Donald, Don’t Do it

 

This is precisely the kind of petty behavior that confirms my belief that Trump should not be elected again. He’s decided that certain key people should state that they will step down if Trump decides to run for President in 2024. And he has Ron DeSantis in his sights.

Recently I heard a reporter ask Mike Pompeo, who I believe would be a very fine presidential candidate, if he would step down from a candidacy if Trump decided to run. Pompeo indirectly stated that Trump’s candidacy wouldn’t stop him from running. Chris Christie said something similar on Fox. But both of these men don’t have a high probability of being elected.

Why is Trump attacking? Ron DeSantis is a real threat.

The Second Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

 

The first assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was a national tragedy, but his assassin succeeded only in killing the man. The idea King lived and ultimately died for, most beautifully captured in his famous wish, his dream that his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” survived him. Ideas are not killed by bullets.

Ideas are killed by other ideas.

Has the US Become an Oligarchy?

 

No one who watches politics has any doubt that Joe Biden is barely, if at all, running the country. That fact has been true from the beginning of his presidency, and probably long before. Many of us are assuming that Ron Klain with several cohorts in the administration are the ones in charge, making the shocking and ill-conceived decisions for Biden; Biden is just a figurehead. Let me explain why we have effectively, if not formally, become an oligarchy, and the implications of that structure.

Here’s a definition of an oligarchy:

Senate Democrats Back Putin, Reject Cruz’s Nord Stream Sanctions Bill

 

This post’s title corrects the misleading headline on Roll Call, “Senate Democrats back Biden, reject Cruz’s Nord Stream sanctions bill.” To be perfectly clear, the Democrat(ic Socialists) have backed Moscow except for a brief interlude from Truman’s through LBJ’s presidency. The play-acting for the past five years was a cynical sham. The Democrats are green-lighting Putin taking control of at least Ukraine by force or threat of force, cynically pretending to support an after-the-fact set of sanctions not worth the paper or the global warming gasses emitted on the Senate floor.

See Power Line, “The Russian Bear, On the March” for an annotated summary of links. Directly, Sweden is very concerned about Putin’s larger intentions in the region, sending troops to a strategic island:

In an unusual move, Sweden deployed armoured combat vehicles and armed soldiers to patrol streets on the island of Gotland on Friday in response to increased “Russian activity” in the region, the military said.
Some 10 armoured combat vehicles and dozens of armed personnel could be seen patrolling the small port town of Visby on the strategically-located island.

Real Power: Volcano Puts Human Power in Perspective

 

Hat tip Power Line blog for pointing to an excellent eight-minute video on the massive volcanic eruption in Tonga. Tonga is a nation of islands, administratively organized into five groups. The northernmost group includes two small islands, Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai, that are really the surface evidence of a large volcano. They mark two points on the rim of the caldera. The latest and largest eruption in a very long time was captured on a Japanese and an American satellite, as well as by live phone video before the collapse of international communications. This eruption resulted in measurable increased water on the continental U.S. West Coast, with surges of 1 to 2 feet over 5,000 miles away from the source. The longer-term effect, depending on just how much ash is ejected high into the atmosphere, may be global temperature change for a year or more.

Steven Hayward at Power Line pointed out the potential physical and political/cultural effect:

24 Hours to Hell and Back

 

Gordon Ramsay may be a master chef, but he greatly overrates his own expertise in helping struggling businesses recover. The tragedy is that no one wins in these encounters, and he demonstrates the delusions that emerge from his arrogance.

Ramsay is known for his nasty temper as a master chef, although he shows his ability to charm people in another show as he travels internationally to learn the cuisine of other countries. The irony is that in that show he allows at least a week to pick up the basic knowledge and techniques of that country.

But a few years ago, he decided that he could also rescue troubled restaurants with the expertise he’d acquired in running his own businesses and creating successful menus. I was spared watching this most recent production, “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back,” until recently; apparently the producers decide season by season whether to renew his contract.

