Last week, three Irish citizens were murdered on the beaches of Tunisia. In France, an Islamic nutcase murdered and beheaded his former boss. In Kuwait, Islamic extremists bombed and killed more than two dozen people and injured many hundreds more. In the Syrian border town of Kobane, ISIS massacred at least 146 civilians. Since 9/11, hundreds of thousands of people (the majority of them Muslims) have died at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists. Every week, across the globe, exponents of Islamic supremacy murder and maim hundreds. From Boko Haram in Nigeria to Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Yemen; from Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank to ISIS in Northern Syria and Iraq – Islamic extremism is on the march.
It seems the world is going to regret not pressuring Germany to resolve the eurozone crisis in a timely manner. China’s financial system is now crashing, just as the situation in Europe is coming apart at the seams:
As Americans guzzled and gulped their way through the 238th annual celebration of the Declaration of Independence, China’s financial markets writhed in what some analysts warned could be the Big One — the long-expected bust that would end the world’s longest economic boom.
You’re all adults now, and moving on to build your own lives. So often, I think of things I wish I’d told you, and wonder if it’s too late. So allow me the liberty to share some thoughts fitting for the day. It is important that on the Fourth of July, we take a few minutes aside from the parade and fireworks, and even the Weird Al concert, to contemplate just what it is that makes America something worth celebrating.
This video has already been so widely-circulated that if you haven’t seen it already, I’ll be mighty surprised. But it’s so darned cute it’s worth watching twice. Or 1776 time, as I did:
Happy Independence Day, Ricochet! How do you usually celebrate? Care to share with us any favorite family traditions, Independence Day speeches, songs, literature, poems? Philosophical or historical reflections? Your favorite fireworks displays described in prose, art, photographs, or video? Favorite picnic recipes? Favorite weapon for taking on your local ISIS cell with minimal risk to civilians? How are you and your family preparing for shooting yourself some terrorists? Have you got any special BBQed-terrorist recipes? Remember, if you boil their ribs, they win: They need to be barbecued outdoors to a glistening mahogany sheen.
My son texted today from college — at Dartmouth, students spend the summer after sophomore year on campus — to say he’d gone to hear an interesting political speaker, illustrating the text with a snapshot.
This is a little on the end of “cart before the horse,” but it’s definitely a predictable direction that legislative action can take in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania when it comes to dealing with the recent SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage. Of course, since the ruling, there has been a flurry of commentaries and stories about potential lawsuits against churches that refuse to sanctify these unions. That problem may not play the same in Pennsylvania as it will in most other states.
The commonwealth already has two forms of marriage licenses available in many counties, because our law permits self-uniting marriage licenses. Enjoy the irony if you like, but that is because of a religious belief – Pennsylvania is the Quaker state, and Quakers do not believe that a human being can stand between God and couple when they enter in a covenant of marriage. Their beliefs only permit people to witness that covenant, so we have marriage licenses that only require signatures of two witnesses. Until 2007, it was possible for a county to refuse to issue those licenses without verifying the religious beliefs of the couple, but now they cannot do that. Anyone can opt for the self-uniting license, if they are willing to pay a little more for it.
Every year I go to the movie theater less, only leaving the comforts of my La-Z-Boy for the latest “must-see” blockbuster. And each time I return home, I wonder why I bothered leaving my beloved La-Z-Boy in the first place. All I remember about the latest Avengers flick was fire, noise, and 72 actors zooming in and out of CGI backgrounds wearing shiny outfits. Add in the $362 I spent on popcorn, drinks and Red Vines for the kids, and it’s no wonder the industry is lagging.
I blamed my lukewarm reactions on Hollywood’s unoriginal storylines and the fact that I’m getting older. My kids are seeing this stuff for the first time, while I’m on my fourth Spiderman. (I hear the next Spiderman movie will reboot the franchise in the middle of the second act.) However, according to the movie addicts at StoryBrain, over-reliance on CGI might be to blame. And it isn’t just the computer-generated characters, but the too-perfect backgrounds.
Is there anything I need to say about the new episode of Uncommon Knowledge? For this conversation (taped before the recent blockbuster Supreme Court decisions), I sat across the table from Richard Epstein. We turned the cameras on. The rest — as Ricochet readers well know — took care of itself:
Quietly (which seems appropriate), it’s been a good year for Calvin Coolidge. America’s 30th President is this year’s choice as the White House Historical Association’s annual Christmas ornament. And tonight he gets to take what may or may not be a victory lap when an oversized Coolidge mascot competes at the Washington Nationals’ “running of the presidents” — a fourth-inning dash around the ballpark also featuring the likenesses of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft (if the mascots are done to scale, getting stuck behind Taft would seem like a ticket to defeat).
About Coolidge: he’s also the only American president born on America’s birthday (in 1872, in Vermont’s Plymouth Notch). Which prompted me to write this column for Forbes.com about four aspects of the 4th of July that pertain to Republican presidential hopefuls and and the coming election:
Nothing in the June jobs report to suggest any approaching US economic acceleration or surging inflation — or reason for the Fed to raise interest rates. The top line numbers were decent: 223,000 net new jobs, the unemployment rate fell to 5.3% from 5.5%. Also a big drop in the U-6 unemployment-underemployment rate.
In Still the Best Hope, Dennis Prager argues that American values — roughly, the small-l liberal values that underlie the Declaration of Independence and U. S. Constitution — demand to be exported. Elsewhere, Prager describes these values as the American Trinity: the beliefs in a transcendent God, in liberty, and in the emphasis of culture and values over ethnicity or race. These values, he says, can be adopted around the world and integrated into existing national identities. We can quibble with the definitions and the choice of words, but Prager’s onto something profound here.
While there’s much Americans — or those from Anglosphere countries with similar values — can and should do to help others, the ultimate burden falls on those elsewhere. Doing so often takes tremendous effort and even great courage. July Fourth seems as a good a time as any to honor those who’ve risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to further the ideals exemplified by the American Revolution.
In my recent Defining Ideas column, “Hard Questions on Same-Sex Marriage,” I sought to explore some of the intellectual cross-currents and difficulties in the Supreme Court’s opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges. There were two basic points in the article. First, I sought to explain the difficulties in finding a constitutional right to gay marriage, even though most of the standard arguments against same-sex-marriage tend to fall flat as a matter of social and political theory. The article was in no sense an effort to rally religious conservatives to stop the powerful political juggernaut that has resulted in a surge in public approval for same-sex-marriage.
The second point was my deep uneasiness that the same-sex-marriage movement is moving sharply from its defense of gay unions towards a massive intolerance of those individuals who, for religious reasons, oppose the practice and wish to conduct their own personal lives and business activities in accordance with their own beliefs — beliefs that I hasten to add are not my own. The recent hysterical screed against my column by Slate’sMark Joseph Stern, laden as it is with abusive epithets, shows just how rapidly that form of intolerance is taking over the gay rights movement more generally.
Convention claims the Supreme Court’s King v. Burwell decision is a loss for conservatives. But Democrats shouldn’t celebrate. Politically, it’s a win for the Right, skirting potential harm in terms of legal precedent as well as improving positioning for 2016.
Many viewed the chief precedential purpose of the case as the establishment of clear limits on administrative overreach. The potential downside was a further removal of those limits. Accordingly, the initial announcement of the ruling led to collective concern that the court had followed the court of appeals and expanded “Chevron deference,” the controversial doctrine that essentially holds that courts should defer to executive branch interpretation of statues, even if such interpretations effectively revise the law as written by Congress.
I’m sure that many of you, like me, will be dusting off your copies of the Declaration of Independence to commemorate the 4th of July. The question is: will you read the whole thing or just the opening paragraphs?
Everyone likes to quote the invocation of the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” but — for my money — that’s not the part that we most need to remember. Rather, the most important passage of the Declaration comes at the end when the Continental Congress describes the United States as a group of “Free and Independent States.” The key word here is the plural states. July 4th is America’s birthday, but America was born as a union of sovereign states, not a single consolidated nation. Our leaders often gloss over this basic historical fact; President Obama, for example, has stated that our Founders “declared a new nation” on July 4th.
I work as an indirect buyer for a large corporation in the Midwest. What’s an indirect buyer? We purchase everything that isn’t a direct material or finished goods for the company. Everything from toilet tissue, to computers, to consulting services. We cover it. At least, we try to when our internal business partners allow us to do our jobs.
I’ve heard plenty from business partners that they look at procurement as “being in the way” or “too slow” when it comes to getting products/services purchased. Well, there is a reason why we slow the process down: we (and you) have to follow company policies and legal requirements. You (the business partner) rarely ever think about “all that” since you are in a hurry to get the project done.
Today’s global security environment is the most unpredictable I have seen in 40 years of service. Since the last National Military Strategy was published in 2011, global disorder has significantly increased while some of our comparative military advantage has begun to erode. We now face multiple, simultaneous security challenges from traditional state actors and transregional networks of sub-state groups – all taking advantage of rapid technological change. Future conflicts will come more rapidly, last longer, and take place on a much more technically challenging battlefield.
Jay’s guest today is Brad Thor, the writer of best-selling thrillers. (His latest is Code of Conduct.) More than a thriller-writer, Thor is an expert in defense, national security, and so on. He and Jay talk about Greece, Iran, ISIS, Afghanistan . . .
They talk about Edward Snowden. (Thor is not a fan, to put it very mildly.) They talk about the 2016 presidential election. (Thor has a horse.) And they talk about the thrill of thriller-writing.
It’s been quite the whirlwind since I first started writing about my unemployment journey. Last week, I thought that I would have nothing but time on my hands and be able to chronicle everything that happened to me in minute detail. My experience has been just the opposite – I’m busier than I’ve been in the past few months, and much busier than I’ve been in the past five-odd years.
I invite the community to pause and consider what the weekend ahead may mean for Europe as a concept.
Though their prime minister insists otherwise, this weekend the Greek people will vote on whether the mid-range future of Greece is as part of the European currency union or if Greece will begin moving toward a messy, painful withdrawal or expulsion from the Euro. If Greece leaves the Euro, it will mark the first significant setback in the process of European integration in a generation, and arguably the most serious blow to Europe as a unifying idea since the descent of the Iron Curtain following World War II.
After an unfortunate absence of well over a year, It feels great to once again have access to all the benefits offered by the best community on the web. I had made the hard choice of letting my membership slip in the face of oncoming marriage and home ownership (belt tightening and austerity was the rage at the time.)
Rejoining, I am reminded of how I first followed Peter and Rob here from NRO. I then joined this site because of the banter offered between them and James on the main podcast. I continued to stop by each day for the well written articles and insight. I still eagerly wait for the newest podcasts of all the great reoccurring shows hosted here.
Remember Aaron Schock? Killer abs, big “Downton Abbey” fan, resigned in disgrace? On Tuesday, voters in Illinois’s 18th District will decide which nominee should finish the remainder of Schock’s term and perhaps represent them going further.
Out of the goodness of their hearts, Republican leadership wanted to make the choice for Illinois voters. They anointed Darin LaHood, current state senator and son of CD18’s former representative, Ray LaHood. Most recently, dad flaunted his conservative cred by serving as President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation and demanding Congress spend, spend, spend on an endless list of pet projects. LaHood Sr. now works as a lobbyist, of course, so it’s understandable that Speaker Boehner, et al., want his son to be another cog in the profitable Beltway machine.
This week on the Ricochet Podcast, we cover the SCOTUS rulings with the best panel anywhere on the internets: Ricochet Editor emeritus Mollie Hemingway stops by to give perspective on how the media covered the rulings, and Ricochet contributor Adam Freedman (buy his new book, A Less Perfect Union) visits to give us the legal rationale — as well as a way the ruling might be circumvented. Also, Rob drives across the country, and we welcome our new community moderator overlords.
Lest you think that I was overly alarmist in my earlier post on Obergefell’s threat to religious liberty, consider this. I wrote a slightly longer version of the piece for City Journal, which was then posted to RealClearPolitics — so it attracted a fair number of eyeballs outside of the conservative bubble. Here are some of the comments I got:
Religion is the problem, not gay marriage. Religion is a multi-billion dollar a year industry that threatens the civil liberties of everyone. Religion is as pervasive as pornography in this country, but much more harmful to our culture.
If the institution of marriage is removed from its unnatural cloud of accompanying religious magic . . . it is a right, like any other. As such it should by law available to ALL citizens. In THIS country at very least.
I think it’s always dangerous to defend anything based on religious belief.
It’s a “threat to religious liberty” only if you think that people should be free to use their religion as an excuse to screw others.
There are so many parallels with the 1960′s civil rights movement it is hard for any rational person to fathom how those on the “pro-religious” freedom side expect history to view their backward cause.
Progressives feel momentum on their side and nothing will get in their way. If new rights can be invented by the judiciary, then old rights — like the free exercise of religion — can be just as easily interpreted into oblivion.