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(Mis)understood Words

 

Have you ever heard a word used by someone who clearly didn’t understand it? Sometimes, it is the pronunciation (corpseman, obgynie), sometimes it’s totally the wrong word. And sometimes, the wrong word almost makes sense — those are my favorites.

One of my first examples was in the 6th grade when the teacher was explaining the circulatory system. He kept talking about the “Red Blood Corpsuckles.” I was in my wanting-to-be-a-doctor phase, was pretty sure that was not right, and did my best to correct him. (I’m still in my obnoxious-kid stage.)

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Why Wars on the Fed Aren’t Good or Easy to Win

 
President Donald Trump and chairman of the US Federal Reserve Jerome Powell.

It’s not unreasonable to criticize Fed policymaking. Except maybe if you’re the American president. There’s good reason it’s considered exceedingly bad form and poor governance to do what Donald Trump is doing right now in his escalating critique of the Powell Fed, first on CNBC and then via Twitter. If you value economic stability, then you probably don’t want the president using political pressure to influence the US central bank. It can get really ugly.

In the 1960s, President Johnson went to war with the fiscally conservative Fed boss William McChesney Martin, who worried about the inflationary risk from LBJ’s guns-and-butter economic policies. Johnson saw Martin’s tighter monetary policy as undermining his agenda, even asking the US attorney general if a president could remover a Fed board member from office. After the Martin Fed raised the discount rate in late 1965, LBJ summoned Martin to his Texas ranch to explain himself, leading to the famous confrontation where the president pushed the shorter Martin against a wall and told him that “my boys are dying in Vietnam, and you won’t print the money I need.” Martin stood his ground policywise and is praised for helping maintain Fed independence (although he probably should have tightened more aggressively).

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A Creed

 

I’m working from home today–with concurrence from the chain of command–to finish a product. Too many distractions at work, and the time I won’t spend commuting, answering irrelevant emails, phone calls, and questions from them that’d gotten their guidance from my office months ago. Unfortunately, there are no air quotes around “work from home” this time ’round.

So what better time to take a break and post on Ricochet? My timing, as always, is impeccable. Yesterday I was bound and determined to leave work by noon, to knock out this project. Yeah, that went well. I left work just in time to get home to feed my ADHD German Shepherd, Princess Leia, at her usual time. 1700 hours. Awesome.

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Strzokism and the Degradation of Democracy

 

As the passage of time gnaws away at memories of Peter Strzok’s testimony before Congress and America’s outrage industry ratchets its screech-o-meter up a notch or two, perhaps a few observations about the FBI’s noteworthy apparatchik are in order.

Certainly, there is no shortage of opinions about what took place, especially in the form of numbered “takeaways” from the hearing. Thus, Molly Hemingway observed how the Department of Justice succeeded in obstructing congressional oversight, why Strzok came off “even worse than he did in his texts,” and how the Democrats sided with him, in an embarrassingly raucous manner. Indeed, one mentally challenged mouthpiece from the Democrats’ kindergarten kaucus volunteered to award Strzok a purple heart, authority permitting, of course.

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An Austrian State May Require Registration for Orthodox Jews to Buy Kosher Meats

 

When I read the headline, I felt nauseous. Visions of yellow stars drifted through my head. Before I completely overreacted, I thought I should check out the facts; after checking, I was less alarmed, but not by much.

In Lower Austria, Gottfried Waldhäusl, a cabinet minister and Freedom Party member in the state of Lower Austria, is in charge of animal welfare as well as other responsibilities. A draft decree has been issued there to ban sales of kosher meat except to those people who register for permits who can prove they are observant Jews. He insisted that these requirements were necessary from the point of view of protecting animals.

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My Kid Just Joined the US Navy

 

My youngest on our back deck signing her paperwork to enlist in the Navy. She still has to finish her senior year in high school, hit that 18th birthday, and then she ships directly out to basic.

“I want to serve my country and see the world,” she says to us. Was she serious? Uh yeah, she was and is. In fact, she’s probably more mature and clear-sighted at 17 than I am today at 52. I am one proud papa today!

