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Los Angeles – Paul Krugman took home the Academy Award for Economics yesterday for his role as a pundit posing as a morally-vain economist who couches his arguments in contemptuous terms toward dissenters. “Those who disagree with my views are either fools, knaves or foolish knaves” he said in his acceptance speech, transforming into the award-winning roll before his colleagues who comprise […]

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As President Obama has aptly demonstrated, a President has considerable powers (some even authorized) in addition to powers which require the cooperation of legislators. Most of these powers are known before one enters office. So why doesn’t every candidate plan these well in advance?  Publicizing one’s full list during the campaign might scare away voters […]

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From The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn: Routines are not just good theory. They work in practice. Order makes life more peaceful, more efficient, and more effective. In fact the more routines we develop, the more effective we become. Routines free us from the need to ponder small details over and over again; routines let […]

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So for those of you who read the Ricochet Daily Shot (and those of you who don’t, you’re seriously missing out – stop reading this post and sign up now, then come back), you’ll know that today it was reported that the Oregonian has called for Gov. Kitzhaber’s resignation for allowing First Lady Cylvia Hayes […]

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A Meditation on Politics and Speech

 

Jonathan Chait just published a lengthy think-piece in the New York magazine about political correctness, identity politics, and the left’s newfound skepticism about free speech. I won’t bother to reproduce it here, because a) it’s mostly a series of interconnected anecdotes that don’t lend themselves to fisking, and b) there’s not really anything in it conservatives haven’t been grumping about for the past few years. Still, it’s nice to see that even flaks who make their living calling Republicans murderers for not being fond of Obamacare can have a sensible thought once in a while.

Chait is correct — though it galls me to admit it — in saying, along with fellow-travelers Frederik DeBoer (who wrote a similar essay last year) and Andrew Sullivan, that the modern social-justice left has in large part devolved into a whinging comparative-oppression Olympics where the laurels go not to the strong or swift but to those who reach for the smelling salts quickest, and whose swoons onto the nearest fainting couch are most theatrical and filled with au courant buzzwords. He is also correct in recognizing that there is a powerful trend in modern progressivism turning away from small-l “liberal” abstract values like free speech and towards a hard-nosed consequentialism where the ends truly do justify the means. On this point Chait actually gets off something resembling a zinger:

Playing the Short Stack

 

shutterstock_242602498In poker, your strategy should vary by how many chips you have in front of you. Every hand, each player is required to ante-up a small amount to stay in the game. If you’re winning, paying the ante is no big deal, and you can afford to play the long game: make safe bets, don’t bluff stupidly, wait for a good hand, and be content to let the ante drive your opponents broke.

If you’re losing, you’ve only got a few chips in front of you. Just putting your ante in the pot every time leaves your bankroll empty after, maybe, eight hands. You can’t afford to wait. You must bet on middling hands and — if necessary — bluff wildly. It’s not a question of winning: you’re playing to stay in the game. Delaying the inevitable loses every time, but making risky plays only loses most of the time; sometimes, it actually leads to victory.

In poker terms, that’s called “playing the short stack.” As a principle of strategy it has applications all over. Look at Putin: if gas prices remain low, the Russian economy will tank. To remain in power, he’ll have to find other ways of making Russians love him, probably by sending tanks where we don’t want them. Look at the Seahawks; they pull out all the trick plays to come back and actually win against my beloved Packers. Look at Herman Cain last election; he wasn’t going to win by being “the boring-but-reliable guy” or even “the boring-but-reliable black guy” so he had to make some waves. He kept shouting “Nine Nine Nine!” so people would pay attention to him. Otherwise he’d just have lost quietly.

How Long Does the Senate Stay Republican?

 

You won’t hear much talk about the House changing hands in 2016. With 247 seats under Republican control, Nancy Pelosi would need a Democrat landslide the likes of which hasn’t been seen since 2006 to make that happen. As there won’t be an unpopular GOP president driving the next election, such a scenario seems unlikely. Besides, the same rising tide that would bring in a Democratic House majority in 2016 would probably wash it out to sea in 2018 after a negative midterm referendum against a Democratic president.

The Senate, where Republicans hold a far less commanding 54-46 advantage, is another matter. In 2016, 34 members of the Senate’s “Class 3″ will have to decide whether to retire or seek another term. That includes 24 Republicans and 10 Democrats. To make matters worse for the GOP: only two Democratic seats are in competitive states (Colorado and Nevada), while over half a dozen Republican incumbents are up in states that Barack Obama carried at least once.(In 2018, the pendulum swings back the GOP’s way, with 23 Democrats — and 3 independents who caucus with them — up for reelection versus only 8 Republicans).

