Sunday, November 30, 2014

McCulloch’s Decision Not to Recuse Himself Was Appropriate

The McCarthy-VDH Reader
A digest of the latest commentaries from Andrew C. McCarthy and Victor Davis Hanson.

Andrew McCarthy

McCulloch’s Decision Not to Recuse Himself Was Appropriate
The way the Ferguson case was handled should provide fair-minded people with confidence.

Read "McCulloch’s Decision Not to Recuse Himself Was Appropriate"
November 25, 2014, NRO Article

Does the Fifth Amendment Grand-Jury Protection Still Matter?
It doesn’t matter that thoughtful commentators suppose a public trial in Ferguson would best serve the community.

Read "Does the Fifth Amendment Grand-Jury Protection Still Matter?"
November 25, 2014, NRO Article

Victor Hanson

The Forgotten Americans
Obama’s coalition is held together only by his personal mythography.

Read "The Forgotten Americans"
November 25, 2014, NRO Article

More VDH

The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America

Read Andrew McCarthy's new book, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.

The Savior Generals: How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost - From Ancient Greece to Iraq.

Read Victor Davis Hanson's new book, The Savior Generals: How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost - From Ancient Greece to Iraq.


Quick Links:   McCarthy's Latest Column    Hansons's Latest Column     NRO


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Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Heritage Insider: How net neutrality can shut down competition, more states should be like Texas, Firestone's Ebolo success would be against the rules in the USA, and more

Updated daily, InsiderOnline ( is a compilation of publication abstracts, how-to essays, events, news, and analysis from around the conservative movement. The current edition of The INSIDER quarterly magazine is also on the site.

November 29, 2014

Latest Studies
42 new items, including a Show-Me Institute report on why state economies grow, and a Reason review of why the Fed got big

Notes on the Week
How net neutrality can shut down competition, more states should be like Texas, Firestone's Ebolo success would be against the rules in the USA, and more

To Do
Figure out our growth problem

Latest Studies

Budget & Taxation
Top 5 Things Congress Should Consider During Lame-Duck Session – Competitive Enterprise Institute
Benchmarking New York: Counties, Cities, Towns and Villages – Empire Center for New York State Policy
The Logic of Pension Valuation II – Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research
Pension Debt: Omaha’s Billion Dollar Problem – Platte Institute for Economic Research
Federal Liabilities: They’re Bigger than You May Think – Private Enterprise Research Center

Crime, Justice & the Law
Wheels of Fortune: A Report on the Litigation Industry’s Disability Practice – Manhattan Institute

Economic and Political Thought
The Age of Endarkenment – Centre for Independent Studies
The Enlightenment Made Us – Centre for Independent Studies

Economic Growth
Is There a Link Between Economic Freedom and State Economic Growth? – Show-Me Institute

Foreign Policy/International Affairs
Russia and the South Caucasus: A Situation the U.S. Cannot Ignore – The Heritage Foundation
Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: The U.S. Needs a Strategy – The Heritage Foundation
U.S. Election Should Energize Asia Policies – The Heritage Foundation
KTO KOVO? – Hoover Institution
Moral Hazard and the Obama Doctrine – Hoover Institution
Why China Will Not Become the Dominant Power in Asia – Hudson Institute

Health Care
What Ebola Tells Us about Our Health Care System – American Action Forum
Physician, Heal Thyself: Doctors in a Pluralist Democracy – American Enterprise Institute
Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2014 Report – Fraser Institute
Medicare and the Free Market – Hoover Institution
Patient, Heal Thyself: Why Congress Should Repeal the Medicine Cabinet Tax on Over-the-Counter Drugs – National Center for Policy Analysis

The “Most Favored Nation” Approach in America’s Immigration Policy – Center for Immigration Studies

Information Technology
Where’s the Beef? – Free State Foundation
Beyond Hypothetical: How FCC Internet Regulation Would Hurt Consumers – The Heritage Foundation