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Relearning a Childhood Art

 

I must have been about 10 years old when my mother first taught me to knit. I loved the textures, the sounds, the artistry, the creativity, and the chance to do something with my mother. I discovered that I loved to knit, although I didn’t continue into adulthood.

About 50 years later, I decided to try knitting again. I was smart enough to look for easy patterns and enjoyed it so much that my hands were aching. (Yes, I know, I was holding the needles too tightly.) I took a break from knitting, learning that too much time knitting might not be a good thing.

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The Gender Conformity Cop-In

 

@katebraestrup got a lot of love a while back on her post, “Thoughts From a Former Dysphoric”. My impression upon reading it was she was describing gender nonconformity, not dysphoria. Our dear Kate was a tomboy, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. Dysphoria ought to mean deep discomfort, though, not just being a little different. The red tribe has an interest in both downplaying and, well, up playing “gender dysphoria”. Describing tomboyishness as “dysphoria” both downplays and up plays the condition: First, tomboyishness is not so bad, not really all that dysphoric, so what are people complaining about? Second, if every tomboy becomes convinced she’s “gender dysphoric” then oh my sweet Jesus on rollerskates, what is this world coming to?!! Before you know it, there’ll be fire and brimstone coming down from the skies; rivers and seas boiling; forty years of darkness; earthquakes, volcanoes; the dead rising from the grave; human sacrifice; dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria!

What about those who aren’t just tomboys, or their male equivalent, but truly unhappy in their birth sex, perhaps with good reason? Even then, even though their discomfort is real, they may find copping into gender conformity a more sensible solution than, as @henryracette put it, copping out of it.

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Presidents Disagreeing with the Fed is Nothing New

 

President Trump, in his usual way of speaking, told Joe Kernan of CNBC that he doesn’t necessarily agree with the Federal Reserve’s raising of interest rates. This act, known alternatively as “moral suasion” or “jawboning,” has actually been happening for a while. Economic adviser Larry Kudlow did almost the same thing on Fox News three weeks ago.

Criticism has been coming in from many quarters, not all from the usual sources. Keith Hennessey, formerly of the Bush 43 White House, “disagree[s] with President Trump on every aspect of this.” Most of the claims are that this breaks from a long-standing tradition. But for how long? Pres. George H. W. Bush blamed Fed chair Alan Greenspan for his electoral loss in 1992, a theme that his administration began as early as 1989. President Ronald Reagan in 1981 told a group of supporters, “The Fed is independent, but they’re hurting us.” Perhaps the most famous act, done more privately, was when LBJ shoved then Fed chair William McChesney Martin around a room, shouting at him, “Martin, my boys are dying in Vietnam, and you won’t print the money I need.”

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ACF Critic Series #5: Teachout on Laura

 

Renowned critic and playwright Terry Teachout joins me again to talk old movies. After Hitchcock’s Vertigo, we turn to the most beautiful noir, Laura (1944), directed by Otto Preminger, starring Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney (Dana’s the man, Gene the woman — this was the 40s), as well as Clifton Webb, Hollywood’s version of H.L. Mencken, and a young Vincent Price, before he turned to Edgar Allen Poe horror.

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Putin Speaks Code. Does Trump Understand?

 

Back when word first leaked that Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Donald Trump, Jr., had met with a Russian lawyer and others offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, President Trump seemed to think he was supplying an exculpatory cover story. Flying home from Germany on Air Force One, Trump reportedly instructed Don Jr. to claim that he and the Kremlin-linked lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.” There is apparently some debate about whether that misleading statement places the president in any legal jeopardy, but there is another aspect to the story that has received less attention. It came up again during the Helsinki debacle – Putin, the world’s richest man and most successful thief, is obsessed with the Magnitsky Act.

In fact, the very mention of Russian adoptions was a tipoff that Ms. Veselnitskaya was probably representing Vladimir Putin. Whether Trump knew this at the time is unclear. After all, he could not say what the nuclear triad was and endorsed “Article XII” of the U.S. Constitution. Maybe he thought mentioning that they discussed Russian adoptions was the most anodyne-sounding explanation for the meeting.

