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Evidently, Jennifer Rubin (formally of Ricochet's excellent Left Coast/Right Coast podcast) has had quite enough of anti-interventionists using Ronald Reagan's record of negotiating with the Soviet Union in the 1980s as a rationale for the U.S. being passive toward an aggressive Russia today.Per a post on her Right Turn blog:
Isolationists tend to be rotten at historical analogies, in part because there are few, if any, real examples of isolationism’s success. Their attempts to legitimize their own views, therefore, fall flat.
We’ve heard that “Ronald Reagan talked to the Soviets” as justification for everything from the Russian “reset” to the Iran nuclear talks. But Reagan also continued to condemn the Soviet empire as evil, supported freedom fighters around the globe, bolstered our military and opposed detente.
David Adesnik of the American Enterprise Institute, who is a scholar on American isolationism, tells Right Turn, “For Reagan, the Cold War was fundamentally a moral conflict. There was one side fighting for freedom and another for oppression. Reagan believed in winning the Cold War, not just managing the conflict. Both of these notions – freedom and victory – were anathema to realists. Many thought Reagan was dangerous and ignorant.” He says Reagan was more than an anti-communist: “Toward the end [of his presidency], his administration helped push out anti-Communist dictators in the Philippines, South Korea and Chile. His public commitment to the cause of freedom was a clear as George W. Bush’s.” And he scoffs at the idea that those railing against foreign entanglements now are heirs to the Reagan tradition. “It’s true that Reagan was ahead of many hawks in his willingness to negotiate with the Soviets. Today’s anti-interventionists cite this as an example that Reagan was much more committed to diplomacy than the supposed cowboys running the Bush administration,” he argues. “But Reagan negotiated after he built up a position of strength that gave him the leverage he needed.”
Seems about correct to me.
The US News and World Report rankings of graduate schools are out today. One part of me feels like Steve Martin in The Jerk, running out of his house proudly yelling that the phone books are out and his name is finally in it. (I also laughed hard at the advice that Martin's father gave him upon leaving home, but that is another story).
Another part of me realizes that the rankings are to be taken seriously — because everyone else takes them seriously: law students choosing where to attend, law firm partners making hiring decisions, law school administrators, faculty, and especially alumni.
The problem with US News is that it factors in lots of odd things in calculating its rankings. For example, in the past they've weighed things like how big the library is, even though most law students only use the library as a study hall because most materials are online now. It has also used money as a proxy for greatness, though, as we have seen from K-12, money spent per pupil and educational performance do not correlate. The rankings also look at bar passage rates, employment outcomes (on which schools have "cheated" by hiring their own students for a year), average LSAT and GPAs, etc.
For all those law students who will spend the next few weeks considering where to go, one of the biggest factors will probably be academic reputation. After all, those obscure considerations above don't matter — and aren't even generally known — to most people on the bench or in a practice. If you were to choose a law school based on anything other than academic reputation (which is a function of the quality of the faculty and the success of the alumni) you are making a big mistake. Here is the reputational ranking of the top schools, which varies some with the US News final rankings (on a 1-5 scale):
1. Harvard University (4.8)
1. Yale University (4.8)
3. Stanford University (4.7)
4. Columbia University (4.6)
4. University of Chicago (4.6)
6. New York University (4.4)
6. University of California, Berkeley (4.4)
6. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (4.4)
9. University of Pennsylvania (4.3)
9. University of Virginia (4.3)
11. Duke University (4.2)
12. Cornell University (4.1)
12. Georgetown University (4.1)
12. Northwestern University (4.1)
15. University of Texas, Austin (4.0)
16. University of California, Los Angeles (3.9)
17. Vanderbilt University (3.8)
18. Washington University, St. Louis (3.6)
19. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (3.5)
19. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (3.5)
19. University of Southern California (3.5)
These seem generally right to me, though you might quibble about the exact placement by one or two spots. It might be of interest to look at this (slightly different) list, which ranks schools by reputation among practicing lawyers rather than academics:
1. Harvard University (4.8)
1. Stanford University (4.8)
3. Columbia University (4.7)
3. University of Chicago (4.7)
3. Yale University (4.7)
6. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (4.6)
7. Duke University (4.5)
7. New York University (4.5)
7. University of California, Berkeley (4.5)
7. University of Virginia (4.5)
11. Cornell University (4.4)
11. Georgetown University (4.4)
11. Northwestern University (4.4)
11. University of Pennsylvania (4.4)
15. University of California, Los Angeles (4.1)
15. University of Texas, Austin (4.1)
15. Vanderbilt University (4.1)
18. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (3.9)
19. Emory University (3.8)
19. University of California, Hastings (3.8)
19. University of Notre Dame (3.8)
19. University of Southern Califiornia (3.8)
19. Washington University, St. Louis (3.8)
Regardless of which list you give greater weight, this and this alone should guide the prospective student in deciding where to go and steer the judge or partner on where to hire. Of course, this could all be bias because my law school does so well, even though I think it should be tied with Columbia and Chicago. Go Bears.
Over at the American Conservative site Rod Dreher argued this week for social conservatives to change their strategy to a political Benedictinism. He's discussed the "Benedict option" in different ways on his blog before. (It was discussed here last autumn after he posted about it then.) This is (hopefully I'm summarizing him fairly) a strategy in which one withdraws from the surrounding world in order to build an enclave in which things are preserved until a time when it is possible to spread them to the wider world again. He describes it himself here and you really should read what he has to say about it himself.
What is a bit different this time is that he's explicitly talking not just to religious people but to a particular political segment. The argument seems to be that the libertarians are ascendant on the Right and are going to toss the social conservatives out eventually (or gradually push them out) and that it would be better for the social conservative movement to preempt this and bail now. Since the political power and influence of social conservatives will continue to decline (Mr Dreher, at least, clearly believes this) leaving the coalition now would allow social conservatives to retain some cohesiveness and not lose some of the institutions built around social conservative purposes.
There's a lot more there, and a lot of nuance that I've left out, so I would encourage you to read the whole thing. I'm mostly curious to hear from social conservatives about whether the point we've reached in politics and society is such that Mr Dreher is right about retrenching and (to mix metaphors) riding out the storm, or if the social conservatives here think there is still value in seeking to achieve some ends via political means and specifically in coalition with more economically-minded conservatives. I'm sure we'll hear from the more libertarian folks too, which is fine, of course, but I'm mostly wondering how widespread this notion is among social conservatives on Ricochet where the demographic likely skews pretty hard towards the "politically involved" end of the spectrum.
In the latest installment of my weekly column for Hoover's Defining Ideas, I defend the classical liberal concept of property rights from those on both the Progressive Left and the Conservative Right, both of whom have been too quick to privilege democratic processes over individual rights in the courts. As I write:
Today, with weak property rights protection, the dangerous dynamic of majoritarian politics can engulf all government actions. In the absence of a strong just compensation requirement, nothing ensures that government takings, even when done for public use, will be worth more to the public at large than to its private owners. Protecting private property does not stand in opposition to the welfare of the community at large, but is thoroughly consistent with it. For example, forcing New York City to put the cost of landmark preservation “on budget” improves the political process by forcing a more candid deliberation of relative costs and benefits. It is the failure to incorporate this check on deliberation that has contributed so much to economic stagnation in New York City and the nation. The City thus labors under the massive misallocations caused by rent stabilization because it refuses to put on budget the losses incurred by landlords from tenants who can force the renewal of their leases at below market rates. It is just this unwillingness to respect financial liens that accounts for the deplorable conduct of the federal government in the continuing scandal over the expropriation of the private shareholders of Fannie and Freddie.
