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When you write a post, you tell us a great deal about yourself. It’s one of my favorite experiences on Ricochet—getting to know people through their writing, not just learning more about a topic. Did you realize how much you tell us about yourself when you write? If not, let me tell you how you reveal who you are.
One of the first things I notice about a writer is your “eloquence factor.” There are some people who have a gift that I simply love. Their words are linked together like chains of daisies, colorful, graceful, and captivating. I don’t write that way, but I love to read others who do. It is like appreciating not only the utility of the thing, but the art that runs within and through it.
But there are others of you who are more utilitarian: words serve your mission to communicate and share with others. Your writing is often brief, to the point, with no words wasted. You are there to serve the idea, you, your computer, and the sentences you write. It is an honorable and practical endeavor.
Few cops start their day looking for a particular person, or even a particular class of people to stop. Cops see violations of the law and suspicious circumstances, and they are encouraged by their employers to intervene. If you got a ticket or got arrested, it’s probably because you broke the law, not because the cop didn’t like you or you are a member of some targeted group. If this happens to you a lot, you might want to stop blaming the variables and consider the constant instead.
Most people can and do behave themselves without adult supervision. There are some that cannot. Politicians and the media try to deflect attention away from the burning, looting, vandalism, and assaults because the people that can behave themselves are horrified by what they see. Those that organize the protests try to dilute the images by saying it’s just stuff. The images must be hidden, to protect the narrative.
Friends, today is a special UK edition of the podcast. British expat journalist Ben Sixsmith joins me to speak in defense of the statues now threatened in Britain, from Churchill on down. Churchill’s own blood apparently won’t! Somebody should, though, and apparently it’s those of us looking from afar. So we also attack the Tory elites that won’t defend the nation’s honor in its symbols, either in deed or speech. We damn the corporate-manager politicians who do not wield authority and do not seem to know their offices have dignity and importance. Where is Boris Johnson in this moment of national shame?
MY four years were drawing to a close. They had been years of patient endurance and hard and persistent work, interspersed with bright oases of happiness and gladness and joy, as well as weary barren wastes of loneliness, isolation, unhappiness, and melancholy. I believe I have discharged—I know I have tried to do so—every duty faithfully and conscientiously. It had been a sort of bittersweet experience, this experimental life of mine at West Point. It was almost over, and whatever of pure sweetness, whatever of happiness, or whatever reward fortune had in store for me, was soon to become known.—Henry Ossian Flipper, the Colored Cadet at West Point
Henry Ossian Flipper was the first black man to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He did so on this date in 1877. He had been born a slave twenty-one years before that. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Buffalo Soldiers. While he had troubles and faced prejudice, he went on to a long professional career in various capacities with governments and as an engineer. He was also an author, writing his first book the year after graduation while at Fort Sill.
Beijing’s lack of transparency and veracity around its handling of the coronavirus is a factor in this steep decline in favorability.
Last week, Julie Pace of the Associated Press was on Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baer. She made a statement that stopped me in my tracks. (I seem to be doing a lot of that lately.) She said, “Black Lives Matter has gone mainstream.”
I asked myself what she could possibly have meant, and when I did a little research, I realized the insidious nature of her comment, and how we are in the process of making Black Lives Matter a mainstream movement.
June 14 is both Flag Day and the Army Birthday. 245 years ago, the Army was first authorized by the Continental Congress. See “Celebrating the Flag and the Army” for the details. This year, President Trump issued the annual proclamation and presided over the U.S. Military Academy graduation and commissioning ceremony this Saturday.
President Trump has made a point of presiding over a different service academy’s graduation and commissioning each year. On each prior occasion, he took the time to stand and shake each new officer’s hand as they crossed the podium. No other president has done this, to my knowledge. Unfortunately, the political theater of COVID-19 prevented President Trump looking each of the newest Army officers in the eyes and shaking their hand. He made the best of the limiting circumstances:*
As is my Sunday morning ritual, I busied myself with a pot of coffee and the morning newspapers. These days, I get through the newspapers much faster than I used to. I suppose this is because I’ve developed a bit of a system; when I see a story coming from the New York Times or Washington Post, I will read it as far as the first liberal “dog whistle” that I encounter and then I go on to the next story. (Amazing, how this has cut down on my reading time.)
When I got to the “Arts & Leasure” section, I started going down the “Bestsellers” list, and after scanning a few titles, I could see that there was a definite pattern developing. Was it just my imagination or was I really on to something? You be the judge:
For over a century (and for millennia, if one includes Aristotle), physicists have been looking for a Unified Field Theory, an overarching set of concepts and equations that ties all of physics together. I am oversimplifying, but this goal can be described as classical unified field theory, a “Theory of Everything”  or a Grand Unified Theory.The concept remains the same: produce a theory of everything, one that explains nature’s fundamental forces—gravity, electromagnetism and nuclear interactions.
This attempt has stalled in the past few decades. I read an interesting book review in the WSJ yesterday on this. The author concludes that the task is just very hard to achieve. But I think there is a much more plausible explanation: it cannot be done, and for reasons that physicists are not trained to comprehend.
Way back in 2016, before we knew for sure that the Obama administration had weaponized the Department of Justice and was using it to tamper with an election, and ultimately to undermine an incoming administration, the upcoming presidential election was described by some as a “Flight 93 election.” Flight 93, of course, is the plane that was brought down in a field on 9/11 by a group of heroic passengers who were determined not to let Islamic terrorists fly the plane into a building.
The idea is pretty simple: some believed that it was crucial that we win in 2016 because another four years of Democratic control could put the nation on an irreversible trajectory to ruin. The analogy with Flight 93 has to do both with the desperation of the situation and with the slim hope for success. In the event, the passengers of Flight 93 died as heroes but died nonetheless. America was more fortunate in 2016: we gambled on a Republican candidate about whom a great many of us were skeptical, and we won more than many of us expected or even hoped.
I hope it’s clear I’m not talking about that silly movie with Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck (whoever he is), and Gene Kelly in his embarrassingly awful final film role. (IIRC, this was the movie that launched the Razzies, the annual award for the worst [fill in the blank, movie-related category] of the year.
I’m talking about Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, a poem which (Coleridge always said) came to him in a dream, and which he was writing down after he woke up, only to be interrupted by the dreaded “person from Porlock,” who caused him to forget the other two or three hundred lines that were in his mind. So we have only a fragment of about the first fifty lines to wallow in, and I do. It’s one of my favorite bits of Romantic poetry, shrouded as it is in mystery and luscious images (perhaps I like it so much because it reminds me of Keats), and I don’t have to believe the fanciful story of its origins to love it.
At the behest of Susan Quinn, here are five good places to start:
- Reestablish the dignity of the individual. America was founded on the idea that the individual human being has intrinsic, G-d given value. While we have always held individual dignity as our highest value, we have also failed to fully embrace it as national policy. Slavery, Jim Crow, and Redlining are among the most shameful words of our past, and we must accept America’s historic role in the brutality shown toward black Americans while also celebrating the great progress we have made in the last 100 years in improving the lives of black Americans.
- Unlocking Opportunity in Education: For decades, urban schools have been mismanaged and even outright ignored. Economic and social opportunity begin with education, and the current quality of education for young black Americans is a national shame. We must reinvent the idea of urban education and give children and parents the opportunity to break the cycle of “destiny thorough geography” by urging all local and state governments to allowing students to escape failing schools. Charter schools, school vouchers, and even school closures should all be up for debate.
- Meaningful Police Reform: As believers in limited government, we believe that all government entities must have clearly defined, limited roles in our lives. Over the last 30 years, the role of the police in the lives of individuals has broadened in both scope and size with disastrous results. The current role of the police–part law enforcement, part social services, part mental-health service–how outstripped the range of their effective abilities. This current arrangement is deleterious to both the police and those they serve. We must bring the role of the police back within constitutional limits and hold every officer of every rank accountable for their behavior. The era of hiding violence behind a badge is over.
- Creation of an Opportunity Culture: The pitiful state of urban education is only compounded by the absurd lack of economic opportunity in America’s cities. Our nation’s mayors and city counsels have over-burdened their citizens with overtly restrictive regulations that insulate the established wealthy and prohibit economic mobility for the poor. Suffocating occupational licensing, regulatory capture, and outright graft by those with political pull are endemic in modern American cities. We must begin the hard process of deregulating our cities and opening the creative output of all citizens–not just the wealthy.
- Reject Identity Politics: As Americans, we must completely and utterly reject the scourge of identity politics, the tactic of pitting one American against another based the most base of factors. Instead, let us embrace solutions for all Americans, solutions that reinforce the idea that we are one nation, not a fractured group of tribes doomed to be at one another’s throat forever.
These suggestions will not solve every problem facing black Americans, but it’s a start.
The antics of the Left used to be great fun, comic gold for us conservatives. But then those antics began to multiply and darken. So now they’re only depressing and I need to cut back, lest my own mind darkens, on my reading of the news, wherever it appears, including my beloved Ricochet.
“Let’s get rid of the police,” the idiot Left screams. “Let’s pay black people for being black,” they declaim. “Let’s get people fired for saying things that we don’t agree with,” they spout. “Let’s break some windows and steal some stuff,” the more acquisitive of the hard Left declares.
I did a post with a Biblical theme a few months back. I thought that the Bible story of Israel’s fight against Amalek was a good analogy for our fight against COVID-19: “Remember the evil of Amalek and eradicate it from the face of the earth.”
The Amalek story happens after Israel has crossed the split sea and escaped the Egyptians. The splitting of the sea is all Gd’s handiwork but now Israel must fend for itself. Amalek is its first major test. Having survived this challenge, Israel now moves forward and is camped at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Moses goes up the mountain to receive the ten commandments from Gd. Before leaving he explains that he will be 40 days on the mountain. Unfortunately, it takes a little longer than planned and Moses returns after 41 days.
How trivial this difference seems. However, Israel is a nation of recently freed slaves who are unused to their freedom and its responsibilities. When Moses doesn’t appear on time, the Israelites assume he has died on the mountain. They lose all hope. A small cadre of unbelievers take advantage of this and lure the people into worshiping their old gods of Egypt. They demand that the leadership, Aaron and Hur, make a golden calf idol so they can properly worship this Egyptian god. Hur intervenes and tries to convince them against doing this. The hysterical mob murders Hur. Aaron, seeing what the mob is capable of, appeases them, and has gold collected so the golden calf idol can be made. Aaron conducts this blasphemous service in hopes it will stall the mob long enough for Moses to return.
Flag Day is an annual federal holiday, established by Congress. All presidents issue an annual proclamation. It just happens that this year members of our cultural, corporate, and ruling elites no longer affirm this symbol’s positive or unifying meaning. Yet, a review of President Obama’s 2012 proclamation is remarkably similar in tone and substance to President Trump’s 2020 proclamation. This has long represented a nonpartisan consensus, reflected in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s flag protest assessment: “dumb and disrespectful.”
Consider two iterations, first from President Trump and then from President Obama (emphasis added to highlight common language and themes).
Proclamation on Flag Day and National Flag Week, 2020
Issued on: June 12, 2020
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” — Matthew 22:36-40
While I believe that the power of Judeo-Christian morality is that its axioms come from the Divine, it is also empowered by its simplicity. While I have enormous respect for our Jewish friends and neighbors and I owe a great deal to my Catholic forebears, I think they make day-to-day righteousness more complicated than necessary. Being a good neighbor is hard enough by simply doing unto others as I would have done unto me.
A groundswell of anti-racism flags and position statements seems to be taking over many public and social media venues. My Amazon shopping app now opens with a statement that “Amazon stands in solidarity with the Black community” and invites shoppers to “read about what we’re doing” on a specially designated landing page. My neighborhood NextDoor.com CEO has issued a strong statement that the Nextdoor community will not tolerate racist language in our community networking posts. And you can validate for yourself that many other examples abound.
As to the Nextdoor position, my wife, alarmed that such a statement needed to be put forth did a quick check over the history of posts to our Nextdoor site and found no such language ever being used. Maybe it had been used and deleted? I’m doubtful.
An entire generation has grown up without leading Democrats ever granting the validity of a Republican’s election to the presidency. It has been decades since Democrats acknowledged that they could lose the highest office fair and square.
Biden — a former Vice President and now a candidate for President — goes a step further by suggesting that Trump might not cede the presidency if defeated in the upcoming election.
We are now 16 days into the post social distancing era brought about by the circumstances of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. What was proscribed before became courageous now as thousands gathered in protests, riots, and funerals to promote social justice. And “health officials” told us that social justice trumps the public risk of COVID-19. And so social distancing was no longer the sign of a virtuous person. At least so long as those violations of health orders were in support of an approved cause. Not church, not family, not social relations, and not commerce. And certainly not Republican politics. President Trump’s (now) June 20 rally in Tulsa, OK, is — according to the media — an extreme health hazard.
Whaling in the 18th through early 20th centuries was dangerous, required long stretches isolated from family and community, and required participants to live in squalor. Despite potentially high pay, few jobs were harder or less attractive. Except perhaps, slavery.
“Whaling Captains of Color: America’s First Meritocracy,” by Skip Finley, examines the lives of men who became whalers because it beat the alternatives. These included blacks, both runaway slaves and free-born, Native Americans, and Cape Verdeans: men marked by the color of their skin.
They turned to whaling because all other alternatives were worse. Finley reveals life on a whaling ship between 1750 and 1930: brutish, a cross between working on an oil rig and a slaughterhouse with the additional fillip of wretched food, crowded housing, and round-the-clock hours. It was also dangerous. There were many ways to die whaling and even more ways to get crippled.