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I was in the middle of getting my Ph.D. in Massachusetts in 2010, when Scott Brown won his Senate race as part of the unsuccessful push against Obamacare’s passage.  For most of my time in MA, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to local politics because, really, what did it matter? I voted, nearly […]

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This is an interesting video I ran across on social media. From what I can tell it has been around for a while but it is interesting in that it puts deaths for WWII and all war deaths in perspective.  I don’t think may understand how many died during WWII or how few have died […]

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What, has she frightened away some of your lovers? Poor little Lizzy! But do not be cast down. Such squeamish youths as cannot bear to be connected with a little absurdity are not worth a regret. So speaks Mr. Bennet to his second daughter, Elizabeth, in Chapter XLI of Pride and Prejudice. In this instance, Mr. […]

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Forget the Paris Accords

 

The Trump administration is currently facing a major decision—whether to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accords on climate change. The huge multi-national agreement was finalized in the closing weeks of the Obama administration, just days before Trump’s surprise victory in the presidential election. The key commitment made by the United States under the accords is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the next decade by about a quarter of their 2005 rate, with further reductions to come thereafter. But during his campaign, Donald Trump promised to pull out of the accords, and, at the recent meeting of the G-7, was the lone holdout against a ringing endorsement of the agreement. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been insisting that the United States stay the course, but it appears as if Trump is inclined to honor his campaign promise to pull out of the accords, a position in line with that of Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The President’s instincts are spot on here. He should withdraw the United States from the accords and be prepared to stoutly defend his decision on both political and scientific grounds. Ironically, the best reasons for getting out of the accords are the evident weaknesses in the reasons that a wide range of businesses and environmental groups offer for staying in.

One constant refrain of both large American corporations and environmental groups is that by withdrawing from the Paris Accords, the United States will suffer a “huge missed opportunity” to work on the cutting-edge technologies of wind and solar energy. But why? At this point, solar and wind energy, as the indefatigable Matt Ridley points out, amount to at most a trivial portion of the global energy supply, less than one percent in total. Indeed, most of that production comes from state-subsidized ventures that could never survive on their own. And while firms race to collect government subsidies to develop so-called cleaner energy, none of their research is likely to solve the intractable problem of how to store wind or solar energy efficiently.

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Although long past the age of playing sports, I do retain sports interests and they are quite boyish. Boys like hitting things with a club; I like baseball. Boys like colliding with other boys; I like football. I should like boxing, but Muhammad Ali was a perfectly unacceptable icon – not only was everyone supposed […]

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America’s Entrenched Media Malpractice

 

Perhaps the most accurate depiction of American media’s fanatical opposition to President Trump is a Glenn McCoy cartoon, which slaps viewers in the face by showing a maniacal inmate wrapped in a straitjacket inside a padded cell. The word “Media” is embossed on his chest, and dozens of “Trump” inscriptions are plastered across the floor and the walls, at goofy angles and in uneven letters. “He’s crazy!” the wretch screeches, referring to Trump.

Recently, the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University issued a report on President Trump’s first 100 days that confirmed Glenn McCoy’s message. The Center’s Thomas Patterson stated, “…the sheer level of negative coverage gives weight to Trump’s contention, one shared by his core constituency, that the media are hell bent on destroying his presidency. As he tweeted a month after taking office, ‘The FAKE NEWS media… is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!’”

Which, of course, depends on one’s opinion of American media, but certainly the Shorenstein Center’s review inspires exploration of reporting patterns that put accusations of media bias and, more recently, “fake news” into context. The following comments are presented as an attempt to clarify what’s been going on from about the 1960s, but which has intensified since the second Bush administration. In short, how best can one categorize American news reporting? Here are a few suggestions.

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On Friday, a 35-year-old white man named Jeremy Joseph Christian was arrested in the killing of two men and wounding of another aboard a TriMet MAX train in Portland, OR.  He is alleged to have harrassed two teenagers – one African-American and another wearing a hijab.  When three men intervened, the defendant is said to […]

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Obviously

 


I have an article on local government officials I’ve been trying to get published for a couple of years now. In an early draft I had discussed a variable of whether local officials interacted through proxies or in person. I had coded the variable as 0 if a mayor never met with anyone, 1 if they sent proxies to meetings in their place, or 2 if the mayor attended in person. I then noted in the manuscript that “obviously this assumes the effects are monotonic.” Now, in my defense, I think it actually is obvious that if I’m going to interpret 2 as more than 1, it follows that I must assume mayors meeting in person have larger effects than proxies meeting for them, but one of the reviewers flagged the line with the comment “nothing here is obvious.” I rephrased the line, not that it ultimately mattered. At first I was annoyed and amused, but as time has gone by, I have come to think that “obvious” seldom is.

