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Ferguson Protests Divert Ambulance

January 16, 2015 at 10:19 am

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The "Black Lives Matter" protesters in Boston who blocked highways by chaining themselves to 1,200-pound cement barrels during morning rush hour caused at least one ambulance to be diverted. CBS News, which has the story, says the condition of the patient in the ambulance hasn't been disclosed. Nor does the article mention the race of the patient in the ambulance.

This one is a bit far afield from our usual subject matter here, but it seems like blocking rush hour traffic is a good way to express anger and get attention, but not a very good way to increase popular support for a cause.

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Preet's Appeal

January 15, 2015 at 7:28 am

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A court filing offers a hint that the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, plans to appeal last month's Second Circuit ruling dismissing two insider trading cases. A Bloomberg News article reports on a filing in another case in which prosecutors wrote that the ruling "dramatically (and in our view, wrongly) departs from 30 years of controlling Supreme Court authority and, in so doing, legalizes manipulative and deceptive conduct that no court has ever sanctioned."

Our coverage of the issue is linked here.

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Peter Berkowitz on Liberty and Tradition

January 13, 2015 at 3:28 pm

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Peter Berkowitz writes:

to combine and to reconcile the competing demands of liberty and tradition—the defining task of modern American conservatism—has never been more daunting.

Much as some fiscal conservatives would like to deny the connection, limited government cannot be separated from the character of its citizens. If individuals are not determined to make decisions for themselves and take responsibility for their lives; if they are not nurtured by family, rooted in community and sustained by faith or a firm sense of duty; and if they are not educated to grasp the principles of freedom and to appreciate freedom's blessings—then they will not experience an increasingly activist and ever-expanding government as an affront and a danger. To the contrary, they will welcome it as a comfort and a consolation.

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The Trouble With Scandinavia

January 13, 2015 at 3:13 pm

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The social welfare states of Northern Europe aren't the egalitarian liberal utopias they are cracked up to be, writes Michael Booth in The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, reviewed by Kyle Smith in the New York Post.

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Je Suis Juif

January 12, 2015 at 4:47 pm

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The French prime minister's clumsy attempt to whitewash his country's history of anti-Semitism is the topic of my column this week. Please check it out at the New York Sun (here) and Newsmax (here).

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Maybe the Police Should Stay on Strike

January 9, 2015 at 10:05 am

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With a New York Times editorial condemning the New York Police Department's work slowdown as "reckless" "madness" that is "damaging the social order," perhaps it's worth considering the — heretical, I know — possibility that less police activity might actually not be such a bad thing.

Not all situations without police degenerate into violent anarchy, after all. Many of them evolve into patterns of spontaneous order. One way to see that is this YouTube video of traffic in Vietnam (here's another, shorter one). No one is directing the traffic, yet most everyone gets where they are going safely.

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Jeb Bush's Right To Rise

January 7, 2015 at 12:37 pm

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The "what we believe" statement up on the Web site of Jeb Bush's new "Right To Rise" political action committee is worth a look for a lot of reasons, but one of them is the way it shows how the ideas of conservative policy intellectuals filter into the language of actual, real-life politicians.

The first sentence of the statement is, "We believe passionately that the Right to Rise — to move up the income ladder based on merit, hard work and earned success — is the central moral promise of American economic life." The phrase "earned success" should be familiar to readers of this site from our coverage of the president of the American Enterprise Institute, Arthur Brooks, who possibly coined but definitely popularized the term.

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Congress and School Lunches

January 7, 2015 at 11:54 am

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Bob McTeer has a perceptive, if pessimistic, post about the recent congressional debate over school lunches:

The outcome was billed as a defeat for the First Lady—who had vowed to fight to the bitter end—and her allies who supported whole and multi-grain bread for school lunches, especially in pasta and tortillas. There was also a side issue involving appropriate salt content and even provisions regarding green-house emissions from farm animals—from both ends, I believe.

I don't doubt that whole grain bread is more nutritious than the white bread I grew up on. Less salt is probably better as well, although salt tastes awfully good. What gets me is the idea—common these days—that, if something is a good idea, it's a good idea to pass it into law.

Wages should be higher; pass a law. Work weeks should be shorter, pass a law. A federal law at that. Regarding school lunches, what about parents getting together with the principal? Or, maybe even the local school board?

