Combs Spouts Off

"It's my opinion and it's very true."

Next on 9News: “King of the North”

Posted by Richard on February 15, 2019

Travis Kauffman, the trail runner who killed a mountain lion with his bare hands on February 4, finally stepped forward and held a press conference Thursday. Kauffman was running on an open space trail west of Fort Collins, Colorado, when a juvenile mountain lion attacked him. The story made national news even before his identity was known, so unless you pay no attention at all to what’s going on in the world, you’ve probably heard about it.

The young cougar weighed about 40 pounds, but if you think that should make it easy to subdue, you’re not a cat owner. As someone who’s tried to physically control an angry/scared 10-pound house cat (and has the resulting scars), I can assure you that a cat four times that size is a legitimate threat to your life. Despite serious injuries to his arm, hand, and face, Kauffman, who is 5’10” and 155 pounds, was able to avoid the disemboweling efforts of the cat’s rear claws, pin it to the ground, and suffocate it. I suspect that if the cat had been even 20 pounds larger, he would surely have lost the fight.

I’m posting this to get you to watch Thursday night’s episode of Next on 9News, which as my friends know, I’m a big fan of. It’s certainly the best local newscast in Denver and I suspect one of the best anywhere. The host, Kyle Clark, appears to be the typical liberalish millennial, and he freely offers his opinions on the show (kudos to 9News for letting him do it his way), but he’s also a big proponent of listening to differing opinions and of encouraging dialog. It’s a refreshingly different kind of newscast, with lots of humor. For instance, one of the regular features is called “The Most Colorado Thing We Saw Today”; a recent one involved a guy on a mountain bike pedaling up the road with a snowboard strapped to his back. It’s now been renamed “The Most Travis Kauffman Thing We Saw Today.” Some time ago, before Kauffman stepped forward, Kyle Clark declared that the anonymous mountain lion killer would henceforth be known as the “King of the North.” And in this episode, he solemnly declares, “If this man ever pays for a beer again in the state of Colorado, we have failed as a people.”

Next on 9News has a YouTube channel, where they sometimes post certain segments and sometimes complete shows. Here’s the complete Thursday show featuring Travis Kauffman. After the opening segment about Kauffman, there’s a story about the Denver teachers’ strike (boring) and a story about gun control efforts in the legislature (aggravating). But if you don’t want to watch those, skip ahead to about the 11:00 mark, when Kyle Clark takes on the many critics of Travis Kauffman. Outstanding commentary. Truly outstanding. And after that, you learn about another amazing Coloradan, known as “Rattlesnake Kate.” Trust me, this show is worth your time.

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State of the Union: pretty darn good

Posted by Richard on February 8, 2019

I’m pretty pleased and impressed by Trump’s State of the Union address. I’m not quite as impressed as Newt Gingrich, who thinks it “changed history.” But he makes some good points, and I agree that watching it is better than just reading the transcript.

There were, of course, things that rubbed this libertarian the wrong way, chief among them being his embrace of “nationwide family leave.” I guess Ivanka finally got to him on that. The last thing this country needs is yet another entitlement, and forcing employers to pay for it instead of taxpayers doesn’t make it any less bad. It will just further reinforce the already far-too-prevalent belief that one person’s (perceived) need constitutes a morally legitimate claim on someone else’s property.

But there were also some truly moving moments (I’m thinking especially of his honoring of Judah Samet, Joshua Kaufman, and Herman Zeitchik). And some parts of the speech made me want to cheer. Here are two:

Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country.  America was founded on liberty and independence –- not government coercion, domination, and control.  We are born free, and we will stay free.  Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.

Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years.  In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives.  More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded.  We have spent more than $7 trillion in the Middle East.

As a candidate for President, I pledged a new approach.  Great nations do not fight endless wars.

The polling numbers for the speech looked great for Trump, including the YouGov survey immediately afterward commissioned by CBS News. It showed approval/agreement numbers for Trump’s specific ideas ranging from 71% to 78%.

