The Trump Non-Catastrophe

by Rich Lowry

The coverage of Trump has had a catastrophic tone since the election, shared by some of his critics on the right. In the NBC poll at the end of last week, according to First Read at NBC News, I was struck by this breakdown of where the parties stand on the question of “which party would do a better job”:

Dealing with health care: Democrats 43 percent, Republicans 26 percent (D+17)

Looking out for the middle class: Democrats 42 percent, Republicans 29 percent (D+13)

Dealing with immigration: Democrats 38 percent, Republicans 32 percent (D+6)

Dealing with transit, roads, and highways: Democrats 24 percent, Republicans 22 percent (D+2)

Dealing with foreign policy: Democrats 34 percent, Republicans 33 percent (D+1)

Dealing with taxes: Democrats 29 percent, Republicans 33 percent (R+4)

Dealing with the economy: Democrats 29 percent, Republicans 36 percent, (R+7)

Changing how things work in Washington: Democrats 18 percent, Republicans 27 percent (R+9)

Dealing with ISIS: Democrats 17 percent, Republicans 35 percent (R+18)

There is softness here to be sure. You’d hope Trump would be doing better on the middle class, and the tie on foreign policy is a poor showing for the GOP. But this isn’t exactly the picture of a party in a state of collapse.

As for Trump’s approval rating, it’s at 40 in the NBC poll. We always hear that that number is a historic low for a president at this point. True, but no president has ever been elected despite his unpopularity the way Trump was last November. If the next presidential election were held tomorrow, Trump would start about where he was last year at 46 percent, with a fighting chance at reelection.

Finally, there’s the state of the 2018 midterms. Democrats are up 8 on the generic ballot. This is good for them, but not great. As First Read notes:

When Democrats have scored big midterm wins, their advantage in congressional preference has been in the double digits. What’s more, Republicans on this measure enjoy a 52 percent–41 percent lead in GOP-held districts vs. Democrats’ 62 percent–28 percent lead in Dem districts, which helps explain what happened in GA-6 on Tuesday. Democrats may very well have the political winds at their backs, but those gusts haven’t blown into Republican areas — at least not yet.

In short, Trump has hurt himself in all sorts of unnecessary ways and is in middling shape, but, as usual, the catastrophic tone is unwarranted.


Did Obamacare Boldly Redistribute Wealth?

by Rich Lowry

Further to David’s point below, it is a theme in the coverage and the criticism of the Republican health-care bill that it will redistribute wealth upward. Here is a typical example from a Washington Post story today:

That dramatic shift and the bill’s bold redistribution of wealth — the billions of dollars taken from coverage for the poor would help fund tax cuts for the wealthy — is creating substantial anxiety for several Republican moderates whose states have especially benefited from the expansion of Medicaid that the Affordable Care Act has allowed since 2014.

The thing about this is that it’s not really possible for the repeal bill to be a “redistribution” in this sense unless the underlying law was a redistribution the other way. But it was very difficult to get supporters of Obamacare to admit this about the bill at the time. Byron York wrote a column in 2010 about some Democrats and analysts beginning to tout the redistributive aspects of Obamacare after its passage:

Now they tell us. For many opponents of the new legislation, the statements confirmed a nagging suspicion that for Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress, the health fight was about more than just insurance — that redistribution played a significant, if largely unspoken, part in the drive for national health care.

Well, now we know beyond a doubt that Obamacare was a “bold” redistribution of wealth, sold under false pretenses.


Kate’s Arlington Cemetery Burial

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

The family of my dear friend and former Washington editor of National Review and president of the National Review Institute sends along the details of her upcoming burial at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Both her husband and their eldest son served in the Army and she wrote frequently about military policy and heroes on the pages of National Review – always working to keep political ideology from putting America’s bravest from further danger.

Details below: 

The Good, The Bad, And The Senate Health-Care Bill

by Yuval Levin

The health-care bill now before the Senate has been shaped by a number of lessons that Republicans have learned in the course of a six-month, bicameral legislative process. It is a function of some things they’ve come to prioritize about the individual health-insurance market and Medicaid, and some things they’ve learned about the intricacies of the Byrd rule and Senate procedural constraints. But mostly it is a function of something they have learned about themselves: After seven years of saying they want to repeal and replace Obamacare, congressional Republicans have been forced to confront the fact that many of them, perhaps most, actually don’t quite want to do that.

