ACF #33: Eyes Wide Shut


Friends, here’s our first Kubrick conversation–his last movie, Eyes Wide Shut, about the erotic temptations Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, I mean their characters, have to withstand at the turn of the millennium and how the spirit of Christmas might be replaced by a shocking and elusive conspiracy of elite perverts who dedicate themselves to restoring paganism!

Tragedy: Four (Unarmed?) French Police Die


Let’s hope this tragic event was due to French rules forbidding gendarmes from carrying guns in their offices. At least that would make this terrible incident comprehensible. When I lived in France, the French gendarmes (local police) and the national quasi-military police were always armed, often heavily. Of course, the terrorism was from both the left and Islamists, or the occasional Iranian sponsored death squad.

France still does not understand it is no different from the rest of the world, subject to terrorism from all quarters, not to mention mental illness. Knives are abundant, guns remain available despite strict control, and cars and lorries packed with explosifs sont disponible.

When I lived in Japan, where almost all civilian guns are banned, I recall attacks on police and civilians by the mentally ill, disgruntled workers, or angry husbands using abundant knives and seppaku wakizashi. The Yakuza used ropes, strait razors, drowning, asphyxiation by plastic bag, starvation, car trunks, garroting, pedestrian rundowns by vehicle, hatchets, hammers, and of course, plentiful illegal guns to make a point.  The police and Yakuza had an understanding: guns were to be used sparingly.

Converting Campaign Success Into Policy Success


Good old AM talk radio had me going once again this morning. My favorite morning host, Dan Proft, was talking with Ross Douthat when I got into the car and started my commute. One of the first things that pierced into my consciousness, through the guy doing 25mph in a 40mph zone and the woman creeping out into the intersection of the four way stop before it was her turn, was Ross Douthat talking about how good the Trump campaign was in talking about issues that connected with the voters. He quickly went on to add, though, that Trump hasn’t been good at converting campaign success into good policy.

I pulled over. If anyone had been looking at me they probably would have thought I was having a hands-free conversation with someone on my cell phone. In reality, I was having a one-sided discussion (heated discussion) with my radio.

Three Cheers for Governor Abbott


Yesterday, October 2, 2019 Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to Austin’s mayor demanding the mayor do something about Austin’s homeless problem. It has been out of control since the City Council passed a law legalizing overnight camping everywhere – except in front of City of Austin offices. As a result, Austin has been turning into San Francisco South-Central.

And if the mayor blows off the Governor? Abbott pledges to use state authority to clean up Austin if the mayor fails to solve the problem by November 1.

Autumn Colors: The Color of Law, an in-depth review


When people are free to associate as they please, we can’t be surprised if they sometimes self-segregate. People self-sort along many affinities, including ethnic affinities. This is what lawyers call de facto segregation, and it’s none of the law’s business. De jure segregation — segregation imposed by law, including segregation promoted by public policy — is, on the other hand, very much the law’s business.

In 1866, Congress passed a Civil Rights Act (the 1866 CRA) asserting the equal rights of blacks before the law, including property rights, and real-estate rights in particular. The 1866 CRA warned

Now the Power Company is Judging Me


As an adult, you begin to understand more about some of the rules that your parents enforced.  For example, when you flipped the wall switch, the lights came on. I knew not to leave the light on when I left the room, because my parents had to pay for the power that made the light come on. We children were tasked with not wasting electricity,  because I knew that we paid money for it, so shutting off the light when you left the room was the rule.

But, not one time do I recall hearing my parents fuss about anything to do with this utility, except for whatever money they were required to pay to maintain the service.

The Socialist Slow Dance


As conservatives we accept the fact that people are flawed, often fatally so, but we also understand that people are capable of greatness.  The system of governance we embrace values personal liberty and independence over any concentration of authority.  It relies upon the virtue, kindness and charity of those who flourish to care for those in need.  We also know that power; that is the ability to limit liberty and take property, lies inherently with those in charge of any government and thus, we must dilute and limit the mandates, powers and levers of government.  If we do not, those in charge of government will eventually succumb to temptation and promote expansion of the state and their authority, leading inevitably to tyranny.

Capitalism, by itself, did not bring about the great development of the United States of America.  Capitalism, an inherently decentralized economic model that mirrors our decentralized model of political authority, combined with liberty, limited governance, rule of law and property rights, plus human innovation and endeavor, together led to our country’s amazing rise.  We are, in fact, an exceptional nation, by every conceivable measure, the richest, most powerful and most generous nation that has ever existed in history.

Immortally Stupid


Kevin D. Williamson once wrote that when the government does stupid, it does immortally stupid. In a concerted effort to prove him right, the government is cranking up its sub-prime mortgage machine again. According to The Washington Post:

In 2019, there is more government-backed housing debt than at any other point in U.S. history, according to data from the Urban Institute. Taxpayers are shouldering much of the risk, while a growing number of homeowners face debt payments that amount to nearly half of their monthly income, a threshold many experts consider too steep.