CNN also had a post-speech poll with similarly positive numbers. But both networks emphasized that the audience for SOTU broadcasts leans heavily to the President’s own party. CNN in particular, as NewsBusters noted (emphasis in original):

So I just want to stress here, for a State of the Union address, the President’s partisans, his supporters tend to turn out to watch the speech. This is true of a president of either party,” he warned viewers after also noting the poll was only of people who actually watched the speech. “So tonight, we saw a heavily Republican skewed audience turn out to watch the President’s speech.”

As this author wondered last year: If you’re polling a skewed pool of respondents, then why take the poll in the first place? It’s because they like to hold up the results when it’s a Democratic president giving the State of the Union address.

Remember when CNN and CBS always discounted the favorable poll results after Obama’s SOTU speeches because viewers were mostly Democrats? And reminded us that the results weren’t representative of the country as a whole, only of those who watched? Me neither.

Both networks made a laughable attempt to find something negative in viewers’ reactions by focusing on their poll’s bipartisanship question. The CNN-commissioned SRSS poll asked, “Do you think President Trump will or will not succeed in increasing cooperation between Democrats and Republicans?” 53% said he will not succeed. The CBS YouGov poll asked, “Did what you heard tonight make you think that Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi will…” 33% thought they’d work together more, 4% thought they’d work together less, and 63% thought it won’t change things much. Both networks made this sound like a failing of Trump’s.

But who do you think this “skewed Republican” audience is more likely to blame for lack of bipartisan cooperation, Trump or Pelosi, Schumer, et al? Well, here’s a clue: YouGov also asked, “Looking ahead, do you think the President’s speech will do more to…?” 56% said unite the country, only 8% said divide the country, and 36% said it won’t change things much. So a lot of viewers think Trump’s speech had a positive effect on the country as a whole, but that it won’t help with Pelosi. Sounds about right to me.

UPDATE: I almost missed this bit of hilarity. NPR is not only partisan, but clumsily and stupidly partisan. And boy, did they get called on it.

Donald Trump Jr. joined the pile-on attacking NPR Wednesday morning over the organization’s “fact check” on President Trump’s State of the Union address that many criticized as partisan and unfair.

“FACT CHECK: President Trump praised the record number of women in Congress, but that’s almost entirely because of Democrats, not Trump’s party,” NPR wrote late Tuesday.

The tweet was referring to a rare moment in bipartisan celebration Tuesday night when Mr. Trump acknowledged the record number of women serving in Congress.

“Exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before,” the president declared.

The Washington Times has several more great responses (including David Harsanyi’s), so go read the whole thing.

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QOTD

Posted by Richard on February 7, 2019

The quote of the day comes from the Denver Post’s daily Mile High Roundup email, which would be a useful quick news summary with links if it weren’t so tiresomely leftist. This line by Matt Schubert is the best I’ve seen from that rag in some time:

You know things are bad when the temperature outside matches the number of pants you’re currently wearing.

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Senator Warren’s wealth tax won’t fly

Posted by Richard on February 6, 2019

Fauxcahontas wants to tax wealth, not just income. If your net worth is north of $50 million, she wants to take 2% of it annually. (If your net worth is north of $50 million, can we talk?) Being rich is evil, don’t you know, because if you’re rich you must have stolen it from all the poor people. Or at least that’s how leftists think. And if she got her way, you can be sure that the $50 million floor would be lowered rapidly and relentlessly, bccause there aren’t enough people that rich to bring in the amount of loot that the leftists want to get their hands on.

But don’t worry, it’s not going to happen. Not without a radical change in the Supreme Court. As Professor Erik M. Jensen noted at City Journal, a wealth tax would at best be “constitutionally problematic.” That’s because a wealth tax would be a direct tax, and the Constitution makes levying direct taxes difficult:

… The Founders worried that Congress might use the relatively dangerous direct taxes as everyday revenue-raisers. To prevent abuse, the Constitution requires apportioning a direct tax among the states based on population: regardless of how the tax base is distributed across the country, taxpayers in each state in the aggregate must pay tax in proportion to their state’s share of the national population. The apportionment rule makes imposition of a direct tax often technically—and politically—impossible. That’s not a glitch, as some suggest; that was the point.

