This Thanksgiving, Be More Like Meghan


On the View earlier this week, co-host Meghan McCain was asked about Lindsey Graham, ostensibly in order to throw him under the bus on national television. McCain and her father, former Senator John McCain, were close friends with the Grahams and the younger McCain grew up with Sen. Graham. McCain got a considerable amount of heat for her refusal to comment on Graham on air:

My Favorite Movie


Ed Driscoll, over at Instapundit, linked to an old Bleat by James Lileks. In it, he mentions putting on the soundtrack to Local Hero, which he says, “…might be the one record I cannot live without”. I have to agree with him. It is a beautiful work of early ’80s atmospheric music with Celtic seasoning, written and performed by Mark Knopfler. I bought the soundtrack before I had ever heard of the movie, because I was such a fan of Dire Straits. When the movie showed up on HBO, I was apprehensive about watching it. The music is so good in its own right, and I feared a terrible movie would ruin my listening pleasure.

I need not have worried. From the opening shot in Houston, TX to the final fade of a small Scottish fishing village at dawn, every scene in Local Hero is perfect. Written and directed by Bill Forsyth (Gregory’s Girl, Comfort and Joy, Breaking In), this is a movie that will appeal to all ages and tastes. The basic story is of a young, status-conscious oil executive, MacIntyre (Peter Riegert – Animal House), who is sent to acquire an entire Scottish village so his company can build a refinery there. Mac figures he can close the deal in a day or two, but the villagers know why he’s there, and do their best to delay him. In the meantime, he begins to fall in love with the slower-paced life and the community the people of the town enjoy. Burt Lancaster plays Knox Oil’s slightly batty CEO, Happer. He is obsessed with discovering a new comet, and continually asks Mac for updates on the night sky. There’s also a young marine biologist who might be a mermaid, a Russian sailor who is an avid capitalist, and an eccentric beach bum who isn’t quite the fool he appears to be.

A Valhallan Interlude, Part 3: Smokey Bourbon Blues


The horse’s ears flattened down on instinct. He knew that voice. He knew that silhouette … Not here. Not now. He leaned down to the girl in brass next to him, and said out of the corner of his, admittedly, long-muzzled mouth, ‘When I give the word, run. This is no time for heroics. We need to get out of here … Hey, are you listening?’ 

‘Naughty-naughty, horsey!’ said the figure in the doorway, stepping in out of the storm. Heavy raindrops ran down her biker’s leathers and dripped onto the floor as she walked. Behind her, more figures, also in bikers’ leathers, stepped through. (Just knew this was a bad idea, the horse was thinking.) The woman in the lead pulled off her helmet and shook her hair out with, it seemed to the horse, a gratuitous amount of flourish. It didn’t seem quite so gratuitous to some of the people standing around in the bar. In fact, some of them were now standing with their mouths open. Swan maidens tended to have that kind of effect on people. And particularly, swan maidens who’d, so to speak … gone to the bad. This was not good. 

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.

On November 18, 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a momentous announcement: The United States does not consider Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria—the West Bank—illegal or illegitimate. The conventional wisdom, of course, is that Israeli building in the territories it captured in 1967 is a violation of international law. But after a process of many months, the Trump State Department has decided to return to an understanding of the Geneva Convention once embraced by the Reagan Administration, and to recognize that the status of Israeli building in Judea and Samaria is a political and diplomatic question, not a legal one.

In this podcast, Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver is joined by one of the world’s foremost scholars on Israel and international law. Eugene Kontorovich is a professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, a director at the Kohelet Policy Forum, and author of of “Pompeo Busts the ‘Occupation’ Myth,” published in the Wall Street Journal on November 9, 2019. In this conversation, he makes the case for the legality of Israeli settlements and explains how an erroneous and hypocritical interpretation of international law became the conventional wisdom about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What Happened to Holiday Catalogs?


I check the mailbox. Nothing. OK … bills. It used to be filled with holiday catalogs. There was Vermont Country Store, with old-time candies, colognes like “Evening in Paris,” flannel pajamas, ornaments and decorations from yesteryear, like those bubble lights and waxed angel candles. They still sell board games for families like Life and Candy Land, Raggedy Ann and Andy, and Bavarian wooden weather houses, where the man would come out if rain was coming and the woman if a sunny day was predicted. Then there’s LL Bean with warm scarfs and cozy slippers! I loved the Trappist Monks who remind you about their delicious jams, coffee, and fudge, along with a CD of Gregorian chants or holiday choruses. There’s Harry & David, with the delectable pears, fruitcakes, Moose Munch, chocolate popcorn and chutneys.

I used to be bombarded with these catalogs every year, like Lands End who sent coupons, which always equaled a purchase from me. I’m easy, but I like to see the merchandise. There’s nothing in the mailbox this year. I asked my sister if she’s gotten any catalogs this year? Zero. What happened?

I did get a postcard from Fossil announcing Black Friday specials. It’s tucked behind the phone and I will pop in, thanks to advertising. They tell you to shop local. It boosts the economy — forget online, Amazon, the easy sitting at home at your computer shopping. Get out and mingle, have an early breakfast at the local Cracker Barrel and see what the local shops have created to inspire you. Getting in the holiday spirit requires getting up from a chair!

Love Creates Holiness


In Judaism we revere the Cave of Machpelah – the place where so many patriarchs and matriarchs are buried. We consider it hallowed ground. In the text itself, the place is merely a cave in a field. What makes it special?

Perhaps the answer is that this is the place Sarah chose, the place where she died. And it is the place where Avraham honored her choice, and showed his respect for her by paying whatever it cost to honor her there, in the eyes of all around him.

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.

Maybe the most well-known example is research from economic historian Paul David who found that it took decades for American factories to electrify and reorganize production after the shift to polyphase alternating current. And here’s a complementary finding in the new working paper “Does Electricity Drive Structural Transformation? Evidence from the United States” (bold by me):

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.

Although the Left, like a mindless drone, continues to call out Trump for his impolitic behavior, I’m becoming convinced that his statements need to be heard. Like many people, I frequently cringe at his poor timing, rudeness and personal attacks. But who else would have been willing to muck out the swamp? Who would have been willing to call out the mainstream media on their over-the-top bias? Was there a polite way to move the Conservative agenda forward? Do you think the Democrats would have been more cooperative if another Republican had been elected?

Dueling Legal Experts


CBS had two legal analysts on their morning show, the question before them was: did the House do enough to move forward with impeachment?

The “conservative” on the panel was Kim Wehle of the Bulwark. She said in no uncertain terms that the Democrats had enough to move forward. That was basically all she had to add. No context, no pointing our the weakness, just remove Trump. So basically what you would expect from the Bulwark.

Brian Ward and Paul Happe are in a thankful mood in this special Thanksgiving episode of the HWX podcast. Topics include:

  • Bernie Sanders’ favorite things
  • A lot of political and media figures are thankful; you might be surprised why
  • Billy Bragg is in the Bubble
  • No one is thankful for the impeachment proceedings
  • We couldn’t pass on the opportunity to comment on Eric Swalwell
  • Paul and Brian are both very thankful for you, the Ricochet members!
  • All this and more!

This HWX podcast is the hottest side dish around! Happy Thanksgiving!

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to us about Cocaine Mitch, tailgate traditions, Lamar Jackson, the Kentucky Derby, and more!

Giving Thanks


As we approach our national day of Thanksgiving, sure, we are thankful for health, family, jobs, homes, possessions and all, but what’s the one thing for which we should be most thankful? It’s the most valuable gift beyond life that we’ve all been given; we are Americans.

It is so easy to forget this, to discount, diminish, mock or depreciate it, but being an American is our single, most precious and shared gift. Despite what you may hear, America is still the one place where every single person no matter their station, race, color, religion, gender or origin, can pursue a fruitful and happy life. This is our unique birthright. There is no other place in this world with the liberties and freedoms we all enjoy. Not one.

No. Success and independence are not guaranteed, but every single American has an opportunity to pursue them, and if the effort fails, to try again and again. This is the gift we’ve received.

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.

My position has been soundly rejected by a bitterly divided panel from the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Trump v. Mazars. There, the majority held that Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over records relating to Trump and his business entities, including the Trump Organization, the Trump Corporation, and the Trump Old Post Office LLC, to the House of Representatives as part of its ongoing effort to develop proposals for legislative reform.  Chief Justice Roberts has now stayed that decision until the high court can decide whether to hear the case. It should take the case and promptly reverse the decision below.

I Hate It When That Happens


It was going to be so perfect. I had an idea for a great post, I was all set to write it, and then stopped to research one detail. That’s when the whole thing fell to pieces. Let me explain.

By now, everyone is aware of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Tom Hanks’ new biopic of Fred Rogers, known to millions of kids as simply Mr Rogers. It seemed like the perfect jumping off point for a post on how we raise children in this country, particularly in the oh so enlightened twenty-current-year. Because everyone knows that Fred Rogers was a Navy Seal, right? Or maybe it was an Army sharpshooter. Either way, he was a war hero and all around bad-ass.

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.

New episodes with a different Senator drop every Tuesday morning. Don’t miss it!

Republican Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, sat through all the impeachment depositions, and then all the hearings. He talks about dealing with the witnesses–Vindman, Sondland, Hill, and others–and sees some waning in impeachment enthusiasm. Polls seem to show that, too. So are Democrats irreversibly committed? Are they on board with what Chairman Schiff is telling them? And on an insanely unrelated note: Did you know that Rep. Stewart has flown around the world faster than any other person?

In America, we call them “Party Platforms.” In the UK they’re still called “Manifestos.” And if you’re running someone like Jeremy Corbyn, why not?

This week on the United Kingdom’s Most Trusted Podcast®, James and Toby dive into the buffet that is the Conservative Party manifesto, which Mr. Delingpole finds indigestible but Mr. Young finds tasty. But that’s just the main course.

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.