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May is NF Awareness Month


I thought I should let you know before the month is over.

Neurofibromatosis (Type 1 and Type 2) is a congenital disease causing “benign” tumorous growths (neurofibromas of various types) on nerve fibers anywhere throughout the body. I put “benign” in sneer quotes, because NF, as it is called in the community, depending on where the growths occur, can cause blindness and/or deafness, can be devastatingly disfiguring, painful, and even life-threatening. It is the disease of the Elephant Man. You’ve probably seen people with NF without knowing what to call it. Now you do.

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Of This Old House. Of Mine.


This old house once knew his children
This old house once knew his wife
This old house was home and comfort
As they fought the storms of life

Truth be told, it’s not so very old. 32 years, to be exact. It all started in a field, about 40 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, in the summer of 1986. Mr. She and Michael, living in the little tent camper. Me, still living in Pittsburgh, working, and driving down on the weekends to help out. Mr. She’s design and the blueprints which he drew himself. (We used a program called In-A-Vision, generally accepted to be the first ever graphics program designed for the new Microsoft Windows 1.0 operating system (a run time version of Windows was included with the product, since Windows itself wasn’t even generally available a the time), and we used an early IBM PC with 640K of memory, two 360K floppy disk drives, and a little Okidata dot matrix printer. It was excruciatingly slow; one mistake swapping out the disks, and the whole thing trashed itself). Excavating the foundation. Laying the block (never again). Erecting the structure. And the walls. And the roof. Plumbing. Wiring. We had some help, especially when heavy equipment was required, or ‘codes’ were involved, but we did most of the work ourselves, and we made plenty of mistakes.

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No Feminist Fanfare for Gina Haspel


Etched into the wall of the main lobby at the CIA is a Bible verse: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

I watched the well-covered grilling by Congress of Gina Haspel for CIA Director but struggled to find headlines when she was confirmed as the first woman to lead the CIA. The media gave it barely a token of coverage. I winced as some members of Congress zeroed in on her regarding the interrogation of suspects involved in 9/11. Ms. Haspel repeatedly stated that while she was chief of the Thailand site where enhanced interrogation of three 9/11 suspects occurred, her role was that she ordered tapes destroyed that were leaked to the press, showing the identities of undercover officers that she wanted to protect. Any interrogation methods were approved by the president. A written documentation remained for the record.

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Make Schools Smaller Again


I’m not saying it’s the only cause of school shootings, but the super-sizing of high schools over the last several decades is a major contributing factor, I’m convinced.

It used to be so that schools were small and local enough that everyone basically knew everyone. Kids knew each other; teachers knew the kids and the kids’ parents. Most kids could walk or ride a bike to school. There was a sense of community.


The Left Just Doesn’t Appreciate “The Miracle”


I’m friends with many different sorts of people, as my Facebook feed would attest. My acquaintances range from Anarcho-capitalists to religious conservatives to people who are, well … socialists. I’m frequently reminded of that fact whenever I log on and find things like this:


Are America’s Tech Giants Permanently Dominant ‘Forever Companies?’

Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc.

It’s the “end of history” argument, but applied to business and economics. One undercurrent in the resurgence of antitrust enthusiasm is the idea that America’s most valuable technology companies — Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, AlphabetGoogle, and Facebook (listed here in order of market value) — are “The Forever Companies,” as CNN tech journalist Dylan Byers has labeled them.

Of course, being big and powerful one day doesn’t guarantee that status tomorrow. During their heyday, General Motors (1928), IBM (1970), and DuPont (1955) towered over Corporate America in a way Big Tech doesn’t come close to approaching. And, sure, those companies are still around and are still important. But no one’s writing “Forever Company” articles about them. They’re just not relevant in the same way.

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Revisiting the Weiner Laptop Surprise


So, inquiring minds have asked, if Comey and the FBI were so vested in the candidacy of HRC, how do you square that with the Weiner laptop surprise?

