Populism, Economic Nostalgia, and ‘Left Behind’ America

 

Economic nostalgia is a notable attribute of America’s populists on the left and right. If not for the mistakes of elite policymakers, the economic golden age of postwar America might never have ended. But it’s not just economic nostalgia that unites populists across the political spectrum. It is also the idea that reality puts no constraints on policymakers’ actions, or at least the effectiveness of those actions. Take the issue of what to do about America’s “left behind” regions. It’s the subject two outstanding pieces, one in The New York Times by Eduardo Porter, the other in The Wall Street Journal by Christopher Mims. Both are definitely worth a read.

In “The Hard Truths of Trying to ‘Save’ the Rural Economy,” Porter notes the “inescapable reality of agglomeration.” Innovative companies, the sort that generate high-paying jobs, want to locate near other innovative companies so they can tap deep pools of high-skilled worker talent. And thus you have Amazon building new campuses in New York City and Washington DC, rather than Columbus, OH. Sure, policy wonks have lots of ideas to help distressed communities take part in the evolving American economy — tech education initiatives, broadband investment — but there are no guarantees. As Brookings scholar William Galston is quoted, “I don’t know if these ideas are going to work. But it is worth making the effort.”

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The Inferno of Junior High

 

When I was 13 or so, my Mom pitched religion in such a way that I nearly became an atheist. It wasn’t the actual religion itself that disturbed me so much as her sales pitch.

Me: Why do you believe in g-d?

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Kids, Courts, and the Indian Child Welfare Act

 

Get ready to hear much more over the coming year about the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. In October, in a case called Brackeen v. Zinke, Texas federal judge Reed O’Connor ruled much of ICWA unconstitutional. Since then advocates of the law, led by Indian tribes and social welfare organizations, have been sounding the alarm: ICWA, a law representing a step toward making amends for America’s historic maltreatment of Native Americans, is under attack. (Appeal is pending.)

Some of the outcry has now been personalized into an attack on the jurist responsible for the ruling. In an unrelated December 2018 case Judge O’Connor, a 2007 George W. Bush appointee, handed down a much-criticized ruling finding the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, and online critics were soon connecting the two rulings as “activist” products of the same unreasonable hand.

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Give the Gift of Ricochet

 

We don’t do this very often, (well, other than just about every Ricochet Podcast), but on the occasion of entering our ninth year of our, yes, sometimes perilous existence on the interwebs, we wanted to ask one time to consider giving someone you care about the gift of Ricochet this holiday season.

New members obviously help us run the site and pay our employees, but in addition, new members keep the community growing and vibrant. And having our current members personally select new arrivals is the best way to ensure Ricochet stays the best, brightest, and most civil community on the internet.

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Remembering President George H. W. Bush With Chase Untermeyer & Andrew Ferguson

 

On November 30, 2018, forty-first president George H. W. Bush passed away. Andrew Ferguson and Peter Robinson both served as speechwriters for Bush during his tenure in the White House as both the vice president and president. Chase Untermeyer served as the ambassador to Quatar under the forty-first president. The three men gather to remember the man they knew and the legacy he left behind.

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The GOP Needs To ‘Primary’ The “Old” Strategists/Commentators

 

So … we find that the veteran (experience is not a strength if it is all bad) political class of “strategists, commentators and consultants” (join us on our next cruise … please, clap) and their fans are gearing up for another failed run in 2020. Oh my, but they are gaining in confidence once again, listening to each other in their extremely comfortable echo chamber. Mitt! Jeb! John (my dad was a postman)!

Seriously?! C’Mon Man!

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‘The Valley of Shadows’: An Unconventional End-of-Days Novel

 

John Ringo wrote “Under a Graveyard Sky,” the first book in the Black Tide Rising Series in 2014, which is a novel about a zombie apocalypse; since then he added three more. Then he invited his author friends to play in his world.

“The Valley of Shadows,” by John Ringo and Mike Massa is the first collaborative novel added to the series.

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Quote of the Day: Living and Dying

 

“If a person has a serious, complex illness, palliative specialists are happy to help. The ones in the study discussed with the patients their goals and priorities for if and when their condition worsened. The result: those who saw a palliative care specialist stopped chemotherapy sooner, entered hospice far earlier, experienced less suffering at the end of their lives—and they lived 25% longer. In other words, our decision making in medicine has failed so spectacularly that we have reached the point of actively inflicting harm on patients rather than confronting the subject of mortality. If end-of-life discussions were an experimental drug, the FDA would approve it.” — Atul Gawande, in his book, Being Mortal

Early in my work as a hospice volunteer, we were told about medical doctors who refused to acknowledge that it was time for a patient to let go of hopeless measures for treatment; it was the doctor’s job, after all, to sustain life. Unfortunately, some patients went through horrible suffering because they feared death and because a doctor would not be candid with them about their situations; family members also participated in this plan, unable to face the truth.

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Loneliness, Social Media and Mental Health

 

Over at the New York Post my friend Karol Markowicz has a great column about the emerging crisis that is loneliness. She writes,

“We’re increasingly living our lives on the Internet, alone amid vast digital crowds. Social media have replaced socializing. We’re all guilty of staring too often at our phones. We curl up at night with the latest Chrome browser.”

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These are the people who are leading our children’s education

 

According to an article in the Eugene (Oregon) Register Guard, the Superintendents of Schools for Oregon, Washington and California have petitioned the federal government to not classify students according to the traditional, medical definition of sex. Their “reasoning” is captured in a single sentence:

“Our understanding — and the assumption underlying policy in our states — is that gender is a spectrum that is not necessarily linked to biological sex.”

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Beulah Bondi – Character Actress

 

Movies are so different nowadays. Nothing like they were in the thirties through the fifties. Most of us baby boomers remember those old-time stars. People like John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart (my favorite male lead), Barbara Stanwyck (my favorite female lead), James Cagney, and many more. We may have been born in the late forties into the fifties, but, primarily due to TV and the influence of our parents, many of us learned to fall in Love with people who have been immortalized on the big screen.

My Mom had a photograph album, where she collected pictures of old stars like Henry Fonda, Hedy Lamar, and others. Maybe by watching and enjoying old movies reminds me of her, and how she is always in my heart.

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Another Interesting Idea out of Russia

 

So why am I starting a post with God Save the Tsar, a song not seriously sung in over a century? Because the biggest new idea out of Russia seems to be a revival of the monarchy. Seriously.

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Blue Lives Lost

 

This year, 137 American police officers lost their lives. A member of the emergency communications center in the Boone County Sheriff’s Office in Indiana suggested to the sheriff a special project to honor all of them. As a result, they set up a Christmas tree with 137 blue ornaments, each with the name, rank and end of watch date of one of the officers who died. Included in that group was Deputy Jacob Pickett from Boone County.

Officers from Boone County spent a weekend writing the names of those officers on the bulbs. Joni Scott, Chaplain of the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, commented:

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How to Build a Computer 22: Hard Disk Drives

 

We’re going to take a jaunt entirely out of sequence here, moving from circuits and silicon into larger scale components. Today we’re talking about hard disk drives. Why? Because it’s a fun and interesting technology, because I know a thing or two about it from first-hand experience, but mostly because I’ve got a book to return. And so we’ll take a quick dive into the world of hard disk drives to see what, as the bear over the mountain intended, we can see.

An example HDD. Entirely too dusty to be functional.

Note the term; usually, we refer to these things as ‘hard drives’ and don’t bother to distinguish what kind it is. In the olden days, you had a hard drive and you had a floppy drive. A hard disk drive (hereafter HDD) contains a spinning platter that has the information magnetically encoded on it. A floppy drive also had a spinning platter with information on it, but that spinning part was bendable. For all you youngsters out there your “Save” icon is supposed to look like a floppy disk. It dates back to the times when people actually saved files for storage on one of ’em. The structure of the disks was rigid, you didn’t see the floppy part until you took the thing apart.

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Quote of the Day: “The Doors of Hell Are Locked on the Inside”

 

Eight days after I began work there, as the organization’s first staff member dedicated to supporting its personal computer users, the unionized employees at my local community hospital went on strike. It was February 1, 1990.

Early that morning, as instructed, I drove across a picket line for the first time in my life, showing up for work in blue jeans, a T-shirt, and sneakers. I was handed a mop and bucket, and along with several dozen others, I suffered through a fifteen-minute in-service on the “right way” to clean a patient’s room. Then I was put in charge of a housekeeper’s cart and I spent the next 57 days scrubbing up the Labor and Delivery Unit. This was in the days before the hotel-like “birthing rooms,” where family members gather and watch Mom in extremis, surrounded by flowers, floofy bedding, snack trays, and piped-in music. This was in the days when Mom was wheeled off to the “delivery room” to have the baby, into a forbidding and sterile environment with four gurneys in each room (the hospital had two of these rooms), klieg lights overhead, lots of sharp-edged stainless steel, with no rounded corners on anything, and not a bit of floofery in sight. The floor of each of these delivery rooms was, I can testify, having mopped each of them twice a day (and more, in the case of messy emergencies) for almost two months, about the same square footage as that of an NFL football field.

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This Friendship Was a Special Blessing for One of Them

 

This story, which is making the rounds, reminds me that we all need friends. Famous people are famously lonely and famously unhealthy. They famously have a lack of people who they can trust to enjoy them for their human qualities as opposed to their fame, wealth or status.

I don’t take from this story that Lin Wang was lucky to know Charles Barkley. I take that Barkley was wise to cultivate a friendship with a guy who could be normal in Barkley’s presence.

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Mike Murphy: Onward to 2020! (Conversations With Bill Kristol)

 


Veteran political strategist and commentator Mike Murphy assesses where the Republicans and the Democrats stand as we look toward 2020. What are President Trump’s prospects for reelection? Where are the divisions in the Democratic Party, and which Democratic candidates might prevail in the primaries? And could there be a successful primary challenge to Trump? Murphy shares his thoughts on these and other pressing questions with his usual blend of political insight and humor.

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Veneration for the Ones Who Bring Life

 

My wife’s birthday is on December 16 and every year I ask her for a list of things she’d like or could use. She avoids the question a few times, but eventually gives me a few ideas. I get her what she needs, and try to surprise her with some things I think she’ll like. The latter end up as failures pretty often but I try. She’s always gracious about it but doesn’t usually like surprises. She’s a planner. She doesn’t like uncertainty.

This year her birthday is all about uncertainty. She’s fabulously pregnant, due any day now. She may end up sharing her birthday with our newest son. This will be her seventh pregnancy. She amazes me. The creation known as woman amazes me. God amazes me.

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5 Bulletproof Reasons ‘Die Hard’ Is No Christmas Movie

 

I’m saving the ultimate, unimpeachable reason for last, but let’s get right to it:

  1. It’s Not a Christmas Movie: Anyone claiming it is a Christmas movie is either having us on, or they’re as clueless as Deputy Chief Dwayne T. Robinson. That’s enough to settle the matter, but I’ll go on.
  2. F Words and Nudity: If a certain word starting with “F” is in the movie, it’s not a Christmas movie. Also, if you are a free, American adult, you have a choice of watching Christmas movies or watching movies with topless girls. What you cannot do, by the immutable laws which govern the present universe, is have both in the same film. You know why. “But,” you might respond, “I saw an edited version once! So that version was definitely a Christmas movie!” Well, first of all, see #1, and secondly, how can it be a Christmas movie, if it can’t be shown on an airplane without edits? I’ll calculate the last digit of pi as you struggle to craft an answer.
  3. Year-round Viewing: Suppose, on a lazy evening in August, you call a friend of yours, and inquire what they’re up to. “Watching Die Hard,” they reply. What is your response? You’re not going to say “In August?” or “But it’s not Christmas!” No, you’re not going to say that. And you know you’re not. QED, not a Christmas movie. Die Hard, being an action flick rather than a Christmas flick, is something people are likely to watch any time they want some action-fueled escapism. If you come home, and your roommate is watching Die Hard, you don’t have to check the calendar. If your friend were watching It’s a Wonderful Life in April, you probably would remark on their viewing it “out of season,” even though it’s a fine film for all times of year, and only the finale is set during Christmas. But it’s so much closer to being a Christmas movie than Die Hard, that most people would remark on the perceived oddity of viewing IWL in summertime. Also, see #1.
  4. An Action Hero Does Not a Baby Jesus Make: I needn’t get so deep (because see #1), but I suppose someone will propose that Die Hard is a film in which all seems lost, until a hero arrives, to set all things right. Messiah McClane enters our darkness, punishes the wicked, and redeem the captives. Why, Nakatomi Plaza might as well be a stable and a lowly manger. Well, OK, but now you’ve made every action film a Christmas film.
  5. And now, the final point, and the one that will force the Die Hard diehards to their knees, and force them to confess the truth. Were this a Christmas movie, you know those Japanese guys would be eating some KFC. Are those Japanese guys eating KFC? No, they are not.

If that last point doesn’t clinch it for you, I don’t know what to tell you.

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AM to FM

 

It was in February 1965 that I became a devoted listener of AM radio. I’d seen The Beatles on Ed Sullivan in February and March of ’64 and occasionally listened to the radio in the car. But it wasn’t until being confined to bed for a week in early ’65 with a bad cold and a radio by my side that I began listening every day. From then until graduating from high school in 1969 I stayed tuned in.

What I tuned into changed over time. For the first 18 months it was two New York AM stations, WABC, and less frequently WMCA. ABC, the home of Cousin Brucie, emphasized the British Invasion bands, American groups like The Beach Boys and Four Seasons along with a lot of Motown, while MCA was more soul-oriented with lots of Stax and James Brown, and more welcoming to garage bands. The AM stations, particularly ABC, had very restricted playlists; the Top 20 (ABC played the #1 song once an hour), a handful of new and quickly rising singles and a smattering of oldies (in those days an oldie meant songs all the way back to 1955).

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Tear It Down and Salt The Earth

 

When I was a child I read about the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage. I was very impressed with what I read about the end of Carthage:

Starting in the 19th century,[74] various texts claim that after defeating the city of Carthage in the Third Punic War (146 BC), the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus Africanus ordered the city be sacked, forced its surviving inhabitants into slavery, plowed it over and sowed it with salt.

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Quote of the Day: Farewell, TWS

 

In honor of the departed Weekly Standard, I wanted to share a favorite quote from one of their finest writers, Matt Labash. He wrote this during the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary.

“As one who was never terribly enamored of Hillary Clinton’s personality to start with, I grudgingly admit to enjoying her recent near-tears transformation. Plenty of critics concede her rarely seen emotion was heartfelt, but also that it was due to the 20-hour-day rigors of the campaign trail, making her perhaps the only candidate ever to win the New Hampshire primary because she needed a nap. Still, it was refreshing to watch her punch through the icy crust of her own phoniness, so that the molten core of artificiality could gush forth.”

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The Weekly Standard, R.I.P.

 

Today, Philip Anschutz shut down The Weekly Standard. I, for one, wish that he had refrained from doing so. I do not mean to say that I agree with the stance Bill Kristol has taken with regard to Trump. I have known Bill for decades, and I have a great deal of respect for him. But I think him in error. Trump’s flaws are obvious, but the available alternatives are worse — and the man has not only done a number of good things. He has also forced a rethinking of post-Cold war policies with regard to the economy and our posture in the larger world that have pretty obviously failed.

But whether or not I think Bill right or in error on this point does not matter much. He founded and for quite a number of years edited a magazine that was nearly always thoughtful and a pleasure to read. Steve Hayes, who took it over when Trump became President, has done a terrific job, and there is nothing out there that will replace it.

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