Primer: Overtime Pay Regulation – American Action Forum
Raising Wisconsin's Minimum Wage: Who Would Be Helped? Who Would Be Hurt? – Wisconsin Policy Research Institute

Monetary Policy/Financial Regulation
How the Fed Got Huge – Reason Foundation

National Security
Mexico’s Security Crisis: Will Iguala Be a Wake-Up Call? – American Enterprise Institute
Nuclear Negotiations with Iran: U.S. Must Avoid a Rush to Failure – The Heritage Foundation
Deterrence in the Drone Age – Hoover Institution
Managing the Cyber Security Threat – Hoover Institution
Thoughts on Unconventional Threats and Terrorism – Hoover Institution

Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
Hucksterism and Self-Dealing at the Sierra Club – Capital Research Center
The Justice Department’s Green Raid on America – Capital Research Center
A Legal Analysis of Oregon’s Trust Obligations in Managing the Elliott State Forest – Cascade Policy Institute
Global Petroleum Survey 2014 – Fraser Institute
Merchants of Smear – Heartland Institute
Impacts of Carbon Taxes on the US Economy – The Heritage Foundation
A Model to Evaluate Vehicle Emission Incentive Policies in Japan – Private Enterprise Research Center

Retirement/Social Security
Why Don’t Americans Save Their Money? – Reason Foundation

The Constitution/Civil Liberties
Brief of Amici Curiae In Support of Petitioner in Hickenlooper v. Kerr – Cato Institute
A Quartet of Freedoms: Freedom of Religion, Speech, Association, and Conscience – Centre for Independent Studies

Using Transportation Public-Private Partnerships to Improve Mobility and Increase Value to Taxpayers – Washington Policy Center



Notes on the Week

How net neutrality can shut down competition: Google is a major advocate of net neutrality, but did you know the company itself has been accused of violating net neutrality principles? James Gattuso and Michael Sargent recount the controversy: 

The 2013 contretemps involved Google Fiber, a broadband ISP run by Google. Under the terms of service issued by Google Fiber, subscribers were not to run “servers” on Google Fiber connections. Google Fiber, the company explained, was intended as a consumer service, not a business service. Still, a consumer in Kansas filed a complaint against Google with the FCC, citing the neutrality rules’ ban on blocking “non-harmful devices.”

Despite its dominant position in the search engine market, Google is a new entrant into the ISP marketplace. Google Fiber is a major initiative by the firm, intended to challenge the incumbent broadband providers by creating a new competitor to their networks.

The complaint posed an obstacle to this pro-consumer effort. But rather than reduce unnecessary barriers to this welcome competition, the FCC’s interference would simply have added another roadblock. And, given Google’s total lack of market power in this marketplace for broadband access, there was no plausible benefit for consumers.

Google argued in response to the FCC that the server ban was “reasonable network management,” exempt from regulation. The FCC took no further action. Google Fiber has since continued to expand, challenging the leading ISPs in a small but growing number of cities. [Internal citations omitted.]

For 11 more examples of how net neutrality could thwart business practices that are beneficial to consumers, see Gattuso and Sargent’s paper, “Beyond Hypothetical: How FCC Internet Regulation Would Hurt Consumers.” [Heritage Foundation, November 25]


There are a lot of states that should be more like Texas. 

