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There’s two comedic youtube channels I always check out each week: the How It Should Have Ended channel (of which there are several fans among the Ricochet folk) and Glove and Boots.  The Glove and Boots channel features puppets (usually the groundhog Fafa and the weird red humanoid Mario) offering funny commentary on whatever random […]

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What Are the Worst Journalism Cliches?

 

shutterstock_158484926Earlier this week at the Washington Post, Carlos Lozada compiled a list of the 150 worst journalistic cliches. As a writer who’s not immune to falling prey to a few of these tics, I winced a few times. As an editor who stalks and kills many of these formulations in the wild, however, I was more often drunk with delight. Here are a few examples of instances where I think the Post’s contempt is deserved:

  • “Needless to Say”— This is a phrase that announces its own irrelevance. Taken literally, the words are committing suicide. I look forward to the day when word processors are programmed to automatically delete it 
  • “Broken System” — Worth banning if only to shut Norm Ornstein up for awhile. Seriously, can we get a blanket prohibition on thumb-sucking opinion pieces that elide the distinction between “Washington doesn’t work” and “Washington doesn’t work the way I want it to”?
  • Much Ballyhooed” — I’m more forgiving that most of writing-specific diction. I’d never write a column the same way I’d write a speech. Different styles are appropriate for different media. There’s only so much elasticity permitted, however. “Ballyhoo” takes it too far. Never employ vocabulary that could plausibly have been originated by Dr. Seuss.
  • “Twitterati’ — Italian for “writers who are falling behind on their deadlines.”
  • “The Narrative” (unless referring to a style of writing) — First, it’s just an incredibly sterile phrase. More importantly, though, it’s gateway to a sort of meta-commentary. I never trusts journalists who talk about “the narrative” as if it’s set in stone. They have the power to change it. Give me the facts and I’ll make sense of them for myself.

As with all such exercises, a lot of these judgments are subjective. The Post flags “inflection point,” for example, which I regard as a phrase with no ready substitute, even if it’s a bit overused.

Likewise, I find the criticism of “begs the question” excessively pedantic. Yes, it has a specific meaning in a philosophical context, but the more common usage is so deeply embedded into the way we talk that it’s probably not worth resisting. Will the world really be that much better a place if everyone says “invites the question” instead?

FIRE Study: ‘Disinvitation Season’ Is Getting Worse

 

shutterstock_150667244It’s not just a question of perception; the push for speakers (commencement and otherwise) to be disinvited from campus has gotten worse.

As I wrote in a long piece today in the Huffington Post:

So far, FIRE has discovered 192 incidents in which students or faculty have pushed for speakers invited to campus (both for commencement and other speaking engagements) to be disinvited since 2000. Eighty-two of those incidents were “successful” in that ultimately the speaker did not speak. Of those 82 successful disinvitations, 53 occurred via the revocation of the speaker’s invitation to campus, 17 were from speakers withdrawing in the face of protest, and 12 were “heckler’s vetoes” in which speakers were shouted down, chased off stage, or otherwise prevented from speaking.

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I was both pleased and somewhat taken aback by Peter Robinson’s response to a question in the most recent “Question Time” podcast. Asked what the first act of a new Republican government (executive and legislative branches) should be, Peter responded that a GOP president should first repeal Obamacare.  I’m pleased, because I’m completely sympathetic. Obamacare […]

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Business owners and those who hope to become one (wantrepreneurs) are a dying breed. First some wonky background: Technically, the U.S. economy is in “recovery”. However, most economists agree growth is anemic and vulnerable. 2014’s first quarter GDP was a mortifying 0.1%, surprising most everyone. Forbes called the growth “glacial”. Now we are informed that […]

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A Response on Guns

 

A few Ricochet members have thoughtfully engaged with my comments on the nature of the Second Amendment in the most recent episode of the Libertarian podcast, which can be found here.

Whiskey Sam wrote the following:

Never Forget

 

shutterstock_146659976I had soldiers on my mind this morning as I went for a brisk walk in the cemetery across from my house. Victor Davis Hanson is partially to blame. I read his fine NRO piece this week about the upcoming 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and it stuck with me.

But that’s not the only reason my thoughts have been full of marines, sailors, and infantrymen. I’ve also been working my way through the HBO miniseries The Pacific about Raritan, New Jersey’s own John Basilone, who won both the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Battle for Henderson Field on Guadalcanal in 1942 and (posthumously) the Navy Cross for his valor at Iwo Jima in 1945. The series is not great, but Basilone is undoubtedly a true American hero and it is right and proper that somebody should make a movie about his life. (My dad would want you to know that Raritan is just 20 miles down Rt. 287 from my hometown of Morristown.)

In the cemetery this morning, I came across some yet-to-be-cleared wreaths from my town’s Memorial Day commemoration. I want to share one of them with you:

What’s Still Great About America?

 

shutterstock_157520087As I take in the ever-expanding mosh pit of our politics and culture, I cannot help but come away frustrated, angry, and depressed about … well, everything. It is so easy to latch on to the things I don’t like, to fear the trends that seem so perilous to our future, to lament the rise of self-indulgent dependency, and to despise those so eager and willing to tread upon the rights and freedoms of others. You read the headlines, you consider the “values” we export, and you simply have to wonder whether we’ve squandered away our blessing, our greatness as a nation.

Our leaders, when they talk about America, just don’t seem to have much conviction in their words. Maybe that’s just my jaded ears. How sad is it that you have to go all the way back to Reagan’s speeches (thank heavens for YouTube) to reawaken that sense of belief, that sense of pride in our country and what it represented? I use the past tense intentionally, because I’m laboring to answer the question that follows.

The query I put to you: Despite all our wailing and gnashing of teeth at the state of our politics and culture today, what’s out there that you see that is still good, still true, still worthy of our faith, still worth fighting and dying for?  What are we taking for granted that we should be celebrating, promoting, and using to awaken the hope and trust of the people?

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Everything is political with these people. If there’s one thing that is clear about Benghazi, it’s that the administration tried to downplay the terrorism aspect for the sake of preserving Obama’s narrative that AQ is “on the run” for political gain. It’s patently obvious if you look at how intent they were to blame this […]

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One of my sisters resurrected an old photo of us as kids sitting with our grandparents after a Sunday Mass. As boys, my brother and I were forced into suits for church. I joked that I haven’t worn a suit since. Though I don’t remember my sisters complaining about having to wear dresses to Mass […]

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Isla Vista: Could Rodger Have Been Stopped?

 

My latest piece over at PJ Media concerns the murders in Isla Vista. Among other issues, I discuss the pro forma calls for more gun control, this in a state with some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. A sample:

 And still there are those who entertain the childish fantasy that some act of legislation, some magical addition to California’s already voluminous gun laws, might have been the one that impeded [Elliot] Rodger from carrying out what he was determined to do. Richard Martinez, father of Christopher Michaels-Martinez, one of the students Rodgers killed on Friday, has been passionate in his condemnation of the National Rifle Association and the politicians he perceives to be in its thrall. “Why did Chris die?”, he asked reporters.  “Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA.”

Mr. Martinez can be forgiven in his grief for failing to blame the actual killer, but even in grief one must not disregard the grief felt by others whose loss is just as great. Elliot Rodger killed six people, three of them by gunfire. And he injured 13 others, eight by gunfire. The parents of those stabbed to death or run down in the street might ask, “You seek to ban the implement that harmed your child, but what’s to be done about the one that harmed mine?”