The Comey Memos Are Here

 

The Associated Press has obtained the memos drafted by former FBI Director James Comey on his interactions with President Donald Trump. You can find all of them here.

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Mark Zuckerberg and Conservative Ideals

 

The hassling of Zuckerberg rankled until I was compelled to write a political post, something I have rarely done in almost a decade on Facebook. It’s been up for 15 minutes as of this writing. I foresee either regretting the post, or having it panned. Or both.

There is a Facebook-related issue that is bothering me, so I will opine on Facebook. I have only a surface knowledge of the concerns for which Mark Zuckerberg underwent Senate questioning. What I find disturbing is the optics of hauling in for grilling this private citizen who happens to own a hugely successful venture. In listening to some of the proceedings, I felt like senators were pandering to the public by addressing Zuckerberg as if he were a criminal over a couple of points: a.) a data harvesting practice that I’m sure is widespread over the Internet, and not just a Facebook problem; and b.) an alleged favoring of the left side of the political spectrum in censoring or promoting posts.

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How Technology Affects Jobs and Wages, in Two Graphics

 

The Asian Development Bank has issued a lengthy report on technology and jobs. And it’s a pretty upbeat one, as described by the Financial Times:

The ADB’s analysis of 12 developing Asian economies between 2005 and 2015 found that rising demand had more than compensated for jobs lost to automation. The adoption of new technologies, such as modern machine tools and computer systems in factories and offices, had stimulated higher productivity and economic growth. That transformation, it estimated, had created 134m new jobs, compared with the 101m jobs lost to technology.

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The Lie at the Birth of the Environmental Movement

 

The environmental movement is frequently charged by those on the political right as being a front for advancing an agenda unknown to the eco-movement’s rank-and-file membership. That the true goals of the leadership of the movement are separate and distinct from those of the grassroots members. A new documentary film accidentally shows that it has been like that from its inception in the late 1950s and early 1960s and exposes the lie at the birth of environmentalism.

Saving The Great Swamp: Battle to Defeat the Jetport is a new one-hour documentary about the events, people and politics behind the struggle to preserve a rural area of New Jersey between 1959 and 1968. The fight began when the powerful Port of New York Authority announced plans to construct a huge 10,000-acre “jetport” 26 miles west of New York City in a little-known place called the Great Swamp. In the name of progress, entire towns would be obliterated, the aquifer and wildlife destroyed, and a way-of-life threatened for thousands of people.

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American Matriarch

 

Barbara Bush was the first first lady to make much of an impression on my childhood self, so I was pleased when The Week asked me to write a tribute to her. As I was gathering details on her life, though, my thoughts kept returning to my own mother, Merina Smith, also known to many here at Ricochet. Like Bush, she left college at 19 to marry and start a family. She raised five children, but also went on to get a Ph.D., publish scholarly works of history, travel the world, keep a resplendent house and garden, become a pillar of her community, and more other accomplishments than I could possibly list.

I am not, in general, the sort of person who likes to scold young women for having educational or professional goals. But it’s certainly worth appreciating what rich and admirable lives some women have managed to live, embracing the role of the matron.

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On Gender

 

You want to know the truth? I don’t much care how others re-define “gender.” Not a whit. Now as to a person’s sex, I can pretty much discern that without much effort. Can I be fooled? Probably, but rare is the circumstance where that matters.

Here’s another thing: society segregates people by sex for sound reasons. When the two sexes mix, children are the inevitable result. Society loves and needs children, no doubt, but children present a huge commitment and expense; 21 plus years of learning and support. So we don’t mix the sexes capriciously. We separate them, guide them, teach them and try to ensure that our children are ready for the commitment childbirth represents when (and if) that time comes, whether planned or a surprise.

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George H.W. Bush Visits Little Beirut

 

Little Beirut was Portland. When President George H.W. Bush visited Portland I was assigned stairwell duty for his overnight stay at the Portland Hilton. Stairwell duty isn’t very exciting, but you follow orders, so there I was. Half an hour after I settled in for a long night the Officer In Charge (OIC) paid me a visit and told me “we have something else for you to do.”

He had my replacement take my place and we walked down the stairs to the lobby. I was introduced to a Secret Service agent and was told I was assigned to the Secret Service Counter Sniper Team. My partner for a good part of the night was going to be a Secret Service agent. I was handed the keys to a police car and we got on the road.