Mark Perry:

The chart and data tell a powerful and remarkable story of job creation in the Lone Star State of more than 1.36 million new jobs added since the start of the Great Recession, compared to a net deficit of 354,000 jobs for the other 49 states combined. Much of the economic success of Texas in recent years that has fueled job creation in the state is a direct result of the shale oil and gas boom taking place in areas like the Permian Basin in west Texas (1.8 million barrels of oil per day) and the Eagle Ford in south central Texas (1.6 million barrels per day). Texas is now producing almost 37% of America’s total crude oil production, and as a separate country would be the world’s 8th largest oil-producer. Further, Texas has done a great job of attracting businesses like Toyota because of the state’s “employer-friendly combination of low taxes, fair courts, smart regulations and world-class workforce.” [American Enterprise Institute, November 21]


Is there an escape from Common Core? Common Core is probably a bigger threat to your child’s education than you realize, but there is momentum for change, too. A panel at The Heritage Foundation discusses how the effort to homogenize curricula came to be, and what are the prospects for families and students to break free. 

 thf 2014-11-29 insider CommonCore.jpg


A “Doc Fix” that helps both taxpayers and patients: Every year, Congress worries about a so-called Doc Fix—reversing Medicare fee cuts in order to make sure enough doctors remain willing to provide services to beneficiaries. David Henderson suggests a better concept for a doc fix, one that could be applied to Medicaid, as well: “[I]nstead of having taxpayers cough up this amount, we keep the Medicare fee where it would have been but allow doctors to charge up to 31.6 percent more.” 

My “doc fix” would have three good effects. First, doctors would be paid amounts that they have come to expect. Second, because Medicare beneficiaries would have to bear some of the cost themselves, many of them would say no to some marginal procedures; this would free up doctor time and ease the shortage of doctors. Third, because the higher fees would cause patients to demand somewhat fewer services, taxpayers would save money.

Does even this step, which some would regard as modest, seem too scary?  Well, guess what—we already have a modest form of balance billing. Doctors who don’t accept assignment can charge a fee up front that is 9.25 percent above the amount allowed by the Medicare fee schedule. In other words, we already have widespread experience with limited balance billing.

Moreover, consider the fact that one of the greatest success stories in modern medicine—both in cost and quality—is Lasik eye surgery. According to George Mason University economist Alex Tabarrok, in 1998, the average price of laser eye surgery on one eye was approximately $2,200. Just six years later, the price had fallen to $1,350, a 38-percent reduction. Adjusted for inflation, the price had fallen by over half! Why is that significant? Because during that time, Lasik was not covered by Medicare or Medicaid. When people spend their own money on medical care, providers are motivated to increase efficiency. Nor was this reduction in prices due to a reduction in quality. Over those six years, the quality of Lasik rose.

The same problem that exists in Medicare is also a big problem for Medicaid, the federal and state government health insurance system for the poor and near-poor. Doctors who accept Medicaid cannot legally charge more to patients on Medicaid than the amounts that CMS has set. In 2011, according to Decker’s study, 31 percent of doctors refused to take any new Medicaid patients. An even larger percent of doctors refuse to accept Medicaid than the percent that refuses to take Medicare patients because, for those doctors, it just isn’t worth it. In New Jersey in 2011, for example, only 40 percent of doctors accepted new Medicaid patients. [Hoover Institution, November 25]

Henderson’s “doc fix” is a half-way approach based on an even more radical—and perhaps politically difficult—reform: letting Medicare doctors charge whatever they want, with beneficiaries covering the difference between the government’s reimbursement and the doctor’s charges.


Video of the week: The new civics lesson: Saturday Night Live updates Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill”: 

thf 2014-11-29 insider ImJustaBill.jpg


Firestone’s success against Ebola in Liberia would have been against the rules in the United States. While Ebola was ravaging communities elsewhere in Liberia, Firestone prevented an epidemic at its rubber farm and processing plant—the largest such plantation in the world—less than 40 miles from the capital, Monrovia. Robert Book describes what Firestone did: 

Firestone employees constructed an improvised 23-bed Ebola treatment unit—separate from the company's regular health clinic. They used cargo shipping containers and plastic wrap, and established a one-way “traffic” path for health care workers, with a place to don protective gear at the entrance and a place to remove it in a controlled manner at each exit. To protect health care workers, Firestone repurposed hazmat suits designed for cleaning up chemical spills, and respirators designed to protect against toxic volatile organic compounds. They also set up quarantine facilities in existing company housing near the new treatment facility.

