An “Agreed Bill” That I Don’t Agree With


For those of you who live in Illinois or are just curious as to how one state can find itself in such a mess, here’s the latest post from my blog: 

In April, I was appointed to be a representative of the House Republican caucus on an “Agreed Bill Committee” which is a device used by labor and the business community during negotiations over the critical issue of Unemployment Insurance. By that process, business and labor agree that they will not propose legislation dealing with tax increases or benefit cuts to the unemployment system until both sides have fully negotiated a settlement of the issue. It would then be my role, along with the other members of the Committee to put its stamp of approval on the agreement and work to pass the legislation through the House.

A Disease of Rich People?


Is COVID-19 a disease of rich people?

I usually check the COVID-19 data explorer at once a day, sometimes just to see how COVID-19 cases and deaths are trending in the United States, and occasionally to compare with what’s going on in the European Union or with individual countries such as Ireland, India, Ukraine, or the United Kingdom. It’s easy. On the left is a check-box list. You can check the countries or regions you want to appear on the graph or uncheck them to remove them when the graph gets too cluttered. There is also a slider one can use to take a closer look at the most recent period.

Will Leftists Like What Replaces the Police They Just Defunded?


I have a patient who grew up on Staten Island before they built the bridge. His father farmed turnips, and his neighbor farmed potatoes. He said it was the middle of nowhere, just a few families lived there, and they seldom left the island. Once they built the bridge, everything changed. It became a very nice place to live, and according to him, half of the mafia in New York City moved to Staten Island. My patient then moved away from home and started his own family, but his sister still lives in the house they grew up in. Many of her neighbors are mafia, including the house directly across the street from her.

Some years ago, her car was broken into on the street right in front of her house. They stole the radio and a small amount of money she had in the car and broke a window. She called the police, who came out and took a statement, inspected the car, and told her they would call her if they found anything. The very moment that the policeman drove away, two large men wearing dark suits emerged from the house across the street and walked briskly across the street to her front door. They asked her, “Ma’am, we saw the police here at your house. Is anything wrong?”

She answered, “Yes, some kids broke into my car and stole my radio. I just told the police about it. They were very nice and said they would try to help.”

Rydelle Nelson spent 6 years in the U.S. Air Force, with deployments across the globe.  Rydelle’s service ran the gamut, from 15 months in the desert in support of the Global War on Terror, to Korea (where he had to navigate a frozen hill in the middle of the night to the chow hall-not always successfully) to Key West working on drug and human trafficking interdiction in the Caribbean. Along the way, he took advantage of his leave and visited dozens of countries.

Currently completing training to obtain his pilot’s license, Rydelle plans on reenlisting in the Reserves or National Guard. Rydelle speaks movingly about what his service meant to him, the friendships he made with fellow service-members and how it expanded his view of the world, America and his place in it.

Is Special Counsel John Durham trying to uncover the truth in the FBI’s Russiagate witch hunt? Or is he an employee of the Department of Just Us whose job is to shift blame away from the FBI?

Also, OSHA releases the “vaccine mandate” for all companies with more than 100 employees. Are small businesses next?

Cancel Culture Comes for Dad Rock


President Trump was mocked for suggesting that after tearing down Confederate statues, they would move on to statues of Washington and Jefferson. History has proven he wasn’t wrong, he merely underestimated how far the left is willing to take the Culture Wars. (The Culture Wars polite Republicans and “principled conservatives” think we should have no part of.) They came for Robert E. Lee, they came for Stonewall Jackson, and conservatives-with-dad-bods did nothing. Now, they’re coming for Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones.

The past several years have seen a reassessment of our country’s many mythologies — from the legends of the generals of the Confederacy to the historical glossing over of slaveholding founding fathers. But as we take another look at the sins of our historical figures, we’ve also had to take a hard look at our more immediate past and present, including the behavior of the creators of pop culture. That reassessment extends now to the people who wrote some of our best-loved songs. But what to do with the art left behind? Can I still love their music if I’m appalled by various events in the lives of Johnny Cash or Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis? Or by Eric Clapton’s racist rants and anti-vaccination activism?