The Little Ship That Did

 

By the 1820s the transatlantic slave trade was largely outlawed.  Great Britain and the US were early adaptors of its abolition. France and Spain were still winking at it (largely to twit Britain). Brazil would not outlaw the trade until 1831. Regardless, transatlantic transportation of slaves illegally continued.

“The Black Joke: The True Story of One Ship’s Battle Against the Slave Trade,” by A.E. Rooks tells of a ship instrumental in closing down this illegal traffic. Never a formally-commissioned warship in the Royal Navy, it was the vessel of Britain’s West Africa Squadron most feared by slave traders.

Rooks carries the story from Black Joke’s incorporation into the Royal Navy in 1827 through its disposal a five years later. Its career was brief, but as Rooks shows, its impact was profound.

Quote of the Day: Journalism

 

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.” – Eric Blair (George Orwell)

The United States has a public relations problem. Our media, especially the tech barons have abandoned journalism in favor of public relations. So have our universities, colleges, and public schools. No one is supposed to feel bad, or hear things that trigger them, especially anything that challenges the delivered wisdom as defined by the mainstream media and the tech barons. Finley Peter Dunn, a humorist from the early twentieth century once pithily noted that a newspaper “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.” Today, the MSM has become comfortable and chooses not to afflict itself.

Do I Thank G-d Too Often?

 

Gratitude plays a big part in my life. I thank my husband when he makes dinner, or washes the dishes, or turns on the coffeemaker. I thank a friend for picking us up for our workout. I thank another friend for being my friend. And I thank another friend for allowing me to help her with her cancer questions. So I’m not stingy with my expressions of gratitude.

But the other day I began to wonder if I was getting into a careless habit: I find myself thanking G-d even for little, seemingly insignificant things. Certainly, I thank Him for the more important things: for the expressions of gratitude that I receive when I manage to inspire others; for my thoughtful husband who not only does many house chores but makes me laugh when I need it. For dear, loving friends in my life.

The Last King Of America: Andrew Roberts On King George III

 

In his long and distinguished career, British historian Andrew Roberts has produced world-class biographies of Winston Churchill, and Napoleon, several histories of World War II and the men who led the countries who fought that war, and other great conflicts in world history. Roberts’s new book is The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III, a biography of the monarch who led England during the American Revolution and who has been made into something of a caricature by Americans, most recently by his portrayal in the musical Hamilton as a preening, stuck-up (but funny) king of England. In this interview and in his book, Roberts goes to great lengths to deconstruct that distortion and, in the process, give us an extremely nuanced and detailed portrait of the man who created the conditions for America’s independence. Roberts also explains in great detail the dynamics between the British parliament and the nascent American government, including a fascinating account of the writing of and subsequent British reaction to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Progressives Miscalculate the Personal Impact of the Great Reset

 

Recently I read a fascinating and disturbing issue of Imprimis, the free publication from Hillsdale College. This issue, based on a speech by Michael Rectenwald, focused on the Great Reset, and although I have read other articles on this ugly program of transformation, I learned two important facts that I didn’t realize: (1) the process has already made remarkable headway in its implementation, and (2) in the opinion of the author, it can still be stopped.

More than these points, however, I suddenly realized that the majority of the Progressive community which is working hand-in-glove with this movement has no clue of the devastation that will be wrought on their own lives. Having lived in the land of milk and honey, with prosperity, freedom, and opportunity, they will be expected to give all of that up just like the rest of us peons and drones. They may think they will be part of the elite, but the upper echelon of the movement will be the primary beneficiaries, with everyone else far below.

Destroying Not Only Our History but Our Stories

 

The Left has been relentless in its efforts to distort, remove and delegitimize the history of our country. The damage to our children and to our nation is incalculable. But I realized that losing our history for future generations is much more than removing the tales of battles, founding documents, and the contributions of our Founders.

We are losing our stories and the significant role they can play in our personal lives.

