Q & A, hosted by Jay NordlingerEp. 60: Garry Kasparov: Against Winter, Against the Witches

Q & A, hosted by Jay Nordlinger Garry Kasparov: Against Winter, Against the Witches

Garry Kasparov is a great chess champion. He is also a champion of human rights, freedom, and democracy. He is the chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, based in New York. And he was recently at the Oslo Freedom Forum, in Norway.

Kasparov’s new book is Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped.

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Saturday Night Science: The Cosmic Web

“The Cosmic Web” by J. Richard GottSome works of popular science, trying to impress the reader with the scale of the universe and the insignificance of humans on the cosmic scale, argue that there’s nothing special about our place in the universe: “an ordinary planet orbiting an ordinary star, in a typical orbit within an ordinary galaxy,” or something like that. But this is wrong! Surfaces of planets make up a vanishingly small fraction of the volume of the universe, and habitable planets, where beings like ourselves are neither frozen nor fried by extremes of temperature, nor suffocated or poisoned by a toxic atmosphere, are rarer still. The Sun is far from an ordinary star: it is brighter than 85% of the stars in the galaxy, and only 7.8% of stars in the Milky Way share its spectral class. Fully 76% of stars are dim red dwarves, the heavens’ own 25 watt bulbs.

What does a typical place in the universe look like? What would you see if you were there? Well, first of all, you’d need a space suit and air supply, since the universe is mostly empty. And you’d see nothing. Most of the volume of the universe consists of great voids with few galaxies. If you were at a typical place in the universe, you’d be in one of these voids, probably far enough from the nearest galaxy that it wouldn’t be visible to the unaided eye. There would be no stars in the sky, since stars are only formed within galaxies. There would only be darkness. Now look out the window: you are in a pretty special place after all.

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Virtue Signaling and Restroom Signs

Let’s say, for a moment, you’re one of the small fraction of a percentage of the population who self-identifies as a gender other than what your biological bits indicate. You don’t want to go into the men’s room because you think you’re actually a woman. But if you go into the women’s restroom, your best-case scenario is scorn and your worst-case scenario is a trip in the back of a cop car.

So you’re worried you can’t go into the restroom without people thinking you might be a child molester? That’s nice. I can’t even enter the building in the first place because people are worried I might be a mass murderer. How’s that for discrimination?

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“Why a Hoodie?” She Asks

shutterstock_396473320My latest contribution over at PJ Media concerns the circus atmosphere that sometimes prevails at the Los Angeles police commission’s weekly meetings. The local chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement, most of whom are unburdened by employment or other responsibilities, have been making regular appearances at these meetings, taking advantage of the public comment portion to harangue the commissioners and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

As I explain in the piece, the police commission is composed of five members appointed by the mayor, who selects them not for their expertise on law enforcement matters, of which they have none, but rather for their ability to satisfy an unwritten but steadfastly observed “diversity” formula. “But this diversity,” I write, “as is most often the case when the term is used today, does not extend to a diversity of thought or political opinion, only of race, sex, and sexual orientation. As it’s currently composed, the police commission is uniformly liberal, albeit with some members leaning farther to the left than others.” Thus on the commission can be found two white men (one of whom is gay), a black man, an Asian woman, and a Hispanic woman.

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The Ricochet PodcastEp. 305: Summer

The Ricochet Podcast Summer

We recorded this one yesterday in New York City, and due to travel and other issues, we’re posting it now. We talk Trump, the now official Republican nominee, get the inside scoop on that Facebook meeting from our guest Brent Bozell, and a theory about Joe Biden. Yes, Joe Biden. Finally, what’s Peter Robinson’s favorite Bob Dylan lyric? The answer may surprise you (it surprised us). Happy summer, everyone!