Once the unit was set up, no health care workers there contracted Ebola, and no members of the Firestone community contracted it from an Ebola patient who was being quarantined or treated.

If a private company in the United States had replicated Firestone’s response, it would have more than tripled the Ebola treatment capacity that exists in the entire United States within a span of 48 hours. Unfortunately, Firestone’s on-the-fly treatment facility could not have been built in the United States.

As Book details, any one of a number of government regulations would have derailed such an effort. In the first place, in many states you need a “Certificate of Need” in order to expand or build a new hospital facility, and that takes from six to 18 months to obtain. Certificate of need laws were intended to control capital investment by private hospitals in order to keep down government health care spending. In effect, however, the laws suppress competition in hospitals. The Affordable Care Act also prohibits certain types of hospital expansion without permission from the federal government. Lab facilities have a separate certification requirement. The repurposed industrial gear that Firestone gave its health care workers provided more protection than typical hazmat suits, but they would not be approved medical devices in the United States. Zoning requirements would be difficult to meet with structures built from shipping containers supplemented with plastic wrap. The Americans with Disabilities Act would require any such facilities to have hallways of a minimum width and counters of a certain height. Finally, there is an accreditation process that all hospitals must go through.

Book concludes that what Firestone did in 48 hours would have taken a private company in the United States 18 months to 36 months to complete. This story is perhaps a clue as to why the American health care system is so expensive and why health care innovation lags other areas of the economy. [American Action Forum, November 25]


Toolkit: Tweet well without sitting in front of a Computer 24/7. Two suggestions for building your twitter followers, from Katerina Petropoulou: 

Curate the best content

Now that you know who your Twitter audience is, the goal is to tweet content they will find interesting enough to click on and share with their followers.

A good content curation system can help you save tons of time every day discovering quality content and staying on top of news. And make sure that influential blogs in your field and trustworthy news sources are on your radar.

Keep calm and schedule

The most successful Twitter users manage to keep their accounts updated without being glued in front of a screen the whole day. How? By scheduling their tweets throughout the day.

You can build your very own sharing plan based on when your followers are online and schedule your tweets accordingly for maximum reach.

Bonus tip: Are you already using Buffer to schedule your tweets? You can easily manage and schedule your content through Twitter Counter as well, by connecting your Buffer account. [TwitterCounter, September 6]

You’ll find three more ideas in her article at


Bonus Toolkit: Are your leaders playing the right roles? How is your think tank’s organizational self-awareness? Are your leaders still playing the right roles to help the organization succeed? Assessing those questions can be a challenge, but it is necessary, says Jeffrey Cain: 

As an organization develops, its leaders often fail to understand how their roles need to change. In its infancy, an organization’s CEO may wear many hats: senior policy analyst, chief development officer, operations manager, even events coordinator. Over time, however, the CEO must come to see his or her role not as the person with a finger in the pudding of every project, but as the person responsible for building the institution.

In this new role, the CEO need not personally raise every dime, but he does need to put into place the institutional mechanisms—the staff, policies, and procedures—for a successful development program. The CEO must, in other words, become a planner and delegator. This is a difficult transition for many founders and even long-time CEOs, as the history of many now-forgotten organizations attests.

Nevertheless, as the chief executive of a growing organization, tasking other people with responsibilities and giving them the freedom to succeed (and fail) is the very definition of management. [SPN News, May/June 2014]

Boards of directors need to ask these kinds of questions about their roles, too, says Cain.


To Do: Figure Out Our Growth Problem

Find out if low growth is the new normal for the United States economy. The Cato Institute will host a one-day conference assessing the growth outlook and exploring options for reviving our engine of creating destruction. The conference will begin at 9 a.m. on December 4. (You can get a preview of the discussion by checking out the essays in the forum at

Learn from and share ideas with the legislators, policy experts, and business leaders who are working to advance free market and limited government policies. The American Legislative Exchange Council’s State & Nation Policy Summit will be held at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on December 3 – 5. Speakers include Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), author and commentator Mark Levin, and political consultant Frank Luntz.