When we study our history, we learn so much more than facts and figures. When we look at the Founders, we learn not only about George Washington’s bravery, but also his modesty, even his insecurity, about his lack of formal education. We come to understand the enormous barriers that Abraham Lincoln encountered that he was prepared to overcome through his commitment to his own education and accomplishments, his bouts with depression, and living with a troubled wife. Ulysses S. Grant was not only a great general, but he suffered greatly in his witnessing of those who died on both sides of the war, the Union and the South.

Dear People of Color

 

Dear People of Color,

We of the Democratic Party would like to thank you for your support these past several decades. Your continuing loyalty to us is extraordinarily generous and all the more so because, let’s face it, we’ve certainly never earned your trust, loyalty, or gratitude.

The Voting Rights Showdown

 

The second session of the 117th Congress opened with the same discord that the first session ended with. Then, the Democrats unsuccessfully sought to parlay their tiny majorities in both houses into the passage of President Biden’s flawed “Build Back Better” Plan. Now, after the first anniversary of the January 6 storming of the Capitol building by irate and unruly Trump supporters, the controversy has shifted to the Democrats’ equally ambitious, and equally flawed, voting rights reform agenda. Biden set the stage by denouncing former president Trump in extremely harsh terms:

The former president of the United States has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He’s done so because he values power over principle. Because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or Constitution. He can’t accept that he lost.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has equally insisted that voting reforms are necessary to forestall any Trump repetition: as he views it, “an attempt to reverse, through violent means, the outcome of a free and fair election.” Using such blunt phrasing as “[a]n insurrection, call it what it is,” Schumer hints at a possible prelude of worse to come in the 2024 election. For Schumer, only major structural reforms will protect American democracy from this mortal threat. Since these conditions warrant dramatic action, he intends to undo the filibuster by Martin Luther King Day if Republicans continue to “hijack” Senate rules to prevent two transformative voting laws from passing.

When Life Changed: Cancer and Agency

 

Many of you have heard my saga about my bout with cancer and chemotherapy; that is only marginally what this post is about. As a result of my experience, I realized that I had made a major change in my perspective about my own agency in a way I’d never known. It was partly inspired by my husband, who is a skeptic about many things but is big on taking responsibility. But I also began to realize that beyond his support, I had to, wanted to, take charge of my own medical decisions, which meant that I was taking charge of my life in a whole new way.

All along the way, there were decisions that I had to make, some easier than others. Almost immediately, I realized that because I had two tumors on my right breast, with some distance in between, it made sense to both the doctor and me to remove the whole breast. Although we agreed, it was reassuring to me that I was using my common sense to make that decision, rather than relying only on his medical training.

The next decision was whether I was going to have reconstructive surgery. I didn’t want it, and Jerry saw no reason to do it either. The surgeon tried to persuade me that I should at least schedule an appointment with the plastic surgeon. Yet I knew I didn’t want the complication of another surgery, one that could be difficult. Since the plastic surgeon was on the same floor as my breast surgeon, I walked over reluctantly to arrange a consultation with him. As I spoke to the scheduler, I said I didn’t see the point in talking to him since I didn’t want the surgery. The scheduler, a wise woman, said another woman had just come in and said the same thing and left without scheduling a consultation, and then she looked at me knowingly. We turned around and walked out. I never regretted the decision.

Four Years Later

 

Four years ago today, I wrote this. My life changed forever that day.

I still have a Janet-shaped hole in my heart. I always will. I still notice her absence with every day that passes.

What Were They Thinking?

 

No matter how fruitless the effort, I am plagued with a debilitating habit that I just can’t seem to shake: I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out, beyond the ideology, what people on the Left are actually thinking or what they believe, for them to continue to invest their time and efforts in foolish and dangerous ideas. Every now and then I have some openings in my thought process that allow me to venture into the dark recesses of the minds of the Left. I want to test out my thinking on all of you.

Since it’s difficult to make meaningful generalizations about the countless errors that the Left and particularly the Biden administration have made, I decided to focus primarily on the following areas: border administration (or lack thereof); policy toward China (or the lack thereof); policy on the economy (or the lack thereof) wait a minute, am I repeating myself? Regardless, our negotiating with Iran on the nuclear deal, and finally the mess of managing Covid give us plenty to focus on. I think it’s possible to infer similarities in thinking (or non-thinking, if you prefer) regarding these five areas that would explain how inept and feckless their efforts have been.

