On October 8, 2019, the Gray Center lost a great friend and mentor when Michael Uhlmann passed away at the age of 79. Professor Uhlmann served most recently as a Professor of Government at the Claremont Graduate University and Claremont McKenna College; previously he served in the federal government’s executive and legislative branches, taught at George Mason University, and contributed his efforts and experience to many other institutions. He was a friend and mentor to many, including the Gray Center’s Director, Adam White. We were grateful to him for serving on our Advisory Council, and we miss him greatly.

In his honor, we are releasing the audio from a 2019 conference at which he spoke on Congress and the Administrative State.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. What Is Judaism?


Dennis Prager has a really interesting article out, called “What Is Judaism?” Mr. Prager has written and taught on the subject (including two years as a member of the Brooklyn College Department of Judaic Studies). This is how he leads:

If you’ve ever wondered what Judaism is, here is a list of its principal beliefs. This is not an official list, but these beliefs have been widely held by religious Jews for thousands of years.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Executive Summary of the Executive Summary


So the Horowitz Report (here) was just released, and we Ricochetti are already suffering serious indigestion. My buddy Gary Robbins has already lamented:

Gary Robbins (View Comment): The Executive Summary is 15 pages long! Can we please have an Executive Summary of the Executive Summary?


Mary Margaret Olohan, reporter on Social Issues for The Daily Caller News Foundation, joins Tom Shakely and Noah Brandt of Americans United for Life to break down what leading presidential contenders are saying when it comes to the human right to life, how the media is covering (or failing to cover) life issues, and the feasibility of political progress in a time when dialog seems impossible.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Can You Pull a Number Out of Your Squeaky Bum?


Here we are, folks. Thursday is election day for our cousins over in the UK. (And no, Uncommon Knowledge doesn’t have its own country.) In the great British tradition, lay down a bob or two and place your bets.

ElectoralCalculus, the English equivalent of the RealPolitics Polling Average, is currently sitting at a 46 seat Conservative Majority. BUT – because polling is so tight it could go as high as 94 OR deliver another hung Parliament (13% chance.)


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Year of My Amazing Discovery: Memories


That was the Christmas when I learned that my mother was a person, too. This was only a unique concept because I was in my early teens, just fresh from junior high, with the point of view common to the age group. The world began and ended with me. The important questions of the day were:

“Did my hair look okay?”


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Health Care Lights and Sirens


Trump thumbs up“If we want to make America great again, we’re gonna have to make healthcare well again.” — Katy Talento

Or, we can call it too hard to do, take two aspirin, and call Doctor Ocasio-Cortez in a year.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Once Upon a Spinning-Wheel (Part 8): The Mirror’s Eye


They called them the big islands — locally, at any rate, in the little subsection of reality just past Schrodinger’s Drywall (you have an idea that the cat’s got in behind there somewhere, but you won’t know for sure until you knock a hole in it and check). They exist in a place in time and space where reality has gone so far out the other side that it’s circled back on itself. Here, magic is real. (It’s real back in the other place too, of course — people just mostly pretend not to notice.) Here, anything can still happen, and quite frequently does: See the sea … It’s quite pretty and blue. See the way it twinkles in the sunlight. See the serpent lady …

Whoops. You can just see her reflection, overlaying the scene below in the crystal ball. She adjusts her hair in it and smiles a breath-taking smile. Reflections were important, after all. They were, in a way, why she wasn’t using her magic mirror. That, and you couldn’t necessarily get that big a picture in the little slab of enchanted glass that, at present, lay in its little drawstring velvet bag by her side. The serpent lady smiles and waves a hand over the crystal ball: The image in it pulses, floating, so to speak, in mid-air.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Memories: Trekking the Himalayas


As a child, I wasn’t much interested in taking risks, especially physical risks. I never climbed mountains, shot a gun, raced a car, or jumped off roofs. Those activities were for crazy people. I much preferred playing it safe, protecting my physical well-being as a matter of course. I looked both ways when I crossed the street, probably at a very early age, and have no scars from touching a hot stove. I’ve never broken a bone or even sprained an ankle.

