Why Jews Have Abandoned Judaism


Abandon is a pretty strong word; I could have worded my title differently, but I believe that most of modern Jewry have, for all intents and purposes, left the fold. Only a small number of Jews are observant Jews, and I am not one of them. I decided to explore this question, and hopefully clarify for myself not just what it means to be a Jew, but what it means for me to be Jew. As you look at the lives of Jews whom you know, you might want to explore some of these issues with them. I am including some of my personal experiences as a Jew, and I will leave you to determine the legitimacy of my claims.

First, I was raised in a nearly secular family. We rarely if ever discussed G-d. I don’t even know if my father believed in G-d. Although my mother occasionally mentioned G-d, her level of belief (if at all) was unclear. Both my parents were raised in broken homes, with some version of Judaism that might have included keeping kosher, but I honestly don’t know if they observed any of the holidays. I know that my father read Hebrew, but I just now realize that I don’t know if he was a bar mitzvah. And both my parents have died. When I asked my father why he grudgingly went to synagogue on the High Holidays, he said he didn’t need to go there to experience G-d. Whether he experienced G-d elsewhere I’ll never know.


Nigel Farage, Driving the Bus


The President’s Privilege


The political winds are howling in Washington. The Democrats in the House of Representatives led by Representative Jerrold Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, are forging forward with a contempt citation against President Trump’s Attorney General William Barr. The charge: the failure to turn over to the House Committee a full and unredacted version of the Mueller report, along with the evidentiary record that Mueller compiled. The objective: to breathe new life into the obstruction charge on which Mueller declined to exonerate the President.

In a previous column, I argued that that the obstruction charge against Trump was relatively weak. Following the Nadler offensive, President Trump claimed that executive privilege covered all documents and witness testimony that formed the basis of the Mueller report. This broad claim of executive privilege has brought forth a torrent of protest from the president’s many detractors. For example, Michael Conway, former counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment of Richard Nixon in 1974, proclaimed that “Trump’s executive privilege claims over the Mueller report are as preposterous as Nixon’s claims during Watergate.”


Nadler’s Circus


View original artwork here.


Mother’s Day Shooting


Early on Mother’s Day afternoon, a woman walked to her vehicle with her two sons. The elder son was in his mid-teens, but not yet licensed to drive. The younger, was a bit shorter and early teen by appearance. The mother and her sons were all carrying bags or containers, heading somewhere for the day.

The mother carried a cooler, of the right size for iced-down drinks and snacks on a pleasant Arizona spring day. The younger son had a school-size backpack and another small bag. The elder son had a small gym bag and a long fabric soft-side case.


The Fight for Equality–from the Right


Ken Williams already has two strikes against him. He is a Christian pastor. He was gay at one time and found his way back to a heterosexual life and is now married with four kids. And he has a third strike against him as he fights legislation in California that could prevent counseling gays who want to explore the possibility of living as heterosexuals.


All Aboard! 10 May 1869, 150 Years Ago Yesterday


On 10 May 1869, 150 years ago yesterday, the newly reunited United States were tied together, from coast to coast with the first transcontinental railroad. Without any modern construction or surveying tools, the two teams, building towards each other from east and west, met in Promontory, Utah. The Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroad presidents met and drove a ceremonial final spike. With this, transportation accelerated far beyond any prior technology.

The inherent efficiency of even wood or coal steam engines over animal and sail power meant those modes would change. Horse or oxen would now service hubs defined by rail stops. The stops, necessary to refueling with coal and water, became towns. The glorious era of clipper ships was cut short, the golden spike puncturing their whole business model as surely as the rocky coast of Cape Horn could hull them. @seawriter can tell that tale far better.


The Left’s Shabby Vision


I think we conservatives sometimes feel inadequate, as if we lack the joy and enthusiasm that the left seems to bring to its various causes. It’s hard, after all, to wax rhapsodically about fiscal responsibility, deregulation, federalism, and other principles that distinguish conservative philosophy from the ever-expanding universe of leftist passions and causes. We don’t do sit-ins. We don’t chant. Conservatism is, well, conservative, and just not very exciting.

