A New View into the Protests in Russia

 

I don’t know how many of you have experimented with the new Google Translate, but if you haven’t paid much attention to it, the way it works is fascinating, and the results are beyond belief. I was one of the people who confidently said of AI translation schemes, “Oh, come on, they’ll never work.” I was so wrong. Google Machine Neural Translation is an astonishing and historic achievement.

One of its consequences: I can now read Russian. So can you. Without learning so much as a letter of Cyrillic. A whole world that was once only visible to Americans who invested years of study is now transparent to us all. Russia is still a riddle inside in an enigma, but it’s no longer wrapped in a mystery.

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Malibu Declared Sanctuary City to Protect Immigrants Cheap Labor

 

Malibu is home to gorgeous beaches, great surfing, and lots of celebrities. It’s also one of the most progressive cities around. To signal their liberal virtue, city hall has decided to make the ‘Bu a sanctuary city. Because who else will tend Malibu’s gardens for far less than minimum wage?

Malibu becomes a sanctuary city — in solidarity with its gardeners, cooks and others in the U.S. illegally

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The Alleged Death of “Experts”

 

Much ink has been spilled and many teeth gnashed among the media and academic class over the last year over the death or experts and expertise. According to, oddly enough “experts”, the popular will is overthrowing the proper rule of experts and creating a world without real expertise. That is the thesis of Tom Nichols’ The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters. 

This is complete nonsense. What is happening is not the death of expertise but the rational pushback against the overreach of experts.

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Death of the Middle Class – Literally

 

“Sickness and early death in the white working class could be rooted in poor job prospects for less-educated young people as they first enter the labor market, a situation that compounds over time through family dysfunction, social isolation, addiction, obesity and other pathologies.”

I was stunned when I read this article and others describing a study that was conducted in 2015 by Anne Case and Angus Deaton, two celebrated economists, and then updated in a study just released. Our middle class is dying.

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Eliminate the Filibuster for Repeal of Legislation

 

It seems fairly obvious to me that the next time Democrats get into power they are more likely than not going to eliminate the filibuster completely. After all, their base will demand that the illegitimate Trump administration is negated completely, and there will be no action that is outside the realm of legitimacy.

My proposal would probably only last until the Democrats regain power, so in that respect the rational is more aspirational than practical, but here is the logic. It seems to me that if one is really for limited government, it should be much easier to get rid of legislation than it is to create it. This could have been done Constitutionally by creating something like a Congress of Repeal, who’s elected members only power is to repeal legislation, so instead of being a bunch of Lawmakers who feel their job is to make new laws (and thereby erode our liberties), these would be Laweliminators.

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Women Do Appreciate Advice

 

Recently, a Ricochet member posted a humorous video skewering a common complaint women make about men. When a woman is talking to her husband about an upsetting topic, he should just listen, women say. His tendency to come up with advice to solve the problem ignores her feelings as well as the fact that she’s not looking for solutions–she just needs to vent. This complaint has become part of our culture, self-deprecatingly accepted by men and referenced as a bit of go-to humor everyone relates to. The video responds to this cultural chestnut by suggesting that this male “problem-solving” they get accused of can be a case of simply pointing out the painfully obvious. Meanwhile, the venting woman is indignant that she is not being heard.

It’s possible, however, that the cliche about women just wanting to vent has it all wrong. And the description of unwelcome input from the listener as “problem-solving” might be framed more accurately as something else. Women would actually welcome advice from men. This male-female divide may have more layers than generally assumed.

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Specific Reforms Needed

 

Health reform is not so hard. First we must understand that there are two markets at work here. There is the market for actual health care. And then there is the market for health insurance. The market for health care needs to be more transparent. So encourage providers to get together and establish a standard list of a la carte services and procedures. Require that these prices be published and kept up to date. When a person/family member wants to arrange for healthcare, require providers to give an estimate for this care. Establish fairness in the law that would subject providers to excessive service, price gouging and under-estimating complaints. Let the trial lawyers do the rest. On drugs, open up distribution rights to all foreign sourced drugs. Allow exclusive rights only to patented drugs. Limit patent terms and allow one renewal only. Allow foreign prices to be used in drug price gouging actions.

The health insurance market was largely state regulated before the ACA. Let the states still regulate the insurer ratings/qualifications, claims and complaints in their states, however get them out of the policy term/coverage regulation business. Let the industry come up with a standard insurance form to be used nationwide. Let the insured select the coverage, deductibles and self insured limits from a standard, easy to understand menu for any policy. Policies would all be written as “major medical” policies with or without “routine and well-care.” Limit coverage to US risks. Let people buy special policies for out of country risks. Allow the insurers to provide discounts to those who belong to health maintenance or consierge care programs.

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The Response to the Maryland Rape Case Is a Stain on the Right

 

We are all, justly, very sensitive to and sick of charges of “racism” being thrown around promiscuously at the right for any and every deviation from leftist orthodoxy. But just as we say to Muslims about terrorism, our ability to object with credibility depends on a willingness to police our own.

Our media, including many of our Ricochet luminaries are failing in that task right now by joining in the hysteria over the undoubtedly horrific rape of a 9th grade girl in Rockville, Maryland.

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Tight Lines, Mon

 

“Virgil, what is the name of the fish eating predator bird?”

The 67-year-old entrepreneurial cabbie could have said “Mu’ad Dib” and I’d have half believed him but it was simply a fish hawk. The nice man, or mon, had delivered me to an inlet lake where bonefish prowled for crab at high tide. I’m staying at some all-inclusive resort at Turks and Caicos. It’s free for me and enjoyable despite being canned like a cruise ship.

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Schumer’s Filibuster Threat Means Gorsuch Is Headed to SCOTUS

 

Over at FoxNews, Sai Prakash and I argue that the Democrats’s filibuster effort of Gorsuch is a sign of victory — for Gorsuch. Do we have it right?

Contrary to media reports Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s promise to invoke a filibuster signals the success, not the failure, of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination. If Democratic Senators had made any progress in attacking Gorsuch’s qualifications, record, or judicial philosophy, they could persuade their Republican colleagues to reject Gorsuch. With 48 Senators in their caucus, Democrats would only need persuade three Republicans to join them.

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Why I Boycott Target Corporation

 

A friend asked me a couple months ago if I thought Target carried some certain brand of phone. I told him “I don’t know. I don’t go to Target anymore, and I never will again.” He had vaguely heard of the American Family Association boycott, and knew it was about so-called “trans-genders,” but that was it. He asked me why, and this is roughly what I said to him.

When I was shopping with my daughter as a toddler, and she needed to go the bathroom, I checked the Men’s room to make sure nobody was there, walked her in, and stood guard at the door until she came out.

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The Work of Judy Kudlow

 

You’re going to have to listen to the podcast we just recorded to learn exactly how the matter came up–it had something to do with a conversation about defunding the National Endowment for the Arts–but James Lileks and guest host Larry Kudlow got going on the counter-revolution now taking place, here and there, among artists intent on rediscovering lost values such as mastery of technique and the celebration of, well, you know, beauty. One of the leading revolutionaries? Larry’s wife, Judith Pond Kudlow. Larry was too modest on her behalf to make much of this, but I’m happy to do some raving about Judy myself. Devoting herself to form, composition, color, light, and the sheer glory of paint skillfully applied to canvas: in her studio in the South Bronx, Judy is pursuing subversive activities.

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The “New Normal” Is Here to Stay (Unless We Do Something About It)

 

Real GDP during the Obama recovery has only been half that of the Reagan recovery. Blame Obamanomics? One problem with this theory — or even the idea that the hangover from the financial crisis bears all the blame — is that the economy’s troubles preceded both the Obama presidency and the Great Recession. So there’s a timing issue, one explored in the new paper “The disappointing recovery of output after 2009” by John Fernald of the San Francisco Fed, Stanford’s Robert Hall, Harvard’s James Stock, and Princeton’s Mark Watson.

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Friday’s the Big Day for AHCA

 

This is a preview from Friday morning’s Daily Shot newsletter. Subscribe here free of charge.

The House of Representatives was supposed to vote Thursday on the AHCA, the Republican replacement bill for Obamacare. So what happened? Did it pass? As you can probably tell from our header, the vote was postponed. This gave Republicans more time to negotiate changes to the bill.

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Rethinking NSA Data Collection

 

It’s probably too early to say anything definitive following the revelations of Rep. Nunes yesterday, but I would like to revisit some statements made repeatedly by Prof. @richardepstein on various Ricochet podcasts.

One of his main defenses of the current data collection regime of the NSA and other law enforcement groups was that there seems to be a real security need and that there are enough checks in place to prevent the misuse of that data.

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The “Transgressive Art” Racket

 
Anti Trump billboard erected in Phoenix.

Artist Karen Fiorito is a hero, speaking truth to power. She spent 30 minutes in Photoshop creating a low-grade meme combining Trump, mushroom clouds, and dollar signs that looked like swastikas. She then conned a alternative art gallery to slap it on a billboard in Phoenix.

“So this happened today,” she said on Facebook. “Still awaiting the backlash, death threats and the like.” The media jumped on the amateur cut-and-paste job and made it go viral.

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