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I sometimes imagine my ancestors – recent and remote, known and unknown – and wonder just how they survived in times much more challenging than my own. “Nasty, brutish and short,” of course, has been used to describe their lives, but surely does not apply to life in the West, at least from a mid-20th […]

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The Piketty Wars Continue

 

shutterstock_130262303Thomas Piketty has now come out with a substantive response to the criticisms issued by Giles and Giugliano in the Financial Times. I am glad that he has done so and I suspect that there is much to chew over in the response, so I will look forward to reading the response of others to Piketty’s defense. For the time being, let me offer the following somewhat random observations (I am not going to comment on every paragraph or sentence in the letter, though I have read it all. I certainly encourage readers to read it all as well):

— Piketty tells us that he “certainly agree[s] that available data sources on wealth inequality are much less systematic than what we have for income inequality.” I am glad he states so; it is nice to establish that the data sources for wealth inequality are sketchy and incomplete. But while Piketty tells us that he is sure the data set can be improved, he also claims that he “would be very surprised if any of the substantive conclusions about the long run evolution of wealth distributions was much affected by these improvements.”

I am surprised that Piketty can admit both (a) that the data set is incomplete and can be improved upon; and (b) that it really doesn’t matter because, supposedly, even after it is improved, Piketty’s conclusions will somehow hold. Admitting the shortcomings should also mean admitting that the “substantive conclusions” in Piketty’s book might be improved by better data sets, but Piketty is unwilling to concede this (obvious) point.

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According to Investors Business Daily, Obama wants to be the UN General Secretary after he departs the White House. Being president of the USA is apparently small potatoes for him. It is not his intellect that is huge, but rather his ambition. Whatever the future holds for the United States, it will be interesting to […]

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Jay Nordlinger posted a piece to NRO recently on Eisenhower’s farewell address, and its abuse by the Left.  Each and every point in it rang true to me- particularly that it is an under-appreciated classic of conservatism.  Before any of you cough up your breakfast over that, I encourage you to read the whole thing […]

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Petitioning the Sovereign

 

I confess I haven’t really been following the whole Michelle Obama school lunch thing. I get the gist: The First Lady has the USDA revise the standards to make them healthier, but the new guidelines are unrealistic, so kids don’t eat the food (with all the attendant behavioral consequences), and schools complain. I figured that eventually reality will win out over this instance of leftist dogmatism, so why bother paying attention?

Today though, Bridget Johnson at PJ Media had an article that made me do a double-take. The background: Congress is working on a bill to give school districts more flexibility, and Mrs. Obama doesn’t like it. (Again, nothing really surprising here; call me when the USDA loses this fight to the 5th graders.) Mrs. Obama explained her motivation:

Michelle Obama… said at a roundtable yesterday with school leaders and nutrition experts that “so many kids write me every day” about the “health crisis in this country.”

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On Friday morning I am heading off on a ten-day trip to the Pacific Northwest, the main purpose of which is to attend my nephew’s high school graduation. As I have been packing, I’ve had a particular song in my head: “Misty Mountain” by Kassie DePaiva. DePaiva is a long-time television actress who has dabbled […]

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I don’t know how many of us have “vanity” or “personalized” license plates, but I do.  I have had this same plate for over 20 years, and as you can see I got a frame to sort of explain it.  Does anyone else have one?  Does it refer to you, or the car?  In Washington […]

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In another thread, one where I questioned the practice of the government of the United States of phone tapping the entire nation of Afghanistan, another Ricochet member asked indignantly whose side I was on. The comment was taken down by an editor as violating the Code of Conduct, a decision I disagree with, but it […]

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In light of recent attempts to delegitimize conservative speech — from the firing of Brandon Eich to the string of attacks on conservative commencement speakers and their subsequent withdrawals, did you ever fantasize about what you would like to say to those college grads if you got the chance? No need to do so any […]

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So, Yeah, It Looks Like Cap and Trade is Back

 

PethWarmingIn a plan to be unveiled next week, according to The New York Times, “President Obama will use his executive authority to cut carbon emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants by up to 20 percent ….” This rule, written by the EPA, will “set a national limit on carbon pollution from coal plants [and] allow each state to come up with its own plan to cut emissions based on a menu of options that include adding wind and solar power, energy-efficiency technology and creating or joining state cap-and-trade programs.”

Right, there’s a menu of options, but it is clear from the story that the easiest path for states likely is the cap-and-trade route where carbon emission permits would be auctioned:

Many states are already researching how to join or replicate the nation’s two existing state-level cap-and-trade plans, both of which bear the signatures of prominent Republicans: Mitt Romney, the 2012 presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former California governor. As governor of Massachusetts, Mr. Romney was a key architect of a cap-and-trade program in nine northeastern states, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Liberalism and Profanity

 

shutterstock_173867810The pages of liberal, and especially feminist, commentary are awash with cursing. Just below the elite levels of the commentariat, cursing is as much a part of liberal discourse as “problematic,” “privilege,” and “narrative.” To read left-wing thought online, not merely in the comments sections but even in the featured pieces on websites like Salon and Slate, is to wade through cant peppered with curse words. In part, liberals use this vulgar lingua franca to establish their radical bona fides. Someone who regularly curses is manifestly not defined by the “establishment.” Despite their status among the cultural elite, the left is beholden to the imagery of radical chic. Comfort with cursing is a holdover from this stance and part of a deep-seated desire to relive the glory days of protest. All the same, there is more than radical posturing in the left’s love affair with profanity. The use of vulgar language is a logical extension of the pervasive grip popular post-modernism has in American culture and in its public discourse.

