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The Left, in a Nutshell

 

I had to comment on this before I exploded. From a Washington Post article:

The regulation actually would have cost relatively few mining jobs and would have created nearly as many new jobs on the regulatory side, according to a government report — an example of the frequent distance between Trump’s rhetoric, which many of his supporters wholeheartedly believe, and verifiable facts.

This requires a little setup. The article was about the Trump supporters who attended his rally in Florida this weekend, and how differently they see the world from the media portrayal of the Trump administration. Specifically, here the article was quoting a supporter who’d been disappointed that there hadn’t been more coverage of the law Trump signed rolling back last-minute Obama administration regulations, some of which would have put more coal miners out of work.

So rather than acknowledge the jobs saved, what does WaPo do? It says hey, the government says those regulations would have created almost as many jobs for regulators as it would have cost for coal miners?

Whaaaa? Stop, read that again.

Jobs gained for regulators are being equated to jobs lost for coal miners. In what world do these people live?

Coal miners produce … wait for it … coal — a useful substance that is burned to produce electricity that powers everything from vacuum cleaners to printing presses to hybrid cars, all things that people want.

Regulators produce … still waiting … still waiting … Oh, I remember now, they produce interference for people who are trying to do useful things that other people want.

Is this WaPo, or The Onion? Why don’t we just give everybody a job as a regulator if there’s so much demand for regulation? I’m sure some of those coal miners would be happy to sit in an office eight hours a day. Mining coal is actually hard work. That’ll be great (until the power goes out in the offices).

It reminds me of a Facebook post I saw a while ago that said “California makes technology, Texas makes energy, Iowa makes food, Washington makes it difficult.”

This WaPo sentiment is the same mindset that counts a dollar of government spending as a dollar of GDP just as a dollar of private industry spending — as though a dollar paid to someone providing a good or service by someone who wanted that good or service represents no more value than a dollar earned providing a good or service that someone was compelled to pay for at gunpoint through a tax.

This is the same mindset as the apocryphal(?) Chinese bureaucrat who told Milton Friedman that a canal was being dug with shovels instead of heavy machinery because it “was a jobs project,” as though the value of the canal depended on the amount of labor that went into it. (Friedman purportedly quipped, “then why don’t you give them spoons.”)

This is the same mindset as the guy who thinks the way to grow the economy is to break windows, because it will keep glaziers busy replacing them.

This is why we get Trump.

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You Probably Would’ve Been a Nazi

 
Prof. Jordan Peterson.

Professor Jordan Peterson teaches a class at the University of Toronto called maps of meaning on the history of atrocity. It focuses on Soviet and Nazi atrocity mostly. The course as described by Peterson does that necessary job of humanizing the behavior. Humanizing is obviously by no means justifying but this is so lost on today’s understanding of people and the history of the world. “I teach my students that had they been in Nazi Germany during the 1930s they would have been Nazis.”

We throw the term “Nazi” around so loosely these days with absolutely zero relevance for the historical meaning. How a man that is so vocally pro-Israel as Trump could be a Nazi is absolutely beyond me. This penchant for hyperbole is quite dangerous.

The film Labyrinth of Lies tells the story of a young attorney in 1958 Germany determined to take down former Nazis. Many former Nazis have been allowed to reintegrate into society and some even hold positions of power. This rocks the young attorney to the core but he is undeterred in his mission to right past wrongs. His conviction is rooted in his knowing that his biological father never compromised to the Nazi regime. Spoiler alert: his father was a Nazi! Our young protagonist benefits from this dose of reality and can begin to restore his personal life accordingly. He benefits from this dose of reality and becomes better at his job because of it.

Many people today could use a similar dose of reality, and I’m glad people like Professor Peterson are still doling them out.

I watched people take to the streets of Chicago, effectively shutting down state street yesterday marching against whatever abstract tyranny they felt deserved marching against; I could only wonder why not donate your time to flesh-and -blood people. All of those people could’ve spent that time, or any other bit of their time volunteering. There is much to be done on the south and west sides, but like the politicians, the protesters would much rather focus on downtown.

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The Sudsbuster

 

He was one of the mellow, the soft-spoken, the tawny-haired — one who preferred to be alone. His name was Mark, a dishwasher at age 45. He was a drifter, a loner. He valued his freedom above all; dishwashing jobs he could always find.

Our paths crossed and re-crossed at the Café Claire, where I was tending bar. The Café Claire stood on the outskirts of an industrial town, near the railroad tracks, beside his temporary home. Sometimes he’d sit at the end of the bar, before his shift or after, and drink black coffee. Sometimes he’d speak to me, and sometimes he would not.

He was a tidy man, and orderly. He organized things in an oddly geometrical way. He did not drink, he did not smoke, he did not use drugs. He was clean-living and in good shape, neither depressed nor its opposite.

He was single, without children.

And he was free.

He read a lot — novels and non-fiction — to endure, perhaps, the knives of lust that so frequently strike. He had the quietude of one who has gone a long time without sex.

His home was an efficiency apartment — a “hutch,” he called it — with good plumbing. (This mattered to him.) He dealt only in cash and he was good with his money. He saved, he moved on. Sometimes he worked on farms, sometimes he loaded and unloaded freight, sometimes he carried hod. But when I first met him and asked him what he did, he said “I’m a sudsbuster.”