It is not the case that judicial quiescence can return Americans to “Their Inalienable Right to Self-Governance,” to use [Judge J. Harvey] Wilkinson’s evocative term. What is needed is not the mischief of collective self-governance, but the inalienable right of individual self-governance. The failure to police the line between the private and public space has led to the degeneration of the political debate and the massive destruction of private wealth.
You can read the argument in full here.
Ben Domenech recently posted at the Federalist an article entitled “The Top Ten Books People Lie About Reading.”
Here are the ten (note that no. 8 is two books, so there are 11 books in all). Also included is my truthful score.
1. Ulysses, James Joyce. Nope. Picked it up a couple of times and looked at it, which pretty much sealed its doom. I’ll be reading Barbara Cartland before I get to this one. Score: 0.
2. The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli. I’ve read this one several times. It may be the most misunderstood book in history. Must be read along with some of Machiavelli’s other works, especially his Discourses on Livy. Machiavelli was not the monarchist people believe him to be. He desperately wanted to see a united Italian republic. Score: 1
3. The Art of War, Sun Tzu: Nope. This book has never appealed to me. Score: 0
4. Moby Dick, Herman Melville. I finally read it about five years ago. Its greatness eludes me. After the first paragraph (which is great), it just didn’t float my boat (pun intended). Score: 1
5. The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith: I haven’t the slightest doubt this is a great book. But it is really, really long. Does downloading it to my Kindle count? Score: 0.
6. Democracy in America, Alexis De Tocqueville. I’ve tried, many times. I think I’ve read about one-third of it. I still have it on my “to read” list. Score: 0.
7. 1984, George Orwell. Not a difficult read and not long. It is depressing, but should be read by all sentient creatures who wish to understand the evil of the totalitarian mind. Score: 1.
8. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo and A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens. I tried to read Les Miserables once, but made it to about page 100 (less than 10 percent of the entire book). I have seen the musical three times. I’ve read A Tale of Two Cities three or four times over the years, but I’m a big Dickens fan. Score: 1 of 2.
9. On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin. No. And please shoot me if you see me reading it. Score: 0.
10. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand. Yes, though I gave “John Galt’s Speech” a serious speed read. I’m giving myself this one, though I haven’t a clue how it ends. Score: 1.
Total Score: Five out of eleven.
How about the Ricochetti? You’re on the honor system.
The following is an excerpt from the new Afterword to my book Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate, which was officially released on paperback today:
When I talk to adults over the age of forty who do not work in an academic setting, I find that the term “free speech” has a special kind of moral force and relevance for them regardless of their political background. When I talk to professors and administrators of similar age on campus, however, they often focus on how the First Amendment allows the dissemination of ideas they don’t like, as opposed to the thousands of innovations and positive social developments it has made possible. A striking example of this position appeared in the wake of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012. In the days immediately following the tragedy, many—including the Obama administration—claimed that the assault was a direct response to a controversial YouTube video. Some academics, such as Professors Eric Posner and Anthea Butler, seized this opportunity to proclaim publicly that Americans value free speech too highly. Posner, a professor of law at the University of Chicago and son of the famous jurist Richard Posner, went so far as to label America’s reluctance to restrict free speech to accommodate foreign policy interests a “bizarre principle.”
Unfortunately, it appears that the attitudes toward free speech exhibited by the nonacademic, over-forty crowd are giving way to those held by college administrators and professors like Posner and Butler. During the summer of 2013, the First Amendment Center released its annual study on national attitudes about freedom of speech, and it showed disturbing results. A record 34 percent of Americans stated that the First Amendment “goes too far” in protecting individual rights. Worst of all, a staggering 47 percent of those polled between the ages of eighteen and thirty held the same view.
The First Amendment Center noted that these results might be skewed because the surveys were completed in the wake of the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, which may have inspired a sadly predictable backlash against civil liberties. Yet this only underscores the impact that “blame free speech first” thinking (exhibited by Professors Posner and Butler) can have on popular opinion. Notably, as the ages of those polled in the study increased, the hostility toward free speech decreased; only 23 percent over the age of sixty thought the First Amendment “goes too far” in protecting speech. The contrast with the eighteen-to-thirty demographic may indicate that our younger generations are absorbing the negative perspectives on free speech that I have seen so often among college professors and, especially, administrators. The phenomenon shouldn’t surprise readers of this book, who know that the lessons learned on campus do not stay on campus, but ultimately bleed into the larger society.
If we want freedom of speech to endure, we have to teach each generation about the almost endless ways in which they benefit from the open exchange of ideas.
When Barack Obama is doing comedy and the men of GLoP are doing some heavy weight social commentary (at least on this podcast), we're through the looking glass, people. But that's where we find ourselves as this week, Jonah, John, and Rob take on the President's comedy chops, hipsters and the political conundrum they find themselves in, why a conversation on contraception is an exercise in futility, why liberals provide the best argument against liberalism, and a GLoP tribute to the late, great Harold Ramis. Also, as depicted above, Zoë the Wonder Dog makes her podcast debut.
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GLoP is sponsored by Encounter Books. This week's pick is Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes by Michael Rubin. Use the coupon code RICOCHET at checkout and get 15% off list price.
President Barack Obama stepped away from the staggering economy, Russian provocations and the golf course to spend significant time with comedian Zach Galifianakis.
The Hangover star interviewed the President on his intentionally cringe-worthy "Between Two Ferns" mock talk show. More scripted than other BTF episodes, the President's goal was to pitch Obamacare to Funny Or Die's youngish audience. The comedy site regularly promotes doctrinaire Democrat talking points, so the pairing isn't totally unexpected.
Click the link to watch then come back to let us know what you think.
While expecting to hate it (and obviously disagreeing with the purpose), I thought the President came across quite well. Yet I continue to be amused by supposedly jaded, "truth to power" comics serving as press flacks for polished politicos and government bureaucrats.
Image via FunnyOrDie.com
In case you missed it Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey premiered on Sunday night. I've always enjoyed Neil deGrasse Tyson, but I admit the only exposure I have had to him were his occasional appearances in the smorgasbord of "space" shows that National Geographic, Discovery, History, etc. routinely develop. I have also seen him make a few rounds on the morning talk shows as well as a few appearances on the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Through it all, I never perceived him pushing any sort of agenda (beyond asking for more money), nor noticed him belittling anyone. He came off as the clichéd layman's astronomer and I enjoyed that about him. However, after watching Sunday's show, my view of him has soured.
Because it was the premier episode, there wasn't any real heavy stuff, with the focus instead on the basics and setting the groundwork for the rest of the series. They discussed the size of the earth compared to the sun, the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe. They briefly mentioned the multiverse theory, if only to give us something "bigger" than the universe itself. Also, the "history" of the universe was presented, conveyed via comparing it to our calendar so that the viewer could better grasp it. Oh, and, most importantly, they spent about 20 minutes conveying the idea of "Christianity bad, science good".
I tried to muscle through it, since I expected there to be some Christian bashing in a show like this, but 20 minutes? They felt it important to spend almost half of the program stereotyping Christians? I expected to hear about Copernicus or Galileo, but instead the show chose to go with the little known Giordano Bruno and presented him as a martyr . It was complete with a cartoon short showing his "story" of enlightenment, oppression, imprisonment, interrogation, and eventual death at the stake as a heretic. The whole while, the Church (and not just the Catholic church — they made sure to mention the words 'Lutheran' and 'Protestant' a few times) was portrayed in a less than flattering light. Now that I'm thinking about it I'm fairly certain that the voice actor was Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame, which shows me that this was a well thought out portion of the show and not just some filler needed at the last moment.
(Update: I looked into it and yup, it is Seth MacFarlane.)
Perhaps I am just venting, but I must say I have grown tired of how often history is misrepresented in order to vilify the Christian Church. Although these discrepancies are wearisome, they don't truly bother me until I realize that some budding young mind or some low-information voter will watch this depiction of Christianity and have it form the basis of their future prejudice against the faith.
