Adolescent Gender Transitions Are a Dangerous Fad


We now live in an era in which mutilating surgeries are done routinely as part of the preferred treatment for gender dysphoria, the belief that the gender “assigned” to you at birth does not reflect your true self.

Modern science has developed solid evidence that gender is determined at conception, not birth, and is not assigned by anybody but is fixed for life. So until recently, sufferers from gender dysphoria were thought to be confused and maybe need educational counseling while simply waiting for adulthood, when over 80% seamlessly settled into their “birth gender.”

But earlier in this century, a new “best available science” stealthily but comprehensively came to dominate the world of transsexual medicine. Suddenly, gender-confused patients, even adolescents and children, were deemed unerringly insightful regarding their true gender identity. They needed not mental health treatment but physical alteration. And they needed it now.

Why I Rarely Argue About Israel and the Palestinians Anymore


Debating controversial issues is fun for some people; they like the fight and drama. Sometimes they actually have a dog in the fight. But frankly, I’m not a person who likes a fight, and I never have. I’m not afraid of controversy; in fact, sometimes I enjoy discussing controversial subjects when the dynamics are supportive.

But when it comes to the Israelis and the Palestinians, I have pretty much bowed out of those discussions, even though they are with people whom I consider to be my friends. I used to be willing to take on all challenges. It just doesn’t seem worth it anymore. Why, you may ask.

For me to enter a conflict-ridden discussion, I have to feel passionate about it. That certainly applies to Israel. I want to talk with people who I think are reasonable and count on reliable sources of information; this is where the subject gets dicey. There are hundreds if not thousands of sources that are on either side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I obviously believe in the veracity of the publications I read; people who disagree with me trust a whole other set of media. Positions are so polarized that even if there were room for learning, or possibly changing minds, no one is truly interested in that effort. We are simply too far apart.

The Grand Debt Deal: Look to the Future


Politics, in times of crisis, surely makes for strange bedfellows. That was clearly evident in the recent debt-ceiling deal, which won with a bipartisan majority in both the Senate and the House, albeit with more Democratic votes than Republican. In the Senate, 46 Democrats and independents combined with only 17 Republicans to put the deal over the top. The vote in the House had 165 Democrats joined by 149 Republicans, with 46 Democrats and 71 Republicans voting against. The vote was clearly one that was opposed by Freedom Caucus Republicans and Progressive Democrats—for, of course, diametrically opposed reasons. The former want less spending, regulation, and taxes, and the latter want more of all three.

The bipartisan middle secured a two-year moratorium on fixing the debt-ceiling problem, which means that the topic will be front and center after the presidential election of 2024, and this could well lead to a sharp switch in one direction or the other. As a political matter, I think that both sides did the right thing when they chose to blink and pass legislation that neither really wants. Each side is in position to claim victory on a far-ranging deal, tendentiously labeled the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023, which might not, when all is said and done, achieve any of those goals. This complex statute resists any easy summarization, but the one provision that looks most relevant to a spending bill calls for an automatic 1 percent reduction to all spending programs if the parties cannot reach an annual budget in a timely fashion. That provision is augmented by attempts to rein in spending, deal with the efforts to scoop back the “unobligated coronavirus funds,” “prohibit unfair student loan giveaways,” and expand offshore oil and gas leasing, tightening work requirements for receiving food for people under fifty-four and able-bodied adults who have no dependents at home, and greenlighting the Appalachian natural gas pipeline. Yet there is a $45 billion allocation for dealing with toxic conditions for veterans, which is no mere rounding error, even with today’s stratospheric budget allocations. It was some achievement for the two sides to craft a complex bill that ranged so widely on topics, but no one should be under the illusion that the bipartisan process shall continue after the next election.

