We are honoring William “Bill” Colwell with a teleforum on a topic we know he would love – the President’s power to approve – and revoke – security clearances. We will discuss recent media accounts of the President reportedly ordering the revocation of clearances of former government officials and insisting on other clearances being granted over the objections of senior government personnel. We will also – in true Federalist fashion – examine the historical wellsprings of each branch of government’s power to act within this realm. It is time to take a closer look at whether there are any practical limits on the Executive’s discretion, and whether Congress can and should play a stronger role.

Bill Colwell was a great patriot and friend to many of us in the Federalist Society, and a pillar within the Washington D.C. legal community, but his appeal was by no means limited to one side of the aisle or to people with whom he agreed. As one recent description phrased it, Bill was “a beautiful mind of insatiable curiosity and creativity, a comedian who made us laugh until tears rolled down our faces, chef and mixologist par excellence.” Bill, a devoted and loving husband and father, was a man of great faith. Bill was Assistant General Counsel and Corporate Director of the Northrop Grumman Corporation. Prior to that, he was employed at The Boeing Company and Wiley, Rein & Fielding LLP. He served in the United States Navy as a nuclear submarine officer on the USS Hampton, where he received numerous awards. A nationally recognized expert in government contracts, Bill frequently spoke and published on procurement issues. He served on the Board of the Federal Circuit Bar Association, chaired the Legal Committee of the National Defense Industrial Association, and recently received the 2018 NDIA Howard H. Cork Memorial Award for exceptional service to NDIA and the defense industry. But beyond all professional interests, Bill loved his family and is mourned by his wife, Robin, their twin daughters and their extended families.

Happy Earth Day!


Today is Earth Day and, as is my habit, I intend to celebrate it, as I have every year, by spending the entire day on Earth.

Other than that, it’s business as usual. I’ll continue consuming our abundant natural resources at my normal rate. My Yukon gets 16 miles per gallon on a good day, less in city driving. (I drove in town today.) I took #5 son out to lunch: we went to Five Guys and ate cow.

Honest Motherhood Is Refreshing


There are a few mothers I follow on social media just for their parenting content, and one of them is writer/actress/comedian Jenny Mollen. I first became familiar with her because she’s married to Jason Biggs, of “Orange Is the New Black”/American Pie fame, but she is honestly the better half of the couple. She is entertaining and shockingly honest in everything she writes and talks about, which is refreshing when most mothers and women, in general, spend all of their time trying to sanitize and beautify their lives, making them look as ideal and picture-perfect as possible.

Recently, Mollen posted a particularly brave picture and story, and one that caught my attention on Instagram. She wrote,

Uncommon Knowledge: Heather Mac Donald on The Delusion of Diversity


Is the dedication to diversity undermining American culture? In her book The Diversity Delusion, Heather Mac Donald argues that the focus on race and gender diversity is harming society. Mac Donald and I discuss how she was protested off of school campuses by students because of her ideas. They discuss the collapse of free-speech ideals on college campuses in the United States and how the dedication to diversity doesn’t extend to a diversity of thought.

When Government Emphasizes Production Over Consumption: Washing Machine Edition


The new thinking on the populist right is that US economic policy has long focused far too much on consumption vs. production. Making stuff is important, too! But what does a change in emphasis look like in the real world?

Well, a new research paper from economists at the Federal Reserve and the University of Chicago seems to give a pretty good idea. In “The Production Relocation and Price Effects of US Trade Policy: The Case of Washing Machines,” Aaron Flaaen, Ali Hortaçsu, and Felix Tintelnot find that President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on imported washing machines did create about 2000 jobs as foreign companies shifted production here — but at a cost $820,000 a job. Although the tariffs generated $82 million for the US Treasury, they also raised consumer prices by $1.5 billion.

More from New York Times reporter Jim Tankersley on the study:

Hold on to Your Wallet: Elizabeth Warren Has an Idea


Elizabeth Warren fixed her gaze on the White House the moment she arrived at the US Senate. Today, she’s actually running for the presidency, but it is not going well. Monday morning, a poll out of New Hampshire showed her with just five percent. Residing next door in Massachusetts makes the Granite State a must-win for the senator, yet she trails Bernie, Biden, and Buttigieg by double digits.

You can’t say she isn’t trying. Each week she unveils another progressive plan to win over the woke. Today, she announced not only free college but debt cancellation for most grads. Here are the details:

  • Cancel debt for more than 95% of the nearly 45 million Americans with student loan debt;
  • Wipe out student loan debt entirely for more than 75% of the Americans with that debt;
  • Substantially increase wealth for Black and Latinx families and reduce both the Black-White and Latinx-White wealth gaps; and
  • Provide an enormous middle-class stimulus that will boost economic growth, increase home purchases, and fuel a new wave of small business formation.

And how on earth would she pay for such a thing? An “Ultra-Millionaire Tax” that would slap an additional 2% annual tax on families with $50 million or more. Yeah, I’m sure that’ll work.

How to Build a Computer 30: SEMsational


This is a continuation of last time’s discussion on Electron Microscopy. In that one, we covered the question of why you’d want one of these and gave a summary of how you’d work one. Take some electrons, throw it at your sample, and watch what bounces off for information. Sounds so simple when we put it that way, right? This week we’re talking about what happens when you actually buckle down to do it in practice.

Taken from Chem lab, when there weren’t any chem techs around to stop me.

Spoiled Solemnity


Sometimes serious moments are broken to hilarious effect.

Our parish’s music director and cantor is currently on heavy pain medication after surgery. Consequently, he missed a line during a song at Mass this morning — the first time I’ve heard him goof in decades. It was a call-and-response song, meaning the congregation repeats what he sings. When he missed the line and laughed at himself — “Ha!” — some jokesters behind me responded in kind.

He Is Not Here


1 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

Collusion and Obstruction: Two Different Kinds of Crime


If the President had been found guilty of Russian collusion — that is, of participating in a criminal conspiracy with the Russians to undermine our election — then it would have indicated that he was a particular kind of villain. It takes a particular kind of villain to knowingly work with our enemies to subvert the democratic process. That represents a treasonous betrayal of our country.

On the other hand, being oafish and ignorant of the nuances of executive authority in the context of a legal investigation, while it may arguably appear to meet the legal definition for a charge of obstruction of justice, need not suggest that the President is a villain. Rather, it may simply indicate that he is an amateur on matters of law and politics, and that he is accustomed to speaking his mind without considering the unique legal implications of doing so while being the head of federal law enforcement.

Quote of the Day: Facts and Feelings


“Facts don’t care about your feelings.” – Ben Shapiro

The reaction to the release of the Muller Report reminded me of this quote. There seem to be a large number of people whose feelings conflict with the facts presented. As a result, many have rejected the facts in favor of their feelings.

Scully Doesn’t Care: Why Men Loved ‘The X Files’


“You disparage Scully?”
“Who?” my wife asked.
“Gillian Anderson, she was Scully on The X Files,” I said.
“You mean that gross show?”

My wife is not wrong, “The X Files” was often gross. In fact, it was downright disturbing at times. In retrospect, it was also pretty badly produced, often poorly acted, and occasionally made no sense. None of that matters to me. I’m sentimental about “The X Files” and it has nothing to do with the quality of the show. It holds a special place in my heart because, despite its flaws, it was always there for me.

It may or may not surprise you, but I was kind of a dork in high school. I wasn’t smart enough to be an academic nerd, or geeky enough to be a comic-book nerd; I was more like 50 percent dork. I played some team sports, but I also founded a photography quartet called The Phototards. I had a few girlfriends but never attended a homecoming or prom. Some weeks I went out on Friday night, but on others I found myself sitting alone in my room with nothing to do. It was on those nights, friends, that “The X Files” came to the rescue.

Impromptu Ricochet Meet-Up in Augsburg


For about two years, Dave Deeble and I have been trying to make arrangements to meet face-to-face since we both live in Germany, he in Herne and I in Diedorf (near Augsburg). Well, Friday, he contacted me while he, Sabine, Lukas, and Lucy were on their way back from skiing in Austria and suggested we meet.

On consulting our respective schedules, we found it worked out for us to meet at the Augsburg Gebetshaus Saturday morning. (The name means “House of Prayer” and it is a place which interested German-speaking readers can find out about here.) We met and I have to thank the good man and his gracious bride Sabine for taking the time to stop in.

Paul Cantor on The Godfather, Breaking Bad, Huckleberry Finn, and the American Dream


“[America], which promises freedom, can’t guarantee that freedom won’t be misused.” So argues Paul Cantor in our new Conversation. Drawing on his new book “Pop Culture and the Dark Side of the American Dream: Con Men, Gangsters, Drug Lords, and Zombies,” Cantor explains how a country that offers a fresh start to everyone inevitably produces many false starts and opportunities for con men, along with tragic examples of freedom misused and talent thwarted. Cantor traces this theme through American popular culture, focusing on Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn,” Francis Ford Coppola’s “Godfather” movies, and Vince Gilligan’s “Breaking Bad.” These works, Cantor argues, exemplify what he calls the “dark side of the American dream.” This is a must-see Conversation for anyone interested in American culture and ideas.

About That Apology…


Here is a good article from KayDeeDub on apologies. Read it first, then my post. Or not … I don’t care. It’s your life.

Years ago, at a job I no longer work at, I did something that I knew was wrong when I did it and knew I could get fired if someone found out. I won’t give details I’ll just say it was about money, so you won’t think I was doing something untoward in a closet. Anyway, I did get found out. I sat down with my boss and simply confessed. Yes, I did it. Here’s why I did it. I knew it was wrong to do. I’ll fix it. And you can and probably should fire me, I deserve it. I’m sorry.

Being the Curmudgeon


I sent an email to the metro editor at the San Antonio Express-News this morning, about the following passage from an article about a board dispute at a local school district. Quote from the article:

Rep. Roland Gutierrez wrote a letter to Sen. Flores, which he shared on Twitter, calling the senator’s efforts to reign in the South San board “ill-conceived, ill-advised, and poorly received by your peers.”

On Arson and Notre Dame


Thank you for your warm, kind, and compassionate comments about the fire at Notre Dame. For most of the world, this was a tragedy in a far-away place; for me, it was a devastating fire in my neighborhood, one that’s left everyone here, including me, quite shaken up.

I’ve received several e-mails, and seen in the comments, suggestions to the effect that “it’s hard not to wonder if the fire were started by Muslim terrorists,” along with comments that say, “We’ll never know the truth,” because were this so, it would be hidden from “the likes of us.”

‘Hell Took a Body, and Discovered God’


Are there any who are devout lovers of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Are there any who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!
Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!

If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.

To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.
Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!