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Jeb Bush's Record

January 6, 2015 at 10:01 am

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Jeb Bush's record as governor of Florida, as recounted in the book Conservative Hurricane: How Jeb Bush Remade Florida, by Matthew T. Corrigan, is the topic of my column this week: Don't underestimate Jeb Bush. Please check the column out at the New York Sun (here), Reason (here), or Newsmax (here).

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The Government's $3.2 Trillion Loan Portfolio

January 5, 2015 at 10:23 pm

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Politico's Michael Grunwald takes a look at the federal government's $3.2 trillion in outstanding loans, up from $1.3 trillion a decade ago. "As a Washington austerity push has restrained direct spending, many credit programs have kept expanding, in part because they help politicians dole out money without looking like they're spending," he explains.

Mr. Grunwald's article touches on some of the rules governing how Washington works, some of which are known to economists as public choice theory. One of these rules is that small groups of intensely interested parties win out over large groups of only casually interested parties. Or, as he puts it, "Since fishermen in the Northwest Halibut/Sablefish and Alaska King Crab fisheries got their own $24 million loan program, it's a good bet that nobody's paid closer attention to it on Capitol Hill than their lobbyists."

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Gingrich on Tax Cutting History

January 5, 2015 at 8:47 pm

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The latest "Conversations With Bill Kristol" interview is with Newt Gingrich and has some history of how Reagan became a supply-side tax-cutter:

GINGRICH: I was with Kemp before he went out to the ranch.

KRISTOL: Is that right?

GINGRICH: And Kemp said to me, "I'm going to go see Reagan. If he will agree to take up the tax cut, I'll agree to chair his campaign. If he won't take up the tax cut, I'm going to run."

More from Gingrich about Reagan:

if you read his farewell address, which is one of the best statements of his entire presidency – he says at one point, he said, "People said I gave great speeches but I actually gave speeches about great ideas." And I think it's one of the reasons why people like Clinton and Obama can't figure out the Reagan formula because you have to have the Reagan ideas in order to have the Reagan language in order to dance with the American people, who are, in fact, instinctively Reaganite.

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Harvard Health Benefits

January 5, 2015 at 2:38 pm

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The New York Times' Robert Pear does a fine job of capturing some of the irony of the Harvard faculty's complaints about changes to its health benefits. The changes are being made in part because of cost increases attributable to the ObamaCare policy that a lot of them supported:

Some Harvard employees have said they will gladly accept a narrower network of health care providers if it lowers their costs. But Harvard's ability to create such networks is complicated by the fact that some of Boston's best-known, most expensive hospitals are affiliated with Harvard Medical School. To create a network of high-value providers, Harvard would probably need to exclude some of its own teaching hospitals, or discourage their use.

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Building Big in Boston

January 5, 2015 at 2:15 pm

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The Boston Globe has recently brought in admiring articles about a new $125 million building, designed by a Dutch architect, that will be the headquarters of Boston's public schools, and a new $182 million science building at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

If you, like me, are a Boston or Massachusetts taxpayer in the private sector being taxed to pay for these things and you are keeping your residence or business or privately funded school in less luxurious quarters, the justice or wisdom of being taxed, or borrowing, to finance such luxurious accommodations for public employees may be something less than obvious. Whatever happened to the old Yankee virtue of thrift?

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Banning Sledding

January 5, 2015 at 11:11 am

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The Associated Press reports on the growing number of cities and towns banning sledding in public parks in a surrender to trial lawyers:

faced with the potential bill from sledding injuries, some cities have opted to close hills rather than risk large liability claims.

No one tracks how many cities have banned or limited sledding, but the list grows every year. One of the latest is in Dubuque, Iowa, where the City Council is moving ahead with a plan to ban sledding in all but two of its 50 parks.

At least they aren't requiring airbags and backup cameras on the sleds.

This is the sort of story that you'd think might build some political support for tort reform.

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Mario Cuomo

January 1, 2015 at 10:23 pm

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As principled and in some ways personally admirable as Mario Cuomo appears in the obituaries and remembrances, it's hard to get around the fact that his policies failed.

This was brought home to me most emphatically when, in searching through some clips about Mr. Cuomo, I stumbled upon a New York Times dispatch by Sam Roberts from 1994, Mr. Cuomo's final year in office. It reported that Texas had surpassed New York to become the second most populous state in the nation, after California, which had surpassed New York for first place back in 1970. "New York has been hemmorhaging population to other states, including Texas," the Times reported then.

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