President Biden issued a clever victory statement that held out an olive branch to Republicans for coming to the table, only to add that his victory comes from keeping key issues off the table. Thus, he was adamant that his program contained no cuts with respect to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security, which to his mind have become not benefit programs but firm entitlements that the government has the obligation to fund, come hell or high water. There is a real risk in taking this hard-line position in light of the precarious financial situation of all these entitlement programs. The Social Security program is expected to run out of money one year sooner than expected, by the year 2034. At that point, the benefits are cut to 80 percent unless additional tax revenues are raised to close the gap. The situation could improve markedly if the economy expands, as is evidenced by the strong labor numbers just released, but underlying uncertainty about world events in Ukraine, the Middle East, and the Taiwan Strait change the picture radically. Medicare is even more precarious: the Hospital Insurance trust fund could be depleted by 2028. The program spends more than it receives in receipts, leading to the need to tap into the trust fund—a need that will only increase with time. Indeed, the current deal, which keeps Medicare off limits, means that nothing will be done within the framework to try to rationalize and restrain a program that constitutes 20 percent of national expenditures on health and 12 percent of the federal budget.

Feeling Important


Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them. — T. S. Eliot

When I came across this quotation from T.S. Eliot, it spoke so much to me of what is happening in our world. I think the elites in our society are driven to be just that—elites—where they can subdue the rest of us underlings and increase their power daily by taking away our own. Their actions defy the tenets of our democracy, elevating their narcissistic desires by claiming they are acting on behalf of the country; instead, they are acting for their own benefit. The restrictions they have put on our freedoms, the damage to our abilities to maintain a reasonable lifestyle, continue to build an abyss between their expectations and our needs. And they don’t care.

Following in Dr. Mengele’s Footsteps


For me, the entire transgender situation has been a nightmare for this country, in particular its parents and children. I have written my share of stories about the unbelievable abuses and unethical activities that define transgenderism. But recently I watched a video produced by the Daily Wire, shared with us by @stevefast, and my outrage and disbelief reached a new high. I thought I had adjusted to dealing with the topic with some objectivity and thoughtfulness. But when I saw the video, What is a Women, something was triggered in me that I’d never experienced. After contemplating my reaction for a time, I identified the source of my reaction: what we were seeing was the same evil perpetrated by Dr. Josef Mengele and the Nazis.

Now you may say that my observation is hyperbole; after all, Dr. Mengele was a madman, and he conducted procedures and operations on unwilling victims. But when you look more closely at what he did, why he did it and the implications for us today, the results are disquieting, to say the least. These are the similarities:

Experimentation—Mengele was highly regarded in his field:

Marvelous Adventure Story Recounts Forgotten 1919 Transcontinental Air Race


In 1903, America led the world in aviation. By 1919, the United States aviation industry lagged behind other nations. Europe began commercial airlines. In the much larger United States, aviation was seemingly limited to aerial entertainment. Americans appeared to be losing interest in it.

“The Great Air Race: Death, Glory, and the Dawn of American Aviation” by John Lancaster recounts an almost forgotten 1919 transcontinental air race. Hosted by the Army Air Service and limited to military pilots, it was billed as a demonstration of capability, not a race. It attempted to revive America’s aviation industry.

The 1919 Aircraft Reliability Race was the brainchild of Brigadier General William “Billy” Mitchell, then America’s foremost air power advocate. He was at the height of his influence. A war hero and Director of Military Aeronautics, Mitchell organized it as a readiness demonstration. Army pilots starting in New York City and San Francisco, would cross the continent to the other city and then fly back to their origin. Half would start in each city. It was not a “race,” although the competitive instincts of the participants made it one. The pilot completing the journey first would have bragging rights.

Quote of the Day: Following the Crowd


“The one that follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has never been.: — Albert Einstein

Being in the crowd is comfortable. It tends to be low risk. It is also usually low reward. But it seems like the safe choice. If you believe in safety, you tend to stay in the crowd. It is the zebra or gazelle that is outside the herd that gets hunted down, the bomber that falls out of the formation that gets swarmed by fighters.

Striving for Mediocrity


Do you remember the days when we worked hard to earn merit for our efforts and our performance? The days when we would glow with the success of producing excellence and earning the respect of others? I think that the days of “meritocracy” may be long past, and that we are finding ourselves living in a culture of mediocrity—where disappointing results are the norm–which bodes a destructive future for our society.