I see this in my students’ papers. They will say that something is obvious or that it can be clearly seen, but it isn’t obvious to me. Some of this may be because I am not in my students’ minds. Perhaps the train of logic in their minds is quite good, but it didn’t make it on the page and therefore I can’t see it. Often, what is obvious is actually a value judgment or an opinion that the student doesn’t wish to actually defend. This is fairly common in general — my students have a positive phobia about arguing, and so never want to advance anything that someone else hasn’t written first. The opinion may be widely held — it is obvious that women should be able to vote, for example. But in the context of an American government course, simply repeating the common opinion isn’t good enough. For over a century it wasn’t at all obvious that women should be able to vote. Some early states gave women the vote, then took it away. Expansions and contractions of the franchise were common in the first decades of the 19th century. Why is it obvious now except that we have later birthdates and different prejudices?

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Since I love the Ricochet podcasts, I thought why not become a member! Hope folks enjoy my first post, an interview with former Democratic nominee 88′ Michael Dukakis. I’m trying to return our political debate to intelligent conversation instead of yelling over split screens. If you like it please share. Thanks. Preview Open

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Well Ricochet is back to what it has been since that fateful day in July 2015, split among the Go-Alongs and the Total Destroyers. This time it is over the use of the term “war” to describe our current situation with our Leftist “friends,” as one of the Go-Alongs put it. The biggest thrust in […]

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“Fearless Girl” Is Reaping What She Has Sown

 

In honor of International Women’s Day, Kristen Visbal created a statue called Fearless Girl, an image of a girl, hands on hips, striking a defiant pose. This image was then placed in from of another statue called Charging Bull (the one that represents Wall Street and America’s economic might). Fearless Girl recast Charging Bull as a symbol of misogyny, with the Girl acting as a symbol of “women in leadership.”

About a month ago, I argued that allowing Fearless Girl to permanently alter the meaning of Charging Bull would be wrong. My argument was that the sculptor of Fearless Girl should not be able to high-jack someone else’s art. To illustrate the point, I offered suggestions for additional statues that could be added to the Fearless Girl/Charging Bull scene that would undermine both artists’ intent.

What if…I added a slightly larger-than-life bronze statue called American Soldier next to Fearless Girl, demonstrating, of course, that girls can be fearless in this country only because of burly men who are willing to fight for their rights.

Tech Progress Makes Us Discontented. And That’s OK!

 

In a recent podcast chat with me, economist Tyler Cowen spoke about his new book, “The Complacent Class,” which posits America as a stagnant society. Not moving to take a new job. Not starting businesses. Not taking risks. Cowen: “Life is safer, more convenient and more comfortable – no one wants to say those are bad things. But, at the margin, if you don’t take enough risk, there does come a time where you start moving backwards, can’t pay the bills, or have decent governance. So over the longer run it’s a bad thing.”

Indeed, perpetual discontent is at the heart of innovative modern capitalism. Good enough never is, at least not for too long. What’s the latest? Perhaps this idea is best summed up by technology writer Kevin Kelly (another podcast guest of mine) in his latest book, “The Inevitable.” Kelly writes:

If we are honest, we must admit that one aspect of the ceaseless upgrades and eternal becoming of the Technium is to make holes in our heart. One day, not too long ago, we (all of us) decided we cannot live another day unless we have a smart phone; a dozen years earlier this need would have dumbfounded us. Now we get angry if the network is slow. But before, when we were innocent, we had no thoughts of the network at all.

Are We in a Cold Civil War?

 

Definition of Cold War: A conflict over ideological differences carried on by methods short of sustained overt military action and usually without breaking off diplomatic relations.

Today at Townhall.com, Dennis Prager (link) attempts to explain the anti-Trump perspective which continues to come from otherwise “right-of-center” conservatives. He summarizes:

I have concluded that there are a few reasons that explain conservatives who were Never-Trumpers during the election, and who remain anti-Trump today.

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I just gave blood and was asked two questions that I did not expect. The questions were asked seriously and I needed to answer in the affirmative to confirm my registration on the red cross website and be given the opportunity to do the Red Cross a favor and let them have a pint of […]

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It has been almost a year since I regularly participated on Ricochet. I’ve found it difficult to write, comment, or even listen to the podcasts. Dennis Prager’s piece written at NRO and Jonah Goldberg’s response are good examples of the conflict exhausting the center-right. Dennis Prager writes about NeverTrump conservatives, “Moreover, the cultural milieu in […]

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Hillary Clinton, Stop Making James Comey Sick

 

It is difficult to keep up with the constant fire hose blast of allegations and scandals du jour levied by the media and political adversaries of Donald Trump.  But if we can go back a mere four weeks (which is 18 months in Trump political years) and recall Hillary Clinton’s statements about why she lost the 2016 Presidential Election.  From the Washington Post:

Making a rare public appearance, Clinton attributed her surprise loss in the 2016 election to interference by Russian hackers and the actions of FBI Director James B. Comey in the campaign’s homestretch.