Need To Know with Mona Charen and Jay Nordlinger
Election Eve

NTK FeatureMona and Jay’s guest is Jason Riley, author of the new book Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed (use the coupon code RICOCHET for 15% off). There is enough in this subject for 100 podcasts, but Jason, Mona, and Jay make do with approximately half a one. Then the hosts traverse other subjects: including the Obama administration’s unremitting hostility to Israel, or at least to its prime minister. They also talk about children and politics, and of course next Tuesday’s elections. Jay is excited for victory, and overexcited. Even Mona, the cool-as-a-cucumber intellectual, is rather looking forward.

The ending music, in honor of Halloween, is Camille Saint-Saëns’s ghoulish little masterpiece Danse macabre.

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The Ricochet Podcast
Wild About Milhouse

Meeting Nixon

This week, our old pal Harry Shearer stops by to discuss his new web series Nixon’s The One. Also, Rob and James discuss the new book they’ve contributed to (yes, you must buy a copy of The Seven Deadly Virtues), and recap the big DC Ricochet meet up and the NRI event Rob presided over earlier this week. Then, will taking over the Senate be a disaster for the Republicans or does Obama want an excuse to fail (h/t Ricochet member Dominique Payne). Also, can you catch all the Blue Oyster Cult references in this podcast? We can’t.

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Progressive Puritans Try to Ruin Halloween

Traditionally moral scolds have been characterized as creatures of the right, but today all the tsk-tsking arises from the fever swamps of progressive purity. The next victim of these pinched-face church(less) ladies is Halloween.

The College Fix (hat tip to John J. Miller) notes a series of advisories and admonishments being distributed to students around the country. They also reprint a letter issued by a Residence Life coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

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Political Pranksters

Mysterious L.A.-style art activism popped up in Lansing, Mich. yesterday, raising suspicions that not only do mild-mannered conservatives “get” the culture, but they’re suddenly a little more daring in their activism. I understand that the individuals involved spent less than $50 and a only a few hours of time to achieve this protest against Democrat Gary Peters.

What do Rico-pals think about this? Is it time for Conservatives to get hip with protest art, or should we tone it down? Full disclosure; I was tipped off to the prank, and took photos yesterday. I watched as some nearly apoplectic democrat ripped some of these down.DSC00993

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H. P. Lovecraft & The Darkest Horror

LovecraftIt being Halloween week, we’ve had some fun discussing horror writing and film, from Edgar Allan Poe‘s horror of death to the theological horror of The Exorcist. I enjoy both genres immensely, but I’ve come to a late appreciation for H.P. Lovecraft (1890 -1936), who did as much to shape the genre in the 20th Century as Poe did in the 19th.

Lovecraft lived most of his life in Southern New England, with a short stint in New York City during his brief and profoundly unhappy marriage. Born into relative privilege of a 19th Century sort, he never really earned a living, getting by on his inheritance and the pittance his writing brought in. Introverted and unwilling to promote himself, he died in obscurity of stomach cancer in 1936, his work having never gained any attention outside of pulp magazines.

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James Lileks' The Diner
The Halloween Rainbow

diner2014hallowIt’s the annual trip to the Jukebox of Regrettable Halloween Music, and of course a walk through the woods to the Haunted Diner, where something to terrible to contemplate awaits. 

 

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The Hidden Question

shutterstock_114560317There’s a question haunting campaign pros in the 2014 election. Both sides are worried about it, and neither side can answer it quite yet.

It’s simple enough: can the voter turnout tools and techniques developed and deployed with such success by Barack Obama’s team in 2008 and 2012 work for Democrats without the exceptional charisma, presence, media adoration, and generational and racial signifiers that Obama brought to the fight?

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Seven Reasons Why Income Inequality is Not Killing the American Dream

030514inequality1Less income inequality is self-recommending, according to the left. Full stop. Reducing the income gap as much as possible — while still, of course, leaving some incentive for wealth creation — should be a top priority of government. Maybe the top priority. As President Obama said late last year: “The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life and what we stand for around the globe.”

We know now, however, that mobility has not been decreasing. Economic research also suggests that income inequality — at least so far — is not a fundamental threat to the American way of life. The Manhattan Institute’s Scott Winship draws the following conclusions from his review of the literature:

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The Rule of Culture vs. Fiat in Holidays, or, In Which I Don’t Get How My City Can Assign a Date for Trick-or-Treating

shutterstock_921171Does anybody else live in a city that “decides” when kids will go trick-or-treating…and it’s not on Halloween? We moved to Huntington, West Virginia seven years ago and this was the first place I’d ever even heard of such a thing. It rubs me the wrong way, because this is a cultural practice that’s evolved, independent of government, over many hundreds of years. It strikes me as a gross overstepping of authority for a city to assign a date on which the custom will be carried out by individual citizens, especially when that date isn’t when the culture says it should be.  It’s almost as if the city decreed that people will open their Christmas presents on December 23rd.

