Democrats’ Ukraine Problem


The impeachment hearings are more or less just a sideshow for Democrats; there’s no way they’re going to actually remove President Trump from office. They are an attempt to placate a base that wants blood, even if the only blood they get from the Trump administration will be a papercut. Democrats have gravely miscalculated at what cost bringing the sordid Ukraine situation into public view: the liability it creates for their top candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden. Today Biden was asked about the situation and, well, he’s going to need to work on his response over the next ten months if he has a prayer.

Psychiatrists Need an Intervention


Goldwater TrumpThis is shaping up to be another very instructive week, as more people who most Americans used to take somewhat seriously dash their reputations on the rocks of reality. Consider the really important, consequential stuff that happened in London this week, laid out in “‘Interagency Consensus DIME’ Not Worth a Plugged Nickel on NATO” and “Real Leadership, Real Statesmanship: President Trump at NATO.” Contrast the actual, on camera, behavior and results of President Donald J. Trump with the fevered fantasy of credentialed quacks; “mental health professionals” who used the Goldwater Rule for kindling on the bonfire of their hate for us and our president:

In an email forwarded to PJ Media, three psychiatrists with the coalition ask other psychiatrists to sign on to a petition to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee to include a statement on Trump’s supposed mental instability into the official record of the impeachment inquiry.

Now, pay very close attention to the ringleaders’ affiliations [emphasis added]:

Stanford Law Professor’s Deplorables Seminar 101


Why are Leftist women so angry? Obviously trying to nullify 60 million or so votes is hard work, I get that. I watched the entire hearing today and there were moments that my eye’s started to glaze over several times during this sideshow. Jonathan Turley smiled at times, but the three Leftist activist law professors were grim and humorless. They were hardly happy warriors. They were actually poster children for recreational marijuana use and a government-provided Lava Lamp. Stare at the lamp, take a deep breath, and relax. Have another brownie.

Yep, I’m a deplorable, but I know when I’m being fed nonsense. My favorite moment was when Barron Trump was dragged into the fray. This woman has some serious anger issues. Notre Dame has Law Professor Amy Coney Barrett, Stanford has Pamela Karlan. Remember that when your kid wants to go to a law school.

The Sound of the Season


While watching the 876th remake of the first Hallmark “original” Christmas film, I got to thinking about the two men responsible for the modern sound of the holiday season. The first one is obvious. When Irving Berlin sat down and penned White Christmas (somewhere between 1938 and 1941, nobody is really quite sure) he ushered in the flood of the secular Christmas song. While Santa Claus is Coming to Town was released years earlier in 1934, it was Berlin’s wartime ballad of longing, combined with the baritone of Bing Crosby, that propelled the genre to stratospheric heights.

The other would toil away in relative obscurity as a pianist in jazz clubs around his native San Francisco until he penned a modest hit called Cast Your Fate to the Wind which won the 1963 Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition. Lee Mendelson, an independent television producer who was putting together a documentary on “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz, heard Cast playing on a taxi cab radio. He liked what he heard and tracked the composer down through the jazz critic of the San Francisco Chronicle and asked him to score his film.

Real Leadership, Real Statesmanship: President Trump at NATO


Trump and StoltenbergWhile lots of us engage in the guilty pleasure of watching selective clips of our favorite Congressional actors in the latest kabuki theater, we might profit more from considering some of the sights and sounds coming from the NATO 70th anniversary meeting of heads of state. I especially invite your attention to two official videos, one of President Trump meeting before the press with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and the other of the “2 Percenters” lunch meeting. Relevant excerpts from the transcripts appear below.*

Watch two mature adults have a real discussion before a real press corps. Notice that President Trump is defending NATO as a useful vehicle for the mutual defense of nations’ interests. Consider that Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is the former Prime Minister of Norway, not a career eurocrat. Listen to both men deal carefully with both the nature of threats and the natural disagreements even among friendly nations, where each nation operates from its own interests. President Trump says: “I love that you say that NATO is changing as the world is changing.” See Stoltenberg emphasis that NATO members have (under pressure from President Trump) made over 100 billion dollars worth of increases in military defense spending. Watch both men address the challenges of both China and Islamist terrorism.

Coming from a position of renewed resolve, shown in increased military defense spending, President Trump and the NATO Secretary-General both say that talking with Russia is important. President Trump may have made news at the end of the meeting with his confirmation that there is mutual interest in a new arms control agreement including not only Russia but also China. Secretary-General Stoltenberg affirmed that President Trump was right to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, because Russia violated it and we cannot have meaningful agreements where one party violates the terms. President Trump then coolly laid out the prospect of a new deal that addresses current realities, including the newest ICBM and high speed cruise missile forces in China.

This episode begins with a liturgical piece by James MacMillan—a living composer—and ends with another liturgical piece by Wynton Marsalis—another living composer. In between, you’ve got some Saint-Saëns, some Sibelius, and some other music. Jay says some provocative—possibly offensive—things about a couple of cello concertos. Otherwise, it’s sweetness and light, mainly. A good show.

