One More Zing


Ricochet’s Morning Zingers provide, IMHO, one of the more entertaining web briefings around. But this morning cannot be zung without taking a look at Dorothy Rabinowitz’s WSJ op-ed page tour de force “Alien in the White House.” It’s a great piece and, among other things, gives a certain symbolic credence to the folks who insist Obama was born elsewhere or that he’s secretly a Muslim and suchlike. That may all be nonsense, but it expresses their accurate sense that this is not our guy somehow, not, I mean, America’s guy in very basic and important ways. The piece is free online at the link. Tolle lege. (Peter Robinson will explain what that means.)

Europe Adrift, Hellenic Hardship Greases Chinese Wheels



Spurred on by government incentives and bargain-basement prices, the Chinese are planning to pump hundreds of millions — perhaps billions — of euros into Greece even as other investors run the other way. The cornerstone of those plans is the transformation of the Mediterranean port of Piraeus into the Rotterdam of the south, creating a modern gateway linking Chinese factories with consumers across Europe and North Africa.

Mitch Daniels: Riding Harleys, Pinching Pennies


At his incredibly engrossing and great Tumblr feed, Ricochet member Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry has posted some of his favorite pull quotes from Andrew Ferguson’s Weekly Standard profile of our very own Gov. Mitch Daniels. Turns out, they’re some of my favorites, too — such as:

Daniels talked about bikes for a minute, told them of a group of Harley riders he’d met back at the McDonald’s, asked them what they’d been hearing. Then he got on his Harley and the Abate guys got back on theirs, and they moved onto the highway. Twenty minutes later, a small delegation of gray-suited businessmen who had been deputized to greet their governor were standing on the porch of Pastarrific Italian Restaurant in Kokomo, when their governor appeared, hunched on his Harley, with a gang of 25 men in long hair and black leather jackets behind him, in a thunderous internal-combustion roar.

Sensitivity Training


One of the local schools here in Connecticut has decided to retire its mascot, the Crusader, in the interest of being more “inclusive.” This decision came after an “Identity Task Force” was hired to review “all brand aspects” of St. Luke’s School (which, despite its name, bills itself as “a nondenominational school”).

“We didn’t want to associate with any particular people or culture. We would have rejected the Trojans or the Spartans if we had that. We’re all about the community. It is all about inclusiveness,” explained mascot committee co-chair Frank Henson, who was given the unpleasant job of explaining the news to the unhappy alumni. Luckily, the Identity Task Force doesn’t just criticize all the time, it also offers solutions.

Where Are Our Loud-Mouthed Celebrities?


I just did an interview with a nice lady from who wondered why Jewish celebrities, like the Israeli-born Natalie Portman, didn’t turn up for the pro-Israel rally in LA this weekend. Only the courageous Jon Voight was there – and Arnold Schwarzenegger, very much to his credit. I, of course, couldn’t speak for Portman and her ilk, but it’s a good question, isn’t it? Where’s Woody “Obama should be a dictator” Allen when it comes time to stand up for Israel’s sliver of democracy in the sea of Islamic oppression? All these politically active celebs, and not one could show up for the Jews? Well, it’s not hard to guess that at least part of the reason is that the left has gone down the rabbit hole on this one and Jewish celebrities have to keep their mouths shut to stay in with the cool kids. Not to mention off the Hollywood blacklist.

Constitutional Rights for Non-Citizens?


Ricochet member Flint Davis asks whether non-citizens get the benefit of constitutional rights. It used to be said that “the Constitution follows the flag,” and that the flag did not extend beyond the territory of the United States. This meant two things. First, the Constitution applied everywhere in U.S. territory, but that it did not outside U.S. territory. Within U.S. territory, non-citizens have rights because of the 14th Amendment, which declares “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Just before the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the 14th Amendment prohibits states from making or enforcing “any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States.” Notice that the 14th Amendment uses citizens in one places, and persons in another. This has long been thought to mean that non-citizens (“persons”) have due process and equal protection rights, once in the territory of the United States. The Fifth Amendment (which applies to the federal government) likewise uses the phrase “no person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

Sorry for the obsessive focus on the constitutional text — that can be a big no-no on the Supreme Court.