Suppose Warren’s wealth tax had to be apportioned. Imagine two states—one rich, one poor—each having a population of, say, 2 million. Despite the disparity in wealth, the tax collected from the two states must be the same. To make the numbers work, either tax rates would have to be higher in the poorer state than in the richer one, or some other absurd mechanism would have to be used. The result would obviously not satisfy Senator Warren’s goals. If apportionment is required, the proposed tax is dead in the water.

“But what about the income tax,” you say, “isn’t that a direct tax?” Well, our stinkin’ Progressive forebears amended the Constitution to make that possible, but they didn’t go as far as Warren and her ilk would have liked:

The Sixteenth Amendment, ratified in 1913, exempted “taxes on incomes” from apportionment. That made the modern income tax possible, but the amendment doesn’t allow an unapportioned wealth tax. The income tax targeted the wealthy, but late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century debates specifically distinguished taxes on income from taxes on wealth. Senator Norris Brown of Nebraska, who in 1909 introduced the resolution that ultimately became the amendment, refused to extend the amendment’s scope beyond taxes on incomes. Many members of Congress wanted to do away with apportionment altogether—to make the meaning of “direct tax” irrelevant—but Brown said no, and he prevailed. As a result, a direct tax that is not a tax on incomes remains subject to apportionment. Like it or not, that’s the law.

I like it. It’s about the only thing I like about the Sixteenth Amendment.

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Are your shoes offending Allah?

Posted by Richard on February 1, 2019

Some Muslims think a new Nike Air Max shoe is blasphemous because the stylized version of “Air Max” on the sole resembles (!) the Arabic script for “Allah.” They’re demanding that Nike recall the shoes.

Where to begin? Based on the picture in the story linked above, I don’t even think the sole looks very much like it says “Air Max,” much less “Allah.” It’s not even close to looking like Arabic script for anything.

This is classic offense theft (taking offense where none was given), a tactic that radical Islamists love to engage in. I hope Nike tells them to “sod off,” as the Brits would say, but I’m not holding my breath. This kind of nonsense has worked far too often in the past.

In any case, neither Nike nor the non-Islamic world in general is obliged to adhere to Sharia law. So their demand, which seems invalid to me even under those strictures, is utterly without merit. It should be laughed off.

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Polar vortex fun

Posted by Richard on January 31, 2019

CBS4 meteorologist Lauren Whitney (@LaurenCBS4) shared a cool photo from a viewer on Twitter today. It shows how much fun you can have blowing soap bubbles in Wisconsin when it’s -23°.

 

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Libertarian praise for Trump’s health care vision

Posted by Richard on January 30, 2019

The Independent Institute’s Dr. John C. Goodman has been called the father of Health Savings Accounts, and his two books and numerous articles and op-eds on health care make  a strong case for free-market reforms in health care and health insurance. In a new Forbes column, he notes that “the most serious problems in the health care marketplace are almost always the result of ill-conceived public policies” and has high praise for the Trump administration’s health care reform proposals:

For most of the past half century, health economics has been dominated by the idea that private sector medicine has numerous flaws – flaws that must be corrected by government.

Fortunately, the conversation is about to change.

The Trump administration has produced an astonishingly bold document:  Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition.This is the first time any administration has explicitly acknowledged that the most serious problems in health economics arise not because of market failure, but because of government failure. It is also the first time the federal government has committed to the idea of liberating the medical marketplace. In many ways the document builds on and extends ideas I first discussed in Regulation of Medical Care (Cato) almost four decades ago and that Gerald Musgrave and I discussed in Patient Power (Cato) almost three decades ago.

Although cooperation from Congress and state governments is necessary and desirable, the Trump administration is accomplishing a lot through executive authority alone. I described some of the most important of these changes in a recent post.

The introductory letter from the cabinet secretaries is at the link Goodman provides, along with a link to the entire 120-page PDF. I’ve only read the introduction and dipped into a couple of topics that caught my interest, in particular “Governments and Market Failure in Healthcare,” which begins as follows (emphasis added):

It is a common refrain that healthcare is “unique,” and in some ways, it is. But “unique” is frequently used to imply that free-market principles that govern other major sectors of the economy cannot be applied to healthcare. The reasons given for the uniqueness of healthcare vary, but some of the most common are: the difficulties involved in shopping for services, the expertise gap between patients and healthcare professionals (asymmetric information), economies of scale intrinsic to the sector, and the predominant reliance on third-party payers. The merit of these commonly cited reasons for why healthcare is unique is considered below.