I would like to think that the show didn't do this intentionally. After all, Neil deGrasse Tyson isn't known for his breadth of knowledge concerning history. Given the budget behind this show (and the culture of Hollywood), however, I just can't see this being accidental.
So much for my hopes of this being a "Hey, cool space stuff" show.
Today marks the official paperback release of my book about the reality and consequences of campus censorship: Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. And almost like clockwork, a major theme of the book—that campuses are teaching students to think like censors—has played out at Rutgers University. As I covered yesterday in The Huffington Post:
Every year around commencement time my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), gets ready for what we call "disinvitation season." That is the time, usually early in the spring, when students and faculty get together to demand that an invited guest speaker--usually a commencement speaker--be disinvited, because the students or faculty members disagree with something that speaker did, said, or believes.
This year, however, disinvitation season got off to an especially early start with professors at Rutgers University joining together to demand that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice be disinvited as their commencement speaker. In a letter to the university community sent late last week, the Rutgers administration made it clear that they had no intention of dis-inviting Rice. For those of us who believe that students should be exposed to a variety of viewpoints, this was a positive development. However, it would not be unprecedented for a university in Rutgers' position to later on change its mind and decide to disinvite the speaker or just quietly encourage them to withdraw. Even when universities don't capitulate to these demands, students have been known to organize to effectively silence a speaker via the "heckler's veto"--most notoriously at Brown University, where students prevented former NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly from speaking last fall.
It's hard to be sure, but after having watched disinvitation season for so many years now, it certainly seems to me that the push to get speakers disinvited is becoming more common, and the likelihood of those pushes succeeding is increasing. This isn't just a hunch; I have been maintaining a growing list of about 120 speaker controversies over recent years, and it is certainly not exhaustive. It also includes numerous high-profile dis-invitations, or decisions by speakers to withdraw under pressure, such as Ben Carson, Geraldo Rivera, Robert Zoellick, Ann Coulter, Ben Stein, Meg Whitman, and James Franco, just to name a few.
And make no mistake about it; the most typical targets for backlash on campus are conservatives, or people who served in Republican administrations. Pointing out this obvious fact wins me few friends on campus, but to say otherwise would simply be dishonest.
I will be writing more today about the release of the new edition of the book, but please consider buying a copy as all royalties go to support the important work of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
Senator Rand Paul is asking fellow Republicans not to misrepresent Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy and, in doing so, positioning himself as being in alignment with Reagan’s commitment to a strong national defense.
“Reagan clearly believed in a strong national defense and in ‘Peace through Strength,’” Paul writes in an op-ed at Breitbart. “He stood up to the Soviet Union, and he led a world that pushed back against Communism.”
“But Reagan also believed in diplomacy and demonstrated a reasoned approach to our nuclear negotiations with the Soviets. Reagan’s shrewd diplomacy would eventually lessen the nuclear arsenals of both countries.”
He also pointed out that after the 1983 bombing in Lebanon that killed 241 Marines, Reagan pulled back our forces because he realized the cost was too great. This decision to reassess and readjust was met with criticism as Republican hawks once again called him an appeaser.
“I greatly admire Reagan’s projection of ‘Peace through Strength,’” Paul wrote. “I believe, as he did, that our National Defense should be second to none, that defense of the country is the primary Constitutional role of the Federal Government.”
But, Paul says, Reagan was not rash or reckless when it came to war and “advised potential foreign adversaries not to mistake our reluctance for war for a lack of resolve.”
What America needs today is a Commander-in-Chief who will defend the country and project strength, but who is also not eager for war.
Regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for example, there is little difference among most Republicans on what to do. All of us believe we should stand up to Putin's aggression. Virtually no one believes we should intervene militarily.
So we are then faced with a finite menu of diplomatic measures to isolate Russia, on most of which we all agree, such as sanctions and increased economic pressure.
Yet, some politicians have used this time to beat their chest. What we don’t need right now is politicians who have never seen war talking tough for the sake of their political careers.
America deserves better than that. So do our soldiers.
In an op-ed for Time, Paul explains more fully how he would handle the situation with Russia and how he would “punish Putin” for his “gross violation” of Ukraine’s sovereignty: Impose economic sanctions and visa bans; urge Europe to take the lead on imposing these penalties; boycott the G-8 summit, and if Putin’s troops remain in Crimea, expel Russia from the group; aggressively market and export America’s natural gas resources to Europe; remove every obstacle or current ban blocking the export of American oil and gas to Europe; and lift restrictions on new oil and gas development (immediate construction of the Keystone Pipeline) so America can supply Europe with oil if it is interrupted from Ukraine.
In his Breitbart op-ed, Paul admits there is a time for military action, but that there is also a time for diplomacy and a “strategic use of soft power.”
“Diplomacy requires resolve but also thoughtfulness and intelligence,” he wrote.
This is something Reagan always knew.
Today’s Republicans should concentrate on establishing their own identities and agendas, as opposed to simply latching onto Ronald Reagan’s legacy—or worse, misrepresenting it.
What do you think? For those concerned about Paul’s foreign policy being a mere reflection of his father’s libertarianism, do these comments reassure you?
The always trenchant Brad Wilcox has a piece at National Review analyzing the new Pew research on Millennials. (BTW, this naming and timing of generations is so arbitrary. Why are Baby Boomers stretched over 20 years but other generations are only 15 years long? Bizarre convention). But Wilcox offers some pretty worrying thoughts.
His final paragraph makes a very important point, in my judgment, namely that so many Millennials are rejecting the institutions — family, church, work — that are the foundation of society. More than that, those institutions are the foundation of personal happiness and fulfillment. Wilcox scours the data and finds this:
For instance, 58 percent of Millennial men who were married, employed full-time, and regular religious attendees reported that they are very happy in life; by contrast, only 25 percent of Millennial men who were unmarried, not working full-time, and religiously disengaged reported that they are very happy in life.
You cannot impose religious faith obviously, but we can work harder to make marriage the norm. All of this tolerance for alternative lifestyles has been disastrous for children, but, as this study makes clear, also for the adults involved.
One more worrying possibility Wilcox notes: People who are disconnected from family, church, and employment may be more easily aroused by demagogues when times are bad.
So, am I overreacting? Any thoughts among readers who belong to the Millennial generation?
If Bill Clinton can be considered to have been America's first black president, argues Matthew Continetti in a tour de force at the Washington Free Beacon, then Barack Obama is America's first woman president:
[O]ur ascription of gender identity need not be based on chromosomes or sexual characteristics, on hair style or costume, on self-identification, on arbitrary and socially constructed discourses of macho and feminine. It is clear to me now that we have had a woman president since January 20, 2009. Barack Obama’s story is America’s story. It is our story. It is the female story.
Strong women have surrounded Obama since childhood: his mother, who raised him after his deadbeat dad fled to Kenya; his grandmother, “who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to become vice president at a local bank”; his magnificent wife and First Lady Michelle Obama, before whom we all bow down; Michelle’s mother Marian Shields Robinson; the fierce pixie Valerie Jarrett; his billionaire heiress secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker; the gaunt and severe and silver-haired Kathleen Sebelius. Obama’s ascent to power, Sharon Jayson pointed out long ago, testifies to both the struggles and successes of single moms. From these ladies and others Obama drew lessons in how to raise his two beautiful daughters, in the value of women to American society, in the art of wearing mom jeans.
