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Loose Canons

Hillary’s Last Hurrah

By 1.25.16

At sixty-eight years old, Hillary Clinton is very old and very tired. This week, she’s slogging along the campaign road, her media minions in tow, trying to convince the gullible among Iowa’s likely caucus-goers that she’s not part of the Democratic establishment.

Everyone knows, especially Clinton, that this is her last shot at the presidency. The greatest obstacle to her nomination is not Bernie Sanders. It’s the FBI’s long-term investigation of her conduct as secretary of state.

The FBI is investigating two aspects of Clinton’s conduct while she was secretary of state: first, the handling of classified information — up to and including top secret/special access program information — on her private email system; second, the possibility that Clinton, as secretary of state, sold American foreign policy to the highest bidder who wanted to contribute to the Clinton Family Foundation or pay Bill another $500,000 for a twenty-minute speech.

The Right Prescription

Thelma and Louise Endorse Trump

By 1.25.16

Four years ago, I called the GOP “The Thelma and Louise Party” because its primary voters were determined to nominate a presidential candidate who couldn’t possibly win the general election. The weirdest thing about Romney’s doomed candidacy was the support he received from people like Ann Coulter, who had spent years vehemently denouncing such transparent RINOs. This year, Coulter supports another RINO who can’t win — Donald Trump. Now, Sarah Palin has endorsed this sure loser. Coulter and Palin have thus become the Thelma and Louise of the Republican Party. Will GOP voters let them drive their party off the cliff?

Free Market Accountability Project

Patent Trolls Laughed All the Way to the Bank Last Year

By 1.25.16

Lost in the haze of New Year’s Resolutions and wall-to-wall election coverage, a very disturbing fact for America’s inventors emerged early this month: The number of lawsuits filed by non-practicing entities (NPEs), more properly known as “patent trolls,” increased by 25 percent in 2015. As a quick reminder for those who might not have followed the issue yet, patent trolls are companies that exist solely to extort money for (often comically vague and totally unused) patents, at the expense of actual inventors and small businesses.

Indeed, patent abuse in general had a pretty strong year in 2015, with its poster boy probably being Martin Shkreli, the infamously extortionate hedge fund manager who jacked up the price of the drug Daraprim by over 5000 percent simply because he owned the (expired) patent for it. Shkreli, fortunately, was quickly outcompeted by generic drug manufacturers, who took advantage of the patent’s expiration, but not everyone was so easily saved from patent profiteers.

Political Hay

Can Kibitzers Stop Trump?

By 1.22.16

National Review editor Rich Lowry is now leading an effort urging conservatives to speak out against Donald Trump and oppose his candidacy. The “Against Trump” issue of National Review concludes: “Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP.”

That statement may be true, but for many conservative voters it may be unintelligible, if not irrelevant. For them, Trump could still be the party nominee, and he might even be elected president. Fox News, Talk Radio, and the panoply of self-promoting conservative websites are not bastions of deep thought, and they have profoundly more impact than, say, National Review. Let me be bold. If NR editor Bill Buckley, more into ideas, and NR publisher Bill Rusher, more into power, were alive today, and I knew both men, WFB Jr. would argue against Trump and maybe tilt Rubio as acceptable and plausible, and Rusher would argue for Trump and maybe tilt Cruz as the preeminent conservative. Who knows what the magazine cover would look like?

Conservative Tastes

Trump-Cruz 2016

By 1.22.16

It’s time to unite.

Trump-Cruz in 2016.

Yet here is the headline from the New York Times.

Donald Trump or Ted Cruz? Republicans Argue Over Who Is Greater Threat

The story reads in part:

WASHINGTON — With Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz battling for the Republican nomination, two powerful factions of their party are now clashing over the question: Which man is more dangerous?

Conservative intellectuals have become convinced that Mr. Trump, with his message of nationalist-infused populism, poses a dire threat to conservatism, and plan to issue a manifesto on Friday to try to stop him.


Whither Conservatism in the Age of the Donald?

