Are We Caving in to the Mob–or Not?

 

Last week I was delighted to hear that Charles Negy, an Associate Professor at the University of Central Florida won his job back in an arbitration battle with the university, including back pay and benefits. His “crime?” A tweet he posted about African Americans:

Sincere question: If Afr. Americans as a group, had the same behavioral profile as Asian Americans (on average, performing the best academically, having the highest income, committing the lowest crime, etc.), would we still be proclaiming ‘systematic racism’ exists?

As a result, he became the subject of a petition signed by 28,000 people, and 300 people were interviewed for the university’s investigation, yet the arbitrator made the following points:

Old Cars and Old Men

 

In 1956, we lived on the main drag of the south Bronx, 138th Street between Brook and Cypress Avenues. I was four years old. From the fire escape, I’d call out the names of cars that drove by. “Ford. Chevy. Dodge. Kaiser.” The cars were so vivid, distinctive, and beautiful that even a little kid could tell them apart. That’s one reason why they called it the Fabulous Fifties. America was car crazy, even the little kids. Even inner-city kids.

As new cars went, I had favorites, and over time, they turned out to be nearly everyone’s favorites. 1956 and beyond Corvettes, the timeless 1953-’55 Studebakers, the two-seater ’55-‘57 Thunderbird, in fact just about any ’55-’56-’57 Ford, Chevrolet, or Plymouth. For decades to come, the design of many items of American life were influenced by the colorful, exuberant looks of that era, from chrome diners, to plastic portable radios, to neon signs and electric guitars.

William Barr: Knave or Fool

 

barr durhamCount me among the many conservatives conned by Attorney General William Barr. I praised and promoted his public performance more than once. As evidence drips out too late, or conveniently delayed, it appears Barr was an old fool, a duplicitous knave, or both. We see this in the Michael Sussman trial and in 2000 Mules showing the clear smartphone geotracking evidence of illegal ballot harvesting in the critical swing states.

Now the Federalist asks why Barr sat on evidence that showed senior FBI officials lied to senior DOJ officials responsible for legal oversight of the FBI operation.

It is perplexing that no one within the FBI has been held accountable for the many lies told at the March 6 meeting. This fact is all the more perplexing as it was Durham who originally turned over the March 6 notes to Sussmann’s defense team.

Quote of the Day: Freedom

 

“Freedom is a fragile thing and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by way of inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. And those in world history who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.” – Ronald Reagan Jan 5, 1967

Reagan was right about one thing: Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We are in a battle for the soul of our country; especially the principle that it was founded on individual liberty and freedom. That battle has to be won (or lost) at the grassroots. When a critical mass supports freedom, it grows like wildfire. When it does not, freedom dies.

Busting Heads in Pre-War America

 

There are few things as repugnant as the Mob. Except maybe Nazis. It kind of makes sense that Jewish mobsters once took an opportunity to improve their image by punching Nazis.

“Gangsters vs Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in Wartime America,” by Michael Benson relates the story of one of the strangest campaigns of the 1930s and 40s. It shows how the Jewish community in the United States organized to fight the German-American Bund and other fascist groups in the United States in the years prior to American entry into World War II. They did it by enlisting the assistance of Jewish Gangsters.

As Benson points out, in mid-century America organized crime was big, especially in immigrant communities. They formed in every community with a large, poor immigrant population. The most famous was the Italian Mafia, but there were Irish, Polish, Hispanic, and Jewish mobs, too. They were a product of poverty and desperation.

Peachy Keenan’s Sitcom: The Whites

 

Friends, I come to sing of Peachy, a lady as beautiful, accomplished, motherly, and patriotic as full of fire, raging against the Progressive evils of liberal America from her hideout in LA, of all places! If you follow her on Twitter, you know she’s the fearless Jeanne D’Arc of the 21st century on a mission from God to torch the cruel cowards that make up the media-academy-therapy unholy complex draining our children’s will to live. In case you’re not yet aware of her shining star, let me tell you this much, she began rousing the troops during the dark days of Covid madness and has since become famous. We who know her bask in her glow and can hardly wait to see her crowned president…

But that’s not why I’m writing—I’m writing to recommend to your attention her new script! It’s a comedy, a sitcom, a throwback to a more decent America, but mocking all the woke nonsense of our times—the prissy elitism, too—with harsh and occasionally eye-popping frankness! (Here’s the Amazon link!) It’s intended for readers at this point, but Peachy is looking for investors to eventually make this happen!

Behind the Scenes: Do We Know What’s Going On?

 

This morning on “Fox & Friends,” Vivek Ramaswamy, author of Woke, Inc., was expressing his satisfaction that the “Disinformation Board” of the Biden Administration has been dismembered—uh, “put on pause.” He insisted that citizens on the Left and Right had to have protested the establishment of this Department of Homeland Security, even though the Right was given the credit or the blame, depending on your viewpoint. The fact that they put Nina Jankowicz, musical performer extraordinaire in charge of the organization, ensured that the project, at least temporarily, would die.

Unfortunately, Ramaswamy also voiced his concern that the Biden administration would not give up so easily; he feared that the Board would go undercover to continue its work. The best use of their time during the “pause” would be determining how to keep their efforts secret to ensure its success the next time around.

Latest Slur Against the Right: Replacement Theory

 

When I read the jumble of definitions that were supposed to define “replacement theory,” I became extremely skeptical of its credibility and validity. Yet a part of me, given the current chaotic climate in this country, was reluctant to discard it out of hand and assume it wasn’t important, for a number of reasons.

First, replacement theory is a mish-mash of theories that the Left has chosen to lump together, a kind of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. The problem with this “theory” is that the Left can conveniently modify it to suit their needs and use it to attack others. For example, one broad definition is:

At the extremes of American life, replacement theory — the notion that Western elites, sometimes manipulated by Jews, want to ‘replace’ and disempower white Americans — has become an engine of racist terror, helping inspire a wave of mass shootings in recent years and fueling the 2017 right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that erupted in violence.

All the Wrong Moves on Energy Markets

 

In a world of sane energy policy, the following three precepts would take pride of place: (1) the forces of supply and demand would allocate scarce energy resources to their best possible use; (2) constant competitive pressures should lead energy suppliers to reduce their costs of extraction, refinement, and sales, just as it should lead purchasers to economize on the use of fuels; and (3) a set of careful taxes and restrictions should be imposed proportionate to measurable externalities, and only where the benefits from government imposition exceeded the costs of running the regulatory system. The combination of market and regulatory measures is not perfect, but it should lead to steady improvements, as the price system should prove resilient enough to absorb the full range of exogenous shocks, whether from natural events like storms and volcanoes or from political sources like the stress of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

By every measure, the energy market is fraught with vulnerabilities, virtually all of which stem from high levels of government interference in the production, distribution, and sale of goods. The source of the distress is the unannounced, but readily apparent, decision of the Biden administration to dethrone fossil fuels from their central position in energy markets. There is no single tool used to achieve this end, and certainly no explicit acknowledgment of the overall agenda. But the dire consequences of these policy changes become more evident by the day. Multiple reports point to systematic shortages in diesel fuel nationally, but particularly in the Northeast, where refining capacity is down by half from 2009. The national diesel fuel shortage will start this summer and continue indefinitely. Right now, the electricity industry also faces planned and unplanned blackouts because of a decline in energy sources from nuclear and coal, which is placing excessive dependence on unreliable wind and solar sources. Gasoline prices have already spiked to record levels, most recently at $4.43 per gallon and climbing, driving a core inflation rate over 6 percent, while the energy inflation rate remains over 30 percent per year.

In the face of this energy crisis, the one imperative is to increase the supply of energy to both meet the post-COVID jump in demand and fill the supply gap left by the much-needed strategic effort to shut down Russian natural gas sales to the West.  However, the Biden administration has not taken any steps to bring more US energy online in the short run.

Esper: Mother of All Bombs for Muslims, Not Narcos

 

According to our political establishment, it is acceptable to kill Muslims with any weapon up to the MOAB, nicknamed the Mother Of All Bombs. Our political and national defense elites need not alert the host country, nor offer any warning or legal process to Muslims we deem terrorists. Yet, none of this applies to narcos, not even the most powerful men in Mexico, who traffic far more death across our southern border annually than all the Islamic terrorist attacks on our soil since we announced the Global War on Terror.

I am sure that Mark Esper thinks himself quite the reasonable fellow and consummate professional. Yet, his self-interested telling of President Trump’s interactions with members of the national security bureaucracy reflects poorly on him and his gang, while making Donald J. Trump sound far more connected with the American people and our real national security interests. Take as true the claim that President Trump wanted to do to the top drug lords what he did to the top Iranian general in charge of international terrorist operations. Now explain to anyone without an Ivy League indoctrination why our intelligence and military assets were not promptly and precisely employed to decapitate the cartels.

Virtue Signaling on Display

 

When I saw the latest Harvard Crimson editorial condemning Israel by joining Boycott-Divest-Sanction, I couldn’t decide if I was mainly disgusted or dismayed. I think I’d have to say I experienced both of these emotions in turn. The action by the Harvard Crimson editorial staff is one more example of a university trying to show that it has become enlightened, while they are only demonstrating their virtue signaling. It’s clear that they have caved into the pressures from a campus organization.

I was fascinated to discover that 20 years ago, the student newspaper had actually rejected the BDS movement:

But any comparison between today’s Israel and Apartheid-era South Africa is so fundamentally flawed as to be offensive. The Israeli legal code does not discriminate against Arab Israelis the way that the Apartheid laws discriminated against black South Africans. In Israel, the law provides for the equal treatment of all of its citizens, both Jewish and Arab. In South Africa, however, blacks were the victims of laws that controlled their day-to-day lives, dictating where they could live, work and travel. And in South Africa, the government slaughtered blacks when they protested the government’s policies; Israel has done nothing even approaching that level of repression—to either Israeli Arabs or to Palestinians in the West Bank.

Running Out of Gas (in More Ways Than One)

 

In the corner of my kitchen, I have an Easter lily that always tells me when it’s thirsty: it droops. And when I get busy, I don’t always give it the attention it needs. But when its leaves touch the floor, I hurry for the fertilizer water and give it a good douse. Within an hour or two, it springs up and lives to see another day.

Lately, I’ve been wishing that I had a treatment that would benefit me in the same way as I provide to my lily. I feel beaten and beleaguered by the onslaught of bad news about the Biden administration and how it is mismanaging our country. I may be projecting my feelings on my friends here at Ricochet, but I don’t think I’m alone in my reactions. In one way or another, I think many of us are feeling bruised and discouraged by the news; that attitude shows up in posts and comments.

In the last 18 months, I’ve swung from the mindset of bitter and hopeless, to resting in the comfort of detachment. As a person who tries to be realistic and resilient with a sprinkling of optimism, I’ve experienced my usual equanimity to be slowly eroding.

Quote of the Day: Courage

 

God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless.  – Chester Nimitz

It is easy to look at what is going on in the world and feel despair. Things look hopeless. Crime seems out of control, inflation is running wild, there are shortages of life’s necessities, and a real possibility of a nuclear exchange exists. Some days you feel like going back to bed and crawling into a fetal ball.

Old Doesn’t Mean Dead – Or Submissive

 

Cal Yarborough was a farmer. A widower and old, he was living alone on his farm. While he was in the hospital, his children used their power-of-attorney to sell the farm and settle him at Sun City, a Central Texas retirement community.

“Sun City: A Hilariously Addictive Story of Rebellion,” by Matthew Minson, opens with Yarborough’s arrival at Sun City. His dismay at losing his farm is compounded when he learns he cannot even put in a vegetable garden. The community board has banned them.

Most of Sun City’s residents resent the board. It is made up of retired flag officers, appointed by the developers. The board enjoys throwing their weight around committing petty tyrannies.  The residents cannot replace the board because the corporate bylaws allow the corporation to appoint the board until 97 percent of the properties are sold. The Corporation plans to expand Sun City before that happens. Nor can residents sell without incurring a big loss. Buyers prefer new properties.

Dave Chappelle and the Death of Free Speech

 

With apologies for my prolonged absence from Ricochet, I wanted to call the members’ attention to my most recent contribution at The Pipeline, in which I address the Dave Chappelle incident at the Hollywood Bowl and the death of free speech. An excerpt:

In comedy’s long history, practitioners of the trade have been cloaked with what was once known as the “jester’s privilege,” a certain license that protected them from consequences when they made an observation that, from another’s lips, would have been viewed as transgressive. As should now be obvious to all, the jester’s privilege is dead.

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

 

After reading @rodin’s excellent post, which clarified for me the state of the Republican Party and my relationship to it, I’ve been sitting in a state of shock and delusion. A factor that contributed to my disillusionment was a recent action by Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who takes no prisoners and knows how to get things done.

Unlike our legislators in the federal government.

