Attacks on Jews, and a Leftist’s Attempt to Speak a Bit of Inconvenient Truth


I read Bari Weiss’s new book, How to Fight Anti-Semitism out of curiosity. I wondered if she would really speak truth to power and slap the hand that pays her salary, the New York Times. She did not. She is a woman of the left and a talented columnist, both of which come across in this small, easily read volume. I do not envy her the task she set for herself. I do not know if anyone could write an approachable appeal, that would both address the prominent sources of anti-Semitism and keep the ear of even one major faction on either side of the great political divide.

This is a lengthy and critical review, arranged with the following section headers: “A few administrative details,” “Book outline,” “Too far right?” “Not far enough left?” “Naming radical Islam,” “Review of reviews,” and finally some closing thoughts under “Civility?” Fair warning: this ended up being a very critical review. For balance, you should go read Cathy Young’s review, and Melissa Langsam Braunstein at the Federalist, both of which I link and excerpt in the “Review of reviews” section.


My Uncle’s Trick or Treat


Did you know there’s a beautiful orchid called Trick or Treat? There are several different types, but they mostly have one thing in common: they have the bright Halloween orange. And my first sight of one was at my uncle’s home.

Uncle Al had raised orchids for many years. He had a greenhouse at his home in Massachusetts, but when he moved to Florida, he didn’t require a greenhouse. By the time we followed my aunt and uncle to Florida, he had over 100 orchid plants. And I wanted to have some of my own.


Colorful Korean Meal


Various forms of contemporary kimchi. National Institute of Korean Language [CC BY-SA 2.5]
Across the northern hemisphere, this is the time of year for harvest festivals. In Germany, Oktoberfest 2019 is in its final week. Two weeks ago, South Koreans celebrated ChuseokI claim no expertise in Korean culture or cuisine but have a few colorful memories of Korean food.

Start with green and white cabbage. Cabbage is preserved by fermentation, both in Asian and in Europe. In Korea, instead of sauerkraut, a mild dish, you get kimchi. Driving through the hilly Korean countryside north of Seoul, I noticed very large plastic sheets laid out on the sides of the road, near farming houses. They were covered, covered with small bright red chili peppers, laid out to dry. These would form the fiery base of the spices that separate kimchi from sauerkraut. There are many other possible ingredients, but you can usually expect orange carrots, green and white scallions, and white radish, ginger, and garlic.


If You Think They Won’t Seize Your Guns…


Unbelievable. Stephen Nichols, an 84-year-old Korean War veteran who served on the Tisbury, MA, police force for 60 years has had his firearms seized. Here’s what happened:

He was eating breakfast in the local diner, Linda Jean’s, when he commented to a friend that the school resource officer was often seen leaving school in the mornings. When he’d investigated it, he found out that the resource officer at Tisbury school was leaving — after children were present — to get himself a coffee at the Xtra Mart nearby.


ACF Europe #9: White


After Blue, we talk about White–after freedom, equality–the centerpiece of Krzystof Kieslowski’s Colors Trilogy! His theme is modern abandonment and so he looks at equality as the problem of revenge–getting even, dealing with dissatisfied desire in a hateful way, and all done through the forms of the law. This is the comic part of the trilogy, and yet it starts with a divorce in Paris and ends with prison in Warsaw. The Poland-France clash here points to the difficulties the EU would find trying to marry Western and Eastern European countries which are unequal in money, power, and politics–but equal in pride.


The Democratic Field is Unacceptable, Or, Why It All Matters


From a friend, who nails it:

Most of the legitimate extreme objections to Trump are “personal” — to his rhetoric, his personality, his style. Sure, people of good faith can object to this policy or action or that — but that’s true of any President. Trump has not fundamentally changed or transformed the country, and 90%-plus of his policies and actions fall within the window of what could easily have been done by one or more of his predecessors. My objections to most of the Democratic candidates are not personal (except maybe in Schoolmarm Liz’s case) — they are rooted in policy. Policies rooted in collectivism and “social justice theory” (the bastard child of Frankfurt School Marxism and postwar French deconstructionism), that no credible candidate seems ready to disavow, are (a) repugnant to me, and (b) well outside this country’s historical norms. Four more years of Trump will not fundamentally change the country. Four years of a semi-moderate Democrat with a Republican Senate probably won’t either. But four years of Liz or Bernie or (probably) Joe, without a GOP Senate, probably would. I do not want my children to have to grow up in a bigger, worse version of 1970s Britain.


The Call to ‘Codify’ Roe Shows How Shaky the Court’s Abortion Decision Is


Sacrosanct ideal. Liberty. Fundamental issue of justice.

That’s just a sampling of the words and phrases 2020 Democratic hopefuls used Tuesday night to describe the destruction of 60 million unborn American lives since Roe v. Wade struck down state-level protections in 1973.


Trick or Treat: A Conversation with a Young Man


I happened to fall into conversation with a young veterans’ organization member, who turned out to also be eligible for the veteran’s organization to which I belong, due to service in Korea. My outfit needs more fresh blood, so I had an ulterior motive to sit and listen, just prompting him for more of his thoughts. It was a treat to hear a well-spoken young man’s perspective on his own life, work, and service. The trick, really the pleasant surprise, was to then find an amazing breadth and depth to this fellow veteran, who I took from the conversation to be in his mid-20s.

That places him on the cusp between Millennials and Gen-Z. Folks, he was none of the negative stereotypes routinely riffed about his age cohort. He started on active duty, then (fairly recently) transitioned to a reserve component. He was highly focused on leveraging the mutually reinforcing training, certifications, and experience of his civilian and military careers. He had mapped out paths of advancement in both, taking advantage of the commonality in the two technical occupations. Oh, and he had not even needed college to get on this path, but already had thought through the evening/weekend/online schooling that would punch his ticket to the top of his chosen field in both the military and civilian life.


Whistleblower Unmasked: Cousin Itt


My world-renowned phrenologist, Dr. Hans O’Cranium, and I were in DC this week and inadvertently learned the identity of the heretofore unnamed whistleblower in the Trump impeachment inquiry: Cousin Itt, Gomez’s hairy cousin from The Addams Family.

Hans and I were on Capitol Hill to testify on the correlation of skull topography to the tendency of poorly educated pro athletes to make uninformed comments about complex geopolitical matters such as freedom of speech and trade with Red China.


It’s a Strange Time for the West to Panic About China’s Supposed Supereconomy


Chinese Finance Minister Liu Kun speaks to Governor of People’s Bank of China Yi Gang and National Development and Reform Commission Vice Chairman Ning Jizhe at a conference on China’s economic development ahead of the 70th anniversary.
China’s high rate of (reported) economic growth tempts its depiction as a supereconomy that’s figured out a successful alternative to Western-style capitalism. Its ascent to 21st century global economic and technological leadership may by unstoppable, according to this view. A New Cold War is America’s best option to slow that advance, although it probably won’t work. Delay, maybe. Defeat? Good luck.

Yet to quote economist Herbert Stein, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” And maybe that pithy saying offers some insight into China’s future. For instance: A new Bloomberg Businessweek story tells how “mounting discontent among tech workers could hamper the industry’s growth, creating yet another headache for the government.” With the Chinese tech sector slumping, more and more workers are less willing to tolerate “996” shift schedule of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week, plus overtime.


Quote of the Day: Defending Margaret Sanger on Eugenics


“Framing access to reproductive health care and bodily autonomy as eugenics exposes a fundamental misunderstanding of the racialized gender oppression on which antiabortionists stand. The truth is, the anti-abortion movement was born out of racist and xenophobic concerns about the falling white birth rate—echoes of which you will hear in today’s white supremacist rhetoric.”
— Alexis McGill Johnson, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

This quotation came from the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago. Someone had written a piece criticizing Planned Parenthood. Not surprisingly, the president of the organization decided to respond by attacking the pro-life community with an outrageous accusation. Not only are her comments about the pro-life movement untrue, but she completely mischaracterizes the common understanding of eugenics.


Attorney General Barr Speaks up for Religious Liberty


AG BarrOn Friday, 12 October 2019, Attorney General Barr spoke at Notre Dame Law School. Notre Dame Law School advertises itself as America’s oldest Roman Catholic law school:

At the nation’s oldest Roman Catholic law school, students of diverse backgrounds are encouraged to broaden their social, spiritual, and personal lives while honing their intellectual and professional skills to serve the good of all.


Immigrant Tales


Consider two tales of African immigrants in America. One tale is of large populations crammed down local communities, possibly with massive fraud and likely with domestic political intent. The second tale is of worthy individuals, invited for their excellence and gratefully contributing to this country.

Pretending the first does not exist is an insult to the injured Americans, whose local economies and electoral power were quite deliberately infringed upon. Pretending the second does not exist is an insult to our founding ethos, to our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.


Cow Flatulence No Longer a Laughing Matter


We all giggled, guffawed, or groaned at the Green New Deal’s line about cow flatulence causing the end of the world. We wiped up the coffee we had spewed over our phone or keyboard. Then we went about our lives as if this was not a clear and present danger.

Well, the dairy farmers of Wisconsin, the state built on (dairy cow) cheese and beer, are not laughing now. No farmer across this country should be in anything but full fight mode now. There is no flight option. John Hinderaker of PowerLine Blog has the story [emphasis added]:


Elizabeth Warren, Corporate Bully


The fast-shifting winds of American politics have increased the odds that Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will be the next Democratic nominee for President of the United States. Joe Biden has been lackluster at best, and his potential conflicts of interest arising from his son’s dealings in both Ukraine and China may well derail his candidacy even before the primary season begins. Bernie Sanders’s heart attack will likely scare voters, and the rest of the pack—Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar—have failed to connect with the public.

The bad news is that a Warren presidency would be one of the most terrifying prospects ever to hit the American system. Long on confidence but short on judgment, Warren uses her fake professorial air to support proposals that are so dangerous to the nation’s economic welfare that even potential Democratic Wall Street backers are now shying away from her candidacy.


Quote of the Day: Are We a Great Civilization in Decline?


“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.” — Will Durant

Many civilizations have indeed come and gone, giving in to decadence, tyrannical rule, mismanagement and a lack of purpose or direction.


Louisiana MAGA-nificant Election


Louisiana is one of the states that has a top-two or “jungle” primary system, in which all candidates of all parties compete head-to-head. If one candidate gets 50% plus 1, they are the outright winner, otherwise the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, go on to a mid-November run-off election. President Trump both stopped the Democratic Party from an outright win in the governor’s race but also used the Lake Charles MAGA rally Thursday to preach solidarity to both strong Republican candidates and their supporters. It was Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment restated as he brought Ralph Abraham and “Eddie” Rispone up together to speak to the crowd: “You are not allowed to hit your Republican opponent. You are only allowed to hit John Bel Edwards, because he deserves it.”


How Lame Is Our Awesome God?


“When He rolls up His sleeves / He ain’t just puttin’ on the Ritz” must be one of the least promising ways to begin a worship song ever. Nobody rolling up their sleeves is “puttin’ on the Ritz.” The rolled-up sleeve-position used for manual labor is the opposite of the sleeve-position used for an old-fashioned fancy night out. And yet, that’s how Richard Mullins’s best-known song, Awesome God opens. Mullins himself considered Awesome God something of a failure, remarking, “the thing I like about Awesome God is that it’s one of the worst-written songs that I ever wrote; it’s just poorly crafted.” And yet it’s a song many of us remember fondly. Why?

To be fair, the lyrics get better from there: “There is THUNder in His footsteps / And lightnin’ in His fists.” Although not by much. Awesome God alternates patter in the verses with an expansive chorus, and the patter is hardly scintillating prose, much less verse. (“Eden” rhymes with “be believin’” — really?) The patter does, though, address themes often left out of “Jesus is my boyfriend”-style worship songs. God as Judge. Sin and its wages. God as God not just of happy, shiny, fluffy things, but also of the storm. And, when the song is sung at proper tempo (no slower than Mullins himself performed it), the rapid-fire, syncopated sixteenth-note patter creates an effect that surpasses its individual words. Especially when the worship leader delivers the patter in a half-snarled, half-whispered mutter, as if he’s letting you in on the secret of something dangerous — which he is: Aslan’s not safe, after all, just good. Notice I called the worship leader he. That’s important. Awesome God is made for a masculine musical delivery, and the difference between liking the song and hating it can simply be the difference between having learned it as masculine and driven, or crooning and wimpy.


Democracy Under Attack


I hear that a lot these days, that our democracy and our Constitution are under assault. There’s a grain of truth in it, though neither so much nor of the nature those who use the phrase intend when they say it.

Ours is not really a democracy, of course, but rather a democratic representative constitutional republic: we democratically elect representatives who then create and execute the law on our behalf, themselves bound by a Constitution intended to limit their authority.


Things Could Get Out of Hand


Since the three press conferences addressing Turkey, Kurds in Syria, and U.S. forces, there has been a near-miss of US soldiers. The hostile take is from Newsweek. The Department of Defense statement, on the record, gives us the facts we know from the US side.

The facts of this situation, even taken from the Newsweek post, contradict the “abandoned” narrative. That is, US forces were in an observation post within visual distance of the Turkish border, and close to some Kurdish positions, from which there may have been mortar, light artillery fire, across the border into Turkey. It is a long border, with lots of points of contact, compared to the small, shallow border section the past days’ actions and chatter concerned.


A Viking and an Italian Got on a Boat…with a Pole?


Columbus Erikson PulaskiPresident Trump has issued the standard annual proclamation for Columbus Day, without any bowing to the oppressive white man narrative. Nor, did he leave the “Columbus wasn’t first” script dangling, as he had already issued the lesser-known annual proclamation for Leif Erikson Day! In between those two proclamations about dead white guys, he issued a third! Friday, October 11, marked the anniversary of the death of General Pulaski! I considered some highlighted themes in the proclamations and offer brief analysis.

Presidential Proclamation on General Pulaski Memorial Day, 2019
Issued on: October 10, 2019


Made in the USA


More than a year ago, I was contacted by a film maker on the East Coast who wanted to interview me for a short documentary on Robert Noyce and the history of Silicon Valley. I agreed and he filmed me for several hours one autumn morning, in my house and atop my water tower (I have the oldest home in the Valley). Afterward, distracted working on two books, I promptly forgot all about it.

Tonight, I suddenly discovered the finished documentary on another website. I was astonished how well it was done, and how comprehensive in its history. It also, especially in the last few minutes, it captures some of my thinking in my upcoming book The Autonomous Revolution (co-authored with Bill Davidow). I hope you find it entertaining — and a little eye-opening.


China in a Bull Shop


View original artwork here.


I Don’t Trust the American People


Politicians on both sides of the aisle insist that they can trust the American people. Since I have also believed there are reasons to have faith in our citizens, I always silently nod in agreement at these words. But this morning, I asked myself: What does that statement even mean?

At first glance, I assume that those of us who make this remark believe that ultimately citizens will learn/recognize/figure out the truth of a complex political situation. But do we really believe they will make that effort? Do we honestly think that the American people will get through the maze and hyperbole of the information they receive from the media to get to the “truth”?


A Tale of 3 Press Conferences


POTUS DIMEFILIf you watch and listen to three sets of statements and answers by our current administration, you will get an interesting picture of our actual current policy. The first is by President Trump, answering a reporter’s off-topic question when he signed two executive orders on transparency in federal guidance and enforcement (a serious push back on the growth of an unaccountable fourth branch of government in the administrative state). The second is a Pentagon briefing on the deployment of Patriot Air Defense/Anti Missile units and two Air Force fighter squadrons to Saudi Arabia, in which both this action and comments on Syria are interesting. The third is a White House press corps briefing by Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin.

President Trump has laid out three possible courses of action in the longstanding conflict between Turkey and those Kurds living in eastern Turkey and across the border in Syria. As has been explained repeatedly elsewhere, these are not the same Kurds abandoned by George H.W. Bush and now supported in northern Iraq by President Trump. These are different groups with different politics.