Quote of the Day: California Elections


California continually elects the kind of people who want to change the world but can’t even change a tire. – Bryan Preston

And they did it again this Tuesday, retaining rather than recalling Gavin Newsom. What do I take from that? That California is doomed. The four horsemen of socialism, environmentalism, tribalism, and wokeness will continue riding over California ravaging the productive and rewarding the rent-seekers and takers. They are going to have to hit bottom before sanity returns.

California’s Highway to Hell


Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi is the face of evil in our land, and a sign of how far we have fallen as a nation. Nancy Pelosi, the once and present Speaker of the House of Representatives, led her Democrat Party caucus to pass a bill federalizing the left’s abortion absolutism, just as they seek to end our constitutional republic by stealing elections the old-fashioned way with House Resolution 4, passed in August. Commendably, no Republican member of Congress voted for either of these bills. Pelosi’s defiance of her archbiship on House Resolution 3755, the radical abortion bill, is unsurprising and shows the long failure of Roman Catholic leadership to enforce church discipline on this life and death matter.

Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone called the falsely named Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 “child sacrifice.” [emphasis added]:

HR 3755, the misnamed “Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021,” shows to what radical extremes the supposedly “Pro-Choice” advocates in our country will go to protect what they hold most sacred: the right to kill innocent human beings in the womb.  I support Archbishop Joseph Naumann in his demand to lawmakers to reject this “deceptively-named, extreme bill [that] would impose abortion on demand nationwide at any stage of pregnancy [and] … eliminate modest and widely supported pro-life laws at every level of government,” and, instead, that they “put the energy and resources of our federal government behind policies that recognize and support both mothers and their children.”  Any reasonable person with a basic sense of morality and inkling of decency cannot but shudder in horror at such a heinous evil being codified in law.

Answering Cosmic Questions


Where did the universe come from? How does it work? When did it begin and when and how will it end? People have asked variations on these questions since people started asking questions.

“Where Did the Universe Come From? And Other Cosmic Questions,” by Chris Ferrie and Geraint F. Lewis examines those questions. They also show how the answers have changed over the last 50 years.

The pair looks at the biggest thing in existence, the universe itself. They also examine the smallest things, including subatomic particles. They explain how the largest and smallest things in the universe are interrelated and affect each other. They do so in language a layperson can understand.

On Anti-Semitism: ‘Does Everybody Hate Jews?’


When I saw Bari Weiss’ latest substack essay in my inbox, I hesitated to read it; did I really need to write another piece for Ricochet about the increase of anti-Semitism in America? At the same time, I’m always curious to know about recent surveys or perspectives on this phenomenon, so I read the essay. And I was surprised to learn that not only did Weiss have some intriguing points to make, but she also stimulated new ideas for me on the topic of anti-Semitism in America.

Biden’s Latest Firings Are Unjustified


On September 8, in his latest exercise of political muscle, President Joe Biden ordered Catherine Russell, the White House director for presidential personnel, to send letters to all incumbent presidential appointees on the visiting committees of West Point, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy, each of whom had received commissions for three-year terms. Her message was short and to the point: either resign by the close of business today or you will be terminated by 6 p.m.—thank you. Among those individuals who were targeted on the West Point visiting committee was former president Donald Trump’s national security advisor and current Hoover senior fellow, H. R. McMaster, who had just been named the recipient of a distinguished graduate award for 2021 from West Point.

Press secretary Jennifer Psaki sought to supply the explanation left out of Russell’s demand letters:

The president’s objective is what any president’s objective is, which was to ensure that you have nominees and people serving on these boards who are qualified to serve on them and who are aligned with your values.

A Brief Guide to the COVID-19 Disclosures


justice and COVID-19The Intercept’s September 9 article, “NEW DETAILS EMERGE ABOUT CORONAVIRUS RESEARCH AT CHINESE LAB,” has a series of links that point to the 900 pages of official government documents they sued the U.S. government to release. Readers should treat the Intercept article as a guide to these sources.

The Intercept is making the full documents available to the public.

This link points to the complaint, the legal document initiating the civil lawsuit against the NIH.

Who is Worse, Mark Milley or Benedict Arnold?