Music from this week’s episode:

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The Czechoslovak Underground Church (II)

I’m back in Prague and am finally getting around to fulfilling my promise to keep writing about religion in the Czech lands under communism. In my first post, I mentioned the extreme repression the Catholic church suffered under communism in the former Czechoslovakia and the ways the church and its clerics sought to maintain a vibrant faith community for lay people. Many formerly “official” priests risked imprisonment by participating in religious education and similar activities in private homes. Many had served terms in the labor camps adjacent to uranium mines in the 1950s. This camp, called Vojna, is the site of a memorial today.

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Talking Dirty

Rico_SexMy two oldest boys have just completed their freshman year in college. About 12 years ago, when they were 7 and 8 respectively I walked in on them while they were browsing the web. They fell all over themselves trying to be the first one to turn off the monitor and I knew they were into something they shouldn’t have been.

“What’s going on, boys?”

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Mad Dogs & EnglishmenEp. 134: Re-Re-Writing History

Mad Dogs & Englishmen Re-Re-Writing History

Katie Couric’s deceptive documentary, the case for for using the A-bomb on Hiroshima, and a meditation on Bond villains.

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How Much of US Corporate Profits Comes from Cronyism?

052716beesenIt’s one thing when a company generates profits from creating value. That’s a beautiful thing. But how about when the profit comes from manipulating the political system? If that latter situation is commonplace, then rising profits might show something is deeply wrong with an economy.

Such a situation could, as James Bessen writes in Harvard Business Review, “represent a decline in competition and, with that, a decline in economic dynamism. While a dynamic, competitive economy rewards innovative firms with high profits and punishes poor performers with low profits, sustained aggregate profits suggest, instead, that firms are able to get away with higher prices because competition is limited. Firms engage in political ‘rent seeking’—lobbying for regulations that provide them sheltered markets—rather than competing on innovation. If so, then high profits portend diminished productivity growth.”

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Regulators: Fixing What Is Wrong With the Desert

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So here I am in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun wondering just what all the hubbub is about. I remember Mays past, days of 110 degrees or more and yet, in the past couple of years it’s been downright pleasant, dry, 80s to low 90s during the day, 60s at night, and only one, perhaps two, days that eclipsed 100. I thought that temperatures were expected to rise, especially with the El Nino effect. No, not in May.

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Revenge of the (Other) Tea Party?

600px-US_Senator_of_Texas_Ted_Cruz_at_FITN_in_Nashua,_NH_07
Ted Cruz by Michael VadonCC BY-SA 4.0.
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Ken Cuccinelli by Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0.

There were always two Tea Parties. To generalize, the first was older, WASPier, and more anti-Left than classically liberal. They hated Obama, but had little interest in pointy-headed constitutional study. The second was younger, more diverse, and more explicitly ideological. They were quick to roll their eyes at the “Hands off my Medicare!” rhetoric associated with the movement. The wonder of it isn’t that these groups eventually found their champions in Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz. It’s that they found champions who so perfectly embodied these stereotypes.

This brings us to a fascinating piece in the Wall Street Journal brought to Ricochet’s attention yesterday by Tory War Writer. A GOP faction is trying to re-write the GOP delegate rules to stave off future Donald Trumps. Its leaders say they’re not trying to deny Trump the nomination. They expect him to win on the first ballot. Heading the effort is former Virginia Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli:

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Is Anyone Worried about the Alt-Right?

Several recent Ricochet comments have referred to the “Alt-Right,” mostly in passing. Since I wasn’t familiar with the term, I decided to find out what it actually was. My investigation has been an unnerving experience and I, for one, am worried for this country. Most people will acknowledge that the beliefs and goals of the Alt-Right are despicable. Their proponents are mostly young, self-described radicals who have found the positions of Donald Trump admirable (which, I know, does not make all Donald Trump supporters Alt-Right).