But if you scratch the surface, if you look beyond superficial enthusiasm and consider the worldviews that truly motivate left and right, you discover something interesting and, I think, counter-intuitive. You discover that it is conservatism that is optimistic, positive, enthusiastic, innovative, and forward-looking — in short, hopeful — and the left that is, overwhelmingly, motivated by a grim, desperate, fearful, and impoverished view of both humanity and our prospects.


The Left Cannot Help Itself: Rocky Mountain Low


The red faction of the red-green alliance just cannot help itself. Even with the cautionary tale of the Paul Wellstone funeral, the left could not be decent for a day. School officials allowed the Brady gun-grabber group to organize a supposed vigil, without informing the student body and parents that they had done so. The Brady Campaign invited Senator Michael (I want to be president) Bennet (D-CO Silicon Valley), and U.S. Representative Jason Crow (D-CO-6 Silicon Valley). It started as the left expected, and then went sideways for them. The reaction of students and parents suggest a rebellion against their political and cultural overlords, and may yield results in the year ahead.

Kudos to MSN and USA Today for telling the truth in “Students walk out of Colorado school shooting vigil, saying their trauma was being politicized:”


Introducing the Tikvah Podcast


Hello Ricochet! The Tikvah Podcast is the latest show to join the Ricochet Audio Network. (If you haven’t listened yet, here it is!) We couldn’t be more excited about it. We want you to be excited as well, so let’s introduce ourselves…

The Tikvah Fund is a think tank, educational institution, and philanthropic foundation committed to supporting the intellectual, religious, and political leaders of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. We do our work through a wide range of venues, from great books-oriented summer programs, to publications like Mosaic and the Jewish Review of Books, to online courses and podcasts. Intellectually and politically, we’re broadly center-right, admiring and learning from the likes of Irving Kristol, Leo Strauss, Leon Kass, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and Vladimir Jabotinsky.


ACF American Masters #7: Ballad of Cable Hogue


Prof. John Marini and I wrap up a trilogy on Sam Peckinpah’s westerns with his most comic, least violent picture: The Ballad of Cable Hogue. The only movie he made about a founding also turns out to be his story about dealing with movability, mutability, and mortality in America. Progress is a killer, but human beings can remember their love of the natural, tranquil life. It’s also Peckinpah’s Lockean Western, where labor mixed with nature creates property and leads to a common good for a community!


Should Democrats Avoid Women Candidates?


Many Democratic voters are worried that a woman candidate cannot win the presidency in 2020. “I don’t think they’re strong enough to carry it for themselves,” an Iowa voter told the Washington Post. Amber Phillips reports that “female politicians are held by voters to a much higher standard than men,” and points to polls showing that today’s support for Elizabeth Warren (12 percent) and Kamala Harris (8 percent) drops to low single digits when voters are asked who is likely to defeat Trump.

Without denying that some people may harbor misogynistic feelings, and that many Democrats may indeed fear, as Phillips reported, that while they personally would happily vote for a woman for president, their neighbors might not, this doesn’t prove that women are held to a higher standard. The evidence is mixed. It’s never possible to know with certainty what motivates voters. Could Romney’s religion have decided the 2012 race? It’s possible.


The Infant Moses Owned an IBM Computer. Now It’s Mine


“Computer user” defines the limits of my expertise. I can’t describe them with the fluency of @hankrhody. I can’t build precision electronics like @SkipSul. I can’t program them the way @judgemental or @arahant can. But people like me had an important part to play in the microcomputer revolution: We’re the suckers who paid for it, usually cheerfully. I flipped through a few quarter-century old computer magazines, noticing just how wildly expensive everything was in 1994-’97, for much less performance and far fewer capabilities than today’s computers. Still, to a non-computer specialist like me, the mid-Nineties is a world that’s almost two thirds a modern one. There were slick magazines advertising laptops and desktop machines with color monitors. Accessories like printers and modems plugged right in. The software was by then largely standardized on MS-DOS/Windows 3.1. It was already assumed that you’d want a modem for online use, although it would be for contact via plain old telephone lines with bulletin board systems, not the World Wide Web just quite yet. 1994 or so, in other words, is a primitive but recognizable world to a computer user of today.


