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Ramesh Ponnuru: Republicans can extend their midterm inflation advantage

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Ramesh Ponnuru: Republicans can extend their midterm inflation advantage

Inflation is likely to be the most powerful issue working for Republicans in this year’s congressional elections. Public concern over it has been rising fast. Republicans can plausibly blame the administration of President Joe Biden for making the problem worse by spending too much money on a pandemic stimulus program he pushed through Congress last year, and for not taking it seriously as it emerged.

But there isn’t much that Congress can do to affect the course of inflation in the short term. The Federal Reserve is in charge of monetary policy. Congress can (in principle!) pass legislation to make the economy more productive, but any changes would generally take awhile to have an effect.

That’s only a small political inconvenience for Republicans. Voters are more likely to want to register their anger over inflation than pore over any candidate’s plans to address it. (Elections are a blunt instrument for public control of the government.)

There are also ways that Republicans can contribute to bringing inflation down. If they did, they could both perform a useful service for the country and increase their political advantage on the issue, at least a little.

The first is simply to support monetary tightening. A large portion of recent inflation has been caused by excessive spending throughout the US economy. During the expansion prior to the arrival of Covid-19 two years ago, spending had grown by a bit less than 4% a year. Over the past year it has risen more than 10%.

Even after the Federal Reserve’s mid-March hike in interest rates, spending has been rising fast enough to keep the gap growing between actual spending levels and the pre-Covid trend. By that measure, the Fed has not yet, in effect, tightened at all.

It should be encouraged to tighten money both by raising interest rates further and, maybe more important, by announcing that its goal is to bring spending levels back to the trajectory they were on before the burst of inflation.

Central bankers are sure to face pressure to ease off, especially if tightening leads to higher unemployment. Republicans should exert countervailing pressure, pointing out that getting inflation under control is the only way to achieve sustainable high employment. The Fed has made the eventual tightening more painful by delaying it, and should not delay further. Republicans could also explore legislation to make the stabilization of spending a statutory goal of the Federal Reserve, giving that goal more credibility.

And while no one should oversell how much or how fast policy changes can address inflation by expanding supply, some such changes are worth pursuing. Former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum never made much sense as either a national-security or job-protecting measure, and his tariffs on China have largely failed to achieve their objectives. Abandoning them would, as the Peterson Institute for International Economics puts it, “provide a temporary downward shock to prices.” (It’s worth noting, however, that lifting the tariffs on China would require mounting an argument to win over skeptics.)

Congress could also remove barriers to energy production — something Republicans are already calling for — and to the automation of ports. Senator Mike Lee, the Utah Republican, has a bill that applies deregulation to transportation-sector logjams, and another one to increase housing supply. These measures would probably make the economy a bit more productive even if inflation subsides. They would also provide a way for Congress to show that it is working to bring prices down.

Finally, Republicans should block proposals that would make inflation worse. Many economists think widespread student-debt relief would have this effect, and that the Democrats’ “Build Back Better” spending legislation would as well.

Congress could also consider delaying the spending of some of the money it is devoting to infrastructure projects so that more of it happens after labor shortages and supply disruptions ease. That would produce more infrastructure improvement per dollar spent.

This is hardly an exhaustive list. The point is that when Republicans face the question, “What are you going to do about inflation?” they can offer many partial answers. Democrats would be wise to go along with some of these ideas, too, and even to propose them first. But some of them, such as the ones that involve taking on unions, are a more natural fit for Republicans.

All of these political considerations are meaningful, however, only on the margins. No matter what politicians in either party do, the cost of living is going to be front of mind for voters this fall. They’re going to take out their frustrations on the party in power.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the editor of National Review and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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‘Everything’s gonna get caught’: Orioles outfielders Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins share favorite parts of each other’s defense

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‘Everything’s gonna get caught’: Orioles outfielders Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins share favorite parts of each other’s defense

Presented the choice between the two highlight defensive plays he made Thursday night — a fourth-inning throw to the plate to prevent a run and his rally-killing diving catch across the right field line in the eighth — Orioles right fielder Austin Hays made his decision based on sound logic.