But at the age of 54 and 50, respectively, my husband and I decided to go on a trek in Nepal. I was thrilled and terrified about the thought of sudden winter storms, washed-out bridges, freezing cold, falling into an “eastern toilet,” dysentery, and other maladies that could show up on such an adventurous (and dangerous) trip. With my husband’s encouragement, I decided that if we prepared well, we’d be fine.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Inspector General Found No Political Bias?


The FBI IG did a deep dive into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation and concluded, “we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative decisions we reviewed in Chapter Five, or that the justifications offered for these decisions were pretextual.”

On Monday of this week, the FBI IG released its report into the FBI’s handling of the Trump campaign. Again, it concluded, “We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations.”


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Man Bites Dog: NBC Conducts Real News Interview!


“We’re not going to cut corners…I see this thing [the Durham investigation] reaching an important watershed in the late spring [of 2020], perhaps early summer.” — Attorney General William Barr

Credit where credit is due. NBC News’ Pete Williams just conducted an entirely professional interview of Attorney General William Barr, 10 December 2019. Then NBC posted the entire interview to their YouTube channel, not chopped up to match their narrative.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: The Bad Guys Aren’t Stupid


“What I don’t want to do is restrict law-abiding citizens from their Second Amendment rights, which are focused on freedom. I point that out all the time. Remember, bad guys aren’t stupid, they’re just bad.” — Jim Jordan

This quote represents Jim Jordan at his best: he doesn’t mince words. At a time when gun control advocates are regularly trying to destroy the Second Amendment, gun owners need to be vigilant about those actions and speak out; gun owners are the very people who will be in danger. When those who want gun control allude to confiscating guns, they refuse to recognize that the only people who will be disarmed are the legal gun owners. They can’t possibly believe that the criminals who likely acquired their guns illegally will line up with everyone else to relinquish their guns.


In the first of two (!) episodes this week, James and Toby argue about who is better prepared for political imprisonment if Jeremy Corbyn wins the election. Both lay down their markers on the results, so place your bets.

In other news they lament the fact that a BBC disc jockey has banned ‘Fairytale of New York’ and salute their friend Greta Thunberg for being named Time’s Person of the Year.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. If You Truly Believed in G-d, What Would You Be Like?


I was watching a video where Dennis Prager interviewed Jordan Peterson.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. “The Sound of Music” and the Real Captain von Trapp


I see that this year marks the 60th anniversary of “The Sound of Music” as a Broadway play. If you’ve seen the 1965 move that was based on this play…and who hasn’t?…you’ll remember Captain von Trapp. The real Captain’s real-life children were not thrilled with the way he was portrayed in the movie–according to them, he was by no means that rigid disciplinarian who summoned the children with a bosun’s whistle and required them to line up in military formation. (The bosun’s whistle was real, but only for communication purposes on the large estate…no lining-up involved.)

The movie was indeed correct that Captain von Trapp was a former naval officer whose services were much desired by the Nazis after their takeover of Germany and, later, Austria… and that he wanted absolutely nothing to do with them. His memoir, To the Last Salute, was originally published in German in 1935 and later translated into French; an English translation has only become available fairly recently.


Homeless advocate and Founder of Invisible People, Mark Horvath, joins Carol to discuss the homeless epidemic sweeping the U.S. and what is and isn’t working in the fight against homelessness. Mark shares his own story of going from Hollywood producer to homeless, how he bounced back and why he now gives a face and story to the “invisible people” on the street. Mark and Carol talk about the humanitarian and economic rationale for various homeless solutions and Mark also has a plea for innovators in terms of helping to bring new approaches to dealing with this massive and growing domestic homeless problem.