Keep reading this post . . .

A Conservative Brain (and Excellent Teacher)

by Jay Nordlinger

John J. Pitney Jr. — less formally, Jack — is a famous conservative political scientist. He teaches at Claremont McKenna College, in California. And he is the latest guest on my Q&A podcast. We talk about his life, his thought, and America, basically. And in a half-hour or so!

Pitney grew up in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on the wrong side of the tracks. Parents in this area tended not to have gone to college. But their children did.

Jack went to Union College in Schenectady, the alma mater of Chester A. Arthur (“the Al D’Amato of his day,” says Pitney). Then he went to Yale, where he studied under Robert Dahl, the eminent political scientist. A lefty but a gentleman, says Pitney (and a true scholar).

On our podcast, we talk about Pitney’s teaching career. Among his students has been Heidi Cruz, incidentally. We talk about activism and ideology on campus. Are students too drugged, ideologically, to learn? Obsessed with their race, sex, and pronouns and all that?

We also talk about the conservative movement and the GOP. Pitney once worked for the Republican party, and he describes himself as a conservative in the Jack Kemp style. He left the party last year. He is now an independent.

I ask him about his media diet (“Whaddaya read?”). About California (“Still a golden state, despite the terrible problems?”). About statesmen he admires (beginning with Lincoln). About “the politics of autism” (on which he is an expert). And more.

Jack Pitney is a conservative brain and an excellent teacher. Again, to listen to him, go here.

One more thing, if you will allow a little home-state boosterism, so to speak: His conservatism was formed when he started reading National Review at age 13. He corresponded with WFB. His mother still keeps the letters from WFB.

And why not?

Illinois Compels MDs to Discuss “Benefits” of Abortion

by Wesley J. Smith

I have predicted that “medical conscience” will become a huge social controversy in the next decade, as culture of death proponents seek to force pro-life and Hippocratic Oath-believing doctors out of medicine by compelling them to be complicit in life-taking acts such as abortion and assisted suicide.

I just learned that a law enacted last year in Illinois compels doctors to counsel patients about the “benefits” of all legal medical procedures–the prime target is pro-life doctors about abortion, but it is not limited to that–and if unwilling to do the deed, to become complicity by helping patient find a doctor who will.

First, the amended conscience law pretends to protect conscience, but requires counseling on benefits of legal procedures regardless of conscience beliefs. From Public Act 099-0690 (my emphasis):

Nothing in this Act shall relieve a physician from any duty, which may exist under any laws concerning current standards, of normal medical practice or care practices and procedures, to inform his or her patient of the patient’s condition, prognosis, legal treatment options, and risks and benefits of treatment options, provided, however, that such physician shall be under no duty to perform, assist, counsel, suggest, recommend, refer or participate in any way in any form of practice or health care service that is contrary to his or her conscience.

This means that if a woman is told she is pregnant, the doctor must counsel on the abortion option. It would require a doctor to counsel on the benefits of sex reassignment to their patients with gender dysphoria. (The ACLU has already brought such a lawsuit against a Catholic hospital for refusing to permit sex change surgeries.)

It would also mean, were assisted suicide legalized, a doctor would have to tell a terminally ill patient about the option of receiving a lethal overdose.

The conscience protections in the law–that existed prior to this amendment–are then stripped from doctors by requiring them to procure and refer:

(2) When a health care facility, physician, or health care personnel is unable to permit, perform, or participate in a health care service that is a diagnostic or treatment option requested by a patient because the health care service is contrary to the conscience of the health care facility, physician, or health care personnel, then the patient shall either be provided the requested health care service by others in the facility or be notified that the health care will not be provided and be referred, transferred, or given information in accordance with paragraph (3).

And here’s the kick to the conscience solar plexus:

(3) If requested by the patient or the legal representative of the patient, the health care facility, physician, or health care personnel shall: (i) refer the patient to, or (ii) transfer the patient to, or (iii) provide in writing information to the patient about other health care providers who they reasonably believe may offer the health care service the health care facility, physician, or health personnel refuses to permit, perform, or participate in because of a conscience-based objection.

That means forced complicity in abortion and other morally controversial medical acts, akin to the failed attempt by Vermont–thwarted by litigation–to force doctors there to counsel about the availability of assisted suicide to their terminally ill patients. (Except this is by statute, not a regulation that conflicted with a statute).