How did this degradation happen, particularly with our children? Some people like to point to the outcomes of the pandemic, with New York offering one example:

Schoolchildren have gotten the short end of every stick all pandemic long, from unpredictable closures and virtual learning to stressed-out teachers and a wholesale dropping of standards and accountability.

Environmental Panic Over the Protection of Wetlands


This past week, in Sackett v. EPA, the United States Supreme Court unanimously brought to an end the nonstop siege that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposed on Michael and Chantell Sackett during their 19-year quest to build a single-family home on a building plot some 300 yards from Priest Lake, a navigable body of water, with a number of homes between their lot and the lake itself. The EPA asserted jurisdiction over the Sacketts’ land and threatened them with fines of over $40,000 a day. In 2012, the Supreme Court refused to allow those excessive fines to block a lawsuit but left matters in limbo by returning the case to the lower courts. In the second round of litigation, all nine justices agreed that the EPA had gone one step, if not many steps, too far. But none of them sought to explain where or why the EPA was wrong.  Instead, sharp divisions emerged in the Court on the question of just how much was too far. The key provision of the Clean Water Act (CWA) reads: “(7) The term ‘navigable waters’ means the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas,” such that a wetland, however defined, bears no similarity to the large bodies of water that are “in direct contact with the open sea.” As the justices saw the case, the key question was how best to interpret the term “adjacent,” which does not appear in the statutory definition.

So, why has the Supreme Court sharply divided over the terminological dispute of whether the word adjacent means “abutting on” or “nearby”? The answer is that this term makes its appearance only once in the statute, in Section 1344(g)(1), which authorizes the states to conduct their own permitting programs. It is from this section that Justice Alito, writing for the Court’s majority, concludes that the “statutory context” “specifies that discharges may be permitted into any waters of the United States, except for traditional navigable waters ‘including wetlands adjacent thereto,’” suggesting that at least some wetlands must necessarily qualify “as waters of the United States.”

Quote of the Day: Living in a World Blessed by Miracles


With the right perspective, you can live in a world of miracles and be blessed by them.

When I read these words, I felt they were spoken specifically for my benefit. A friend in Israel heard a man in his synagogue say them, and they speak to the way I would like to experience the world. I say, “I would like to,” because I am so often preoccupied with the mundane and the ordinary that there is little room left for anything else. Or something out of the ordinary occurs, yet I take it for granted. On the other hand, I’ve discovered that just a shift in mindset creates more opportunities to see the miracles in everyday life. I’m sure that many people who are better qualified than I am would say these are not miracles. But their opinions don’t stop me from appreciating them.

God’s Answering Machine


In early 1972, film director Stanley Kubrick, responding to an attack on A Clockwork Orange in The New York Times, declared himself “Against the new psychedelic fascism—the eye-popping, multimedia, quadrasonic, drug-oriented conditioning of human beings by other human beings—which many believe will usher in the forfeiture of human citizenship and the beginning of zombiedom.”

Congratulations, Stanley—you called it! Half a century on, in an age of narratives, today’s media technology is arguably putting us in tantalizing reach of that nightmare vision. Put on your VR headset, link with Chat GPT, and you’re there. Which is the unlikely route that brings me to the polar opposite of today’s flashy electronic media…the timeless messages of Arahant’s telephone inspiration phone line.

Target’s Deceptive Transgender Agenda


You probably thought the big story about Target was their selling transgender clothing in the front of their stores. How clueless they were! Didn’t they learn anything from the Bud Light debacle? After the initial kerfuffle, they felt they needed to place the merchandise in a more subtle location; we assumed that they at least got the message that their blatant support for transgenderism was not acceptable to many in their customer base.

We were wrong.

I learned today that Target has been affiliated for years with GLSEN, Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. GLSEN has co-sponsored Target’s transgender activities, led by Carlos Saavedra, Vice-President of brand marketing at Target—and the treasurer at GLSEN. Target has also provided donations to GLSEN reaching $2.1 million.