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Playboy Comes to DC

 

Playboy Enterprises just announced that it has purchased a table at this year’s White House Correspondents Association Dinner. Swell. Just what we need.

The dinner, as you’ve probably heard, is an annual ritual of narcissism in which leading press figures don black tie and hope to see, or better yet, be seen with Hollywood stars. Like much of politics, much of journalism has become entertainment, and though journalists dub the dinner the “nerd prom,” the self-deprecation becomes more strained with each passing year as journalists themselves have become, literally and otherwise, “beautiful people.”

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“Who Funds the Federalist?” Isn’t About Transparency; It’s About Intimidation

 

A funny thing happens if you work or write for The Federalist: You have several to several hundred replies to every tweet asking a seemingly simple question: “Who funds the Federalist?”

They just want to know for transparency, you see; because there’s a nefarious Russian plot to take over America and they are certain that The Federalist, a conservative online magazine known to publish some pretty unpopular pieces, is involved.

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Quote of the Day: Orwell’s Rules of Writing

 

George Orwell’s rules of writing:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything barbarous.

Eric Blair (George Orwell) was one of the most accomplished wordsmiths of the 20th century. These were his guides to writing effectively.I like them, and try to follow them.

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Representation and Voice

 

In the First Amendment of our Constitution, the people are given a right of free speech. Essentially, we argue, it allows us to say whatever we want. But it can not protect us from the consequences.

All over the country, expression and speech have come under assault — not from government, but from fellow citizens acting in one accord from social media mobs (Tim Hunt, Dr. Matt Taylor) or their workplaces (James Damore, Brandon Eich). Self-described Classical Liberal Dave Rubin hosts countless Democrats who have been run through the gauntlet of mob-silencing after giving voice to thoughts that seem even mildly out of line with the Left’s positions.

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Remembering the Formidable Matriarch, Barbara Bush

 

I first came to her attention after a 1982 event in Minneapolis at which George H.W. Bush, then vice president, delivered a speech I had written. Aboard Air Force II, Barbara Bush came back to speak to the staff. “Who wrote that speech?” she asked.

I shrank into my seat. A member of the staff for only a couple of weeks, I was just 25. It was my first full-time job. When the press secretary explained that I was the new speechwriter, I forced myself to stand. Mrs. Bush held me in her gaze a good long while. Then she smiled. “It was a good speech,” she said. “Write more like it.”

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Scooter Libby on the John Batchelor Show

 

Scooter Libby was interviewed by John Batchelor and Monica Crowley about his pardon. It appears that Jim Comey’s MO is consistent. He got AG John Ashcroft to recuse himself and appointed Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the supposed unmasking of Valerie Plame.

The case was the ultimate nothingburger; Plame didn’t fit the statutory definition of an undercover agent. But they wanted to get Cheney. Fitzgerald soon found out that Richard Armitage, an opponent of the Iraq war, had leaked her name. But Libby was a more attractive target since he worked for Cheney. He got Libby convicted but key witness Judith Miller eventually realized that she had been deceived by the prosecution and Libby was innocent.

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The Best Part of Ricochet

 

I’m blown away — as well as humbled, delighted and honored. I put up a post this past weekend that had the potential for being controversial. But I decided to risk it, because I felt the subject was important to discuss.

The word “controversial,” as it turns out, was an understatement. The comments came pouring in, the passion was high, and the disagreement with me, in particular, was profound.

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Washington’s Bipartisan War On Federalism

 

The scowling face of the State


With all the talk about America’s vanishing consensus, there remains one major issue which both sides of the aisle are in full agreement: the urgent need to yoke one’s political agenda to the awesome power of the federal government.

Want to know if you can keep your doctor? What about your lightbulb? Your same-sex spouse? Your weed? Better consult with Washington.

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Should Conservatives Have Turned Kyle Kashuv Into Our Own David Hogg?

 

Over at Vox, Jane Coaston has a thoughtful and in-depth profile of Parkland student and survivor Kyle Kashuv. Kashuv is likely familiar to Ricochet readers and podcast listeners; we featured him recently on a podcast discussing his experiences and beliefs following the shooting that took the lives of seventeen classmates and left Kashuv himself hiding in a utility closet for two hours.

