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A Moment of Clarity

 

clarityAs August becomes September, and the November elections loom ever closer, the GOP’s internal battle shows no signs of resolving to an uneasy truce. Indeed for many, no common path forward can be found and the GOP has hit rock bottom — it is a moment of pessimism, a moment of little if any hope. Human nature has shown that in such times, and only then, is a moment of clarity possible. And if the reader will allow, I would like to humbly offer one.

Trump’s candidacy is a reaction, a symptom to an underlying malady. The Tea Party, whether or not supportive of Trump, is another such reaction. Yet another is any talk of “Ruling Class,” “Establishment,” or “Elites.” So many symptoms exist which make obvious that there is something very, very wrong with Washington DC, and the People sense it. The Democrats are malignant, the Republicans are complicit, the Media are corrupt, and the People, especially those who sense that something is wrong, are considered the enemy. Just how deeply these previous statements are regarded as true is the fuzzy but deep line along which the GOP is divided. Any possible reconciliation of the disparate GOP factions must address this division. Moreover, it must do so in a manner which is a return to the very roots of the party.

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What Does It Mean to “Vote Guns?”

 

shutterstock_435657658Decades and decades ago, to be a gun owner meant you were a hunter. You lived in a rural area and you used your rifle or shotgun to put the wonders of God’s creation onto your dinner table. The guns you used in pursuit of this goal were classics like the Savage 99 or an Ithaca double-barreled shotgun. The prevalence and the simplicity of the guns used in hunting meant that when the Roosevelt administration thought it would be a good idea to severely restrict certain kinds of firearms as part of the National Firearms Act of 1934, gun owners didn’t complain that much because the guns that were being restricted weren’t in common use.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed in the wake of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and others, and in an attempt to counter the rising tide of violence in the inner cities. Gun ownership was changing: hunting was still popular, but more and more people were living in urban areas, and gun owners now understood that criminals preferred their victims unarmed. In the decade that followed the Gun Control Act, gun owners suffered through more restrictive changes in local and state gun laws, culminating in Bill Clinton’s Assault Weapons Ban of 1994.

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Lies, Damn Lies, and Hillary Clinton

 

After the triumphant torching of the American compound and the dragging through the streets for photo ops of the dead body of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed the attack on a mean video produced in the United States. She and various officers of the government laid the blame on this video, and had the video maker, an Egyptian-born Copt, arrested and jailed, ostensibly for probation offenses and using a false name in trying to distribute his film. (He is said to be living in a homeless shelter and has a $100,000 bounty on his head offered by a Pakistani railways minister.)

These days, of course, Hillary Clinton outright denies that she ever said that an internet video was to blame. 

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Trump 2016: Less of a Jerk in Person than you Would Think

 

So I had a little chat with Donald last night. In front of a few thousand people I asked him a question.

I was sitting about 25 feet from him so I got to study him for 20 minutes of talking and 10 minutes of questions. He came for the fund raiser which did not benefit his finances but rather Nevada republicans. He is a dynamic public speaker and is very much a politician. He spoke with a small cheat sheet but he is far faster on his feet mentally than I expected. The arrogance and bluster were apparent but also what was apparent to me is that he’s less of a narcissist than I thought. He took the time to thank a lot of different groups and also praised Reince Preibus at one point which was interesting.

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Hey Dude, Do You Collectively Effervesce?

 

09-coachella-primal-party.nocrop.w710.h2147483647.2xOne Saturday morning, long ago, I was walking the dog down a Venice Beach street and an old battered car pulled up next to me. In the driver’s seat, a tattooed guy with a burning cigarette between his fingers. In the passenger’s seat, a down-and-out looking woman who rolled down the window and asked, “Hey, do you party?”