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Most people understand that change, as such, is not a value. It’s a phenomenon, and it’s happening everywhere all the time whether we like it or not. William F. Buckley famously described a conservative as someone who stands athwart history shouting “Stop!” The merits of doing so can be debated, but at least the proposition makes […]

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One of my friends is a writer who is presently spending time in Malaysia as his wife teaches English. He’s among my liberal friends and though he’s strongly in that direction, I’ve found I can have at least intelligent disagreements with him. Earlier this week he posts this picture: He commented on this as well: […]

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RINO Squishes Avoided The Shutdown

 

downLast night, the GOP leadership once again confirmed their contempt for the values of the people who elected them. The Republicans — and all the other spineless waifs who claim to be conservatives — avoided the dreaded government shutdown by passing what people are ridiculously calling the “CRomnibus” spending bill, which funds most of the government for the remainder of the fiscal year that began on 1 October. The measure passed 219 to 206 in the House and, of course, the Senate is going to vote for it.

The bill’s passage began with the rule vote in the House that determined how it would be debated, what amendments and riders could be added, and how they could be added. This process almost failed thanks to some brave conservatives holding out for a short-term spending bill that would get the government funded until the GOP controlled both chambers of Congress and could craft a budget of their own liking. But there was horse trading going on to get the rules vote to where it needed to be to pass. Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) claims that the GOP leadership secured his vote at the last minute by telling him that they would introduce a short-term spending bill once the rules vote passed. Needless to say, he was lied to.

After the rules vote, Democrats were the next hurdle for the GOP leadership to overcome. People close to the action claim that it took the White House’s involvement to garner enough Democratic votes to overcome the loss of conservatives who refused to take part in this betrayal. In the end, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) claims that “In 20 years of being on the appropriations [committee], I haven’t seen a better compromise in terms of Democratic priorities.” So to avoid a shutdown, something that the Wizards of Smart in the GOP “intelligentsia” told us was paramount, the House had to pass a spending bill which is basically an entire budget for FY2015, that gave the very people who many claim to be severely harming the country everything they wanted. Real smart.

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This Texas Monthly cover isn’t really COC compliant. I felt I needed to link it anyway. It has me wondering whether the jubilee has come. For non-Texans, here is the deal.  Texas Monthly issues its Bum Steer Awards every January to the biggest morons associated with Texas and for the biggest WTF in Texas. Preview […]

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The Cost of Winning

 

Over at Hot Air, Jazz Shaw describes his experience being interviewed for The Daily Show:

They had a long script of questions, and a number of them were asked multiple times to see what variety of answers I might give. I was consciously working during every exchange to not give them any short, clipped, yes or no answers that they could weave into the segment out of context. I anticipated some of the obvious ones they might ask. One great example showed up when they asked me about details of the drill bits, how deep in the ground they went and how long they stayed down there. The obvious implication was that it was dumb to “raise awareness” by painting the bits pink because so few people would ever see them. When she asked me how many people actually saw the drill bits I smiled and said, “well, between CNN, MSNBC and now the Daily Show… tens of millions? So I guess it worked out okay after all.”

It’s Not All About You

 

494px-Michelangelo_Caravaggio_065As babies, we all start life as profound narcissists: other people — particularly Mom & Dad — exist only for our benefits. As we mature, however, we slowly learn that the world is not about us. Our siblings, we realize, are just as much entitled to our parents’ love; our parents, in turn, have their own lives, which began before ours; our friends have families as central to their existence as ours are; as we reach adulthood, we realize that billions upon billions of people live long, meaningful, lives without ever having ever given us a second’s thought.

Unfortunately, such thinking is not inevitable and, in certain professions, gets in the way of things. As Dan Drezner points out in his Washington Post column today on the controversy over when (or if) the US Senate should release its report on CIA torture and rendition during the Bush Administration, the delusion that the world turns on your word is easy to find among the members (current and former) of the upper chamber:

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that if Dianne Feinstein, Lindsey Graham, and the director of Human Rights Watch all think the report is necessary to prevent the United States from committing the same egregious mistakes in the future, then that countermands the magical thinking needed to accept the worst-case scenarios regarding its publication.

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MARIJUANA AND PLASTIC BAGS Most of us are old enough to remember when plastic grocery bags were legal but not marijuana. If envy really is the only deadly sin which does not provide even temporary pleasure, then it’s my unhappy lot to look on as Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington (state and District) legalize recreational marijuana […]

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The entire idea of representatives voting, after being voted out of office, has always bothered me.  The morality is dicey at best, and fraught with potential abuse.  The historical delay between elections and the convening of the ‘new’ congress was based on travel by horse.   It’s time for a change.  Except in the case of […]

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