Notably, government policies promote some of these features, particularly third-party payment. While some of these features do limit the application of free-market principles, the common claim that the healthcare sector as a whole cannot function under free-market principles is not true. Notably, government policies promote many factors that prevent the free-market from operating. Specifically, government has encouraged excessive third-party payment, created counterproductive barriers to entry, incentivized opaque pricing practices, skewed innovation activity, and placed restrictions on the reimbursement policies of government programs. Overall, these practices have resulted in less choice, less competition, and sub-optimally functioning markets that deliver higher prices and lower quality.

Sounds pretty good to me.

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Cats may make you schizophrenic?

Posted by Richard on January 30, 2019

Eek!

In what researchers describe as the largest study of its kind, scientists have found new evidence of a link between infection with the protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, and schizophrenia.

Causation remains very much disputable, but the brain-dwelling parasite – commonly carried by cats and present in their faeces – has been linked to a huge host of behaviour-altering effects.

Virtually all warm-blooded animals are capable of being infected, and when T. gondii gets inside them, unusual things happen.

What kind of unusual things? Well, infected rodents lose their inhibitions and their aversion to the odor of cats.

Mmm, cat odors.

In humans, T. gondii infections seem to be associated with risk-taking, suicide, and various neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and epilepsy. Of course, correlation is not causation. Maybe people who are prone to these effects for other reasons are also for some reason more inclined to have cats.

Still, there’s this new study by Danish researchers analyzing the blood of 80,000 Danes that suggests further research might be a good idea:

To ascertain links between mental disorders and infections with T. gondii and another common pathogen, the herpes virus cytomegalovirus (CMV), the researchers identified 2,591 individuals in the blood study who were registered with psychiatric conditions, and analysed their samples to look for traces of immunoglobulin antibodies indicative of the two infections.

In terms of T. gondii, compared to a control group, the blood work revealed individuals with the infection were almost 50 percent more likely (odds ratio 1.47) to be diagnosed with schizophrenia disorders compared to those without an infection.

As the researchers explain, the link became even more evident when they filtered the data to account for ‘temporality’ – which meant only looking at participants who hadn’t yet been diagnosed with schizophrenia when T. gondii was found in their blood.

According to the researchers, this “corroborates that Toxoplasma has a positive effect on the rate of schizophrenia and that T. gondii infection might be a contributing causal factor for schizophrenia.”

I know the voices aren’t real, but they have some really good ideas.

(HT: /.)

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Your tax dollars at work

Posted by Richard on January 14, 2019

Or to be more precise, your tax dollars and your children’s tax dollars and your grandchildren’s tax dollars. Caleb Hull, unhappy that Congress won’t fund a border wall/fence/whatever, went on a Twitter rant last week pointing out some of the absurd and outrageous things that Congress has funded. Twitchy, of course, collected his tweets for your easy perusal. Here are some of my favorites:

  • $765,828 on pancakes: tax dollars subsidized an IHOP in an “under-served” area of DC

Because making pancakes at home is so difficult and expensive. Can you even buy Bisquick and Mrs. Butterworth’s with a SNAP card? Plus, the obesity rate of the poor isn’t nearly high enough. (I’m guessing that the franchise owner of the IHOP in question has a friend at the Capitol.)

  • $442,340 studying behavior of male prostitutes in Vietnam

No doubt the researchers who got this grant privately referred to it as “gaycation money.”

  • $2,000,000 for the Department of Agriculture to fund an internship program. The program hired ONE full-time intern.
  • $250M training 60 Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State

So funding a USDA intern costs $2 million, but funding a Syrian rebel costs over $4 million? I thought the cost of living was much lower in Syria than in D.C.

  • $10M on creating two video games aimed at fighting obesity (FOR REAL)

Um, doesn’t the very existence of video games contribute to obesity?

  • $5M on tweeting responses to pro-ISIS rhetoric

Hey, Congress, there are plenty of us who’d be happy to do this more cheaply. Put this out for competitive bidding!

