Of Nerds and Men; or How Trump Steamrolled the Media and Political Class

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The conventional wisdom is that Donald Trump has been successful because he is able to dominate the media cycle and “troll” his opponents in the internet parlance. No one who says these things ever seems to explain or understand what this actually means. These terms describe how the underlying relationship between Trump and media and the rest of the political class has manifested itself in the campaign. Our entire political and media class are what can fairly be called “nerds.” Trump is not a nerd. This has allowed Trump to use the media and political class’s social disconnect with the rest of America to manipulate them into making what, to the public, are completely inappropriate and counterproductive responses to the things he says. The story of the 2016 campaign has been one of class clown Donald Trump torturing a series of clueless yet earnest teacher’s pets.

The term “nerd” is an old one and one with a particular meaning. A nerd is someone who, despite often being otherwise intelligent, is unable to pick up social cues and context when interacting with the majority of people such that they often respond in socially awkward or inappropriate ways. Nerds do not fully understand the social situations that confront them. To get around this problem, nerds construct their own subcultures with simplified and agreed mores that are understood by fellow nerds. This allows nerds to operate in an environment that they understand and are comfortable. When taken outside of this sub culture and confronted with someone who doesn’t share the agreed upon assumptions of that group, a nerd is completely defenseless and unable to understand the person confronting them.


What Didn’t Happen


shutterstock_164855486After a month of horrible headlines — from the Islamist-inspired massacres in Orlando, France, and Germany, to a pair of (very different) shootings by police, to the assassinations of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge — it’s worth taking a moment to point out that the one incident the Left predicted didn’t actually happen. That is, despite Ohio’s open carry laws, handwringing op-eds from the usual suspects, and calls for Governor John Kasich to suspend the 2nd Amendment (he didn’t), and the hot tempers that often accompany Donald Trump, there wasn’t a single shooting around the GOP convention; from that perspective, the whole thing was a total disappointment. From an excellent piece in USA Today:

The city’s police union also pushed for a gun ban. Ohio Gov. John Kasich “could very easily do some kind of executive order or something — I don’t care if it’s constitutional at this point,” said Stephen Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association. “I want him to absolutely outlaw open-carry in Cuyahoga County until this (Republican National Convention) is over.”


Of Memes, False Memories, and False Attribution


lincolnAround my door at the middle school I teach at, I have posted pictures of various historical figures along with inspirational quotations. Included among these is the one you see to the left. I included it both as a humorous touch, and as genuinely good advice.

I was reminded of this image today when I narrowly avoided falling for another false quote. I have seen the Trump meme below the fold pop up multiple times on the internet:


Khizr Khan, The Democrats’ New Rockstar


To give Hillary Clinton and the DNC their due, they nailed it in finding Mr. Khan. Expect to find his speech — half-elegy for his US Army captain son, half endorsement of Clinton — re-tweeted and shared on Facebook, along with challenges from your liberal friends.

It’s powerful stuff — if the story they tell is true, CPT Khan died a hero’s death — but there are ways to parry it. So, Ricochet, let’s crowd-source our responses.


Is the IMF Worth Reforming?


IMFThe IMF’s independent auditing body has just published an absolutely lacerating report on the IMF’s role in the Eurozone crisis. Among the highlights:

