Carson ‘takes scalpel’ to Hillary’s lead

Dr. Ben Carson (Image: Fox News screenshot)

Dr. Ben Carson (Image: Fox News screenshot)

Donald Trump and Ben Carson are in a virtual tie on the national run for president, according to a new Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday.

And for the second time this week, Carson’s poll numbers actually put him neck and neck with Democrat Hillary Clinton.

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The new numbers: Trump comes in with 24 percent; Carson, 23 percent; Sen. Marco Rubio, 14 percent; Sen. Ted Cruz, 13 percent; and former Gov. Jeb Bush, 4 percent.

The remaining candidates all fall below the 3 percentage mark.

Carson, meanwhile, comes in first place on the favorability factor, with 82 percent.

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Moving up on the favorability front is Chris Christie, whose numbers in this area jumped from 32 percent in March to 57 percent.

“Is there a doctor in there house? There certainly is and at the moment, Dr. Ben Carson is delivering a troubling diagnosis to Secretary Hillary Clinton,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the poll. “With the election one year away, Ben Carson has surgically cut away all but one GOP opponent and taken a scalpel to Hillary Clinton’s lead.”

Malloy also said: “Clinton gets crushed on character issues, pounded by Carson and closely challenged by Sen. Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio.”


Star Trek’s Pseudo-Economics

A fan convention dedicated to comics, graphic novels, anime, manga, video games, toys, movies, and television is not the place you’d expect to find a panel on economic theory. But economists and geeks joined forces at the recent New York Comic Con to discuss “Trekonomics,” the economics of Star Trek.

One of the major issues was whether the Trek universe is one of “post-scarcity,” and the implications the popular science fiction franchise poses for traditional economic theory.

The participants seemed confused about the role scarcity plays in economic theory.

A Scarcity of Sense

At one point in the panel, the moderator Felix Salmon asked economist Brad DeLong, “What is post-scarcity?”

DeLong answered:

Gene Roddenberry tried to paint our future by saying: “Wait a minute! What’s going to happen in three centuries? In three centuries we are going to have replicators. Anything material, gastronomic that we want… we are going to have. What kinds of people will we be then and how will we live?”

We are quite far on that transition already.…

Right now … here in the United States what used to be the principal occupation of the human race — farming — is at satiation.… We have about three times as many people in our medical and health-support professions working to try and offset the effects of excessive calories as we do growing calories and nutrients. Thus we are now rapidly approaching a post-scarcity economy.

And it is not just for food. If you go and look at containers coming in from China, we are approaching it with respect to things physically made via manufacturing processes as well. And that’s one of the things Star Trek is about.

It is…


Why Tennessee Forces Seventh Graders to Learn Islam

How big is the distinction between education and indoctrination? Not terribly, if you ask some Tennessee lawmakers. They are pushing to remove any mention of religion from Tennessee’s State Academic Standards. At issue is an apparently controversial unit in seventh grade world history class that spends some time exploring Islam. At some point, the students even need to commit the five pillars of Islam to memory.

Needless to say, this issue has generated a lot of heat on all sides. State Representative Sheila Butts (R) believes that exposing students to Islam threatens to indoctrinate them. Others argue that students can’t effectively learn about world history without developing an understanding of the religions that shape that history, which includes Islam. (And for the record, the Tennessee State Academic Standards cover Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Shinto; it just so happens that in seventh grade world history, students cover Islam before other religions.)

Let’s put aside the question of what the right way to teach history is, at least for a moment. What worries me, as a school choice advocate, is that within a public school system, whatever decision is made will be a political one, and the results will apply…


Iran’s ayatollah: ‘Death to America’ chant about policy

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. (Image: CNN screenshot)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. (Image: CNN screenshot)

Iran’s supreme leader, the ayatollah Ali Khamenei, put out a website message Tuesday insisting the “death to America” chant that’s played across the Middle East is not as dark and foreboding as it sounds – that it really refers to policy, not people.

“[The] aim of the slogan is not death to American people,” he said, the Associated Press reported. “The slogan means death to U.S. policies and arrogance.”

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Khamenei also said the mantra gathers “strong support” in Iran.

He made the clarification while meeting with Iranian students in the leadup to the Nov. 4 anniversary of Iran’s 1979 storming and takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. That event led to the holding of 52 American hostages for 444 days.

What’s next? Find out in “Showdown with Nuclear Iran.”

Diplomatic ties between American and Iran have been severed ever since.

“Death to America” is a frequent mantra slung by Iranian and hard Islamist factions in the Middle East, along with “Death to the West” and “Death to Israel.”



The Enemy of Affordable Housing

Will restricting housing options for the wealthy benefit the poor? Is more regulation the solution to problems created by past regulations? And how can we avoid the interventionist cycle that Ludwig von Mises warned us about?

Critics of Airbnb are not asking these questions. In California, they have proposed stringent regulations to reign in the Internet-based, home-sharing business.

Aligning Interests

One of the marvels of the unhampered market is the way it aligns the interests of buyers and sellers. If the price is too high, a potential buyer is better off keeping her money; if the price is too low, a potential seller is better off keeping his product. When the price is right, trade happens because both expect it to make them better off.