By 1.22.16

Conservatives wonder how “liberal,” a word synonymous with freedom, morphed into a euphemism for soft statism. Puzzlement may soon hit regarding what their own label shares in common with William F. Buckley, Ronald Reagan, and Barry Goldwater.

We live in a post-conservative age. Donald Trump’s popularity among people who call themselves conservative indicates this. Not knowing what they stand for anymore, conservatives flock to whoever most boldly insults liberals or becomes Satan to the Fourth Estate. The fault isn’t in the reality-TV star but in ourselves.

Special Report

Why We Need a National Internet Strategy

By 1.22.16

We love the Internet! The average American goes online more than 30 times a day and spends at least 30 hours a week online. And why shouldn’t we? The Internet is our on-ramp to worlds of sports, history, culture, banking, entertainment, gaming, and connectivity with others. In just a generation, it has become the oxygen we need to live many aspects of our daily lives.

While it is a tremendous resource, the Internet raises new challenges on security. While our national business and government leaders have focused their energies on protecting our financial, transportation, water, and electrical infrastructures from potential terrorist attacks, cyber-risks to these systems remain as real and potentially even more devastating.

In the United States, many of us view the riches of the Internet as a fundamental right. And a number of Internet-related policy issues confirm this, driving a new generation of political activism.

The Hillary Watch

Larry Flynt and Planned Parenthood… Hillary’s Strange Bedfellows

By 1.22.16

What do America’s porn leader and abortion leader share in common? They’re both ready for Hillary, and then some. They’ve both enthusiastically endorsed Hillary Clinton for president of the United States.

I’m speaking of two unlikely bedfellows: Larry Flynt and Planned Parenthood. America’s porn provider and America’s abortion provider. A man who is filthy rich from filming women provocatively, and the feminists who hoist the banner of women’s rights.

One would think that Larry Flynt and his buddies at the “Hustler” empire would be the antithesis of the girls at Planned Parenthood. What could possibly bring them together to rally around Hillary Clinton, a supposed symbol of women’s rights?

The answer, ladies and gentlemen, is simple: abortion.

Abortion is their common cause. That’s where they unite. And they realize that no single individual ever this close to the presidency has been so possessed by a fanaticism for abortion quite like Hillary Clinton.

Political Hay

Do Emotions Trump Facts?

By 1.21.16

Those of us who like to believe that human beings are rational can sometimes have a hard time trying to explain what is going on in politics. It is still a puzzle to me how millions of patriotic Americans could have voted in 2008 for a man who for 20 years — TWENTY YEARS — was a follower of a preacher who poured out his hatred for America in the most gross gutter terms.

Today’s big puzzle is how so many otherwise rational people have become enamored of Donald Trump, projecting onto him virtues and principles that he clearly does not have, and ignoring gross defects that are all too blatant.

There was a time when someone who publicly mocked a handicapped man would have told us all we needed to know about his character, and his political fling would have been over. But that was before we became a society where common decency is optional.

Yet there are even a few people with strong conservative principles who have lined up with this man, whose history has demonstrated no principles at all, other than an ability to make self-serving deals, and who has shown what Thorstein Veblen once called “a versatility of convictions.”

Political Hay

Oh, Please

By 1.21.16

At some point in the recent political past, it became acceptable or even desirable to stamp one’s feet and whine like a child as a public pronouncement of opinion.

Clearly this is so. Otherwise we wouldn’t be hearing Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard and syndicated columnist George Will both talking about drumming up a third party to oppose a Donald Trump as the Republican nominee.

Don’t take this piece as an endorsement of Trump; as previous offerings in this space have made clear, your author has a great affinity for Ted Cruz and struggles to understand why any self-respecting conservative would prefer a man of Trump’s spotty (at best) record of supporting the cause to that of Cruz. I’ve searched far and wide for conservative reasons to back Trump over Cruz and come away with the conclusion that there are none. Hopefully the Trump phenomenon is a pre-election fancy that will dissipate when actual elections take place and the Republican base will seek the more reliable and committed avatar of its philosophy.