The Women’s March Story They Don’t Want You to See

 

This afternoon a number of journalists received a strange e-mail from a public relations firm about a story they tweeted about the anti-Semitic infestation of the Women’s March that Tablet Magazine published the day prior:

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The Media’s Becoming More Positive About AI, and It Probably Should

 

I would more readily label myself, if forced, as a technology optimist rather than pessimist. So I very much like this chart from the new AI Index report:

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Death Waits

 

I work at a funeral home. It can be sad, but I find it more rewarding than anything else. It’s a privilege to be able to serve your fellow men and women in their deepest time of need.

Usually, the funerals aren’t so bad. Someone’s 90-year-old mother finally succumbed to time’s suffocating grasp, perhaps. Sad, certainly. But not tragic. The families of those who pass when it feels right often have feelings tinged with relief, or even joy, that their loved one’s suffering has ended.

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Toys of Christmas Past

 

“No one ever forgets a toy that made him or her supremely happy as a child, even if that toy is replaced by one like it that is much nicer.” Stephen King

“‘Tis the season,” so they say, so now I offer up something light, silly, and hopefully a little fun. Because I am Mr. Fun! All my friends say so, right? Right? (Nobody here except us crickets, man.) Ahem. Well, be that as it may, I got caught up in a conversation the other day about the toys we had as kids. Sure, it’s not an uncommon conversation, but whenever they start, it quickly evokes the same feelings of competitive envy I had when I was nine, when everyone would go back to school and compare notes on who got what for Christmas.

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The Border Wall Is Now a Pay Wall

 

From the San Diego Tribune:

Two groups of Central American migrants made separate marches on the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana Tuesday, demanding that they be processed through the asylum system more quickly and in greater numbers, that deportations be halted and that President Trump either let them into the country or pay them $50,000 each to go home.

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FIRE report: 9 out of 10 Universities (Still) Restrict Free Speech

 

For more than a decade now, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has published its Spotlight on Speech Codes report, an annual survey of speech policies at hundreds of universities across the United States. Yesterday, we unveiled our latest report.

I’ll start with the good news. First, the percentage of universities receiving FIRE’s worst, “red-light” rating, has fallen to its lowest ever, at 28.5%. Compare this to our first report, when three quarters of all universities bore this distinction. Second, the number of schools receiving our “green-light” rating, meaning that their policies, as written, are fully consistent with the First Amendment’s requirements. This year, 42 such institutions can claim the honor.

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Islamic Terrorist Attack at Christmas Market in Strasbourg

 

Last night shortly after 8 PM there was a terrorist attack at the Christmas Market in Strasbourg, France. After shouting “Allahu Akbar!” Cherif Checkatt opened fire with a pistol on the crowd. Firing indiscriminately, he shot and killed three immediately and wounded eleven more. French soldiers who were on the scene opened fire on him and wounded him, forcing him to flee. He then left the scene in a taxi. Reports are not clear whether he threatened the taxi driver with his weapon or not but Checkatt did get away from the area and is at large.

The attack did not come out of nowhere. Checkatt was in fact wanted and the police were planning to arrest him yesterday. They found his apartment empty of persons but discovered a cache of hand grenades and other weapons on the premises. He had a criminal record in France, Switzerland, and Germany and had been deported from Germany.

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Trump, Pelosi, Schumer Debate in Public

 

Ignoring the content for a moment of this video, I just want to say: I love this. I love that this exchange took place in front of the American people. Pelosi wanted to shut down the disagreement, to go behind closed doors, cut some sort of deal, decide how to couch it to the American people, and claim they got agreement on something. I love it.

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Veneration: The Practicing Jew

 

They live their lives by a sacred code; it isn’t secret, but few people actually know its inner sanctum. Life entails a commitment to consciousness, discipline and faith, and because of the lure of everyday secular life, many fall away, believing they are not up to the task or are unwilling to comply with the demands. Those who remain are deeply committed to living virtuous lives, to raising loving and principled children, and to following the Law.

They are practicing or Orthodox Jews who embrace Torah, love G-d and revere acts of kindness. I have witnessed these three qualities among my practicing Jewish friends, and I venerate them for the life choices they have made.

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The Desecration of a Cathedral in Vienna

 

Let me say at the outset that raising money to battle the scourge of AIDS is a good thing. Doing so by putting on a satanic celebration in a consecrated Catholic cathedral is horrific. Sadly, or shockingly, that’s what Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, in his wisdom, permitted in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna a few days ago. As Tradition In Action reports:

A man stands on top of the altar rail of St. Stephen’s Cathedral with an open camo-jacket showing his belly and holding a bottle of beer. He walks like a drunk, he sings like a lunatic, he acts like one possessed. On the same rail are skulls, candles and jars, giving the impression of a satanic orgy. During his performance other macabre and delirious-looking actors and actresses enter the scene. Then, devils appear onstage and flaunt their seductive cajoleries.

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The White Sea-Baltic Canal

 

To add to the prior posts on Solzhenitsyn, this passage from The Gulag Archipelago remains the most vivid in my memory 40-plus years after reading.

The Gulag Archipelago is not dry history, instead brimming with passion, anger, contempt, caustic wit and acerbic asides. The accretion of detail on person after person, on trial after trial, on lawless and arbitrary decrees, and on the squalid dehumanizing world of the camps is relentless and overwhelming, and the translation by Thomas P. Whitney captures it all.

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Have American Living Standards Been Stagnant for Decades? Almost Certainly Not.

 

American middle-class incomes have gone nowhere for decades. Unless they’ve gone up more than 50 percent, even accounting for inflation. Or maybe it’s somewhere in between as this table — from the Urban Institute’s Stephen Rose — summing up various studies indicates:

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Quote of the Day: Solzhenitsyn on Freedom

 

“You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

As others on Ricochet have noted, today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. As it is my turn to provide a quote of the day, I thought it appropriate to draw on his fund of wisdom for today’s quote.

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ACF Middlebrow #21: Brooklyn

 

Flagg Taylor and I bring you a movie fit for the festive season — a beautiful piece of selective nostalgia, a story devoid of anything sordid. A girl from Ireland is sent to America in the 1950s, to make something of herself, to find herself a future — to find her path to a decent happiness. You get to see her adventures in Brooklyn and it’s a perfectly Tocquevillian story of America’s many voluntary associations. It was a success and earned three important Oscar nominations, including protagonist Saoirse Ronan’s second actress nomination — she has earned a third meanwhile. I have an introductory essay over at The Federalist and, of course, the podcast for an in-depth, loving conversation about a wonderful movie.

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Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn at 100

 

Arrested three months before the defeat of Hitler’s Germany, his first reaction was like that of the millions he would later write about: “Me? What for?” A decorated captain of an artillery battery that had fought its way deep into East Prussia, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was at the time a committed Marxist-Leninist. He even fantasized he was being whisked to a meeting with Stalin. In fact, military censors had read his letter exchanges with a boyhood friend, also in the army, in which they criticized Stalin (“the mustachioed one”) for having deviated from the path laid down by Lenin.

It was more than enough to earn Solzhenitsyn a sentence of eight years imprisonment in the labor camps, to be followed by “perpetual exile.” He served all eight years in various camps, plus three years exiled to distant Kazakhstan, where he worked as a teacher of high school mathematics before his sentence was annulled in 1956 in the wake of Khrushchev’s “de-Stalinization.”

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Our Honored Forebears

 

Staff Sergeant Canell, squad leader, finished with inspecting the personnel and moved on to the vehicles. The Staff Sergeant was exacting, two previous tours in Iraq had taught the young leader that there are no second chances, and that if a troop didn’t make his own good luck, ain’t no way luck was going to be a lady.

Pre-Combat Inspections (PCIs) were, in the young staff sergeant’s mind, the most important part of being a leader. Meticulously inspecting everything that would contribute to individuals and the unit’s ability to shoot, move, communicate and survive had to be inspected, assessed and cleared. Troops that had their individual and crew weapons and equipment good to go and ready to rock would perform well. Troops that didn’t would get themselves–or worse, their brothers and sisters in arms–wounded, maimed or killed. In Canell’s mind, there was no excuse for letting subordinates roll out the wire without every bet hedged in their favor. As always, the squad leader’s own vehicle was inspected first, with the two squad team leaders observing.

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Beware the Big-Government Right

 

Traditional conservatives and modern progressive intellectuals have had pointed, often bitter, debates in recent years over the future of American domestic policy. One of the major arenas in that struggle is the law of labor and employment. The left wants to toughen minimum wage and overtime laws, strengthen antidiscrimination laws, and promote diversity, affirmative action, and, increasingly, inclusive hiring. They also hope to restore unions to their pre-1970 glory days. The right opposes each of these initiatives by seeking to deregulate labor markets in order to let competitive forces increase overall productivity, indirectly benefitting workers through higher wages. My classical liberal credentials put me squarely on the conservative side of this debate.

Oren Cass, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has written a forceful and well-received book, The Once and Future Worker, which he hopes will change the terms of the debate. He has also summarized his position at length in an article in the American Interest, titled The Working Hypothesis, to which I also refer. Cass rejects the gospel of growth that is touted by traditional conservative economists, whom his book berates for insisting that things would be better “if only government had been smaller, with lower taxes and spending, and thus more room for economic dynamism.” It then chides progressives for wishing that government had been bigger, “with more infrastructure investment, more checks on the market, a more generous safety net, and thus a prosperity widely shared.” In contrast to both, his bottom line is that “we can provide a subsidy for low-wage work, funded with higher tax rates and reduced transfer payments”, and thereafter “we can repurpose unions to help workers and employers optimize workplace conditions.”

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Will David Beat Goliath in Chicago?

 

The Chicago Tribune has an article about a college student running for alderman, who has run up against the Chicago bosses.

…David Krupa, 19, a freshman at DePaul University who drives a forklift part time. He’s not a political powerhouse. He’s just a conservative Southwest Side teenager studying political science and economics who got it in his head to run for alderman in a race that pits him against the most powerful ward organization in Chicago.

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Quote of the Day: Dietrich von Hildebrand vs. Hitler

 

Dietrich von Hildebrand was a Catholic philosopher and early opponent of Hitler. I could quote many passages from My Battle Against Hitler: Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich, by John Crosby and Dietrich von Hildebrand, but here’s a taste of his thought:

I had already heard about statements by…that the only thing still necessary was for Hitler to find his way to the faith and to convert…This was a horrid blend of equivocation and an attempt at self-deception. To begin with, there was far more to be decried in Hitler than his personal lack of faith, namely his entire gruesome doctrine, the totalitarian state he had created, and the spirit of his collaborators.

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What Should Parents Take Away from a New Report on Screen Time?

 

A recent book by AEI scholar Naomi Schaefer Riley Be the Parent Please takes no prisoners about the dangers of screen time for kids and what parents can and should be doing to break their kids of the addiction. How desperate is the need for parents to pull their kids away from screens? A new report indicates the need isn’t just desperate for individual kids, but maybe for the future of an entire generation as well. CBS News reports on the findings,

The federal government, through the National Institutes of Health, has launched the most ambitious study of adolescent brain development ever attempted. In part, scientists are trying to understand what no one currently does: how all that screen time impacts the physical structure of your kids’ brains, as well as their emotional development and mental health.

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