Even when economists note possible exceptions to this harmony of interests — such as market power, asymmetric information, externalities, or behavioral “irrationalities” — most recognize that entrepreneurial competition in a free market will limit or even eliminate their negative effects over time.

A win-at-all-costs attitude in political debate is not conducive to rational and civil discourse.

In this case, which would be better? Having the government regulate the behavior you disapprove of, or getting rid of the bad rules that prevent people’s own choices from regulating it? When there is public outcry over certain entrepreneurial practices, the political reaction is to compel an outcome that…


GOP candidates huddle to devise debate demands

GOP debate on Oct. 28

GOP debate on Oct. 28

Republican presidential candidates took a time-out from their separate campaign activities to meet and hash out a list of demands for upcoming televised debates.

The get-together was in response to the CNBC debate, seen by candidates and watchers alike as biased and filled with “gotcha” questions.

Specifically, they wanted a two-hour time limit on future debates; mandatory 30-second opening and closing statements; equal speaking time for all the candidates; and editorial control over the graphics, Fox News reported.

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The chairman of the Republican National Committee has already suspended its relationship with NBC. But the GOP’s presidential candidates want to autonomy from the RNC and have taken the unusal step of wresting control of the debates and compiling a list of demands so they can negotiate directly with network chiefs about the terms of upcoming events.

The strategy session was hosted by Ben Carson’s campaign. And according to those in attendance, the gathering was more like a meeting of old friends.

“We hadn’t seen each other in a while. It was amazing,” said Carson’s campaign manager. Barry Bennett, to Fox News. “It was very friendly. We have our own personal strategies. But we also realize somebody in the room is going to be the nominee.”

One other demand involves the temperature of the debate forum, which candidates want it kept below 67 degrees.

The event, code named “family dinner,” was held at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town around 5:30 p.m. Sunday, the Washington Post reported.

Those in attendance also agreed any changes or demands would not be implemented until after next week’s Fox Business Network debate. Why?

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“People are afraid to make Roger [Ailes, Fox News chief] mad,” one source at the meeting told the Washington Post.

Carly Fiorina wasn’t at the event.

She said, in an interview on Fox News: “Logistically, we just couldn’t work it through.”


Lottery clerks keep selling themselves winning tickets

(WUSA) A man who sold himself a $1,000,000 winning D.C. Lottery ticket is just one of many retailers a WUSA9 investigation found winning the lottery at rates statisticians say border on impossible.

At least three retailers won the lottery around 100 times according to an analysis of D.C. Lottery records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

“$10,000, $5,000,” Lounes Issaad said about some of his 27 payouts that averaged $30,000 each. “I don’t have nothing to hide.”


Driver catapulted onto freeway sign after fatal crash

(LAist) A man’s body landed on a 5 Freeway sign after he was ejected from his car during a fatal crash.

Around 7 a.m. on Friday, a Toyota Prius was seen driving at high speeds on the southbound side of the 5 Freeway near Glendale, when the car crashed into another car carrying three passengers, reports ABC 7. The Prius then rolled multiple times, during which the body of the driver was ejected from the car and catapulted up onto the platform of the freeway sign for the Colorado Street exit.


The Maze

It is never quite empty on the other side.
  So, always leave the door unlocked
  to allow strangers passage into your world.
  Do something about the boarded-up windows.
  They should frame the outdoors. They should
  track the landscape until the landscape has grown
  slack along the ragged edges, ready to be peeled off.

If you have time, head to the ruins of Gortyn in Crete.
  Find the narrow crack that leads to the expansive system
  of subterranean tunnels. Then you’ll know impermanence.
  Then you’ll know about this undying engine of flux.
  There is no way out of this maze. That’s not hope for escape
  you’re seeing in the distance. It is only the rickety harbor
  looking strange in the daylight that lifts the mist.


The Man Who Made Your Selfies Possible

Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.

In 2015, a new world record will likely be set: humans will record fleeting moments of their lives at least one trillion times over the course of the year. That’s how many photos we’ll snap, up from 810 billion in 2014, according to InfoTrends’ Worldwide Image Capture Forecast. About three-quarters of them will be taken with smartphones, which didn’t even exist a couple of decades ago.

Giants in the field of photography have enriched our lives far beyond the imaginations of the first few generations of Americans. While the first photographic process — called daguerreotype — was introduced commercially in 1839, decades of innovation and investment followed before picture taking was inexpensive enough to make it a national pastime. More than anyone else, the man behind that investment was George Eastman.

It was 115 years ago, in February 1900, when Eastman introduced the Kodak “Brownie” box camera. The price tag was one dollar; film sold for 15 cents a roll. Eastman was about to do for cameras what Steve Jobs would do for computers almost eight decades later: put exciting new technology within the reach of almost every American family.

The camera and camera phone are tributes to the spontaneous order of a relatively free, entrepreneurial marketplace, unplanned by politicians or bureaucrats. 

Whether you’re a camera buff or not, you probably have seen and perhaps have even used a Brownie. Nowadays, they show up at rummage sales and antique shows, but I can remember when they were still widely used in my childhood days during the 1950s. They were simple t…