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“If I had it to do over again, I’d study philosophy and play drums in a rock band.”
That phrase, rolled so trippingly off my tongue over several decades, has been doing so with greater frequency in recent years while serving as a sort of mental ejection button. Feeling stressed at the entirely preventable catastrophes unfolding across the country? Me too. Working a soul-sucking job that you positively dread? What a coincidence! Feeling bogged down in, …well, you get the idea.
That’s when the mind takes a vacation to distant places and circumstances, some of which are attainable and some of which are the stuff of pipe dreams. Like settling down to play drums in a thunderous rock band and studying philosophy, for example. After all, ear-splitting iconoclasm mixed with cerebral contemplation might be an entertaining and fun mix, but there is some real cognitive dissonance there, no?
On Fighting The Left
I can’t say that there was a decisive turning point on the order of, say, my decision several years ago to point my heart and my faith toward the Roman Catholic Church. Rather, it’s been a slowly evolving process that has brought me to the realization that my intense eagerness to engage and weigh in on the current battles and outrages of the day has all but disappeared, hence, my absence from Ricochet for the last few months.
Oh, I still get news updates throughout the day. I still monitor events and distill things in my mind,…but the idea of sitting down at the keyboard to analyze, deconstruct the gibberish, home in on the planted axioms of the left and expose for all to see the grubby ideological perversity animating the Biden administration and its acolytes leaves me preemptively dispirited. But why should that be the case?
In other words, I needed to step back from the deranged, dystopian and dysfunctional mess into which too many citizens are plunging the country and,…and do what, exactly? Ah, funny you should ask! Because while I was away, I rekindled my love for broadcasting in general, and radio broadcasting in particular.
Sooo, (searching for the correct term of art) I did a thing. And that thing, done a couple of days ago, was a live stream show. Tried out some new graphic designs, truncated the opening countdown, and featured a barrage of sources, numbers, video clips, etc. The goal was to point out that when politicians say they are searching for the “root cause” of a problem – a cause that is so obvious that Ray Charles could see it – they are actually saying something quite different. The explanation follows, in this edition of the live stream show:
It’s easy to do almost anything, provided you’re supposed to be doing something else. This simple truth (at least it’s true in my experience), has been my defining flaw since I was a twinkle in my father’s eye. I sometimes think the only reason I was actually born at all was because I was scheduled to be doing something else that day.
Writing and broadcasting may be the principal exceptions to the rule of procrastination in my life, but even then a battle must be waged. I sat down to write just yesterday, and immediately noticed that I needed to spruce up my study, which had fallen into chaos due to the extended hours and increased stress of my day job in the soul-lacerating world of retail. Accordingly, papers were sorted through (at least a few of them), the place was dusted and polished and partially rearranged.
Finally, it was time to put thought to paper (or keyboard, to be exact), which time coincided with the realization that, gee whiz, my website had not been updated in forever, so I set about that instead. New graphics were obtained and placed on the main page, and the page devoted to past articles was partially updated with new material and graphics.
In the event that you either A) missed yesterday’s podcast, or B) are morbidly curious enough to see the podcast being made, here is the video version. Actually, it really is fun to watch Troy Senik’s animated reactions to the mischief our conversation generated, so I do hope you will enjoy the proceedings:
If you had told me, back when I was 18, that the October 1980 issue of Playboy magazine would change my life, I would have thumbed immediately to the centerfold and said, “Well that’s good news.” But I did notice on the magazine’s cover, just below the “Girls of Canada” notice, that there was a “Tough, Sizzling Interview with G. Gordon Liddy.”
It was during my first semester in college and I confess that I probably knew more about the girls of Canada than I did Mr. Liddy, but still, I was drawn to the description of him as “The Sphinx of the Nixon Administration.” So I began reading the interview and was absolutely blown away by A) his eloquence, B) his irrepressible sense of humor, C) his encyclopedic knowledge of history and philosophy, and D) his ability to make an irresistibly devastating case against both the animating philosophy of the left and the catastrophic results that invariably follow the implementation of that philosophy.
Wanting to know more, I went straight away to the bookstore and purchased a copy of his autobiography, Will, and read it cover to cover. Several times. The story of a very young George Gordon Battle Liddy who suffered not only from physical ailments, but also from a series of nearly paralyzing fears, paralleled in some sense my own experience many years earlier when, beset by asthma, the sound of thunder or fireworks sent me cowering for cover. In fact, you couldn’t have got me on anything faster than the merry-go-round at the local amusement park, even if both our lives depended on it. Liddy’s description of facing down those crippling fears, one by one, rang familiar with my own experiences.
In 2010 I was invited by Peter Robinson and Rob Long to become a contributor to their shiny new website, Ricochet.com. This was pretty heady stuff for a military retiree turned cross country truck driver, but as my great grandmother explained when I asked why she enjoyed watching death-defying stunts at the Ringling Brothers Circus, “If they’re crazy enough to do it, I’m crazy enough to watch.”
