Thursday, February 11, 2016

Let's Go Crazy!

Subtitled “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Donald.” Okay, that’s far from true. I still think Trump’s mixture of plastic populism, economic ignorance, and dangerous demagoguery is a toxic brew for the GOP and the country. If the next four years are going to be a continuation of the erosion of the United States as an economic and military superpower and a bastion of freedom in a chaotic world, far better for that to occur with a Democrat in the White House.

However, I have come to see one potential positive aspect of the prospect of President Trump. Assuming that he appoints a savvy and strategically savant Secretary of State, there would never be a better opportunity to employ the “Madman Theory” of foreign policy. What exactly is this “Madman Theory” you ask?

Madman Theory:

The madman theory was a primary characteristic of the foreign policy conducted by U.S. President Richard Nixon. His administration, the executive branch of the federal government of the United States from 1969 to 1974, attempted to make the leaders of other countries think Nixon was mad, and that his behavior was irrational and volatile. According to Nixon's theory, leaders of hostile Communist Bloc nations would then avoid provoking the United States, fearing an unpredictable American response.

Nixon explained the strategy to his White House Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman:

“I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to believe I've reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We'll just slip the word to them that, "for God's sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can't restrain him when he's angry—and he has his hand on the nuclear button" and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.”

In October 1969, the Nixon administration indicated to the Soviet Union that "the madman was loose" when the United States military was ordered to full global war readiness alert (unbeknownst to the majority of the American population), and bombers armed with thermonuclear weapons flew patterns near the Soviet border for three consecutive days.

The administration employed the "madman strategy" to force the North Vietnamese government to negotiate a peace to end the Vietnam War. Along the same lines, American diplomats (Henry Kissinger in particular) portrayed the 1970 incursion into Cambodia as a symptom of Nixon's supposed instability.

The actual effectiveness of the Madman Theory is open to debate. But it’s easy to imagine that it least could have played a role in bringing the North Vietnamese back to the negotiating tables in late 1972 after the US unleashed Operation Linebacker II, which was the heaviest bombing campaign of the war directed against Hanoi and Haiphong. If Nixon was willing to go farther with that bombing than any American leader before and if he was mad (or at least unstable) who knows how much further he would be willing to go? The North Vietnamese very well may have decided not to find out.

Now the beauty of putting this theory into practice with a Trump Administration is that there would no need to feign or exaggerate the madness of the Commander in Chief. As Max Boot put it when I raised this possibility on Twitter yesterday:

No, the madness would be all too real and quite obvious for all to see. And no one would want to call President Trump’s bluff knowing full well that he wouldn’t hesitate to carry it out.

Imagine the potential power this would provide to a wily Secretary of State trying to convince other countries to come around to a position more favorable for the United States.

“If I have to go back to President Trump and tell him we don’t have a deal, I don’t know what’s going to happen. You know how touchy he is. Would hate to think about what he might do if he got angry…”

And this wouldn’t have to be limited to countries we normally consider as antagonistic to American interests like North Korea, Iran, or Russia. The EU starts cracking down on American tech companies over privacy concerns?

”You got a real nice city here in Brussels. It’d be a shame if something were to happen to it.”

The possibilities for utilizing this in foreign policy are almost endless. Let’s get nuts.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

HWX: New Hampshire LIVE

It’s a special HWX episode, recorded LIVE during the New Hampshire primary, and heard LIVE in the Ricochet chat room. Relive the excitement as the votes rolled in on Tuesday night and the shocking results were announced.
Topics also addressed include:
  • Megyn Kelly’s hairstyle
  • Suggestions for spicing up concession speeches
  • A recap of the Iowa results, with our new special elections correspondent and a safe space/trigger warning for those concerned about too much Trump talk
  • A series of emotional tributes to the candidates we lost along the way: Martin O’Malley, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Rand Paul
  • the exciting announcement of FINAL results, as they happened.