  • $325,000 to build a robot squirrel

Ooh, I want one! My cats could have a great time with it. And keeping my cats amused should be considered an essential government service.

If you want to know more about how Congress is frittering away your hard-earned money (and your blood pressure can stand it), get to know Citizens Against Government Waste. Their 2018 Pig Book details the 232 pork projects (earmarks) funded last year at a cost more than double the cost of earmarks in 2017 (one contributor to the federal budget surging 13.4% over 2017).  But CAGW doesn’t just rail against pork. Their 2018 Prime Cuts makes 636 recommendations across virtually every department and agency for cutting spending. Those cuts would save more than $3 trillion over five years.

Updating the late Sen. Everett Dirksen to account for inflation, a trillion here and a trillion there and pretty soon it adds up to real money.

 

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Latest PC euphemism worthy of The Onion

Posted by Richard on January 11, 2019

We’re not even halfway through January and we already have a strong candidate for the politically correct euphemism of the year. Via Twitchy:

Earlier this week, a New Jersey man shot and killed an armed intruder in his home.

Sorry, did we say “armed intruder”? Thanks to NBC New York, we now know that “unwanted house visitor” is the correct term:

Well, the PC crowd has already established that illegal aliens should be called undocumented immigrants. Calling a home invasion an unwanted house visit seems like a logical next step for them. Here are some other PC euphemisms for crimes that they may want to consider:

Murder: involuntary end-of-life services

Carjacking: impromptu ride sharing with extreme prejudice

Mugging: unauthorized wealth redistribution

Rape: unrequested sperm donation

Kidnapping: involuntary relocation

Counterfeiting: freelance fractional-reserve banking

 

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Merry Christmas!

Posted by Richard on December 25, 2018

Have you watched Die Hard yet? It’s 30 years old now, and still the best ever Christmas movie.

I’m feeling festive, so here are some Christmas cats.


[YouTube link]

UPDATE: I’m looking at Dish Network’s on-demand menu, and Die Hard is one of the Trending Now entries. Woohoo!

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Sen. Hirono: “We Democrats know so much”

Posted by Richard on December 6, 2018

Can’t. Stop. Laughing.

Sen. Mazie Hirono suggested Tuesday that Democrats have a hard time connecting with voters because their breadth of knowledge tends to turn people off.

The Hawaii Democrat made the comment during a discussion at the “Bend Towards Justice” conference in Washington when she was asked by Slate editor Dahlia Lithwick how to make the judicial system a top campaign issue for voters.

“One of the things that we Democrats have a really hard time is connecting to people’s hearts instead of here,” Ms. Hirono responded, pointing at her head, according to a clip flagged by the Republic National Committee. “We’re really good at shoving out all the information that touch people here [points to the brain] but not here [points to the heart].”

R-i-ight. Because calling everyone who disagrees with you a racist or fascist is such a cerebral way to resolve policy disagreements. Because shouting “you’re starving children” and “you’re killing old people” is such a cerebral way to resolve budget battles involving less than 1/2% of federal spending. Because fleeing to safe spaces with coloring books, rainbows, and unicorns is such a cerebral way for college students and faculty to cope with the threat of hearing ideas that challenge them. Because trotting out “victims” with tear-jerking tales of woe is such a cerebral way of debating the merits of proposed legislation.

“We have to kind of tell everyone how smart we are, and so we have a tendency to be very left-brain,” the senator added.

Add Ms. Hirono: “We Democrats know so much” it can alienate voters.

I turn to the wisdom of Ronaldus Magnus:

It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.

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Global warming: what can’t it do?

Posted by Richard on December 5, 2018

For several decades, climate scientists dependent on government grants for a living have been warning us of all the dire consequences of anthropogenic global warming (AGW; recently rechristened climate change, presumably based on focus group research). It appears to me that they’re doing this to justify massive global wealth redistribution and greatly increased government control of the economy, which is what the people controlling the flow of money to those climate scientists want.

Those climate experts, along with people like Al Gore (whose only expertise is in hucksterism), have argued that AGW will melt the ice caps and raise sea levels, drown Manhattan, Florida, and countless islands, cause droughts, cause flooding, increase the number and intensity of hurricanes, destroy the ski industry, create horrific winter storms (“snowmageddon”), threaten coffee production, bring forth plagues of locusts, and countless other harms.