During the most recent Need to Know podcast, Mona Charen, Jay Nordlinger, and guest David French condemned the Alt-Right without reservation. They cited websites where the comment sections had to be shut down due to the volume of venomous comments made against people who didn’t support Donald Trump. Several sources I reviewed regarding the Alt-Right movement highlighted an article from Breitbart written by Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos (pictured), who believe that the movement is mischaracterized. They say:

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Will the Media “Ghost” Donald Trump?

ghostbustingMany have suggested that Donald Trump won the GOP nomination through access to the free media he received as a bombastic novelty candidate. He calls in to chat shows on a weekly basis and he’s practically a regular on Fox News. He supplies website and newspaper headline writers with material almost every day. He’s never not trending on social media. In short, he’s good for ratings. The prevailing wisdom is that the media will go negative on Trump now that he has locked up the nomination. I disagree. First of all, it’s not like any of them are giving him favorable press. With the exception of Fox News — which is preaching to the anti-Clinton Choir — I think they will just cover him less and less. In social media parlance, they will “ghost” him.

For large news media outlets, good ratings and the revenue they precipitate will always be the primary objectives, but electing Democrats — particularly minority and female candidates — is a close second. Besides, the historic significance of the first female president will generate lots of ratings. Hillary Clinton’s scandals (old and new) will attract listeners and viewers and users. The prospect of Bill Clinton becoming the first gentleman and perhaps a cabinet member will make good copy. So will the promise of his return to White House, the scene of his intern shenanigans.

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US Productivity Growth Is Set to Fall for the First Time in Decades. Should We Worry a Little or a Lot?

052616From the Financial Times:

Productivity is set to fall in the US for the first time in more than three decades, raising the prospect of persistent wage stagnation and the risk of a further populist backlash. Research by the Conference Board, a US think-tank, also shows the rate of productivity growth sliding behind the feeble rates in other advanced economies, with gross domestic product per hour projected to drop by 0.2 per cent this year. … “Last year it looked like we were entering into a productivity crisis: now we are right in it,” said Bart van Ark, the Conference Board’s chief economist. “Companies really need to invest seriously in innovation. It is time for companies to move on the productivity agenda to turn this story around.” …

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A Fighting Chance for Integrity

hillary_clinton_donald_trumpAs someone who believes that excessive partisanship and Balkanization is poisoning our politics, I have tried to view Hillary Clinton as something other than the ghoul she is portrayed as in conservative circles. No accusation against her is considered too outlandish to gain assent in some precincts of the right. Vince Foster was murdered. Clinton covered up a cocaine smuggling operation in Arkansas. She assassinated Kathleen Willey’s cat.

It seems a waste of effort to conjure lurid theories about Hillary Clinton when the truth is thoroughly, totally damning. Of course all politicians shade the truth to some degree and we’re not electing a pastor and all that – but as a voter, one likes to believe that candidates are at least operating broadly within the same moral universe as the rest of us. She isn’t — and neither is Donald Trump.

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Tom Cotton, Impressive

I just saw a floor speech from Senator Cotton. I must say I am impressed. He called out Sen. Reid for the useless selfish rotting bag of bones that he is.

We could use more like him. Watch, it’s short but worth it.

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Three Martini LunchThree Martini Lunch 5/26/16

Three Martini Lunch Three Martini Lunch 5/26/16

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are pleased to see the mainstream media covering the State Department report slamming Hillary Clinton and thrilled they are being tough on her. They are not at all surprised that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is lying in an effort to explain away his FBI investigation. And they rip Katie Couric for using false footage in her anti-gun documentary to make gun rights supporters look like they have no reasons to oppose background checks.

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Q & A, hosted by Jay NordlingerEp. 59: A Mayor’s Daughter, Campaigning for Her Imprisoned Father

Q & A, hosted by Jay Nordlinger A Mayor’s Daughter, Campaigning for Her Imprisoned Father

Antonio Ledezma is the mayor of Caracas. He is also a political prisoner – a prisoner of the chavista government, led by Nicolas Maduro. He was arrested last year, brutally. He was arrested because he is a democrat and the chavistas are not.

Freedom is eroding fast in Venezuela.

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