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Today’s Sermon: Whose Compassion?


Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10Nor shall you glean your vineyard, Nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 23)

A story: “In the middle of the Great Depression, the mayor of New York City was the five foot tall son of Italian-Jewish immigrants, Fiorello H. LaGuardia. LaGuardia was a seriously energetic little guy. It was not unusual for him to ride with the firefighters, raid with the police, or take field trips with the kids from the city orphanage. On a bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself—-something a quirk in New York City law enabled him to do.


Trump, Flynn, Tillerson — Is this a Putin-Patsy Presidency?


As Democrats and media continue their campaign to discredit President Donald Trump, no question is more potentially toxic – nor more misperceived – than the direction Mr. Trump hopes to take US-Russian relations.

You know the list of accusations: Trump has said nice things about Russian President Vladimir Putin; his new national security advisor, retired general Michael T. Flynn, is too cozy with Putin; as head of Exxon/Secretary of State designate Rex W. Tillerson did business and developed an apparently warm relationship with Putin.

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Protests in Bucharest


Around 30,000 Romanians have taken to the streets in peaceful protests Sunday night, including your irenic correspondent on the scene, in Bucharest, the capital, & the other large cities. The scandal this time: The new Socialist government is attempting to change the criminal code by government decree (emergency order), bypassing the Parliament where it holds the majority. Why are the Socialists not willing to debate the changes publicly? Because they aim to get some of the most successfully corrupt people now in jail out–that is, to reduce terms for various forms of corruption that are estimated to add up to less than 200,000 RON (close to $50,000), which of course is more than the majority of Romanians make in a life time.

The government attempted this week to pass the order to that effect in secrecy. Some journalists made a scandal of the underhanded attempt & asked for publicity: They asked publicly that the president attend the government meeting where this underhanded business was supposed to be done, which he has a constitutional right to do. He did attend, & the government reacted by taking the measure off the order of business for the day. The laws stands unchanged yet, but we do not know what the next underhanded attempt will be. We took to the streets, therefore. This is the most blatant attack against the hard core of democratic justice in Romania in recent years. It comes a mere month after the installation of the new Socialist government, which won a remarkable legislative victory in December, as the opposition electorate mostly collapsed.

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Why We Push Back


Peggy Noonan had a good write up on WSJ a couple days ago…

The Trump Wars of the past 18 months do not now go away. Now it becomes the Trump Civil War, every day, with Democrats trying to get rid of him and half the country pushing back. To reduce it to the essentials: As long as Mr. Trump’s party holds the House, it will be a standoff. If the Democrats take the House, they will move to oust him.


The Arts in 2017


Federal arts policy received not a whit of attention from either presidential campaign this year. I’m not surprised. Before I became a curator and museum director, I had a long career in political life. Over many years, I found most people who ran for office or had high-level political jobs singularly unfocused on the arts. Didn’t matter whether they were Republicans or Democrats. The nice surprise was the politico with a passion for art, dance, music, theater, film, or good writing. They do exist, and I enjoy hearing about their interests.

At one point I’ll write about why politics and the arts are a rarefied mix, but in this post I’ll suggest some new thinking the new order can bring specifically to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Some of these ideas can apply to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). I happen to know the NEA best.


The President vs. the Media


If the mainstream media’s relationship to President Barack Obama began as a slobbering love affair, some reporters eventually realized that the relationship had always been one-sided. The press corps may have fallen in love with Obama at first sight, but the president was never really that into them. The most transparent administration in history turned out to be merciless when it came to leaks, substantive interactions were nixed in favor of superficial pressers, and the president was more than happy to bypass the press corps in favor of carefully managed social media when it suited him (as it often did). Don’t take my word for it: This 2015 piece in the Columbia Journalism Review catalogues the pattern admirably.

President Donald Trump’s relationship with the press promises to be, shall we say, different: “Mutual abuse for each other’s benefit” seems about right, though — and this is important — the press keeps getting rolled. Witness the kerfuffle this weekend over the crowd size at the inauguration:


Broke and Broken: Healthcare in America 2017


This the first of a two part series of essays on health care in America.

