualifying, but double-damn on those who cash a government check. And while Christie never had my vote, he earned my contempt when he wrapped his beefy arm around our President, seeking favor after disaster.

Rand Paul is an MD, an Ophthalmologist. So far, so good. His experience in politics is limited to the Senate but — in spite of his sometimes surly demeanor — his pedigree makes him yet another politician, yet another political legacy. And with this legacy comes the scent of his father’s kookiness. Ted Cruz is yet another lawyer, the former Solicitor General for the state of Texas, though he spent several years in private practice. As with Rand Paul, his first elected office is the US Senate.