  • The IMF’s handling of the euro area crisis raised issues of accountability and transparency, which helped create the perception that the IMF treated Europe differently. Conducting this evaluation proved challenging. Some documents on sensitive issues were prepared outside the regular, established channels; the IEO faced a lack of clarity in its terms of reference on what it could or could not evaluate; and there was no clear protocol on the modality of interactions between the IEO and IMF staff. The IMF did not complete internal reviews involving euro area programs on time, as mandated, which led to missed opportunities to draw timely lessons.
  • In general, the IMF shared the widely-held “Europe is different” mindset that encouraged the view that large imbalances in national current accounts were little cause for concern and that sudden stops could not happen within the euro area.
  • The IMF-supported programs in Greece and Portugal incorporated overly optimistic growth projections. More realistic projections would have made clear the likely impact of fiscal consolidation on growth and debt dynamics, and allowed the authorities to prepare accordingly or persuaded European partners to consider additional—and more concessional—financing while preserving the IMF’s credibility as an independent, technocratic institution. Lessons from past crises were not always applied, for example when the IMF underestimated the likely negative response of private creditors to a high-risk program.
  • [E]ven though the possibility of engaging with a euro area country in a program relationship became real in early 2009 (when IMF staff raised the issue informally with the Irish authorities), no Executive Board meeting ever took place to discuss, let alone articulate, how the IMF could engage with a euro area country in a program relationship. (The first informal Board meeting during the euro area crisis was held on March 26, 2010, but only to discuss developments in Greece.) IMF management had earlier established small, ad hoc staff task forces to explore various contingencies, but the work of these groups was so secret that few within the institution knew of their existence, let alone the content of their deliberations.
  • Before the launch of the euro in January 1999, the IMF’s public statements tended to emphasize the advantages of the common currency more than the concerns about it that were being expressed in the broader literature. Individual staff members did express such concerns. Interviews with former and current senior staff members suggest that, after a heated internal debate, the view supportive of what was perceived to be Europe’s political project ultimately prevailed in guiding the Fund’s public position.
  • The IMF staff was often quick to praise national authorities for reforms without assessing the actual implementation or impact of the reforms. Reforms announced or implemented were generally cast in a positive light, albeit with a caveat that more were needed.
  • Apparently seeing little risk that a smaller country in the periphery could become a source of vulnerability to the rest of the monetary union, euro area surveillance did not analyze sufficiently how policies pursued in one country might affect other members of the monetary union. Staff resources were shifted away from countries that would later face crises.
  • The IMF remained upbeat about the soundness of the European banking system and the quality of banking supervision in euro area countries until after the start of the global financial crisis in mid-2007. This lapse was largely due to the IMF’s readiness to take the reassurances of national and euro area authorities at face value.
  • “[A] high degree of groupthink, intellectual capture, a general mindset that a major financial crisis in large advanced economies was unlikely, and incomplete analytical approaches”… compounded in the case of the euro area by a “Europe is different” mindset that encouraged the view that surveillance was largely the responsibility of euro area institutions and authorities, that large national current account imbalances were little cause for concern, and sudden stops could not happen within a currency union that issues a reserve currency.

This is an important account, because the IMF bears substantial responsibility for the collapse of confidence in traditional political parties in Europe, as well as the prevailing sense that the European Union is undemocratic and unaccountable. But as I’ve argued elsewhere, the lack of accountability and democracy in the EU is grossly overstated. The lack of democratic accountability in the IMF is not.


DNC Day Four Wrap Up


dncc16logoThis is a preview from Friday morning’s The Daily Shot newsletter. Subscribe here free of charge.

Well, last night was (mercifully) the last night of the Democratic National Convention. It was Hillary Clinton’s big night and at 10:30, she wandered out and gave her speech accepting the nomination. (We can skip over the other speakers, right? You don’t need to hear about how bad Jennifer Granholm’s comedy routine was, do you? Seriously, politicos shouldn’t try to do stand up. It’s not as easy as it looks.)


Why I Left Ricochet (and came back)


Here in the United States only about five percent of the land is developed. The rest is “rural open space.” In that small five percent dwells 75% of our population. We choose to cram ourselves into close quarters. We choose to do this, just as we choose to be a part of an online community.

Why is the site here? Center-right conversation? Well, wherever it skews, it definitely provides a forum for conversation. Lively debate? Absolutely. Enlightening debate, invigorating, challenging, and sometimes even meaningful.


51G93vyEl5L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_J.D. Vance joins to discuss his fantastic new book Hillbilly Elegy, a book that gets to the heart of the troubles of working class white Americans, which could hardly be more topical.

Jay and Mona then speak of Democrats – who continue to act like themselves, sowing racial disharmony, for example – but have added odd moments this year because it’s a year like no other. And nothing will ever be the same.


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Where Does a Patriot Turn in 2016?

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The Democratic Party’s national convention is attempting to lay claim to the patriot mantle. Yet the party is not quite there. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was heckled with chants of “no more war.” The Code Pink wing lost the nomination this year, but it won the platform, and may yet win it all in the next cycle.

