Mushrooms Elbow One Another for Living Space, Bob Eats a Starbucks Puppuccino, and We See Our End in the Falling Leaves

 

I have so few adventures these days that even the smallest blip in my daily routine prompts me to examine that blip from all sides to see if I can milk it for some kind of Ricochet post.

I just like to write.  Politics would seem to be a natural topic to write about for a site filled with passionate conservatives, but I just can’t bear to write about politics.  I love to read about politics on Ricochet, especially those posts that expose the foolish and sometimes anti-American decisions that have marked Biden’s tenure thus far.  I enjoy seeing fools get their comeuppance, especially those on the Left.  But writing about hardcore politics is just not my jam.

Welcome to the Party, Pal!

 

Polimath (and others) are feeling the same oppressive weight of the government boot on their necks that America’s gun owners have been feeling ever since the introduction of the Sullivan Act.

“Just give up a little bit of your rights, and you’ll make the rest of us feel safer” has been the motto of the gun control movement since day one. Now that same logic, (if you want to equate emotion of feeling safe as logic) is being applied to public health as a whole, and people aren’t liking what they’re hearing.

In Appreciation of Google Maps

 

I use Google Maps nearly every single day. Some days it’s for productive reasons, some days it’s for entertainment. If someone mentions a place I’ve never heard of, I explore it on Maps. Traveling? I browse Maps looking for places to eat, landmarks, unique shops, etc. Need to measure the distance between one place and another? Maps. Need to count the blades on the cooling tower fan behind the power plant I help manage? Maps. Need help surveying open areas or where utilities may be able to be constructed? You guessed it.

I haven’t even mentioned Google Street View. James Lileks calls it the “greatest documentary project of the 21st century.” I think that might be underselling it. I can spend countless hours virtually traveling the world, through distance and time.

In Praise of Muzak

 

When I was a youth, I thought “muzak” was a generic term of contempt, invented for the airy, tranquilizing, impersonal sounds that wafted from tinny speakers in the elevators and grocery stores. Imagine my surprise: It was a company that beamed mood music to its clients, who wanted to create a content and anesthetized climate. It didn’t take long before a movie could tell you everything you needed to know about a place or its inhabitants by using the soft wash of “easy listening,” playing in the background just above the threshold of perception. Do not trust these people! They are part of the Establishment! The do-not-fold-spindle-mutilate punch-card war machine with its plastic poisons! They are frightened by rock and roll, although the daughter of the uptight dentist is probably cool!

They had a point. Muzak could be awful, but it revealed the flaws of the source material. I remember hearing “A Horse With No Name” in Muzak arrangement, and it was hilarious; I could imagine the studio violinists sawing away at those two notes and thinking this is what I went to Julliard for. 

An Ambitious Fiction: We Hold These Truths …

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

More beautiful words were never written. But if the gentlemen who penned our Declaration of Independence intended that “We” to refer to the nascent America as a whole, rather than to themselves only, then it’s largely fiction.

It’s episode 350! The King of Stuff welcomes Mark Hemingway, co-author of a new bestseller with his wife Mollie. Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections reveals how the media, big tech, and Democratic operatives manipulated coverage, Covid, and election laws to take the White House. Mark Hemingway is a senior writer at RealClearInvestigations and has been published in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Weekly Standard, and more.

Jon and Mark wrap up the show with a music chat. Subscribe to the King of Stuff Spotify playlist featuring picks from the show.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with David Reynolds, a Distinguished Professor of English and History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times, selected as one of the Top Ten Books of the Year by The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Professor Reynolds shares what teachers and students alike should know about the culture of Civil War America, primary education in that era, and the wide variety of influences on Lincoln’s thinking and leadership. They delve into the most bitterly contentious political topics of Lincoln’s time, including slavery, states’ rights, trade tariffs, and women’s rights, and how the 16th president addressed the nation’s many political divisions. They also explore how Lincoln used his rustic image to shape his public persona and appeal to voters; and how he marshaled his rhetorical talent, invoking biblical language and the ideals of the American founding, to win the war, preserve the Union, and ultimately abolish slavery. Professor Reynolds concludes with a reading from his biography.

Stories of the WeekWashington Post columnist Jay Mathews recognizes the work of Will Fitzhugh, founder of The Concord Review, to encourage students’ interest in historical fiction and reward long-form research and writing. A new project of the Teagle Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities promises to restore the humanities in undergraduate education.

Quote of the Day: The Tragedy of Liberty

 

There are those who assert that revolution has swept the United States. That is not true. But there are some who are trying to bring it about. At least they are following the vocal technique which has led elsewhere to the tragedy of Liberty. Their slogans; their promise of Utopia; their denunciation of individual wickednesses as if these were the wards of Liberty; their misrepresentation  of deep-seated causes; their will to destruction of confidence and consequent disorganization in order to justify action; their stirring of class feeling and hatred; their will to clip and atrophy the legislative arm; their resentment of critic; their chatter of boycott, of threat and of force—all are typical enough of the methods of more violent action.

