Curiouser and Curiouser


Over the past weekend, a strange news feed about possible white supremacists marching at the Lincoln Memorial popped up on one of my YouTube subscriptions; then disappeared within a few hours of being up. I did the usual innerweb search, but could find nothing about it. This seemed strange to me that no one, not MSM sources or Alt-media, seemed to have picked up the story.

I noted from the video of the march, before being taken down, that the “white supremacist demonstrators” were being escorted by DC Police, which means it had been coordinated with the city. If that was the case why wasn’t BLM/ANTIFA there to counter-protest. If DC City Hall knew this was going on, someone would have passed the word on. And yet, that didn’t happen. Stranger still, it appears that the group in question, called “Patriot Front” seemed to appear from nowhere, march down the steps, and disappear without holding a rally or making speeches.

Then yesterday, the “Mr. Reagan” YouTube channel did this update about the event that didn’t seem to happen, and group that no one has ever heard of. After viewing the video, I came away thinking, OK that’s weird, someone/group has gone through a lot of effort and expense to do what I’m not sure.

The Road to – and from – Roe


Protesters rally outside the Supreme Court as the court revisits Roe v. Wade in Washington DC, December 1.

This past week in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Association, the Supreme Court heard extended and heated arguments on whether Roe v. Wade (1973), a fixture of American constitutional law for nearly fifty years, should be overturned. As envisioned by Mississippi’s solicitor general, Scott Stewart, abortion regulation would then be turned back to the legislative branches of the states, subject to any constraints that individual states might impose under their respective constitutions. Dobbs arose because of a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after fifteen weeks, long before the third trimester of pregnancy specified in Roe as the time of viability (around twenty-five or twenty-six weeks), at which the state may protect not only maternal health—itself only allowed in the second trimester—but also the life of the fetus.

This case thus cuts into the heart of the constitutional theory. It is widely accepted that any Bill of Rights necessarily limits the right of legislative majorities from trenching on key individual rights. No one denies that proposition at the most basic level, for otherwise a bare political majority is free to target certain despised groups for death, imprisonment, or confiscation. But that general principle itself does not articulate a coherent answer to the question of which laws protecting individual rights should be respected and which not.

Quote of the Day: Where in the World Are We?


I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. —L. Frank Baum

This was a statement made by Baum’s character, Dorothy, in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. But I couldn’t help thinking that any one of us could make the same observation about life in the United States today.

Many of us have lived long enough to remember a different United States. It’s gratifying to glorify our past with Ozzie and Harriet images, professional baseball, our victory in WWII, and the respect other nations had for our country. We even realize that some of our memories are overblown, hazy stories that we recall or were passed down to us by family who loved this country and wanted to pass on their admiration for all that we stood for.

I’ll be teaching an online course: The History of the Second Amendment


Hullo, everyone. I’m just popping in to let you all know about an online course I’m teaching early next year called The History of the Second Amendment. It’s with a new startup called Chapter, which noticed that pretty much every course they were offering was either progressive or progressive-adjacent, decided that it didn’t want to become an echo chamber, and so asked me to teach one, too. I suggested the history of the right to keep and bear arms as a topic, they agreed, and here were are.

Chapter describes its system as “like a book club, but way more fun.” Each week, I’ll provide a reading list (which could be articles, reviews, videos, podcasts, or primary source documents), along with insights and tips on each one. There will be a community forum in which you can discuss each topic, as well as a rolling Q&A in which I will answer questions — both on their website and, if the topic warrants it, by video. Because people are busy, everything will be “asynchronous” — that is, you can take part whenever you’re free, rather than at times that are set by me. The course will last four weeks, it will cost $40 (actually: $35 for Ricochet members), and it will run the gamut.

Week One will be on pre-Revolutionary America. We’ll explore how the right to keep and bear arms came over with the colonists from Britain, before making its way into the heart of American law.

The Age Double Standard, and Why It Makes Sense


My beloved sent this to me this morning. Color me surprised. Madonna is at it again. Being at least partially naked somewhere, talking about how sexy she is, trying to get more likes.

I get it. At 63, it’s probably difficult for even an “icon” like her to get the attention she was used to back in the ’80s and ’90s. She’s had a great run. But when we see pictures of her now, she’s either so made up as to be unrecognizable or else she’s haggard and awful-looking. Now, I’m pretty lackluster when it comes to my makeup and fashion sense. I will never win any awards. However, I’m also not in the public eye.

Simplifying Life


Over the years, I’ve read commentary from people trying to simplify their lives. Sometimes they sell large homes and replace them with smaller ones. Sometimes they throw out favorite clothes and appliances and trade in their cars and buy more efficient, modern, and attractive ones. I tend to be the kind of person who holds on to things as long as they still fit or keep working. I have exercise clothes that I’ve had for over 20 years and a leather jacket that I never wear, especially in Florida, but I can’t bear to part with it.

But in the past year, I’ve noticed that I’m making choices that have little to do with practicality in the usual terms, or with efficiency or modernity. I’ve felt the need to shed certain attitudes, let go of some relationships, or eliminate practices that take up my time, my energy, and even my spirit. I’ve tried to be discerning as I let things go, because I might find myself in a pattern of removing not only activities but relationships that have become trying, but there is reason to maintain them. I’ve also realized that certain practices strengthen my life, and I want to pursue and deepen them. So, I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to …

First, anyone on this site can be assured that I’m not talking about distancing myself from you! Every person with whom I’ve interacted on this site, even if we strongly disagree with each other, is important to me. I may not agree with you, but I will always try to learn from you (and sometimes that’s not easy!). I also know that we may not agree, but we very likely share mostly the same values, and that factor is important to me in my relationships.

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus


We do it once a year. Decorations go up. Trees are sold. Families gather. Schools close. Carols are sung. Gifts are given. Christmas is a season that sparks great joy. Each person, each group may celebrate the season for different reasons, but our Hebraic-Christian view of Christmas looks in two directions.

Initially, we look back at all the First Testament prophets who looked ahead. Hundreds of prophecies anticipating a prophet, a priest, a king, a messiah, a savior, were all fulfilled at Jesus’ birth. Additionally, we look ahead with the First and Second Testament prophets and apostles to the promise of a renovated world; a world where suffering and sin will cease, a world where Jesus rules eternally.

Both the history and the hope of Jesus’ first and second arrivals is well summarized by Charles Wesley’s hymn “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” I believe the hymn expresses our earnest hope based on the facts of history: the surety of Jesus and His soon return.

Night Witches: The All-Female Soviet Aerial Bomb Squad


The name alone would strike terror into the heart of even the most battle-hardened German soldier: The Night Witches.

Although these women were not Americans, we decided that since they fought as allies against Nazi soldiers and their story is not commonly known, we would give them an honorable mention in our Forgotten Americans section. Named for the sound of their rudimentary, plywood biplanes as they cruised slowly overhead at low altitude dropping bombs, the Night Witches were the all-volunteer, all-female air raid squad that the Soviets deployed against the Third Reich. The spooky “whoosh” as they circled overhead reminded the German troops of women sweeping. The association with a broom led to them calling these night-time raiders “Nachthexen” – Night Witches.

A term of derision for the Nazis, a badge of honor for the women of the Soviet Union’s all-female bomb squad. The Night Witches were so hated by the powers that be in Berlin that anyone who could down one of their crop dusters was awarded the prestigious Iron Cross award. But who were these brave women who battled against the Nazi Luftwaffe in the freezing cold of the Eastern Front?

America and the Gershwins


George and Ira Gershwin – by Al Hirschfeld

The Wall Street Journal is running a music commentary piece on Ira Gershwin, “Ira Gerswhin at 125.” It’s a short piece on his contribution to the Great American Songbook, particularly apt on the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The Second Great War shaped our cultural understanding, perception, and celebrations as Americans, proving an optimism and steeled determination that we shared and embraced.

If the WSJ piece is an overarching celebration of Ira’s birth, this poignant post by @ejhill from October 2020, offers a more touching, relatable window into what we take for granted when consuming entertainment, especially from the brilliant minds of our cultural geniuses. They acquire their inspiration from depths not often known to us; thoughts and feelings kept secret by the architects even as the art they create is exposed to the world.

Gambling Syndicates and Professional Sports, You Bet!


The other day, a young man was talking to a friend on his smartphone, explaining his system of parlay betting online. I flashed back 20 years to young men playing the market with day-trading software. Back then, wide ownership of personal computers, at work or home, was less than two decades old, and the World Wide Web with graphic interface web browsers was about a decade old. Then and now, people were gambling, hopefully playing with disposable income rather than running up debt or betting the rent. The sporting young man was talking about legal sports betting via smartphone app, and therein lies our tale.

We all know that Pete Rose, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, has been banned from baseball and Cooperstown for betting on baseball. Major League Baseball had a terrible scandal in 1919, when Chicago White Sox players were accused of throwing the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, to benefit a gambling syndicate. The National Football League has occasionally suspended players for up to an entire season, but not personally banned them for betting on their sport and their team. The National Basketball Association had weathered accusations and a serious investigation into a referee fixing games by point-shaving, getting the point difference between the teams to fit a betting position. In 1948, hockey was rocked with a game-fixing investigation that led to the lifetime ban of two star players.