You can follow Mark on Twitter here, follow Invisible People on Twitter here and learn more about the homeless and what you can do to help at Invisible People’s site. You can also learn about housing first as a homeless solution here.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. How to Recognize Real Allies on Anti-Semitism


Late last night the mayor of Jersey City announced that the shootout at a Kosher supermarket initially reported as simply a “bodega” was motivated by the occupants of the establishment.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. FISA? It’s A One Way Street, Take The Next Left


From The Horowitz Report:

Nevertheless, we found that members of the Crossfire Hurricane team failed to meet the basic obligation to ensure that the Carter Page FISA applications were “scrupulously accurate.” We identified significant inaccuracies and omissions in each of the four applications-7 in the first FISA application and a total of 17 by the final renewal application.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Before There Was Harry and Meghan . . . There Was Edward and Wallis


I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.

On December 10, 1936, what might be described as Britain’s “long national nightmare” came to an end when Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, Edward VIII, By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India, threw in the towel and bailed on both his throne and his country.


Ever since Donald Trump was sworn into office, Democrats have been circling the impeachment wagons around the White House. Following a whistleblower complaint and three weeks of congressional hearings, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled articles of impeachment against Trump on two counts: 1) abuse of power and 2) obstruction of Congress. My guest is Jay Caruso, he’s the Managing Editor for the Washington Examiner Magazine. On today’s show, we’re going to discuss the events that led up to Democrats releasing articles of impeachment as well as what this means for Trump’s presidency, the 2020 election, and the country, as a whole.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Richard Jewell: The Media Spin Begins In Earnest


I was reading another post at this site entited “A Cornered Rat Responds” by Ole Summers (extremely well written) and was reminded of some of the reviews that I have read of Clint Eastwood’s new movie Richard Jewell. I wrote a piece on this movie a couple of weeks ago (“Put This New Eastwood Movie On Your Radar”) and believed then that there would be considerable pushback from the media establishment against Eastwood’s work. I was right.

Like the slimiest, corrupt politician (yeah, I would include Nancy Pelosi), a sizable segment of the media is attacking Eastwood and even calling for a boycott over his “egregiously sexist” portrayal of Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs. The AJC is even threatening a lawsuit against Warner Brothers.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Time’s Person of the Year Is Who Everyone Thought It Would Be


Time magazine made the most obvious choice for 2019’s Person of the Year: Greta Thunberg. The 16-year-old media creation spent the year yelling at grown-ups and convincing youth around the world that they’re all going to die.

By Thunberg’s own account, her mass school strikes, angry speeches, and yachting hither and yon across the Atlantic on billionaires’ yachts has “achieved nothing.”


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Who Remembers the Quadratic Equation?


Given a polynomial in which ax^2 + bx + c = 0, the quadratic equation, or “negative b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus 4 times a times c all divided by 2 times a” can solve for x. This formula has been seared in my brain since the 1980s. The quadratic equation (pictured above) is one of the main concepts in early algebra, and one that can be consistently confusing to new studentsBut now, apparently, there is a new way to solve for x that appeared in the most recent issue of Popular Mechanics.



Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Living Symbolically


I don’t think it is much of a stretch to argue that the way in which people think dictates more about what people do than anything else. This is, in my opinion, why culture matters. It also helps us understand why language matters – the strengths and weaknesses and thought patterns of any given language give words to our thoughts, which in turn help shape and mold our deeds. To take one extreme example as illustration: in lands where the phrase “inshallah,” meaning “if Allah wills it,” is dominant, then people end up with more fatalistic and less curious approaches towards any new idea.

Symbolism in turn underpins culture and language. How we live symbolically trickles through the rest of our lives. Eco-warriors, who really are doing acts that have no concrete impact beyond symbolism, may not make any real difference to the planet, but they certainly make an impact on themselves and on the people with whom they come in contact. So do other unhelpful symbolic belief systems, like those of Social Justice Warriors or anti-Israel BDS activists.