From Tribes to Tribalism


Quite frankly, I am sick of all the excuses made these days for the chaos in our society. Everyone seems to have their favorite cause or group to blame, and others lament that particularly the violence in our society is “complicated,” as if that explains the disruption all around us. I want to take a different perspective on our situation, and you can decide if my thoughts are credible or not. The framework I want to use is an ancient yet prevalent phenomenon: the tribe.

Tribes became one of our oldest affiliation groups centuries ago. People figured out that in a tribe, they could seek out protection, relationships, and collaboration for food and security. We know of the 12 tribes of Israel; in American history, we have the many Indian tribes. Countries all over the world expanded out of the tribal tradition.

Today we could say that all of us belong to tribes of one sort or another: nuclear families, extended families, religious groups; service clubs, boy scouts and girl scouts, fraternal groups. In college, we’ve seen sports teams, ROTC groups, religious clubs, affiliation groups, and recreational clubs, too. To one degree or another, these groups meet the criteria for tribes, as I’ve defined them here. They provide opportunities to build human relationships; they provide a clear mission yet are broad enough to serve most of their members. There are opportunities for leadership, rules to guide the members in their interactions with each other and the community, a commitment to a higher purpose, friendship, and interpersonal support.

Clay at Trafalgar


C. S. Forester has been imitated many times since he invented the concept of a novel serial centered on the career of a naval officer. Horatio Hornblower has numerous counterparts, both at sea and in space.

“Clay and the Immortal Memory,” by Philip K. Allan, is the latest entry in one of the more successful series in the maritime genre. It is the tenth book and latest in a series tracing the adventures of Alexander Clay, a fictional Royal Navy officer during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

The book opens in at the end of 1804. Clay commands the frigate Griffin, returning from India after a three-year commission in the Indies. He, his wardroom and his crew have been together longer than that. His officers and a chunk of the forecastle hands are followers, men who follow a trusted captain from ship to ship. Yet all everyone aboard wants right now is home and leave.

Memorial Day Weekend Podcast: Battleground


Hello, Ricochet, I bring you a conversation I recorded with former National Review publisher Jack Fowler about Battleground, the first major cinematic depiction of the Battle of the Bulge, a big box office, critical, and Oscar success in 1949. Also, a worthy attempt to help Americans remember WWII as a trial of national character.  Enjoy the weekend–happy Memorial Day!

Quote of the Day: Remembering the Dead


“All gave some. Some gave all.” – Howard William Osterkamp

Osterkamp of Dent, OH, served in the US Army 1951-1953. He fought in Korea as part of C Company, 5th Regimental Combat Team, receiving a Purple Heart. He gave some. Many in his company gave all — their lives.

Renaming the Mainstream Media


This morning as I strode on the treadmill, I realized that David Harsanyi, on his podcast with Mollie Hemingway, You’re Wrong, planted a seed in my brain for a brand-new and more appropriate name for the mainstream media. Let me share how important I think this re-labeling will be for the foreseeable future.

Most of us on the Right refer to the mainstream media, or MSM, as newspapers that used to take pride in mostly publishing the news. Part of their purpose was supposedly to give us the truth, an objective rendition of what was happening in the world. (I know there are some who would debate this purpose, and we can certainly discuss that disagreement.) The New York Times and Washington Post in particular were supposed to be the bastions of newspapers everywhere, because they had the ability to position reporters all over the world. We trusted them, relied on them (foolishly, or not) to give us the facts, although we’ve known for a while that they were biased to the benefit of the Left.

In the last several years, though, these newspapers and those who genuflect to them have made their biases unequivocally clear. They are the handmaidens to the Left, although it’s unclear whether the Left or the media are the ones who are making the demands. Recently (it seems to me), the term “legacy media” has been used. Some people claim that this word is being used to suggest that the print media is archaic, and that we will be getting all of our news online; I suspect they may be right. Although I couldn’t help wondering whether the word “legacy” was also being used to suggest a format that was handed down from a long and venerable tradition.