— Herbert Hoover, “The Challenge to Liberty”

In the debut episode of Closer Consideration, Jay talks with Yuval Levin, the director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the Editor-in-Chief of National Affairs. Yuval and Jay discuss institutions in the United States, their importance in society, why trust in them is so low and what people can do on their own to help restore faith and trust in instiutions.

Vaccine Mandates, Abortion, and ‘Send More Cops’

 

I’ve been reliably informed by many thoughtful, “principled conservatives” that where employer prerogatives and individual rights are in conflict, the former should prevail. If an employer mandates employees to be vaccinated under penalty of termination, then the employer is exercising its prerogative, and the employee must choose between jab or job.

So, what happens when an employer orders an employee to have an abortion? This is not a hypothetical.

That’s Not How It Was Supposed to Happen. Group Writing: Surprise!

 

Aug. 15, 1981.

I’m waiting at the front of the church for her to walk down the aisle for our wedding. But I only met her 20 months ago. And for all but seven of those months, we were a thousand miles apart. That’s not how it was supposed to happen. I always knew that I would need to know a girl for several years (I figured about five years ought to suffice) to be sure she was the one to marry. Surprise! Met Dec. 26, 1979. Engaged September 1980. Marrying Aug. 15, 1981. Isn’t that too fast for me?

A Catholic MP Dies in a Church Without the Last Rites in Post-Christian Britain

 

Image

Last Friday, David Amess, a member of Parliament (equivalent of a U.S. congressman) for the U.K. parliamentary seat of Southend West, was brutally murdered when he was attending his local constituency ‘s surgery (meeting with local voters) in a Methodist church. His suspected murderer, a likely Islamist Britain, was arrested at the scene and is right now awaiting charges.

Amess was an MP of many traits: 69 years of age, a well-liked member of Parliament by members of all political views, married, a father of five, a Conservative, and a Roman Catholic.

Remembering Lot’s Wife with Every Offering

 

Sodom is being destroyed. Lot and his family are fleeing, and they have been strictly instructed to not look back. But Lot’s wife, for one reason or another, cannot control herself, and she is famously turned into a pillar of salt.

It sounds like a tragic but odd, and perhaps even irrelevant, story. After all, what can we learn from this vignette?

Filming on Location, 1971

 

Why are those people in this crowded photo staring at you so intently? There’s a camera, so it’s a film shoot. For clues, look at the general surroundings. It’s an industrial area of New York. The styles of the cars, haircuts and clothes suggest the very early ‘70s. The man pointing a light meter at you is Gordon Willis. The anxious-looking man with the bushy beard is Francis Coppola. It’s the spring of 1971, fifty years ago, and you’re an actor in “The Godfather”. You have no idea what audiences will think of the finished film. In truth, neither do Gordy or Francis.

Acting is always tougher than it looks, and doing it in the streets, with crowds behind barricades, is often the toughest of all. On a sound stage, or on Broadway, you don’t have to outshout jets landing at La Guardia, sanitation men filling garbage trucks, sirens, dogs, or drunks yelling, “Where’s Brando?” When that camera rolls, you’re supposed to shut out all that you see and hear in front of you, and inhabit the mind of a mafia don’s son in December 1945.

At the North Carolina State Fair

 

We went to the North Carolina State Fair on Sunday. This is something we do every year, and I’ve always seen it as the official beginning of fall. Last year’s fair was canceled, so this was a welcome return to the tradition. I was delighted that the weather turned cooler just in time for our visit, so it actually felt like fall.

Attendance was down a bit, so it wasn’t terribly crowded, but it certainly wasn’t a ghost town.

Democrats and the Politics of Scarcity

 

One chilly night, the president lowered the White House thermostat, put on a cardigan, and gave the American people a stern talking-to. We enjoyed too much abundance for too long and it was time to pay for our profligacy.

“The oil and natural gas that we rely on for 75 percent of our energy are simply running out,” Jimmy Carter said in 1977. “We could use up all the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.” The only way to prevent catastrophe was “strict conservation” and a willingness to “make sacrifices.”

And the Rest

 

There was a small, soft sound. It was a sound that clung to the shadows for dear life, trying to pull them round it like a curtain. Or a blanket. If tears could make a sound, this is what they would sound like – that is, if they were that special kind of tears that don’t know how to stop. Please, they seemed to say, please. I can’t do this anymore. Please, someone, anyone, please let it end. Please let it stop. I want to wake up now.

If you were looking on, it’d be round about now you’d notice the shadows – the way some of them seemed deeper somehow than natural shadows had any right to be. If you had the right kind of hearing, you might even be able to hear what they were saying. Not many people had that kind of hearing, outside of the curtain of shadows – and those inside only heard what the shadows wanted them to hear, reshaping the world around them into a colder, darker, infinitely lonelier place.