As I said, it was about 10AM on a Saturday, and I was walking the dog and carrying a just-filled plastic bag — if you get my drift — so it was pretty clear I wasn’t in their target demo, for whatever it was they were targeting. But now, according to NYMagazine, we know that the urge to party is bedrock human behavior:

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Share Your Expertise: Vintage Perfume and Biochemistry

 

One of the ironies of fragrance is that organic compounds used by plants as natural pesticides and toxins (to repel predatory insects and herbivores) are some of the key ingredients in perfumes … which are used by human beings to attract, not repel, other human beings (in theory, anyway). 1

These organic compounds (known as secondary metabolites) are present in many of the essential oils used in perfumes, but their key components weren’t manufactured synthetically until the late 19th century. Along with synthetic molecules created in the lab, advances in chemistry at this time meant that traditional extraction processes could be standardized and mass-produced, resulting in a high quality (and quantity) of essential oils and natural isolates. Oils extracted by traditional small-scale methods varied greatly in quality, and could be sludgy and burnt-smelling due to high contaminant levels.

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WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes – the radio host whose incisive interview with Donald Trump before the Wisconsin primary made headlines around the world — joins Jay and Mona to discuss how a conservative non-Trumpian copes with the Alice Through the Looking Glass world we’re in.

Jay and Mona then catch up on some Hillary anathematizing. A certain university gets some praise, along with another podcaster.

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The University of Chicago dropped a very pleasant bombshell this week: a letter to incoming freshmen, announcing that the university honors freedom of expression, and that it will not put up with any of the “trigger warning” or “safe space” nonsense. Well.

To discuss this with Jay is an illustrious Chicago professor, Charles Lipson, a political scientist. He was born and raised in little Marks, Mississippi. They talk about this, too. He went on to Yale and Harvard – and has been teaching at Chicago for some years.

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A Glimmer of Hope for Academia

 

Thirty years ago, an obscure University of Chicago philologist predicted the closing of the American mind. Looking around today, Allan Bloom’s prediction has come true in spades: the country seems to be slipping into the abyss of a new dark age. The leading edge of this slippage is the college campus.

Here on Ricochet we hear a lot about Hillsdale College and tend to write off the big mainstream research universities — which are completely dependent on federal grants—as hopeless Petri dishes of ignorance, unreason, intolerance, intellectual cowardice, and rage.

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This week, another fair and balanced podcast we bring you quixotic Presidential candidate Evan McMullin. His campaign is a long shot, but his qualifications and demeanor are beyond reproach. Later, the WSJ’s Bill McGurn joins the show. Among the members of the WSJ Opinion Page, Bill is the only pro-Trump columnist and he makes the case for his candidate in his typical straight down the middle of road style. Also, Ann Coulter finds herself in a tough spot, the University of Chicago mans up, and a Ricochet member contributes the new member pitch. We podcast, you decide.

Public service announcement: if you’re not a member of Ricochet and enjoy this podcast, be one of the 1,500 and join today.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America get dizzy as Donald Trump articulates his third immigration position in less than a week. They slam Hillary Clinton for her race hypocrisy and liberals for watering down “racist” by accusing every Republican of being one. And they shudder at the growing fringe trend of women marrying themselves.

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Big Swings Do Too Happen

 

On the latest GLoP podcast, @johnpodhoretz noted that polls show Trump down by some eight points, then said that a Trump victory would require a swing “of a kind that is unprecedented in recent history.” (I’m quoting John from memory. I may have a word or two wrong, but you get the idea.) With respect to John — and I do have the greatest respect for my old friend — that isn’t quite correct.

Consider 1980: One week before the election, as the chart below makes clear, Ronald Reagan could claim the support of only 39 percent of likely voters. On Election Day, he won with 51 percent of the vote — a swing of 12 points.

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“Pay To Play” Is Too Innocuous

 

The great unwashed — the low information voter, the people inhabiting the left side of the bell curve, and (more to the point) Clinton supporters — don’t get it. One could easily think “pay to play” means going bowling or the admission to an amusement park. Of course, we here at Ricochet know what Hillary Clinton has done and would continue to do as president, but we’re among the one percent of informed voters.

Can you think of a better way to describe what Clinton, the State Department, and the Clinton Crime Foundation have done that would be more easily-understood by the average voter ( remember you are not an average voter). We need a bullet point or a bumper sticker. Have any?

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christian-toto-son-This week, The Conservatarians, aka Ricochet Editor-in-Chief Jon Gabriel and Heatstreet contributor Stephen Miller — welcome movie critic Christian Toto to talk about the best films of the summer and the movie industry in general. Jon and Stephen also chat about John Oliver’s dishonesty on charter schools, and the latest developments in the election.

Intro and outro music is “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Stephen’s song of the week is “You Ask Me To” by Waylon Jennings, and Jon’s is “Cumbia de Donde” by Calexico. To listen to all the music featured on The Conservatarians, subscribe to our Spotify playlist! You should also subscribe to this podcast and give it five-star, glowing reviews on iTunes.

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In Defense of Juries

 

shutterstock_121502677In a recent Investor’s Business Daily column, Yuri Vanitek suggests that citizen juries be replaced by a panel of professionals. He makes the argument that experts can do a better job determining guilt or innocence than regular folks, saying, “Imagine if modern hospitals relied on 12 random people, selected from a local phone book, to determine medical treatment — and refused to consider the counsel of doctors and nurses.” Considering the sometimes woeful results of jury trials, it sounds like a reasonable idea. It’s not.

As the brilliant G.K. Chesterton argued, there are some things too important to be left to experts. On professional judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and other officers of the court he said:

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Can We Still Trust Our Military?

 

shutterstock_244390996Many of our Ricochetti are active in, or retired from, the military and I thank them with deep gratitude for their service. But this year, reports regarding our military’s abilities to manage effectively, operate efficiently, and take security seriously have shaken my faith in it. The latest report of the Department of Defense’s Inspector General included a mind-boggling finding: The US Army has so poorly managed its finances that it has had to make trillions of dollars in adjustments to “create an illusion that its books are balanced.” That’s right: trillions. From Reuters:

The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up. As a result, the Army’s financial statements for 2015 were “materially misstated,” the report concluded. The “forced” adjustments rendered the statements useless because “DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions.”

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The Night Shift: One Reporter’s Life Covering Chicago’s Violent Crime

 

shutterstock_309339200I felt dirty, short of breath, and my chest was tight. I could taste the stink of cigarette and weed smoke and liquor and had the smell of blood stuck on my tongue.

In our continuing quest to find ways to Make Ricochet Great Again, I’ve brought you another long-from article that I encourage you to read in its entirety. This one, “Three Years of Nights,” is from Chicago Magazine. Its author, Peter Nickeas, spent three years working the overnight violent crime beat for the Chicago Tribune and the time obviously marked him. By the end of the article, I think a little of what he saw will mark you too.

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The Tragedy of 2016

 

Hillary Clinton’s speech about Donald Trump and the alt-right is excoriating. She didn’t need to lie, spin, or exaggerate. All she needed to do was describe Trump and the company he keeps. She did so competently.

The odds seem to me overwhelmingly high that she’ll be elected. She may well be working with a Democratic Congress. GOP primary voters handed her the only candidate in the firmament whom she could handily trounce.

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Hillary’s Felonious Friends in Virginia

 

Clinton McAuliffeTerry McAuliffe is a Hillary Clinton pal. He fronted $1.3 million for her house in Chappaqua. We should all have such friends. Thanks to the Republicans who shut down the government in 2013, McAuliffe is now the governor of Virginia, a swing state, and thus in a position to help Mrs. Clinton get another house – on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Any governor has political strings to pull, but Governor McAuliffe is going beyond sharing voter information, get out the vote operations, and other traditional political tools. He’s creating new voters by unilaterally restoring voting rights to 206,000 convicted felons. McAuliffe is focused on this: In 2012, Barack Obama’s margin of victory in Virginia was 3.88 percent, which represented 149,298 votes.

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