Elitism/Arrogance—More than ever, the Left relies on its belief in its own superiority. Whether these people point to their college degrees, affirmations of each other in their enclaves or just their own narcissism, they believe that they are best suited to run this country. Since their actions are driven by their elitist ideology, e.g., Marxism, socialism, wealth accumulation, and social circles, anyone who doesn’t embrace or live within those bubbles is clearly inferior and unqualified to contribute. It is possible to join this cadre, but you must begin by lauding the ideology first, then checking off all the other Leftist boxes.

A Sino-American Battle in Space

 

The time is the near-future, perhaps 50 years from today. Commercial space is a major industry. Human presence in space is continuous and widespread. The United States even has a manned and armed spaceship in cislunar: space the Borman. Not a warship, it is a space-faring Coast Guard cutter, an orbital beat cop.

“Frontier,” a science-fiction novel by Patrick Chiles opens in this setting. Marshall Hunter, a new graduate of the Space Force Academy, wants a piece of that action. He wants to explore space.

Hunter’s dream is an assignment aboard the nuclear-powered Borman. He busted his final check flight on the first go-around. Although he passed it the second time around, he believes he is bound for a dead-end assignment due to the screw-up. His worst fears seem realized when he is given a headquarters posting.

Quote of the Week: Your Rights

 

“Your rights get lost when you depart from the original meaning. And then sometimes, wait, it gets worse. Not only does it take stuff away, it puts stuff in there that isn’t.” — Justice Neil Gorsuch

Given this week’s Supreme Court hearings, this quote seemed appropriate. Especially since several Justices put stuff in that isn’t there. Such as statements about 100,000 kids being hospitalized for Covid with many on ventilators. Or that another justice claimed that there were 750 million new cases of Omicron just yesterday. (Even worldwide, that means close to 1/10 of the global population contracted Omicron just this week. In the US? Everyone caught it twice yesterday.) These are the minds that will be deciding the fate of millions. I don’t know if that scares you. It certainly scares me.

Jan. 6: Pass the Fair Trial Act

 

balanced scales justiceFree the Jan. 6 political prisoners and break the rigged, corrupt deep state. Any politician or political coalition running on this plank has a real chance to win a congressional majority in 2022 and then a governing majority in 2024. The intermediate objective of breaking the deep state, and the deeper objective of restoring our constitutional republic, with its real protections against government oppression, will be advanced by a Congress exercising its constitutional authority to fundamentally reform our federal judiciary. Serious candidates and advocacy groups will press for a short, simple piece of legislation, call it the “Fair Trial Act,” abolishing the District of Columbia Circuit, dispersing the case load among federal district courts located in competitive legislative districts. This simple reform has been entirely overlooked by conservatives complaining about the stacked legal deck. Time to see more clearly and demand real reform now.

Free the Jan. 6 Political Prisoners

Despite the worst efforts of the Democrat propaganda machine (print, network, and social media), a plurality of Americans see the Americans held without bail, denied effective counsel, kept in grossly substandard conditions, and denied speedy trials as political prisoners. This should be easy for career politicians seeking to get in front of a popular position with the electorate. Yet, the silence from the Republican congressional parties in the House and Senate has been deafening. We must demand better of every primary candidate, starting with the anniversary of that infamous day.

My Root Canal

 

Getting a root canal was not on my “Things to Do Today” when I woke up this morning. It was on my “What I Got Done Today” list by dinnertime.

A root canal is famously something you choose in preference to something you really, really wish to avoid. You know, “There’s an opening in Bob’s group today. I think you would be a good fit.” ” I’d rather have a root canal than work for Bob.” “It’s only 100 yards of driveway you have to shovel. C’mon, the snow’s only two feet deep. It won’t be that hard even with the snowblower broken. ” I’d rather have a root canal.” “Hey, there are only 50 kids coming to your nephew Johnny’s eighth birthday party. You don’t mind helping out?” ” I’d rather have a root canal.”  You get the drift.

A Real Threat to Democracy

 

I feel as if I’ve just been kicked in the gut by a good friend. He was, for many years, the epitome of intelligence and reason, with a lively sense of humor. We’ve been estranged for a while, mainly because of his political positions. After hearing one too many of his podcasts a few years ago, I pretty much avoided him. After reading one of his latest pieces on the Bari Weiss blog, I’ve decided we’re done. I’m talking about Jonah Goldberg.

This is not really a post about Jonah Goldberg. It’s about my bewilderment about the defaming of Republicans and Conservatives by using the broad-brush of assuming that we are all Donald Trump fanatics, who continually fawn over him and apologize for him. I think this viewpoint about who we are, who I am, is deeply flawed, and I can’t figure out why it persists.

Goldberg and others seem to refuse to accept that a huge number of those who voted for Trump—not even necessarily people whom I would call “Trump supporters”—were desperate to dislodge the DC Swamp. We didn’t really like Donald Trump, but it was clear that he was fearless and prepared to take on just about anyone. Many of us became convinced, particularly after the attacks on Trump after he was elected, that the Washington establishment was determined to protect every ounce of abusive power that they had. And I don’t think there was another Republican who had the guts to do that. That he was rude and crude and held disdain for proper etiquette was not relevant.

Great Barrington Declaration Was Always the Best Way to Handle Covid

 

The scientists who drafted the Great Barrington Declaration: Dr. Martin Kulldorff, Harvard University; Dr. Sunetra Gupta, Oxford University; and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Stanford University. (Photo via AIER.)

The controversy over Covid management is not a medical disagreement but a political fight. It’s also a free speech issue, the question of whether those who disagree with the political/medical status quo should be silenced.

Although we have learned more over time about the origins and development of Covid, there is no question it is a contagious virus that spreads primarily through respiratory secretions. Infections range from symptom-free to fatal, but serious disease and death occur almost exclusively in the infirm and the elderly. Like all viruses, the coronavirus mutates, apparently into variants that are more contagious but less deadly.

Quote of the Day: Jumping Off Cliffs

 

“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” — Ray Bradbury

I’m not condoning love affairs, especially if you are married. But everything else that Ray Bradbury says here reminds us that life is full of risks and opportunities. Although many of us prefer not to have to take more risks than necessary, we must take some risks if we don’t want to simply stagnant and stop growing.

I grew up in a family where taking risks didn’t go so well. Both my parents started and failed with their business ventures. My mother, however, finally got the knack of how to be a successful businesswoman. She went from being a bookkeeper in her home, to doing taxes in a rented office, to finally becoming an Enrolled Agent. She’d taken her risks, one determined step at a time, and ended up creating a profitable business; my father was happy to support her work and was a traveling notary public. Most of their risks were calculated, yet one can never know precisely how a venture might go.

The Vaccine Mandate: A Case for Caution

 

New York, NY – October 25, 2021: Municipal workers of the city march across Brooklyn bridge and rally at City Hall Park against vaccination mandate.

On Friday, January 7, the United States Supreme Court will hear argument on one of the most contentious cases of modern times: National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, which addresses the question of whether the plaintiffs are entitled to a stay of legal proceedings until the legality of a federal vaccination mandate can be authoritatively resolved on the merits.

COVID-19 policymaking has been at the center of attention in the United States since early 2020. Over the past two years, the cases, hospitalizations, injuries, and deaths have had multiple cycles with no clear end in sight. By the end of 2020, a number of different vaccines had become available to prevent the disease. Two of these, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, rely on a new mRNA technology. With great expectations, both of these were approved by the Food and Drug Administration last summer, a step taken only when the FDA determines that vaccines (or other drugs or medical devices) “meet the FDA’s rigorous scientific standards.” The FDA also continuously updates its recommendations for approved booster shots for COVID. The work of the FDA has been complemented by that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which as of December 29 had adopted a categorical position of recommending that all individuals get their initial or booster shots of the vaccines as soon as possible.