Hear some new ideas on education. Arthur C. Brooks and Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, Howard Fuller of Marquette University, and Kaya Henderson of the District of Columbia Public Schools will share their thoughts on how to fix America’s schools. This AEI Vision Talks event will be held on December 2 at 6 p.m. at the National Geographic Grosvenor Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

Discover what Russia is up to in Eastern Ukraine. The Heritage Foundation will host a panel assessing the prospects for Ukrainian national and territorial integrity in the winter ahead. The discussion will begin at noon on December 1.

Help the Alabama Policy Institute celebrate 25 years of promoting liberty. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will keynote the event at 3660 Grandview Parkway in Birmingham. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., and the dinner will begin at 7 p.m. on December 4.

Help the Yankee Institute celebrate 30 years of promoting liberty in Connecticut. Champion of Liberty award recipient Larry Kudlow will be there! The gala will begin at 5:30 p.m. on December 4, and will be held at the Stamford Sheraton.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

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Blast from the Past: Sports vs. Art

The Goldberg File
By Jonah Goldberg

November 28, 2014

Editor's Note: Jonah will be back to filing your favorite "news"letter next week. In the meanwhile, we editorial lackeys thoroughly enjoyed reading this blast-from-the-past G-File originally sent on December 2, 2011, and we trust you will too.

Dear Reader (and those of you never get past the “Dear Reader” gag and then complain when it’s not here. I’m looking at you, James Westfall and Dr. Kenneth Noisewater. Okay, actually, I’m not looking at you, because that would be pretty gross.) (“Oh, man, when people Google that, they’re going to cancel their G-File subscriptions” – The Couch),

I don’t want to talk about politics here. This is a safe place. A haven from the shouting and yelling that’s going on upstairs. Think of this as the man-cave underneath NRO where we can watch Xena reruns and talk about how awesome it would be to be a level-25 paladin. Or maybe you can think of it as that tree out in the woods by your house you run to and hide behind when Rich Lowry dips too heavily into the peppermint schnapps again and grabs his BB gun. Or maybe it’s just where you go inside your head as you hug yourself in the corner of the room, refusing to leave to have lime Jell-O with the group. However you want to think about this week’s G-File is fine with me, just know that you’re welcome here. Warm hands, open hearts, amigos.

The Tyranny of Clich├ęs: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas

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The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas

By Jonah Goldberg

If I seem a bit fragile, it’s only because we are now in the phase of the primary where friends turn on friends. In short, this is the season of the RINO. (Speaking of which, why, here’s me and Geraghty talking about the field. Could we be more RINOish?)

Charges of running-dog RINOism are of course nothing new. And as I’ve said before, I find the term itself pretty stupid. I plead guilty to being a Republican in Name Only for the simple reason that I take no particular pride in being a Republican. I’m a conservative, and the GOP is the more conservative of the two parties. If it stopped being that tomorrow, I’d stop being a Republican tomorrow, the same way I’d stop being a Chipotle customer tomorrow if they replaced the meat products with tofu.

I guess what’s annoying is the tendency of people who normally agree with me, or who argue in good faith when they disagree, to suddenly start thinking that the only possible explanation for my writing something critical or even insufficiently laudatory of a candidate must involve some woeful character flaw or dishonesty on my part. It’s not just the accusations – you’re a liberal, a RINO, a liar, a post-op transvestite with hairy legs and a lazy eye – that annoy me, it’s the thought that readers I’ve long valued could turn so easily the second they hear something they don’t like. I have friends who support virtually every one of the candidates. I haven’t once assumed they were post-op trannies because of it. They all desperately want Obama to lose, and so do I. Those are the ends. Everything else: the means.