Throughout his presidency Obama has displayed sensitivity to women’s issues, women’s concerns, women’s priorities. He appointed two women to the Supreme Court. He established the game-changing Council on Women and Girls. He signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. The mascot of his 2012 campaign was a woman. He is a staunch defender of reproductive rights, supporting sex-selective and partial-birth abortions, opposing any restrictions on abortions in the final trimester of pregnancy, calling Sandra Fluke to affirm his support, demanding the Little Sisters of the Poor provide contraception to their nun employees. His is a nurturing presidency, emphasizing children’s nutrition, early childhood education, primary and secondary school reform, the affordability of higher education, the challenges facing boys and young men of color, universal health care, the high cost of hip replacement for aging parents. He knows that “when women succeed, America succeeds.” And women know he is one of them. In 2012 he won their vote 55 percent to 44 percent.
Continetti cites Harvard professor Joseph Nye, who says “women have evolutionary incentives to maintain peaceful conditions in which to nurture their offspring and ensure that their genes survive into the next generation." Continetti notes the extent to which Obama "shares these incentives":
His foreign policy abjures the stereotypically male, the reflexively violent, the stubbornly confrontational, and the unthinkingly gruff. He is not afraid to be called a wimp, not only because using such language is a micro-aggression, not only because such harmful words depend on categories and expectations of “male” behavior that are hopelessly outdated in the twenty-first century, but also because he is better than that “bored, tough guy shtick.”
Obama even suffers from feminine "otherness" in the man's world that still dominates politics:
Nye describes the path women must travel to reach power: “Women are generally not well integrated into male networks that dominate organizations,” he writes, “and gender stereotypes still hamper women who try to overcome such barriers.” What he writes about women could also be written about Obama, who disdains glad-handing and networking, who “doesn’t really like people,” who in domestic politics has given up entirely negotiations with the “male networks that dominate organizations” such as the House of Representatives, who every day is hampered by the stereotype that he is brilliant, logical, debonair, pragmatic, witty, world-changing, deeply read, hip.
Yet Obama has overcome such barriers. He is one of a kind. Knowing their struggles, sharing their opinions, committed to abortion whenever and to contraception for all, supportive of equal pay for equal work, practicing the soft power of defense cuts, of negotiations, of needling, of chiding, delivering geopolitical statements from pre-school classrooms, snapping selfies with the girls at state funerals, displaying almost every trope of womanhood outlined by the theoretician of soft power himself, Barack Obama has as much of a claim as the next girl to being the first woman president.
And how successful has our first woman president been?:
Discussion, consultation, negotiation, and open hands are preferable to violence and clenched fists. Violence is not the answer. If violence were the answer then Bashar Assad would still be in power (he is), and would still maintain his chemical weapons (he does). If violence were the answer then Vladimir Putin would not have left Georgia alone (his troops occupy it), nor would he have left Ukraine alone (he invaded last weekend). If the world still operated along antiquated notions of hegemony and primacy, China would not be disarming (its defense budget is up 12 percent over last year).
Words are more powerful than bombs. Words scared Assad into not using chemical agents against his own people (he’s gassed them repeatedly). Words stopped Putin from invading Crimea (the invasion was rapid and successful). Words convinced China to rescind its Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea (it’s still there, and the Chinese are planning another for the South China Sea). Words persuaded the Iranians to give up their nuclear program (they say they will never surrender the right to enrich). Words ended construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank (construction doubled in 2013), and established peace in the Middle East (Abbas won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state).
“In terms of stereotypes, various psychological studies show that men gravitate to the hard power of command,” Joseph Nye wrote in 2012, “while women are collaborative and intuitively understand the soft power of attraction and persuasion.” He adds, “Recent leadership studies show increased success for what was once considered a ‘feminine style.’” Collaborate, intuitive, soft, attractive, persuasive—these attributes of the “feminine style” are perfect descriptors of Barack Obama’s relation to the world, or at least to those parts of the world that are not Republican or Israeli.
Considering the degree to which sex has been unmoored from biological reality in the United States, Continetti might really be onto something here. Sorry, Hillary.
I carry a book bag about, and sometimes something slips to the bottom and does not get read when it should have been read. So this evening I found myself scanning the 27 February issue of The Wall Street Journal. And there on the front page was an article by Yuka Hayashi entitled (in the print version) "Tensions in Asia Stoke Rising Nationalism in Japan."
This is a subject that interests me. The various peoples in Asia do not much like one another, and tensions have been rising — largely because the current leaders of China are inclined to throw their weight around and bully their neighbors.
But, of course, Japan has a history, and, unlike the Germans, the Japanese have not repudiated the mass murder in their past. So, when the Chinese misbehave, the Japanese tend to do the same — and who knows how it might end?
But that is not my subject — for what interests me is how Yuka Hayashi attempts to explain Japanese nationalism to Americans. Read this:
Pacifism still runs deep in Japan, and the shift to the right is in its early stages. But the tone is already influencing Japanese politics, with the emergence of a new wave of candidates—mainly in their 30s and 40s—who hold staunchly conservative views similar to those of America's tea party.
In a Tokyo gubernatorial election earlier this month, Gen. Toshio Tamogami, a former air-force chief who heads a right-wing group known for its xenophobic rallies, snared an unexpectedly large share of votes, even though the country's traditional media had all but written him off as a fringe figure.
Now read it again — for the implication is that America's Tea Party Movement is xenophobic, which it is not. I do not mean to suggest that the Tea Party Movement is above criticism, but one could at least begin by recognizing that its focus is domestic, not international, and that if it leans any particular direction, it leans libertarian.
What Hayashi wrote and what The Wall Street Journal published on its front page is a smear of the worst sort — well worthy of Pravda-on-the-Hudson, and it appeared on the front page of a distinguished newspaper. Perhaps Yuka Hayashi is an ignoramus who knows a lot about Japan and next to nothing of American politics and gets his opinion from the talking points issued by the Democratic National Committee. But surely The Wall Street Journal has editors who know the difference between fact and fiction.
Somebody ought to get the boot.
"But the purpose of prayer," wrote Bill Buckley, "surely, is to stress the great divisions between the material and the supernatural condition, not to gloss over them." Indeed, though it seemed in recent days that the chasm between the material and supernatural has grown so great that not even a multi-million dollar, congressionally-funded bridge to nowhere and back could connect the distant shores.
I'm not Catholic, (though I am doing some reading on the faith), so I'm unfamiliar with the specialties of the various saints. I know there is a patron saint for traveling, another for the military, and even one who specializes in the recovery of lost items — causing me to pause and wonder if he also handles lost patience. If there is no such saint recognized by the faith, I propose that nominations begin forthwith.
Were I consulted on the matter (which is about as likely as someone opening a snow cone stand in the infernal regions), I'd title the nominee as the Patron Saint of Strike Marks, after my experience with a recalcitrant truck starter a few years ago. It had been on the fritz and, when I asked one of our maintenance shops to replace it, they consulted their little checklist and said nope, company policy prohibited its replacement. Not because it was reliable (it wasn't) and not because it started more often than not (it didn't), but because it didn't have visible strike marks on the outside. You see, if you strike the thing with a hammer, it moves the internal whatchamacallits so that the thing might start, and lo, you will have left a strike mark.
Well sir, if I had known that, you can bet your house, your boat, and a bottle of your favorite beverage that it would have broken out in strike marks. In fact, I offered to apply some strike marks on the spot, but the mechanic dually turned me away. And the starter dually expired about a week later right smack at the main entrance to a major plant. While awaiting the tow truck, I took my hammer and left a generous number of strike marks on pretty much everything I could find under the hood while imagining that I was also leaving marks on the author of that insidious checklist.
In fact, I think I could keep Saint Strike Mark gainfully employed these days. Last week, the power supply to the CB radio went out just one day before the Qualcomm itself gave up the ghost. With no way to receive work assignments or message the company, no GPS, no way to receive the old written directions to customers that we used prior to the advent of the GPS, and no way to get traffic updates from other truckers, I felt like Ray Charles trying to play outfield.
