Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. What Does the Holocaust Teach Us as Americans?

 

Periodically on this site, people have voiced their annoyance about the reminders that are posted regarding Holocaust Memorial Day, which is observed today. In Israel, everyone stops for two minutes at the sound of sirens to honor those lost. Those of us old enough to have been taught about the Holocaust in school or by our parents already know the story, yet there are some who would prefer not to be reminded of this tragedy. Given how blessed Jews are to live in this country, how often does the story need to be repeated?

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Remembering Roger Scruton, With UK Minister Michael Gove

 

To mark the first anniversary of the passing of Roger Scruton, Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson was asked by the Roger Scruton Legacy Foundation to participate in its Remembering Roger Scruton Memorial Event by interviewing the Right Honourable Michael Gove. Gove is a member of Parliament, a member of Britain’s Conservative Party, and the current chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and minister for the Cabinet Office. Gove began reading Scruton’s work as a teenager, and it had a very strong influence on Gove’s intellectual journey toward becoming a Conservative. In this conversation, Gove describes his own relationship with Scruton, how Scruton influenced British politics while living and even after his death, and how Scruton’s fierce support of Brexit was both personally and politically helpful to Gove. He also discusses Scruton’s warnings about— and his own experience fighting—“wokeness,” as well as what Scruton might have thought about lockdowns. Finally, Gove shares some thoughts about Scruton’s legacy and how history might remember him.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Biden Goes Deep Green

 

It is amazing the difference that four years can make in environmental policy. On January 24, 2017, at the outset of his presidency, Donald Trump issued an executive order that salvaged the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) from the Obama administration’s planned obstructionism. Obama had sought to upset the string of administrative approvals that the project obtained at both the federal and state levels. DAPL runs about 1,100 miles from the Bakken and Three Forks oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, where it is able to carry, far below ground, about 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Trump’s action allowed Congress to vote on whether to grant the last federal easement needed for the pipeline to proceed.

DAPL is now in service, even as litigation to shut it down continues. Environmental groups continue to allege attenuated theories of adverse effects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Their efforts are consistent with the common practice among environmentalists of paying inordinate attention to highly remote contingencies while completely ignoring the large and immediate safety and efficiency advantages of getting crude oil to both domestic and foreign markets via DAPL. More concretely, the chances that any crude oil shipped by DAPL will escape in sufficient quantities to damage the fishing or water rights of the Standing Rock Sioux have always been infinitesimal, which is why the pipeline operations have caused no such harm for the past three years. The overall soundness of the pipeline grid will become truly dire if DAPL is shut down while Keystone is left incomplete.

For the moment, however, the immediate threat is to the Keystone pipeline. On January 20, President Biden issued an executive order aimed at “Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” One component of his major order was to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline started some twelve years ago, but since that time it has been beset with legal challenges, including one in May 2020 in which a Montana judge yanked the pipeline’s permit on the grounds that the Army Corps of Engineers had not consulted sufficiently with the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the alleged risks that the pipeline posed to endangered species and their habitat. Such orders overlook the benefits from that pipeline, which include its ability to ship up to 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil from the Alberta sands to American refineries along the Gulf Coast.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF PoMoCon #31: Marriage Problems

 

So the podcast’s back after our long election-to-inauguration holiday. America’s still standing, thank God, but the madness continues, which we’ll have to bear the best we can. Today, I bring you one of my scholarly friends, Scott Yenor, who has a wonderful book on the successes and failures of feminism: Choice as far as the eye can see, and unhappiness on its heels. It’s called The Recovery Of Family Life and it analyzes the feminism, sexual liberation, and contemporary liberalism ideas and policies, and their unintended consequences. Scott points out that the great middle-class republic seems to be turning into a different regime because of family problems: Family is rare among the poor–but even though it is dominant among the rich, it is superfluous rather than foundational. Marriage comes last.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Defying the Left’s War on US History

 

Like many other people, I was thrilled to hear about Donald Trump’s formation of the 16-member, President’s Advisory 1776 Commission. Finally, someone was prepared to take on the propaganda and lies that were being taught to our schoolchildren and at last begin to correct the record, but the Left began to fight back almost immediately. This was the purpose of the Commission:

The declared purpose of the President’s Advisory 1776 Commission is to ‘enable a rising generation to understand the history and principles of the founding of the United States in 1776 and to strive to form a more perfect Union.’ This requires a restoration of American education, which can only be grounded on a history of those principles that is ‘accurate, honest, unifying, inspiring, and ennobling.’ And a rediscovery of our shared identity rooted in our founding principles is the path to a renewed American unity and a confident American future.

