Chris Christie is toast, Final offer for Greece, Modifying Human Embryos, Culture War 4.0 Update: Time for the Schools to Pay, The Serial Stowaway, Richard Wilbur on Robert Frost
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For the first time in five years, Ben is taking this week off from writing The Transom, and handing over the duties to a cast of smart, talented writers. Today’s edition is courtesy of Jonathan Last of The Weekly Standard, who you can follow on Twitter @JVLast. Enjoy!
 
THUNDERDOME 2016: REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT:
 
Chris Christie has as much God-given political talent as anyone running for president not named Rubio. He’s a four-tool player who can give a speech, debate, and stand and deliver with both the press http://vlt.tc/1zxe  and real people. http://vlt.tc/1zxf  The conventional wisdom is that Christie is a fireballer because of his early YouTube highlights where he beat down antagonistic teacher-union flunkies, but the truth is that he has command of multiple pitches. And now his presidential hopes have been dashed by . . . the Mercatus Center?
 
Mercatus just released a study on the fiscal health of the fifty states and if you look at the handy infographic on the study, you’ll notice that New Jersey ranks second to last. http://vlt.tc/1zxg  Only Illinois is in worse shape and both California and Kentucky are ranked higher than the Garden State. Mercatus came up with their rankings by examining five different economic categories, and in those individual events, Jersey ranked dead last in “budge solvency” and “long-run solvency”: http://vlt.tc/1zxh  From the report: “New Jersey’s long-term liability ratio indicates the state’s long-term liabilities were two times larger than total assets. On a per capita basis, New Jersey’s long-term liabilities were $8,662, nearly three times the national average.” Yikes.
 
Christie 2016 was always going to be a heavy lift for two reasons. The first is timing: 2012 was clearly his moment to run for president. Had he jumped into the race late, he would have had a very good chance of toppling Mitt Romney by consolidating the anti-Mitt vote and siphoning off a good deal of establishment support. He had a brand, and a message, and would have had enough money, too. But as James Burnham said, “History offers each of its great challenges only once. After only one failure, or one refusal, the offer is withdrawn.”
 
Christie’s second problem was Bridgegate. It hardly matters that three different investigations have basically absolved the governor of wrongdoing. The left saw an early opportunity to take Christie off the board for 2016 and they made the most of it. His approval ratings—both in-state and nationally— have never recovered and it is inconceivable how Jack Shafer could suggest that Bridgegate bounced off of Christie the way Hillary Clinton’s many scandals have bounced off of her. http://vlt.tc/1zxi 
 
In the face of these obstacles, Christie set himself up for 2016 as the guy who promises to truth-bomb America. (To the music of Friday Night Lights.) http://vlt.tc/1zxj  It’s a low-probability approach. Which is fine so far as it goes. Yet as Allahpundit points out, are there any Republican primary voters who are going to sign on with Christie because he’s willing to say that he wouldn’t unwind an Iran nuke deal—even though the odds are that every one of the guys running would eventually make the same calculation if they actually got elected? http://vlt.tc/1zxe  I doubt it. And do Republican primary voters really want to see one of their own beating on Ted Cruz for hypocrisy http://vlt.tc/1zxl  and preemptively blaming Rand Paul for the next terrorist attack on American soil? http://vlt.tc/1zxm  Again, probably not.
 
Which exposes the peril of Christie’s gambit: The guy who could have run to Mitt Romney’s right (and walloped him) is now running as the ENTJ version of Huntsman 2012.
 
But Christie’s political skills are so formidable that even these problems could be surmountable for him, given the right set of circumstance. What may not be surmountable is the fiscal state of his state. And not just at the macro level, but the micro, too. If Christie starts to get traction in the polls, his opponents can point to the Mercatus report and then talk about Atlantic City—which has withered and died during Christie’s watch, despite his commitment to saving it. http://vlt.tc/1zxn 
 
Chris Christie was born to run, but New Jersey, as the poet once wrote, “rips the bones from your back / it’s a death trap / it’s a suicide rap.”
 