I suspect that pro-life conscientious objectors can find protection against this authoritarianism in the safe harbor of the Church Amendment, a federal statute that forbids any facility or health care professional working in a facility that receives federal funds from being punished for refusing to participate in abortion or sterilization. But that law does not protect against compelled participation in other procedures, and thus needs to be expanded.

This is an example of how medicine is being weaponized by law as a means for committing cultural imperialism. 

Litigation has commenced. Let us hope it succeeds.

Republican Health Care Plans Don’t ‘Steal’ from the Poor

by David French

Here’s the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson with an odd attack on Republican health care plans:

The “health-care bill” that Republicans are trying to pass in the Senate, like the one approved by the GOP majority in the House, isn’t really about health care at all. It’s the first step in a massive redistribution of wealth from struggling wage-earners to the rich — a theft of historic proportions.

Not to be too pedantic about this, but the government isn’t “redistributing” wealth when it lets a citizen keep more of his money, and it isn’t “stealing” from the poor when it cuts benefits they didn’t actually own. Welfare programs like Medicaid represent a forcible transfer wealth. Welfare is the redistribution. And if there’s any actual argument for “theft,” it’s the theft of money from the private citizen by the government.

But that would be hyperbole. In civilized societies, people understand that a certain degree of taxation is necessary for a nation to function. Safety nets are compassionate and prudent. But it is dangerous and wrong to get confused about who owns what. I own the money I earn. America’s less fortunate citizens don’t own Medicaid. It’s a privilege, not a right — a privilege that is subject to the same budgetary and fiscal concerns inherent in any other government program, including national defense. 

Entitlement culture plagues this nation, and it plagues America’s poorest communities. So let’s speak accurately about ownership and redistribution. Medicaid is a program, not property, and it’s not theft to attempt to moderate its enormous financial cost. 


Drawing a Line on Federalism: Who Should Do It?

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Jake Curtis, writing on the home page, brings attention to an issue that deserves it: the way the federal government uses money to get the states to do what it wants. But I don’t think he makes the case for having the federal courts curtail the practice.

He’s writing on the thirtieth anniversary of South Dakota v. Dole, a case in which the Court upheld the federal government’s power to condition highway funding for the states on their adoption of a law prohibiting alcohol purchases for those under 21. I agree that it was wrong for Congress to pass that law and for President Reagan to sign it. It’s less obvious to me that the seven justices who allowed the law to stand—including the two most conservative justices on that court, Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia—were wrong.

The problem, as I see it, is a simple one: The Constitution lays out no explicit rule for distinguishing between permissible and impermissible conditions for federal aid to states, and no such rule can be plausibly inferred from it.

To my mind, the Court illustrated this point in NFIB v. Sebelius (2012), when it forced a modification of Obamacare’s provisions on Medicaid. The law said that states had to expand Medicaid or lose all their Medicaid funds. The Court—with seven justices in the majority, admittedly including all the conservatives—said that the federal government could not force the states to make that choice. It could, however, tell states that refusing to expand the program would keep them from getting some new Medicaid funds from the federal government. The distinctions the Court drew between permissible and impermissible conditions, however, are labored and their grounding in the constitutional text basically non-existent.

For the Court to become more active in striking down conditions on federal funding for the states, the justices would have to rely on some extra-constitutional sense that “this condition seems to go too far, while that one doesn’t.” There being no constitutional basis for drawing that distinction, responsibility for the line should be left to the legislature, the president, and the voters who elect both.

Trump Administration Must Reform Flawed System Allowing MS-13 to Recruit Unaccompanied Minors

by Austin Yack

The Trump administration is prioritizing the prosecution of those who are affiliated with MS-13, an international criminal gang formally known as Mara Salvatrucha. “We are targeting you. We are coming for you,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last month. If the Trump administration is committed to eradicating MS-13 in the U.S., it ought to look no further than the way in which the U.S. immigration system unintentionally allows for the recruitment of unaccompanied minors into gangs.

Upon catching unaccompanied minors at the border, U.S. Border Patrol agents have 72 hours to bring the minor to the Justice Department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). From there, he or she is placed with a sponsor. According to the Washington Times, “That usually leaves the children with no federal supervisions once they are released to sponsors — where they are often prime recruiting targets.”