With all that bad history, the leagues struck strong poses against gambling outside Las Vegas and especially online. Congress got into the game with the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, banning sports betting  Then times changed. In 2018, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law effectively banning sports bookmaking outside of locations where it was already legal. Justice Alito delivered the 6-3 majority opinion in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association.

On the Only Lights Left in the World


I am reminded that today is the 80th Anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. I am embarrassed to admit that my own understanding of our history with respect to this event goes little beyond what was still being taught in schools when I was a kid; the few children’s books that provide a basic overview; stories of the Second World War, which must necessarily describe an event that finally brought the reality of war close enough to home that the United States could no longer sit back, somewhat coldly debating “someone else’s problem.”

I have a friend who was eight years old at the time, in Toppenish, WA, which looked much, much different than it does today – he showed me a class picture from that year and pointed to four young Japanese-American friends of his. They left … and eventually they came back. People leave and come back all the time, and even in the 1930s, you don’t think much of it at the time.

The Seinfeld Republican Party


If you were counting on the Republican Party to retake the House next year (overcoming extreme and unapologetic gerrymandering by Democrats in every Democrat-controlled state and phony “nonpartisan” redistricting commissions stacked with Democrat operatives) and retake the Senate despite competitive seats in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Arizona being decided by the same junk-mail ballot processes as 2020) and maybe you were counting on that GOP Congress to turn things around after President Brandon’s first two spectacularly dreadful years… Well, don’t.

Mitch McConnell has told colleagues and donors Senate Republicans won’t release a legislative agenda before next year’s midterms, according to people who’ve attended private meetings with the minority leader.

Misremembering Pearl Harbor with Mr. Williams


Japanese photograph taken during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Mr. Williams was the best substitute teacher at Shadow Mountain High School. Not to say he was good at teaching. To be honest, he was terrible. But any day students saw the elderly man shuffle to the chalkboard to scribble his name, we knew we were in for a treat.

The first time I had him “teach” was for my freshman Algebra class. He didn’t mention math. Instead, he gave us a play-by-play of Dec. 7, 1941. Mr. Williams had enlisted in the US Navy before the war and was stationed at Pearl Harbor.

What Can Be Done Now About the ‘Genocide Olympics?’


The XXIV Winter Olympics open in Beijing, China, on February 4, less than 14 years since they hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics. The torch relay began from Olympia, Greece, on October 18th. Residents of Xinjiang Province, home of gulags, re-education camps, and other forms of genocide against Uyghur Muslims, will miss out on it.

It didn’t have to be this way. When the International Olympic Committee voted in 2015, it had a choice. Beijing won out over Almaty, Khazakstan, by just four votes, 44-40, after Norway, the early favorite, withdrew their bid over embarrassing demands made by the IOC. It is the third consecutive Olympics held in Asia (the other two were Japan and South Korea).

Major sponsors include several prominent US companies, including consumer goods giant Procter and Gamble, computer chip maker Intel, Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Visa, and others.

Real History Matters: The Anglo-Irish Treaty 100 Years On


Anglo Irish Treaty was signed 06.December.1921 | Irish News Archives

A century ago today, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed between representatives of Great Britain and Ireland. The significance of this treaty is lost today on many Americans, many Brits, and sadly many Irish people. But it is without question probably the most significant document in Irish history. The Anglo-Irish Treaty ended the devastatingly brutal guerilla war of independence between the U.K. armed forces and the original Irish Republican Army and established the first de facto, independent modern Irish state. Yet its terms would lead to an even more divisive civil war in Ireland that destroyed the nationalist movement at its moment of triumph and ruined the lives of a generation in bitterness.

The treaty marked the fulfillment of several months of negotiations between Irish representatives and their U.K. counterparts since a truce had taken place on July 11, 1921, between both sides. Prime Minister David Lloyd George, having seen a negotiated settlement as the best possible way to end the war, invited Irish leaders to Downing Street with the hope of coming to some form of agreement. The leader of the Irish national movement and Sinn Féin President Éamon de Valera agreed to talks with the British. However, from July to September, little progress was made between the two leaders.

Because not enough people are vaccinated! Duh. Obviously. Also, Devin Nunes is getting redistricted out of his congressional seat so he’s decided to pack it in early and go work for Donald Trump. And climate change. Here’s hoping for a mild winter.

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Bollywood Movie Staples


–Parents who want son or daughter to wed and are constantly bringing in photos of potential suitors or setting up meetings.

–A plot involving an unsuitable romantic partner versus the husband or wife arranged for the protagonist years ago.

Dec. 6, 1957: Space Age Pearl Harbor?


In 1955, both the United States and the Soviet Union announced that they would launch a satellite during the International Geophysical Year (IGY 7/57-12/58). The Naval Research Lab won the competition with Wernher von Braun and the Army to launch the first American satellite. My father co-wrote NRL’s proposal and worked on Project Vanguard’s Mintrack system to track the satellite and designed the small test vehicle satellite which was to be used in the early Vanguard launches.

On October 4, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 which was the first human-made satellite. It has been called the shock of the century. A month later Sputnik 2 put the first living mammal, the dog Laika, into space. There was increasing pressure on the White House which announced that Vanguard TV-3 would launch the first American satellite. That surprised the Vanguard people since it was the first test with all three stages live and they thought it was unlikely to work perfectly.

Celebrating a Remarkable Life – Robert J. Dole


It came as a shock. It shouldn’t have, the news that former US Senator and 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole, 98, passed away on Sunday. It falls on the same day three years ago that he famously but painfully stood in the Capitol Rotunda and saluted the casket of his former political competitor and close friend, George H. W. Bush.

Brilliant and touching prose from prominent people who knew him well or shared parts of his incredible journey and life story are rolling in. Of course, it will be positive, even glowing, and deservedly so. I can imagine Senator Dole, with his famous humor and dry wit, asking “Where were you in 1996?” That’s when he unsuccessfully sought the presidency as the GOP’s nominee, losing to incumbent Bill Clinton. Tributes are already pouring in from his friends, former colleagues, ex-staff, and the beneficiaries of his legendary military, legislative, and public service record. Mine is but a small addition, but we all have our stories and desire to honor his towering legacy. Together, they present a glowing mosaic of courage, determination, compassion, humility, and service.

And yes, humor. He could have easily succeeded as a stand-up comic. As one of a few senior GOP staff would attend occasions closed-door meetings of the Senate Republican Conference, he would often lighten the mood with endless quips, delivered within his famous deadpan style and impeccable timing. Celebrating US Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC) on his 93rd birthday, he quipped, “I watch what Strom eats. If he eats a banana, I eat a banana.” Thurmond would live to be 100, six months after retiring from the US Senate in early 2003. He was succeeded by Lindsey Graham.

Quote of the Day: Why Politicians Hate Economic Science


“Entirely new perspectives were opened when the economists discovered that there prevails a regularity in the sequence and interdependence of market phenomena. It was the first step to a general theory of human action, praxeology. For the first time people became aware of the fact that, in order to succeed, human action must comply not only with what are called the laws of nature, but also with specific laws of human action.

“There are things that even the most efficient constabulary of a formidable government cannot bring about, although they may not appear impossible from the point of view of the natural sciences.

F1 as a Metaphor for the Technocratic Society


Over the years, Formula One racing has become ensnared by its own rules. What was once a free-for-all, unlimited budget only has to last two hours flavor of innovation and competitiveness has become a sport better suited for lawyers. Every significant pass or off is litigated – was it fair? – within the rules? It is hard not to hear a note of mockery in the commentary.

The evolution did not come without good reason.  It was a horribly dangerous sport; several would die every year.  It was not hyperbole to say you were never sure you would survive a race.  Drivers began to reject overtly dangerous conditions such as heavy rain.  Especially with the advent of ground effects where the cornering force improves with speed as the aerodynamics glue the car to the track.  Untrained drivers find it hard to force their brains to allow them approach corners with speeds adequate to fulfil the car’s promise.  Deaths have plummeted under the new safety rules.

It’s a better-late-than-never show. We’ve got galavanting hosts (James is out this week), a Supreme Court steeped in overdue contemplation (John Yoo fills in for James to keep fill us in and even makes a prediction!) and our guest, Bjørn Lomborg is here to talk COP26.

Lomborgauthor of False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet—takes us through all the great things Climate leaders have accomplished with these conferences, including promises that they will have accomplished great things in the coming decades… 

How to Stop Mob Looting


Very simple; strengthen the law and then, enforce it. Define mob looting as a crime as follows: when more than one person cooperatively enters a retail establishment with the intent to steal merchandise. Aggregate the loss in determining the level of felony charged so that each person involved in the theft, including those aiding and abetting (drivers and those obstructing response, fences, persons who receive stolen property, etc.) are charged with the full value of all merchandise stolen and the costs of all damage.

Allow up to triple damages as compensation upon conviction. Allow a weapons charge if implements are used in the theft that could be classified as a weapon or used to intimidate a response. Arrest the perpetrators.

Stack up the felonies and dare the prosecutors to dismiss.