That left calling the customer and asking directions as the only alternative, except of course that it was out of the question, my company being prohibited from contacting the customer directly under the terms of whatever insane contract had been agreed to. It was reminiscent of the sign in a foreign hotel that read, "To call room service, please open the door and call room service." It's at this point that the divide between the material and the logical becomes almost as wide as that which lies between the material and the supernatural. When bureaucracies routinely and unsuccessfully attempt to transcend logic, everyone involved becomes frustrated.
What then, when the material world challenges a person in ways much more substantive than the Keystone Cop antics of a trucking company? Last week, my Dad's condition took a turn for the worse, so that he was taken to the emergency room and admitted to the hospital where he remains while a battery of tests are being run to determine what has happened. Here then, where stroke-like symptoms meet the debilitating effects of grief and loss, where sadness merges with Alzheimer's, and depression intertwines with physical pain, we come upon the intersection of the material and the supernatural.
"Why did she have to die?" asked Dad not long after his wife passed away last September. There are no packaged and readied answers to such a question, particularly when asked by a minister who is already well-versed in such answers. A wounded soul isn't comforted with glib extrapolations. "Maybe it was just time for her to go home," I finally ventured. "What about us?" he asked. "She'll be waiting for us."
Even in the fog of Alzheimer's, certain questions resurface. Why does this person suffer? Why do some people rally and help while others turn their backs on those in pain? Why does a young and energetic wife and mother succumb to a monstrous brain tumor in less than two months? The believer is left, ultimately, with an issue of faith, and even as our family is now left smaller both in terms of those departed and those who willfully checked out, we emerge stronger, which is surely a good thing.
Mom's favorite Bible verse resonates in the heart: "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." To which I would add, from Lamentations, "His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."
While praying for Dad's peace of mind and the family's strength to persevere, the hymn which the verse from Lamentations inspired comes to mind:
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
So it is that even though the miles that separate me from those that I love seem great while out here on the road, our strength is greater still. I spoke with Dad tonight. His spirits were fair, his humor somewhat subdued. For reasons known only to him and our Creator, he purchased a set of golf clubs last week. I told him I'd help him shoot some golf, but I'm not cleaning or cooking them when we get home. With a laugh, he said we have a deal. I'm holding him to it.
It was a great day in Minneapolis on Saturday, when approximately 47 Ricochetti, future Ricochetti, and fellow travelers met for an evening of meeting, greeting, and urbane conversation. As the bar got more crowded, and background noise increased, the starting conversation became a variation of:
Me: Hi, are you here for Ricochet?
Ricochet member X: What?!
Me: ARE YOU HERE FOR RICOCHET?
And then it degenerated into a series of grunts and hand signals. Just like the liberals imagined!
No, not really. It was crowded, it was loud, and it was terrific. I met just about everybody that ventured into our end of the bar, (and I actually remember a few names), and, to a person, found everyone to be smart, engaging, and full of good spirit. What a pleasure to be in their company.
Thanks to Terry and Virginia Keegan for hosting us at the always friendly Keegan's Irish Pub in Minneapolis. I saw both of them hustling to make sure every one got served properly that night, and they and the staff showed us a great time.
Was it too crowded and loud? Perhaps. We didn't know how many people would come, and it exceeded our modest estimates. But for a party, that's how I like it: electric. There is definitely a call for a more laid back and conversation-friendly gathering, and plans are in the works for something of that nature in Minneapolis come the glorious summer. Stay tuned.
Finally, a few images from the night.
Our reserved corner at Keegan's at the appointed start time of 5 pm. One thing I'll say for the Ricochet crowd, "fashionably late" is not in its vernacular. I showed up right at the start time, and thought I'd grab an empty table in the corner, set up a bit, grab a bite and a drink, then start greeting people as they filtered in. But at 5pm, there were already 20 of our people there, ready to go. Punctuality, that is your very essence, Ricochet, and I salute you.
Ricochet legend Rachel Lu makes her dramatic entrance, to a round of cheers.
Ricochet members Tim and Geometricus.
Future Ricochet Members Paul and Ben (who were officially there to sweep up after we were done).
Rachel Lu making the rounds with another table full of Ricochetti.
Ricochet member Randy, and his wife (it's at this point in the presentation, and coincidentally in the evening on Saturday, where my memory starts to fade).
One of these people is named Double D, most of the others are from South Dakota.
Random Ricochet beautiful people.
The center, power table of Ricochet members. In reality, there were all in clear focus (I think).
John Hinderaker (or something like that), and some of his admirers.
John Hinderaker and an official of the International Darts Federation discussing some of the finer points of proper foot positioning, before the Cricket tournament commenced. Or maybe she was just another terrific Ricochet member, I forget.
John Hinderaker and James Lileks during the LIVE taping of the Hinderaker-Ward Experience. A show that, alas, may never be heard. Sorry folks, the topics addressed and language used are simply TOO HOT for the Internet. Or there was a huge amount of ambient noise and the microphone kept cutting in and out. Our technicians in the lab are continuing to try and salvage at least something for posting here on Ricochet. Keep them in your thoughts tonight.
Not nearly enough photography. Wish I would have spent more time shutter bugging and less time gum flapping. Lots of good folks are not captured here. Any attendees with additional pictures, please add them in the comments.
And we'll see you next time.
So, I went to have a CT scan today, and after it was done and the IV needle was pulled from my arm, the peppy technician said, “Before you leave, I have to ask you a couple of questions. I don’t know why I have to ask them because they have absolutely nothing to do with your scan or any of your medical needs right now, but we’ve been told that we have to ask every patient these questions.”
I narrowed my eyes, immediately suspicious.
“Have you had a flu shot?”
“No,” I said.
She gave me a disapproving glance. “Have you had a pneumonia shot?”
She shook her head and sighed. “Okay, well, you have a good day.”
I turned to leave and paused. “ Who’s requiring you to ask these questions? You never told me.”
“The government,” she said happily. “It has to do with new federal regulations.”
“Do you know why?”
“To gather information. It has to go in a database so the federal government has as much information as they can get on everyone. It will be very helpful.”
“Oh, I’m sure,” I said dryly. I wanted to ask her if she’s ever read George Orwell, but I decided to leave.
The federal government is actively gathering private information about vaccines on Americans—for what purpose? Why do they want to know who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t, and how is this the federal government’s business?
Why have the database? Is other information, like gun ownership, suicidal thoughts, violence in the home (other questions coming from Obamacare regulations) being put in the federal database instead of remaining with the doctor?
And why are they doing it in such a sneaky way? The technician wasn’t even required to tell me before she asked the questions who wanted the information. Does this in any way violate HIPAA? Do I have any privacy when it comes to the federal government?
It seems I don’t. And I’m angry.
Every American should be angry—Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, it doesn’t matter. All of us are at risk of losing our liberty. This is just one more example of how the federal government has overstepped its bounds. Where in the Constitution does it say the government can keep a database on my most private information—information they have gathered in such a underhanded fashion?
The monstrosity that is Obamacare must be repealed. No compromise. No surrender. No waiting until after this election or the next one or the next.
In reference to the NSA spying on Americans, Senator Rand Paul asked in his robust speech at CPAC this past week, “Will we sit idly by and let our rights be trampled on? Will we be like lemmings, rushing to the comfort of Big Brother’s crushing embrace, or will we stand like men and women of character and say, we are free, and no man, no matter how well-intentioned, will take our freedom from us?”
I say we stand. I say we fight.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a boring, boilerplate stump speech at CPAC 2014 — lacking the innovative thinking and enthusiasm of many of his fellow orators. Met with polite applause from the overwhelmingly conservative audience, McConnell waxed eloquent on such predictable Republican talking points as high taxes and over-regulation of small business. Not exactly the most effective rallying cry for a man who stands to become Senate Majority Leader should the Republicans pick up a handful of Senate seats in November.
With such imaginative prose as “The president of the United States is treating our Constitution worse than a place mat at Denny’s,” its no wonder the Minority Leaders’ time on the podium garnered the tepid response that it did.
I’m not writing to question the Senator’s public speaking ability nor his conservative credentials. Matt Bevin, McConnell’s Tea Party challenger in Kentucky, is certainly taking care of that. No, I’m here to ask the question that the Minority Leaders’ speech, and his very presence at the Conservative Political Action Conference, demands: With midterms coming up in a few short months, and the presidential election only a couple years away, how can Republicans reconcile the political expediency demanded by party moderates with the principled conservatism of the Right?
There’s a clear rift between moderates and conservatives, highlighted both by McConnell’s lackluster speech and the awkwardly silent reaction from the audience. This split has grown deeper in recent years and has reached the point where it seems that Republicans spend as much time railing against factions within their own party as they do against the policies of the Obama Administration.
Those of McConnell’s ilk argue that Tea Party challengers have cost Republicans seats in the Senate, and possibly the Senate majority. Of such challengers in this year’s midterms, McConnell quipped to the New York Times, “I think we’re going to crush them everywhere,...I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country.” Not exactly tent-building words.
Of course, conservatives aren’t innocent of such inter-party mudslinging either. Rare is the speech in which a Rand Paul or a Ted Cruz can resist the temptation to take a few jabs at the moderate wing of the Party. Some amount of bickering is healthy, to be sure. There is value in analyzing and critiquing each other's positions — it strengthens our ideas, our candidates, and our party. But we’ve moved beyond the constructive critique and into an increasingly toxic climate.
A rift still exists in the Republican Party. It’s the same one that bedeviled us in 2008 and again in 2012. We need to get out of our own way and forge a path that can unite the party and generate support among the American people.
Can conservatives and moderates mend fences before 2016? If so, how? Who can start such rapprochement?
Perhaps it starts with a shift in rhetoric; from sharp and stinging to well-reasoned and civil. Or maybe with a new policy focus, like the one I suggested here. Or does reconciliation within the Republican Party start in 2016, after we lose the election? Just so we can be totally sure that this whole in-fighting thing doesn’t work that well.
I’d rather start now.
During her CPAC speech, Sarah Palin thanked the State of Texas and said, "Liberty needs a Congress on Cruz control," to much applause, of course. This provides an interesting thought experiment.
Much of what is thought about Ted Cruz is based on his relationship with the leadership of Senate Republicans. He's a thorn in Mitch McConnell's side, which inspires some on the right and enrages others. He's become the loyal opposition to the loyal opposition. (It's an indicator of the state of the party if we need such a thing, but that's another topic.)
Those too impatient to bide our time, let Obamacare thrash the nation, and then hopefully retake control of the Senate on a tide of discontent want to see something done now. We may not turn back the oceans, but we'd a least like to see some splashing around. Sen. Cruz provides that. Those with more patience for the long game think he's doing so at the expense of other Republicans and the party as a whole. Either way, the only reason he can do so is because he is not the leader.
So, here's the thought experiment: try to envision a Republican-controlled Senate with Ted Cruz as the Majority Leader. We know what kind of leader Harry Reid has been, so anything else has to be better, but what about Cruz? If "the radical right" really did take over, what would it look like? Would he make Rand Paul his whip? What agenda would he pursue?
If Palin is right, I think we'd see a liberty agenda. I think bills limiting the executive and the bureaucracy would be the order of the day. Whether Tea Party or establishment, we all claim to want this. Would we have the stones to do it if the opportunity presented itself?
If you entertain any doubts as to the degree that, say, CBS News has become little more than a partisan mouthpiece for the Obama administration, you should read Rick Moran's report. Do you remember Sharyl Attkisson? She has been a reporter for CBS News for 20 years, investigating and reporting on subjects such as defective Firestone Tires.
She has, however, one quality that is not welcome any longer at CBS News. She is honest and, when she comes across a scandal, she pursues the case with vigor. Unfortunately for her, the scandals that she most recently got her teeth into were the Fast and Furious Scandal and the Benghazi Bungle, and the network executives, who loved it when Dan Rather and the like made up stories about George W. Bush, were not at all happy when it was discovered that the administration of Barack Obama — the sainted one, he who is above criticism — was up to things that are exceedingly ugly.
Well, she works at CBS no longer, and she is finishing a book entitled Stonewalled: One Reporter’s Fight for Truth in Obama’s Washington. For some reason, the book will not be published by Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS. Instead, it will be published by HarperCollins, which is owned by NewsCorp.
I'm in New York this week, and had lunch today with John Podhoretz. (Incidentally, we're recording a GLoP Podcast tomorrow morning....)
He pointed me to this statistic, from Gallup:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate (P2P), as measured by Gallup, was 43.1% in February. This was up slightly from 42.0% in January but similar to the 42.9% from December. P2P remains below the averages for 2013 (43.8%) and 2012 (44.4%).
Roughly 43% of the population has a job. Okay, factor out kids and retirees, and maybe that's not really bad. But the trend in the graph below seems troubling:
John suggested that this number — roughly the low 40s — is probably the lowest it can go, and still have enough of a (slammed) tax base to pay for the enormous entitlements this government and this country seem to have an appetite for.
But what happens if — when? — increased automation and productivity mean that fewer workers are needed even in so-called "knowledge" industries? We already know that Americans are living longer, Social Security benefits extend into the 90s, which was unthinkable when the program was conceived. So what if the payroll-to-population percentage goes to 30%?
Another way to ask this question is: if you're under 40 and working, why are you not rioting? Or at least voting Republican?
Russian's invasion of Crimea has caught the United States flat-footed and struggling to come up with a response. An unexplored option, however, could prove effective in the long run: downgrade Russia's status as a great power.
As I laid out in National Review over the weekend, a series of changes to the broader strategic relationship between the United States and Russia would cost Washington little but hit Putin where it hurts the most: signaling to the world that Russia is no longer a nation on par with the United States and its NATO allies, or even a rising China and India.
Here are my suggestions for how to do it:
#1 — Terminate the New START treaty limiting the U.S. and Russia to equal levels of nuclear weapons.
#2 — Redeploy missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.
#3 — End the agreement to destroy Syria's chemical weapons
#4 — End Russia's veto on the UN Security Council by creating an alternate alliance of democracies to promote international peace.
What would be some of your ideas for how to respond to Russia?
Since there are no other pressing issues facing the American people at the moment, Democratic senators have decided it is a good time to shift the country's focus to climate change. The Senate Climate Action Task Force (You read that correctly), will hold an all night talkathon tonight, to raise awareness of their arch-nemesis, climate change. Stop laughing. They are extremely serious about this.
I’m pretty sure I’ve already seen this plot in an episode of Captain Planet, so I will save you all some time by summarizing it below.
The scene opens on a small tropical island paradise that is being consumed rapidly by the rising ocean. Just as the native population begins to lose hope of salvation, a private jet lands on the island.
Ethnically diverse Native villager: “It’s the Senate Climate Action Task Force!”
Their leader, Barbara Boxer, emerges from the plane and surveys the damage.
Barbara Boxer: “This is clearly the work of the Koch brothers, and their evil fossil fuels.”
Ethnically diverse Native villager: “Please help us Senate Climate Action Task Force! We need to evacuate as many people as possible. How many of us can your jet hold, ma’am?
Barbara Boxer: “Ma’am? I am a United States Senator, and I worked extremely hard to get that title. I would appreciate it if you called me Senator!