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THE ECONOMY:
 
How Greece spent its last bailout in one simple chart. http://vlt.tc/1zxo  An even better chart: European countries’ per-capita exposure to Greek debt. It sure sucks to be Slovakia. http://vlt.tc/1zxp  Think the Euros are protected against any Grexit contagion? Think again. http://vlt.tc/1zxq   The best laid plans gone wrong. http://vlt.tc/1zxr   “Greek premier Alexis Tsipras never expected to win Sunday's referendum on EMU bail-out terms, let alone to preside over a blazing national revolt against foreign control. He called the snap vote with the expectation - and intention - of losing it. The plan was to put up a good fight, accept honourable defeat, and hand over the keys of the Maximos Mansion, leaving it to others to implement the June 25 "ultimatum" and suffer the opprobrium. This ultimatum came as a shock to the Greek cabinet. They thought they were on the cusp of a deal, bad though it was. Mr Tsipras had already made the decision to acquiesce to austerity demands, recognizing that Syriza had failed to bring about a debtors' cartel of southern EMU states and had seriously misjudged the mood across the eurozone. Instead they were confronted with a text from the creditors that upped the ante, demanding a rise in VAT on tourist hotels from 7pc (de facto) to 23pc at a single stroke.”
 
EU gives Greece five days to avoid bankruptcy, which is absolutely, positively, their final offer. This week. http://vlt.tc/1zxs  “An emergency summit of European leaders called to salvage Greece’s financial rescue broke up acrimoniously late Tuesday night, with officials saying the country now has just five days to avoid bankruptcy. Following a day’s worth of talks aimed at finding a way out of months of bitter deadlock, European leaders were scathing in their assessments of Greece’s proposals, calling them inadequate and demanding the Greek government return with a detailed plan by Thursday. The leaders of all 28 European Union members will then meet Sunday in what officials said will be the final chance to save Greece from economic oblivion — or the moment the country is ejected from the euro zone.”
 
China stock market freezing up as sell-off gathers pace. http://vlt.tc/1zy8  “China's tumbling stock market showed signs of seizing up on Wednesday, as companies scrambled to escape the rout by having their shares suspended and indexes plunged after the securities regulator warned of "panic sentiment" gripping investors. Beijing, which has struggled for more than a week to bend the market to its will, unveiled yet another battery of measures to arrest the sell-off, and the People's Bank of China said it would step up support to brokerages enlisted to prop up shares… With nearly half the market on a trading halt and another round of margin calls forcing leveraged investors to dump whatever shares could find a buyer, blue chips that had been supported by stabilization funds earlier in the week bore the brunt.”
 
RELATED: Angela’s ashes: It’s all Merkel’s fault. http://vlt.tc/1zwm  The Economist: This is what happens when you elect a bunch of socialists.  http://vlt.tc/1zwn   Let Greece declare bankruptcy. http://vlt.tc/1zvr   China stocks swoon despite orders from Beijing. http://vlt.tc/1zvl  How to make sense of China’s plummeting stock market. http://vlt.tc/1zvj   Q2 review: Ten economic questions for 2015. http://vlt.tc/1zvg  Labor battles heat up in state legislatures. http://vlt.tc/1zvh
 
CHINA IS MODDING HUMAN EMBRYOS:
 
Brendan Foht in the New Atlantis: http://vlt.tc/1zxt  “For the first time in history, scientists have genetically modified human embryos. Researchers in China published a paper a few days ago in which they announced that they had used the genome-editing tool known as CRISPR to introduce changes to the genomes of human embryos. The target for the modifications was the gene associated with one of the world’s most prevalent genetic diseases, beta thalassemia, although the embryos that the researchers modified were not themselves affected by the mutations that cause the disease.
 
“In an attempt to sidestep the ethical problems associated with experimenting on human embryos, the scientists used abnormally fertilized “tripronuclear” embryos, that is, single-celled embryos that had been fertilized by two sperm and that therefore contain three sets of chromosomes rather than the normal two. Such embryos have been used by scientists because they can develop to the blastocyst stage, though they are thought to be incapable of normal development much beyond that point. Whether the inability of these embryos to survive past this early stage of development should be taken as a sign that they are not and were never living embryos is a complicated philosophical and ethical question. Any answer to this question, however, should be supported by better evidence than the scientists offer in their paper: the facts that such embryos “invariably fail to develop normally in vivo” and that they are “discarded in clinics.”
 
“This paper is groundbreaking more for crossing ethical boundaries than for the results it describes.”
 