Over a decade has passed since Ricochet’s Founders were “crazy enough” to extend that kind invitation, and I remain immensely grateful to have been afforded a front-row seat to history along with a platform from which to offer the occasional observation on the parade. From a personal standpoint, my experience at Ricochet has been wonderfully predictable, whereas the experience on questions of public policy and culture have been predictable, though not necessarily wonderful. As Andrew Breitbart famously observed, “politics is downstream from culture,” and our culture, which has been trending toward the ditch for some time, has evidently found it at last.
In the event you’d like to look in on the proceedings, here is the video of my most recent podcast. The lighting issues were resolved and the technical parts are all coming together. It’s fun being the board op, the camera guy, the clock watcher, and the interviewer/host all rolled up into one Cajun with a face for radio. But it’s fun!! It’s not a living by any stretch, but it is fun. I hope you’ll find it fun as well.
I’m starting to get the hang of this Live Stream business, but obviously there’s a long way to go. This is a tad rough around the edges, at it was all done live, without a net, as it were. Nevertheless, I do hope you will enjoy it and I look forward to your observations, comments, and suggestions below:
If you’re snowed in (as we currently are here in Memphis), this might be a good opportunity to pour a cup of your favorite hot beverage, slip on warm clothing and your favorite fuzzy slippers, and enjoy watching a good podcast made much better by the disarming humor and easy conversation of my guests, National Review artist Roman Genn, and Ricochet’s own @bossmongo.
Sometimes, the temptation to drive a new car around a bit so folks can have a look is difficult to resist, right? And since I can resist almost anything except temptation, I’m yielding to the impulse to show off the new software and computer, etc. I did the first-ever video of my podcast, which was released yesterday, so I thought you might enjoy looking in on the festivities.
Yesterday’s show featured Rob Long and our own Jenna Stocker, both making some salient and helpful points as we survey the landscape after the 2020 election. It contains some behind the scenes camera angles and other fun things.
“I never can think of Judas Iscariot without losing my temper,” Mark Twain wrote, adding that, “To my mind Judas Iscariot was nothing but a low, mean, premature, Congressman.” The connection is obvious enough, from one cunning miscreant to another, both occupying positions of trust which they inevitably betray. The Savior had his divine reasons for placing Judas in such a position of sacred trust. The question is whether or not we, in a secular world, have been well served by investing something close to divine trust in political leaders?
Look, regardless of the noble intentions of Plato, politics has devolved into what William F. Buckley Jr., referred to as, “…the preoccupation of the quarter-educated.” Which is one of the principal reasons for my unending disdain for the progressive movement’s habit of politicizing everything from entertainment to sports and even Coca-Cola, so that any sentient person has little else on which to focus. But here we are in a country where the federal government regulates everything that moves and even things that don’t, like the diameter of the pipes coming from your commode, for example.
According to the Regulatory Center at George Washington University, when George W. Bush walked out of the Oval Office for the last time as President, he bequeathed his successor a Federal Register containing a daunting 79,000 pages of federal regulations. In his last year in office, President Bush oversaw the enactment of 71 federal regulations deemed “Economically Significant,” as defined by President Bill Clinton’s Executive Order 12866 as those that, “Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities.” Those 71 Economically Significant federal regulations packed a $7.1 billion hit to the economy. When Barack Obama left the Oval Office for the final time, he left his successor with a Federal Register filled with 97,000 pages of regulations. His last year in office, alone, saw the enactment of 99 new Economically Significant Rules (under Executive Order 12866) that dealt the economy a $9.9 billion punch. The last year for which George Washington University’s Regulatory Center has data is 2019, during which the thickness of the Federal Register shrunk to 71,000 pages, with 48 Economically Significant rules at a cost of $4.8 billion. Unsurprisingly, economic growth was comparatively robust during the latter period.
The news of Professor Williams’ passing came as a jarring blow, an unexpected loss in a year of tenacious tragedies. It is our loss, of course, and most especially for Dr. Williams’ loved ones and friends, all of whom remain in our prayers. I wasn’t privileged enough to have met him, but I felt as if I knew him and remain grateful beyond words that he took the time to write an encouraging letter to me when I was in college.
I began reading his newspaper columns in the Panama City News Herald in 1980 and was struck by his fierce independence of mind. I couldn’t quite categorize him politically, which made him all the more intriguing. He grew up in racially segregated public housing and was drafted into the Army. He was on the receiving end of racial abuse from civil authorities and military officers. In fact, as an army private, he wrote to President Kennedy, asking:
Should Negroes be relieved of their service obligation or continue defending and dying for empty promises of freedom and equality… Or should we demand human rights as our Founding Fathers did at the risk of being called extremists….I contend that we relieve ourselves of oppression in a manner that is in keeping with the great heritage of our nation.