Quote of the Day: Nothing Lasts


“We are like children building a sand castle. We embellish it with beautiful shells, bits of driftwood, and pieces of colored glass. The castle is ours, off-limits to others. We’re willing to attack if others threaten to hurt it. Yet despite all our attachment, we know that the tide will inevitably come in and sweep the sand castle away. The trick is to enjoy it fully but without clinging, and when the time comes, let it dissolve back into the sea.” — Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

 At a rational level, we all know that we will eventually die. But it seems like a far off ending to our lives. The fact is, though, that everything dies. We can’t hold on to anything forever: relationships end, flowers die, cars end up in junkyards, no matter how often we try to save them.


Lock Them Up, After Giving Them the Full Manafort Treatment!


Late on 7 May 2019, the New York Times “broke” a story handed to them by Democrat Party operatives within the IRS, the New York State Department of Taxation and Revenue, or the New York City Department of Finance. Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that these are the three possible employers of one or more employees who would, because of their positions in those particular agencies, have access to the IRS computer databases. The employee or employees reportedly had legal access to the computer database. They improperly accessed the system to steal 10 years of Donald Trump’s tax data from 1985 through 1994.

Each year is a record. That makes at least 10 felony counts, the way the IRS and DOJ play when they actually mean business. It is not a coincidence that the NYT was spoon-fed this data the day after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin properly refused to hand over the most recent 10 years of Donald Trump’s tax returns to the House Democrats. This has nothing to do with “Russia,” and everything to do with supposedly non-political public employees illegally interfering in the 2020 election, just as the IRS did in 2012.


Morality and Politics: Do You Try to Make Moral Choices?


I am cringing while I write this post, in a way I never have. I don’t trust that we can have a civil conversation about this topic; that I may open old wounds and create havoc. I’ve asked myself over and over whether I can trust all of you to be decent, moral human beings. I think I can trust you; I hope I can because this question has been nagging at me for months, and I need your help to resolve it. Let’s make this an opportunity to do it together, in our search for truth and understanding. That means putting aside the need to win or be right; I don’t think either of those efforts will be successful.

All that said, I have been struggling with my own morality related to politics.


Should We Tax Facebook and Google So They Change Their Business Models?


Paul Romer.
Is Big Tech today as dangerous as Big Money a decade ago? Economist and Nobel laureate Paul Romer seems to think there are disturbing similarities. In a New York Times op-ed, Romer advocates taxing revenue from the sales of targeted digital ads to check the size and power of “dominate digital platforms,” specifically Facebook and Google. “Our digital platforms may not be too big to fail,” he writes. “But they are too big to trust.” Romer’s policy goal is to nudge these companies away from the original sin of advertising-driven business models, and Romer sees a Pigovian tax as a more efficient way to reduce their size and influence than antitrust or regulation. He doesn’t like targeted ads, nor the financial power they generate.

Romer’s approach toward Big Tech might sound familiar to anyone who followed the post-Financial Crisis debate about Wall Street and “too big to fail.” Among the policy options for taming the megabanks and de-risking their business models were regulation, antitrust, or higher capital requirements. That last one, advocates argued, was the most efficient and market-friendly way of making failure less likely, potentially serving as a de facto tax on bigness, or even spurring a self-initiated breakup.


The Purge Hits Home


On Sunday I worked at the American Freedom Alliance conference, a day-long event featuring over 20 speakers, including Charlie Kirk, David Horowitz, Brent Bozell, Michael Walsh, Rebecca Friedrichs, Bill Whittle, and others. The hall overflowed with attendees representing UCLA Republicans to pensioners. It was an outstanding day where we discussed culture, free speech, science, academia, history and politics. On Monday the President of AFA and my dear friend Karen Siegemund was summarily fired from her life-long career of teaching math (both college and high school). The reason provided by the private high school? Her “public views” – that was it. Karen never spoke about politics in the classroom nor did her AFA role crossover into teaching.

Today David Horowitz was banned from Twitter. (*At this moment it seems they have reinstated David.) This follows last weeks widely publicized sweeping ban of other conservative voices from social media, including Paul Joseph Watson (the relatively benign host at InfoWars and other platforms). More incendiary personalities were banned from Facebook and Instagram like Laura Loomer, who, while too emotional for some, raises salient points about the double standard of online free speech (why is the terrorist group Hamas allowed on Twitter, but a Jewish conservative like her is banned?) as well as Milo who is sometimes provocative for the sake of being a provocateur.