In a Senate judiciary committee hearing on Wednesday, Republican senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the committee, grilled officials from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Justice Department’s ORR.

“No one takes responsibility for these children after they are placed with a sponsor,” Grassley said. “Your agencies repeatedly pass the buck to each other. As a result, children are allowed to disappear. When these children disappear without any supervision, they are vulnerable to join dangerous gangs like MS-13.”

MS-13 is increasingly recruiting unaccompanied minors who are heading to the U.S. According to ORR, 39 of the 138 unaccompanied minors who are being held by the U.S. at secure facilities — nearly 30 percent — are affiliated with MS-13 and other gangs. And just last week, 41 alleged MS-13 gang members were arrested in Nassau County, N.Y. Nineteen of the 41 arrested came to the U.S. as unaccompanied minors.

Nassau County district attorney Madeline Singas said that while recruiting, MS-13 members “surround a vulnerable child, ask him or her which gang they belong to, and while displaying machetes or guns, or other weapons, they demand that they join their gang or else they’ll suffer violence, or their families will.”

Grassley is right — our immigration system’s failure to properly handle these unaccompanied minors is partly to blame for MS-13’s rise in recent years. It’s time that one of the agencies involved steps up to the plate.

Evidently, the Left Hasn’t Calmed Down Yet

by Sapna Rampersaud

Johnny Depp, acclaimed American actor, producer, and musician, recently played with the notion of assassinating President Trump. At the Glastonbury arts festival in England on Thursday, he asked “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?” He followed up this question by proposing that “it’s been a while and maybe it’s time.”  

Just last month, Kathy Griffin, American comedian, writer, actress, and television host agreed to a photoshoot in which she was photographed holding up a bloody, severed head of President Trump. She was subsequently fired by CNN.

This month, the Public Theater in Central Park put on productions of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” play which depicted the murder of a Caesar who bore an uncanny resemblance to Trump.

Back in January, Madonna expressed her discontent with the new administration and stated at the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. that she “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House” following a slew of profanities.

These comments are rightfully protected under the First Amendment. Nevertheless, they represent an ugly trend in American culture — just listen to the cheers from the crowds when Depp and Madonna suggest murdering the president. And that trend does not look as if it’s coming to a close. It’s been nearly seven months since Trump was elected and nearly five since he took office, and, although it has nothing to show for its anger the Left has not yet calmed down.

Fourteen Things that Caught My Eye Today (June 23, 2017)

Moderate Republicans Blink on Health Care

by Ramesh Ponnuru

My new Bloomberg View column:

For most of the last decade, moderate Republicans have sounded just like their conservative colleagues on Obamacare: The law was a disaster and had to be replaced. Once Republicans were in a position to do something about the law, though, they were forced to think, apparently for the first time, about specific health-policy decisions. At that point the moderates decided that they want to keep Obamacare but make it cheaper. . . .


How Handel Won

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Henry Olsen concludes that the biggest factor was that Ossoff fell far short of the percentage of Gary Johnson/Evan McMullin voters he needed.

The Most Dangerous Places in America (for Un-P.C. Ideas, Anyway)

by George Leef

The Left used to dominate film, but in recent years, conservatives and libertarians have been catching up. Since fewer and fewer Americans read much any more, using film to make a point is increasingly effective.

Dennis Prager (who is well known to NR readers) and Adam Corolla plan to do a film entitled “No Safe Spaces” about the terrible condition of free speech on college campuses for anyone who challenges the supposed wisdom and compassion of the Left. They are crowdfunding their effort and for more information about it (including how to contribute), go here.

What Should Become of Steven Donziger?

by Jack Fowler

Neither persistence nor determination are virtues. Yes, people value them: We all want to cheer for The Little Engine that Could and Rudy. But Steven Donziger, the environmental-activist lawyer, is no Rudy. Actually, he’s more of Bernie. As in Madoff.

Donziger has been written about frequently here, for his crusade to conduct what has been called the legal fraud of the century: A contrived and calculated green-scamming operation to fleece Chevron over alleged rain-forest polluting in Ecuador (for alleged unremediated well sites that allegedly caused cancer for local peasants), masterminded by Donziger, who orchestrated a brazenly corrupt trial against the oil giant.

That foray ended well for the intrepid barrister: a bribed and coached Ecuadorean judiciary hit Chevron with a $9.5 billion judgment.