So we’ll start with the bad news, in which my trusty computer has given up the ghost. It’s a seven-year-old Macbook,…and I took the time to try and update the operating system along with sundry software thingies, all in anticipation of some exciting developments coming to my podcast. At which point apps began crashing, the hard drive filled to capacity while I was trying to reinstall some things,…and the poor MacBook couldn’t take the stress. Funeral services will be held at a private location.
The good news that a major upgrade is in the works, which will yield even better upgrades to the podcast, as the following little advertisement indicates. Stay tuned…
As I close in on 60 years on this earth, it occurs that the absolute last thing I want to be is one of those people. You know the type. Every time they inhale they feel compelled to exhale their inexhaustible disdain for everything new and for the latest iteration of “young people these days.” I myself stopped keeping tabs on the accepted terminology for this or that iteration of the species after Generation X. “They must be good at algebra,” I thought, and then pressed on with life.
Even now, I’m not much inclined to do a lot of sneering and griping about “millennials,” or their inexperience in life relative to fossils like me. It was millennials, after all, who volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces and who dispatched the blood-thirsty maniacs of ISIS to Dante’s Inferno, along with Iran’s top terrorist, Qassem Soleimani. Any generation that produces warriors of such skill and determination can’t be all bad. Besides which, having had the pleasure of working alongside a few specimens of the “millennial” generation in recent years, I’ve been impressed both with their audacious spirit and their technical skill (I can type more quickly than most of them, but I can’t navigate various software programs with anything approaching the wizard-like speed of these people).
Of course, there are “ne’er do wells” in every generation. In fact (and please don’t tell anyone this), but malcontents, deviants, vandals, and murderers have been part of the human experience since around the time of Adam and Eve, and no generation since then has escaped either the weaknesses or the glories of human nature. The Greatest Generation, after all, gave us both Churchill and Stalin, even as their successors bequeathed us JFK and Castro, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and David Duke.
Not only was it no fun, but it was disappointing all around, in my humble opinion. Like most people, I went into the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden knowing full well who I would vote for. Put simply, when one party has the support of rioters, looters, and thugs masquerading as people who care about black lives; illegal immigrants; people who actually believe there is a Constitutional right to stick a fork in a baby’s head; people who believe a nation can tax it’s way to prosperity; people who reject a person’s right to self-defense; and people who make sweeping judgments about a person’s character based on the color of their skin … that is not a party I will ever support. I’m more interested in actual governance than debate points, and as I said on my show last week, one party stands for the rule of law while the other stands for the rule of mobs.
Still, it would have been nice to get a productive exchange of ideas, even if pugnacious. But this was a fiasco in which no one acquitted himself well or did himself any favors. By way of full disclosure, I should state my own bias in favor of letting people complete a sentence. Particularly when the person trying to complete that sentence is Joe Biden because you can’t be sure in which direction he will wander, nor the extent to which he’ll make your point for you if given enough time.
The opening two-minute salvos from each candidate were intriguing, but I found it dismaying — purely from a debater’s perspective — that President Trump immediately began interrupting as the first exchange got underway, and he simply wouldn’t stop. In the first place, it’s exasperating for the listener to be unable to hear the point being made without incessant interruptions. In the second place, that kind of rudeness elicits sympathy for the person being interrupted, which is exactly what happened early on for Joe Biden. Lastly, that kind of thing gives the green light for your opponent to do the same thing, at which point it becomes a race to the bottom.
Last night I had the pleasure and privilege of being on Joe Messina’s radio show, The Real Side, where Whiskey Politics’ proprietor @davesussman is the regular guest host. Dave brought the trenchant questions, while I brought what few insights I have, along with a good portion of Drambuie scotch whiskey. Lively discussion poured forth as easily as a favorite beverage over ice. Here, see for yourself!
Isn’t it fascinating to see unforeseen circumstances propel two worlds to the center stage of our collective attention, allowing us to assess and reorder our priorities? How illuminating it is, for instance, that while people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, were destroying innocent lives, assaulting business owners and burning down a life’s work out of that twisted and demonic sense of justice which compels mindless savagery; people in southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas were busy saving lives, reaching out to help strangers, providing shelter and food, or trying to restore businesses out of a genuine sense of love and that compassion which knows neither color, nor class, nor political affiliation.
Even more remarkable is the comparative speed with which these very different perspectives are spreading across our national landscape. Even now, professional and collegiate athletes, corporate marionettes, and the carnival barkers of the media are in a rush to praise, sanctify, exalt and consecrate … who exactly? The “Cajun Navy,” or any number of individual volunteers who set out in their private boats and vehicles and who are even now searching for hurricane survivors (or casualties) who might be trapped in an attic or stuck under a fallen structure or tree, or loved ones who haven’t checked in with their families?