“I’d probably say the throw because the dive hurt a lot worse,” Hays said with a smile. “It was totally worth it because I caught it. But I’d like to not have to dive on the warning track ever again.”

But speaking as an observer, center fielder Cedric Mullins went the other way.

“The throw, for him, was pretty easy,” Mullins said. “That [dive] definitely crushed some spirits out there.”

The difference of opinion is perhaps one of the few ways Hays and Mullins aren’t in sync when it comes to outfield defense. Having played together since 2017 as minor leaguers, the pair has developed an innate ability to communicate with each other before and during plays.

Thursday, along with Hays’ highlights, Mullins ranged into right-center field for a handful of impressive catches, with Hays also finishing in the vicinity. Add in a well-tracked catch in left from Anthony Santander, and the result is what manager Brandon Hyde said “might have been the best defensive game from an outfield group that I’ve seen in the big leagues.”

“It’s two Gold Glovers,” Hyde said. “You see them doing a lot of nonverbal [communication] while they’re running to the ball. They know each other so well now. When you play next to a guy, you know their mannerisms, you know what balls they can get to and what they can’t, where they’re playing, so there’s some comfort.”

Mullins said with a wave of his hand, he can let Hays know what areas he has covered based on positioning. Both noted that if a ball is hit between them and one can catch it with a dive, it usually means the other can get to it standing up. That cue helps them avoid collisions, with one moving up to make the catch while the other veers deeper into the outfield as backup.

“It’s a really big peace of mind for an outfielder to know that the other guy is always going to be there,” Hays said. “I think we’ve built a lot of trust with one another.”

Hays said that trust is a byproduct of years of games alongside each other, with those instincts becoming second nature “once those plays happen over and over and over and over again.”

That aggregate time together means they have both seen the other blossom into standout defenders in their own way. Hays praised Mullins’ jumps, routes and speed. Mullins is in the 72nd percentile in the majors in outfield jump, 84th percentile in sprint speed, and 91st percentile in outs above average, according to Baseball Savant.

“He’s as good as they come for center fielders,” Hays said.

His favorite play by Mullins happened last year, when the All-Star slid on the warning track in right-center field at Camden Yards to rob Nelson Cruz of extra bases. With experience playing center field in Baltimore, Hays knows the challenge of that play.

“That’s one of the most difficult plays for a center fielder, when you’re running wide open,” he said. “That gap gets small right there before it jets out to where it’s 373 [feet]. I think that’s probably the most impressive one I’ve seen him make. He robbed Gary [Sánchez of a home run] last year, but I still think that the one where he slid on the track up against the wall, that’s just such a difficult play.”

Mullins said picking one of Hays’ best plays is a tough task because “the list keeps piling up.” He settled on the highlight that impressed him most recently: After Mullins lunged at a ball as it caromed off the new left field wall at Camden Yards, Hays chased it down and threw out Jesse Winker at third base as the Seattle Mariners outfielder tried to stretch the hit into a triple.

It’s one of Hays’ six outfield assists, which entered Friday as the second most in the American League and highlighted the arm that most impresses Mullins about Hays’ defensive acumen. Since 2016, Hays is responsible for the Orioles’ five hardest-thrown outfield assists, with the top three coming this year.

“He came behind me, picked it up, threw him out at third while I was just kind of my knees watching because at that point, I’m like, ‘It’s all you, man,’” Mullins said.

Hays’ favorite among Mullins’ plays came June 1, 2021. Mullins’ preference among Hays’ highlights was June 2, 2022. It’s just another example of them in lockstep, working in tandem to secure outs for the Orioles’ pitching staff.

“We just have a lot of faith knowing that everything’s gonna get caught,” Hays said. “If there’s something I feel like is out of reach for me, he’s gonna catch it.”

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10 Underrated Bollywood Movies Of All Time You Need To Watch

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Underrated Bollywood Movie

Bollywood movies get plenty of attention, but some don’t receive as much praise as they deserve. These underrated Bollywood movies are under the radar because they aren’t precisely award winners, or they just didn’t get the widespread attention that their success and entertainment value warranted. Here are 8 underrated Bollywood movies you should watch right now!