Letter from Washington Jail


The following is a letter, apparently from Nathan DeGrave, who is a political prisoner being held at a jail in Washington, DC. He has not been convicted of any crime, but he says he has been held for over nine months because he entered the US Capitol, along with a film crew, through, he says, an open door, while making a documentary film on January 6.

The letter, released October 29 via the Twitter account of a criminal defense attorney named Brad Geyer, contains disturbing allegations about the inhuman conditions experienced by prisoners in the facility, including physical and mental abuse by Department of Corrections Officials. Some of DeGrave’s allegations seem to have been confirmed already by the US Marshal Service, which, according to the Washington Post, recently conducted an investigation that found “unacceptable conditions” at the jail. The US Marshals are now moving 400 federal inmates to a different facility in Pennsylvania. But not the January 6 political prisoners.

For the Love of a Child


Stories of heroes during the Holocaust are abundant, but every now and then a particular story catches my eye and grabs my heart, especially if it connects to current events. The story of Janusz Korczak is one of those stories.

Janusz Korczak was born into an assimilated Jewish family in Poland in 1878. He became a writer, then a pediatrician, and even served as a doctor in the military in the Russo-Japanese war. Eventually, he realized that his true passion rested with education, and in 1911 he founded an orphanage in Warsaw, Poland, called Dom Sierot.

He loved teaching and empowering children, too:

Observations from Inside the Virginia Election


I served in several capacities in the 2021 VA election.  I volunteered as a poll-watcher with the Republican Party of VA.  I took a shift observing the opening of absentee / mail-in ballots.  And I served in a non-partisan capacity as an election officer at a precinct in Arlington County.  There are requirements in VA law for election officers of different parties to perform certain tasks “when practicable”, so this is a basis for the RP of VA to push for the assignment of token Republicans into these non-partisan slots — that helps.  You come from the party, but work for the county, not for the party.

Overall, things were good, and the only actual problems I saw were minor, and were matters of ignorance rather than malice — near as I could tell.

The Hive Is What Has Been Against Trump – and You and Me


A hat tip to Powerline for putting me on to this article: The Progressive Hive. I had not seen the original back in 1981 (I was 11) but what a concept. The essay is built on the concept from Tom Bethell:

The Hive was a concept of Bethell’s and another gifted conservative writer, Joe Sobran, who likewise wrote for The American Spectator but did most of his work for National Review and as a syndicated columnist. Bethell himself credited Sobran with the concept, even as both would go on to develop it together (as Sobran noted) and champion it over the years. Many hoped that Bethell and Sobran would together write a book on the subject, but they never did.

A Near Thing, or Dewey Beats Truman


Ballot boxConservatives were excited by early vote totals from Virginia on Nov. 2. After all, Glenn Youngkin was up 10 points, a 20-point swing from the 2020 presidential election. Then reality intruded, as the lead shrank close to even. Yet, the major networks called the Virginia governor‘s race for Youngkin late Election Day night. The real numbers, just the facts, pointed to the possibility this would be another “Dewey Beats Truman” media failure, a stampede to get the story before the relevant facts were clear.

In the bright noonday sun, on Nov. 3, we saw the Democrats were not closing the gap in any of the three statewide executive races. Terry McAuliffe, almost certainly with detailed information about the uncounted precincts and the party split of the outstanding absentee ballots, conceded, followed by his lieutenant governor and attorney general running mates. Yet, it could have been otherwise, and we should have heard the straight facts late on Election Day evening.

The Virginia Department of Elections is to be commended for transparency and clear presentation of the numbers. The numbers that mattered were the vote difference between candidates, the number of precincts still not reporting, and the difference between number of absentee ballots requested and absentee ballots counted as received by the Department of Elections. Let’s go by the numbers through the state of the election on Nov. 3:

One Year Later: What Do We Know?


Not nearly enough. I’ve been analyzing various election fraud allegations as well as I can given the limits of my time, my abilities, and the amount of information available to me. It’s a mess.

No, not the election itself. Well, that was a mess too. But I mean the election allegations are a mess. And so is my analysis: It’s big, it doesn’t have enough pictures, and the big post here (or, for off-Ricochet, here) could use some serious rewriting and reorganizing.