General Mark Milley’s January 2021 actions, as published by Bob Woodward and confirmed by Milley’s non-denial, were far more damaging to American national security than Brigadier General Benedict Arnold’s attempted betrayal of the American Revolution. General Milley reportedly subverted our national security on two levels, both leading fellow officers to collude in subverting the Constitution, and directly conspiring with a nuclear adversary to remove our first strike capability and give Communist China the time to launch missiles at our cities first. In comparison, Benedict Arnold informed British commanders of Continental Army planning for a possible invasion of Canada and attempted to communicate an offer to hand over the fortifications at West Point, if he was placed in command of defenses including West Point, in return for cash and some status under British rule. Mark Milley is worse than Benedict Arnold. Gen. Mark Milley did more damage to our national defense than Gen. Benedict Arnold.

Brigadier General Benedict Arnold was a hero of the American Revolution, until he was not.

Early in May [1779] he made secret overtures to British headquarters, and a year later he informed the British of a proposed American invasion of Canada. He later revealed that he expected to obtain the command of West Point, New York, and asked the British for £20,000 for betraying this post. When his British contact, Maj. John André, was captured by the Americans, Arnold escaped on a British ship, leaving André to be hanged as a spy. The sacrifice of André made Arnold odious to loyalists, and his reputation was further tarnished among his former neighbours when he led a raid on New London, Connecticut, in September 1781.

When We Allow Life to Change Us


No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.  —Heraclitus

Anyone who thinks that life is too routine and that hardly anything changes has gotten himself into a rut. We can allow ourselves to be numbed by our daily routines, bored with the predictability of our days, and dwell on the many things we don’t have or we’d like to have.

Instead, though, we can notice the richness of each day as we move through it. For me, there are a great many things that pique my attention or give me joy. When I get up early in the morning, I will notice the stillness that rests in the house; somehow that day’s silence has its own soothing quality. Or on my walk, I’ll notice a new blossom on my lemon tree; a walker who has an English mastiff who’s decided to stop and greet me; or an armadillo that scampers blindly to find his breakfast.

The Charles C.W. Cooke Newsletter


Hi everyone,

Scott Immergut, he of the Blue Yeti microphone and benevolent kingship Ricochet.com, has kindly offered to let me tell everyone here about my new weekly newsletter. It’s free — hurrah — and I send it out every week, on Saturday mornings. It includes a round-up of everything I’ve done during the previous week, as well as the rotating music, television, restaurant, and tech sections from my old newsletter, Café Americano.

A Lost War: A Conversation with Victor Davis Hanson and H. R. McMaster on Afghanistan’s Past, Present, and Future


General H. R. McMaster and military historian Victor Davis Hanson are both senior fellows at the Hoover Institution. In this frank, no-holds-barred conversation, they discuss the United States’ mission in Afghanistan: how it began, how it was conducted, and its ignominious end. McMaster and Hanson debate what worked and what failed, how social issues in the United States may have influenced our mission in Afghanistan and our decision to leave, and whether or not the United States should have continued to maintain a presence instead of leaving in a matter of weeks, abandoning thousands of Afghans loyal to the US mission there (as well as an unknown number of US citizens) after 20 years of military operations in the country.

ACF on Cinema Post-9/11


So after the World Trade Center podcast, I bring you a wide-ranging conversation with my friend Telly Davidson on movies and TV after 9/11, on the effects of catastrophe and war on Hollywood, or rather on the American mind, so far as its reflected in and affected by storytelling. We talk about the way superhero fantasy became the official way of showing young Americans what 9/11 meant, the way TV turned to espionage stories like 24 and then Homeland, which are evocative of the Bush and Obama administrations respectively, and what went wrong with the various attempts to tell America what the nation had gone through and what the nation was going to do.

Lying by Omission or It’s What They Don’t Say that Counts


No one will argue that the surge of illegal aliens at the southern border is a disaster. And in the face of Joe Biden’s trying to mandate the Covid-19 vaccine to American citizens, he’s giving the migrants a pass. Especially interesting to me was\ the presentation of the data (or the lack of transparent data) for assessing whether the influx of illegal aliens (who are not mandated to receive the vaccine) is a problem for the country. The Delta variant in particular is especially contagious. But regarding the unvaccinated migrants, no one seems to care.

So I have been parsing articles that ridicule or understate the spread of Covid-19 by migrants. And as long as we are flooded with migrants, I believe we should be very concerned about the spread of the disease. I’d like to share what I’m learning from those people who prefer to play down the presence of Covid-19 in the illegal alien population, the lack of testing, and the lack of vaccinations. Remember, these people are free to travel wherever they wish or are being sent all over the country without notifying governors in advance.

The illegals are demonstrating “vaccine hesitancy” when offered the vaccine, even though Covid-19 cases are surging in the detention centers:

Best Star Spangled Banner Performance: Diana Ross


Diana Ross was the first pop star to perform the national anthem at a Super Bowl, and her 1982 performance set a standard not yet surpassed at any professional sports venue. From high school to professional sports events, Americans have long started these secular public rites with our national anthem. The NFL had long leaned on college marching bands and choruses, but broke from tradition with a pop star actually past the peak of her genre. Diana Ross, Motown royalty, rose to the occasion in Detroit’s Silverdome Stadium, setting the standard for future performers.

There are three basic rules for a good national anthem vocal performance:

Quote of the Day: Plans


“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” ― Woody Allen

I am working on a book. (I know, I always am.) It is due in mid-October. The week before last, everything came together. I wrote 19,000 words in seven days. What makes that more remarkable was I did that on top of working 40 hours at a day job. Good stuff, too.  I still had the captions and the plate dialog to write, plus the instructions to the artist and map makers and a few other things, but with the main body of the text done, I was actually ahead of schedule. I could get it done on time. Maybe early.

A Fresh Take on an Old Classic


Daniel Carter is a London copper. It is today’s London, but a London inhabited by clans of underground monsters. They run criminal rackets: the Frankenstein Clan, with its surgeries, the seductive Vampire Clan, the drug-dealing Clan of Mummies and the Werewolf Clan, who serve as hit men and enforcers.

“Jekyll & Hyde Inc.,” a fantasy novel by Simon R. Green, opens with Carter, his partner, and two fellow cops raiding a Frankenstein chop shop. Their attempt to break up the illicit den where victims are cut up for transplant organs goes badly. One is killed, two others vanish in the building’s ruins and Carter is left crippled.

Carter is also suspended. The raid was supposedly unauthorized. The commissioner who organized and authorized it also disappeared. Carter’s career is in ruins, he is in constant pain, and his family has rejected him. Then his vanished partner appears. He has been absorbed into the underground, involuntarily turned into a vampire. Like the ghost of Jacob Marley, he appears to offer Carter a chance at redemption – or perhaps more accurately revenge.

The Need for Speed and Other Petulant Tales


So much has already been said about President Biden’s dementia (no, I’m not going to use some other politically correct term) that I won’t belabor the fact that we can plainly see his limitations. But there is a larger issue that, coupled with his dementia, puts the country at serious risk.

The man is seriously immature.

Now many of us know people who lack immaturity into adulthood and they often make a mess of their lives. They are impatient, irrational, and petulant; they often lack the ability to weigh consequences or develop a long-term picture; they live in “the now.” They are idealists. They are disrespectful to others and demand that their needs and expectations be met.

The Importance of Protecting Our Constitution


These are fraught days for Americans. History is said to be cyclical but there is widespread concern that we are in inexorable decline. Our leadership role in the world which seemed secure three decades ago is under serious threat. Polls show that confidence and love of country are in decline, especially among the young. Traditional American values like freedom of speech, free-market economics, and responsible fiscal policy are openly attacked.

Meanwhile, e pluribus unum is facing replacement by a culture obsessed with racial identity. MLK’s dream of a society where skin color doesn’t determine our judgments of each other is now itself deemed racist.

America, though, is the longest-running liberal democracy in history for a reason: our Constitution. Our great freedom document connects us to our roots, the sources of our strength. It can direct us away from hyperpartisanship toward mutual respect and agreement on shared principles – if we respect its authority.

Filming the Recent Past: Images


Many years ago, I was watching a taxicab scene in It’s Always Fair Weather, a great 1955 film, when I noticed something strange, almost Twilight Zone-ish going on: the traffic seen out of the back window of the cab, which rolls on for minutes, is something I’ve seen before. Where? I realized that it was an extended driving scene of a not exactly obscure 1972 film, The Godfather. How did they do that?

That scene in Godfather takes place in 1945-’46 when mafia lieutenant Peter Clemenza and his “boys” take a ride into Manhattan to buy deloused mattresses for an extended stay in a hideout during a gang war. They get into a shiny dark Lincoln on a suburban street in south Queens and drive into the busy streets of the city, all beautifully filmed in nostalgic color, before having to abandon that great car because a traitor’s blood (“Paulie sold out the Old Man!”) gets all over the windshield. The car is so authentic to the period that we briefly notice it still has a war rationing sticker.

Who Am I and Who Are You?


If I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you. But if I am I because you are you, and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you! —Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk

The first time I read this quotation, my eyes crossed! In fact, I read it a couple of times to understand what the good rabbi was trying to say. (I must assume that he wrote it with some amusement.)

But the actual meaning that I deduce from his words is powerful and a reminder that no matter how we try to isolate ourselves and our connection with others, deep or superficial, long-term or recent, they touch our hearts, minds, and souls in a way that is impossible to measure.

It’s Time to Fight


We now face real subjugation or real resistance to true domestic enemies of our constitutional republic. It is still a cold civil war (see Kesler 2018, Klingenstein 2021) but keeping it cool requires real and effective resistance now. Thankfully, the left and their useful idiots or pilot fish GOPe enablers have lost their inhibitions and started saying the quiet part out loud. The rank hypocrisy of the new American upper class is not hidden away like the old aristocracy’s excesses. We can all see them in the social media public square.

In “Stay Home, Peons!” John Hinderacker quotes the truly fascist left’s proclamations about those who dare resist the lab coat left’s lies about COVID-19 and their vaccine/mask/social control claims.

Why Did the Jews Complain?


Remember the story of the Exodus, of the Jews’ leaving Egypt? From the beginning of their journey, when they encountered the Reed Sea, they complained; they saw the Egyptians pursuing them in chariots, and they were certain they would die. It didn’t occur to them that they would be rescued by G-d. When they were saved, the Torah says that “they had faith in G-d and his servant Moses.”

But did they?

When they left Egypt so quickly, they were unable to bring much food or drinkable water. So, they complained again. Moses asked G-d what they could drink, and G-d showed Moses a way to make the bitter water sweet. So, their faith in G-d was restored. Right?

Creeping Coercion Under the ‘Stakeholder’ Banner


Without question, today’s leading corporate buzzwords are contained in this well-known acronym: ESG—Environmental, Social, and Governance. Most notably, these three words are not simple dictionary entries that permit discussion of thorny questions on how best to regulate the environment; deal with social issues relating to the workplace on such hot-button topics as income inequality, gender equity, and unionization; and structure corporate governance to incorporate the first two issues. If that were the modest intention of the ESG movement, no one could explain the huge emotional, intellectual, and political crusade that the three letters embody.

The current strength of the ESG movement lies in how tightly it dovetails with progressive views on substantive issues. There is no question within this movement that global warming is the main environmental challenge—demanding a quick retreat from fossil fuels in favor of a rapid expansion of wind and solar energy to provide for home heating and automobile fuel.

The social issues are not intended to extol the virtues of a market economy, but instead highlight the necessity of following policies of diversity and inclusion in order to remove perceived racism and sexism from the workplace and the larger society, and to ensure workers have a voice in the workplace, coupled with a rich array of positive rights—vacation pay, health care, minimum wages—that progressives believe markets cannot supply.

Citizens, Weapons and Honor


Citizens, weapons, and honor were left behind in Kabul. But so much more. We’ll talk about that later.

So, I had an uncle. Uncle Walter. He met the angels so long ago I’ve forgotten when. 1986 I think is close. He and his family lived just down the street from us and we loved him. Walter was a simple man. In the summer, you could always find him at home mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges, painting…anything. Every year he was always part of the volunteer crew helping to shoot the July 4th fireworks skyward from barges stationed in the bay off the local boat club. Can you imagine? Volunteering to be around all these mini-missiles and all their “booms” when Walter was an army grunt living among explosions every day of his life in theater in World War II?

Uber, Lyft Risk Alienating their Customers by Virtue-Signaling on Abortion


Uber and Lyft iconsThe next time you find yourself looking for a ride to or from an airport, you may want to consider hailing a yellow cab.

After all, if anecdotal evidence counts for anything, the driver has likely spent the better part of his day inching forward in hopes of picking up a fare that’ll just barely cover the last couple of hours’ worth of gas he’s burned up waiting for you. Why not give him some business?

Oh right, and there’s this: Using the alternative (you know, those ridesharing apps that clutter your phone) is liable to pick your pocket yet one more time and land in the coffers of abortion giant Planned Parenthood.