Trick or Treat, then and now


I am old enough to remember when…we kids trooped around our neighborhood collecting candy from the neighbors. We mostly wore homemade costumes. Unless there was an old enough family child, our father was riding herd, while Mom held down the fort and doled out the candy to other little monsters, in accordance with her rules. Over the years, and with our incredible surge in material wealth, Halloween became an increasingly adult event, with slutty [occupation here] outfits and other costumes in adult sizes sold or rented from seasonal party stores.

For the past several years, yours truly has attended an adults-only party, but not like that. A couple with whom I am friends has a house party without the bacchanalia atmosphere. Yes, it is a costume party, a costume party with a difference.

Sometimes the party is without a costume theme, and sometimes everyone is challenged to pick a costume within a theme. A theme like, say, MST3K. Now I’m not saying we’re a bunch of geeks, but I did show up as Joel, after pulling together Gismonics Institute insignia to attach to my old Army coveralls, with a nametape that furthered the joke. And most people got the references.

Sometimes it’s like herding cats but we finally got James and Toby together, a couple of days late but well worth the wait. On this episode Toby reports back about his recent trip to the Conservative Party Conference and how it was overshadowed by groping allegations against the Prime Minister.

Then we catch up on the latest stories emanating from inside the halls of the BBC, aka, “a nest of poisonous Communist vipers,” the Royal Shakespeare Company’s shunning of BP’s £7.5 million grant in the name of EcoWokeness, and then they cover the Royals’ lawsuit against The Mail for publishing a note to the Duchess of Sussex from her father.

A Reminder: Google lies


DuckDuckGo over GoogleRemember the side-by-side search engine results in the 2016 election? Google has not changed, and if anything, they have gone from thumbs to whole hands all over the balance of search results. Here are the results for a phrase that might produce factual results unhelpful to Google and their fellow Democrats:

“Democrats asked Ukraine to investigate Trump” *

Google gives us this ordered list:

Coming Home to the US of A


In 1995-96 I took a one-year sabbatical in New Zealand with my wife and two teenage sons. We spent the year in Christchurch. The south island is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, and the people were the nicest, kindest I’ve ever met. It was a great year, and I encourage everyone to go there.

For the last month of our stay a family friend from the states, a woman in her 50s, came to stay with us. Just today my wife was going through some old papers and found a list that our friend had written of reasons why we should all be glad to be going home, back to the good old USA. Unfortunately for her, her visit was in August, the dead of New Zealand winter. Here is her list:

All Roe all the time


I think there are a lot of shaky reasons for the Democrat party to stamp their feet and scream “Impeach!.” But this has never happened from the inauguration on. Nor has the justification ever been as flimsy. We had about two weeks between the Mueller report (and the subsequent pronouncements that it was an incomplete whitewash) before we were hearing about impeaching Kavanaugh. I cannot remember ever hearing a sincere call for the impeachment of a sitting Supreme Court justice. Then we get the Ukraine reasoning (BTW, according to Biden, Obama apparently consented to Joe threatening the Ukrainians on behalf of Hunter, so there’s no principle involved.) And the beat goes on.

Democrat resistance to impeachment is theater. Pelosi could strangle the careers of Shiff and Nadler on a slow afternoon if she was serious. Conservatives shake their heads at the increasingly specious rationale for removing Trump. At about any other time in American history, this would be a very risky policy, and it may yet cost them.

Introducing Hashing It Out with Siraj Hashmi


I’m very excited to be partnering with Ricochet for the launch of my new podcast, Hashing It Out. While the title is a play on my last name, my goal is to delve deep into a particular subject each episode where I speak with a different guest that adds historical context to the news and politics of the day. I hope to bring a unique product that goes beyond the ranting and raving of political talk shows and provides the listener with a formidable understanding of current events.

Yesterday I interviewed my Washington Examiner colleague Tom Rogan, and last week I posted an interview with Andrew Bakaj, the attorney representing the person who filed a whistle blower complaint against President Trump. (I recorded the interview with Bakaj in August, so we don’t talk about the Ukraine complaint.) Please check out the podcast, and if you like it then consider subscribing in iTunes (or your podcast app of choice) and leaving a review!

On September 28, just weeks after the Trump administration cancelled negotiations with the Taliban at Camp David, Afghans headed to the polls to elect a new president. The politically unstable country continues to face numerous diplomatic and security challenges, with a potential US troop withdrawal on the horizon.

Ahead of the elections, Dany and Marc interviewed Congressman Michael Waltz to find out what the hell is going on in Afghanistan and what decision-makers on Capitol Hill are saying about the collapse of the US-Taliban talks. A veteran of Afghanistan, Rep. Waltz shared his unique perspective on how the US can succeed in Afghanistan and what Congress and the president are getting wrong
about America’s fight in the region.