Ethnically diverse Native villager: “I’m sorry, Senator; it’s just that my family is at risk of drowning! Can you help us?
Barbara Boxer: “We can help you good citizen of the world. Once we defeat the Koch brothers, and begin winning all national American elections, we can begin the process of slowly reducing carbon emissions by an insignificant amount over the course of a century.”
Ethnically diverse Native villager: “But our people need to be evacuated now!”
Barbara Boxer: “I’m sorry, but such an evacuation by plane would leave a massive carbon footprint. But don’t worry, we will make the Koch brothers pay for what they’ve done here."
The door to the plane closes, and the Senate Climate Action Task Force heads straight for the volcano lair of the Koch brothers.
As a committed right-wing pollution supporter, it is easy to understand why I find it pointless to initiate a pseudo-filibuster of a non-existent bill that they would be supporting if it actually did exist. Even the sympathetic press, however, is bewildered by this maneuver.
The Democratic effort is cause for some confusion because these senators are calling for action in a chamber they control but without any specific legislation to offer up for a vote, or any timetable for action this year.
Dark days lie ahead for the Senate Climate Action Task Force if they cannot win the narrative battle in the press. They could summon Captain Planet to turn this tide, but he is busy making awkward passes at his massage therapists. Go Planet!
Democrats have 28 senators scheduled to speak through Monday night, but some of the party's most vulnerable senators facing re-election this year—Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Kay Hagan of North Carolina—are notably missing from the lineup.
I can’t imagine why.
An interesting development, noted by Karl Taro Greenfield at Bloomberg Businesweek:
For the last 18 years, Fox News, led by its president, Roger Ailes, has exploited its unique slant on the news to generate nearly $1 billion in profits a year for parent 21st Century Fox. There’s been no serious conservative competitor to Fox News, and [Newsmax CEO Christopher] Ruddy has never understood why. (Fox News didn’t make anyone available for comment.) “How do you have something so successful in cable that nobody else wants to imitate or cut into their market share?” Ruddy says. “It defies reason.”
This June, Ruddy plans to launch NewsmaxTV, a 24-hour cable news channel that will be, he says, a kinder, gentler Fox. “Our goal is to be a little more boomer-oriented, more information-based rather than being vituperative and polarizing,” he says. Ruddy says he can make NewsmaxTV profitable entirely through advertising and selling Newsmax’s consumer products over the air. It’s the same business model that’s been successful for QVC, Home Shopping Network, and numerous televangelists, but no one has tried it in cable news. He’s quick to add that he doesn’t need to beat Fox News, he just needs to shave off a little of its audience—particularly those conservatives who feel Fox has drifted too far to the right. “If we take 10 to 15 percent of the Fox audience,” he says, “and they are making $1 billion a year, then we are going to be hugely profitable.”
Since Ricochet members are precisely the kind of people who'd be the target audience for an endeavor like this, let's do a little market research:
— Would you be interested in another conservative news network apart from Fox?
— Is what Ruddy is describing above an appealing alternative?
— What kind of programming would you want to see on a new conservative network (or, for that matter, on Fox)?
Christine Pelosi, activist and daughter of that Pelosi, responded to a major offshore earthquake with the sophistication and nuance you would expect from a San Francisco Democrat:
What on Gaia’s green earth does fracking have to do with a 6.9 submarine earthquake? Nothing whatsoever, but political agendas must be served. A few of us Twitter insomniacs challenged Pelosi’s scientific illiteracy, but she doubled down on her fracking derangement syndrome. And she added that we were all sexists anyway.
While Pelosi and her ilk flatter themselves as the “reality-based community,” they regularly hold science in contempt, especially on environmental issues. Tying fracking to yesterday’s quake is as silly as blaming second-hand smoke, chemtrails or a vengeful Poseidon. Add in their global warming fear-mongering, and lefties are as superstitious as medieval villagers.
Pelosi the Lesser tried to backtrack a bit, saying she didn’t technically blame the quake on fracking, but why link the two if they’re unrelated? If Michelle Bachmann tweeted, “BREAKING: 6.9 earthquake off N. CA coast. Another reason I oppose gay marriage/gun registration/estate taxes,” she would be ridiculed, and rightly so.
In a rational political world, I could excuse Pelosi’s lapse in scientific knowledge. But these are the little idiocies that daily destroy jobs, energy independence and our economy. It's long past time to push back against these costly liberal myths.
This week will see not one but two Ricochet contributors with new titles arriving at bookstores near you.
Tomorrow, C.J. Box's newest novel, Stone Cold, hits bookshelves. It's the latest in his Joe Pickett series and it looks to be yet another page turner. From the publisher's précis:
Everything about the man is a mystery: the massive ranch in the remote Black Hills of Wyoming that nobody ever visits, the women who live with him, the secret philanthropies, the private airstrip, the sudden disappearances. And especially the persistent rumors that the man’s wealth comes from killing people.
Joe Pickett, still officially a game warden but now mostly a troubleshooter for the governor, is assigned to find out what the truth is, but he discovers a lot more than he’d bargained for. There are two other men living up at that ranch. One is a stone-cold killer who takes an instant dislike to Joe. The other is new—but Joe knows him all too well. The first man doesn’t frighten Joe. The second is another story entirely.
Tomorrow will also see the release of the expanded paperback version of our own Greg Lukianoff's Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. Greg, as you all surely know, is the President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), and this volume chronicles the many threats to free speech on American college campuses that his organization so regularly combats. Buying a copy helps that cause, as all the royalties are donated to FIRE.
By purchasing these books from the links above (via Ricochet's Amazon portal) you'll also be sending a little money our way, which helps us maintain a forum that allows us to bring you content from such luminaries as C.J. and Greg.
On my walk to work every day, I pass a local business run by an extended family of immigrants. They are friendly people, their business gets high ratings from Best of Boston, and they are always working. Their children are often in the store after school. I don't know them personally, and so I might well be projecting my views onto them, but I have a warm feeling every time I pass the storefront because, to me, they embody ideals of family, hard work and earned success.
Last week, one side of their store was covered in the black graffiti scrawls that disfigure many of the buildings and all of the mailboxes in my neighborhood. There is very little on earth that gets me angrier than graffiti, and to see this done to this family's property made me boil over.
Once I'd cooled down, it also made me reflect a bit on the nature of graffiti and its larger significance. There are certainly some who say that graffiti is a form of "art" (and some of them work at the nation's major art museums). I'm going to ignore this view in this post. Graffiti is instead a form of destruction. Some children like to build sand castles and others like to knock them down; graffiti is another expression of the latter personality and its actions.
But I think there is more to it than that. Three things strike me about graffiti:
1) It is one variety of the modern desire to replace beautiful things with ugly things. Whether in the arts and architecture, or in how we speak to one another, our civilization prefers brutal but decisive "gestures" to respectful dialogue — with each other, our forebears, or our surroundings (including harmonizing with our stylistic heritage). The oddity is not that graffiti exists as a marginal instance of criminality — there was graffiti in ancient Rome — but that large parts of our culture glorify what it symbolizes. Whether gang signs or the anarchist symbols and political slogans so common in European cities, graffiti is supposedly a way of asserting one's individuality by exerting power over external objects controlled by other people, by throwing a wrench into complicated machinery built by others.
2) The toleration and expansion of graffiti in Europe and the United States since the 1960s reflects not just disrespect for property, but an evolution away from a culture of property rights to a culture of territorial claims. It's entirely coextensive with the attitude that has brought us the redistributionist state. The schools, the politicians, and the media teach me that the property that others possess is not really theirs; they stole it, or they have "too much" of it (i.e. more than I have), and so I have as much right to it as they do. I don't need to work for it; all I need to do is claim it. Property requires effort and leads to care in maintenance, while claiming territory requires an implicit threat of violence and leads to ugliness and disorder. As a society, we have suddenly returned in the last few years to a level of disrespect for property rights and a desire to claim others' property that has been in abeyance since at least the early 1990s and probably the 1970s.
3) We can't do anything about it. Vandals will cover our walls, and we will have to spend money to repaint them. The police don't have the resources to stop them and don't care. We can't threaten the vandals because of our city's gun laws (for many of us, anyway) and because we can't stay up all night watching. We're the ones with jobs, after all. Jobs that require us to work at least one day a week gratis for the government, so that it can redistribute our earnings to the people who vandalize our walls.
When a neighborhood starts to get covered in graffiti, it passes a tipping point after which territoriality overcomes property. The same thing is happening to our country.
On March 13, 1964, in Queens, New York, Winton Moseley, a computer card-punch operator who was later revealed as a serial rapist and killer, murdered Kitty Genovese, an 28-year old bar manager, by stabbing her. On March 27, the New York Times ran this front-page story:
37 WHO SAW MURDER DIDN'T CALL POLICE
Apathy at Stabbing of Queens Woman Shocks Inspector
Picked up by newspapers around the country, the story--that Genovese had repeatedly cried for help over half an hour while people listening in nearby buildings refused to get involved--became a central event of the nineteen-sixties, a marker of American decline. What kind of people were we becoming? Although only a boy, I can recall dinner table conversation about the Genovese murder in our home in upstate New York--like millions then and since, my father could hardly believe what had happened.
Except, we now know, that it didn't happen. Not that way. Not that way at all. To quote a review of two books about the Genovese murder in the current New Yorker:
The Times version of the Genovese story represents a version of reality that was molded to conform to a theory....
The Times story was inaccurate in a number of significant ways. There were two attacks, not three....The reason there were two attacks was that Robert Mozer, far from being a "silent witness," yelled at Moseley when he heard Genovese's screams and drove him away. Two people called the police. When the ambulance arrived at the scene--precisely because neighbors had called for help--Genovese, still alive, lay in the arms of a neighbor named Sophia Farrar, who had courageously left her apartment to go to the crime scene, even though she had no way of knowing that the murderer had fled....
Reality, molded to conform to a theory.
This was only a few years after the Times hailed Castro--"[The] promise of victory [by Castro] brings a foretaste of human dignity for millions," ran an editorial--and a few decades after the Times's star foreign correspondent, Walter Duranty, posted dispatches from the Soviet Union that ignored the forced starvation of millions in the Ukraine.
The Left, always bringing foretastes of human dignity while ordinary Americans prove callous and apathetic. Thus the New York Times.
Maybe you have to be my age to care about this--is there anyone else among the Ricochetti who remembers Kitty Genovese?--but if there's any organization with more for which to answer than the nation's "newspaper of record" I'm unable to name it.
As part of its organizational bio, the Center for American Progress (CAP) describes itself thusly:
The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan educational institute dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action. . . .
[. . .]
The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan educational institute under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Donations are tax-deductible. CAP does not support or oppose candidates or political parties.
(Emphasis in italics mine.) Via the Daily Caller, we have former ThinkProgress (which is part and parcel of CAP) blogger Zaid Jilani with the following about his time at ThinkProgress, which he compares to RT America:
When I started working at ThinkProgress at the Center for American Progress Action Fund in 2009, I did so because it was an awesome platform to do good journalism. I knew that I disagreed with CAP on a number of issues, and that I wouldn’t be allowed to write things too harshly critical of President Obama — which half of senior CAP staff had worked for or wanted to work for — or the Democratic Party, or CAP’s corporate sponsors in the “Business Alliance.”
One of the controversial topics that was very constrained in our writing at ThinkProgress in 2009 was Afghanistan. CAP had decided not to protest Obama’s surge, so most our writing on the topic was simply neutral — we weren’t supposed to take a strong stand. Given that I had just moved up from Georgia, and the American South has a much higher proportion of its population in the Armed Forces, I felt particularly strong that we should oppose the continuation of the war. The people who ran CAP didn’t really agree.
Flash forward a couple years, and the Democratic Party’s lawmakers in Congress were in open revolt over the Afghanistan policy. Our writing at ThinkProgress had opened up a lot on the issue, and I was writing really critical stuff. I worked with our art and design team at CAP to put together a chart showing that Obama’s supposed “withdrawal” plan from Afghanistan would leave more troops in the country than when he began his presidency.
The post was one of the most successful things I had ever written to that point. It was featured by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell and the Congressional Progressive Caucus used it in their briefings to criticize Obama’s plan. I felt great — like I was actually doing the right thing about Afghanistan for once at an institution that had remained quiet or supportive of Obama’s policy there, which in my view was accomplishing little but more bloodshed.
But then phone calls from the White House started pouring in, berating my bosses for being critical of Obama on this policy. Obama’s advisor Ben Rhodes — speaking of a staffer who follows policy set by others for his career path — even made a post on the White House blog more or less attacking my chart by fudging the numbers and including both the Iraq and Afghan troop levels in a single chart to make it seem as if the surge never happened (the marvels of things you can do in Excel!).
Soon afterwards all of us ThinkProgress national security bloggers were called into a meeting with CAP senior staff and basically berated for opposing the Afghan war and creating daylight between us and Obama. It confused me a lot because on the one hand, CAP was advertising to donors that it opposed the Afghan war — in our “Progressive Party,” the annual fundraising party we do with both Big Name Progressive Donors and corporate lobbyists (in the same room!) we even advertised that we wanted to end the war in Afghanistan.
But what that meeting with CAP senior staff showed me was that they viewed being closer to Obama and aligning with his policy as more important than demonstrating progressive principle, if that meant breaking with Obama. Essentially, they were doing the same thing to us RT America is telling its American producers to do now — align with your boss, who is the president of the country.
So much then for CAP’s and ThinkProgress’s “independent nonpartisan” nature, and its “educational” mission. Jilani claims his post proves that in Washington, “we’re all a little like RT America.” He should speak for himself (and perhaps for CAP and ThinkProgress), and I have no doubt whatsoever that if a Republican administration had put the hammer down this way on a right-of-center think tank that dissented from the White House line, the traditional news media and left-of-center bloggers would have been all over it eons ago. I don’t imagine that Jilani’s post will receive the same wall-to-wall treatment from either the port side blogosphere, or from traditional media, though I would love to be proven wrong.
Here is §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which states the following:
Political activity. If any of the activities (whether or not substantial) of your organization consist of participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, your organization will not qualify for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3). Such participation or intervention includes the publishing or distributing of statements.
Whether your organization is participating or intervening, directly or indirectly, in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of each case. Certain voter education activities or public forums conducted in a nonpartisan manner may not be prohibited political activity under section 501(c)(3), while other so-called voter education activities may be prohibited.
Strictly speaking, ThinkProgress and CAP have not engaged in “political activity” in the sense of “intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office,” by disciplining its writers for dissenting from the White House line on Afghanistan. But at the very least, the spirit of the law is broken and given that it doesn’t take hindsight to have seen in 2011 that Barack Obama would run for re-election the next year, one could make the argument that by disciplining in-house writers and ordering them to support the Obama administration, ThinkProgress and CAP at least engaged in indirect “political activity.” Oh, I’m sure that no court will find as much, but Zilani’s disclosure shows that 501(c)(3) status should be dependent not only on refusing to intervene in political campaigns, but also on refusing to engage in in-house censorship at the behest of incumbent politicians–especially when the incumbent politician in question is the president of the United States.
In the meantime, we can safely conclude that ThinkProgress and CAP are filled not with righteous people in search of Truth, but party-line hacks, which allows us to take an appropriately dim view of the work product that ThinkProgress and CAP put out.