Kashuv is a thoughtful and highly intelligent teenager, and has made a sincere effort to become familiar with the issues he is discussing. But the question with Kashuv, as with his counterparts on the left, David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, is why we are listening in the first place. Being the teenage survivor of a mass shooting does not grant one automatic authority or knowledge about guns; that is true of supporters of the Second Amendment and opponents.

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Dick’s Sporting Goods: May They Go Bankrupt

 

It’s one thing to adopt a policy to appeal to the PC era we’re in. However, I think Dick’s has gone way too far with their latest lame attempt at virtue-signaling:

Dick’s Sporting Goods announced on Monday it will destroy all of the unsold firearms it pulled off store shelves in February after the deadly Parkland school shooting.

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Mrs. Bush (and Mrs. Robinson)

 

A glimpse of Barbara Bush:

One summer day just over a dozen years ago, my wife and I took the kids to Kennebunkport to meet the Bushes. The former president greeted us, showed the kids around Walker’s Point–riding a Segway (his legs were already giving out), while our five children, then aged from 12 to two, trailed along, George Bush looked like a high-tech pied piper–ending the tour at the pool. There he opened the pool house, explained that at Walmart’s a few days before he had bought two swimsuits in every size, and began tossing suits to our kids. As they went inside the pool house to suit up, President Bush excused himself, climbing back on the Segway to return to his office for a telephone call. Within a few moments, the Robinson children were screaming and giggling and performing cannonballs into the pool. And a few moments after that, Barbara Bush appeared.

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A Real Quandary: Homeless Tent Cities in New Orleans and Elsewhere

 
Homeless tent city outside of Angels Stadium, Anaheim, CA.

I remember to this day the look of agony, desperation and forlorn hopelessness in the eyes of a beautiful young woman begging on the streets of New York City one very cold night years ago. I remember thinking, as she peered up at me from the doorway where she was huddled, that she had been, not long before, a person of some accomplishment and, perhaps even affluence, based upon her now-shabby and dirty clothing. I remember so clearly going back to the hotel room and telling my wife that I would probably never be able to get those eyes, and their nightmarish fear, out of my memory. That was years ago, and those eyes came back to me as I thought about sharing a recent, and very unsettling, experience while visiting New Orleans and seeing its block after block homeless tent city, just one of a number spread throughout the Central Business District.

We had made a trip down to New Orleans to visit my wife’s brother after recent surgery at Tulane Medical Center, located amidst intersecting Interstate approaches and off ramps. Leaving the Center takes one down a street near the Superdome, under one of the major expressways. And here one drives for blocks of what seemed hundreds of tents jammed together so tightly there was hardly room to walk between them. Their occupants slept on the concrete neutral ground which is hard to imagine in mild weather and impossible to comprehend in freezing, rainy, stormy weather so common in our area in the Winter. Turning a corner, we passed very close to the opening of one of the tents, in which a very young mother was tending to her very small child–on the concrete sidewalk.

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Rest in Peace, Barbara Bush

 

He called her “Bar.” She called her wrinkles “service stripes.” Her white hair matched her pearls. Like Abigail Adams, she was both a wife and a mother to a President. Statement by George W. Bush:

My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was. Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.

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So When Will the Next Productivity Boom Happen?

 

If the US economy is going to generate sustained 3% annual growth, or anything close to that, it will require much faster productivity growth. The bull case looks something like this one, via my AEI colleague Bret Swanson and economist Michael Mandel:

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Wisdom from My Granny

 

I had my last conversation with Granny (my mother’s mother) not too long before she died. She was in her late eighties at the time, almost bedridden from the arthritis that had plagued her for decades, and mentally, she was getting a little bit woolly. The past, though, was still clear in her mind, and she spent much of her last days there. And so I heard this story for the first time.

Before I get started (it couldn’t just be that easy, right? This is me after all), you should know that Granny and Grandpa were married in April 1926. The groom was handsomely attired in morning suit and top hat, and I’ve always thought the bride looked to be glowing with happiness (don’t ask me what that thing is she has on her head. I’m guessing a silk cap adorned with lace). Knowing Granny, I am sure the flowers were absolutely lovely.

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