Schiff Knew of Ukraine Whistleblower’s Complaint Before It Was Filed


The New York Times has reported that Trump bête noire Rep. Adam Schiff (D–CA) knew about the Ukraine whistleblower’s complaint before it was filed. This revelation gives the president’s supporters more evidence that the anonymous CIA officer’s filing is a partisan effort.

Two weeks ago, Schiff claimed on MSNBC that he hadn’t spoken with the whistleblower. Well, his phrasing was a bit more lawyerly than that:

Health of Candidates Could Be an October Surprise


Sad and distressing news from the campaign trail today, with Democrat / Independent candidate Bernie Sanders stepping off the trail because of chest pain and heart surgery to correct a blockage. NRO reports,

Bernie Sanders’s campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination has  canceled campaign events “until further notice” and postponed a planned purchase of TV ads in Iowa after Sanders had to undergo emergency heart surgery on Tuesday.

You Know What They Say About “They”


Most of my pet peeves have to do with words and their use, misuse, and abuse — though baseball caps worn backward irritate me too. Give me a few more years and I’ll probably let my inner Kowalski run free, but so far I’ve kept him pretty well in check: I’m generally a live and let live kind of guy.

The use of the third-person plural pronoun “they” in reference to a single individual has always stuck in my craw. Saying “he or she” isn’t so hard, and has the virtue of grammatical correctness. Anyway, that’s what I thought, until I bothered to look up the use/misuse of the word in this context.

I Saw Satan Laughing with Delight, the Day the Culture Broke


Don Mclean’s classic, “American Pie,” would not likely become the hit it was in 1971 if released today. Apart from the biblical references or its unembarrassed use of the word “love,” the song has another disadvantage. It was written at a time when popular music was for everybody.

Today, the popular arts are strictly for the kids – or more broadly, toward non-adults. (The country’s easiest target demographic.) And the non-adults have objectively bad taste buds today. More importantly, despite access to the entire repository of world culture in their pockets, so many of them don’t know how to read – at least not in any meaningful way. Thus, those thankless gatekeepers we once called critics are no longer accessible to them.

Do the Apolitical Exist?


I often wonder what it’s like to be to be apolitical. You know, you’ve heard the rumors. There are allegedly people out there that could not care less about politics, current events, and the like. Who are these people, and what is their secret? How do they manage to avoid the morass of every hyperventilating hypothesis huffed by hypocritical hacks?

Hi, my name is Jim, and I’m an information junkie. (Hi, Jim). I succumbed to the siren of civilizational science back in college, during the run-up to the first Gulf War, and have been hooked ever since. I like to know things. I like to know about things, important things. And for these things, I have opinions – don’t always share them, but I have them. News, current events, politics, sports, science – I consume and am consumed. Yes, there are times I have tried to escape, even for a short while, but it’s Hotel California, baby – you can’t really ever leave.

Trick or Treat


“Ah! It’s you! My friend Al told me you might be coming. Al is his name, you know? Do you speak English? Well, Al isn’t really his name. It’s what we call a diminutive. Can you say diminutive? His real name might be Alan or Allen or perhaps Albert. Well, it could be a lot of things. We have a lot of names that we cut down to ‘Al.’ There are also Alfred, Aloysius, Albin, Alphonse. Hmph! It could even be short for Alexander, although normally that would be shortened to Alex. Or Alec. Or Xander. Or even Sandy. I had a friend who went by Sandy, although his real name was Alessandro. That’s the Italian version of Alexander. It means the protector of man. Alexander means that, that is. Well, so does Alessandro. And even Alejandro, which is a Spanish version of the name. They all have the same meanings.

“But not Aloysius. That was originally a German name: Chlodovech. Means ‘Famous in War.’ Which the most famous Alexander was. Of course, he wasn’t named that. But Chlodovech became several other names over time, such as Ludwig, Luigi, and Louis. One version of Louis became Alois, and that was Latinized to Aloysius. Latinized means that someone tried to make the name sound as if it were Latin, as if some old Roman had been named Louis.

Homosexuality Facts #7: Small Genetic Correlation Established


I write regarding a major new paper released in Science on August 30, 2019, regarding the existence and extent of a hypothetical genetic contribution to the incidence of homosexuality. The paper is titled Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior, by Ganna et al. (paper here; supplement and figures here). As discussed in greater detail below, this paper establishes a small, but statistically significant, correlation between the genome and homosexuality.

“GWAS” means genome-wide association study, a type of analysis in which the entire genome, generally characterized by SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphisms) is analyzed to identify correlations between the SNPs and the trait being studied. The data sources were extraordinarily large: a UK sample called the “UK Biobank” of about 500,000 individuals (about 400,000 of whom provided usable data regarding sexual orientation); an additional sample of about 75,000 individuals of European ancestry from 23andMe; and a few smaller samples.

Chaos Incarnate


[Let’s listen in to this conversation in progress . . . ]

JB—So Nance, how’s it going? You folks have been pretty busy raising Cain in the last couple of weeks.

NP—Well, yes, that’s true, Joe. How are you doing? Where are you campaigning?