Ride Along With Mitch


Andy Ferguson’s cover story on Mitch Daniels in the current issue of the Weekly Standard represents a really glorious piece of journalism, deeply reported, gorgeously written, and–let’s just say it–important. Andy presents a thorough account of Daniels’s record as governor of Indiana, of course–turning a $200 million deficit into a $1.3 billion surplus, cutting property taxes, shrinking the state payroll by more than ten percent–but also a portrait of Daniels in motion, criss-crossing the state on his Harley. Stopping at a McDonald’s, for example, the governor asks a couple of Hoosiers if he might sit down with them.

[They were] a pair of unkempt young men in wifebeaters hanging loose at their shoulders. Both had pony tails….They were roofers stoking themselves with five or six Sausage McMuffins before getting to the job. The governor asked whether the building trades were picking up. They were extremely genial and had no more than a dozen teeth between them….

Economics. Technology. Otters. Pie.


My dear friends and blog people Peter Suderman and Megan McArdle are getting married tomorrow. While I’m clinking glasses and dancing like Beck, you should catch Megan’s guestbloggers, who are also dear friends. Coincidentally, they are smart, fun human beings, with whom it’s a pleasure to disagree as much as it is to agree. And don’t worry. If you’re not into econ, tech, or pie, these polymaths will serve you up something worth a peek. If you’re not into otters, prepare to be:

In Praise of Short Books


I was reading David Gelernter’s brilliant Judaism: A Way of Being, when suddenly I had a (non-religious) revelation: I love short books. Gelernter’s clocks in at under 250 pages, but its brevity makes it all the more powerful. When I look at my shelves, I realize that some of my other recent favorites — Paul Berman’s Flight of the Intellectuals, Robert Cooper’s Breaking of Nations, Robert Kagan’s Return of History and the End of Dreams, Shelby Steele’s A Bound Man, Benjamin Kunkel’s Indecisionare all quick reads as well.

Maybe I like short books because they give me the feeling of satisfaction which comes with finishing a book that much sooner. Or maybe I like them because editorial constraints force the writer to be pithy.

More from the Animal Kingdom


Everyone knows that New Hampshire hosts the nation’s first presidential primary. But less well known is that the Live Free or Die state is also home to both the world’s largest horse and the world’s smallest horse. (As of this writing, this stuff is officially “unofficial.” Perhaps we can ask Mark Steyn to get the scoop for Ricochet?)

Zeus, nearly 3,000 pounds, arrived from Maine on Tuesday. Einstein, the little fella, is a native and was born in late April.

And Now From the Realm of the Truly Bizarre…


Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y) lost a chunk of his hand yesterday to a goat.  But wait, there’s more!  This from the Huffington Post:

Nature’s karmic balance was briefly — and ironically — restored on Capitol Hill Thursday, when an Angora goat, brought to a press conference by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) as a prop to highlight the need to cut mohair wool subsidies, stabbed the Congressman.

Damon Dunn, Tea Partying


Below, just over 60 seconds of the remarks of Damon Dunn, GOP candidate for California secretary of state, at a tea party rally in Bakersfield. “I grew up poor. I understand that the government can never spend you into the middle class.”

Shocking If True


Look at this! William Kristol over at The Weekly Standard is quoting sources saying the Obama administration is preparing to support a UN resolution next week that will set up an independent commission to study Israel’s actions in the Gaza flotilla incident. Not Turkey’s actions. Not Hamas’ actions. Just Israel’s. I only hope they can get Rosie O’Donnell to head this puppy.

California Court Stunner: Something Fails the Rational Basis Test


Via Damon Root at Reason, Tim Sandefur at the Pacific Legal Foundation is right to hail this momentous event: any decision that strikes down economic regulation under the rational basis test is as rare as the proverbial black swan. As he lays out this case it is hard to think of anything sillier than this regulation. It looks as though it is just an effort to target Walgreens while leaving everyone else untouched. That has not stopped the Supreme Court from upholding similarly dumb legislation in the past, but perhaps this decision will encourage courts to look closely at similar legislation in the future.

At stake here is a really large issue. The system of free trade depends upon the rapid movement of goods and services throughout the economy. More outlets lead to better outcomes. But no one thinks that free trade should allow for the sale (or importation) of poisons or damaged goods. The hard question is how to keep the safety and health issues apart from the anticompetitive ones. That job is not impossible, and a willingness of courts to ratchet up the level of scrutiny would doubtless reveal dozens of politically motivated statutes that should be duly consigned to the dust heap. For those who do constitutional law, the epic decision in Lochner v. New York (1905) involved just this issue — a ten-hour maximum hour statute that was in reality an anticompetitive measure masquerading as a health statute.

Thoughts on the Teen Sailor


First, thank heavens she’s safe.

Second, speaking as a sad, old white man, isn’t her adventure an extreme example of today’s kids-run-the-school mentality? No doubt her parents believe that they were demonstrating their love by indulging Abby’s 16-year old ambition of sailing around the world. But here’s another way to demonstrate love: act like a grown-up and tell her that she’ll have to wait.

Cautionary Tales From The Marketing Time Capsule


I look at these — some are just victims of their time, but others: wow — and I wonder: what ads will we be mocking in twenty years? What reigning orthodoxies will look as hopeless as those of the late twentieth century look to us now?