Chevron, a National Review advertiser (praised be!), fought back, and took no prisoners. Among other things, the counterattack resulted in a federal court action, and in 2014, as Kevin Williamson wrote at the time, Donziger was on the receiving end of a brutal ruling, rendered by District Judge Lewis Kaplan. National Review’s editorial had this to say about the esquire scammer:

[Donziger is] a politically connected Harvard Law classmate of Barack Obama. Mr. Donziger would come to be the central figure in the legal case against Chevron — a case that, according to a decision just handed down by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, was the product of an ongoing criminal conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. The judge, Lewis Kaplan, found that Chevron’s antagonists had used “corrupt means” to procure a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador, and that those means included falsifying evidence, coercing judges, bribing “independent” expert witnesses and ghostwriting those “independent” experts’ reports to the court, bribing the Ecuadorian judge in the case, and subsequently lying to U.S. legal authorities in an attempt to cover up their misdeeds.

Shot down in the U.S. courts (and getting clobbered internationally, such as earlier this year in Canada), Donziger appealed Kaplan’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. Same old same old: This week SCOTUS handed the leftist his latest defeat.

Donziger’s globe-trotting circus is getting boring — he’s certain to take his action to some nation demanding its legal system enforce the corrupt Ecuadorean ruling to swindle Chevron (he responded to the SCOTUS verdict saying he was seeking “an international judgment enforcement process.” Before he splits for Burundi or Bulgaria, someone should grab his passport, because it is time he possibly conduct his efforts from the confines of a federal prison cell. As Kaplan wrote in his 2014 decision, Donziger engaged in “bribery, coercion and fraud.” Those are harsh claims from a federal judge (backed up by copious facts, and even an amazing confessional video starring Donziger bragging about his scam). We wonder when a U.S. attorney will formally charge this man with criminal RICO charges. The shareholders of Chevron deserve justice, and the criminal Left that Donziger represents deserves as strong a throttling as our laws will permit.

Where the Public Stands on Gun Issues

by Robert VerBruggen

Pew has a big new report on that topic, with this summary of the results being a handy guide:

A few things pop out to me here. Like other surveys it shows broad support for background checks on private sales, even among Republicans. It also shows a clear majority for “assault weapons” bans — which, interestingly, didn’t show up in a 2015 New York Times poll. The biggest gaps between Republicans and Democrats, meanwhile, are on questions of expanding where people can legally carry guns. And I’m not sure how to interpret the question about “shortening waiting periods,” because, well, there isn’t a waiting period, at least on the federal level.

Finally, there are two questions where Republicans surprised me. One, they support a “federal database to track gun sales.” Currently, guns are traced through their manufacturers and the stores where they’re sold to avoid placing those records directly in the government’s hands, but it turns out that most Republicans aren’t so concerned about a centralized registry. And two, by more than two-to-one, Republicans oppose permitless concealed carry, which has expanded quite a bit in recent years and is a major goal of the gun-rights lobby.

Deposing Assad Could Hurt Syria’s Christians

by Nicholas Frankovich

Response To...

Syria in 2017 Is Nothing Like ...

In Syria, most Christians and other religious minorities, primarily Alawites and Druze, support Assad, certainly according to conventional wisdom. Polling data such as they are indicate that a majority of the total Syrian population, not just religious minorities, backs him in the civil war. “Even the Sunnis” will take Assad over “the extremists,” Antoine Audo, the Chaldean Catholic bishop of Aleppo, told reporters in Geneva last year. He estimated that 80 percent of Syria’s Christians would vote for Assad in an election. Syria’s bishops, both Catholic and Orthodox, are adamant in their defense of the secular regime, which they see as the only practical bulwark against greater chaos or the establishment of a Sunni regime that would be hostile to Christianity.

In a proxy war between a U.S.–Sunni alliance and the Russian–Iranian alliance in Syria, the U.S. would be fighting not only Assad, Putin, and Rouhani but, it would appear, also the Christians remaining in or returning to Aleppo, encouraged by the Syrian government’s recapture of the city last December. What persecuted religious minorities perceive to be their self-interest in the Syrian civil war complicates the argument for deposing or weakening Assad.

Or, rather, it should complicate that argument. If an American proponent of going to war against the regime thinks that the cost to Syria’s religious minorities is one that they are tragically doomed to suffer for a greater good, he should say so. Or if he thinks that he knows what’s in their interest better than they do, he should say that. Likewise, an American advocate for Middle Eastern Christians needs to have an explanation if he supports a military campaign to topple the Syrian government.