To demonstrate how powerful the report and its conclusions were, President Biden disbanded the commission immediately upon taking office, and removed the report from the White House website. Fortunately, the Heritage Foundation has made the report available to all of us.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Emperor’s New Mind

 

Mathematical truth is not a horrendously complicated dogma whose validity is beyond our comprehension. -Sir Rodger Penrose

The Emperor’s New Mind is Sir Roger Penrose’s argument that you can’t get a true AI by merely piling silicon atop silicon. To explain why he needs a whole book in which he summarizes most math and all physics. Even for a geek like me, someone who’s got the time on his hands and a fascination with these things it gets a bit thick. While delving into the vagaries of light cones or the formalism of Hilbert space in quantum mechanics it’s easy to wonder “wait, what does this have to do with your main argument?” Penrose has to posit new physics in order to support his ideas, and he can’t explain those ideas unless you the reader have a sufficient grasp of how the old physics works. Makes for a frustrating read though.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Reading the Enemy’s Mail

 

One of the most storied commanders of World War II was German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. A hero in his own country he was Britain’s most admired enemy during that war. He gained much of his reputation while commanding the Afrika Korps against the British in Egypt. Rommel claimed his success was due to his ability to think like his opposite number, putting himself inside the mind of his opponent. It turned out Rommel was not reading his enemy’s mind. He was reading his mail.

“War of Shadows: Codebreakers, Spies, and the Secret Struggle to Drive the Nazis from the Middle East,” by Gershom Gorenberg, examines espionage and signal intelligence during the 1940-42 African campaigns.

Gorenberg takes a fresh look at World War II in Africa using previously unpublished memoirs and interviews of surviving participants (some made years ago, saved and archived) and recently declassified war records. Many records, especially those relating to wartime espionage and signal intelligence remained classified into the opening years of the twenty-first century.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Biden Disconnect, or Biden’s Bubble

 

Maybe it’s his mental capacity, but Biden, even before he took office, seemed to be barely connected to anything outside the prospective Presidency. I have to admit that I am not following him closely, but has anyone heard him address the following to any extent?

  • Violence in the streets that continues to this day
  • His goals of working with Congress
  • His expectations (pro or con) of the upcoming impeachment
  • What his plans are to encourage unity
  • An appeal to Democrats to stop attacking Republicans
  • Why any of his Executive Orders will be good for this country
  • Explain to the public how mask mandates are good for the economy

I could go on, but it seems to me that Biden is living in a bubble. Does he actually consult with people to determine the benefits or limitations of his actions? Or do they just make a list for him and have him follow it? Did he just go back to the Obama agenda and dress it up for 2021? Did he decide simply to remove every Executive Order that Trump passed, rather than assess if any of them might be helpful?

More than ever, I think Joe Biden is barely clinging to reality. I don’t think he even knows how seriously limited he is. Certainly, everyone reassures him that he’s doing a good job in initiating actions—their plans—so why should they complain?

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. “Have a good life. We will see you soon.”

 

Donald and Melania TrumpPresident Trump joined four early United States presidents in refusing to attend his successor’s inauguration. While President Washington attended his former vice president’s inauguration, John Adams did not pretend that the incredibly ugly 1800 campaign was normal. He refused to dignify Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration. The two men, formerly friends, were bitter enemies until they reconciled in a long correspondence, years after both returned to private life. Adams’ son, John Quincy Adams, did not attend the inauguration of the founder of the Democratic Party, Andrew Jackson. Yet, J.Q. Adams had a long second political life as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.* You may recall that President Trump chose to feature Andrew Jackson’s portrait in the Oval Office. Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson’s vice president, did not attend the Whig Party candidate, William Harrison’s inauguration.** Andrew Johnson, a Democrat elected on a war unity ticket with Lincoln, refused to attend U.S. Grant’s inauguration after the Radical Republicans impeached but failed to convict Johnson.

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump gave one last address from the runway apron at Andrews Air Force Base before flying home to Florida. Like farewell addresses by previous presidents, the remarks included thanks to family and those who worked with them, along with both a list of accomplishments and notes of caution about the direction the new administration was likely to take.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Begging Your Pardon

 

President TrumpPresident Trump, like almost all* presidents, exercised the constitutional power of the pardon. In his last hours in his first term of office, President Trump pardoned 73 people and commuted the sentences of another 70. Most of the cases involved drug offenses now treated less harshly, while some rang of government misconduct and ax grinding by the feds. Two rappers made headlines: Lil Wayne and Kodak Black. The former mayor of Detroit, Kwame Malik Kilpatrick, got a break from a very long sentence. No, President Trump did not pardon terrorists, like certain prior occupants of the office. Here is the official release (emphasis added), followed by linked official clemency records for all presidents since Nixon.