Sports vs. Art

Man, I said I didn’t want to talk politics and I spent 422 words talking politics. Okay, enough about that. Let’s turn to two topics that don’t get a lot of coverage around here: sports and art.

Sometimes, I say to my self, “As far as names for invisible Hobbit friends go, ‘Self’ is a very confusing one.” But that’s not important.

Other times I say to myself: “Man, that’s an ugly building. Why would someone build that?”

I once read somewhere that architecture is the best example of an “artistic” school that has completely broken with popular tastes. Architects certainly seem to design buildings to please each other and the critics and not the public. The average intelligent person goes to the Louvre in France and marvels at the beauty of the 17th-century buildings. The average architecture critic yawns at the musty old antiques and gushes over I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid. I don’t hate the glass pyramid (okay, maybe I do a little). But I don’t go to Paris to see a structure that I could see at a relatively upscale suburban mall. The phenomenon is even more pronounced when you look at modern architecture in more conventional businesses and houses. What’s more appealing to the eye, stately Wayne Manor or the Hall of Justice?

Still, I don’t know if architecture is the best example of the phenomenon. Modern art caters to popular tastes just as little as architecture. A great deal of performance and installation art strikes most normal people as a colossal joke or a straight-up con. And please don’t tell me that my failure to appreciate three squares and a triangle or a blob of paint on a canvas is my shortcoming. If something isn’t aesthetically pleasing or interesting, doesn’t require skills I do not have, and makes a stupid point stupidly, I don’t appreciate it as art. That doesn’t make me a philistine. It makes me a non-rube.

Anyway, it seems to me that the more a relatively artistic field of endeavor caters to critics over consumers, the worse it gets. You can see this all over the place, from haute cuisine to music. Some of my best friends in college were music majors, and they would ramble on about how Philip Glass is a genius. Maybe he is. But I’ll take Beethoven or the Beatles over him any day. I don’t follow the literary world too closely these days, but my impression is that the same is true in the world of fiction. If you write for the critics, only the critics will read you.

Academia certainly suffers from this problem. Visit the history section of a bookstore and you’ll find a fascinating disconnect between history books written by popular historians and those written by academic historians. In fact, you won’t find that many histories written by academic historians or for academic audiences. Arguably the most popular form of history is military history, but the academic establishment shuns the field almost entirely, preferring far more relevant topics like lesbian mores in antebellum Delaware 1856-1861.

Now, obviously this is a generalization. There’s good academic history, good modern art, good high-end food, and good modern architecture. But there are some really interesting things to noodle here. Interesting to me, at least.

First, I think people underestimate the importance of mass markets. When you become wholly disconnected from the metric of commercial success, catering wholly to elite micro-markets – like the eccentric rich and unknown critics – you become untethered from your culture and from quality. Iconoclastic shock and newness for their own sake become the standard, because that’s what will please the a-holes bored with the canon.

Of course, there are problems if you go completely in the opposite direction as well. Designers of Happy Meal toys don’t exactly strive for beauty or excellence.

But there’s one area of performance – broadly defined – where the performers are driven by excellence, are hugely popular and successful, and haven’t been captured by either the market or the critics.


Unlike art or music or architecture, being shocking or “transgressive” in sports is always a sideshow, not the show itself. Yes, Dennis Rodman gussied himself up to look like a cross-dressing assassin in a bad Blade Runner rip-off. But if he didn’t get 20 rebounds a game (or whatever the stat is), people wouldn’t care whether he’s edgy or radical, they’d just think he’s an idiot with a pierced nose and improbable hair color. I remember in the 1980s reading stuff about how Chicago Bears QB Jim McMahon was some radical new kind of rock-and-roll quarterback. Whatever. If he didn’t score touchdowns, no one would care how radical he is.

There are a lot of similarities between sport and various art forms. They both involve personal excellence, performing for an audience, etc. But one thing sports has that most art forms don’t: defined rules. And with those rules come defined metrics of success.