So I disagree with Max Bloom, although I sympathize with what I take to be his wish to see Putin defeated. Max argues that the parallel between Iraq in 2003 and Syria in 2017 doesn’t stand up, but that’s not how Syrian Christians I read and speak with tend to see it. They are keenly aware that the secular regime of Saddam Hussein gave Iraqi Christians some protection. Since it fell, they’ve been persecuted to the point that the European Union and the U.S. State Department have formally recognized their plight as genocide. Many of the Christians currently in Syria fled there from Iraq. They see history repeating. Are they wrong?

Granted, Syrian Christians are not unanimous in their support for Assad. Many are vocal in their opposition, but they do not speak for the institutional churches in Syria and do not appear to speak for most Christians on the ground. An argument for defending Syria’s Christians while fighting Assad is not impossible, but those who assume it owe it to the rest of us to explain it.

I click on a lot of articles about the Syrian civil war. I search for the character string “chr” and almost always get zero results. Terry Mattingly, a journalist who specializes in media coverage of religion, is an American convert to the Antiochian Orthodox Church, based in Damascus. He expresses frustration at the absence of religious background in otherwise good reporting on events in Syria. “It’s impossible to tell many of these stories without including religion,” he writes. “Why even try?”

Bowled Over by a Book

by Jay Nordlinger

I guess I have more of a political bent than I do a literary one. I wish it weren’t so, but can we help it? All my life, I had read Mario Vargas Llosa — but his journalism. His essays. Interviews of him. That sort of thing. I admired him greatly, and I considered him one of the great classical liberals in Latin America. But I had never read a novel of his — the stuff that got him the Nobel prize.

I suppose I considered Vargas Llosa a political figure, primarily.

A friend gave me a novel by him. I laid it aside (as I do books). Then, some weeks later, I was shirking the reading I had to do, and my eyes fell on the novel. I picked it up, figuring I’d read a few pages.

I did. They were okay. I read a few more. They were okay. Then they were more than okay. And I couldn’t eat, sleep, or breathe until I was finished with the novel.

It is The Feast of the Goat, published in 2000 — a novel of Trujillo and his dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. It is a work of genius, pure and simple. I called David Pryce-Jones. I said, in effect, “Did you know that Vargas Llosa was a flat-out genius?” P-J is polite, but he said, in effect, “Uh, yeah. Where have you been?”

Today on the homepage, my column is devoted to notes on The Feast of the Goat, dictatorship, and man. See what you think, here.

P.S. In recent days, I have had two pieces at The New Criterion that may interest you. Here is one on a Russian pianist — not very well known — who lived from 1908 to 1978. Interesting, impossibly hard life. The pianist is Maria Grinberg, and she is great. There is a story in there about her patronymic — her middle name, so to speak — that you will eat up.

And here is a piece on Swan Lake: its unstalability. A couple of days ago, someone asked me, “What makes a great work of art great? Its universality?” Yes, I said, but also its unstalability: the fact that you can’t wear it out. That you can watch it or listen to it or read it again and again and again.

Dan Hannan and Conservatives International

by Jack Fowler

Our pal, the Conservative MEP and Brexit champion, is determined to engineer an honest-to-goodness global right-wing conspiracy. Minus the conspiracy. And he has done it with the free-market Conservatives International, which launched last month in Miami.

Dan’s keynote speech at the conference is worth your watching:

CI’s next effort is a trade conference next month in Kamapal (details here). 

Friday links

by debbywitt

Tomorrow (June 24) is the birthday of Ambrose Bierce, author of The Devil’s Dictionary.

Caterpillars Recruit Friends with Anal Scraping. If you know of others who use the same method, feel free to discuss in the comments.

Lincoln Memorial Undercroft - A cavernous three-story, 43,800-square-foot basement that was forgotten about for 60 years. 

How To Steal Pizza Without Anyone Knowing.

How Much Businesses Pay To Get On Those Big Blue Exit Signs

These Massive Tunnels Were Dug By Giant Sloths.

ICYMI, Wednesday’s links are here, and include the history of the Aloha shirt, the first day of summer, why it’s called Area 51, the rural mail carriers who count wildlife on their routes, and how cats used humans to conquer the world.