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Quote of the Day: An Existential Threat

 

“We ran. As the siren droned on that July 7 night, I gripped Sally’s hand and sprinted across the abandoned lawn of Kibbutz Na’an. I headed for the nearest house, which was made of concrete and might provide partial shelter. But its front door was locked. So we huddled on the porch, together with Lee, Dar and several other Bar Mitzvah guests, beneath a corrugated awning. A couple shielded their infant son with their bodies. Sufficiently experienced in shellfire, I kept my composure, though others shook and even whimpered. Any second, the rockets would hit.” — Michael Oren, from Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide

Michael Oren was born in America, but eventually felt called to move to Israel and eventually became its ambassador to the US. He describes in this quotation his visit to a kibbutz for a bar mitzvah. His visit preceded a 50-day war with Hamas in 2014, when they shot 4,500 rockets toward Israel. More recently, Gazans (and Hamas) threatened to tear down the border fence between Gaza and Israel. Then they sent flaming kites across the border, burning Israeli farmland.

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How to Handle the Outrage Mob

 

Yesterday actor Mark Duplass tweeted a nice across the aisle ovature to the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro:

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The Left Gives Up on Comedy

 

Four years ago, progressives were riding high. Obama was president, healthcare was fixed forever, and the reset-button Ruskies were our best pals. But even in that golden age, there was a growing sense that comedy was … well … problematic.

The 2014 Netroots Nation conference lectured attendees on the systematic oppression of the Humor Industrial Complex while insisting they were far funnier than those evil conservatives. “When the right says we have no sense of humor,” panelist Katie Halper said, “it’s a great way for racist/sexist/homophobic men to make themselves seem funny.”

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The USS Trump! High Adventures on Rough Seas!

 

To Democrats, Trump is the equivalent of the guy who cheated with, then married, the ex-wife. To anti-Trump Republicans, Trump is the guy who dumped your sister in high school on the day before prom. Just like those loathsome creatures, everything Trump says or does is blackened by familiar dark circumstances; just seeing the man sets off immediate and debilitating fight or flight adrenal surges. There is no other way to explain the animus elicited when the man says or does anything. Trump could be as kind as the Pope, as generous as Santa Claus, as handsome as Robert Redford, as wholesome as Andy of Mayberry, as earnest as Jimmy Stewart, as courageous as Audie Murphy, as thoughtful as Albert Einstein and as funny as Samuel Clemons, and they would still hate his guts.

Of course Donald Trump is imperfect, as is so obsessively pointed out, and he is vain and prone to vindictiveness. Worse yet, he makes it clear every single day that he succeeds despite his determined opposition and the vitriol endlessly heaped upon him. Like the kid who can’t help but poke the neighbor’s mean cat, Trump can’t help but antagonize his detractors. He calls them out, ridicules them, revels in their suffering, and brags on about his own success. For Trump, hyperbole is a potent weapon. “Lies!” says the opposition, frothy with venom and looking for a camera or a microphone. Their urge to bite is overwhelming.

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Loose Cannons and Nuclear Buttons: Dealing with Russia

 

Every time I see “statesmen” foaming at the mouth about insufficient posturing against Russia, I go back to the basics. There are exactly two countries on this planet capable of reducing any country on the face of the earth to toxic, smoldering ruins in hours. These are the United States of America and the Russian Federation (the latest manifestation of the Russian empire).

President Trump has done an admirable job, like most presidents in the Atomic Age, of keeping the natural tensions between the two megadeath powers inside the safety limits. He has succeeded, so far, despite the worst efforts of his domestic enemies, who are more serious about destroying him than they are about national security.

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Pinning the Bogometer, or Fake but Accurate in Psychology Research

 

The Worm Runners Digest was a journal of the 1950s and 1960s that published both satirical scientific articles and actual science. Wikipedia tells us that:

After complaints that the satirical articles and the scientific publications were not distinguishable, the satirical articles were printed upside down in the back half of the W.R.D. along with a topsy turvy back cover.

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The Gender Non-Conformity Cop-Out

 

I’ve been thinking about this post for a few days, but what prompted me to write it now, rather than this coming weekend, is a delightfully wrong-headed piece by our very own and much-loved Fred Cole. So, while this isn’t a rebuttal to Fred’s piece, I’ll nonetheless dedicate it to him.

To Fred

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