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There Is Always a Cost and Sometimes Life Sucks

 

Like all parents I have tried to impart some wisdom to my kids and teach them certain facts about life. All three of them grappled with the fact that, unlike life in the movies and TV, in real life everything has a cost, and bad things may happen to you without any recompense. During their childhood when something bad happened my kids would sometimes get angry and would demand that “we sue.” I finally figured out that they saw “suing someone” as a way of getting some sort of justice. In TV land the bad guys usually get their comeuppance and people are made whole with no cost to anyone except the bad guy. We are a sue-happy society and it’s no surprise that our children pick up on this.

But the cost to our society is that we now have a generation that thinks that there should always be someone in power who puts things right on their behalf and that nothing bad should ever happen without there being some sort of justice. Since this is the generation who got participation trophies so their self esteem wouldn’t be damaged, we have raised a really sensitive bunch of kids.

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Jonah Remains Unconvinced

 

Author’s note: This post was written one week ago but not published until today.

Recently, I found myself in the odd position of mildly criticizing one of our own. Jonah Goldberg is bright, engaging, and really more fun to read than almost anyone else on the right. However, I am incapable of giving a blanket endorsement to anybody. I don’t think Jonah would fault me. In fact, that is why he is so tough on Trump. I made it clear in my recent post, “Jonah Has Tweet Envy,” that I wasn’t demanding he cease criticism of Trump or was I questioning his loyalty to conservatism. I think the way I phrased it was that his analysis was shallow and his style counter-productive. I predicted blowback from this criticism in the form of a battalion of straw men launched at me and “my kind.” In Jonah’s defense, he did nothing like that. Instead, he seemed to be responding with an interesting new proposition of his own that clarified why he sees Trump in an extremely negative light.

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United, Obamacare and Big Coercion

 

Flying home recently on a United black-eye red-eye to Los Angeles, I couldn’t help but reflect on how the parallels between the airline industry and Big Government go a long way to justifying Americans’ contempt for both. The former has for years been shoehorning ten seats into rows which previously had only eight, which is fair enough: that’s the free market in action. But to then charge a fee for the “extra legroom” made scarce as a result? That suggests a scorn for customers normally associated with the political class for its customers.

As evidence, consider how both parties to varying degrees cater to those who receive health insurance subsidies as a result of Obamacare while largely ignoring those who have lost their health insurance as a result of Obamacare. Seen in this context, the ordeal of passing TSA inspection is a kind of boot camp to harden soldier-flyers for the real deal.

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Hark! Here Cometh Another Educational Fad!

 

For years, I’ve donated to our school district’s educational foundation. I know my money goes towards funding scholarships, or buying technology like computers and 3D printers for the school labs.

So it was no surprise when I received my 2017 appeal letter from the foundation. The surprise was this year’s fundraising drive: $25,000 for tables. I thought our schools had a lot of those already, but apparently they’re not Harkness Tables, which are critical to implementing the pedagogically-progressive Harkness Method.

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Death Penalty: Let’s Be Honest

 

Jonah Goldberg has an excellent piece today on the dishonesty of the opponents of the death penalty. He highlights two points: (1) opponents create the situation (costs of litigation and associated administration) which they argue should be a basis for discarding the death penalty, and (2) they call it “unconstitutional” when the death penalty is actually written in the constitution (see 5th Amendment). They also point to the numbers of individuals on death row that have been determined to be innocent prior to their delayed executions. That is not an argument against the death penalty unless you really believe we cannot do a better job in investigating and adjudicating the innocence or guilt of people. Is it better to house an innocent person in jail for the rest of their life than to execute them? After all, eliminating the death penalty may actually reduce support for post-conviction innocence proceedings.

One can have a principled argument against the death penalty — but none of the ones put forward are actually that. The real question in my mind is one of relative value: Is the accused’s life of more value than the victim’s? If your answer is “no” you cannot be against the death penalty. You can be for better investigative and prosecutorial rules — eliminate practices that evoke false confessions, make the prosecutors focus on justice instead of political favor — you can be for limiting the penalty to those cases only where a life is taken, and you can be for quick and relatively painless executions, but you cannot be for the eliminating the death penalty altogether.

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If You Don’t Like Change — You’re on the Wrong Planet

 

The quote in the post’s title is that of the great Ricochet pontificator – The Archdork Trink. Moi.

Chopping away at the green mat of chickweed under the Norway Spruce yesterday – my trowel clicked and nudged at the smallish, stubborn rocks that the glaciers left behind when they receded ten thousand years ago. That’s just a blink of time in the vast changing geological record of this old planet.

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Can Anti-China Tariffs Revive American Steel?

 

Sure, Donald Trump mused about returning to the gold standard during the campaign. But as president, he’s really more of a steel bug than a gold bug. “American steel” to be specific. To Trump, the decline in steel production and steel worker’s jobs are emblematic of lost American greatness. And when Big Steel is back, so will be America. As Trump put it last summer: “We are going to put American-produced steel back into the backbone of our country. This alone will create massive numbers of jobs.”

So with his First 100 Days almost complete, Trump is looking to make a down-payment on his American steel promise. Reuters reports:

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The Question I Would Have Asked

 

Last night I had the good fortune to be invited to an event at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute in Simi Valley, CA entitled “A Nation Engaged: Power and The Presidency” hosted by NPR News and featuring our beloved patron and founder @peterrobinson and noted Reagan historian Craig Shirley. The discussion that flowed from this pairing of Reagan aficionados was not quite what I expected (although given the participants and the venue not entirely surprising) but, as always with these kinds of things, very enlightening.

The evening began with the audience being lead through the Pledge of Allegiance, and as an immigrant I must say that these small slices of American ritual really do provide a sense of community and shared identity. While my libertarian lizard brain rebels at the idea of pledging allegiance to any government or flag, my sense of American-ness was moved.

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The Champs-Elysées Attack and the Election

 

I’m sure you’ve heard that last night, a terrorist opened fire on the police on the Champs-Elysées, killing a police officer and wounding three more. The security forces quickly shot him dead. The Champs-Elysées was evacuated, though it’s back to normal now. It seems there’s still a suspect at large, though news of this is only breaking now and sketchy. (Update: It’s being reported that police have detained three of the terrorist’s family members, but I haven’t seen confirmation of this.) The attacker was as usual known to police; he’d been arrested in February on suspicion of plotting to kill officers but released for of lack of evidence.

Although terrorism always takes you a bit by surprise, I’ve never been less surprised by a terrorist attack in any city I’ve ever lived in. We all knew full well this was highly likely to happen before the election on Sunday. It’s been the subject of much grim speculation here and black humor. An attack was just recently thwarted in Marseilles. I’d be equally unsurprised if there’s another one before Sunday.

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March for Science

 

Do you have march fatigue yet? The left apparently does not, so we’re in for some street theater on Earth Day, April 22, with the so-called March for Science.

It’s hard to think of a better way to undermine the public’s faith in science than to stage demonstrations in Washington, DC and around the country modeled on the Women’s March in January.

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Balanit: My Life as a “Mikveh Lady”

 

Sometime in the spring of 1976, the rabbi found out that Mindy’s husband was smoking with his Sunday School students. They were the usual rum lot of high school age boys whose interest in religion had ceased with the cashing of their Bar Mitzvah checks; they put up with Eliyahu’s class for the sake of a reliable source of weed. A very unpleasant conference with the rabbi and the synagogue board was followed by a heated exchange with several outraged parents. Mindy and Eliyahu decided it was time to fulfill their dream of “making aliyah” — moving permanently to Israel. As their departure date neared, Mindy asked if I wanted to take over her job as balanit or attendant, at the mikveh.

The San Francisco mikveh (“ritual bath”) was in the Bnai David synagogue in the Mission District. Built in 1908 after the Earthquake, most of the congregation by then had long since departed, but the mikveh remained in use. Orthodox synagogues do not necessarily include a mikveh in their building plans, but this congregation, established in the 1880s by Eastern European Jews, was the first strictly Orthodox community in San Francisco. It is said that people came from as far away as Nevada to use the mikveh. The pool was unusually large — a dozen people could immerse at one time.

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