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Who is the Greater Threat: Russia or China ?

 

In Europe, we also have had the ‘pleasure’ of hearing about President Trump’s two-hour meeting with Putin, and the subsequent press conference. We have also heard about his advice to UK Prime Minister Theresa May to “just sue the EU,” and that garnered a few laughs, especially here in Switzerland. We have our own problems with the European Union.

But, here is my humble question: Shouldn’t China’s behavior be getting more of the media’s attention than Russia?

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Real Donald Trump Blunder? “Montenegro” Isn’t Montenegro.

 

No president is perfect, else we would allow unlimited terms. I support President Trump’s actions towards Russia, am not discomforted by the Helsinki summit, and believe the upcoming DC summit to be a good thing. I also recognize that the relentlessly hostile network and cable news media make the islands of apparently friendly forums attractive. With all those qualifications, I was jarred by the President’s response to Tucker Carlson on “Montenegro.” I am concerned because of history and because it is clear “Montenegro,” in Tucker’s agenda, is not Montenegro. A quick look at the map shows what I mean.

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On Family Men

 

My dad was a family man. He wasn’t necessarily the warmest of dudes when I was growing up, but he believed then and now in family. He raised his three kids to the best of his ability, and everything he did was for his family. He never cheated on his wife, never divorced (50+ years of marriage), never abused her. He whooped us kids when we needed it, but I can’t say that I was abused.

I, too, am a family man. Family comes before work, church, pleasure. The only thing I put before my kids is my wife, and the only thing I put before her is God. Most of the time anyway. I’ve been married 25 years, never cheated, never abused her or the kids. I’ve always worked to put food on the table, cleats on the feets, and gas in the car. I’m a good dad and husband. I’m a family man.

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Quote of the Day

 

“Giving a motorized scooter to a kid is a moronic thing to do. It’s like giving somebody in West Virginia a gun.” — Los Angeles talent manager David Steinberg.

Not a profound quote, but it profoundly reflects on how the liberal blue states on the coast perceive flyover country. West Virginia, ranked fourth in the nation for the percentage of the population that owns guns, has 54% ownership with most owning multiple arms. If we are to take David Steinberg at his word, then more than half of West Virginians are morons.

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If Only…

 

The other day, a mob of students defaced a new mural at the University of Manchester. The mural depicted the poem “If” by the racist imperialist misogynist Rudyard Kipling, so of course they painted over it with a poem by Maya Angelou.

Serena Williams finds this poem to be deeply inspirational, as this video shows (she takes a liberty with the final line, but I like it, sister):

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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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