Brown v. Board of Education, 65 Years Later


The Monroe School historic site of Brown v. Board of Education, which is considered the start of the Civil rights movement in the United States.
The House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on April 30 to address the state of education in the United States sixty-five years after Brown v. Board of Education (1954) put an official end to legal segregation throughout the United States. When Brown came down, there was much uneasiness over whether that powerful assertion of judicial power could be justified by an appeal to what Professor Herbert Wechsler famously called the “neutral principles of constitutional law.”

Those doubts have largely vanished, but litigation in Brown was only the opening chapter of a protracted struggle that, as political science professor Gerald Rosenberg showed in his historical study of Brown, The Hollow Hope, ultimately required Congress and the Executive to overcome massive resistance from many southern states. By now, the original mission of Brown—formal desegregation—has been unquestionably achieved. There is also widespread agreement that while much progress has been made, much more work has to be done to increase educational opportunities for all students. But this consensus on ends has not been matched by a consensus on means, as was evident in the prepared testimony before the House Committee.


Violence of the Left: Are We at a Tipping Point?


The irrationality of the Left, abetted by a hateful and biased media, is mind-boggling. Over the last couple of years, we’ve watched violent demonstrations on college campuses, Republicans accosted in restaurants, Antifa ignored when they attack peaceful demonstrators, media distortions and piling on to support the Left. And then there was the assassination attempt of Steve Scalise, with the intent to kill other members of Congress. We’ve been watching, frustrated and incapable of stopping the violence of the Left. We’re beginning to understand that the danger is real:

It’s beginning to dawn on many Americans that some mayors, police chiefs, and college presidents have no interest in stopping this violence. Left-wing officials sympathize with the lawbreakers; and the police, who rarely sympathize with thugs of any ideology, are ordered to do nothing by emasculated police chiefs. Consequently, given the abdication by all these authorities of their role to protect the public, some members of the public will inevitably decide that they will protect themselves and others.


The Left’s March Through The Institutions


Last night I had the honor of speaking at the Pasadena Republican Club, the oldest GOP club in America.


Uncommon Knowledge: Victor Davis Hanson on “The Case For Trump”


How did blue-collar voters connect with a millionaire from Queens in the 2016 election? Martin and Illie Anderson Senior fellow Victor Davis Hanson addresses that question and more in his newly released book, The Case for Trump. I chat with Victor about his motivation to write a book making a rational case for those voters who chose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, and about Victor himself — his background and life growing up in California’s Central Valley and how different the area feels now compared to when he was younger.


How do You Choose to See Your Life?


After being in Indianapolis for two days for a wonderful seminar by Hillsdale College, I was going to write a post on the pluses and minuses of our trip. I have about twelve complaints about Delta Airlines in Atlanta just for our return trip, including their not asking local passengers to stay in their seats so the rest of us could try to make our connections; about sending us to a gate where the next flight to Orlando would be leaving, only to find out it was full; about giving us boarding passes that had red streaks that prevented the bar code being read the next morning at TSA. I’m not going to complain anymore than that, although there are lots of other annoying, stupid and inconvenient occurrences. (Did I say we were told to get to the airport at 5:30am for an 8:00am flight??

Okay, now I’ll stop—or I will completely destroy my premise for this post.


Bolton to Mullahs: Don’t Even Think About It


Interesting that this was announced publicly:

The U.S. is sending the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in order “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime,” National Security Adviser John Bolton announced Sunday night.


Man and Woman at the Dawn of the Electric


Much of the sound of both “popular” and “country” music today comes from the partnership of a man and woman in the early 1950s. While Les Paul was the technical innovator, he wisely partnered with Mary Ford to record and broadcast the culmination of his innovations as beautiful music. Their performances and the public’s enthusiastic reaction, were the greatest sales pitch in the world for a new generation of musicians to adopt the guitar technology and recording and voice microphone techniques. The couple’s recording and touring career was eventually a victim of their success, as other performers took their innovations and carried them further, but their records and television show performances, preserved on video recordings, still please modern ears.

A statement about Les Paul and Mary Ford on the Les Paul website, seems boastful, but is demonstrably true: