Steve Hayward, Rob, and James enjoy gazing at political upheaval from a safe distance this week, as Europe wrangles with its own game of Elites vs Peeps. The boys swap anecdotes, a couple of historical tidbits, and toss in a few predictions for the EU’s future. Then they bring it back home to parse why the corporate world seems to be toning down on Pride merch and marketing this year.


My Dinner With Lauren


I hadn’t seen my old acquaintance Lauren Windsor in some time. So I was surprised when she called and suggested we meet for dinner.

The waiter took our orders, then returned with a basket of bread and a bottle of Merlot. He pulled the cork and poured for us.

Lauren asked if I heard that while posing as a conservative Christian, she had secretly recorded a conversation with Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. I replied that it was certainly getting a lot of press attention.

Wrong Song in Jincheon


After reading the nice piece on embarrassment written by Susan Quinn, this incident sprang to mind.

When I quit my radio job and first moved to Korea, I worked in a small electronics company as, of course, an English teacher. This company had a small office near Seoul and a factory in a rural town called Jincheon. In total, there were about 150 employees. I only knew 15-20 from the suburban office.

You don’t want to end up with you


Ground Picture, via Shutterstock

I saw a patient a few hours ago who told me that her husband was in inpatient hospice, and is expected to die very soon.  She didn’t seem too upset about it, so I asked her a few questions about the situation.  I learned a lot.

Capitalism and Communism/Socialism Cannot Coexist


An article in the Epoch Times (behind a paywall) talks about China’s cycle from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping and its implications for the future of China:

Some 50 years ago, when China began its remarkable period of development, then CCP leader Deng Xiaoping described development realities as a phase in the nation’s journey to a more perfect socialist future. It worked. Chinese enterprise flourished, the economy grew at a phenomenal rate, and millions were lifted from poverty.

Local connections


Years ago, there was a very good book by Edmund James Burke, called Connections, which detailed many interesting connections between different things.

The other day, I wrote about seeing 3 bald eagles picking at the carcass of a young deer that was killed when the hayfield next to us was mowed.  No eagles since then, and as I write this, the field is being baled.

Who Is Worse?


I was in college when Carter was elected President.   I voted for Ford, but he lost. I joined the Navy even though Carter was President. At the time, I thought he was the worst President we have ever had.  When Obama was elected, he took the mantle of worst.

Now, I can’t decide.  Who is worse: Obama or Biden?  Or even Carter?

It’s the Turnout, Stupid


My brother used to practice law in New Orleans.  He took his first job out of law school with a firm whose senior partner was very politically connected.  On election day, there were numerous stacks of cash on the large conference table in the partner’s spacious office with no effort to conceal it from associates or staff—it was considered normal. Very well-dressed young black men would arrive with bags, carefully count out some preset amount, and then depart.  Their mission was to distribute the expected cash incentives to voters to turn out and vote.

There was also an odd young man of his acquaintance who was civic-minded enough to drive a vanful of selected voters to the precinct and then give them a ride to another precinct and…another.

Hunter Biden gets convicted on three felonies – is it justice or just a distraction from the bigger picture?

Then we talk to NewsMax CEO Chris Ruddy about politics, the state of cable TV news and the future of his company, plus a candid discussion of the legal problems surrounding coverage of the 2020 presidential election.

J. Miles Coleman, Associate Editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, returns to peer into the contested primaries in Virginia’s 5th, 7th and 10th congressional districts. These deep dives into the respectively red, purple and blue territories, Coleman and Henry survey this microcosm of the national stage.

Plus, Henry unpacks Emmanuel Macron’s snap election gamble to head off his populist archfoe Marine Le Pen; and he looks at two finely crafted ads for Democrat Mary Peltola’s tough reelection bid in Alaska.

Physician Heal Thyself


I think Jesus is said to have said that. There is a contradicting truth, that every medical student learns the hard way: that the physician who treats himself has a fool for a doctor. As a retired physician, I spend a lot of time each week helping friends deal with complex medical issues. Two of my friends have developed increasing shortness of breath while playing pickleball and I have helped them by insisting that they get either a nuclear stress test or a stress echocardiogram. There are advantages of one compared to the other but I told them to insist that their doctor order one or the other. That has helped to diagnose significant coronary artery disease in both friends which is still being addressed.

As this was going on, I began to get very lightheaded playing pickleball and other activities and thought maybe I needed a stress test. I have been taking two medications for mild hypertension for over 15 years without problems. I thought that my basic aerobic conditioning might have slipped so I began to stress myself on an exercise bike that measured my heart rate. Although my aerobic capacity had dropped somewhat that didn’t seem to be correlated with the lightheadedness. I considered that maybe I was metabolizing the blood pressure meds differently due to my age and maybe I should increase the hours between taking my once-a-day meds. That is when I noticed that my last prescription for Diltiazem 24HR 120mg had been inadvertently changed to Diltiazem 12Hr 120mg which means I was getting twice the dose over half the time. No wonder my blood pressure was dropping to 90/50 a few hours after each dose.

My Name is Earl, Caitlin Clark, and Dad Envy


In the third season of the crude but rather heartwarming comedy My Name is Earl, there was an episode that helps to explain the hatred directed at Caitlin Clark. In the show there are two half-sisters, one is lily white and named Joy, the other looks like a light-skinned African-American lady named Liberty.

Joy’s father had an affair with a black woman and made Liberty. Liberty resented Joy for having a dad and they soon became vicious enemies in a way that only girls can be vicious enemies.

This week on The Learning Curve co-hosts U-Arkansas Prof. Albert Cheng and DFER’s Alisha Searcy interview Henry James biographer Sheldon Novick. Mr. Novick discusses the complexities of Henry James’ life and writing career, highlighting his significant literary contributions, the influence of his family’s intellectual legacy, and the realistic portrayal of social tensions in his works. Novick explores Henry James’ life experiences that shaped his novels like The Portrait of a Lady and The Golden Bowl. He shared more on James’ important friendships, particularly with the novelist Edith Wharton, emphasizing James’ enduring influence on modern fiction. In closing, Novick reads a passage from his biography Henry James.

Let’s Negotiate with Terrorists


Biden has offered his latest harebrained idea regarding the Gaza War:

Biden administration officials have discussed potentially negotiating a unilateral deal with Hamas to secure the release of five Americans being held hostage in Gaza if current cease-fire talks involving Israel fail, according to two current senior U.S. officials and two former senior U.S. officials.

The hate for Caitlin Clark isn’t just about race, it’s geography


The argument has become far too simplistic because we have become the same. It’s all black and white, and that is so boring. Not that it isn’t true.

So many wretched individuals, men and women both, hate that Caitlin is the star of the WNBA… a league that struggled and lost millions from the outset. She filled the stands, brought ratings, and she gets record shoe deals. You’d think the eventual trickle-down effect would make the women thankful.

Big Numbers


Mrs. Pessimist’s 75th birthday was a few days ago. Our 55th wedding anniversary was five days before that. We made no special celebratory plans. Our 50th anniversary seemed special and we hosted a large home Catholic mass for that occasion. This year Mrs. Pessimist and I found time to reflect on the blessings we have shared over the past 55 years but we don’t really need to talk much about the passage of time. We just count our blessings and move on.

When we look back at how young, naive and optimistic we were then it doesn’t seem strange because somehow, despite my pseudonym, we still feel young and optimistic about our future. We spent our honeymoon in a 10-dollar-a-night motel in St. Augustine, FL, but had to cut it short because I had a major allergic reaction to shrimp and had to have IV steroids for anaphylaxis. Maybe that should have been a warning but it was just the start of a great life together.

Crimes of the Fifties


Many years ago, I talked with a friend in Eastern Europe about their endless sprawl of tall, identical brick apartment buildings, stretching for mile after depressing mile. “Ah, yes,” she said. “We have an expression: We call them ‘the crimes of the Fifties.’” In their part of the world, Trushchoby is Russian for “slums.” After the war, vast ugly housing projects taking the place of war-ravaged rubble sprang up. Cynical Muscovites mockingly dubbed them khrushchoby—the “Khrushchev slums.”

Filmmakers with dystopian futuristic stories often don’t build outdoor sets; they just use existing modern architecture. James Lileks knew why: it’s because the buildings had brutalism and conformity woven into their design DNA, right from the beginning.

Life beyond politics


I have been laid up for the last several days due to back problems (note to reincarnated self: don’t break any bones as a kid)  Because of that, I mostly listened to the local talk radio which was pretty depressing.

Anyway, I missed one of the high points of late Spring — the first cutting of the hay.  Our house is bordered on one side by hayfields.  The sad news is that a small fawn was killed by the mower.  This has happened before and I suspect that Mom’s rule to freeze and blend in needs some tweaking for the modern “predators”.

Replacing Plastic


Disposable plastic food containers and wraps are probably the second greatest invention in the history of health and wellness. (The first being the flush toilet — that’s indisputable.) The amount of food contamination and spoilage that has been prevented, and the illness that springs from that, has been revolutionary. It’s a revolution we’ve taken for granted.

I want the plastic straws back. The paper ones are pretty terrible — little carcinogenic stir sticks that dissolve into your drink.

Justices under fire for not bowing to political demands


When the Supreme Court was debating the landmark Dobbs abortion case, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer shouted threats (“You will reap the whirlwind…”) at them from the courthouse steps. Thus the last doubt was obliterated that the unquestioned authority of the court was under serious attack.

An independent judiciary is the key to maintaining our constitutional republic. It is the reckoning mechanism that keeps us on track, muting the potential excesses of popular democracy. Americans once understood this and valued our judiciary, even when it sometimes worked against their individual interests.

Joe Selvaggi talks with international tax and trade expert Clark Packard about the tension between the economic and political calculus behind the Biden administration’s recently announced tariffs on Chinese products, including EVs, batteries, and steel.