The odd thing is that they (or their predecessors) have been sounding the alarm since the late 70s, and virtually every time with an ominous warning of the dire consequences of inaction within ten years. And yet, each decade has passed without those dire consequences coming to pass. Makes you wonder about the accuracy of those computer models on which all their predictions are based, doesn’t it?

But the scientists who feed at the public trough (and that’s a lot of them) aren’t going to give up trying to please their statist masters. So we’ll keep seeing new studies like the one showing that milder winters (brought about, of course, by AGW … oops, climate change) cause increased crime.

What a revelation! The scumbags who can’t bring themselves to do an honest day’s work are more likely to break into your car or home when it’s mild outside than when it’s friggin’ cold and snowing to beat the band. Criminals spend more time out and about when it’s comfortable outside than when it’s miserable. Just like the rest of us.

During certain seasons, namely winter, milder weather conditions increase the likelihood … that violent and property crimes will take place, according to the new study. Unexpectedly, warmer summer temperatures were not linked with higher crime rates.

The new research abates existing theories that hot temperatures drive aggressive motivation and behavior, according to the study’s authors. Instead, the new research suggests crime is related to the way climate alters people’s daily activities.

“We were expecting to find a more consistent relationship between temperature and crime, but we weren’t really expecting that relationship to be changing over the course of the year,” said Ryan Harp, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. “That ended up being a pretty big revelation for us.”

Understanding how climate affects crime rates could expand the boundaries of what scientists would consider to be a climate and health connection, Harp said.

Health connection? Yep, that’s what he said. Crime is now a public health issue. We’re way past the days when “public health” had to do with communicable diseases, where the government used its power to prevent innocent people from being exposed against their will to those diseases. Now, “public health” is anything that “will have an impact on people’s wellbeing.” So drug use became a public health issue, smoking became a public health issue, obesity became a public health issue. Why not crime?

At least this study throws cold water on the idea that hotter summers increase crime. But what about the possibility that beyond a certain point, hotter temperatures reduce crime? Sure, the average worthless slimeball who breaks into cars, homes, and stores, or who mugs pedestrians or rapes women, is just as likely to be out and about whether it’s 70°. 80°. or 90°. But what about when it’s 100°, or 110°? I’m guessing that there’s a point where the criminal element would rather stay in their air-conditioned domicile doing some TV binge-watching. Just like the rest of us.

I suspect that if the globe is actually in a long-term warming trend for whatever reason (and keep in mind that it hasn’t even come close to what the computer models predicted, and we’re overdue for an ice age), the effect on crime may be a wash, with more in the winter and less in the summer.

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The worst beverage idea in the world

Posted by Richard on November 29, 2018

I’ve always thought that “near beer” and decaf coffee were the dumbest ideas for beverages, but I was wrong. That distinction has to go to alcohol-free whisky. And vodka, gin, rum, brandy, … well, the folks at ArKay Beverages have a whole slew of alcohol-free liquors. And they assure us that every one of them tastes just like the real thing. Yeah, right.

Let’s see, I can spend $40 for a bottle of what I’m sure is the Velveeta of whisk(e)ys or I can spend about $22 for a bottle of Buffalo Trace bourbon. Decisions, decisions… Yeah, I’m going with the Buffalo Trace.

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Things to be thankful for: Pilgrims, property rights, and technology

Posted by Richard on November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you enjoy your turkey (or ham) dinner and the company of family or friends. Yes, even that crazy aunt or uncle. But please shut down any family member who starts spouting Tom Steyer’s talking points about the “Need to Impeach.”

On this Thanksgiving, Veronique de Rugy suggests being grateful for all the technological advancements that have improved our lives and the new ones that are on the horizon, such as air taxis (if the feds don’t stifle them with onerous regulations).

John Stossel, meanwhile, looks backward and is thankful for William Bradford and the Pilgrims’ “early correction” from collective ownership to private property rights.

For much more about the Pilgrims, see this old post of mine about the real story of Thanksgiving.

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