This takes a lot of power away from the critics of the sports world, a.k.a. sports writers. They can celebrate this guy’s style over that guy’s. They can say so-and-so hasn’t gotten his fair chance. But they can’t overrule the authority of the scoreboard. There’s an objective authority that completely trumps their subjective authority – or almost completely. Every now and then a sportswriter can make the case that this or that boxer was “robbed” by the judges or that the umps or refs blew it. But that’s small-bore stuff. In the big picture, the critics don’t get to choose the winners, they only get to write about them.

I have no idea what the practical or political implications of any of this are. I think there’s a Hayekian point to be made in there somewhere about the importance of permanent rules and the value of market tests. But we’re running long and I’m running out of time.

Speaking of Academia

The other day, while researching a column on prisons, I got caught up reading a whole pile of Marxist twaddle about the “prison-industrial complex.” I don’t think people really appreciate how just plain nuts some of this stuff is or how absolutely corrupt the academic establishment is for nurturing it. My impression is that the University of California is a particularly outrageous breeding ground for this nonsense.

Here’s an abstract from a paper by Dylan Rodriguez, currently “professor and chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Riverside,” in a 2003 issue of Social Justice.

Rodriguez offers few points of departure for the theorization of prison praxis as a field of radical social theory. He argues that the emergence and rapid growth of a qualitative carceral formation since the early 1970s, outside and symbiotic to the hegemonic social formation, has produced its own historical bloc of counterhegemonic radical intellectuals.

Rodriguez writes of prison intellectuals like Mumia Abu Jamal:

The cultural productions of these captives of the state, while rarely surfacing on the discursive radar of either academic discourses or popular culture at large, represent a decentered, imminent political possibility of departure from the essentially conservative ordering of both. In an extraordinary mirroring and rearticulation of the dystopic structure of imprisonment – a regime founded on the symbiosis between the logics of displacement and degradation – this prison praxis constitutes a multilayered field of alternate vernaculars, including the construction of new languages of agency, politics, freedom, identity, and self-actualization. These meanings, which are often generated for consumption by free world audiences (including loved ones, children, political allies, and attorneys), nonetheless constantly exceed and slip from the grasp of conventional modes of political discourse. It is profoundly endangering and discomfiting for any “free person” to attempt engagement with this praxis, precisely because it casts civil society’s – the putatively free world’s – condition of existence as the troubled production of mass-based unfreedom.

Speaking of the Couch (“You weren’t speaking of the Couch, idiot. I think you’re losing your mind” – the Couch)

I was on the NR cruise the other week and several people asked me, “What’s the deal with the Couch?” Apparently many of you never read the original G-File back in the old days. Well, the Couch was my imaginary critic (“Whoa, whoa, whoa, cool it with the ‘imaginary’ stuff. You don’t want me talking about your imaginary talent, do you?” – The Couch) who would, ironically enough, help me keep it real. It dawned on me that maybe it would be a good use of the G-File to start working on an NRO glossary. I’ve been arguing in house for an NRO-wiki for years, something that would help explain terms, inside jokes, personalities, etc. If you have suggestions for terms you would like defined, send me an e-mail about it.

Various & Sundry

Goodbye, incandescent light bulbs, we loved ya, baby.

Speaking of which, who loves you, baby?

There’s a disturbing development in the Goldberg household: The good cat (Gracie) now comes on the morning and evening walk with Cosmo. A picture from this morning.

Awesome story about poop-tattoo great save for the fact that it’s not true.

In Muncie, from 1891 to 1902, one out of 20 books borrowed from the library were by Horatio Alger.

Twenty-five blogs to make you smarter.