President Obama seeded his own speech with patriotic grace notes and, while he recoils from Trump, his horror at Trump’s style seemingly blinds him to their similarities. On substance, they are more alike than not. This shouldn’t be shocking, considering that Trump has been a Democrat for most of his life. What is stunning is the degree to which so many patriots, whose eyes water at the flag and the anthem, imagine that Trump is a patriot in the same mold.


avatar_1428772734-192x192The Baltics are little, beautiful countries a long way from the United States – and very close to Russia. They were once ruled – captured and brutalized – by the Kremlin. Today, they are members of NATO.

What does this mean? Does it matter? The issue has come up in the current presidential race. And Andrew Stuttaford is an excellent man to address it. He talks with Jay about matters historical and burningly current. They are related.


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Greg Corombos of Radio America and Mark Wright of National Review groan as President Obama used his convention speech to extol the power of American unity after eight years of dividing Americans in every conceivable way. They’re also stunned as Nancy Pelosi says working class whites are too distracted by guns, abortion and gay issues to know what’s good for them and vote for Democrats. And they sigh as both the Trump and Clinton campaigns botch their handling of the DNC email scandal.


This week on Money & Politics, Larry Kudlow and Tim Pawlenty break down the Democratic convention, Clinton’s Russia connection, that curious “No more war” attack from Bernie people during Leon Pancetta speech, and why Obama paints wrong picture on ISIS. Also, Trump’s RNC speech — key themes, Trump encourages Russia can help find deleted Clinton emails, who is the real change maker? And finally, no rate hike from the Fed.


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Ricochet Member FeedUpvoted by R> Members Slick Willie’s Last Perp Walk


In what will likely be his final DNC address Bill Clinton delivered a snooze burger of a speech that received blistering eruptions of applause from the scabs in the audience. The man with stamina enough for his self-proclaimed 2000 lovers ( most after he took his sweet bride across the aisle) seemed as droning and foggy as a roofed intern despite the Pavlovian media’s cholinergic drool fest over his pleas for his devoted queen. With the pallor of 5 decades of substance abuse, the hoarseness of a Brenda Vaccaro Playtex tampon ad, and the awareness of a man with too many hours on cardiac bypass, old scratch had his way one final time with the bovine spongiform encephalopathic journalists desperate to elect their mad cow.

Barring a Clinton victory and evading Cialis toxicity, we may have just seen the media’s final roll in the hay with Slick Wille. It’s always been a sexual thing with him and the media. The women reporters would adore servicing the man who kept baby killing smooth and the liberal beta male crack pundits would probably join in the copulatory heap too if ordered by their alpha female polyandric democratic sycophantic darlings.



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When you listen to Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech tonight — seriously, America, why? — expect to hear a lot of compassionate talk aimed at working Americans. Specifically, about the Democratic Party’s plans to raise the national minimum wage to $12/hour, force companies to offer paid parental leave, double-down on ObamaCare, expand Medicaid, and push for greater education subsidies.

Then, ask yourself: Are these policies going to make life less or more expensive for Americans? So many of our problems — particularly, those regarding employment and the economy — stem from the way our federal government artificially raises the cost of American labor by imposing perquisites on it. Ask yourself, does your company spend too little time working on HR matters? Do you wish you had more federal forms to file? Is it too easy to hire someone willing to trade their time, effort, and skills for pay? Would our problems be better solved by more one-size-shall-fit-all-dammit edicts from Washington, DC? Then, compare your answers to Clinton’s.


Vikings: The Most Religious Show on TV?


Earlier this week, Bishop Robert Barron wrote a short essay MV5BOTEzNzI3MDc0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzk1MzA5NzE@._V1_about the History Channel’s drama series Vikings, arguing that it’s the most explicitly religious show he can remember watching. On this advice, my husband and I watched the first episode last night and our 14-year-old son was immediately sucked in. His parting words for the night were “Don’t watch it without me!” (The 19-year-old came home in the middle of it and, scandalized, asked why we were letting him watch Game of Thrones? Um, no dear.) From a spoiler-free portion of the bishop’s piece:

[E]veryone in Vikings is religious: the Northmen (and women) themselves, the English, the French, and visitors from distant lands. To be sure, they are religious in very different ways, but there is no one who does not take with utter seriousness a connection to a higher, spiritual realm. Moreover, their spirituality is not an abstraction, but rather is regularly embodied in ritual, prayer, procession, liturgy, and mystical experience. The ubiquity and intensity of faith in these various peoples and tribes calls to mind philosopher Charles Taylor’s observation that, prior to 1500 or so, it was practically unthinkable not to be religious. That God exists, that spiritual powers impinge upon the world, that we live on after we die, that a higher authority judges our deeds—all of this was simply the default of the overwhelming majority of the human race prior to very recent times in certain pockets of Western civilization. Taylor speaks of the “buffered self” that has come to dominate today. He means the identity that is closed in upon itself, oblivious to a transcendent dimension, committed unquestioningly to a naturalist or materialist view of reality. I must confess that it was enormously refreshing to watch a program in which every single self was unbuffered!


Europe in the Terrorists’ Grasp: We’re Next


shutterstock_52302157Europe’s sense of safety and security is being chipped away — or perhaps I should say “bludgeoned and run over” — by Islamist terrorism. As incidents increase, the French, Germans, and the rest of the European Union are wringing their hands and in a state of bewilderment. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said following the attack in Nice: “France is going to have to live with terrorism.” No one seems to know what to do.

In his most recent column, the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens describes how Europe has found itself too paralyzed by its history and mythology to fight terrorism. I fear that the same reasons for their ineptitude and confusion contribute to our own. Stephens describes the current conditions as the Europeans holding onto to a historic mythology: “Among those mythologies: that the European Union is the result of a postwar moral commitment to peace; that Christianity is of merely historical importance to European identity; that there’s no such thing as a military solution; that one’s country isn’t worth fighting for; that honor is atavistic and tolerance is the supreme value.”


Is Trump The Real Conservative?


trumpIs Trump the real conservative? The bench, we were told, was deep. Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, Jeb along with Biff, Buffy, Jugghead, Flounder… And then came Donald Trump. But while the bench might have been deep with politics, how deep were their conservative bonafides? Senator Rubio’s shtick wore thin quickly and he could not atone for his dalliances with amnesty. Governor Kasich was unconvincing except as a “good government” proponent and that ain’t conservative. Senator Cruz was conservative, no doubt, but he ticked everyone off. How can you govern if you can’t get along with others? Jeb never had a chance; his father was no conservative and his brother was too timid to be. The rest were flawed and weak.

And what of Trump’s conservatism? Better than you might think.


Update on the Bukovsky Trial


BukI just received this press release from Vladimir Bukovsky. You may recall that he sued Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service for libel over a statement it issued in April announcing that he was being charged with “making” child pornography. Bukovsky strenuously denied the allegations, and took the unusual step of issuing a writ against the CPS in the high court in London. Unfortunately — but unsurprisingly — the court has found against him:

The CPS has made no allegations of Vladimir Bukovsky’s involvement in sexual abuse of children, the High Court has ruled today. The judgement of Mr. Justice Warby in Mr. Bukovsky’s libel claim against the CPS states: “Mr Bukovsky has not been charged with or accused of being a participant in or present at the scene of any child sex abuse, or of taking photographs of such abuse. The CPS has not alleged, and does not allege, that he was guilty of or reasonably suspected of any such conduct.


Marilyn Mosby: A Woman Without Shame


When I learned on Wednesday morning that prosecutors in Baltimore had elected to drop all charges against the remaining defendants in the Freddie Gray case, I felt a great sense of relief for the three police officers who had not yet been acquitted. I phrase it that way intentionally because, after the third acquittal in the case (and a hung jury), it should have been clear to anyone – even State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby – that the state had no chance of convicting any of the officers on even a single charge. In June of last year, I predicted such an outcome here on Ricochet, and I also predicted that the officers would later prevail in a civil case against Mosby. Now that the first element of that scenario has come to pass, in due course we’ll find out about the second.

Given the string of embarrassments suffered by the prosecutors in the case, I expected Mosby to drop the charges while exhibiting some minimal degree of grace and humility. That turns out to have been a foolish expectation; in retrospect I should have known better. Her address to reporters on Wednesday, delivered not at the courthouse but on a street corner in the West Baltimore neighborhood where Freddie Gray was arrested, was as brilliant a display of arrogance, scapegoating, and self-righteousness as one is ever likely to witness. Summed up, the outcome of the Freddie Gray prosecution can be blamed on everyone but her and her loyal band of prosecutors. In Mosby’s view, the police and the judge cooperated in subverting her noble quest for justice on behalf of Freddie Gray, about which she admits no errors and harbors no regrets.