Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Psychiatrists Need an Intervention


Goldwater TrumpThis is shaping up to be another very instructive week, as more people who most Americans used to take somewhat seriously dash their reputations on the rocks of reality. Consider the really important, consequential stuff that happened in London this week, laid out in “‘Interagency Consensus DIME’ Not Worth a Plugged Nickel on NATO” and “Real Leadership, Real Statesmanship: President Trump at NATO.” Contrast the actual, on camera, behavior and results of President Donald J. Trump with the fevered fantasy of credentialed quacks; “mental health professionals” who used the Goldwater Rule for kindling on the bonfire of their hate for us and our president:

In an email forwarded to PJ Media, three psychiatrists with the coalition ask other psychiatrists to sign on to a petition to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee to include a statement on Trump’s supposed mental instability into the official record of the impeachment inquiry.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Real Leadership, Real Statesmanship: President Trump at NATO


Trump and StoltenbergWhile lots of us engage in the guilty pleasure of watching selective clips of our favorite Congressional actors in the latest kabuki theater, we might profit more from considering some of the sights and sounds coming from the NATO 70th anniversary meeting of heads of state. I especially invite your attention to two official videos, one of President Trump meeting before the press with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and the other of the “2 Percenters” lunch meeting. Relevant excerpts from the transcripts appear below.*

Watch two mature adults have a real discussion before a real press corps. Notice that President Trump is defending NATO as a useful vehicle for the mutual defense of nations’ interests. Consider that Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is the former Prime Minister of Norway, not a career eurocrat. Listen to both men deal carefully with both the nature of threats and the natural disagreements even among friendly nations, where each nation operates from its own interests. President Trump says: “I love that you say that NATO is changing as the world is changing.” See Stoltenberg emphasis that NATO members have (under pressure from President Trump) made over 100 billion dollars worth of increases in military defense spending. Watch both men address the challenges of both China and Islamist terrorism.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. “Interagency Consensus” DIME Not Worth a Plugged Nickel on NATO


NATO at 70Everyone in the vaunted “interagency,” is well aware of the concept of the instruments of national power. The old Army War College acronym is “DIME,” for diplomatic, informational, military, and economic tools. You will notice that each tends to rest primarily in different departments, different agencies in the “interagency.” This would be why you need multiple agencies to coordinate rather than always operating “in their own lane.”

Just as Madison Avenue is best at selling Madison Avenue, so too the permanent bureaucracy and its affiliates, allies, patrons, and petitioners all affirm competent and selfless expertise in the face of all evidence. Indeed, the reverence for the “foreign policy consensus” evokes the British Parliament’s ritual prostration before the NHS. Thank God that we finally have a president who feels no such compulsion, the first such since Ronald Reagan.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Is the Opioid Crisis Mainly a Story of ‘Late Capitalism’ or Something More Complicated?


For capitalism’s critics, the opioid crisis is a powerful witness for the prosecution. They charge that inequality, stagnant wages, immobility, job loss — the four horsemen of the neoliberalism endgame — have generated a massive surge in “deaths of despair,” especially from overdoses of opioid drugs. Case closed.

But a new NBER working paper “Origins of the Opioid Crisis and Its Enduring Impacts” suggests a different theory of the case, one that focuses on a supply rather than demand explanation.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This


First, let me say that this morning was not the end of the world. But I could not possibly have packed in more upset, frustration, or mishaps than I experienced this morning. And it all happened in the first half-hour of waking up.

My clock radio went off at 6:40 a.m. Earlier in the day, I had corrected the volume because the volume had been so soft the morning before that I almost didn’t hear it go off.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Mothers and Fathers


My number four son is now a police officer, a few months into his first year on the job. He spends his evenings and nights driving his patrol car around a New England city, staying awake, keeping the peace.

He tells me that about once a week he responds to a domestic call involving a minor. With few exceptions, they’re variations on the same theme: a single mother with one child, a son, who is unruly and defiant and whom she can’t control. My son tells me that his department responds to at least one of these every day — this in a relatively small city.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Inequality Is Exploding, Except That It Might Not Be


A long piece in The Economist about inequality research (“Economists are rethinking the numbers on inequality”) ends with this question: “Will this flurry of new research change people’s minds about inequality?” Well, maybe some change among some academics, probably not much among most activists or politicians. As for the latter, too much of the current political environment seems driven by the idea that massive inequality signals “late capitalism” and the end of the American Dream as we know it. Mostly on the left, but also on the populist right.