1. The Lunch Box

Credit: IMDb

When it comes to movies, everyone has a list of personal favorites. However, there are a lot of great films that never get appreciated by audiences for one reason or another. The Lunch Box is one of those underrated gems from our perspective. A “flaw” in delivering the lunch box leads to a peculiar bond between Saajan (Irrfan Khan) and Ila (Nimrat Kaur).

2. Vicky Donor

Underrated Bollywood Movie
Credit: IMDb

If you’re looking for an underrated Bollywood movie, it doesn’t get much better than Vicky Donor. This rags-to-riches comedy is a thought-provoking look at sperm donation and how it can affect a person’s life in ways they never expected. No matter what age you are, I promise that Vicky Donor will make you laugh your ass off.

3. Udaan

Underrated Bollywood Movie List
Credit: IMDb

This 2010 film, directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and starring Rajat Barmecha and Ronit Roy, is about a young boy who runs away from home to follow his dreams. Filmed in beautiful locations in Rajasthan, it has an art-house feel that’s quite similar to Italian neorealism. Udaan was chosen as India’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards. One of the best-underrated Bollywood movies out there for sure.

4. Swades

Underrated Bollywood Movie
Credit: IMDb

If you were to tell me before I saw Swades that it would be a top underrated Bollywood movie, I’d look at you like you had three heads. But here we are.

5. Tumbbad

Underrated Bollywood Movie List
Credit: IMDb

A terrifying example of why folklore is never meant to be shown on screen, Tumbbad is a movie that introduces us to an ordinary family living in one of India’s poorest regions. An epic mythological tale mixed with horrific human emotions, Tumbbad takes our breath away as we watch its main character grow older while his quest for power worsens. With no shortage of fear-inducing moments or spectacular and colorful set pieces, Tumbbad is a perfectly underrated Bollywood movie that you must absolutely watch.

6. Aligarh

Underrated Bollywood Movie
Credit: IMDb

Deeply emotional and intensely powerful, Aligarh tells a love story in which no one is a victim, no one is a martyr and all decisions are rational ones. Aligarh takes you on an intense journey of human emotions and what it means to be different in a world that refuses to accept difference. The top underrated Bollywood movies list would be incomplete without mentioning Aligarh.

7. Rocket Singh – Salesman of the Year

Underrated Bollywood Movie
Credit: IMDb

This satirical comedy highlights why employees aren’t putting in their best efforts. Set against a backdrop of disinterested management, Rocket Singh is a fictitious film that draws parallels to Indian bureaucracy and posits how to change things for the better. While fictional, it’s not far from reality. The movie is still funny, even if your office isn’t exactly like it. If you watch just one underrated Bollywood movie on our list, make it Rocket Singh – Salesman of The Year.

8. Har Kisse Ke Hisse Kaamyaab

Underrated Bollywood Movie
Credit: IMDb

Kaamyaab is an underrated Bollywood movie that you need to watch. It’s a great movie dauntlessly directed by Hardik Mehta. Underrated Bollywood movie like Kaamyaab deserves appreciation from the audience. Brilliantly acted by Sanjay Mishra. But what sets it apart from other movies is its brilliant script and complex themes.

9. Newton

Underrated Bollywood Movie
Credit: IMDb

Newton is an underrated Bollywood movie you need to watch if you’re a fan of thought-provoking and intelligent movies. Movies which you can’t afford to miss watching while in India. The movie stars a few of our favorite Bollywood actors like Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Sanjay Mishra, Raghubir Yadav, Anjali Patil, etc. If you ask us why we suggest Newton for underrated Bollywood movies then it’s because despite being a fairly recent one (Released on January 9th, 2017), Newton is one of those films that has failed to leave an impact among viewers.

10. Masaan

Underrated Bollywood Movie - Masaan
Credit: IMDb

Director Neeraj Ghaywan’s 2015 romantic drama tells a gut-wrenching story of a young couple struggling with the social stigma. This award-winning film was inspired by real-life incidents that took place in North India and highlight issues of caste and class. Featuring some amazing cinematography and an incredible performance by newcomer Vicky Kaushal, Masaan is often considered to be one of the most underrated Bollywood movies of all time. It even made it to TIME magazine’s list of top 10 must-watch Bollywood films. If you haven’t seen it yet, do check it out!

