Thursday, February 20, 2014

10 Political Points (plus kittens and rock)

1. I saw law professor (and newly-minted Washington Post blogger) Eugene Volokh do a fine job criticizing gun control at an NYU Federalist Society debate yesterday (a reminder that I promise to replace the debates I’ve long hosted with other fun events to be announced in the near future).

2. If the fundamental right to self-defense doesn’t resonate with you when you contemplate guns, try mulling the principle while reading this Mark Steyn piece about rising anti-Semitic violence (h/t Baruch Gottesman).

3. In other foreign affairs news, I hope you read my letter in the Wall Street Journal a couple months ago on whether to merge the U.S. and Canada.

4. None of the above is quite as strange, though, as news of a woman in China duping people by pretending to be a male cop with superpowers.

5. I’ll be at the Wall Street Journal offices tomorrow, as it happens, visiting along with a three-times-a-year gathering of my fellow Robert Novak Fellows, an assortment of conservative and libertarian writers. 

We gathered in the old Journal offices once, and my favorite part of that meeting may have been learning that an old stock-ticker-tape machine still sat in one corner of the editorial boardroom, a rather steampunk reminder that Dow Jones was technically an electronic communications company over a century ago, before it owned a newspaper.

6. Columnist Tim Carney (who was good on the Feb. 17 episode of The Independents) is one of the Novak Fellows, whereas his brother John Carney just joined the Journal, and two weeks later brother Brian Carney left the Journal, for those struggling, as we all have at times, to keep track of Carney brothers. 

Inevitably, they sometimes make me think of this song.  And that song is not as creepy as this unusual photo of the man singing it, Nick Cave, wearing a Scooby-Doo costume.  If you combine Nick Cave and Echo and the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch, to my delight you sort of get the current band the Editors, who have several neat songs like this.

7. The best way to combine the Novak Fellows experience with music, though, is to see one of them perform Saturday at 6:30 (International Arts Movement, 38 W. 39th, 3rd floor), namely Jesse James DeConto with his band Pinkerton Raid. 

8. After such revels, we will still need serious political writing, though, such as this Journal item on (ex-Sandinista) Mayor de Blasio’s campaign against charter schools.

9. In other de Blasio news, Julia Kamin notes his NYPD has issued 215 summons for jaywalking -- yes, jaywalking, which no New Yorker considers a crime -- in just over a month in early 2014, part of de Blasio’s crusade to reduce traffic deaths while ticketing cars less. 

I guess we won’t have to worry about being run over by the carriage horses de Blasio’s banning either (and it sounds suspiciously like his motivation there had less to do with horse wellbeing than with a de Blasio donor wanting the horses’ building after the unemployed horses vacate it).

10. You almost can’t blame people for thinking politics is wholesome and high finance corrupting, though, when you read things like this account of decadent, secret Wall Street parties (h/t Ivan Cohen).  And then there’s the strange wave of apparent suicides among JP Morgan employees (not that one can’t find all that creepy and be alarmed by public-sector goings-on, such as Democrats stealing voter-registration information for campaign purposes in Texas...or the Obama administration planning increased use of government minders in newsrooms...or...or...).

But when the world seems filled with corruption and cronyism, there’s always this cute kitten sitting in a glass as a distraction -- or this Matrix-like berserk-kitten fight sped up and set to techno music.  Would that all conflicts were as simple.

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