It’s not just a matter of mocking now-stupid fads. It’s that our ads capture the sacred cows of their age. So in a generation, I’m hoping we all shake our heads at the way every TV commercial in 2010 cut quickly and irregularly among a series of diverse-as-possible good-looking people reading lines from a single script. What were they thinking?

Kagan and the Court


Andrea asks: During the 5/21/10 podcast, Elena Kagan was portrayed as a liberal with mediocre talent and a lack of passion for any particular agenda. My thought from this is that she would be replacing a Supreme Court Justice who is considered a “Liberal Lion” on the Court with a talent for debate and persuasion. If Kagan doesn’t have a liberal crusade (that we can tell), nor a powerful presence, won’t the liberal bloc of the Court be slightly less effective now when they vie for Justice Kennedy’s opinion?

What an excellent point. Richard and I were in agreement that Kagan had not made any great waves as an academic. No Kagan theory, no great debate over a Kagan argument, no books or articles of real note. For good or ill, that might not correlate at all with her performance as a Justice. The joke has always been that A students became professors, B students became Wall St. partners, and C students became federal judges. I won’t testify — at least while sober — as to whether this bears out in my personal experience.

Ricochet Q & A: Liz Mair – Part I


With Carly Fiorina pulling off the win in the California Republican primary, I put a few questions to Liz Mair, Carly for California online communications strategist and former RNC Online Communications Director. Liz graciously donned her political strategist hat and shared her thoughts. I’ll be posting her answers throughout the day. Here’s our first exchange.

JP: Now, how does Carly beat Boxer?

Soccer Is Boring


The f-folks at FIFA are dissing the US, saying the World Cup doesn’t need our support. My response has the elegance of brevity but is unprintable. The left has been trying to shove this god-awful sport down our throats forever, as one of its more underhanded assaults on American exceptionalism. They’ve polluted our schools with it so we’ll have a stake in it through our children. And it stinks. No one ever scores–which is unAmerican right there–and if God hadn’t meant us to throw, he wouldn’t have given us hands. And the way sportswriters keep reassuring us how “athletic” it is, as if that will take our minds off the fact that it’s also foreign and effeminate. I mean, ballet dancers are athletic, but look how they dress! And what’s with the chequered ball? I hate this game.

Diversity, Tea Party Style


My Wall Street Journal colleague, James Taranto, wonders who really is the party of sad old white males these days…

Now, let’s see how yesterday’s primary results comport with this image of the tea-party movement as a bunch of racist, sexist, superannuated scaredy-cats.

Only In America


And now, the most remarkable story from Tuesday’s primaries:

Alvin Greene, a relative unknown, shocked Democrats in the Palmetto State on Tuesday night by winning the chance to face Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican, this fall with a commanding victory over state lawmaker Vick Rawl in the Democratic primary.

Not that the Climate Change Brigade is Hysterical . . .


The Left is furious with Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski for trying to block the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act — especially since her bill is attracting support from some Democrats. Here’s a great example of the scientifically-rigorous critique of Murkowski’s legislation, from Tim Wirth, the former Colorado senator who now runs the United Nations Foundation:

Alaska is melting out from underneath her…and she’s effectively saying ‘lets don’t do anything’

An End Run Around Our Iran Policy?


The New York Times reported that Russia joined the leaders of Turkey and Iran at a nuclear arms summit in Istanbul on Tuesday — not a good sign for the Obama administration’s Iran policy which is entirely dependent on support for sanctions from Russia and China. More worrisome were the comments from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who expressed doubts about the UN Security Council sanctions resolution scheduled to be debated this week. “I hold the opinion that this resolution should not be unnecessary, should not put Iran’s leadership or the Iranian people into difficulty,” he said. Putin also warned against “excessive” measures on Iran.

The administration has believed for months that Russia — and China — would support some US-backed sanctions designed to further choke the ability of the leadership to conduct international business. And, indeed, the administration drafted the new round of sanctions with heavy input from (and sweet deals for) from Russia and China.

Most Important California Victory


Some say Meg. Some say Carly. I’m going with the Lakers, who took it to the Celtics in Boston last night to win back home field advantage after dropping it in LA. So far, this is one of the best defensive finals I’ve ever seen. Shooting percentage for both teams is in the tank but not for lack of skill, just too much D. Still, Sunday had Boston’s Ray Allen breaking something like four finals records by draining 8 three-pointers, 7 in a row. And last night, Derek Fisher proved, what I keep saying, that old guys rule as he kept the Lakers ahead despite a Celtic run in the fourth. Great series so far, now at 2-1 LA. Primaries? What primaries?

The “Immigrant” Vote: What the GOP Can Learn from Canada’s Conservatives


My mother, second child in a Mexican family of nine siblings, was the first in her family to immigrate to the United States when she was only 17 years old.  She worked hard, took English classes at a community college, sent money home to help support her family, and in the meantime started a family with an American.  A naturalized citizen as of 1997, Mom is a self-professed conservative, and votes accordingly. 

But my mother is an anomaly, not only in her own family, but in the Hispanic population – and indeed, the immigrant population – as a whole.