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Meanwhile, in Congress…

By Martin Falbisonerhttps://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28359031

One of the more compelling reasons to vote for Donald Trump is that he’ll probably cede a lot of the legislative agenda to Congress, more out of boredom than principle. Truth be told, if Trump spent his presidency traveling around in a gold plane and a red hat to Make America Great Again while leaving the policy details to Mike Pence and Paul Ryan … that wouldn’t be half-bad to me. If I had any expectation that Trump could stick to that for more than five minutes without causing a constitutional and/or geopolitical crisis based on the latest political squirrel to cross his path, I might reconsider my Neverism.

Regardless, NRO’s Ian Tuttle appears to be entirely right that the GOP’s new “A Better Way” agenda deserves more far more attention than it’s received, both in mainstream and conservative media. The story of its creation itself is interesting. As Tuttle writes:


Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for August 24, 2016, it’s the “What the Hell do Blacks Have to Lose?” edition of the podcast! Your hosts are radio talk show guy Todd Feinburg and Tea Party nanophysicist Mike Stopa and this week we welcome back to the HLC podcast Academy Award nominated screenwriter, co-founder of PJ Media and author of many books, including I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism is Destroying our Republic if it Hasn’t Already, our friend Roger L. Simon.

Donald Trump demonstrated yet again this week that no matter that the entire national and local media are repulsed by his rhetoric and his character, that nevertheless it is he who decides what it is we all talk about. From the speech asserting the need for “extreme vetting” of Muslim refugees before allowing them to come to America, to the appeal to African American voters that they have been systematically, repeatedly, arrogantly dissed and discarded by their Democrat overlords so why not vote for Trump, to the understated visit to the flood ravaged communities of Louisiana, Trump has been the talk of the land. We discuss especially the second of these, namely, what the hell do Black Americans have to lose in casting their vote for and their fate with Donald Trump?


Ask An Expert: Being an Election Judge


polling_placeI have served as an election judge off and on since 1996. What is an election judge? The guy (or gal) in charge of a polling place. The judge runs a team of four to 12 election workers who operate a polling place where you vote. I like to think of the election workers as the first line of defense for representative government. Without election workers, you do not have polling places. Without honest election workers, you do not have honest elections.

There are three types of workers at a polling place: a judge, an assistant judge, and two to ten clerks (typically two to six). The judge runs the place, the assistant judge serves as the deputy, and the clerks actually certify the voters and hand out and collect the ballots (though, in most cases today, they hand out the code to allow the voter to cast a vote at an electronic machine).


The Abandonment of Conservative Principle


On Laura Ingraham’s website, Lifezette, Edmund Kozack laments the “Constitution worship” of those opposing the populist movement within the GOP:

The Constitution worship of those like Shapiro and Sen. Ted Cruz reveals that the mainstream conservative movement has largely forgotten the principle of imperfectability. The Constitution alone cannot guarantee some sort of political utopia. Man is fallen — a city on a shining hill cannot be guaranteed by a mere piece of paper. The fact that within a decade of the documents’ adoption the government was already trying to subvert it should be a clear indication of that reality.


Can It Happen Here?


Fr-Coughlin_pgI’d never read Sinclair Lewis’s half-satirical novel about Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a populist American president who seizes control of the government and imposes a Nazi-like totalitarianism. It Can’t Happen Here was written in 1935. Reviewers have traditionally viewed it as a character study of Huey Long. I’d never bothered to read it because I’d always heard it wasn’t Lewis’s best book — and I still haven’t read Babbitt, so I didn’t see why a less-acclaimed Lewis book should be at the top of my list. Besides, I figured, it can’t happen here.

But so many people have been talking about the book lately that I figured I’d give it a try. Also, I have a deadline, which means nothing could be more urgent than reading It Can’t Happen Here from cover to cover, immediately. Do you have a chore you’d rather put off until tomorrow? You can read the whole book online here.


We talk Trump campaign shake up 3.0, Hillary’s cash ‘n’ carry crown Prince and an interview with Washington Post Trumplinologist Robert Costa.

Life imitates art, or at least podcasts. Just hours after we predicted Trump would make a big move, Paul Manafort is given his walking papers and shipped out of town. Trump is sorry.