Monumental News From Virginia


It’s just possible that you’ve heard the big news about the Virginia election. If not, I refer you to several excellent posts here, scads of Internet “newsprint,” and hours and hours of coverage yet to come on cable. This isn’t about that. It’s about three small counties in Virginia, not really deep south Virginia, but not exactly the northern part either. In each of these counties, the removal/relocation of Confederate monuments was on the ballot. People were allowed to vote about whether these monuments should be consigned to the proverbial dustbin, and those monuments were not subject to the decisions of a few people politically in charge of the areas.

I’m not the greatest at interspersing media with the printed word on this site, so bear with me while I do my best.

What Just Happened in Seattle?


The city of Seattle had some very consequential election contests yesterday. In my opinion, the most momentous occurrence was in the race for city attorney. The previous officeholder was genuinely soft on crime and criminals, releasing many multiple offenders, multiple times, to go back to the streets and offend again. The two women who were running to replace him could not have been more different. Nicole Thomas-Kennedy described herself as an “abolitionist,” meaning that if elected, she planned to abolish the police department and quit prosecuting all misdemeanor crimes, which she said were solely due to “poverty.” Ann Davison, on the other hand, is a Republican, active in local politics, who vowed to help clean up the homeless camps and pay attention to the issues in the Seattle public schools, which have upset many Seattle parents. Davison won. I am flabbergasted, but very pleased, at this result.

Have the citizens of Seattle suddenly awakened to the cesspool that their city is becoming and associated that decline with the leftists they continue to elect? It looks like it, and I wish them, and their new leaders, all the best in improving their city.

“Unacceptable conditions at D.C. jail lead to plan to transfer of about 400 inmates.” That’s the headline at the Washington Post, which along with the rest of the Leftist media heavily promoted the lie that January six was an insurrection and the worst attack on our democracy since the civil war. That’s their headline.  Great job, guys, ten months late. “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Yeah, what about prisoners being abused? Do they die in darkness? Nathan DeGrave, a political prisoner at the jail, who has been held for nine months without trial, published a letter at the end of October describing the inhumane conditions and the mental and physical abuse faced by the January 6 prisoners. Will the Department of Justice investigate? Of course not; Merrick Garland is too busy investigating parents who attend school board meetings.

Looks like Glenn Youngkin might actually have won in  the governor’s race in Virginia on Tuesday. Max is still not confident the Democrats won’t find a way to steal it. And Youngkin won because he acknowledged the very real concerns that Virginia voters have, about a lot of issues, but the big one is Critical Race Theory, which is racism, being taught in schools. It was Terry McAuliffe who lied and said that Critical Race Theory doesn’t exist, who told parents they have no right to be involved in their own children’s education, and who tried to make the campaign all about Trump.

Uncommon Knowledge: Victor Davis Hanson Diagnoses The Dying Citizen


Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution. His new book is The Dying Citizen: How Progressive Elites, Tribalism, and Globalization Are Destroying the Idea of America. As is typical whenever Dr. Hanson joins us, this interview covers a wide spectrum of topics and references, including the Acts of the Apostles, immigration, Jim Crow laws, primary tribal identities, the suburban everyman, the shrinking middle class, and JFK’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. It’s a bracing conversation with a scholar who has an incredible breadth of interests and knowledge.

The King of Stuff welcomes back Ethan Nicolle, author of the new book, Chesterton’s Gateway: 14 Essays To Get You Hooked On Chesterton. Jon and Ethan discuss the brilliance of G.K. Chesterton and cover Ethan’s work as creative director for the Babylon Bee. Ethan created the web comic Axe Cop with his little brother, and later became an animated series on FOX and FXX. His other books include Bears Want to Kill You: The Authoritative Guide to Survival in the War Between Man and Bear and the mid-grade novel Brave Ollie Possum.

After the interview, Jon discusses the shocking Republican victories in Virginia and across the country.

Subscribe to the King of Stuff Spotify playlist featuring picks from the show. This week, Jon recommends “Boy” by Kedr Livanskiy.

The faculty lounge is open for visitors as Professors Richard Epstein and John Yoo tackle the latest legal controversies: will the Supreme Court open the door to challenges to the controversial Texas abortion law? Can Donald Trump use executive privilege to keep the January 6 commission away from his White House records? Will Steve Bannon’s defiance of the commission lead to federal prosecution? Is congressional Democrats’ idea of a wealth tax unconstitutional? Is a woke controversy at Yale Law School representative of a bigger problem in legal academia? And, for your listening pleasure, a Law Talk tutorial: how would a prosecutor think about Alec Baldwin’s accidental shooting of a crew member on a New Mexico movie set? All that plus tips on airline etiquette and NFT investing from your favorite professors.

Let’s Go Brandon


This whole brouhaha by the left and Democrats (but I repeat myself) over “Let’s Go Brandon” reminded me of something that happened when I was about 18 years old in Adelaide, Australia. I had heard that the Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, was giving a speech in Adelaide and I decided to attend. I was pretty horrified because the large crowd heckled and hurled insults to the point where Fraser had to cut the speech off abruptly and was whisked away by security. I remember going home and telling my Dad about it and how I thought it was really bad that people would say things like that about the Prime Minister. His response has stuck with me in the 45 years that have passed since then. He said, “I think it would be really bad if people were not allowed to say things like that about the Prime Minister.”

It certainly made me think about what had happened and I realized almost immediately, that my Czech immigrant father was very correct. An 18-year-old raised in an upper-middle-class family in a free country didn’t have the perspective to value the free speech that was immediately obvious to someone who had fled to Australia seeking such freedoms.

US Supports Terrorist Organizations and Criticizes Israel


The Biden Administration is furious with the Israeli government for announcing that six NGOs are supporting the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The EU is also wringing its hands. It just so happens that the US supports those same NGOs, and claims that Israel didn’t tell them in advance that they were going to publicize this investigation. (Israel says it did tell the US.) I guess the Biden Administration assumes that it could somehow have kept Israel quiet or pre-empted the country’s announcement with denials. The fact remains, though, that the US has known this information for a few years and doesn’t like to be called out for its questionable behavior.

So when we get past the finger-pointing, what makes this story so ugly?

First, the PFLP is one of the oldest terrorist organizations, and has acted many times over the years against Israel. The organization receives millions of dollars in support from all over the world. The NGOs that were identified are described below.

Tax Schemes That Won’t Pay Off


Right now, Washington’s fevered political atmosphere is abuzz with taxation proposals to plug the funding gap created by President Biden’s slimmed-down $1.85 trillion Build Back Better program. Biden has no modest fiscal ambitions: he wants to introduce a huge new system of transfer payments to those at the bottom of the income scale, paid for by taxes that are imposed solely on the richest segment of the population, leaving just about everyone else untouched. His two major policy options—in an on-again-off-again fashion—appear to be a tax on the unrealized appreciation targeted to those who have more than $1 billion in assets or $100 million in income, and a 15 percent minimum corporate tax that Biden asserts will make big business pay its “fair share.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi touts this program as “something major, transformative, historic, and bigger than anything else” that Congress has ever attempted—which is exactly why a thumbs-down verdict is warranted, even before its details are laid out. One key classical liberal requirement for good government is the stability of key social institutions, including, prominently, taxation. Stability does not entail total stasis; after all, government must be able to respond to a changed global environment which, whether anticipated or not, may require rapid revisions in revenue needs. But stability does caution against making major structural changes in short time periods, without anticipating the range of complications bound to follow sudden social transitions.

The new system’s administrative costs, the high likelihood of technical error, and the nonstop, evasive maneuvers of targeted taxpayers to avoid or minimize the new tax regime make it a virtual certainty that tax revenues will fall short of projections. Overall economic growth, meanwhile, will likely falter, often with unanticipated distributional consequences that make both the rich and poor worse off.

Austin Voters Ratified Defunding Their Own Police Department. But Why?


At risk of being overlooked amidst the general (and most welcome) celebration of conservative victories last night is the glaring defeat of Proposition A in Austin, which would have restored $120 million in police funding that the city council eliminated last year during the ‘defund the police’ mania.

With great effort, and after a failed earlier attempt, a local non-profit collected enough signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot. It was carefully drafted to appeal to voters across the political spectrum and to address criticisms that have been leveled, rightly or wrongly, at police departments across the country.