Tracks played:

Spencer: The Weariness of Freedom and Comfort


“[E]veryone has found how even the best easy chair, at first rejoiced in, becomes after many hours intolerable; and change to a hard seat, previously occupied and rejected, seems for a time to be a great relief. It is the same with incorporated humanity. Having by long struggles emancipated itself from the hard discipline of the ancient régime, and having discovered that the new régime into which it has grown, though relatively easy, is not without stresses and pains, its impatience with these prompts the wish to try another system: which other system is, in principle if not in appearance, the same as that which during past generations was escaped from with much rejoicing.” — Herbert Spencer, “The Man versus the State.” Apple Books.

Spencer was speaking of the desire of the populace which, once capitalism had liberated it for a long period of time from slavery and poverty, found itself longing for slavery. It is what’s happening in US politics today.

Quote of the Day: Groupthink


“If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” — Gen. George S. Patton

Yesterday YouTube suggested that I would like The Mark Steyn Show Climate Change Forum, so I watched it. Whether it’s creepy that YouTube put this video at the top of my feed the day after I had been writing on Ricochet about climate change in general and the website of a panel member in particular, I’ll leave for others to decide. The panel discussion included a lot about how difficult it is for people to speak up or challenge the uniform thinking of their peers.

Memories: Days of Wine and Roses


My mom and dad grew up around moonshine whiskey and home-brewed beer in Oklahoma, a dry state at the time. Liquor may have been illegal, but of course there was still plenty of it sloshing around. In fact, in one of my first memories —I can see it clearly even now, seventy-five years later— I was sitting with my sister in the backseat of our 1939 Nash Ambassador while my dad drove down a dirt road looking for a moonshiner he had heard about.

That kind of environment, unhappily, produces more than its share of problem drinkers, among whom I count most members of my family, aunts and uncles included.

“Interagency Consensus” DIME Not Worth a Plugged Nickel on NATO


NATO at 70Everyone in the vaunted “interagency,” is well aware of the concept of the instruments of national power. The old Army War College acronym is “DIME,” for diplomatic, informational, military, and economic tools. You will notice that each tends to rest primarily in different departments, different agencies in the “interagency.” This would be why you need multiple agencies to coordinate rather than always operating “in their own lane.”

Just as Madison Avenue is best at selling Madison Avenue, so too the permanent bureaucracy and its affiliates, allies, patrons, and petitioners all affirm competent and selfless expertise in the face of all evidence. Indeed, the reverence for the “foreign policy consensus” evokes the British Parliament’s ritual prostration before the NHS. Thank God that we finally have a president who feels no such compulsion, the first such since Ronald Reagan.

H.R. McMasters showed real professionalism in his honchoing of President Trump’s National Security Strategy. He actually ensured the “interagency” worked to produce a coordinated draft that conformed to the Commander in Chief’s clear intent, where “ commander’s intent” is a military term of art for guidance that must be fully supported. This baseline document was actually published within the first year of President Trump’s administration.

Once Upon a Spinning-Wheel (Part 6): Out of the Frying Pan


Nessa woke with a start. She’d been having the strangest dream …

She glanced around the hut she was in. Outside, night had fallen, or near enough, and there was a cool breeze wafting in through barred bamboo windows. That, and her hands and ankles had been tied together by the islanders who’d taken her prisoner, bound tightly around with some sort of jungle creeper (which had so far withstood all attempts to gnaw, wriggle out of, or cut through it). Her head felt muzzy as she blinked more awake and tried to remember.

Book Recs for a Recent Catholic


I have recently decided I want to be Catholic after a lifetime of protesting (being Protestant, not being an anti-theist) and am looking for some great books on the history of the Catholic church, Catholic philosophy, Catholic apologia, etc. I figured Ricochet would be a good place to ask, given the founder and community here. S o what would you guys recommend?

For anyone wondering what prompted the change, Cupid’s arrow found its mark and I’m engaged to a wonderful Catholic girl and I want to raise our future children in the faith.

Is the Opioid Crisis Mainly a Story of ‘Late Capitalism’ or Something More Complicated?


For capitalism’s critics, the opioid crisis is a powerful witness for the prosecution. They charge that inequality, stagnant wages, immobility, job loss — the four horsemen of the neoliberalism endgame — have generated a massive surge in “deaths of despair,” especially from overdoses of opioid drugs. Case closed.

But a new NBER working paper “Origins of the Opioid Crisis and Its Enduring Impacts” suggests a different theory of the case, one that focuses on a supply rather than demand explanation.

From the paper (bold by me):

Can I Tell You a (Holiday) Story?


