The Most Obnoxious Blowhard in America

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Chris Christie on top? It wasn’t just the former governor of New Jersey calling Vivek Ramaswamy “the most obnoxious blowhard in America”—an insult that should possibly be doled out more frequently to politicians. Christie was on fire last night on the GOP debate stage in Alabama.

“You can’t say he was good on trade,” he told former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley after she praised that part of Trump’s economic record. “All he did was impose tariffs, which raise the prices for every American.” (More on that from Reason‘s Eric Boehm.)

After moderator Megyn Kelly asked a question about child gender transitions, Christie replied with a strong parental rights argument.

“I get to make the decisions about my children, not anyone else,” said Christie. “Every once in awhile, parents are going to make decisions we disagree with,” he admitted, “but the minute you start to take those rights away from parents, you don’t know that slippery slope, what rights are going to be taken away next.” Involving the state in family matters should not be taken lightly—an argument Christie articulated well, even as his opponents on stage went for simpler red-meat answers.

Ramaswamy, for whatever reason, became obsessed at one point with demanding that his colleagues name provinces in eastern Ukraine. This ended up distracting from his broader argument of foreign policy restraint. “Foreign policy experience is not the same as foreign policy wisdom,” he said, correctly, before veering into his weird geographic demands. At another moment, he suggested that January 6 was an inside job. His final answer about the climate agenda being a new progressive religion was interesting and possibly worth devoting more airtime to, but it was odd to include in place of a closing statement.

Florida flop: One name I haven’t mentioned is Ron DeSantis. That’s because the Florida governor continues to flop. DeSantis said nothing new or noteworthy, and he continues to offer absurd and impractical policy ideas, like taxing remittances to pay for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico (which would be very hard to pull off, and could just result in people using crypto instead of U.S. dollars). He also spread sex trafficking myths (more on that from Reason‘s Elizabeth Nolan Brown) while trying to talk tough, saying that when he’s president, well, the drug cartels better watch out, because there’ll be a “new sheriff in town.” OK, Ron.

“Nikki Haley said the other day there should be no limits on legal immigration and that corporate CEOs should set the policy on that,” DeSantis declared at one point, totally misrepresenting Haley’s stance. What she actually said was that business needs should be considered when developing U.S. immigration policy. “When it comes to legal immigration, it’s a broken system—it shouldn’t take someone 10 years to become a citizen,” she said in New Hampshire last month. “For too long, Republican and Democrat presidents dealt with immigration based on a quota. We’ll take X number this year; we’ll take X number next year. The debate is on the number. It’s the wrong way to look at it.” Instead, “we need to go to our industries and say, what do you need that you don’t have?”

To be sure, Haley still said plenty of insane things in this debate, like calling for the U.S. to “end all trade relations with China until they stop murdering Americans with fentanyl,” which seems like it would…destroy the entire economy overnight.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump remains on top, with these four presidential wannabes trailing far behind—a truth that was at least acknowledged on the stage last night.

Scenes from New YorkNoise cameras” are now being deployed across the five boroughs doling out tickets to drivers of loud cars and motorcycles—part of the ever-expanding surveillance state, which aims to crack down on all manner of fun.

Each camera costs $35,000. Fines for violations range from $800 to $2,500, though, so the cameras will surely soon pay for themselves and allow drivers to serve as a cash cow for the state.


  • “If you live in Brooklyn, think the Twitter Files were a nothingburger, vote blue and wear t-shirts that mean something, come out this Thursday night” and argue about free speech, invites Matt Taibbi. Though I would never wear a “pay me like a white man” t-shirt or a “decolonize education” hoodie, I’ll be there with a camera crew; say hi if you see me.
  • Alternate title: “Five ways to thwart the development of new technology.”
  • The first episode of Just Asking Questions will be released today! Please watch us on YouTube, and rate/review us wherever you get your podcasts.
  • Lol:

The New Yorker drops Andy Borowitz, thinks about branching out into comedy.

— Jesse Walker (@notjessewalker) December 6, 2023

  • “The Biden administration will further delay a long-awaited ban on menthol cigarettes after fierce lobbying from critics who warn that a prohibition could anger some Black smokers who favor the products and could hurt President Biden’s reelection prospects administration officials said,” reports The Washington Post. Classic politician angle: Let’s see how a new encroachment on people’s freedoms may hurt reelection prospects when trying to curry favor with certain voter demographics.
  • Extremely cool AI applications which help us better understand sperm whale language:

Sperm whales have equivalents to human vowels.

We uncovered spectral properties in whales’ clicks that are recurrent across whales, independent of traditional types, and compositional.

We got clues to look into spectral properties from our AI interpretability technique CDEV.

— Gašper Beguš (@begusgasper) December 5, 2023

  • Grimes gets into housing policy.
  • After being ousted as House Speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R–Calif.) has decided he will leave Congress at the end of the year. “I will continue to recruit our country’s best and brightest to run for elected office,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal. (Some fact-checkers should get on this “best and brightest” claim.)
  • It is OK to challenge your subject’s narrative and feelings when you are writing a profile of them. That is, in fact, part of the job!

Who are you to challenge her narrative? You are a journalist!!!!!

— David Grossman (@davidgross_man) December 6, 2023

  • We haven’t moved past the era of campus speaker shoutdowns?

.@bariweiss speaking tonight in Austin at UT campus. Or would have been speaking had the event not been disrupted. I don’t know details but 60-cents says it’s the usual, people choosing to fist-shake and rage rather than listen and engage

— Nancy Rommelmann (@NancyRomm) December 7, 2023

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