RACHEL DOLEZAL AS THE DARK KNIGHT:
She wasn’t the SJW Spokane wanted; she was the SJW Spokane needed: http://vlt.tc/1zxu  “It's been three weeks since Rachel Dolezal's parents outed her as a white woman heading the Spokane NAACP. In that time, the national media has focused on the woman who, for reasons that remain unclear, hid her racial identity and the extent of her deception.
“This is not a story about Dolezal. It's about Spokane, my hometown. A medium-sized, tight-knit city in eastern Washington that, frankly, had enough problems without the Dolezal controversy, a city that has long struggled with race, seeing little bursts of progress and then watching it all burn up in the lights of national TV cameras.
“What is left behind is a lot of anger—and not just at Dolezal. "As much as Rachel might need to atone for her actions, I feel like the community—not Spokane, the national community—needs to atone for theirs," said Inga Laurent, a professor at Gonzaga University's law school, who is biracial. "Nobody wanted to ask the hard questions. Nobody wanted to hear about the complexities of [Dolezal's] life that brought this on. They just wanted to laugh about it. I feel like you know in essence that's race in America. … Nobody wanted to deal with the tough, the messy, the difficult-to-get-through issues."
“The truth is, Spokane needs Rachel Dolezal.”
 
CULTURE WAR 4.0: TIME FOR THE SCHOOLS TO PAY:
Firing of teacher in same-sex marriage roils Catholic school. http://vlt.tc/1zxv  "Lower Merion Township has an antidiscrimination ordinance that protects employees for several reasons, including sexual orientation. Religious institutions are exempt unless they are "supported in whole or in part by government appropriations." State Sen. Daylin Leach, a Democrat who represents the school's area, noted that Waldron Mercy lists on its website that it has received more than $270,000 in the last two years from the state's Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program.
“Waldron's website also said 70 students have attended since 2005 under a similar state program, the Educational Improvement Tax Credit. "So they've received a good bit of money from the State of Pennsylvania," said Leach, a lawyer. He said that state money might override the religious exemption for the township ordinance."
 
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FEATURES:
 
True confessions of a serial stowaway. http://vlt.tc/1zxw 
 
BUILD ME UP, BUTTERCUP:
 
Thai rocket beats your Fourth of July. http://vlt.tc/1zxx   
 
JOB POSTING:
 
Executive Editor – Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity (watchdog.org). http://vlt.tc/1za4
 
ITEMS OF INTEREST:
 
Foreign:
 
Remember when Iran inspections would be the “most robust and intrusive in history”? Now they’ll be “the most extensive, multilayered system of nuclear monitoring and verification for any country not defeated in a war.” Who knows what they’ll be by tomorrow. http://vlt.tc/1zwk 
 
Also, ISIS may have SAMs. http://vlt.tc/1zwl 
 
Israel losing Democrats, ‘can’t claim bipartisan US support,’ top pollster warns. http://vlt.tc/1zvk
 
London’s 7/7 bombing, ten years later. http://vlt.tc/1zwo 
 
2016:
 
Hillary Clinton “very disappointed” in anti-immigration views of former donor. http://vlt.tc/1zws 
 
How Team Clinton built their echo chamber. http://vlt.tc/1zxy 
 
Bernie Sanders is the future of The Democratic Party. http://vlt.tc/1zy3
 
Martin O’Malley: You can’t beat Putin and ISIS without . . . “an American Green Jobs Agenda”? http://vlt.tc/1zwr 
 
Trailer drops for Scott Walker: Ruler of Westeroshttp://vlt.tc/1zwp 
 
Jersey Dems want to push Christie out of office now that he’s running for president. http://vlt.tc/1zwq
 
Some White House Republican hopefuls want curbs on legal immigration. http://vlt.tc/1zw5
 
ESPN latest to ditch Donald Trump, relocates celebrity golf tournament. http://vlt.tc/1zwi
 
Rubio promises to bust college cartel, sends his stock soaring by showing that he ignores Lamar Alexander (see below). http://vlt.tc/1zwt 
 
Domestic:
 
Lamar Alexander: College is totally affordable, you spoiled idiots. http://vlt.tc/1zwu
 
Fed research: Student aid mostly raises the price of college tuition. http://vlt.tc/1zw0
 
Lois Lerner met with FBI and DoJ officials to plan criminal charges against Obama critics. http://vlt.tc/1zxz 
 
Rob Tracinski: Be  kind to bigots, and repeal anti-discrimination laws. http://vlt.tc/1zy7 
 
Think the gay rights fight is over? Think again. http://vlt.tc/1zwx 
 
How progressives are playing John Roberts. http://vlt.tc/1zvs
 
Could the same-sex marriage ruling end up protecting unborn children? http://vlt.tc/1zvz
 
Sorry, everyone, America isn’t that racist. http://vlt.tc/1zvt
 
All NY colleges to implement trendy "yes means yes" sex policy. http://vlt.tc/1zwe
 
‘Yes means yes’ supporters want students signing sex contracts. http://vlt.tc/1zw8
 
‘Every Child Achieves’ won’t fix the fed-ed farce. http://vlt.tc/1zvx
 
Drunk man sets off firework on his head. Drunk man dies. Drunk man’s mother says we need more laws. http://vlt.tc/1zwk
 
Eisenhower memorial moving forward even though everyone hates it. Because, government. http://vlt.tc/1zww 
 
King v. Burwell could undermine the EPA’s Clean Power plan. http://vlt.tc/1zy2
 
Airbus files patent for double-decker airplane. http://vlt.tc/1zwa
 
Volvo introduces model with baby seat in place of traditional passenger seat. http://vlt.tc/1zwc
 
Friedersdorf: Should Google always tell the truth? http://vlt.tc/1zwy 
 
How the Feds’ subpoena of Reason and gag order went public. http://vlt.tc/1zw3
 
Does Facebook have a duty to news or to journalism, and if so what is it? http://vlt.tc/1zwb
 
Joe Knippenberg: A modest proposal for handling offensive place names. http://vlt.tc/1zy5
 
Health Care:
 
Medicaid, Obamacare, and Bootleggers. http://vlt.tc/1zxd
 
California holds off on its right-to-die bill. http://vlt.tc/1zwh
 
Peter Orszag: Track medical implants. http://vlt.tc/1zwz 
 
Religion:
 
Pope Tambourines promises some awesome new transformations for the family. http://vlt.tc/1zx1 
 
On Russell Moore, who might be the next Fr. Neuhaus. http://vlt.tc/1zx2  
 
#Lovewins—Or else. http://vlt.tc/1zx3 
 
Sam Brownback issues exec order shoring up religious liberty. http://vlt.tc/1zx4 
 
Chicago priest protests Obergefell by refusing to sign civil marriage licenses. http://vlt.tc/1zx0 
 
Ben Domenech: The Left wants to end the separation of church and state. http://vlt.tc/1zvu
 
Ephemera:
 
Bill McMorris: Bill Cosby, Speech Criminal. http://vlt.tc/1zy4
 
How choice and emotion can influence Sexual Orientation. http://vlt.tc/1zy1
 
Jimmy Carter says Jesus would totally be into gay marriage. http://vlt.tc/1zxc 
 
Why is the NYT covering comic books again? More gay comic book characters, natch. http://vlt.tc/1zx5
 
Meanwhile, Dark Horse Comics announces that they’re getting into movies and TV. But the NYT ignores it. Because Dark Horse isn’t turning Hellboy gay. http://vlt.tc/1zx6
 
#DontJudgeChallenge is totally awful and downright Elizabethan. http://vlt.tc/1zvv
 
Apple Watch is a FLOP. http://vlt.tc/1zw9
 
The pen is making a high-tech comeback. http://vlt.tc/1zwj
 
Women’s World Cup: Title IX is for white girls? http://vlt.tc/1zvw
 
Mayweather stripped of WBO welterweight title. http://vlt.tc/1zwg
 
Drake hangs out with Dr. Ruth Billie Jean King at Wimbledon. http://vlt.tc/1zx8
 
Nick Kyrgios accused of tanking at Wimbledon. His response: “That’s racist.” http://vlt.tc/1zx9
 
In case you need a reminder: Tennis is super racist. http://vlt.tc/1zxa 
 
And you know who else is super-duper racist? Amy Schumer. Obvs. http://vlt.tc/1zxb
 
Why Terminator Genisys was such a trainwreck (spoilers). http://vlt.tc/1zw6
 
What Veep can learn from Silicon Valley. http://vlt.tc/1zy6 
 
Are Storm Troopers good shots? No. No they are not. http://vlt.tc/1zx7 
 
Father of the year helps daughter use Slingbow to pull out tooth. http://vlt.tc/1zw7
 
PODCAST:
 
Ilya Shapiro, Fredrik deBoer. http://vlt.tc/1zy9 
 
POEM:
 
“Blood as it races.” http://vlt.tc/1zy0   
 
QUOTE:
 
“I knew Robert Frost rather well when I was in my latter twenties and thereafter. My entrée was not so much my own merits as my wife's. Her grandfather, William Hayes Ward, was the first person to publish Robert Frost. He edited The Independent, a journal of literature and opinion that later turned into The Outlook, which later still became The Literary Digest. So Frost was very fond of my wife's family. He was also responsive to the fact that I knew most of his poems by heart. And then I had the luck to please him with a few of my own poems. So there is someone at whose feet I have sat, although after a while I got up off the floor and we were just friends.” — Richard Wilbur

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