Statement from the Press Secretary Regarding Executive Grants of Clemency
LAW & JUSTICE | Issued on: January 20, 2021

President Donald J. Trump granted pardons to 73 individuals and commuted the sentences of an additional 70 individuals.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Arrogance and Delusion

 

What do you do with citizens in this country who are unable to grasp reality, but believe they know more than everyone else? What do you do when those people believe the rest of us are a threat to them, to their power, and to the Country? You call them out, over and over again. Two foolish and absurd statements that were made most recently were by Katie Couric and Representative Steve Cohen.

Katie Couric began her career in television and is still seen in guest appearances, such as on the Bill Maher show. She calls herself a journalist and is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. On Bill Maher’s show, she responded to a question from Maher on the state of the country and wondered how all of us who had supported Trump could be “de-programmed,” having been brainwashed by the Trump charisma.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Trial That Should Not Be

 

Last week, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” stemming chiefly from his remarks before a large crowd near the White House on January 6. As I have previously written, serious questions still remain as to whether those charges are valid as a matter of fact and law. But assuming they are, the question is what comes next.

Press coverage is mostly limited to tactical and political issues. On the Democratic side, the chief concerns are the timing and form of the expected trial. Should Speaker Nancy Pelosi delay sending the article of impeachment to the Senate to give House leaders more time to gather evidence to strengthen their case? Or will that delay undercut the perceived public urgency of the trial? If there is an impeachment trial, will that slow down the Senate confirmations of top cabinet officials or the passage of Joe Biden’s legislative agenda? On the Republican side, the question arises of whether individual senators should break ranks with Trump and convict him, even if most Republican voters are as strongly opposed to conviction as Democratic voters are in favor of it.

In an important sense, these questions put the cart before the horse. First, we must ask whether the Senate even has the power to try this impeachment once the president is out of office. As a textual matter, the answer is no. There are two relevant provisions in the Constitution: Article I, Section 3, and Article II, Section 4. Article I, Section 3, gives the sole power of impeachment to the Senate. First, a simple declarative sentence provides that “When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.” The key word is “the” as in “the President.” The word “the” is used instead of the word “a.” “The” has a definite reference to the president now sitting in office, which will be Joe Biden on January 20. Once Donald Trump is out of office, he cannot be tried under this provision.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Day Not Covered, A Freedom We Shall Miss

 

President Trump issued an annual proclamation, declaring January 16 Religious Freedom Day, 2021. It could not be more timely, given what is about to unfold in our nation’s capital and across the world. Set this one aside for reference over the coming months, as Americans are forced to choose between faith and laws/edicts.**

Proclamation on Religious Freedom Day, 2021
LAW & JUSTICE Issued on: January 15, 2021
[emphasis added]
Faith inspires hope. Deeply embedded in the heart and soul of our Nation, this transcendent truth has compelled men and women of uncompromising conscience to give glory to God by worshiping both openly and privately, lifting up themselves and others in prayer. On Religious Freedom Day, we pledge to always protect and cherish this fundamental human right.

When the Pilgrims first crossed the Atlantic Ocean more than 400 years ago in pursuit of religious freedom, their dedication to this first freedom shaped the character and purpose of our Nation. Later, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, their deep desire to practice their religion unfettered from government intrusion was realized. Since then, the United States has set an example for the world in permitting believers to live out their faith in freedom.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Fighting for “Consensual Reality”

 

Now there’s talk of de-platforming conservative cable news programs. Is anyone surprised? Former Facebook executive Alex Stamos spoke on CNN on Sunday, and is “fighting for the people” in protesting the right-wing programs:

And then we have to figure out the OANN and Newsmax problem that these companies have freedom of speech, but I’m not sure we need Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and such to be bringing them into tens of millions of homes. This is allowing people to seek out information if they really want to, but not pushing it into their faces I think is really where we’re going to have to go here.

I’m sorry to share a quotation that is slightly incoherent, but I think the gist of his comment is that he wants to respect freedom of speech, except he doesn’t. And he appears to want people to find information they are interested in, except that companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast shouldn’t be providing it.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Completion of an Epic Fantasy Trilogy

 

In 2011, “Toward the Gleam” appeared. A fantasy, the book’s premise was that J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth legendarium were based on actual events. Author T. M. Doran bases a central character on Tolkien, John Hill, who find a prehistoric manuscript preserved over thousands of years. Set in the twentieth century, “Towards the Gleam” follows forces of good and evil contending for possession of the manuscript.

A sequel, “The Lucifer Ego” followed in 2018. The manuscript, safely hidden at a monastery gets stolen. Oxford University archaeologist Frodo Lyle Stuart gets recruited by his Uncle Henry to recover the document, the inspiration for “Lord of the Rings.” That book ends with the manuscript returned to safe storage, there to remain.

Or will it?

