A Cold War Bleg


Researching the Cold War in recent months—I’m working on a new book—I’ve kept finding that the conflict has already begun to blur and recede from American minds. Even though the cold war ended just before they were born, for instance, I find that my own teenaged children possess only the vaguest recognition of the conflict. They can provide me with serviceable one- or two-sentence summaries of the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the First and Second World Wars, but not of the Cold War. The Vietnam War ended badly—they know that. And they recall having come across a paragraph or two in their high school history books about a conflict in Korea. But the cold war itself? The complete arc? Blank stares.

Is there any objective way in which I can demonstrate this, do you suppose? Any illustration involving not anecdotes but data? Polling information, perhaps, showing that more Americans can name the decade in which (say) the Civil War took place than the decades in which the Cold War unfolded? Or a study of high school textbooks, maybe, showing that fewer pages are devoted to the Cold War than to the Second World War? Ricochet readers, I think we can all agree, represent the most literate and best-informed in cyberspace. If any of you can point me in the right direction help, I’d offer you my gratitude—and there’s no truer graditude than that of a writer who’s been helped over a rough spot—and a really sweet mention in the acknowledgements.

Arizona vs. Maine


Following up on Professor Epstein’s excellent post about Judge Bolton’s opinion in the Arizona case, I’d like to pose a related, but different, question.

Professor Epstein concludes that the Administration is likely to win its case on federal pre-emption grounds. Would the pre-emption argument also work against states and cities with “sanctuary” policies? The State of Maine, for example, has a policy (imposed by the governor via executive order) that prohibits state employees from disclosing or even inquiring about a person’s immigration status. Isn’t there a credible argument that such a policy frustrates federal enforcement of immigration laws?

On Loving Your Computer


I dropped my laptop the other day, and that was the end of the hard drive. And almost my foot: the laptop is thin enough to take off a toe. Everything is stored in the cloud, so I lost little work – but the machine went to the shop, leaving me without my favorite little machine. Reminded me how much we get used to certain tools. Maybe it’s an individual matter, but I can’t write on other people’s machines; it’s like using their toothbrush. I’ve rarely been able to write in offices, because the company computers are always boring, locked-down things with an omniscient, unseen Administrator hovering in the firmament like the cartoon God in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” ready to say NO.

My wife is completely unsentimental and agnostic about computers; my daughter is like me, tweaking and customizing all the time. (I’m writing on hers, now, because she’s at camp.) So it’s not a guy thing. I do know that computers are almost like dogs – it’s horrible when you have to say goodbye to one that’s been faithful, but the pain is softened by the immediate joy of getting a new one.

Ahmadinajad Takes Brave Stand Against Paul the Octopus


Yes, yes, I know the natural tendency upon hearing that the high-spirited president of Iran has denounced Paul the Octopus as an agent of Western propaganda is to mock. And to bring up that unfortunate business with the spy squirrels. Well, not me, folks. No mockery here. I, for one, congratulate him. It’s high time someone took a stand against that octopus.

I knew from the moment I saw that slimy thing what he was after. Mark my words, those tentacles will spread from the Red Sea to the Euphrates unless he’s stopped. Mollusks are exceedingly cunning, and their avarice is exceeded only by their ruthlessness.

Be Still, My Beating Heart! Churchill Archives to Go Online!


Of all the blessings of the Internet age, online historical archives are very high on my list. I’m slightly worried about the potential for losing months of my life, though, when the site goes live in 2012.

The Churchill Archive Trust has agreed a deal with publisher Bloomsbury to make available more than 1m items. These include about 2,500 archive boxes of letters, telegrams, documents and photographs that are stored in Cambridge and currently viewable only by appointment.

Mini-Me: As His Profile Grows, Obama’s Stature Shrinks


Don’t miss the great Jim Ceaser’s new polemic in The Weekly Standard. Obama, he writes, has “become practitioner-in-chief of what Alexander Hamilton referred to in Federalist 68 as the ‘little arts of popularity.'”

These arts, Hamilton well knew, would become an inevitable feature of democratic politics. But their spread from the province of political campaigns into the “normal” conduct of the presidency represents a dramatic reversal of the Founders’ design. The Constitution was crafted to prevent a campaign-style presidency; Obama is in the midst of creating one. […]

Bed Bugs and Lice and Nothing Nice


I worry about the big issues being addressed here on Ricochet, and I pray for the safety of Judith and Claire, our international pioneers/correspondents. But when I turn away from the computer, I worry about little things, too. Really little.

You know what causes me to lose sleep at least once a month? Bed bugs and lice. And it ain’t because I’m a precious girly-girl grossed out by creepy-crawlies. I’ve battled my share of NYC cockroaches (special breed, trust me) and, more recently, my husband wrestled a NYC rat in our former kitchen.

Game Show Czar


I know I should wait until it’s official, but I’m too darned excited to keep the news to myself. I have it on very good authority I am about to be named Federal Game Show Czar. When I expressed concern about Senate confirmation hearings to my source, he laughed and said, “What hearings? You’re a Czar!”

My primary duty, if I understand correctly, will be to level the playing field when it comes to television game shows. Each show will be required to file forms with my office (gosh, I like the sound of that) indicating they’ve complied with our yet-to-be-fully-determined ground rules. We will monitor the audition process with an eye toward determining that special efforts have been made to recruit members of all groups, particularly those who have been traditionally underrepresented in the genre. (See, I’m already talking like a Czar!)

Here We Go: Federal Judge Blocks Arizona Immigration Law Enforcement


Via Mark Hemingway: U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton has “blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona’s immigration law from taking effect, delivering a last-minute victory to opponents of the crackdown.”

The overall law will still take effect Thursday, but without the provisions that angered opponents — including sections that required officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws. The judge also put on hold parts of the law that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times, and made it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places.

Trial Lawyers Gone Wild!


A woman walks into a bar — stop me if you’ve heard this one — sees a video camera, walks up the camera and stands before it while another woman pulls down her tank top. The video ends up in Girls Gone Wild, and the woman sues for $5 million in “damages.”

The punchline? It takes a jury 90 minutes to throw out the lawsuit. It’s a rare bit of sanity in the upside-down world of litigation, but it’s not the first lawsuit inspired by GGW. One recent lawsuit included a demand from Ashley Dupre (of Elliot Spitzer fame) for $10 million for damages to her “reputation,” and another suit in which a GGW participant (who also happens to be a porn film actress) claims to have been “sexually exploited” by GGW.

Two Spots


I’m a political ad junkie. And right now, it’s the perfect season: early on-air skirmishes between the Republicans and the Democrats are starting to hit, as each side tests a lot of different strategies before picking a couple for the full-on autumn campaign.

The first, from the Republican Governor’s Association — helmed by Ricochet’s own Governor Haley Barbour — is a pretty effective spot. It’s here — and it really shouldn’t be. It should be on YouTube. I’m not sure why the RGA chose Vimeo for its distribution platform, but it’s a big mistake. The key to these ads is to have them go viral, to be embedded as far and wide as possible. YouTube is a much easier platform for that.

Member Post


My children’s babysitter just got a tattoo. It’s actually a great one — a small, simple line representing the craggly Icelandic mountain range she was recently stranded in when she got terribly lost on a morning walk. The experience was harrowing and the tattoo subtle and discreet. I’ve considered tattoos before but have always been […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post


Virginia is hosting the quadrennial Boy Scout Jamboree this week and it’s been fun to see troops flood D.C. to visit monuments, museums and government buildings here. The President turned down an invitation to address the Jamboree yesterday as he has some fundraisers to attend. No big deal. He’s a busy man. But some critics […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Ground Zero Temecula? Beware Copycat Mosque Controversies


Via Matt Yglesias, there’s trouble in Temecula, CA:

An e-mail alert sent to area newspapers last week announced that a one-hour “singing – praying – patriotic rally” will begin at 12:30 p.m. July 30 at the Islamic Center’s existing facility. The advisory – sent by a leader of a conservative coalition that has been active with Republican and Tea Party functions – recommended participants “bring your Bibles, flags, signs, dogs and singing voices.”

If Bill McGurn Won’t Mention It, I Will


Since Bill is too modest to mention his column in the Wall Street Journal this morning–and I’ve given the man all day–I’ll mention the column myself.

In “Giving Lousy Teachers the Boot,” Bill reports on Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of the District of Columbia’s public schools. Ms. Rhee just fired 241 teachers for scoring too low on an evaluation that measures them according to student achievement. She put another 737 teachers on notice. That’s almost a quarter of all the teachers in DC whom Ms. Rhee has either put on notice or shown the door–probably the most dramatic step toward holding teachers accountable that has every taken place in any public school system.

Obama the Divider


An absolutely must-read piece in the WSJ this morning by Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen, long-time liberal Democrats and pollsters for, respectively, Carter and Clinton. Read it here. (Or, if the link doesn’t work, find it on RealClearPolitics.)