There is substance at the higher levels of liberal thought, but in its popular forms contemporary liberalism is the politics of symbols and emotion. Liberalism lacks an intellectual core, something we might trace to the great disillusionment with the failure of Marxism. In place of principles, liberalism has become an outlook of symbols. A liberal is what they support or what they espouse. See, for example, the absurd rise of #hashtag activism, perhaps the perfect distillation of symbolic politics. Holding events or episodes up as symbols of cultural malaise or depravity that need to be attacked is a core strategy for advancing the symbolic politics of liberalism. Kevin D. Williamson at NRO had an interesting piece on this notion recently.

If symbols are what form a liberal’s identity to the public, the chief criterion for the rightness or wrongness of an issue in the liberal mind is how it makes one feel. Post-modernism strips political and intellectual discussion of objective intellectual standards. The subjective self becomes the only criterion of judgment to which one has access. Once these suppositions are accepted, rational arguments are impossible and discourse is necessarily reduced to emoting, over-emoting, and playing on an interlocutor’s emotional sensibilities. In liberal blogging, the imperative is always to show more emotion. More anger, more joy, more disappointment. Forty years of obsession with feelings notwithstanding, the emotional and literal vocabularies of post-moderns are truncated things. The capacity to express complex and nuanced emotions in specific language is beyond many today (to the extent that one can express deep feelings in language). The result is that political commentary is frequently a struggle to out-emote an opponent with limited resources for expressing said emotion.

Porn Usage Linked to Smaller Size in Men

 

shutterstock_135898808I’m talking about BRAIN size — sickos!

In my editor’s post today at The College Fix, I write about a new study examining the relationship between pornography and the brain.

To sum things up, researchers discovered that the more porn men said they watched, the smaller their brains were. Also, men who watched more porn showed less activity in the “reward center” of the brain when they were shown pornographic images during the tests.

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I have not been pleased with the Republican leadership in the House or the Senate, and would like to see them replaced with more aggressive, more conservative leaders who will take it to the opposition.  In the quest to regain the Senate, we cannot afford to lose a single seat.  However, I now ask the […]

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I just had a horrifying thought.  One of the mysteries of post-2012 politics is why President Obama suddenly embraced immigration reform, after five years of hostility towards it.  Obama’s embrace of the disgusting, cowardly tactic of pitting poor whites and and poor Latinos against each other in a race war over economic resources was shocking, […]

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So, it’s been an interesting month on the topic of my current hobby horse. A month ago today, the head of the Russian space program threatened to cut off access to the International Space Station for NASA astronauts, on the same day that the House Science Committee marked up a bill declaring that, when it […]

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Bloomberg Chastises Thought Police at Harvard Commencement

 

Jannis Tobias Werner / Shutterstock.comMichael Bloomberg just wrapped up quite a commencement address to Harvard grads. Titled “Don’t Major in Intolerance,” the political independent and former mayor surprisingly took academia’s thought police to task:

In the 1950s, the right wing was attempting to repress left-wing ideas. Today, on many campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas, even as conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species.

Perhaps nowhere is that more true than here in the Ivy League. In the 2012 presidential race, 96 percent of all campaign contributions from Ivy League faculty and employees went to Barack Obama. That statistic, drawn from Federal Election Commission data, should give us pause — and I say that as someone who endorsed President Obama. When 96 percent of faculty donors prefer one candidate to another, you have to wonder whether students are being exposed to the diversity of views that a university should offer. Diversity of gender, ethnicity and orientation is important. But a university cannot be great if its faculty is politically homogenous.

Maya Angelou: Why I Kept My Baby

 

master-class-maya-angelou-2-600x411Writing in 2001 in Family Circle magazine, Maya Angelou, who died yesterday at 86, described her decision to keep the child she conceived at 16. With thanks to Feminists For Life for posting it, I’m reposting this remarkable article in full.

When I was 16, a boy in high school evinced interest in me, so I had sex with him — just once. And after I came out of that room, I thought, Is that all there is to it? My goodness, I’ll never do that again! Then, when I found out I was pregnant, I went to the boy and asked him for help, but he said it wasn’t his baby and he didn’t want any part of it.

I was scared to pieces. Back then, if you had money, there were some girls who got abortions, but I couldn’t deal with that idea. Oh, no. No. I knew there was somebody inside me. So I decided to keep the baby.

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To a Canadian observer who became politically active in the 1990’s, the rise of UKIP – the United Kingdom Independence Party – in Great Britain from a fringe movement to a major player on the UK political scene is déjà vu all over again. I heard UKIP leader Nigel Farage speak at the Manning Networking […]

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A Pen and A Phone

 

Resolute_deskI’d like to invite my Ricochet friends to join me in a game. I’ll explain the rules in a moment, but the name of the game is “A Pen and a Phone” and it’s all about executive power. What fun is state power, after all, if you don’t use it?

In the wake of the Obamacare fiasco, Barack Obama has been blocked from passing legislation much more consequential than commemorative postage stamps and bridge renamings. It isn’t just partisan gridlock; even Democrats shy away from being his legislative water-carriers. Faced with this trend, Obama now relies on executive orders, administrative actions, creative interpretations of legislative intent, and the placement of ideological fellow-travelers throughout the government to manifest his will. He’s got a pen and a phone and a supine press corps, and he’s not afraid to use them.

This opaque and deceptive Administration knows that every excess in the use and application of executive and regulatory power draws only polite murmurs of dissent from his political and media cheerleaders. What would have resulted in howls of outrage in the Bush years is now greeted with public demurral and private encouragement.