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Surviving a Siege Mentality

 

Much of the country feels we are going through a civil war; it just hasn’t been formally declared yet, although many of us have said that the last four years have felt like a war. The current environment is so detrimental to our country that I fear for our wellbeing, mentally and physically.

If you ask the people whose homes and businesses have been destroyed, they would likely tell you how devastated they feel. Their entire lives may have been invested in starting their businesses. Sacrifices were made, economically and relationally. They thought they were in a great country, where they could thrive and reap the benefits of a free society. And then in one vicious attack, it was all taken away. Their hopes and dreams were tossed onto the ash heap. And if it felt like a war, they had no one to protect them, and often couldn’t protect themselves. Now they are trapped in a nightmare with little relief.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Silicon Valley vs. Free Speech

 

Suddenly, free speech is in serious trouble.

Six years ago, CEO Jack Dorsey could proclaim “Twitter stands for freedom of expression. We stand for speaking truth to power.“ Last week, Dorsey and other big tech titans unleashed a massive speech suppression initiative, based on the notion that not only President Trump, but also anyone who supported him, including conservatives and Republicans en masse, must be silenced in the interest of public safety.

The silencing was comprehensive and ruthless. Recently increased censorship in social media had all been directed to the right. Then Facebook and Twitter joined in a permanent ban of the president. It was necessary to silence the President of the United States, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, because his claims of voter fraud were false and it would be dangerous to allow him to keep making them.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Is Loyalty a Meaningless Word?

 

Does anyone care about loyalty anymore? Loyalty to principles, country, people and institutions seems to be disappearing, or its meaning has been manipulated to meet a multitude of agendas. And along with all the other cultural disruptions, the state of loyalty is endangered.

We used to believe that loyalty to principles was a significant commitment. It’s not that we couldn’t examine, evaluate or discuss all principles, but we pursued activities to better understand them, to learn how our principles interfaced with the principles of others, or even how we might act to uphold them. We were both proud of and humbled by the principles we held, and looked for opportunities to realize them in our lives. And yet many have embraced a loyalty of convenience—they’ll put their chips where they can get the most power and leverage. There is moral relativism as well, where everyone gets to decide for him or herself what matters and what is sacred.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Trump’s Bitter Denouement

 

As this essay is written, it is certain that President Donald J. Trump will be out of office by noon on January 20. What is not certain is the manner of his departure. He may leave earlier by resignation, under the complex provisions of the 25th Amendment, or by impeachment followed by trial. Much depends on the interpretation given to the tumultuous events of January 6. The proposed articles of impeachment are likely to stress that Trump incited riots, insurrections, or worse.

It is here that we need to inject a note of caution. Proof of those powerful charges is a complex issue because of the causal question of the relationship between what Trump said to his supporters and the indisputable acts of violence that took place at the Capitol. The physical movements, motivations, and timing of many individuals must be examined closely, which means that it is impossible to allow for adequate preparation of defense during the next nine days. There are still further questions of exactly who did what inside the Capitol, in light of the manifest shortcomings of the Capitol police. Their lack of preparedness and, at times, seeming acquiescence to the crowds outside likely amplified the negative consequences of Trump’s actions.

One can be deeply critical of Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the Electoral College and still acknowledge that the fundamental protections of procedural due process apply with special urgency to disfavored and despised individuals. Contrary to a growing narrative, there are also reasons to question whether his conduct amounts to either an insurrection or a coup. There is simply no time for adequate consideration of articles of impeachment, let alone for conviction after trial.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. It Ain’t Necessarily So

 

Capital buildingI do not know what really happened in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 . . . and neither do you. First reports are seldom conclusive, often confused, sometimes flat wrong. We live in an environment where people have learned to spin and twist every institution and form of media, seeking to shape our society through our ever more intrusive politics. Not only is history written by the victors, so is the entire current narrative, especially as supposed conservatives have joined the left in enabled a handful of billionaires to use the commanding communications high ground to silence and even drive out of business any effective dissent.

I first heard that Trump supporters had stormed Congress and someone was shot. Then I heard the shot was fired not by a “bitter clinger” with a gun but by a Capitol Police officer. Then I heard Congressman Louie Gohmert call the Sean Hannity radio show. He reported that he was on the phone with the Capital Police the evening of January 5, and was told they had intelligence that Antifa was showing up on January 6 wearing pro-Trump gear. Perhaps so. This too ain’t necessarily so.

Before all this, as I sipped my morning cup of coffee, I listened to Mike Rowe’s latest The Way I Heard It podcast episode, released on January 5. “Episode 181: Off by Roughly Two Trillion” was a thoughtful reflection of uncertainty in our world, occasioned by repeated errors or possibly learning across media, academics, politics, science, and medicine. Take a listen, if you will: