Democrats Shuffle Their Deck of Race Cards

Faced with a deeply unpopular President and a potential GOP wave, Democrats are digging deep to motivate their lackadaisical base. As always, the most prominent play is the race card.

In North Carolina, fans of incumbent Senator Kay Hagan are passing out disturbing fliers in African-American neighborhoods. “Kay Hagan Doesn’t WIN! Obama’s IMPEACHMENT Will Begin! Vote in 2014” says the text, which is printed over a photo of a white crowd lynching a black man.

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The Letter Obama Should Write to Putin

Over at Forbes, I’ve just penned a version of the letter that Barack Obama would send Vladimir Putin if he was serious about stopping Russian expansionism and wanted to salvage the final two years of his presidency. A taste:

Despite your pledges to recognize the May 25 Ukraine presidential election, you continue to the present day to characterize the Kiev government as an illegitimate, extremist, and neo-Nazi regime intent on genocide of ethnic Russians. (This criticism from a country that allows a Miss Hitler contest). Ukraine has no history of Ukrainian-on-Russian ethnic violence, and credible public opinion polls show that the residents of the rebellious Donbas, even to the present day, do not wish to secede from Ukraine. On the basis of your illegitimacy claims, you make the bizarre argument that the sovereign Ukrainian government has no right to deploy its forces in its own country. Using the same logic, Ukraine could argue that Russia has no right to station troops in break-away Chechnya.

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The Fiasco in Rome

I have never before heard of Andrew Ratelle, I confess, but he has just produced one of the most insightful–and disturbing–observations I’ve come across about the fiasco last week in Rome:

By upholding the nuclear family, the Church made what was perhaps the most important social investment in history. People in the poorer, more pagan regions of the world where polygamy, polyandry, arranged and child marriages were common, now had a place to look for support when it came to building a life that was most beneficial for themselves and their children. By weakening this support, or at the very least dispersing it to include more “diverse” arrangements, these bishops have weakened the very shield from which the nuclear family has received so much protection. Even in our own country, where “diverse” familial arrangements have almost become synonymous with urban poverty and crime (at least for those who have no gilded safety net to fall into), where should families look to now, since the Church has seen fit to dilute the medicine they have thrived on for so long?

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What Would MacArthur Do?

As our editor, Troy Senik, reminded me, yesterday was the 70th anniversary of Douglas MacArthur’s return to the Philippines. Troy knows my next book is on MacArthur, and when he mentioned the date to me, it made me cast my mind back to that time and place, as well as the cause that led MacArthur to his landing on Leyte—and into one of the iconic photos of World War Two.

By that October it had been a long, hard slog from the night in March 1942, when MacArthur reluctantly followed President Roosevelt’s explicit order and abandoned his forces on Corregidor and Bataan to leave for Australia. There he arrived to take command of the Southwest Pacific Area, a stretch of ocean and islands the size of North America from Alaska to Guatemala. He had no navy, hardly any air force, and no army except the Australians, against an enemy who enjoyed overwhelming numbers, as well as air and naval superiority. Moreover, MacArthur knew that three-quarters of all future US forces would be shipped first to Europe, and that he would have to share what was left with Admiral Nimitz in the Central Pacific.

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Time to Start Thinking Democratic Shake-Up?

With two week to go until Election Day, it may be premature to start tap-dancing on a grave. That said, there’s the question of what the Democrats’ next move (or moves) should be if the November vote doesn’t go their way.

Translation: losing control of the Senate, losing further ground in the House, no decisive gains at the state and local levels to distract from the story on Capitol Hill.

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Turnout Projections: Malaise?

With election day just two weeks away, I was somewhat startled to realize this morning just how quiet things seem. I am seeing far fewer road signs, for example, and hardly any fliers in my snail-mailbox — contrary to past years, including midterm elections. Among co-workers and friends, a few are talking about the various crises (Ebola, ISIS, and so forth), but no one is really talking about the election. My observations are purely anecdotal, of course, but there just seems to be a general lack of intensity when it comes to the upcoming vote. In my very red state, the energy level looks nothing like 2010. I can’t help but to think that we’re looking at a real potential for low turnout this year across the board.

Is it crisis fatigue? Is it Obama fatigue, and knowing that 2016 is still pretty far away? Is it a growing sense that it doesn’t matter who gets into office; that things are mucked up now and will stay mucked up for the foreseeable future?

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New York’s War On Airbnb

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is on the warpath against Airbnb, the popular service that allows people to rent out their homes and apartments to consumers looking for a better deal than they might get from the hotel market. Schneiderman’s office has released a massive report attacking the company on a number of grounds, most (though not all) of which are misguided. As I note in my new piece for Defining Ideas from the Hoover Institution:

…[T]he report ignores the substantial gains to Airbnb renters who get better deals than they could find at conventional hotels. Indeed, the net revenues from short-term leases count as a good thing, because it taps space that would otherwise remain an idle form of “dead capital,” as Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute reminds us. Of course, there is a serious housing shortage in New York City, but the whole point of markets is to make the best allocations of scarce resources under rapidly changing conditions.

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Knowing What To Look For: More with Herb Meyer

HerbMeyer154pxLast week, we shared an interview with Ricochet contributor — and former assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence – Herb Meyer, who then answered members’ questions about how national intelligence works, and sometimes fails to work, in the comments.

In the second part of his Powerline interview, Herb turns his attention to domestic surveillance and the threats posed from Islamist saboteurs and traitors:

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If I Was Emperor…

585px-Map_of_ScandinaviaApparently, some Swedes are worried that Putin has his eye on Scandinavia for a future playground. I will let Annika fill y’all in later.
Though I am fairly sure that Putin is not done helping poor lost Russians in neighboring states to secure their due right to rejoin the empire, I find it difficult to imagine an invasion of Sweden before an invasion of Estonia or Latvia. I suspect that the order of conquest will follow the path of least resistance. But perhaps not.

In any case, can we agree that would-be conquerors everywhere probably perceive Obama’s remaining years in office as an ideal time for action?

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Flop Sweat in Texas

Coaches, CEOs and campaign managers often tell their charges, “never let them see you sweat.” Cool confidence rattles your opponents, making them second-guess their game plan or poll numbers.

The opposite of this air of inevitability is the flop sweater. A rookie stand-up who realizes the audience isn’t getting his jokes. The boxer begging his trainer to call the fight. Or, Wendy Davis.

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Report on the Pumpkin Riots in Keene, NH

Keene is a small city in a quiet corner of New Hampshire. It is quintessential New England: traditional architecture, small-town feel, beautiful foliage, and civic pride. Bordering Vermont and Massachusetts, it has a touch of the gray-haired Yankee hippy with localvore, local-this and local-that, mixing commerce and idealism. A college town — Keene State College abuts the downtown area — it has plenty of Volvos and Subarus.

For more than 20 years, Keene has hosted its annual Pumpkin Festival, a combination Halloween and Harvest Festival that regularly is the largest congregation of carved pumpkins in the world, briefly turning this quiet, bucolic town into a tourist destination for thousands of visitors. Lately, HGTV has gotten in on the act with reality shows from the event. Every state-wide and regional politician — both incumbents and challengers — was there, pressing the flesh. Scott Brown, in particular, was a huge hit this year.

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How Republicans Are Peeling Women Away from Democrats

Headlines this week warn that Democrats might not have a stronghold on the “women’s” vote this November.

This is good news for a lot of reasons, but it suggests that there has been a real effort by women’s groups like the Independent Women’s Forum – and others like the Susan B. Anthony List – to take charges of sexism and a “War on Women” head on.

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For Republicans: Michigan Senate Blues

Two story lines emerging from the Wolverine State this fall:

1) What happened to the University of Michigan’s storied football program (the 3-4 Wolverines face the unpleasant task of visiting #8 Michigan State next weekend)?

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Mr. Putin Is Wrong: $80 Oil Is a Boon to the World Economy

shutterstock_181590752Vladimir Putin protests that $80 barrels of oil will sink the world economy. It appears the Russian president does not understand elementary economics. Every Economics 101 textbook teaches that falling energy prices reduce the costs of output and raise employment. Did he not notice the world recessions associated with the energy crises of the 1970s and early 1980?

Of course, oil producers like Russia are not happy as their export earnings fall and their government revenues shrink, but the world economy as a whole is a major beneficiary. We do not yet know how much of the U.S recovery is due to falling oil and natural gas prices — but it certainly aids rather than encumbers economic growth. A drop in oil prices may spell trouble for Putin’s dictatorship, but that’s just one more reason for the West to rejoice.

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Why the Days of Superfast Chinese Economic Growth May Be Over

Back in 2010, there was an issue ad showing a “Chinese professor” in the year 2030 lecturing his students about America’s collapse. “Why do great nations fail?” he asked. “The ancient Greeks, the Roman Empire, the British Empire, the United States of America — they all make the same mistakes, turning their back on the principles that made them great.”

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Ricochet Forum: Submit Your Questions for Allen West

WestIn the next iteration of our ongoing Ricochet Forum series, we invite you to submit your questions for Allen West — former Representative of Florida’s 22nd congressional district, retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, and one of the leading lights of the Tea Party movement. Whether you want to ask about American politics, national security, or those persistent presidential campaign rumors, the floor is yours.

Simply ask your questions in the comments section of this post. Next week, former Congressman West will stop by Ricochet with his answers to the best inquiries. And remember — you must be a Ricochet member to participate. We’ll see you in the comments.

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What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Based on the way the Danes are behaving, maybe we shouldn’t be calling it “Stockholm Syndrome” anymore. From a report by Anthony Faiola and Souad Mekhennet in the Washington Post:

In other countries, Talha — one of hundreds of young jihadists from the West who has fought in Syria and Iraq — might be barred from return or thrown in jail. But in Denmark, a country that has spawned more foreign fighters per capita than almost anywhere else, the port city of Aarhus is taking a novel approach by rolling out a welcome mat.

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The Death of the Space Opera?

640px-USS_Enterprise_(NCC-1701),_ENTHas anyone else out there noticed that one of the staples of science fiction in the serial visual entertainment medium until recently known as television and the dying form of the motion picture, the Space Opera, is — how to put this delicately — older than grandpa’s snuff? To be less delicate, if the Scripted Visual Media Space Opera were a humanoid (let’s not be speciesist), it would be looking for its second duranium hip replacement and popping kidney regeneration pills like they were candy. Bendii syndrome could not more than 20 years off, at the outside.

If we just look at the some of the genre’s best-known representatives for a minute, we find that there are at present, a “new” iteration of the Star Wars (date of birth, 1976) films and a “new” Star Trek (date of birth, 1964/66, depending on when you start counting) film in the works.  The franchises are, in movie/TV terms, antiquated, and both of these original franchises are themselves derivative from even earlier models of visual-medium SF, the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon serials of the 1940′s.

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The Well-Run Machine

How often do you really think about how your car works? I’m guessing not that often. 

Perhaps you have a dim recollection of 4-stroke engine operation from a high school textbook. At any rate, you know that gasoline goes in, the car goes forward, and you are a wretched sinner for polluting the atmosphere in the process. You will also be late for work if it should fail to operate properly, or if that jerk in the left lane doing 50 in a 65 zone doesn’t get the heck over! If you think about it more you should remember that the combustion of the gasoline happens with pistons. But do you think about the details beyond that? Again, I would guess the odds are against it, unless you’ve had recent compelling need to do so, or are a gearhead.

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Senate Republican Candidates Badly Underperforming in Midterm Elections So Far

shutterstock_180961367Writing in the Washington Examiner, Michael Barone has a sunny take on the upcoming midterms, predicting big trouble for the Senate Democrats. The essence of the argument comes from an excellent analytical article by Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post. Cillizza compared the public approval of Democrat Senate candidates with President Obama’s approval in their state. In every case but one (South Dakota), the Democrat Senate candidates are outperforming the president, sometimes by a wide margin. For instance, the Democrat running for the Senate in Alaska and Arkansas is 14% more popular than Obama is in that state. And these candidates are running behind their Republican adversary. In West Virginia and Kentucky, Democratic senate candidates outperform Obama by 12%. Barone (and Cillizza) use these numbers to show how much of a gale-force headwind Democrats face in the upcoming mid-terms. In other words, 2014 is a Republican year.

While it is undoubtedly true that the GOP has been enjoying exceptionally favourable circumstances, I have a more pessimistic take: look at how poorly the Republican candidates themselves are doing. A perfect illustration is Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell. He was first elected in the Reagan wave of 1984. He is currently the Senate minority leader, the most powerful Republican in the Senate, and has held this post since 2007. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the state of Kentucky with 61% of the popular vote. Obama only got 38%. No Obama sweep there. In the two years since then, Obama’s popularity in Kentucky has plunged to 30%.

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Hold the Eggs

The news that Apple and Facebook will contribute towards the cost to their female employees of freezing their eggs has not been generally well-received.

The response of Melanie Mcdonagh, writing in The Spectator was not atypical:

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Caveat Lector: The News from Kobani

Ricochet members are fairly sophisticated consumers of the mainstream media, so perhaps what I’m about to say is already obvious to you. I bring it up because I was speaking yesterday to someone of whom I’d say, usually, “He’s a careful reader.” I was surprised because he remarked, casually–he threw this in, we were talking about something else–that he was delighted to read that the airstrikes were working near Kobani.

“They are?” I said. “What makes you say that?”

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Saturday Night Science: The Great Influenza

The Great Influenza by John M. BarryIn the year 1800, the practice of medicine had changed little from that in antiquity. The rapid progress in other sciences in the 18th century had had little impact on medicine, which one historian called “the withered arm of science.”

This began to change as the 19th century progressed. Researchers — mostly in Europe and especially in Germany — began to lay the foundations for a scientific approach to medicine and public health, understanding the causes of disease and searching for means of prevention and cure. The invention of new instruments for medical examination, anesthesia, and antiseptic procedures began to transform the practice of medicine and surgery.

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Conservative Turns Tables, Wins Lefty Video Contest to Oppose ‘Big Money in Our Politics’

Tom Steyer Ad 2014A funny thing happened to a video contest put on by lefties to highlight the scourge of big money in politics. A conservative video won!

The video with the most votes — by a factor of 20 — highlighted the influence of the biggest individual spender in American politics today: Billionaire left-wing activist Tom Steyer. But we should expect that victory by popular acclaim to be erased from memory by the leftists, Soviet-style. Let me explain.

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