Glad Someone Finally Said It

 

Blastfax kudos to Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) for coming out and saying what everybody knows is true but nobody wants to admit.

We are living with exactly what Democrats want.
They want higher gas prices.
They want open borders.
They want massive spending.
They want to make people dependent on government.

Yes, this is what Democrats want. All of it. And they also want the Government to monitor your bank account, the Government to tax you for every mile you drive, the Government to indoctrinate your children that white people are responsible for every injustice in the world, and the Government to label you a domestic terrorist if you speak up against any of it. (OK, to be fair, an awful lot of Republicans want open borders and massive spending, too.) They would also be perfectly happy to keep Covid restrictions in place forever, and, to those who are complaining about the scarcity and high cost of consumer goods, the Democrats and the Washington Post, have a simple message: “Stop complaining and lower your expectations, you peasants.”

QOTD: Is This Quote Still True?

 

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. — Hanlon’s razor.

In saner times, Hanlon’s razor would be a reliable guide to understanding current events. But today, I’m not so sure. I’m not a conspiracy theorist — yet — but I’m thinking of taking it up.

A Happy Warrior?

 

I want to be a happy warrior.

I’m greatly troubled by the state of our country. I know that I’m not alone in this. I’ve found it easy to lose hope, at least briefly. But I worry that if I give in to the counsel of despair, I won’t be able to find the motivation to make whatever small contribution may be within my power.

How Should We Talk to Eve?

 

I used to wonder there wasn’t another character present to argue against the fruit-eating option in the story of the Garden of Eden. Maybe an angel or some talking animal to counter the serpent’s smooth rap about becoming like gods or whatever he was selling. But then I thought more about it and realized that it probably would not have worked. The choice as Eve saw it was a pretty good status quo versus a fantastic upgrade with no downside. Apparently, under the applicable disclosure rules, the no-apple side could not really present the whole pain-suffering-outside-of-the-garden as an outcome. The garden is great, and you could even make it better with what you are learning. Not a sexy alternative to being like gods when you look at it. The other relevant argument: Consider the sources here: the one who said don’t eat it versus some sketchy, verbose reptile. The good guys would likely lose on this point because the snake’s identity/criminal record was apparently also inadmissible.

We tend to unfairly dump on Eve and her idiot husband, but that is hypocritical in that many of us continue to go for the magic apple instead of just making the garden better. We still have not learned that lesson. In the political realm, the snake promises us utopia and gives us the USSR or Venezuela. On only a slightly smaller scale of stupidity, our urban populations continually vote for/legislate/regulate in the name of a grand vision of social justice and instead wind up with horrific public housing, crime, and parks full of homeless addicts and schizophrenics. Urban America has left the garden.

Jason Miller, Communications Director for Trump/Pence at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, NJ in Nov. 2016 (Photo: a katz / Shutterstock)

Jason Miller is a longtime GOP operative. He witnessed Donald Trump’s rise to the White House, first as an opponent working for Sen. Ted Cruz (R – TEX) and then as the spokesman for his campaign after he won the nomination.

Supreme Court Commission Comes Through

 

On April 9, President Biden issued an executive order to form a bipartisan presidential commission to examine possible reforms to the United States Supreme Court. The call came at the same time as a strong progressive push to expand the size of the court in order to allow the Democrats—with their wafer-thin control of the Senate—to add perhaps as many as four justices to the court. The plan was to convert a six-three Republican majority into a seven-six Democratic majority—assuming that the president could fill four seats with the midyear elections looming.

No more. After the issuance of the commission’s preliminary draft report, it seems that the push to “pack the court” is over. In general, the commission is to be highly commended for its preliminary work. Its exhaustive draft report has none of the signs of a political screed. Its long, thorough discussions are largely free of the inflammatory rhetoric that mars so much of the partisan debate on the role of the court. The report is well-written, scrupulously documented, and filled with arguments that start with “on the one hand,” only to move adroitly to address the issues “on the other hand.” Just that stylistic choice offers a strong sign that no controversial reform will occur. Meddling with Supreme Court tradition and practice requires a solid consensus about what is broken and an equally solid conviction of what counts as an appropriate cure.

On the court-packing issue, it is quite clear that the consensus is against the move. Indeed, I was both somewhat surprised and highly pleased with the carefulness of many of the major institutional submissions. The American Civil Liberties Union has, to say the least, taken positions that are different from mine on a wide number of issues, such as (in alphabetical order) affirmative action, abortion rights, campaign finance, and voting rights, to name a few. But the thoughtful submission by its national legal director, David Cole, sounded more like the ACLU of old, insisting that the dominant role of the courts is to protect those “unable to protect themselves through the political process,” which promptly led it to be “skeptical of proposals for court reform that would risk further politicizing the court or the processes for the selection of justices, such as proposal to increase the court’s size.”