Over the past couple of years, I have watched the machinations, hidden in plain sight, of the Republican party’s boasting of all the accomplishments they will achieve once they have majorities in the House and Senate. The potential for getting things done to meet our Conservative agenda was encouraging, and I listened to their plans for the future when the November elections are over. Recently, however, I began to listen more carefully to their plans, and began to realize that I was listening to the same, tired rhetoric of years past. I watched the infighting—those who were unhappy with Kevin McCarthy’s unforced errors, as well as Mitch McConnell’s running around looking for Trumpians and officials who could replace them. I finally asked myself, does anyone have their eyes on the prize, like actually making changes in the federal government policies and laws?

No Excuses for Underachievement by Our Schools

 

America’s schools, including Arizona’s, are stuck in mediocrity. Our academic achievement indicators trail 20 of our OECD peers in every subject. It’s not getting better, either.

It matters more than national pride. The US has fallen to tenth in overall economic competitiveness, our lowest rank ever. Stanford’s Eric Hanushek estimates the US economy would grow 4.5% more in the next 20 years if our students just performed at the international average level.

We have to import workers in fields requiring advanced degrees and outsource tech jobs to other countries. Employers struggle to find trainable applicants.

SCOTUS Isn’t Our Only Option; Pray, Witness, and Starve the Beast

 

The recent leak that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade has injected a wave of hope for pro-lifers across the country. It is almost surreal for those of us who have long supported the culture of life through prayer, financial support, and personal witness. But regardless of the legal outcomes, Christians have another tool in our boxes to support life: defunding the abortion industry by taking our hard-earned health care dollars elsewhere.

Over the past few decades, forces have worked to move abortion from a tragic occurrence to a health insurance line item many unwillingly support through premiums. Word gymnastics and vague, euphemistic language have blurred the procedures included in standard health insurance plans. But the reality is different: if we have health insurance, we’re involuntarily funding the abortion procedures that run counter to a culture of life and Christian Biblical values.

Many of us have felt trapped in a Catch-22, with what we thought were our only options for healthcare. We’ve looked to the law — which certainly requires an admirable degree of faith — to right the wrong. However, as we have clearly seen, many in office have placed little to no concern on what are considered dated moral values, let alone simple and affordable healthcare options. Eight years ago, we realized that legal protections don’t have to be our only option to protect the lives of the unborn.

Quote of the Day: Treachery in Our Times

 

“Destiny is a good thing to accept when it’s going your way. When it isn’t, don’t call it destiny; call it injustice, treachery, or simple bad luck.” –Joseph Heller

As Progressives continue to march forward and steamroller Leftist ideas onto the nation, they believe as they peer out from their enclaves that they are empowered by their zealotry and passion and their ability to silence the Right. Looking out from their bubbles, from coast to coast, they can ignore most of mainstream America and the mainstream media, and they have ignored, discounted, or covered over the cracks in their plans. From their standpoint, nothing and no one will stop them from meeting their agenda.

Roe’s Awkward Departure

 

Politico rocked the nation with its recent exclusive and explosive publication of a mysteriously leaked copy of Justice Samuel Alito’s February 10, 2022, draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—the apparent decision by at least five Supreme Court Justices to uphold Mississippi’s law banning elective abortions after the fifteenth week of pregnancy. That opinion makes it likely that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, which crafted a constitutional right to an abortion forty-nine years ago in 1973. The defenders of the Dobbs opinion regard it as a triumph of originalism worthy of “three very enthusiastic cheers.” In sharp contrast, the progressive critics of the decision go to exquisite lengths to express their complete and utter contempt for a decision that according to the League of Women’s Voters “not only strips women and pregnant people of their personal autonomy but opens the door to erode more fundamental rights,” leading “to collective shock and outrage” by pro-choice advocates.

Clearly, with stakes this high it is important to set aside both exultation and despair in order to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the Alito opinion. On the positive side, Alito’s opinion adopts a tone of workmanlike seriousness that is quite circumspect about overruling past precedents, and explicitly disclaims any intention to overrule any other precedent on either women’s or LBGTQ rights. Instead, it treats abortion  as “a unique act” that does not impact “in any way” Lawrence v. Texas (2003), dealing with private consensual sexual behavior, or Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), constitutionally protecting same-sex marriage. Instead, it articulates a two-stage argument that dismantles the establishment in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania v. Casey of a constitutional right to abortion. The first part notes that abortion is not explicitly protected in the Constitution. The second part contends that Roe cannot be defended on some implied “substantive due process” grounds, because it does not meet the standard set out in the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s decision in Washington v. Glucksberg (1997), which refused to recognize any right to assisted suicide, namely that “any such right must be ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ . . . and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.’ ”

As Alito exhaustively documents, that standard cannot be met given the impressive array of common law and statutory criminal prohibitions of abortion in effect before the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, at the time of its adoption in 1868, or at any time thereafter. Yet at no point does Alito find any constitutional prohibition against the decriminalization of abortion. Instead, his chief complaint is that Roe “short-circuited the democratic process” that would otherwise lead to some political resolution in the same state legislatures that controlled the law on abortion before Roe. Recall that at the time of Roe, states had dramatically different abortion laws, from Texas’ very restrictive law (at issue in Roe) to New York’s 1970 law, which legalized abortion up through twenty-four weeks of pregnancy and whenever the mother’s life was in danger. Alito then shows that Roe’s legal reasoning “was exceedingly weak,” especially in light of its internal confusions, including its inability to justify different constitutional rules for each of the three trimesters of a pregnancy. Alito leveled the same criticism at Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey (1992), which affirmed Roe’s establishment of a right to abortion whenever state regulations impose an “undue burden on that right.” Hence, he struck down an opinion that could not be justified by the mere passage of time, and that had never gained political legitimacy during the past forty-nine years.

Fading Wanderlust

 

Without a doubt, the “travel bug” bit me in my teenage years; the first infection might have been my first flight at 15 years old from California to Massachusetts to visit family. But then I had the opportunity to study at Tel Aviv University in Israel for a year (1969-1970), and my fate was sealed.

Fortunately, I married a man who not only loved to travel, too, but also enjoyed going to the same countries I wanted to see. When he was in the Navy (before we’d met) and in his work as a consulting engineer, he saw a number of countries that I’ve never seen. Then again, on my return trip from Israel I had six weeks to see parts of Europe that he has never seen. Everywhere we’ve been together, we’ve been fascinated by the various cultures; both of us loved to learn and have new experiences. I would study up on each country’s culture before we left and share with him those parts I thought he would enjoy. It has been a great partnership.

Our favorite part of the world was Southeast Asia. For me, I appreciated the connection to my Buddhist practice (at that time). I think that Jerry enjoyed how exotic these countries were compared to the Western countries. The beauty, color, and extravagance of traditional costumes and temples compared to Western mores were captivating. And often the people were charming, too. By the time we went to Australia, Jerry was a bit put off by how “ordinary” it was (except for the indigenous community); I needed to remind him that there was much to see and enjoy, in spite of the many similarities to our own country.

The Boundary Between East and West?

 

What is the dividing line between East and West? Where does the Western World end and the Orient begin?

“Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age,” by Robert D. Kaplan, asserts the Adriatic Sea forms the dividing line. Kaplan explores the role played by the Adriatic from ancient times through the present day, examining its role as an interface between east and west.

“Adriatic” is part travelogue, part history, and part personal reminisce. Starting in Rimini, Italy, Kaplan takes readers around the Adriatic, working his way around the coast to Corfu in Greece. He stops at Ravenna, Venice, Trieste, two cities in Slovenia, four cities in Croatia, two each in Montenegro and Albania, before arriving at Corfu.

Quote of the Day: Grief and Love

 

“Grief is the price of love, but it is love that makes the world go round, or at least one of the most important things that make life worth living. Love and the moral sense complicate life greatly, and make it difficult for most of us, for without them there would be no grief or any apprehension of evil; but without them we should be little different, conceptually, from an amoeba under a microscope.” – Theodore Dalrymple

Today is my 45th anniversary. It is the fifth one I have spent without Janet, my wife of 40 years, but despite her death, it is still our anniversary. I still miss her deeply and remember her in my daily prayers. I will go to her grave today and give her flowers. (Something I could never do while she lived due to her allergies.)

State Governments Delivering on College Students’ Free Speech, Due Process Rights

 

There’s been no shortage of unconstitutional legislation affecting speech on campus for my employer, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), to cover of late. It’s a breath of fresh air, then, to commend Kentucky, Indiana, and Georgia for passing new new bills protecting student free speech and due process rights. 

The most transformative of these measures is the Kentucky Campus Due Process Protection Act, which Gov. Andy Beshear signed into law on April 8. Under the law, students facing suspension or expulsion at public institutions of higher education are ensured vital due process protections, including: