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Quote of the Day: Originalism and the Constitution

 

“Our cases acknowledge the [option of imposing a lesser sentence than the death penalty], but they say that the content of the Eighth Amendment changes from age to age, to reflect (and I quote) ‘the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.’ You will note the wide-eyed, youthful meliorism in this sentiment: every day, in every way, we get better and better. Societies always mature; they never rot. This despite the twentieth century’s evidence of concentration camps and gas ovens in one of the most advanced and civilized nations of the world. Of course the whole premise of a constitution in general, and of a bill of rights in particular, is the very opposite of this.” — Antonin Scalia, Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith and Life Well-Lived

Justice Scalia was a widely lauded originalist in his understanding of the Constitution, and his explanation of originalism in this book is enlightening. But his comment about the Left trying to justify their interpretations of the Constitution is profound. They demonstrate, over and over again, their naivete, arrogance, and ignorance about human nature that dominates their thinking in a way that endangers our Constitutional democracy.

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This Week’s Book Review: Shadow Warriors

 

They are five teens with family problems. Cal’s dad is a drunk. Letty’s parents are too busy fighting to care about her. Tony is homeless after his drug-addict mother died. Sasha’s foster parents see him as a payday. Opi’s stepmother wants Opi’s inheritance – even if that means killing Opi.

Shadow Warriors, a science fiction novel by Nathan B. Dodge opens showing these five’s family situations. The teens soon have bigger problems. They have been secretly drafted to fight in an interstellar war.

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RIP Stan Lee — Comic Great and Cameo Favorite

 
Stan Lee
Photo by shutterstock.com

As I noted in an earlier post, Stan Lee, Marvel giant, co-creator of many of its titles and constant cameo in many of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films has passed away today at the age of ninety-five. He and Jack Kirby began Marvel Comics in 1961 with its first title, The Fantastic Four, and went on to create some of the most iconic characters in the genre: Spider-Man, the Hulk, and the X-Men as well as many others: Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and collaborated in the creation of Iron Man, Thor, and Ant-Man.

Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber in Manhattan, New York City. Even in his youth he wrote and began his comic career with Timely Comics which would later evolve to Marvel. Stan Lee served in the military during World War II in the US Army where his talents were eventually applied to training films and materials.

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How I Taught My Kids to Say Thank You For Your Service

 

At around 18 months with my oldest, I began trying to teach her to thank anyone in uniform for their service; police, firefighters, a few security officers have been thanked in the process. Around three years old, we moved on to recognizing “special hats” like the one her great-grandfather wears, indicating past service in the armed forces.

In the beginning, it was tough. My daughter was non-verbal; now she is oh so verbal, I hardly remember the days she was only communicating in sign language. She was also painfully shy, also no longer a problem. What it looked like in those early months was me walking up to an officer, getting on my knees at her level, saying thank you to the officer, and then showing her to do the sign for thank you. A lot of really kind and really patient members of the NYPD (mostly) helped in those early months, waiting for excessive amounts of time and encouraging her with smiles while she worked up the courage to sign “thank you.”

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Remembrance Day Weather: Rain in France

 

mediaThe official observances in France, were under rain. Indeed, the rains were heavy enough to repeatedly interfere with the satellite TV transmission signal back to C-SPAN. You see that in the multi-national ceremony and in President Trump’s address at a war memorial for Americans. The rain, and the disruption, is so appropriate to the commemoration of a war in which men lived in muddy trenches, never really dry, for years. Feet, constantly wet, started disintegrating. It was called “trench foot” and is called “immersion foot syndrome.” [Emphasis added.]

Trench foot, or immersion foot syndrome, is a serious condition that results from your feet being wet for too long. The condition first became known during World War I, when soldiers got trench foot from fighting in cold, wet conditions in trenches without the extra socks or boots to help keep their feet dry.

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Thoughts from a Veteran

 

I’m a veteran. I was in the U.S. Army artillery, stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. in 1962 during the period of the so-called Cuban Missile Crisis. My 155 mm howitzer battalion personnel and equipment were boarded and loaded onto aircraft several times during that period of alert in anticipation of flying to and landing in Cuba, if required. The 82nd Airborne and Special Forces would have secured a landing field for that to happen. That is the closest I came to any combat situation.

I salute all U.S. veterans today, and a special acknowledgement to those who gave their lives.

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Don’t Take My Name In Vain

 

On this Veteran’s Day it is good to consider those who served, for those of us who served to reflect on our service, and for the nation to enjoy a moment (rare as it is) of unity of purpose. Not all who served did so with honor, and some have dishonored themselves after service, but — for the most part — veteran identification says something meaningful about an individual. It is this honor, and the nation’s gratitude, that some in the State of Washington hope to make the means to their nefarious, dishonorable ends.