I’m not all that interested in justifications for why they’re choosing a given date, though I’ve heard rumors that it’s to avoid kids being out when drunk adults are driving back from their Halloween parties. I’m mostly wondering how a city thinks it can insert itself into this aspect of private life. And what is it that the city actually does in assigning the date? Do they pass a law? Surely not. Do they have some informal resolution of the city council encouraging people? More likely, but I’ve never heard the details.

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Four Days Remaining — Four Governor’s Races to Watch

Twenty years ago, amidst the Republican landslide that flipped the control of Congress and sent a Democratic presidency careening into a ditch, the lesser-reported story was the shakeup at the top of state governments.

Overnight, Republicans went from 20 to 30 governors (including a fellow from Texas named Bush).

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Once More Unto the Breach for Scott Brown

Last week, Alabama Senator and — according to some of us — conscience of the U.S. Senate, Jeff Sessions, said this in an open letter to the American people:

You have the power to send a bolt of lightning that will send shock waves through Washington DC. You have the power to tell Obama and his open borders extremists: NO. At this moment in history – at this grave hour – the single most effective thing you can do to stop Obama’s executive amnesty is to help elect Scott Brown.

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Preemptive Strike

A North Kitsap High School sophomore is awaiting a juvenile court hearing, accused of creating a hit list and threatening to shoot fellow students.

So begins the story of a 16-year-old in my local community who was arrested last night. Given that there was a school shooting elsewhere in Washington State in the last week, people here are a little on edge concerning violence in schools. In many minds, the response to students saying someone was planning to kill other students was entirely reasonable. I don’t see it that way.

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Embrace Your True Scottsman

willie-300x225One of the most powerful forms of bias, brought on by evolutionary survival, goes by the name myside bias. It’s the tendency to defend people in your group even if they are no-good evildoers.

This is especially a problem in large un-selective groups, such as political and philosophical ones. Anyone can claim to be a member, and when someone who does also commits some offence, be it ethical or logical, there is a powerful incentive from people in the group to downplay and become apologists. This can also happen in large (somewhat) selective groups like “Catholics” or “Muslims.”

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The Rule of 13 in House and Senate Elections

If you want to predict House or Senate elections, a useful notion is what I call the Rule of 13. It says that if a district is misaligned with your partisanship by more than 13 points, then, to a close approximation, you have zero chance of winning that district. The rule predicts the following: (i) Mark Pryor is sure to lose his Senate reelection bid in Arkansas, (ii) Mitch McConnell is sure to win his reelection bid in Kentucky, (iii) if voters become convinced that challenger Greg Orman is, for all intents and purposes, a Democrat, then Pat Roberts is sure to win his reelection; (iv) although Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina are conservative states, they are not conservative enough to invoke the Rule of 13; accordingly the Democratic candidates in those states at least have a chance of winning; (v) although the West Virginia 2nd and 3rd House races are called “tossups” by some prognosticators, the Rule of 13 says that the Republican candidates (Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins) will win for certain.

The Rule of 13 is formally defined as follows. First, define the partisan index of a district according the most recent presidential vote in that district. For example, consider the situation of Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) near the end of his sixth term in office, 2010-12. At that time, the most recent presidential election was the 2008 race between John McCain and Barack Obama. In Ross’s district (based on lines redrawn after the 2010 census) McCain received 166,247 votes and Obama received 103,478 votes. McCain’s share of the two-party vote in the district was thus 61.6%. Meanwhile, McCain’s two-party vote share in the nation was 46.0%. Define the partisan index of Ross’s district as the difference of those two numbers. Thus, the district’s partisan index was “Republican 15.6.” (The Cook Political Report constructs a similar “Partisan Voting Index,” except it bases its number on an average of the prior two presidential elections. Some research I’ve conducted suggests that the partisanship of a district follows a random walk, which implies that only the most recent presidential election is relevant in predicting the political views of a district; prior elections do not provide any more information.)

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DC Meetup Photos?

I’m not sure if the photos from the amazingly fun — and crowded! — Ricochet D.C. Meetup have been posted somewhere, but if not, can we post them here? I’d love to see them.

Thanks again to all who turned out. It was a blast seeing everyone.

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If The Wall Could Speak

Rays of sunlight burst from above, bathing the very air itself with my spirit as the deep rumble of a motorcycle across the lot heralds the arrival of another veteran. He just parked his bike, regarding me from across the parking lot. Sometimes they walk right up to me, and I recognize them, though the lines in their face betray the years and the pain, their eyes searching for a brother in arms. Sometimes they walk all 288 feet, though often times the emotions overwhelm them and they have to break away. Other times, however, their grief is too strong and they watch me from a distance before riding away in silence.

Very seldom do I hear someone say that a comrade or loved one’s name is etched in these panels. Instead, they say, “My grandfather is on the wall,” or as one Purple Heart Recipient said yesterday, his eyes welling up, “twelve of my friends are up there.” I see all who gaze my direction. I remember the time my granddaughter came to visit. She was born long after after I arrived here, of course, and I recognized her long before she saw my name. It hurt harder than anything to see the tears stream down her young face.

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On Cat-calling and Feminism

heybabypigMaking the rounds on the Internet is a video of a woman minding her own business on the streets of New York and being catcalled. Everyone else has weighed in, so I thought I’d throw my two cents into the ring. Although I’m sure that everyone will ignore this part, I’d like to say that harassing a woman (or, for that matter, men) is not acceptable under any circumstances. It’s just simply not okay. That being said, let’s dive in.

If you haven’t seen the video, it features a woman walking around New York City wearing jeans and a t-shirt. The video was filmed secretly (she was aware of it, those around her were not) for 10 hours, and she was catcalled 108 times. I think we can all agree that that is pretty gross. So, where does the blame fall for such grossness? I’d argue that quite a lot of this is the legacy of second- and third-wave feminism.

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Demographic Churn

For a number of years, Republicans have been told that demographic shifts will ensure their party is reduced to a permanent minority status. Democrats have consoled themselves through many electoral losses by sobbing gently into the pages of The Emerging Democratic Majority, and similar tomes. A mixture of more minority voters, and a generation of young people who find the Republicans to be out of touch, has been scheduled to doom the GOP in national elections.

Or will it? In what will surely come as a surprise to Democrats, young people do not remain young forever. Time marches forever onward. A new crop of barbarians arise each year, and their voting preferences aren’t as straight forward as Democrats would prefer.

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Goofus and Gallant on Government

Since I’m all about the youth vote, I updated the comics of my childhood with timeless messages about the free market and limited government.

GandGbyExjon

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Foreign Affairs
Vote Locally, Think Globally

ImageResizer

With significant changes taking place abroad, how is American foreign policy impacting the midterm elections?

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Submit Your Questions: Ricochet Forum with Greg Gutfeld

GutfeldIn the latest installment of our Ricochet Forum series — where you, our members, get to put your questions directly to the names in the news — we welcome Greg Gutfeld, host of Red Eye and cohost of The Five on Fox News. To submit your questions for him, simply leave them as comments in this thread. Remember to keep them concise and direct. We’ll post Greg’s responses next week.

Remember — to participate, you have to be a Ricochet member. Haven’t signed up yet? Do it today for as low as $5 a month.

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The Libertarian Podcast: Voting Rights and the Midterms

On this week’s installment of the Libertarian podcast from the Hoover Institution, I talked to Professor Epstein about the always-contentious issue of voting rights, a topic back in the news since the Supreme Court allowed Texas to go forward with its new voter identification laws. We discuss the ongoing fight over voting rights, President Obama’s criticisms of how the Supreme Court has handled the issue, and what it might all mean for this year’s midterm elections. Listen in below:

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The Exorcist, The Demon, and The One Who Is Not There

imageIt’s nearly Halloween, which means a cornucopia of horror movies on TV. Most of them are just awful, with a few masterpieces occasionally making the grade. Last night some cable channel featured Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and a couple of zombie features I’d never heard of. Frankly, the horror movie genre is in a slump. It’s zombies, zombies, zombies, all the way down and I’ve never understood their appeal. I have a pretty strong stomach — I always have anchovies on my pizza — but I demur when it comes to people eating people. I just don’t understand how they can be the luckiest people in the world.

For just over 40 years, The Exorcist has been the magnum opus of horror films. I’ve never completely understood how such a frankly religious movie has been transformed into a Halloween staple. Yes, it’s terrifying and — for whatever reason — people love to be terrified. But what makes it a perennial favorite, I think, is the gut deep fear that demonic possession may be possible. Nobody’s going to turn into a zombie or be resurrected as a member of the fraternity of the undead. But at a visceral level, most people believe fallen angels are more than superstition who literally, in the words of the Prayer to St. Michael, “prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

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Do We Even Have A Foreign Policy?

imageEven The New York Times is piling on Susan Rice for this — so perhaps it’s unnecessary to pose the question — but her comments strike me as so wondrously stupid and terrifying that I’ve got to wonder whether there could be any charitable or vaguely reassuring way of reading it:

[Rice] was peppered with critiques of the president’s Syria and China policies, as well as the White House’s delays in releasing a national security strategy, a congressionally mandated document that sets out foreign policy goals. On that last point, Ms. Rice had a sardonic reply.

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