Should The Tea Party Stay Single-Issue?


Studies show, as Dave Weigel notes, a dip in the Tea Party’s national favorable numbers. But the movement’s got some real gains under its belt. What’s an object of political hype to do? Diversify, says Jeffrey Miron at NRO — into advocating the legalization of drugs! Not so fast, warns Jonah Goldberg. Key line:

Embracing legalization at this time would amount to nothing more than a catastrophic unforced error. And to be fair, I think the same logic applies to the issues surrounding gay marriage, abortion, Israel, the infield fly rule, the season finale of Lost (I know, I need to vent about that myself) and countless other issues.

A Supreme Court Bailout of Obama


In the continuing story of why the Supreme Court has been an obstacle the vigorous enforcement of the war on terrorism, the optimist in me (a la Peter Robinson channeling Ronald Reagan) hopes that the Justices might at least modify the Miranda warnings. In this piece in this morning’s Wall Street Journal, I take up Berghuis v. Thompkins, the Court’s recent decision that found that long silence after receiving Miranda warnings does not amount to invoking the right to remain silent. Instead, the Court said that a suspect has to affirmatively signal that he wants to invoke his constitutional rights.

What was most important, in my view, was that the Court brought up the government’s interest in prosecuting criminal activity and the burden on police as against the marginal benefits of the opposite rule. This is in great contrast to the last significant Miranda decision in 2000, where the Court rejected an effort by Congress to replace Miranda entirely — a stunning declaration of judicial supremacy in interpreting the Constitution, by the way. While that 2000 case shows that the Obama Administration’s proposal to expand the “public safety” exception to Miranda is an utterly hollow symbol, my hope is that this newfound willingness on the part of the Court may save the administration anyway. This is making the best of a bad policy, of course, because al Qaeda agents should not have any Miranda rights as enemy combatants in the first place. But as this administration is determined to treat them as criminal suspects, with the same rights as garden variety criminals, at the very least we can hope that the Supreme Court will give the government the flexibility within the criminal justice system.

Life After Nightclubbing


So crazily sensible, it just might work:

This is a day party, a monthly Saturday event that runs from 3 to 8 p.m., a decent hour, as Mother used to say, because “there ain’t nothing good out there in the streets after midnight.” The parties take place in D.C. nightclubs, the really nice ones, like the K Street Lounge, the Sky Lounge at 19th and I NW and the Zanzibar Club on D.C.’s waterfront. […]

and it’s important to… Squirrel!!… where were we?


The NYT did yet another piece on the hazards of interruption, this time getting into the biochemical reasons why it pleasures our brains to feel we are responding to the urgent, even though we know we will look back at our day and wonder why we didn’t accomplish anything.

They had a similar story several years ago, pointing out that an interrupted task takes on average 25 minutes longer to do than if not interrupted — something I’d noted without precise quantification when I’d found myself sans blackberry for 3 weeks in the middle of a very peripatetic summer, outside and away from computer. Once the anxiety was past, it was inescapable that there was far greater efficiency in checking emails only occasionally and in batches, rather than throughout the day.

Sarah’s Day


This is a big day for Sarah Palin. She’s backing four candidates in today’s Republican primaries in California, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Iowa. In the California Senate primary, she took some heat from the right for backing former HP CEO Carly Fiorina over Tea Party favorite Chuck DeVore. In South Carolina’s gubernatorial primary, Palin’s candidate, state senator Nikki Haley, has been fighting against charges of infidelity. In Arkansas’s Third Congressional District, Palin backs state senator Cecile Bledsoe. And in Iowa’s gubernatorial primary, Palin likes former governor Terry Brandstad.

Polling suggests there’s a chance that Palin will claim victory in all four contests (though Nikki Haley may face a runoff). If that happens, Palin will continue her winning track record of endorsements. Her candidates have lost a couple House races (Vaughn Ward in ID-1 and Angela McGowan in MS-1). But those losses are overshadowed by larger triumphs: from Texas governor Rick Perry, Florida senate candidate Marco Rubio, and Kentucky senate candidate Rand Paul, to New Mexico gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez and Illinois House candidate Adam Kinzinger.



President Obama to Matt Lauer on TODAY:

“I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar,” the president added. “We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”

Now he’s angry – thank heavens!


The news this morning declares that Obama has issued his “angriest” words yet about the Gulf. And I think I speak for a number of you when I say: who cares? It strikes me as an odd trend in public life that we focus on emotions rather than actions, or competence. A judge must have “empathy.” Wall Street executives must show “remorse.” And now the President must be “angry.”

And will it make the lousy jobs report any better if the President gets angry about that, too?

Don’t Cry for Me?


Fun piece in today’s WSJ about Argentine train buffs trying to resurrect an abandoned rail line. Check out the video.

I lived in Argentina for a while (I was an editor at the Buenos Aires Herald) and I discovered that Argentines of a certain age adore trains because they’re a reminder of better times. Until the late 40s, Argentina was one of the richest nations on earth, and its rail system — built by the British — was the envy of Latin America. Then along came a charismatic leader, with strong backing from the unions, who nationalized the railroads, imposed controls on large sectors of the economy, and created huge new entitlements that bankrupted the nation. Sound familiar?

Agnostics for God


I understand that Friday night, the lovely and brainy SE Cupp cleaned the clock of God hater Bill Maher on his HBO show. Cupp, billed as an atheist (though she once told me she was agnostic), was touting her book Losing our Religion about the media’s war on faith. I’m currently reading Melanie Phillips spectacular The World Turned Upside Down. Phillips describes herself as an agnostic Jew, but she too has noticed that the current intellectual assault on God is not based on reason at all, but is merely prejudice backed up by bullying and name-calling. I wonder if this constitutes the start of a movement: atheists and agnostics who realize that the house of freedom and civilization is, in fact, God’s house. If the Big Guy is holding the roof up, you don’t want to see him removed whether you believe in him or not.



It’s the latest headline what’s become a steady drumbeat:

A stampede by thousands of fans cast a shadow over the official start of the World Cup in South Africa yesterday as police lost control of the crowd at an international friendly match. […] Women and children were pulled from beneath a pile of crushed fans amid claims that police officers were overwhelmed by the number of supports and were unable to control the crowd.

Rich and Poor, Left and Right


It seems to me that one of the defining characteristics of modern liberalism is hostility to economic mobility. The Left trumpets ad nauseum its concern for “the poor,” but in fact it needs the poor to stay poor — as grateful recipients of food stamps and playgrounds and community centers, and as a reliable source of votes for more food stamps and playgrounds and community centers. The Left is inveterate in its hostility toward reforms that could actually lift significant numbers of the poor out of poverty, such as enterprise zones, school choice, and so on.

This also helps explain, I think, why so many of the wealthy are drawn to the Left. Many of the truly rich do not want their elite economic status threatened by an upwardly mobile upper middle class. The giveaway here is that when Democrats talk of raising taxes on the rich, the “rich” are usually defined as households making $250,000/year or more. An extra 5 or 10% in income tax does not materially affect the lifestyle or economic status of a movie star, investment banker, or hedge fund manager pulling in $5 or $10 or $20 million a year, but it is a serious impediment to accumulating wealth for a family working hard to “get ahead” on $300,000/year in the suburbs of New York, San Francisco, or Chicago.

Elephant In The Movie House


The LA Times has a story on summer box office this morning. It’s weak, with both sequels like Sex and the City 2 and new wannabe franchises like Prince of Persia and Marmaduke under-performing. Market-specific pictures like Get Him to the Greek (teen boys) and Killers (ladies) are doing okay, but failing to break out. One big exception: the America-loving, free-market-defending, Boy-Scouts-of-America-saluting Iron Man 2, which has scored close to 300-million bucks so far and out-stripped the original in foreign markets. Why is that, I wonder? Whatever could be the reason? Life is such a mystery to the La Times.