Hindi cinema is one of the biggest in the world, and India produces movies at an astonishing rate. It’s hard to keep up with all of them, especially if you aren’t living in the country itself or familiar with the culture. With this list of underrated Bollywood movies of all time, we offered you the chance to find some great titles that will entertain you and let you learn more about Hindi cinema at the same time.

The post 10 Underrated Bollywood Movies Of All Time You Need To Watch appeared first on MEWS.

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Vintage Kyle Hendricks leads the Chicago Cubs to a shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals: ‘Everything was working’

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Vintage Kyle Hendricks leads the Chicago Cubs to a shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals: ‘Everything was working’

There’s no question Kyle Hendricks has suffered through some difficult starts in 2022, his second straight subpar season with the Chicago Cubs.

Hendricks came into Friday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals having allowed six runs or more in four of his 13 starts, leading to a bloated earned-run average of 5.43. It’s not the Hendricks the Cubs have come to expect, though it’s also not the same kind of contending team he has enjoyed playing for during the bulk of his career.

But Cubs fans got a glimpse of vintage Hendricks on Friday night at Busch Stadium, and it was every bit as good as they remembered.

“That was as good as I’ve seen him this year,” manager David Ross said. “Everything was working.”

Hendricks tossed 7 ⅓ shutout innings in a 3-0 victory before 46,524, the largest crowd of the season at Busch.

The Cubs won for only the fifth time in 19 games, silencing the first-place Cardinals in the opener of their first series of the season in St. Louis.

“It was really Yan (Gomes) tonight,” Hendricks said of the game plan. “It was what he was able to do. I recognized it from the start. I trusted him the whole game. There was a couple shakes where I was committed to something and a couple shakes where I shouldn’t have.”

Hendricks allowed five hits while striking out six and walking one in a 91-pitch outing, improving to 3-6. Chris Martin and David Robertson finished if off, with Robertson collecting his ninth save in 12 opportunities.

Hendricks allowed only two base runners in the first five innings. Juan Yepez singled with two outs in the second but was thrown out at second to end the inning. Paul Goldschmidt walked with two outs in the fifth before Hendricks retired Brendan Donovan on a fly to center.

After Dylan Carlson singled to open the eighth and Harrison Bader doubled, Hendricks struck out pinch hitter Lars Nootbar before Martin replaced him. The Cubs reliever induced a comebacker to the mound and a soft liner to short to strand the runners.

“When you come in a game, whether you’re up five or down five, you try to get your mind right for the whole situation,” Martin said. “But definitely whenever you go out and pick up a teammate, you’re more amped up after that. It makes baseball fun in those situations. It’s where the bullpen wants to be and a big confidence boost.”

The Cubs scored their runs on Nico Hoerner’s two-run homer in the second off rookie Andre Pallante and Ian Happ’s RBI double in the fifth. Happ came into the night with a .367 average in his previous 22 games, quietly emerging as the co-leader of the offense along with Willson Contreras.

Ross before the game said Happ has proved he’s an “All-Star caliber” player.

“Ian has been our All-Star, he and Willson,” Ross said. “Those guys have really stood out above the rest for us. It’s nice to see the veteran guys play that consistently.”

But Hendricks was the man in the spotlight Friday.

“Vintage Kyle,” Ross said. “He locks it in when the stage is big.”

Whether it looked like the Hendricks of old, he said he doesn’t think of a performance like Friday as a reminder of something in the past.

“Somewhat, but it feels so long ago,” he said. “I’m really trying to focus on where I’m at and just seeing the game for what it is, taking it and knowing where to go and making my pitches. Yan really helped me today feel the game better. I just haven’t had that great feel for what they’re trying to do against me. He was huge getting me in that mindset.”

Hendricks is such a low-key individual he appears the same every day no matter how he’s performing. After the struggles he has gone through in the last two seasons, has he ever gotten so upset that he breaks something?

“No, not breaking stuff, man,” he said with a laugh. “I just get frustrated and just got to get to work. There’s nothing I can do to change it. Now it’s just get to work and make the next one better. Obviously it’s not where I want to be. There’s not anger or anything like that. Just got to make better pitches — that’s where my focus is.”

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