Several years ago, my wife’s grandfather, in his mid-80s and on Medicare, was sent to a major university medical center in Connecticut by his primary care physician to have outpatient surgery on a lazy eye that, in his advanced age, had closed and completely obstructed his vision. The stay lasted no longer than an hour and a half. Lucky for him, the surgeon on call was a resident getting his cosmetic surgery certificate and he did a wonderful job. A year later, the poor old guy was being harassed by several collection agencies seeking payment for the hospital, the anesthesiologist, and the surgeon. Upon seeing the invoice from the hospital, Blue Cross of Connecticut, Medicare’s local agent, saw the surgeon’s credentials and rejected all related coverage. The bills the collectors were calling on totaled more than $8,000. I got involved, obtained an affidavit from his primary care doctor stating that the surgery was not elective. I explained that the surgeon doing the procedure was simply a resident at the hospital, not yet a certified cosmetic surgeon. Someone selected the wrong code when describing him. After several appeals, Blue Cross finally accepted the claim. Medicare paid less than $1,700 total to all parties, but still a huge sum for a 15-minute surgery and a little over an hour in recovery while the anesthesia wore off.

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Keep up the good work, Progressives!


I’ve been watching the Women’s March television coverage this morning with equal parts amusement, irritation, and confusion. I find myself thinking that the rioters of yesterday and this sea of pink “Pussyhats” today are doing more for the Conservative cause than any amount of campaigning ever could.

I personally know (and like) at least a dozen women at the march in Washington and at least twice that many at the march in Indianapolis, and I’ve had many conversations about why they’re attending these marches. The main reason given is that they’re “scared” of Trump, his policies, and his presidency. Many of them seem to believe that we’re only days away from the forced childbearing of “The Handmaid’s Tale”. The actual cause for which these women are marching is amorphous…abortion (or, as Progressives nowadays like to term it, “reproductive rights”), LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, BLM, etc. Basically, they seem to want to send the President and all of us cretins in the red states the message that we’re on the wrong side of history and that we’ll have to peel their abortion implements from their cold, dead hands


It’s Not 1934


Wanted: A name for the hypertrophied fear of Trump that’s overcome so many — maybe most — of his opponents. Do you really need examples? There was the ThinkProgress editor terrified of his plumber:

He was a perfectly nice guy and a consummate professional. But he was also a middle-aged white man with a Southern accent who seemed unperturbed by this weeks news. … I couldn’t stop thinking about whether he had voted for Trump, whether he knew my last name is Jewish … I couldn’t shake the sense of potential danger. I was rattled for some time after he left.


More Robots Are Coming to Farms. How Does This Affect the Immigration Debate?


Yet another reason to marvel at the lack of attention to technological change during the election. Lots of talk about immigration, but overall a backward-looking debate. For instance: Bloomberg reports about the shortage of farm workers — “crop pickers” — as “immigration slows, deportations rise and the prospects of congressional reform look remote.”

Will the crops rot in the field? Will farmers do nothing in response? Turns out, not so much. Again, Bloomberg: “That’s forcing more growers to invest in machines that reduce human involvement in the production cycle.”

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My most memorable Obama Presidency episode


I’m a supporter of the US National Parks. Looking back on the Obama Presidency most memorable for me was the episode of “Yes we can!” shut down the US National Parks – with brute force. Here’s what I remember. The Obama Admin spent more effort, money, and manpower shutting the parks down than was used in keeping them open. This was done to try to score political points during a hardball budget negotiation with Reps. It was a first for me to hear about park visitors being cited for “illegal recreation” and “trespassing on public lands” and stopped from unauthorized nature photography.

There was a standard sign that read “Because of the Federal Government SHUTDOWN, All National Parks are CLOSED” that government workers were ordered to put up along with the construction of barriers. This was to drive home the point. Even walking in open space in the Mall was verboten. War Veterans were told by bureaucrats following orders that they had no business visiting memorials honoring fallen servicemen. If not for veterans the memorials and the parks wouldn’t even be there, but that didn’t stop officials from trying to shoo them away like some varmint on your back porch. Meanwhile a place was reserved on the Mall for approved political partisan advocates, illegal immigrate right as I recall (or undocumented immigrants if you prefer).

