Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

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.

More

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.”

More

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.

More

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.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

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.

More

How to Handle the Outrage Mob

 

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

More

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.”

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

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.

More

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.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

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.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

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

More

A 20th-Century Mindset for a 21st-Century World

 

In the immediate aftermath of the President’s Summit in Singapore, and then again this week with the allegedly “disastrous” joint press conference with Vladimir Putin, I keep reading that one side or another has “won” something and that President Trump, by being on the other side, must have “lost” it. It doesn’t seem to be anything you can physically see or touch. It’s not concessions in a treaty (or non-treaty, if you’re Barack Obama) or something valuable such as real estate. It’s not a trophy or a cup. There seems to be no monetary prize. It’s just something I’ve been assured is real and exists. But does it?

When Russia was more than just Russia, back in the day when it was an amalgamation of subjugated states we called the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, and when we were struggling for the hearts and minds (and natural resources) of former colonial holdings of either defeated or bankrupt European powers, there were real prizes out there. It was a battle between the West and capitalism and the dark, evil forces of Communism.

More

Conservatives, Common Courtesy, and the Gender Police

 

Transgender issues seem to be a tricky thing for many conservatives. (And it’s only going to get worse.) For example, a conservative told me the other day that “Misgendering is not a thing.” If you’re not hip to the lingo, misgendering is when you call someone by a gender label other than what they identify as. Like, if you call a lady “sir.” And it can be done accidentally or on purpose. People who care about transgender issues tend to (rightly so) get worked up about it, especially when it is done intentionally.

They also get worked up about “deadnaming.” That’s when you refer to a person who has transitioned by their pre-transition name. I see both misgendering and deadnaming occur here regularly on Ricochet anytime someone brings up Caitlyn Jenner. You may not realize it, but both intentional deadnaming and misgendering are insensitive at best and offensive at worse.

More

Maybe the Innovation Boom Is Here, It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed

 

Check out these two charts from a great Wall Street Journal piece, “The Problem With Innovation: The Biggest Companies Are Hogging All the Gains,” on global productivity growth:

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Let’s Talk About “The Expanse”

 

About seven months ago, a kid I work with told me about a science fiction TV show he thought I’d enjoy. It was a little something called “The Expanse.” It had a great premise. The only problem was that it was on the Syfy channel.

If you’re not familiar with Syfy, until they rebranded themselves a few years ago, they were the Sci-Fi Channel, a cable station nominally devoted to science fiction television. The only problem is that … their programming was terrible. If you need an example of their garbage programming, they’re the folks behind Sharknado. The fact that they changed their name to “Syfy” should tell you everything you need to know. But I was assured, by my coworker, that this one series was the shining gem of the network and that it was worth watching. And, boy howdy, was he right.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Trump and Obama: Form vs. Substance

 

President Trump does a lot of things that disappoint me, and never more than when he speaks ill of my country. I don’t like to hear him explaining how it was “American stupidity” that dampened relations with Russia. Russia is a country full of justifiably cynical subjects ruled by a criminal oligarchy; Putin is a thug and a butcher. Relations are strained because Russia remains in the hands of ruthless people bent on regional domination and personal enrichment.

This isn’t the first time President Trump — or candidate Trump — has run America down. I object to it when I hear it, even though I try not to be too critical of our much-maligned President. He should know better than to say such things, even if he believes them.

More

Real Communism

 
Tsar Nicholas II and his family.

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the massacre of the Tsar and his family. A sad day, but as Lenin once said: you can’t make an omelette without shooting terrified little girls, then stabbing them repeatedly before shooting them again in the head, to make sure. For the sake of The People. 

We’re always told that the Soviet Union wasn’t really Communism, that it was corrupted by Stalin. Communism is a pure thing, idealistic, with only the best interests of everyone at heart. Well, the murder of the Royal Family seems to have occurred before the “corruption” set in, and I doubt you’d find Communists more pure of heart than the Ural Regional Soviet of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government. 

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

The Day My Life Changed

 

Exactly six months ago tonight I had my last conversation with my wife.

I made a blood donation and planned to go to a meeting but I felt compelled to spend the evening with Faye, my wife, who had been sick with the flu. Ordinarily, I would have gone to the meeting and talked in the morning. But that night I had to go home.

More

The Uninformed Economic Views of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in 2 Charts

 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the new Democratic darling and self-described democratic socialist, said some odd things in a PBS interview. First, she tried to explain away the current low unemployment rate this way: “Unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs.”

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Christians and Abortion: An Understanding

 
Rachel Held Evans.

Rachel Held Evans is a fairly famous liberal Christian. She recently made a foray into abortion politics by claiming that people who both support Donald Trump and oppose abortion should think again about opposing abortion. This is because, if abortion was stopped, many more African Americans and other minorities would be born.* Therefore, since Donald Trump is racist, as are his supporters, he and his supporters should not want more of these people born. Furthermore, the only way to prove that Trump and his backers want more minority babies is by adopting Progressive social and economic policies.

What she appeared to be saying in her tweets, however, was that abortion killed a lot of minority babies and that was a good thing. If Trump and his supporters realized that, they would join with Ms. Evans in upholding abortion. Ms. Evans deleted her tweets saying that she was misunderstood and pointed interested readers to a blog post of hers from 2016. In the post, she claimed that truly pro-life Christians should vote for pro-abortion candidates without fear and reject pro-life candidates because they are not truly pro-life.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

The Problem of Social Induction

 

Scottish philosopher David Hume — a skeptic’s skeptic, and not exactly a vaunted figure around here — is famous, in part, for his criticism of inductive reasoning. (Induction involves moving from a particular (or a series of particulars) to some general conclusion.) We tend, for instance, to use inductive reasoning when linking cause and effect. If I lift a ball and let go, the ball falls. The ball behaves this way every time I release it. As far as I know, every single human who hoists a ball into the air and drops it notices the same thing. The ball invariably plunges toward the earth. I conclude, therefore, that a causal relationship exists between my letting go and the ball’s descent.

But, according to Hume, my reasoning is faulty.* No matter how many times I observe one phenomenon following another, I can never be certain that the first causes the second. To do so — to achieve certainty — would require knowledge of the principles underlying that causal chain. But I have no such knowledge. I don’t know, and can’t know, whether there is a causal chain.

More

The Democrats Can’t Move to the Center

 

On the most recent podcast, one of the hosts asked why the Democrats can’t move their party to the center, and instead seem to be sliding further and further left. The question was tossed off, but there is an answer to it, and the answer affects more than just the Democrats. Political organization is harder than it looks. This will require some explaining.

Parties and Interest Groups Explained

More