This week on the United Kingdom’s Most Trusted Podcast®, James recounts his experiences with the Extinction Rebellion, Toby covers the dangers of being honest in reviewing theatrical performances, and the latest on the Brexit deadline (21 days from recording and counting).

Plus your weekly dose of entertainment suggestions, dominated this week by mostly what to avoid.

Quote of the Day: Happy Henry Mühlenberg Day!


“JULY 4 [1776]. Today the Continental Congress openly declared the united provinces of North America to be free and independent states. This has caused some thoughtful and far-seeing melancholici to be down in the mouth; on the other hand, it has caused some sanguine and short-sighted persons to exult and shout with joy. It will appear in the end who has played the right tune. This remains as a comfort to believers: There is One who sits at the rudder, who has the plan of the whole before him, to whom all power in heaven and one earth is given, and who has never yet made a mistake in his government. He it is who neither sleeps nor slumbers and who has asked his people to pray, ‘Hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done.'”
Diary of a Colonial Clergyman, by Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg

Though you may not know the name, Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg is kind of a big deal among Lutherans. Born in Einbeck in Hanover in 1711, Mühlenberg was destined to become the patriarch of Lutheranism in North America. After studying at the University of Göttingen, he was ordained into the ministry in 1739, and accepted a call overseas to the German-speaking Lutherans in Pennsylvania in 1742.

Why I Don’t Care About Transgenderism


We’re told a lot of things today: that we should be woke, we should check our various privileges, women are all oppressed, etc. I don’t subscribe to any of them; I’m one of those people who says, oh YEAH? when I’m told I need to be or think a certain way, but the one I find most annoying is transgenderism.

I am a woman who believes firmly that there is a distinct biological difference between men and women, and that difference is rooted more firmly in the body than in the mind. The female physical experience is very different from that of the male experience. We bleed every month. We experience that unusual stress, positive or negative, that is the potentiality of pregnancy. We carry another human being within ourselves, and are both blessed and burdened with a special emotional bond as a result. We are physically weaker, in general; and even when individual men are weaker than we are, we know the vast majority are stronger. And yes, we do think differently, perhaps a hardwired difference or perhaps a difference created by those early uniquenesses. I make no judgment here because its origin is unimportant; only its existence is.

What About the Kurds?


So Turkey is bombing the Kurds in Syria. The Kurds in northern Iraq are (were?) very friendly to the U.S. Of course most of our allies fight for their own reasons and values and not as a favor to us. Same with the Syrian Kurds. Still, this looks like another case of our having a “that was then, this is now” attitude toward those we ‘befriend” in tough times. Memories of the fall of Saigon recur.

It is not our job to police the world or right every wrong. But what sort of deal have we made with Turkey and why? What is worth risking our credibility with those we will want to enlist for aid in the future?

Is Free Speech Compatible with Free Trade in China?


American populists already blame free trade for costing their country jobs and industrial might. Now they blame it for curtailing freedom of speech. The argument: If the US and Chinese economies weren’t so intertwined, then China couldn’t “export” its authoritarian values by using its huge market power to strong–arm American companies.

Populists correctly note that the NBA’s rebuke of a Houston Rockets official’s pro-Hong Kong democracy tweet is hardly the first instance of Beijing trying to use its financial influence on foreign companies to shape global opinion — especially regarding Hong Kong, Taiwan, and its Uighur reeducation camps. As one China expert told The Washington Post, the Chinese communists don’t tolerate dissent on these issues inside China, “and increasingly they are not tolerating dissent on these issues outside China.”

But these populist critiques of Chimerica also invite the search for a counterfactual: Should Nixon have never gone to China? Should America have tried to somehow quarantine a nuclear–armed nation of one billion people even as it tried to open up and decentralize its economy? Should Washington have simply ignored the reality — and somehow persuaded our allies to do likewise — that China was undertaking significant policy reforms in the direction of liberalization?

Whistles Blown


I think I understand it now:

The first whistleblower got the phone call story firsthand from the second whistleblower who was privy to the call at first. So the first one is really the second one, and the one that was second is really first. The second one, who was first, passed firsthand info to the first, who was really second, so the first reported secondhand account was documented second because the second was the one who heard it first. What screwed them up was not understanding the second a whistleblower hears information first it should not be sent as a firsthand account to a second person, but presented first to everyone so no one will for a second consider it at first false.

The Syria Exit


President Donald Trump announced his desire to withdraw from Syria as one of his goals as president. I thought about this and it sounded like a good idea. The country of Syria has been a “thorn in the side” of many countries and people for a very long time. Syrian refugees are scattered across the world, like the Jews – desperate to return home, to family, history, their land – the land of their ancestors. Their president has been a “thorn in the side” of many countries and an enigma – what do we do with him? Bashar al-Assad never wanted the throne. Who knew?

Turkey wants its borders back. Iran wants a rumble. Israel just wants its security and safety, as the Jews begin another Yom Kippur. How long has this country and region been in turmoil? Is this a region that we can bring democracy to, or stability at minimum, as past administrations have tried? Is Donald Trump asking those questions, as our young soldiers hold the line?

Power Shuts Down in Northern California


I’m writing this early Wednesday morning, trying to post while I still can. The good news is that BART and the freeways going through tunnels will still be operable, and all of San Francisco will remain powered up. But parts of all of the surrounding areas will be affected.

The TV news is fun. They’re warning viewers that home alarm systems won’t be working, so report suspicious activity with your remaining charge on your phone … but the cell towers won’t be working either. The radio has been full of public service announcements.

Quote of the Day: All Our Yesterdays


Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. . . .
[Life] is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
— Macbeth, Act V, Scene V

I’ve always liked this quote. Perhaps you have too. It sounds, well, deep, something that I ought to be thinking about.

Sports Memories


Allen Rutter kindly welcomed me (as did many others) to Ricochet and asked for some dishy stories about people and events from my career in sports broadcasting. It seems like a good idea, so here goes!

As I have already said, I was lucky to enjoy a 40-year career in sports TV production. In that time I worked as a cameraman and replay operator in almost every major sport and and lot of minor ones. Some memories from my career are shared by millions of us, some are more particular. I hope to share some of both.

Book Review: Memories of His Mercy


The name Peter Gilquist is incredibly well known in the Orthodox churches of America today. Father Gilquist, along with several other pastors, led a mass conversion of Evangelical churches into the Antiochian Orthodox Church in 1987, after nearly 15 years of searching for the historical Christian church as described in the book of Acts, and in the epistles of the New Testament. That quest is told in his more famous work, Becoming Orthodox, and in related works by others from that movement (I reviewed one such memoir, Surprised by Christ, late last year), but towards the end of his life, Reverend Gilquist wrote a different sort of work – personal memoirs of many of the key seminal moments in his life, ministries, and faith. Those memoirs were compiled and published several years after his death in the book Memories of His Mercy: Recollections of the Grace and Providence of God.  

In Memories of His Mercy, Fr. Gilquist tells stories of his upbringing within a devout Christian home, the men and women who mentored him in his family and beyond, and the courtship of the woman he would later marry. He later moves through some of his fondest memories, particularly of people whose lives touched his. His aim is not to write an overarching narrative, but a much humbler one of attempting to convey how faith, charity and empathy for others, and a strong work ethic tempered by consistent honesty can allow one, with the grace of God, to both be a blessing to others, and be blessed in turn.  

The various tales are also quite simply experiences that he genuinely enjoyed and wanted to share (such as when he helped ghost-write Johnny Cash’s autobiography in the 1970s), or of which he was particularly and personally proud (such as his involvement in the creation of the Orthodox Study Bible). His greatest personal joys were, of course, in his wife and family, and so their lives feature prominently in the stories too. Through it all he talks about how he saw every interaction with other people as an opportunity to evangelize and make friends.

When the Woke Come for the Armed Forces


Men and women are the same and the only thing separating us is our sexual organs. This is the lie we’re being fed every day, all day. In countless ways, this lie has the potential to endanger our safety and our lives, and this is yet another example:

In the Strongest Terms Possible


In case of rhetorical emergency, break glass and use the following:

“Today the whole world witnessed [insert bad thing here], and on behalf of [insert your department/organization/government here] we are here to condemn [insert action here or person] in the strongest terms possible.

More likely than not, the only thing that’s possible when you’re using that phrase is using that phrase. It’s a political crutch and has been used for decades and is totally bipartisan in it’s usage. Its origins are unknown, although some like to try to peg it to a Monty Python sketch. (“Dear Sir, I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms about the song you have just broadcast about the lumberjack who wears women’s clothes. Many of my best friends are lumberjacks, and only a few of them are transvestites.”)

NBA’s China Troubles Show Hard Choices Forced Upon American Firms


One way to pitch a Hollywood screenplay is by combining two existing works. “Think of it as Wolverine meets Lincoln.” Apparently this actually happens. Anyway, the descriptive technique also pops up elsewhere. The geopolitical tangle — economic, military, ideological — that is China can be expressed as “the Soviet Union meets 1980s Japan.”

Dealing with such a multidimensional challenge is difficult, as the NBA just found out. Its apologetic stance toward China over a Houston Rocket official’s pro-democracy tweet — “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong” — has brought Americans together as few if any recent issues have. The bipartisan outrage over that apology parallels the growing bipartisan consensus that US foreign policy toward China needs a significant course correction.

And American business might be forced to change its ways, too, even if all the tariffs go away. The Hong Kong protests increasingly look like a dystopian film with an authoritarian Goliath vs. democratic David storyline that’s easy for Americans to follow. So, too, the detention of China’s Uighur minority inside reeducation camps is starting to resemble a rerun of the worst bits of the 20th century. It’s one thing for American firms to outsource manufacturing and develop markets in non-democratic China that seems to be following the same road as South Korea toward liberal democracy — but quite another when the endgame might be a totalitarian surveillance state.

Valuing Kisses


On Rosh Hashanah, my family did something we have never done before: at our table, we read out The Kisses.

What is a Kiss? A child trips and falls, scraping her knee. Tears and cries flow. The mother comes, scoops up the child in an embrace, and delivers, with great theater: a kiss.

The baseball master talks to Jay about a slew of issues: How was the 2019 season? What about the (current) playoffs? Who are the future Hall of Famers? Is the Hall selective enough? What reforms of the game would be advisable? What about the relative paucity of black American players? What about the preeminence of Latin American players? What is the role of managers? And of GMs? And of owners?

All this and more – including a blast against the NBA. The master, George Will, is at the top of his game.

Adam Schiff Ties the Hands of Republicans on the Intel Committee


When it comes to the Intel Committee, most people are expressing their dislike and disdain for Adam Schiff, who appears to have no intention of following precedent regarding the committee he rules . . . er, leads. We could spend much time parsing the meaning of the telephone transcript, or Adam Schiff’s inability to tell the truth, but I was glad to see the Republicans call out Schiff’s ignoring the rules of the Intel Committee. He’s been busy ignoring or revising the rules to suit his agenda.

Kevin McCarthy finally called for Nancy Pelosi to stop the impeachment inquiry “until transparent and equitable rules and procedures are established to govern the inquiry as is customary.”

From all appearances, the House Intel Committee and Adam Schiff appear to want to control and dominate proceedings and shut out the Republicans as much as possible. I doubt that the Republicans will be able to have him removed. They do, however, have ways to make his rogue activities more difficult.

The rationale for Donald Trump in 2016: border control, the opiate crisis, honoring America’s “forgotten man,” and much more. Charles Hurt, a Fox News contributor and author of Still Winning: Why America Went All In On Donald Trump – And Why We Must Do It Again, offers his thoughts on the rationale for giving President Trump a second presidential term.


Connie Nicholas Carberg was the NFL’s first female scout and the first woman to make a pick in the NFL draft (for the New York Jets). She joins Carol to share her amazing story of letting her passion for football and willingness to ask for help guide her into a place in the Jets’ scouting department, where her achievements included scouting All-Pro defensive end Mark Gastineau. Connie shares a unique take on breaking barriers and being successful with a positive attitude, a life-long love of football and the Jets, and even weighs in on the potential future of NCAA athletes being able to profit off their names and likenesses.

You can also see a fantastic NFL Films piece on Connie called “Forever a Jet” on YouTube.

Is Liz a Pathological Liar?


The definition of a pathological liar is: “someone who lies compulsively.”

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has already been caught lying compulsively, in the form of her genetic and genealogical heritage. It’s not something one easily lies about in the age of Ancestry dot com and 23andMe DNA testing, and yet, she did, and was caught red-handed in the lie. President Trump’s favorite nickname for the wanna-be Native American – Fauxahontas – is one of his all-time best insults.

Life on Planet Thunberg


Without a doubt, it is a major challenge to accurately model and predict the course of climate change. Climate systems are highly chaotic, which makes it difficult to figure out the effect of any particular natural or human event on future climate changes. We should, therefore, proceed with caution before making bold claims that the main, or even sole, driver of climate change is the human-generated increase in the carbon dioxide level, which now is approaching 415 parts per million.

But today’s activists are in crisis mode. The 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg’s recent calls for action sparked thousands of students to skip classes last month in order to fight a global climate “emergency.” These students are long on indignation, but short on solutions. They are content to implore today’s business, political, and social elites to come up with a solution before it is all too late—after all, these activists claim, in ten years we could all be dead.

The youth movement and its adult supporters assume that the fate of the world hangs in the balance unless some prompt and decisive action is taken. The proposed cures for addressing the climate crisis, such as the uncompromising demand that there be no more new fossil fuel projects, are highly intrusive. If implemented, even in part,  they will necessarily affect how ordinary people eat, work, travel, and vacation­—and even how they bear children. The common desire “to set a pathway for 100 percent renewable power” will force excessive reliance on alternative energy forms, such as wind and solar, that are too unreliable to offer a dependable energy source on land, and useless for such activities as air transportation.

In Harris Funeral Homes Supreme Court Case, We Should Ask ‘Am I Next?’


“Am I next?” That’s the question that should come to your mind when you think of G.R. & R.G. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, which the US Supreme Court is set to hear Tuesday, Oct. 8.

And no, that’s not a reference to funeral homes in general—along the lines of “ask not for whom the bell tolls”—but whether or not Americans can rely on what the law says. If the ACLU has its way and defeats Harris Funeral Homes, everyday Americans will face punishment for violating laws that unelected officials have changed out from under them.

That’s at the heart of Harris. Ignoring almost a half-century of precedent—and more importantly, the text of federal law itself—a federal court of appeals effectively redefined “sex” to include “gender identity” to punish a funeral homeowner who was depending on the law to run his fifth-generation family business.

Gary Saul Morson, the Lawrence B. Dumas Professor of the Arts and Humanities at Northwestern University and the author of “Leninthink,” joins James Panero to discuss the pernicious legacy of Vladimir Lenin.