But even if minds are hard to change, perhaps strong evidence can at least make certain beliefs less strongly held. Has income inequality surged to record levels? As the below chart shows, adjusting for taxes and transfers finds the income share of America’s top 1 percent “has barely changed since the 1960s,” The Economist points out. From the piece:


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Our Precarious Pipeline Infrastructure


The United States Supreme Court recently agreed to hear United States Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association. In that case, the Fourth Circuit, speaking through Judge Stephanie Thacker, found multiple reasons to block the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (Atlantic) from building, operating, and maintaining its 42-inch diameter natural gas pipeline.

That (ACL) pipeline, capable of transporting 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day, would run along a 604.5-mile route from West Virginia to eastern portions of Virginia and North Carolina. It would have to be routed underneath the Appalachian Trail, a hiking trail that runs about 2,000 miles from Mount Katahdin, Maine, to Springer Mountain, Georgia. Like all pipelines, some portion of the ACP will have to be built over treacherous terrain, carrying with it two inescapable environmental risks—damage during construction, and rupture and leakage during operation.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Uncommon Knowledge: The 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall


This week, we present a special edition of the show as Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson joins the Hoover Institution in commemorating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Thanksgiving Serving Lines


Don't be Chikin Fill Red KettleAs November turns to December, I reflected on serving lines. I mean lines of food in trays, usually kept hot by a heat source underneath. Behind the serving line, stands a line of people, each poised to serve up a dollop, ladle, or tong full of good eating. Three things come to mind around this arrangement, two from military service and one from Christian service (the “faith community”).

It is a matter of many decades tradition for Army officers, especially commanders, and their “right arm,” their senior sergeant (company first sergeants and the command sergeants major at battalion and above) to appear in their dress blue uniforms, don aprons and serve their troops dinner. The uniform changes to camouflage in deployed areas or when long field exercises go through the holiday, but there is still a tradition, if the dining hall or mess trailer is not all contract workers, of serving your troops. In the largest land force, this is a small recognition of the officers’ dependence upon the enlisted for success. For good officers, this is not the only day of the year when they approach their duty with a servant-leader perspective.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Family Matters


This past Friday I was struck with a sense of loss and poignancy as I sat with a hospice patient to provide respite for her caretaker. The three hours I spent with her watching an old TV show from the 1980s and 1990s reminded me of how far we’ve come and how far we’ve fallen as a society.

* * *


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Boots, Hammers, and Classic Math

From the invaluable comic Flintlocke’s Guide to Azeroth

Being a man subject to his vices, I’ve started up again on World of Warcraft. Not the new stuff, the “Classic” servers. “Is that what’s taking up your time?” I hear you all saying, “I had wondered why it was slightly less nerdy and pedantic around here.” Well, worry no more! For the joy and edification of the Ricochet audience, here I reproduce the work I did with the damage formulas. Because a simple post about Warcraft wouldn’t be nearly nerdy enough.

It all stemmed from a simple question; which is better, strength or agility? Strength adds damage, but agility adds some damage as well, and some critical hit chance too. So how do you compare them? You can’t categorically say that one is always better than the other. Well, you can, and people often do. But you can’t and still be right. In a broader sense, how do you decide between two items? Here, let’s go shoe shopping. Which pair of boots do you think goes better with my yellow damage?


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Here’s How Defense R&D Affects US Productivity Growth


It’s not a natural impulse for politicians or activists to highlight trade-offs. Take cutting defense spending. Some Democratic presidential candidates envision a sizable reduction to the Pentagon’s budget if they’re elected. If that should happen, one possible program on the chopping block might be R&D investment. There is a lot of it, after all. A 2018 Congressional Research Service report found that in 2016 the United States spent $78.1 billion on defense R&D, “more than seven times as much on defense R&D than the rest of the OECD countries combined.”

And what do we get for all those tens of billions? That question is partially answered by a new working paper, “The Intellectual Spoils of War? Defense R&D, Productivity and International Spillovers” from Enrico Moretti, Claudia Steinwender, and John Van Reenen. Here’s what the researchers found (bold by me):


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Existential Threat to Our Democracy


From a friend who happens to be a particularly shrewd observer:

