The Absurdity of Being Out-Gunned by Criminals


When I retired from the military, my primary goal in life was to ride off into the sunset in an 18-wheeler and, as the saying goes, “study war no more.” It was a sentiment perhaps best encapsulated in a painting by the brilliant artist, Patrick Reynolds, wherein an angelic figure is seen with his sword on the ground as he kneels to tenderly embrace a small lamb.

Alas, the last few years in Memphis have illustrated, as surely as any deployment to some carnage-infested corner of the Middle East, that life does not always imitate art. Indeed, the value of human life here is on par with that of any number of miserable hellholes where people yell that God is great just before blowing themselves and others to pieces.


Micromanaging Prole Life Is Hard


I was reading a twitter thread last night started by a film critic whose work I admire and enjoy. Occasionally he gets political. This time he really booted the hornet’s nest, asserting that “paper straws are fine, Unless you gnaw on them or manhandle them, they last a long time. Plastic or metal straws *should always be available upon request, no questions asked.* But paper should be the default.”

This is a moderate liberal position, no? To save the earth, which is choking to imminent death on plastic, we should move to paper straws, but permit the use of plastic with no opprobrium attached to the moral stragglers or those who require a stiffer means of conveying liquids to one’s mouth.


ACF #30: The Black Dahlia


After Chinatown, we turn to another wonderful neo-noir vision of the foundation of Los Angeles, or rather its turning into Hollywood, the dream factory: Brian De Palma’s parting shot to Hollywood, The Black Dahlia. The movie came out in 2006, had a great cast: Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, and Scarlett Johansson, was based on a James Ellroy novel, whose L.A. Confidential had wowed audiences and critics in 1997, and was filmed beautifully by Vilmos Zsigmond, who was nominated for the Oscar for his work. Nevertheless, the audience didn’t really love it and the critics even less–it’s a more tragic story about Americans chasing after beautiful dreams and finding a horrible cruelty hiding behind splendor. But it’s precisely this tragic character that makes the film so impressive.


Walmart’s Virtue Signal Is Shining Loud and Clear


This week, in response to a mass shooting within one of their stores, Walmart decided to stop selling handgun ammunition and restrict open carry on the premises of their buildings.

I agree with what my friend Paul Carlson wrote: The message that Walmart is sending out is loud and clear, Walmart is not happy that their customers own guns.


Weinstein, Messing, and McCormack: A Study on Power and Control


“Will and Grace” was a TV show that aired about a decade and a half ago. It was based around the lives of four friends, two of whom were gay, living in New York. The show was funny; it was good, it made me laugh. NBC decided to bring it back, but this time their goal was to do as many seasons as they could bashing President Trump and his supporters. And bash they did, for three entire seasons. And it was as boring as can be.

Eric McCormack and Debra Messing play the title characters, Will and Grace. Now McCormack and Messing have both taken their roles as Trump bashers off the set and into the streets of Twitter.


Colorful Cooking


Asian Slaw and Corn MuffinsOn Labor Day morning, I made a quick trip to my local grocery store to grab a few ingredients for two celebrations. For the first celebration, at my VFW post, hot dogs were the base. I signed up to provide Asian slaw and cornbread muffins. For the second celebration, a pool party at friends’ house, I was committed to provide the Asian slaw as the veggie.

A bit more context:


Unmitigated Joy


Some people are foolish enough to search for what they call joy just about anywhere: amusement parks, movie comedies, shopping at the mall. We go to places where thrills and laughter abound so we can not only forget our sorrows but have a fun time.

But what is joy, and why do we so desire it? Words like bliss, happiness, delight, pleasure, satisfaction all appear in the dictionary as synonyms. But in Judaism, joy, called simcha, has a specific meaning. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in his book on Deuteronomy makes this distinction between happiness and joy:


Will Boris Johnson’s Government Fall?


Prime Minister Boris Johnson was elected by his party to deliver on the Conservative Party promise to deliver on the people’s will, expressed in an extraordinary referendum in 2016. Similar to Chamber of Commerce Republicans in our political system, there are Remainer Conservatives, who represent business interests that have done well at the expense of the British people’s interests. Today, one of these members of parliament literally crossed the aisle, ending the current government majority.