I just got a text from my childhood best friend. She texted three pictures from our other childhood best friend. This time of year, people reconnect, share stories, and think of their lives in context — as in the past, present, and future. Let me tell you a story:

I recognized the older sister, the lovely Mary Beth. She was beautiful, blonde, and so talented. Growing up, I was constantly at my friend Kitty’s house. They lived on the next street over, easily accessible through the alley. I asked Mary Beth to make me a dress. I coveted Mary Beth’s navy and black velvet dresses with lace collars. She could sew anything. I found a pink paisley material and she whipped up a gorgeous mini-dress with bell sleeves. I strutted into grade school and got sent home because it was too short. My best friend Kitty lent me her Maxi-coat; so cool that I’d throw off my plain nothing, kick off my ugly snow boots, and put on that beautiful wool coat that dragged the ground. I slipped and struggled over the ice and snow to school because the coat had to have pretty shoes under it. So vain … Wait – did I tell you Mary Beth was deaf? She taught me sign language. Kitty and her baby sister could hear.

The three texted pictures included Mrs. Kitty and my friend Kitty. I was told Mrs. Kitty passed away last year at 91. Both were named Kathryn. This family burns deep into my past memory. Both parents could hear, but five out of seven kids were deaf. Their doors were never locked. You could pop in for lunch or dinner, shoes off. One child, Barry, used to strut around and put on shows for us and make us laugh. He turned out to be gay – no one cared. Through their church, I met Godsen, a guest from Africa. I saw him in the backyard in a white robe and tall red hat, as black as night. I was curious and introduced myself. He told me about his country.

The Geography of Reason


The Philosopher Aristotle divided persuasion into three parts: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Traditionally, we have thought of them as three separate modes of persuasion, I propose we think of them as three connected parts of shaping one’s geography of reason.

First, some definitions:

Ethos (Nature) is the word from which we get Ethnicity (natural group of people) and is traditionally thought of as persuasion by credibility. For example, doctors are credible so we are persuaded to take their advice on medicine. The criticism of Ethos is that it is an “Appeal to authority” which is a logical fallacy that lends people to say it is inferior.

A Jewish man hit in the face with a brick. An observant woman’s wig pulled off her head. An Orthodox mother and her baby assaulted in the street.

These incidents took place not in 19th-century Russia or pre-war Germany, but in Brooklyn—which has one of the densest Jewish populations in America—in 2019. The recent spike in anti-Semitic attacks in New York against the most visibly Jewish members of our community, the ultra-Orthodox, is a worrying sign in a nation experiencing rising levels of Jew-hatred. Yet the mainstream press and many on the political Left, groups otherwise worried about the supposed rise of racism and bigotry in America, seem blithely unconcerned.

This week on the United Kingdom’s Most Trusted Podcast®, James Delingpole and Toby “Tory Tosser” Young get sweaty and nervous about Britain’s forthcoming election. And with good reason: The Electoral Calculus Projections opened with a Tory majority of 72 and now it’s down to 34. The 12th of December is coming fast.

They also discuss Toby’s unpleasant experience debating at Durham University and Hugh Grant’s intervention in the election. Finally they turn their attention to the culture – specifically The Irishman, which they both hated.

Does Bernie Sanders Have a Breaking Point with Linda Sarsour?


It wasn’t hard to see the writing on the wall with Linda Sarsour, a former member of the Women’s March and hardcore progressive Lefty. In a column for the Jewish progressive paper The Forward nearly three years ago I warned that the Women’s March should be careful of the company they were keeping; that the warning signs were plain for anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention. Sarsour had a Jew problem then, and she has a Jew problem now. Here’s the latest:

Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This


First, let me say that this morning was not the end of the world. But I could not possibly have packed in more upset, frustration, or mishaps than I experienced this morning. And it all happened in the first half-hour of waking up.

My clock radio went off at 6:40 a.m. Earlier in the day, I had corrected the volume because the volume had been so soft the morning before that I almost didn’t hear it go off.

Mothers and Fathers


My number four son is now a police officer, a few months into his first year on the job. He spends his evenings and nights driving his patrol car around a New England city, staying awake, keeping the peace.

He tells me that about once a week he responds to a domestic call involving a minor. With few exceptions, they’re variations on the same theme: a single mother with one child, a son, who is unruly and defiant and whom she can’t control. My son tells me that his department responds to at least one of these every day — this in a relatively small city.

Delayed Innovation


Sometimes the best thing that can happen to an inventor is for him to be ignored.

Take for example German archery enthusiast Jörg Sprave. He pitched his bow designs to manufacturers for years. None purchased his plans. But Sprave did not idly wait for broader success. He continued to iterate until building something he wished he had thought of years ago. 

Three Melancholy Poems


I haven’t been around here for quite awhile while I dealt with some things. Mostly, politics was driving me crazy so I stepped out for a bit. I didn’t want to make a big explanatory exit, so I just left … and now I’m back.

It’s been quite a year. While there have been many happy occasions—one son married, another son returned home after two years in Tijuana—I’ve also faced plenty of personal dissappointment and the feeling that little bits of my heart were gradually being stripped away. On the plus side, I’ve done a lot of writing and it looks like I’ll probably publish another volume of poetry by the end of next year. Today I’m sharing three more personal poems that won’t be included in that volume. They kind of ecompass the tectonic shifts in my world this year.