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Why Texas Is the New Golden State (As if We Needed More Evidence)

 

shutterstock_174277178Over dinner yesterday evening with an entrepreneur in the medical devices business, I learned yet another lesson in the difference between the Golden and the Lone Star states.

One of his new products requires silicon chips, the entrepreneur explained, and, because he was able to purchase a small plant that had already received the necessary permits, he’s able to produce the chips right here in California.

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This week, the Mad Dog and Englishman (that’s Kevin Williamson and Charles C.W. Cooke) brave questions from their Twitter followers. Topics include campus carry, rollercoasters, Walt Disney, and the life of writers.

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Renewable Energy Is Killing the Environment

 

IVANPAH_solar_plant_green_builderA lot has been made of California’s government-funded embrace of so-called green energy. Driving from the Arizona border to LA, you’ll be hypnotized by hundreds of whirring windmills littering Coachella Valley and distracted by the blindingly bright light generated by vast new solar arrays.

A bit north in the Mojave Desert lies the $2.2 billion Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, wedged into the public land between the Mojave National Preserve, Mesquite Wilderness, and Stateline Wilderness. In its first year, it produced just 40 percent of the promised energy, greatly improved in its second year, then was knocked offline after a misalignment of solar panels caused the central collector to burst into flames.

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That would be a good name for a show, and it’s a good idea for a show: “Ask Dan” – Dan being Daniel Hannan, the distinguished British writer, and member of the European Parliament. You can ask him virtually anything, and he will give you a good, well-informed answer, beautifully expressed.

This is essentially what Jay does in this “Q&A”: He asks Hannan about Britain and America and some other things. British questions include Brexit, the color of passports, and the Bolshevikation of the Labour party. American questions include – well, guess who? Trump ’n’ Hillary.

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You don’t have to love Donald Trump to gag on the veritable miasma of dishonesty and corruption that emanates from the Clintons, spreads through the media, and fills the air of our political discourse. Thank heavens it’s Mailbag Day so we can spend part of the podcast discussing other things!

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud the Associated Press for discovering that more than half of Hillary Clinton’s nongovernmental meetings as secretary of state were with Clinton Foundation donors. They also unload on Venezuela’s socialist government for trying to end bread lines – by fining bakeries if the lines go outside. And they discuss Dr. Ben Carson getting involved in the debate over Hillary’s health.

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The Best Chance for Reform in Decades?

 

In his column in the Wall Street Journal today, Holman Jenkins argues, to quote the headline, that “Trump Wins Even if He Loses.” Although the GOP standard bearer wouldn’t object to winning the election, he’s savoring the media exposure for its own sake. The candidate, Jenkins says, is smart enough to see the campaign for exactly what it is: “a giant gift of free capital, tens of billions of dollars in free media exposure that can pay off under many different scenarios.”

Disconcerted? Even depressed? Me too.

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In this week’s COMMENTARY Podcast, Noah Rothman and Abe Greenberg join John Podhoretz (as usual) to dilate upon the outrageous cascade of new Hillary Clinton lies and the fact that the email scandal and the Clinton Foundation scandal have now become one and the same.

It would be enough to warm the cockles of any conservative’s heart, given its potential to up-end the results in November, were it not for the fact that Donald Trump isn’t rising because of it but rather continues his decline. Why? You’ll have to listen.

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How the American Department Store Advanced Democratic Capitalism

 
postcard-chicago-marshall-field-department-store-state-street-aisle-358-feet-seasonal-decorations-note-beautiful-cases-early-e1471978370761
Marshall Field and Company.

“Palaces of consumption” is what historian Daniel Boorstin calls those large, urban retail stores that emerged in the latter half of the 19th century. Among them: R.H. Macy’s in New York, Jordan Marsh in Boston, Marshall Field & Co. in Chicago. The great department stores, which — as Boorstin writes in The Americans: The Democratic Experience “gave dignity, importance, and publicity to the acts of shopping and buying — new communal acts in a new America.

It was a revolution, one that expanded “shop” from just a noun into a verb, as well. Previously, especially in the Old World, stores were small and specialized. The best of them were hardly open to the general public. Only “people of quality” need walk though their doors. “Common citizens might spent their lives without ever seeing a wide array of the fancy goods that they could not afford, ” Boorstin writes, and continues:

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Meanwhile, in Congress…

 
1200px-US_Capitol_west_side
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:

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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?

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Building A Ghost Gun

 
defdist_1_1024x1024_c3b77ee8-13c8-4415-b8e1-9dee0ac19ff5_1024x1024
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.

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