MP Philip Lee left the Conservative Party and walked over to sit with the Liberal Democrats this Monday. The ensuing debate is live, carried by ITV:


The Face in the Mirror


Gently I pulled myself out of bed, preparing for my morning walk. I never look at myself in the mirror that early, since I’m only interested in putting my clothes on the appropriate parts of my body, stretching out the aches and pains of sleep, and sticking a couple of barrettes in my hair to keep it out of my eyes. I do this last task by feel, because I leave off the light so that I don’t disturb my husband.

When I returned from my walk this morning, I glanced in the mirror and was stunned at what I saw. My mother was staring back at me. It wasn’t really her, but her image was reflected: silver graying hair streaked with age-defying colors, no make-up, blue eyes, Semitic nose, and soft wrinkles. There she was.


Uncommon Knowledge: Jim Mattis On “Call Sign Chaos”




TV’s Color Wars: Autumn 1946, ‘49, ‘51 and ‘53


The colorful autumn leaves had fallen and the season’s final tourists all packed and left, weeks ago. In the early chill of the fall of 1946, in one of New York’s once-numerous plush summer resorts north of the city a group of CBS executives were hosting a lavish, no-limits private dinner for a selected number of officials of the Federal Communications Commission. After brandy and cigars, they went to see the secret purpose of their out of town meeting: the first over the air demonstration of color television. It was on a private frequency, not for broadcasting. By all accounts, it went over smashingly well, making instant converts of technical skeptics, who were unanimous: It looked gorgeous. Looking especially gorgeous in color was the hostess, the official Miss CBS Color Girl, with the chromatically charmed name of Patty Painter. The FCC men, who seem to have been respectable married middle-aged men with lively eyes too easily tempted to roam, were smitten. The CBS man shrewdly lifted a phone handset and told them to talk to her. They watched, as transfixed as corrupt Biblical judges, as the polychrome angel in a Manhattan studio thirty miles away answered their questions with a gentle smile.

The demonstration included film clips and a fashion show. The men from Washington all but stood up and cheered. Color TV had arrived and no one could doubt it now. The early color was finicky, and it would be Patty’s job and that of other women for the next seven years to continue to sit under the hot lights, letting CBS technicians adjust the equipment to transmit (Caucasian) skin tones properly and attractively.


Trump’s Trade Travesty


On Friday, August 30, Trump confidently tweeted that anyone who thinks that his aggressive trade war with China could lead to a recession is sadly misinformed. He offered his own two-part explanation for a possible economic downturn. First, unnamed but “badly run and weak companies” are being undone by their own incompetence. Second, their present plight has not been caused by the trade war, but rather by the Federal Reserve’s failure to rapidly cut interest rates.

Chairman Jerome Powell has become a frequent target of the President’s ire. To be sure, the Fed did trim rates by a quarter of a point, from 2.25% to 2.00%, in July 2019. But Trump wanted the Fed to cut rates, already low by historical standards, by a full point. Even more, he wanted the Fed to further jolt the economy through another round of bond repurchases. In an attempt to prod Powell into action, Trump accused Powell of having a “horrendous lack of vision.” When Powell did not blink, Trump doubled down. “As usual, the Fed did NOTHING! It is incredible that they can ‘speak’ without knowing or asking what I am doing,” he tweeted. “My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?” So much for the traditional independence of the Fed. Trump then lashed out at the private sector by ordering corporations to find alternatives to China. So much for limited presidential powers.


VP Pence Speaks on Behalf of Trump in Poland


Vice President Pence spoke in Poland, marking the start of World War II with the German invasion of Poland, 1 September 1939. Highlight comments include: “None fought with more valor, or determination, or righteous fury than the Poles…Poland proved itself a homeland of heroes.” and “The fight against the twisted ideologies of Nazism and Communism reflected the eternal struggle between right and wrong, good and evil.”

Vice President Pence’s remarks were punctuated by the notable absence, this time, of the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin.


Trump and DeSantis May Do Well by Doing Good [Updated 1 Sept.]


After Hurricane Maria fully exposed the extent of Puerto Rican public corruption and incompetence, President Trump allowed his supposedly expert professional advisors and disaster response agency leaders to drive the pace of response. As a result, Puerto Rico is still in significantly worse shape than Texas. Also as a result, Puerto Ricans, who are all American citizens, moved in large numbers to Florida, where they may well flip the state to the Democrats in 2020.

It is in President Trump’s and Governor DeSantis’s interest to very publicly show what a difference Republican leadership makes in response to a hurricane. President Trump took the first right step by canceling his trip to Poland. He is sending Vice President Pence in his place to commemorate Poland’s valiant struggle against the Germans and Russians, a place they find themselves in again today on the economic level. President Trump has communicated to the public and the government where his priorities lie.


Transgenderism, the Supreme Court, and Child Abuse


This past week The Federalist published an article that once again highlighted the damage that transgenderism has inflicted on our society. The article described an amicus brief that has been filed in the Supreme Court for the case R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; the case will be heard October 2019. It described the powerful statements in an amicus brief from several individuals who acknowledged the devastation they had experienced in deciding to change their gender identity. In this post, I’m going to provide a summary of the original case, include some of their statements from the amicus brief, and also the impact of these types of beliefs on our children.

Here is a summary of the original brief:


No One, Other Than Trump Supporters, Is Going to Jail: Change My Mind


Sorry, but that is likely true, to the deep peril of our constitutional republic. I appreciate Attorney General Barr’s willingness to step up, knowing he would be trashed, yet I doubt he has the sort of strength and clarity of purpose to enforce equal justice. Susan Quinn was right on point about the detestable Andrew Weissmann, who should have been disbarred long ago. So what is to be done?

As another writer here on Ricochet observed earlier this year in “Barr Sets the Bar:”


Over There, the Rain Beats Down Old Ladies with Ugly Sticks


In English, we say, “It’s raining cats and dogs.” Explanations for why we say this are numerous, and all fairly dubious. In other lands, other stuff falls from the sky during heavy storms. In Croatia, axes; in Bosnia, crowbars (I’m sensing a pattern here); in France and Sweden, nails. In several countries, heavy rain falls like pestle onto mortar. In English, it may also rain like pitchforks or darning needles. While idioms describing heavy rain as the piss from some great creature (a cow or a god) may not be surprising, a few idioms kick it up a notch (so to speak), describing the rain as falling dung.

And then there are the old ladies falling out of skies. Sometimes with sticks, sometimes without. Sometimes old ladies beaten with ugly sticks. The Flemish say, het regent oude wijven — it’s raining old women. The Afrikaners, more savagely, arm the old women with clubs: ou vrouens met knopkieries reën. Yes, good ol’ knobkerries — ugly sticks, indeed! Afrikaners and the Flemish speak variants of Dutch, so it’s not surprising they share cataracts of crones, armed or not. Why the Welsh also share them is more of a mystery, but yn’ Gymraeg, again we find old ladies raining with sticks: mae hi’n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn. Traveling to Norway, we find the outpouring of old ladies beaten with the ugly sticks: det regner trollkjerringer — it’s raining she-trolls.


What Prayers Do You Offer When Catastrophe Looms?


This morning, I’ve been thinking a great deal about my many friends in Florida. Off the top of my head (and forgive me if I’ve left you out), I can identify @frontseatcatt, @jamesgawron, @samuelblock, @cm, @bossmongo, @theotherdiane, @kevincreighton, @barkhaherman, and I know there are many others. Feel free to use this post to let us know where you are.

Due to the impending hurricane, I’m inclined to pray for all of these folks, for those who have already been hit in the islands, and for those who may be hit outside of Florida. But I realized that prayer is an odd thing: outside of the written prayers, just what can or should I pray for?


Cloudburst — only a paper cloud?


“Tell me, burnt earth: Is there no water? Is there only dust? Is there only the blood of bare-footed footsteps on the thorns?” “The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.”

Eric Whitacre is a conductor and composer with matinee-idol good looks, personal magnetism, a slick marketing strategy, and arguably common sense, too: he recommends young composers not waste time acquiring training in academic theory beyond what they need to write music that sounds good. Whitacre is beloved in the choral world, but also, sometimes, disdained — for being overrated (he is, although overrated can still be good), for being gimmicky (also true, though his gimmicks often land), and for writing music “suffused with a sense of easy spiritual uplift… Everything [is] maximally radiant and beautiful, and beautifully sung. And that [is] the problem.”


Group Writing: The Tragedy of the Tiger Temple


Over 20 years ago, my husband and I visited a temple in Thailand with a Thai friend of ours. She had become friendly with the head monk who, along with his monks, had taken in many tigers. These tigers had, for the most part, been picked up as cubs by people who were visiting the forests; when they recognized their foolish decisions to capture the tigers (since the cats grew to be substantially larger and more fierce), they took them to what came to be called the Tiger Temple. The head monk felt he could provide a place of safety and care for the tigers, and gradually housed many tigers around the temple.

Every day the monks would take the tigers for a walk. They had an incredible rapport with these wild animals, and could often be seen relaxing with them in the open land nearby. The cats were kept and fed in very large cages, with plenty of room to walk around. We realized that there was no long-term planning involved; food for the cats was provided by people who knew of the monks’ work, including locals and tourists. Visits by outsiders were infrequent, and the cats looked well-cared for. It appeared that the monks were just doing what they believed was needed; theirs was the compassionate action to take.


Five Arrogant Senators Attack the Supreme Court


Just when I think I can’t be any more shocked by the outrageous and unethical behavior of members of Congress, they surprise me again. Well, not exactly. I’m not surprised at all that these five senators would threaten the Supreme Court with a legal brief, impugning the Court’s integrity and motivations even before they rule on an upcoming case.

The five senators—Mazie Hirono, Sheldon Whitehouse, Richard Blumenthal, Richard Durbin, and Kirsten Gillibrand—filed their brief against the case called New York Rifle and Pistol Association v. the City of New York. The totalitarian city of New York believed that it could severely restrict the carry of firearms and get away with it. The original legislation was changed to read that a person could transport a gun only to a second home, a gun range or a shooting competition outside the city. Quite generous of the city, don’t you think? And in the process, they declared moot the petitioner’s claim of violating the Second Amendment. Not quite, Bill DeBlasio; you can’t toss out the Second Amendment all by yourself.


Feeling Feisty Over Foreign Policy Follies


POTUS 41 through 45In Realsville, President Trump has done more to check Russian imperial aggression than has any president since Reagan. Fact.* Deal with it.



Losing the ‘Narrative’ Narrative?


Foucault mis readerIn the process of critically assessing the New York Times’ “1619 Project,” an author at The Spectator managed to misread Foucault. Please hang in there! I promise this is worth your while. I offer some helpful context for the “1619 Project,” and show that it is very vulnerable to attack from a post-modern icon. You need not trot out conservative arguments that fall on deaf ears. You can turn Foucault on the New York Times.

John Hinderaker, of Power Line Blog, offered a commonsense analysis of the NYT “racism” narrative:


More Corruption in the House of Representatives


Children in Gaza holding real gunsJust when we thought the anti-Semitic activities in the House of Representatives might be quieting down, Rashid Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have decided to push their hateful actions one step farther. Even worse, we are watching the House of Representatives being attacked from within, and no one is taking notice; the cries against anti-Semitism are pushing the questions about the integrity of the House into the background. These two issues arise due to Tlaib, Omar, and their fellow representative from Minnesota, Betty McCollum, who are co-sponsoring legislation that is filled with an abundance of false information directed—of course—against the state of Israel.

The story actually begins in 1979 with the creation of an organization called Defense for Children International; the Palestinian branch was founded in 1991 (DCI-P). This organization has extensive links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. For those who may not know, PFLP is a well-known terrorist organization.


A Tale of Economic Dynamism from North Carolina Furniture Country


This would be a terrible time for American to reject dynamism, that churning of jobs and firms that marks a vigorous economy where creative destruction is happening apace. Even with big economic policy actions in recent years, this still seems to be an economy where potential growth is around 2%. The Atlanta Fed describes a healthy, dynamic economy thusly:

In a dynamic economy, firms are constantly opening and closing, with workers churning among them. In a dynamic economy, entrepreneurs and innovators are incessantly commercializing new ideas and business models, keeping established firms on their toes, and pushing the economy to evolve and advance. … Like a living being, the economy needs circulation — churn — in order to remain healthy. It needs its old or damaged cells to be broken down and their raw materials recycled. It needs to develop new resiliencies when exposed to the contagion of a recession or technology-driven disruption. And it must be able to constantly adapt to changes in its environment in order to survive. Dynamism powers all of this.