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John Oliver Destroys Underprivileged Students


John Oliver Charter SchoolsWe all know John Oliver’s shtick. Each Sunday he goes on HBO to inveigh against some progressive bogeyman — DC lobbyists, big bankers, Donald Drumpf, etc. — replete with out-of-context clips, snarky rebuttals, and lots of F-bombs. And the left-leaning press heralds his brilliance with viral videos insisting he “destroyed,” “eviscerated,” and “disemboweled” his quarry. But last Sunday, he took a break from snarking on the rich and powerful to focus on a new target: kids who attend charter schools.

On the most recent episode of “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver took on the 6,000 charter schools in the US and everyone involved with them. (Content warning on that link, natch. When he thinks he’s losing the studio audience, Oliver says a curse word which makes them giggle.) By attacking this popular K-12 option, he isn’t just hitting the few bad operators in the segment, but is setting his sights on the parents, teachers, and students who’ve decided that charter schools are their best option.


Cutting the Cord of Cable TV


shutterstock_270066395Today Mr. Rand and I have made the jump. Cut the cord. Dispensed with the services of the local monopoly. Boldly gone where more and more TV watchers are going. We have fired the evil and hated Comcast and decided to rely on a panoply of streaming services which, even collectively, will cost us far less than our ever-growing Comcast bills.

“When in the course of human events” – as they say – something about “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind,” etc., etc.


What Has the War on Poverty Gotten Us?

President Lyndon B. Johnson in May 1964 on his poverty tour.
President Lyndon B. Johnson in May 1964 on his poverty tour.

The Economist explores the legacy of 1990s welfare reform, especially in light of poverty research by Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer suggesting some 1.5 million US households are living on more than $2 a day as a result. From the newspaper:

Other wonks—on the right but also including former members of the Clinton administration—take issue with the claims made by Ms Edin and Mr Shaefer. A forthcoming paper by Scott Winship of the Manhattan Institute, a think-tank, argues that, after factoring in non-cash benefits and underreported income, a sunnier picture emerges. The only groups he finds to be worse off than they were in 1996, including childless households, were unaffected by the reform. Meanwhile, he argues that “children, in particular those in single-mother families—are significantly less likely to be poor today than they were before.” As for Ms Edin’s and Mr Shaefer’s most emotive claim, he says, “no one in America lives on $2 a day.”


Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America welcome a new Gallup poll showing 80 percent of Americans think voters should be required to present a photo ID in order to vote. They also laugh as Donald Trump now says that after deporting hardcore criminal illegal immigrants, most of his immigration enforcement policy would look like what we saw from George W. Bush and Barack Obama. And we discuss the USA Today story blowing major holes in the story offered by Brazilian police in the saga of the U.S. swimmers.


Hillary lies; Trump supporters rationalize; and Obama tries to tell us that men are women and women are men. What is it about reality they don’t like exactly?


What Paul Rahe Has Been Up To


unnamedIn the past few months our own beloved @paulrahe, professor of history at Hillsdale, has been posting more lightly than usual here at Ricochet — and today he dropped me a line explaining why: He’s been finishing a major book: The Spartan RegimeIts Character, Origins, and Grand Strategy.

Googling around on early reviews, I have learned what Paul himself is of course too modest to say: This is a very, very important book, a major advance in our understanding of one of the most compelling yet enigmatic peoples of the ancient world.


Private Accommodation


In The New York Times, Kristen Clarke writes about her experience as an African-American user of AirBNB:

Though August marks the off-season for tourism in Buenos Aires, I was rejected by the first three hosts I contacted. One host listed the days in question as available but nonetheless claimed my request overlapped with another reservation; another declined without explanation; and a third got back to me after a long delay, claiming to have missed my request. While my fourth request was accepted, the overall experience was a sour one. I am African-American, and because Airbnb strongly recommends display of a profile picture (which I provided) and requires its users to display an actual name, it was hard to believe that race didn’t come into play.


Building A Ghost Gun

Image Credit: ghostgunner.net

Wired’s Andy Greenberg decided to try his hand at building off-the-grid AR-15 lower receivers (i.e., the legally-important part of a rifle) using different methods: finishing a nearly-complete one with a drill press, 3D-printing one out of plastic, and using the Ghost Gunner to 3M-mill one out of a block of aluminum. Do read the whole thing, but the description of the latter one is particularly interesting:

For one hour-long stretch in that process, I was given nothing to do but simply admire the Ghost Gunner as its blurred, cylindrical blade cut away the gun’s trigger well with inhuman precision. At other times it seemed to alternate between carving aluminum and assigning me tasks like changing the lower receiver’s position, tightening and loosening bolts, switching the end mill to a drill bit, or even vacuuming up the aluminum shavings that piled up in and around the machine. Eventually, it felt much more like the Ghost Gunner had programmed me to be its gun-making tool than vice versa.


He’s a Bastard… But He’s Our Bastard


Trump_accepts_nomination_crop1Can you imagine any of the other 16 nominees calling for a RICO against the Clintons and their Foundation?

“The Justice Department is required to appoint an independent special prosecutor because it has proven itself to be, really, sadly, a political arm of the White House. Nobody has ever seen anything like this before,” said Trump, who took the stage nearly an hour before he was scheduled to speak. “The amounts involved, the favors done and the significant number of times it was done require an expedited investigation by a special prosecutor immediately, immediately, immediately. […] Some former prosecutors have even suggested that the coordination between the pay-for-play State Department and the Clinton Foundation constitute a clear example of RICO (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization) enterprise,” Trump added.

Permalink to In Praise of Kubo and the Two Strings

In Praise of Kubo and the Two Strings


It has been a summer of really disappointing cinema, and that is saying something for American films. But the summer season goes out on a high note with one of the best films in years: Kubo and the Two Strings. This is a really beautiful film both visually and narratively, and, more importantly, it is something original.

This is not a sequel or an adaptation of a comic book or television show or video game or breakfast cereal but an original story, and the film just feels like a breath of fresh air throughout. The casting is superb, as well, with Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey (without his increasingly exaggerated Texas twang), and Game of Thrones‘ Art Parkinson (a.k.a., Rickon Stark) as the lead trio, with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘s Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, and a scene-stealing Brenda Vaccaro filling in the supporting roles.


Huma Abedin Served as Assistant Editor for Radical Muslim Journal


Hillary Clinton and Huma AbedinHuma Abedin has been called Hillary Clinton’s “shadow” as well as her “second daughter.” While Abedin was working as the right-hand of the woman who broke the Democrat glass ceiling, she was moonlighting for a publication with distinctly anti-feminist views. Until she joined Hillary’s staff at the State Department, Abedin was the assistant editor of the Saudi-funded Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs.

Hillary Clinton’s top campaign aide, and the woman who might be the future White House chief of staff to the first female US president, for a decade edited a radical Muslim publication that opposed women’s rights and blamed the US for 9/11.


Why the Media Is So Liberal


media_biasI recall seeing a political cartoon that contrasted the way the media treated Tim Tebow versus how it treated Jason Collins, the first openly-homosexual NBA player. It depicted Tebow saying: “I’m a Christian,” and the reporter turns his back to him and walks away muttering: “Keep it to yourself.” Next to that picture, Collins is depicted saying: “I’m gay,” and the reporter lifts his microphone towards him and exclaims: “Tell me more, you big hero!!!”

Have you noticed a difference in the way the media covers liberals versus conservatives? When it comes to left-wing economic and social policies, do you find that the media functions more as advocates than reporters? In fact, the media bias is so rampant in this election cycle that Michael Goodwin of the New York Post was forced to write: “American journalism is collapsing before our eyes.”


Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are pleased to see Republican voter registration efforts outpacing the Democrats at this point. They also unload on Hillary Clinton over the revelation that she failed to turn over nearly 15,000 documents that should have been deemed work-related. And they get a good laugh out of Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway suggesting that Donald Trump does not hurl personal insults.


Can Christianity save America? R.R. Reno, the editor of First Things, explains how it might in “Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society.”

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Reno describes why religious pluralism requires a Christian framework, why the United States has shifted away from its Christian roots, and whether churches bear any of the blame for the country’s current direction.


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So the first question on every political mind today is: Can Donald Trump shed his deepest character traits like an old coat and suddenly become an entirely different person? I mean, when has that ever not worked? The second question: Can Hillary skulk in the shadows long enough to get elected without anyone noticing she’s the most corrupt human being on the face of the earth. All that — and the deeper meaning of Sausage Party.