Americans Deserve a More Secure Voting System


Elections aren’t being stolen. But they are carried out under rules devised by one side for their benefit.

The Left loves our election system and why wouldn’t they? It has been a boon for them. They can win elections even when all seems lost. They have learned to exploit, through both legal and extra-legal means, the opportunities presented by bulk-mail voting, ballot harvesting, and lack of voter ID requirements. So they falsely insist our procedures are virtually fraud-proof, and that attempts to improve election security are racially motivated “voter suppression.”

In fact, voter fraud is not all that rare and is easy to commit. It is hard to detect because victims are unaware that their vote has been canceled, and so are unlikely to complain.

Shavuot, Ruth and Me


Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back, and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your G-d my G-d. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus and more may the Lord do to me if anything but death parts me from you. –Ruth, 1:16

When I became ill with cancer a couple of years ago, my close Jewish friends asked me if I had a Hebrew name, which would have been given to me when I was a newborn. I seemed to remember learning that I had a Hebrew name, but I don’t remember what it was. My Jewish friends felt that their prayers for me to G-d would be more powerful if they prayed using my Hebrew name, so I asked my friend @iwe if anything could be done regarding my lack of a Hebrew name, and he consulted his rabbi. It turns out that if a person doesn’t have a Hebrew name, he or she may choose one. On hearing this information, I knew immediately that I wanted to take the name of Ruth.

Doctors Who Fight the Extremists in Medical Practice


If you read Dr. Bastiat’s most recent post describing the bizarre symposium on transgender education, you might have found yourself shaking your head in disbelief at such an outrageous agenda. That an elite medical school like Emory is presenting such curricula is unimaginable. But they are. It’s tempting to think that the entire medical community has drunk the Kool-Aid (except for the doctors among us at Ricochet).

NAACP Indulges in Lies, Innuendoes, and Distortions


The latest blatant attack on Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida comes from the NAACP Board of Directors in Florida. I wonder what took them so long? I wonder if it has anything to do with his plans to announce his run for the Presidency this week. In its recent attack on DeSantis and Florida (in the guise of cautionary advice), the NAACP posted a “travel advisory,” which says, in part:

‘Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.’

House Democrats Discredit Whistleblowers, Shafting Themselves


Democrats think it’s impossible for government employees to stand up for truth and justice. If they try to speak out against the powers-that-be, they must be lying; no one would willingly put their jobs on the line. Except that at least three whistleblowers stood before the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government Committee and did just that—and have paid the price. At least so far. I’d like to share the most credible parts of the whistleblowers’ testimonies, and the most absurd accusations of the House Democrats.

Rep. Jim Jordan, who leads the committee, demanded in a 1,000-page report that the FBI respond to allegations:

Americans deserve to have confidence that the enormous power and reach of federal law enforcement will be used fairly and free of any indication of politicization. The FBI has the power, quite literally, to ruin a person’s life — to invade their residence, to take their property, and even to deprive them of their liberty,’ the report says.

A Quest to Restore Magic


Jack Damian is the Outsider. He protects the world from supernatural evil. His job makes him a real outsider. He walks alone and unattached to anyone or any organization. Then he meets Amanda Fielding.

“For Love of Magic,” a fantasy novel by Simon R. Green, opens with Jack Damian called to London’s Tate Gallery by Britain’s secret Department of Uncanny Inquiries. His services are required.

Twenty-two people disappeared during the premier viewing of a new painting, “The Faerie War.” It is a newly discovered work by a brilliant, criminally insane artist of the previous century. Although it is a world of science, magic keeps leaking in around the edges and through the cracks. Jack seals those cracks.

Quote of the Day: The Right Side of History


I get tired of Democrats claiming to be on the “right side of history” when both their past and their present are so utterly sordid and destructive. So, if you are a Democrat, let me tell you about MY side of history and YOUR side of history.

My side of history is Cato the Elder, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Irving Babbitt and William F. Buckley.  Your side of history is Thomas Hobbes, Karl Marx, Josef Stalin, Mao’s Little Red Book and Noam Chomsky.