Ricochet400HWX was brought to you by Hillsdale College and their Constitution 101 course. You can sign up for FREE today. Once you start the course, you’ll receive a new lecture every week to watch on demand, along with readings, discussion boards, and more. Sign up for Constitution 101 for FREE at That’s Hillsdale dot edu slash ricochet. slash ricochet.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Not in Narnia Anymore

Gina Dalfonzo speculates on how C.S. Lewis' stories that warned of the dangers of the desire for power may be more relevant than ever. Nikabrik's Candidate:

This is how good people with strong, ingrained values—people who have invested time and money in the sanctity of life, religious liberty, and similarly noble causes—can come to support a man who changes his convictions more often than his shirts. This is how people concerned about the dignity of the office of President end up flocking to a reality-show star who spends his days on Twitter calling people “dumb” and “loser.” This is how some who have professed faith in Jesus Christ are lured by a man who openly puts all his faith in power and money, the very things Christ warned us against prizing too highly. As one wag on Twitter pointed out, “If elected, Donald Trump will be the first US president to own a strip club,” and yet he has the support of Christians who fervently believe that this country needs to clean up its morals.

As Joseph Loconte has observed, the Narnia stories offer us “a view of the world that is both tragic and hopeful. The tragedy lies in the corruption caused by the desire for power, often disguised by appeals to religion and morals.” How dangerously easy it is for the desire for power to take on that disguise—and how easily we Christians fall for it.

Tired of waiting for Aslan—who may be nearer than we think—we turn elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if our candidate hates, bullies, and exploits other people, the reasoning goes, just as long as he’s good to us and gives us what we want. Hatred is a perfectly acceptable weapon, as long as it’s “on our side.”

So said Nikabrik as he prepared to unleash a great evil on the land of Narnia.

C. S. Lewis may have lived well before Donald Trump’s time, but he was prescient about the situation. The only fate that awaits a group that turns against its own core values for the sake of security and power is the fate of Nikabrik.

HWX: Against HWX

Brian Ward and Paul Happe of HWX return for a special midweek, pre-Iowa caucus podcast extravaganza. Topics addressed include:
* What Are You Drinking? Featuring a new release from Badger Hill Brewing, Minnesota Special Bitter and a classic from New Belgium, Snow Day.
MSB* The cause and effect of the National Review’s broadside attack on the Trump campaign, and why they appear to be missing the entire point. Bonus audio of Democrat attacks on Trump, Jeb Bush’s fetal position defense, and the problem with Marco Rubio.
* Iowa caucus preview, including fearless predictions and analysis of who will win (or won’t win).
* Movie talk, with an exclusive preview of the upcoming Star Wars VIII: What Difference Does It Make.
* The racism of Hollywood and the Oscar’s boycott, including audio of the snow daybest performances from the criminally under recognized Strait Outta Compton and The Concussion. Also an analysis of the Best Actor nominees and why they were deemed so superior to anything else released in 2015.

HWX is brought to you by Harry’s Shave. For the finest shave at the best price, got and use the coupon code HWX at checkout for an extra 5 bones off your order price.
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There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Monday, January 11, 2016

HWX: On the Radio

HWX goes terrestrial, with your favorite hosts broadcasting the old fashioned way, on the radio, KYRC, Business Radio AM1440. Brian Ward and Paul Happe of HWX filled in on last weekend’s King Banaian Radio Show, with a strategic appearance by John Hinderaker of Power Line.

Topics addressed include a discussion of the economic impact of hosting an NFL playoff game (including fearless predictions of the Vikings-Seahawks tilt), an analysis of the December 2015 jobs report, and a discussion of “bum hunting” and how it relates to online fantasy sports, the stock market, and the real estate bubble.

 John Hinderaker joined the conversation to talk about his new position as President of the Center of the American Experiment and mission to turn Minnesota red (politically speaking, that is, he’s not taking credit for this week’s subzero temperatures and the effect on human skin).