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The Dawning of the Trump Era on Ricochet


I come to bury the election not to praise it or as the cannibal said,”I come to curry Caesar not to braise him”. I write not about the past or even today but tomorrow and the next thousand tomorrows. I am also writing about this place, this imperfect conglomeration of nerds, intellectuals, soldiers, patriots, thinkers, emoters, healers, comedians, musicians, atheists, agnostics, gays, straights, and marvelously tolerant God fearing people. This is a forum where people can have fun, learn, bond, or just be addicted to for pleasure. This website is also someplace you can get famous if you’re a talented writer or be like many who have fun improving over time.

We have a new president today and whatever your emotions, say a prayer or wish him well even if you’re one who dislikes or distrusts him. He occupies the office the world looks to and while the more radical elements of the left have reasons to be going bat guano, the rest of the country is hopeful, confused, and some are scared. By the way protestors, you’re gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company. President Trump deserves our objectivity and our well thought out opinions.


Plea for an Executive Order: May Trump Reinstate the Mexico City Policy


USAID is the American government agency that funds the fight against poverty in foreign countries. They work with NGOs (non-government organizations) that have various programs to assist poor people everywhere.

President Reagan in 1984 created what’s known as the Mexico City Policy (which is where the policy was announced). Briefly, it informs NGOs in foreign countries as follows: If you receive aid money from USAID, you can’t perform or promote abortions.


Army Awards Handgun Contract to Sig Sauer

By TexasWarhawkOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Via The Army Times, there was much joy in Epping, NH last night:

Half a decade into its search for a new handgun, the Army has chosen Sig Sauer’s version of the Modular Handgun System [a variant of the company’s P320 handgun], according to a Thursday announcement from the Army. The new sidearm will replace the M9 Beretta, the Army’s pistol of choice for more than 30 years. 


6 Reasons Every Conservative Should Be Happy Today


Given my, shall we say … imperfect record at prognostication, I’m going to avoid anything that looks like a prediction. But with that aside:

  1. Hillary Clinton is not taking the Oath of Office. For nearly a quarter century, this had been (rightly) the stuff of conservative nightmares and it’s not happening. I think everyone here can be glad to have dodged that particular bullet.
  2. President Barack Obama is leaving office. While the rest of his party suffered defeat after defeat, Obama always managed to emerge — if not unscathed — then at least whole. As of today, the Left’s great (and, currently) only effective champion has left the field.
  3. President-Elect Donald Trump’s appointments and nominees make for, on the whole, an impressive crowd. Especially after the last eight years, it’ll be incredibly refreshing to have senior federal officials who don’t believe that Washington, DC is the rightful center of the universe.
  4. Similarly, someone who didn’t spend his whole life running for president is about to take office. This is, in itself, a very good thing, if only for breaking the usual pattern.
  5. We have a highly-motivated Congress that is, more or less, the Tea Party Congress that was elected in 2010. The analogy’s far from perfect, but imagine what Newt Gingrich could have accomplished with a friendly president in the White House.
  6. The Republican Party holds a majority of governorships and state legislatures. Twenty-three states have both Republican governors and Republican majorities in their legislatures; by the same measure, Democrats control only seven state governments. This is an incredible opportunity to do good work (or, at least, stop bad work from continuing) without Washington running interference.

It bears mentioning — it always does — that this too shall pass. But we should savor the moment and make the most of the opportunity.

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Best. President-Elect. Ever.


The candidates I preferred would not have nominated people so committed to reining in the excesses and reversing the mistakes of their new departments. The first instinct of every organization is to increase its own power; these are the best choices to fight that instinct. Likewise, the candidates I preferred would not have nominated an ambassador to Israel as strongly pro-Israel as David Friedman. Nor would they have successfully worked with Egypt to withdraw a UN resolution, or with the United Kingdom to (I strongly suspect) threaten to veto the next resolution if the outgoing US administration abstained.

They may have wanted to do these things, but they couldn’t have pulled them off. They would have been destroyed by the bullying press, just as they were destroyed by The Donald. They would have been forced to back down or compromise, and they would have learned never to act so boldly again.