Remember, on October 28, 2016, Comey announced the reopening of the Midterm Exam (“MTE” was the FBI’s clever name for the Clinton email/unauthorized server scandal.) Weiner was once again accused of sexting with underage females. Police authorities in NYC had seized Anthony Weiner’s laptop and his wife, Huma Abedin, HRC’s trusted associate, had used that computer many times to print out HRC’s emails. HRC, it seems, liked only paper correspondence. So this laptop was a possible source for the “missing” emails that had otherwise been permanently removed from the Clinton unauthorized server. Comey was officially appraised of the existence this laptop on October 27 and quickly sought a warrant to search it. The MTE investigation band (the usual FBI suspects McCabe, Strzok, Page, et al.) was reluctantly put back together.

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The Power of Words


No one knew much about Herschel. He was a shabby older man with long untidy grey hair and beard, who always carried a stout pole and walked with a pronounced limp. He lived in one of the cheap hotels somewhere downtown, and he would come to the House of Love and Prayer whenever Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was around. Most people found him rather annoying, but he was accepted as yet another of our eccentrics.

Sometime in the 1970s, American television showed a film made by an Israeli kibbutznik about the longing for peace after the Yom Kippur War. The opening shot was of a Jewish festival in Golden Gate Park, and there, as that scene closed, was Herschel, in an old Army jacket with a shoulder patch of Israeli and American flags, dancing in a kind of awkward stomp.


With Spring Heating Up, a Tip for Parents and Cars


This evening I came back from grocery shopping and had to run our freezer bag into the house before going on another errand. Today in New Jersey had a high of 90 degrees, and so I left the car doors open for the three minutes it took to run into the house, put the ice cream in the freezer, and get back in the car to go to the pharmacy. Even just a few minutes with the doors closed would have been stifling, and I thought to myself “I wonder when I’ll see the first car seat death story this year.” Sadly, I had my answer when I opened Facebook tonight.

The New York Post reports the story out of Nashville, “Authorities say a recently adopted 1-year-old girl whose father left her in a truck has died. News outlets cite a release from Metro Nashville police saying the adoptive father “reportedly forgot” about the child after dropping off her sibling at day care on Wednesday. The girl’s adoptive mother found the child around 5:40 p.m. in a car seat inside the pickup truck parked outside their home.”

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Reading Assignment for My Local Candidate


I am leaning very strongly in support of a particular local candidate for State Representative. His statement includes one of our favorite quotes from Ronald Reagan (…I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help), but I am not inclined to cast my vote out of nostalgia or sentimentalism. A candidate has to earn my vote — not by pandering or studying Pimsleur’s “Conservatism as a Second Language” before throwing out buzzwords in a speech, or by blowing as many whistles as he can conjure up during a debate. He has to earn my vote by engaging in that hard work that Ronald Reagan is somewhat less known for: by studying at the feet of the masters.

Washington state is a classic example of two states within one border. Geographically, it is a mostly rural state; politically, it is run almost exclusively by Seattle and Olympia, together the throttle and the booster at the helm of this vast limousine whose brake was long ago dismantled and ceremoniously buried at the peak of Mount Rainier. Its steering wheel is none other than the tide of popular left-wing sentiment. A few years ago, I described a typical election-year ballot. Your choices are cowbell, more cowbell, and Gene Frenkle in the replicator with the off-switch snapped in two. Seattle leads the charge as advance test subject, with no failure too grand for statewide implementation at the earliest opportunity.

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We’re Out of Therapists, Send in the Gunfighter


Some Illinois lawmakers want to give extra money to schools that replace armed security officers with unarmed social workers and behavior therapists, an approach to safety that’s far different than a national push to add police or arm teachers after a mass shooting at a Florida high school.

Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a Hillside Democrat, said he proposed the plan after hearing from advocates who argue that investing in mental health resources is the best way of treating the epidemic of violence.

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Carter Page: Perhaps an Idiot but No Dummy


Carter Page, the former Merrill Lynch banker, is no doubt very ambitious. He tried to leverage his degree, his business savvy and his Russian Rolodex to untold riches. And while his ambition and naiveté may have led him to be a recruitment target for Russian intelligence in 2013, he’s no dummy. He helped the FBI in their prosecution of Russian intelligence operatives and knew well that he was at least one of the “idiots” that Russian spies had targeted as a source of American intelligence. It defies all logic to assume that subsequent to his FBI cooperation, Page would allow himself to be targeted a second time as an intelligence source by Russian spies, or that Russia would attempt to recruit him. Page may be an idiot, even something of a Russian apologist and Putin fellow traveler, but he’s not stupid

Very early on, Obama and his inner circle were well aware of Page’s Russia background and cooperation with the FBI and the Justice Department. He was implicated in the Steele Dossier and claims these implications are entirely false. We know that this Dossier is uncorroborated and that it was paid by and prepared for the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Yet this Dossier was used to obtain warrants to surveil Page. Page has not been charged with any crime.


A Rescue Plan for America’s Heartland That’s About Work, Not Cutting Checks

Via: The New York Times.

What does America look like to an economist? In the new working paper “Jobs for the Heartland: Place-Based Policies in 21st Century America,” Benjamin Austin, Edward Glaeser, and Lawrence Summers neatly outline the problem of “left behind” places in the US economy (bold by me):

We divide the U.S. into three regions: the prosperous coasts, the western heartland and the eastern heartland, divided based on year of statehood. The coasts have high incomes, but the western heartland also benefits from natural resources and high levels of historical education. America’s social problems, including non-employment, disability, opioid-related deaths and rising mortality, are concentrated in America’s eastern heartland, states from Mississippi to Michigan, generally east of the Mississippi and not on the Atlantic coast. The income and employment gaps between the three regions are not converging, but instead seem to be hardening into semi-permanent examples of economic hysteresis.


Quote of the Day: Love Among the Ruins


Love Among the Ruins,” written in 1855 by Robert Browning:

Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles,
Miles and miles
On the solitary pastures where our sheep
Tinkle homeward thro’ the twilight, stray or stop
As they crop—
Was the site once of a city great and gay,
(So they say)
Of our country’s very capital, its prince
Ages since
Held his court in, gathered councils, wielding far
Peace or war.


Illinois House Passes Firearms Restraining Order


We passed a “Firearms Restraining Order” bill in the Illinois House Wednesday. I spent a lot of time on this bill, and have written about it on my blog. I believe it strikes a balance between preserving civil liberties and Second Amendment rights with the responsibility we have to protect public safety. Here are my initial floor comments on the bill:


President Trump Cancels Summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un


In a letter to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un on Thursday morning, President Trump cancelled the planned June 12 summit in Singapore between the United States and North Korea. In withdrawing from the talks, Trump cited Kim’s “tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement,” stating he felt it would be “inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned.” The president did express his willingness to meet with Kim at a future date.


ACF#34: The Searchers


Today, I am joined by Prof. John Marini for the first in a series of podcasts on Great Westerns. We start with The Searchers, John Ford’s thematic treatment of the sacred law of the family. American freedom out West and the nature-civilization conflict are treated in parallel in a story that blends comedy and tragedy with an eye to Homer. This is John Wayne’s greatest role and it is an education about human things wrapped into one. Listen and share, friends!


After Santa Fe Shooting, Houston’s Police Chief Plays Politics


My most recent column over at PJ Media concerns Art Acevedo, chief of the Houston Police Department, who has risen to national attention in the wake of the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. The night of the shooting, Acevedo took to Facebook and posted an impassioned plea for “action” from lawmakers to address gun violence. What this action should be he did not specify, neither in the post nor in the many media appearances he has made since, except to call for a law requiring secure storage of firearms when children are present.

Such a law has been on the books in Texas since 1995 (scroll down to section 46.13), so it’s still unclear what recommendations Chief Acevedo would make. What is clear is that he is enjoying his moment in the sun, having been covered in glowing terms by CBS, the New York Times, and Rolling Stone, among many others.