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The Morning Jolt Holiday Shopping Guide

National Review

Morning Jolt
. . . with Jim Geraghty

November 28, 2014

The Morning Jolt Holiday Shopping Guide

Welcome to the Black Friday edition of the Morning Jolt. Shop how you like; I have an annual tradition of “bakery rage” at Peddler’s Village in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It’s not my fault, I swear; every year somebody either walks into me, says something obnoxious to my family, or nearly runs me over in the parking lot. Apparently vehicular homicide is the spirit of the season! I just wish we could go back to those simpler, less commercial, more spiritual Christmas seasons from when I was a kid, when parents stepped on each other and threw punches to get a Cabbage Patch doll.

Now for the gift ideas and listings for those of you who want to get your Christmas or Hanukkah shopping done quickly . . .


Start with the obvious: Shouldn’t there be a copy of The Weed Agency under the Christmas tree or Menorah this year? $13 bucks at the store, a mere $10.59 with Amazon Prime and $7.99 in Kindle form. If you’re interested in a signed copy, e-mail me; the easiest way is probably for you to send a copy to me (with preferred inscription) with a self-addressed, stamped envelope with shipping postage. I’ll sign and inscribe it, and then mail back to you.

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Highly endorsed by adorable moppets.

In the unlikely chance that you find yourself clamoring for my earlier, nonfiction work, Voting to Kill is available on Kindle, and you can find used copies for the low, low price of . . . a penny. (I won’t tell your gift recipients if you won’t.) The topic is perhaps newly relevant in light of the Islamic State, its beheadings, the collapse of the Iraqi army, the Iranian nuclear talks . . .

If you have seen me doing appearances on via Skype, you may have seen the faux-movie poster for “Bedtime for Brezhnev” behind me, featuring Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis, George H.W. Bush, Alexander Haig, Henry Kissinger, Fidel Castro, Leonid Brezhnev, and Moammar Qaddafi.

Over at the National Review store, we’ve got the National Review Treasury of Classic Bedtime Stories (a two-book set), autographed copies of Rich Lowry’s Lincoln Unbound, and Richard Brookheiser’s Right Time, Right Place. A National Review sweatshirt is only $29.99. Mugs are $12.99, two for $19.99.

I fear listing some of my colleagues’ books, because I’ll inevitably forget some, but I should mention them as good gift ideas: Kevin Williamson’s The End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secureis now just $17.98 with Amazon Prime; Jonah’s The Tyranny of Clichés is just $9.09, Victor Davis Hanson’s The Savior Generals is just $11.74, Michael Walsh’s The People v. The Democratic Party is just $5.99, and Ramesh’s 2006 work, The Party of Death is $23.06. The Seven Deadly Virtues, which features Jonah, Rob Long, James Lileks, and other familiar faces, is $16.45.

Unfortunately for fans of our Charlie Cooke, his book The Conservatarian Manifesto doesn’t come out until March. But you can pre-order it now!

Books from non-NR friends: Lisa de Pasquale’s Finding Mr. Righteous ($19.71 with Amazon Prime), Kurt Schlichter’s Conservative Insurgency ($15.60 with Amazon Prime) John Bicknell’s America 1844 ($20.50 with Amazon Prime).

A lot of Roman Genn’s best artwork is available for purchase, both prints and originals. I’ll bet there’s somebody who wants Roman’s original watercolor, The Second Amendment, for $575:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee had a good 2014, and they’ve got some neat stuff in their store. They’ve got “Reagan-Bush 84” t-shirts, “Romney Was Right” bumper stickers, and a “Make D.C. Squeal” sticker for Joni Ernst fans…

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A very Lando Calrissian-esque “This deal is getting worse all the time” t-shirt:

If you enjoy my way-too-enthusiastic writings on Twin Peaks, Brad Dukes’ Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks is a spectacularly detailed look at the series from its conception to cancelation. If you enjoyed my trip down memory lane discussing Max Headroom, the complete series is available for $31.69 with Amazon Prime.

Have safe travels this weekend.

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The Bremer Detail: Protecting the Most Threatened Man in the World

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