I find it telling that is the past couple of weeks two of the so-called “moderate” Democrats (Bloomberg and Buttigieg) have referred to Donald Trump as an “existential threat” to democracy. Well, consider that. Trump has been in office for 3 years. The country held perfectly free and open elections a year ago, which Trump opponents largely won. Ditto, on a much smaller scale, a few weeks ago. If Trump attempted to use the apparatus of the Federal government to interfere in any of those elections, or to prevent any of his opponents from being seated, I must have missed those stories. Print, broadcast, and electronic media in this country have been overwhelmingly critical of Trump every day of the past 3 years. To the best of my knowledge, Rachel Maddow, Jim Acosta, Chuck Todd, and hundreds and hundreds like them are still free as birds, and still writing and speaking whatever they want. Every single week, even the briefest scan of Apple News reveals scores of entertainers, business leaders, elected officials, academics, and other high-status individuals offering everything from sharp criticism to unhinged invective against Trump. If any of those individuals have suffered any measurable personal or professional harm as a result, I am unaware of it. Jack Dorsey still runs Twitter; Robert De Niro is still a mega-celebrity; Ilhan Omar is still in Congress. And on and on.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. An Example Has Been Made: Pour Encourager les Autres


The now-fired Secretary of the Navy apparently sought to provide cover to senior NCIS, legal weasels, and an admiral over the SEAL teams, as they sought to slap the Commander in Chief in the face and cover up their own alleged criminal wrongdoing (now subject of another IG investigation). No military officer, of any rank, would tolerate such gross insubordination from a subordinate: “Sir, you didn’t put in a written order, so I didn’t have to do it.” Oh, but it was just a tweet, and we don’t like his tweets, and besides… Nonsense! In the words of Justice Scalia: “pure applesauce!”

The first two-star general for whom I directly worked gave me a great lesson in followership. He called attention to the way a staff training team reacted to him. The staff training team existed to exercise and develop staff in support of their commanders. The moment the commanding general opened his mouth, team members all had their notebooks out, pens poised and proceeded to write down every single word he said.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF Thanksgiving Edition: Scott Beauchamp on Community and Honor


Friends, we have a special interview today in our PoMoCon series–with my friend Scott Beauchamp, who like many other young Americans, signed up for the military and deployed to Iraq, and like a large number of veterans, has talked about his experience (in this case, in a book). What makes Scott unique is, his war book is not a memoir, but a work of cultural criticism, much more his intellectual and spiritual autobiography than talking about himself. Scott has a lot to say about the good that comes of war, given that war is terrible–the community of honor and how it helps a man to grow up and what it suggests about what we’re missing in our society.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. How AI Is Like That Other General Purpose Technology: Electricity


Do we live in a time of rapid, sweeping technological change or one of persistent, maddening stagnation? Even as politicians and pundits warn about robots stealing all the jobs, economic statistics show weak productivity growth. So perhaps a paradox similar to the 1980s when economist Robert Solow famously said, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

Then the 1990s happened and so did an information technology revolution and productivity boom, finally. One takeaway from that experience is that it can take considerable time to fully understand and harness new technologies so that measured productivity increases. And that’s not just the case with advanced tech such as incorporating artificial intelligence into a business. For example: The first barcode scan took place in the mid-1970s, but it took 30 years for organizations throughout the manufacturing-retail supply chain to make needed investments in “complementary technological, organisational, and process change,” as explained in “Upstream, Downstream: Diffusion and Impacts of the Universal Product Code” by Emek Basker and Timothy Simcoe.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. I Just Told the Truth!


“I never gave anybody hell! I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.” — Harry S. Truman

Sound familiar? I can imagine President Trump saying something just like this comment by Harry Truman. Truman was outspoken and direct, and the impression I have is that he didn’t suffer fools. President Trump, once he has figured out where a person stands, is not afraid to speak his mind and call him out.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Who’s A Good Dog?

Conan the Very Good Dog
Tom Brenner/Reuters

Who’s a good dog? Who’s a good dog? Who’s a very good dog!? Meet Conan, The Very Good Dog.

The White House staff did an excellent job of scheduling the two big White House visits this week.* Today was the courageous canine’s day. Conan smiled a lot and enjoyed an ear scratch by Vice President Pence. He was on his very best behavior, exercising his military discipline in not even nipping at the press corps or chasing Deep State swamp creatures though the White House.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Stalking Trump’s Tax Returns


Ever since he has become President, Donald Trump has doggedly refused to make his tax returns public. As a business judgment, his decision seems highly dubious, but on balance I have reluctantly, but firmly, concluded that Trump is correct in asserting that these documents should be released during his presidency only pursuant to an impeachment proceeding.

It is the lesser of two evils to let these adversarial matters rest until Trump is out of office, when neither congressional investigation nor any civil or criminal suit could become a fatal distraction to the burdens of the office. As a quid pro quo, the President’s pursuers are entitled to a waiver of all statutes of limitations and to an order requiring Trump to preserve all of his documents and records for production once he is out of office.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Introducing 20 For 20 Podcast from NRSC


New this month, Senate Republicans launched 20 for 20, a political podcast that’s not really about politics. Matt Whitlock and I sit down for 20 minutes with 2020 Republican Senators and candidates to talk about who they are and what they care about. We discuss everything from favorite fast foods to what they’re watching, how they spend their time, and what they’re fighting for.

In the first episode, NRSC Chairman Todd Young joined to talk Game of Thrones, Taco Bell, his career as a college soccer player, and why he loves Bob Ross. In week 2 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell come on the podcast to discuss everything from Kentucky sports to the birth of his moniker “Cocaine Mitch.” Cory Gardner will join in week 3 to preview the upcoming Star Wars movie “Rise of Skywalker,” and in week 4, Joni Ernst will be on to talk about riding Harleys and deep fried cuisine at the Iowa State fair.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Post of the Week Created with Sketch. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: This Never Happened to the Other Fellow


This post will eventually contain a key plot spoiler, some distance down the page from here, so if you want to see this 1969 film with virgin eyes, stop reading. But do come back after you’ve seen it. The second “spoiler” is no spoiler at all, no surprise to anyone: Sean Connery is not James Bond in it, and the Bond of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, George Lazenby, is most famous for never having played the role again. That set of facts and how they came about is the main subject of this post, although we will also cover the merits and flaws of the film itself, which some Bond snobs consider one of the best, if not the best, of the entire series. But I can’t tell you why yet, not here at the top of the post, because it will involve the spoiler. You have been warned.

By the time Thunderball (1965) wrapped, Sean Connery was tired of being Bond. Actually, that’s English-style polite understatement that the blunt, Scottish-born Connery would have impatiently penciled out in favor of “thoroughly sick of it”. He felt his character was becoming overshadowed by ingenious gadgets, Ken Adam’s enormous sets, one-liner quips and a growing fantasy element. Connery started the series in 1962 as a relatively unknown actor, quickly became a leading international star, and made an astonishing amount of money. Being a practical Scot, adding to that pile was the only reason he reluctantly stayed aboard for You Only Live Twice (1967). Then he was gone, he swore, for good. So EON Productions, producers Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli, conducted an ostentatiously well publicized search for the next Bond. Each new actor in the role of James Bond is a multi, multi-million-dollar box office gamble, and from that standpoint this very first replacement would be by far the most ill-fated.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Tyranny of Language


The efforts to slur, silence and punish people who refuse to kowtow to the Leftist agenda are increasing. With the talk of socialism, the Left continues to try to control our thinking, stop our discussions and attack any ideas that differ from their own. Recently I noticed a use of language that surprised and alarmed me. I’d like to briefly summarize their actions to date, and then share the most recent attacks on what we say and do.

One of the earliest efforts to control the language, and in particular to castigate people who disagreed with them, appeared as political correctness:


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Pause, Pray, Push: A Constructive Response to Chick-fil-A


Don't be Chikin Fill Red KettleThe Advent or Nativity Fast began Friday, Nov. 15, according to the Orthodox Christian calendar. Everyone, regardless of faith, can profit from considering the purpose behind this fast, which lasts until Christmas Day, the Nativity of Christ. In the spirit of goodwill, and the season, please consider these watchwords: pause, pray, push.

The fast is not a starvation fast, but rather a disciplined daily choice to not purchase or consume foods that at least once were more costly. By refraining from purchasing more expensive or luxury food items, you free up small but meaningful sums each day or week. These sums can then be giving to those in need or less well-off. The two acts, self-denial and giving to others, symbolize Christ’s self-denial and great gift to the world in setting aside glory and coming to dwell among us.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: Dining Service


My husband and I decided when we first married that we weren’t interested in fancy dinnerware, plates, dishes or a tea service. It just wasn’t our style. We love the china sets that many of our friends have, but we were never tempted to indulge ourselves.

Eventually we decided that there were some basics that we would acquire—wine glasses and specially made pottery items. We didn’t inherit sets from our families, although Jerry’s aunt rescued some items from his mother’s garage sale. (Mom Rosella assumed that when we said we wanted the glassware, we were just humoring her!) So Aunt Esther rescued a few things and we’re so grateful, since they were part of the family history.