As I was walking into the grocery store today I saw the table set up. It seemed a little early for the paid initiative signature gatherers to be stationed already (the election was last week for crying out loud!), but there she was. Some poor sap with no idea what she was asking of people stood behind a table with signs imploring people to “Support Veterans!” As a veteran I was interested to learn exactly how this particular initiative would support me and my cohort, so I stopped to read the initiative (something almost no one in this state does before signing the petition.) To my horror I discovered the measure has nothing to do with veterans; rather, the initiative reinstates affirmative action in the state.

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Do Republicans Lose An Abnormal Number Of Close Elections?

 

I decided to actually look at some data. Before doing so I set the parameters, looking at all House and Senate elections from 2006 through 2016 and defining very close elections as those in the House where the winner won by 1.5% or less of the total vote, and those in the Senate where the winner won by 1.0% or less of the total vote.

Below is the raw data. Hopefully some Ricochetti with more expertise can tell us whether there is anything statistically significant in the results.

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Vatican Bans Further Editions of Book on Viganò

 

Many decades ago, the Catholic Church banned Franco Zeffirelli’s film of Romeo & Juliet because the director showed the couple in bed after they had been married by Friar Lawrence and because audiences got a brief glimpse of Romeo’s rear end and split-second glimpse of Juliet’s breast. The ban was essentially toothless since it was more of a signal of displeasure from the Holy See but otherwise something that couldn’t prevent Catholics from seeing the film. My late father, a huge fan of the film, who was fluent in Italian, quite knowledgeable about Catholic theology and who converted to the faith during WWII, was incensed by the Church’s pronouncement. The film has stood the test of time and is a classic not merely for Shakespeare’s insightful and beautiful rhyming couplets but for the way in which Zeffirelli handled the material and his choice of actors, locations (in Verona, Italy where the legendary story of the star-crossed lovers is actually set), costumes, music (Nino Rota) and cinematography.

Fast-forward 50 years to the Catholic Church of What’s Happening Now where predatory homosexual priests, bishops, and cardinals who have raped children, sexually groomed seminarians, and engaged in drug-fueled orgies are protected and promoted and very rarely punished or defrocked; and where a militant gay clergy continues to aggressively push the Church (with a nod and a wink from Francis) to openly embrace an active gay lifestyle that runs counter to almost two thousand years of Church teaching.

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Thank You

 

View original artwork here.

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An Old Shirt, a Tattered Box, a Duty

 

I recently became the heir to an old tattered cardboard box sent to me by my uncle’s widow by way of my daughter who had stopped off to see her as she passed through the mountain states on a summer trip. The lady expressed how I “should be the one to have this” and I now have its contents tucked away in different “safe places.” The box contented what was left of “his war stuff.”

There were items that brought memories of when I would take some of them from the dresser drawers at my grandmother’s. One was the seemingly strange piece of German technology which made the weird sound as you pressed repeatedly on its small, geared lever. It fit in the palm of the hand and generated a light when the lever was pumped but it also produced that sound which my uncle recalled as having an almost haunting effect on a dark French night as the Nazis wandered just behind their lines.

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McSally vs. Sinema vs. Election Officials: Sunday Edition

 

With today’s vote dump in the Arizona US Senate race, Martha McSally’s chances are fading fast. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has again extended her lead, now by 32,640 votes, or 1.51%. At the end of Saturday’s count, she led by about 29,832 votes, or 1.41%.

The theory from McSally’s camp is that the votes counted on Sunday would help the Republican, but as we’ve seen, they most certainly did not.

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Our Election Fiascoes Are Not Due to Incompetence

 

 Nearly a week after the election ended in most of the country, it continues in Broward County, Florida. The Republicans won the first vote, but the Democrats are getting ever closer with each subsequent recount. This is the same Broward County that kept recounting votes in the Bush / Gore Presidential election. Bush won the first vote, and every subsequent recount, but (surprise!) the gap got narrower every time the votes were recounted. Every recount ended up with a better result for the Democrat. Every time. That’s a concerning coincidence. But what’s more concerning is that nobody was surprised. The media openly speculated whether this next recount would be enough to put Gore over the top – it never occurred to anybody that the next recount might result in more Republican votes. This casual presumption of voter fraud is scarier to me than the voter fraud itself.

Brenda Snipes (pictured above) has been the Broward County Supervisor of Elections since 2003. She got the job after her predecessor, Miriam Oliphant (pictured at right), was fired for “grave neglect, mismanagement and incompetence.” That is an extremely misleading description of what these ladies are doing. They are not incompetent. And they are certainly not guilty of neglect – they are doing their jobs with dedication and resolve. The problem is that their job is to lie and cheat, in order to see to it that the Democrat Party wins as many elections as possible. Describing their work as incompetent is to participate in the systemic lying and cheating of Ms. Snipes and Ms. Oliphant.

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Eliminating War?

 

Today is the 100th anniversary of the armistice, ending fighting in the Great War. It is the concluding centennial observance of a war that started in 1914, with the United States of American entering the war in 1917. Entering the war, there was talk of ending the threat of German militarism, ascendent since the Franco-Prussian War. In the face of the industrialized slaughter, the horror of the trenches, and with faith in man’s ability to mold more perfect institutions not yet confronted with the far larger horrors to come, people dreamed of a lasting peace. The phrase capturing these aspirations was “the war to end all wars.”

We see now, as the people, who first heard those words, knew by the 1930s, that the phase is as mockingly empty as the ancient cry, recorded in Genesis 11:4

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Time for a Sabbatical

 

I began writing political essays and columns in 1983. Full of that vigor which accompanies a guy barely 20 years old and on the verge of enlisting in the military, when I wasn’t busy making plans to save the world I was devouring every bit of conservative literature I could find in an effort to understand the historical and philosophical foundation for those ideas I found intuitively coherent and in happy harmony with the ideas that animated America’s founding.

The principle that in America the individual reigns supreme; that the individual may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; the historically radical concept that the very raison d’être of government is purely to secure the inalienable rights of the individual — these were things I felt in my bones. To see these ideas affirmed, explained, defended and advanced by great minds from Locke to Montesquieu, Madison to Tocqueville was intoxicating. To read the synthesis of these ideas and their application to the American experience by writers from Whittaker Chambers to Bill Buckley, Russell Kirk to Milton Friedman and so many more, was to bask not only in the accumulated wisdom of the best minds, but to arm myself intellectually, even as I would later arm myself physically (as a Security Forces troop), to defend the nation’s interests and ideals.

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Cronkite’s Shoes

 

View original artwork here.

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The Kavanaugh Report: Never Forget

 

Monday, November 5, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley released a 414-page report (a 28-page report with 386 pages of appendices) regarding the Judiciary Committee’s investigations of various 11th-hour allegations against now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings. It is the most comprehensive single document regarding the various allegations and the actual investigations undertaken and facts found by the Committee for each issue.

In addition to the Blasey-Ford allegations, the report includes the steps taken and all the information the Committee obtained regarding the Deborah Ramirez/Yale allegations, the Swetnick/Avenatti allegations, the Jane Doe allegations, and one or two others. For each and every one of these allegations, the Committee found “…no verifiable evidence to support…” the allegation. The report notes that criminal referrals to the Department of Justice have been made by the Committee regarding Swetnick/Avenatti and Jane Doe, and that the Committee is continuing to investigate others, such as Blasey-Ford’s long-time friend and former FBI agent Monica McLean, for possible criminal violations.

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McSally vs. Sinema vs. Election Officials: Saturday Edition

 

Another batch of votes came in for the Arizona US Senate race, and Kyrsten Sinema has again extended her lead over Martha McSally. Sinema now leads by 29,832 votes, or 1.41%. At the end of Thursday’s count, she led by about 20,000 votes, or 1.01%.

Based on where and when tomorrow’s votes were cast, McSally’s numbers should improve (at least according to her camp). However, she’s running out of room to maneuver. As it stands, McSally must win 55% of the remaining ~264,000 ballots to win.

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Quote of the Day: Two Little Words

 

Few things exercise the Ricochetti more than a spirited discussion of the woeful state of public education in the United States today, unless it’s despairing angst (is there any other kind?) over the direction of the country in general, the state of mind of its youth, or the general lack of gratitude for anyone or anything shown by anybody under the age of [pick a target demographic, probably based on your own state of middling-to-advanced geezerhood]. Sometimes, it seems that there’s nothing we like better than a good, and dreary, moan about the state of things.

So, just to be contrary, and with the recognition that, perhaps I’m a lone voice crying in the wilderness (wouldn’t be the first time, and probably not the last), or that, perhaps, my family has been lucky to have tapped into the one-and-only decent public school system in the country (unlikely that, I can’t help thinking), I’d like to shower today’s quote of the day on a little institution in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania: “Thank you,” Charles W. Longer Elementary School (the school appears to have been named after a local educator who served for many years as the superintendent of the district. Thank you, Charles W. Longer, himself.)

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Women for Progress

 

There has been much concern over the election about the suburban women vote. Over the course of the last two years, this demographic has waxed and waned in its support for Republicans and Trump. Many cite a growing distaste for Trump’s demeanor as the reason for their displeasure, but this appears to be more of a guess. While its true, women as a whole have increasingly grown disapproving of Trump’s job performance, the NPR/Marist poll that these interpretations are relying on hardly point to Trump’s demeanor for a growing disapproval among suburban women. This is the only poll I have found cited since Rasmussen reported the uptick from the Kavanaugh Affair.

The Suburban Woman Defined

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A Visit to the Wende Museum of the Cold War

 

Thursday was the 80th anniversary of the Kristallnacht episode of Nazi anti-Semitic terror, their final no-going-back moment only two years after Germany showing its best face to the world during the Berlin Olympics. It was also the 29th anniversary of the breaching of the Berlin Wall. November 9 is a big deal in history.

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