 John and CAE’s opening salvo is here:


Catch all the action via the podcast at the links below:

Hour 1

Hour 2

Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

No Place Like The Road

My last minute, better late than never pigskin prognostications for the NFL wild card playoffs.

Kansas City at Houston

This is the only game where I feel pretty confident about picking a winner. Houston plays in a lousy division and Kansas City rides a long winning streak into the playoffs. The KC offense is not spectacular, but they’ll do enough and their defense will stifle whatever former Browns quarterback the Texans start. Kansas City 20 Houston 10

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

A team with playoff pedigree to spare against one that hasn’t won a playoff game since George H.W. Bush was president (to put that into perspective the Lions and Browns have more recent playoff victories than the Bengals). The Steelers offense can be explosive, but they are not a great team and their defense is vulnerable. The Bengals have better talent and even without Andy Dalton they should win the game. Should doesn’t mean will however and given their history I can’t just buy into the Bengals. Pittsburgh 29 Cincinnati 27

Seattle at Minnesota

For some reason that I can’t entirely explain, I’m feeling reasonable optimistic about the Vikings chances. I have little or no confidence in the Vikings offense. However, the Vikings defense will keep things close and I have confidence that Zimmer will not let his team get done the same way they did the last time they faced Seattle. The experienced Seahawks will make one or two more plays than the Vikings and come out of the cold with a narrow win. Seattle 20 Vikings 16

Green Bay at Washington

So far I’ve picked all road teams. And halfway through the season, a match-up featuring Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins would definitely favor the road squad. But these Packers aren’t the Packers that we’re been used to seeing the last few years. They’ve lost their mojo and their confidence. The Redskins aren’t a good team, but they are a team that’s been able to put together enough chemistry to win the motley NFC East and close the season relatively strong. Someone’s got to win so why not the home team? Washington 26 Green bay 23

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Media Alert: HWX on KYRC

HWX goes terrestrial again this Saturday, with Paul Happe and I filling in for King Banaian on his award winning radio program.  King is off on assignment, probably shepherding another totalitarian, socialist economic basket case into the bright new day of economic and political freedom (and he may not even have to leave that country for that one), and we'll attempting to fill his fine Armenian calfskin leather professorial loafers.

We'll include a number of our favorite HWX bits from the past few month.  And of course we'll delve into some hard core, advanced economics talk.  The preparation for which will resemble Homer Simpson's plan to engeage in advanced marketing.

Nevertheless, check us out this Saturday, January 9, from 9-11AM on KYRC-AM, 1440 AM, or streaming on the Internet here.   Don't you dare miss it.

HWX: The Podcast Awakens

It’s a special Tuesday night edition of HWX, with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe, the Nihilist in Golf Pants, reconvening to discuss the critical issues of our times. Topics addressed include:

* Reviews of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The perils of watching your heroes age, having your myths demystified, and being seduced by the dark side.

* The lost glory that was the George Pataki for President Campaign, his motivations for running and dropping out, including our special musical tribute.

* The remaining 1% (or less) candidates and what drives them, including our musical tribute.

* The significance of Obama’s announcement today of the closing of the alleged guns show loophole.

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Screen-Shot-2015-02-20-at-8.56.20-AMHWX is brought to you by Harry’s Shave. For the finest in shaving products, with the ultimate in convenience, and at an amazingly low price, check out Harry’s. It the perfect gift for anyone who grows hair on their face in your family. Enter HWX at checkout for an additional $5 off.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sir Richard Has Taken Off His Considering Cap

New Year’s Eve is associated with many things; the ball dropping in Time’s Square, a kiss as the countdown ends, singing Auld Lang Syne, making resolutions, and of course imbibing too much alcohol. The last item is the one that has most come to epitomize the day and mindless drunkenness will be prevalent throughout the land tonight.

There are many labels for the advanced state of inebriation that many will proudly achieve tonight. One of my favorites is “knee walking drunk” which is oft employed (and occasionally personified) by one Brian “Saint Paul” Ward. Another is “over served” which seems to place responsibility for one’s intoxication on another actor. If it wasn’t for that meddling bartender who kept pushing drinks my way. I’ve witnessed this sort of projection first hand when neighbors seek to explain their over indulgence by blaming it solely on the two cocktails they consumed at our basement bar. Yeah, that was it. It wasn’t the six drinks you had before that or the five afterward.

Anyway, it’s always fun to try to come up with new ways to indicate that someone has had one or thirteen too many. And sometimes the best source for new material is mining the past.

Today’s WSJ has a sampling of from “The Drinker’s Dictionary” in the Pennsylvania Gazette, published by Benjamin Franklin, Jan. 13, 1737:

A: He is Addled, He’s casting up his Accounts, He’s Afflicted

B: He’s Biggy, Been at Barbadoes, Drunk as a Wheel-Barrow

C: Cherry Merry, Half Way to Concord, Sir Richard has taken off his Considering Cap

D: Kill’d his Dog, Has Dipp’d his Bill, He’s seen the Devil

E: He’s Prince Eugene, Wet both Eyes, Got a brass Eye

F: He’s Fishey, Crump Footed, Been to France, His Flag is out

G: Groatable, Been before George, Globular, Got the Glanders

H: Half and Half, Top Heavy, Hammerish, Loose in the Hilts

I: He’s Intoxicated

J: Jambled, Going to Jerusalem, Been to Jerico, Juicy

K: The King is his Cousin, Got Kib’d Heels, Knapt, Het his Kettle

L: Lordly, Light, Lappy, Limber

M: He sees two Moons, Mountous, Muddy, Rais’d his Monuments

N: He’s eat the Cocoa Nut, Nimptopsical, Got the Night Mare

O: He’s Oil’d, Smelt of an Onion, Oxycrocium, Overset

P: Priddy, Has scalt his Head Pan, Been among the Philistines, In his Prosperity

Q: He’s Quarrelsome

R: Raddled, Lost his Rudder, Been too free with Sir Richard, Like a Rat in Trouble

S: In the Sudds, Swampt, as Stiff as a Ring-bolt, Staggerish, Stew’d, Has Sold his Senses

T: Tongue-ty’d, Topsey Turvey, Has Swallow’d a Tavern Token, He’s Thawed, He’s Trammel’d

V: He makes Virginia Fence, Valiant, Got the Indian Vapours

W: He’s wise, He’s been to the Salt Water, He’s very Weary

Feel free to use your favorites this evening and tomorrow morning to describe the state of your friends, family, strangers, or even yourself. But please, don’t blame the bartender.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

HWX: A Merry Candidate Christmas

It’s a very special Tuesday night edition of HWX, with Brian Ward and Paul Happe reconvening to discuss the crucial issues of the day. Topics addressed include:
  • Santa Claus is coming to town! Should he be concerned about entering households in states with the Castle Doctrine?Castle-Doctrine-Map
  • Lindsey Graham withdraws from the GOP Presidential race. Will the kid’s table debates ever be the same? Including a special tribute to the highlights of his campaign, with an exciting new commercial sponsor.
  • Hillary Clinton and the state of the Democrat party Presidential race, including Hillary’s reaction to Donald Trump’s recent comments that she was “schlonged” in 2008.
  • A musical tribute to the magical mix that is Christmas and Presidential comments, featuring carols from Bobby Jindal, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.
  • A preview of the release of a new holiday music classic, The Hillary and the Ivy, featuring the former first lady’s special touch on your favorite holiday music.
  • The release of the latest Star Wars movie, and it’s cultural significance. Also, an analysis of the recent Ipsos poll on how Star Wars characters would do if they were running for President.
HWX is brought to you by Harry’s Shave. For the finest in shaving products, with the ultimate in convenience, and at an amazingly low price, check out Harry’s. It the perfect gift for anyone who grows hair on their face in your family. Enter HWX at checkout for an additional $5 off.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.