So in the way of things, he would come behind my bar at times, when I was busy, and, without asking me, he’d wash my dishes. I loved him for that. He was fast on his feet and knew how to work around people, so that nobody was in anybody’s way. Buried in bloody marys and martinis, I’d glance over and see him plunged to his elbows in suds, his gold-rim spectacles, which somehow endeared him to me, filled with the burning bar light, his neat goatee damp with perspiration and pied with skeins of gray. Working with somebody in this way creates a deep and ineradicable bond.

Two or three times, I saw him outside work while I was in my car. Each time, he was walking alone along the railroad tracks, at dusk like some solitary figure carved from the coming dark. This was a grizzled landscape, a prairie desert of Euclidian perfection, full of rings and radii, vast yet traversed by a single road: an isolate highway humming day or night with Mack truck tires. The wind ferried tumbleweeds across the lion’s pelt land. Deadwood everywhere stood silvery-gray, like the moon above, and invariably whenever I saw him, a feeling of melancholy came over me, a melancholy for him, I am not sure why.

This, though, is not about pity or pathos, and Mark was not a person to pitied.

This, rather, is about one man out of many millions making his way

in the land of the free, the USA.

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How to Lose a Friend

 

Today I got a text from a neighbor and friend. His text was in reference to an upcoming Home Owners Association meeting. His first text was innocuous as was my reply. We have not really talked politics but I know he is a Democrat and he knows I am not. He has no idea for whom I voted. He then baited me and I took the bait. The following is the conversation exactly as it appears on my phone.

Friend: Just spoke to Caroline at Sweetgrass. Still — no hour for the meeting on the 28th, but tried to assure me it wasn’t a daytime event.

Cheese: Did you ask for a copy of the new budget?

Friend: She said it will be released along with Trump’s tax returns

Cheese: and Obama’s college records.

Friend: They’re out there.12 yrs teaching at Harvard too.

Cheese: As a foreign student.

Friend: Explain to me someday how the “missing budget” bothers you but 20yrs of hidden tax returns from the Negotiator-in-Chief doesn’t? Spock says — “illogical” Captain.

Cheese: Beam me up Scotty. BTW who said it doesn’t?

Friend: Enlighten me someday soon.

Cheese: Soon as we get all of Hillary’s email.

Friend: Ok Cheese. It always falls back on Hillary. When she is dead, we’ll all live happily ever after. Those who don’t? Will still blame her — You know, she’s the one who told Michael Flynn to call the Russians.

Cheese: No she is the one who gave the ok to sell 20% of the U 238 to the Russians.

Friend: As a gov’t official and former 1st Lady, she has a record to publicly critique. And though she’s NOT on the political radar, she is still your punching bag — anything/anyone to deflect from real issues. END of discussion.

Cheese: I lived the Obama nightmare for 8 years. Now it’s your turn, change is hard. Get used to it.

Friend: Ok you win your argument with the past. Are we done, or do you still want to blame HR for something else?

Cheese: The choice was HRC or Trump. He won she didn’t. Sorry.

End of transcript.

Well Ricochet was I too easy or to hard? Will he talk to me again? Should I have just ignored him when he baited me? Is this typical of your liberal friends? How would you have handled it?

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Sun Tzu and Big Table Envy

 

I come from a rather large Italian family. On my mother’s side alone, I am one of 28 first cousins. When I was a kid, family gatherings were crammed into a relation’s house and often spilled out onto their yard. One generation later, our family gatherings are now held in a rented hall or park. To an outsider, it must appear as utter chaos — I know it does to my wife, the only child of only children. But let me assure you, one thing has remained absolutely constant throughout all these years: neither I, nor any of my siblings or cousins, have ever moved from the Kids’ Table to the Big Table — and I am now 51 years old. Of course, I now understand that family tables are separated by generation. But as a kid, believe me, what I understood was Big Table envy.

The Big Table was where all of the cool and important stuff was going on. And to have a seat at the Big Table signified that you were also cool and important. And what kid wouldn’t want that: to be in on what the adults were discussing, to be included? And surely my opinions were needed: each was epic and bound to dazzle them all. But of course, every youthful assumption that I had was utter nonsense: there was almost never anything cool or important going on at the Big Table. And even if there was, then I certainly didn’t have the information or the experience required to participate intelligently. But, such is youth and such is Big Table envy.

As I matured, I read many things that would prove beneficial to me. I read Rand and realized that instead of obsessing over another’s table, that I should revel in my own. I read Hayek and realized that it wasn’t possible for me to know the in-depth circumstances discussed at another’s table. And I read Sun Tzu and realized that some issues discussed at another’s table can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t be shared.

Recently however, I’ve realized a further benefit to having read Sun Tzu: not only have I come to better understand Big Table envy, but now also, believe it or not, President Donald Trump.

It turns out that President Trump is an advocate of The Art of War. He has recommended the book to those seeking success. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the supposed chaos surrounding the President becomes clear with an understanding of Sun Tzu. And with that clarity, it then also becomes clear that the President considers himself to be at war.

And he wouldn’t be wrong. From Fake News hit pieces, to Opposition Pundit snark, to Democrat dark innuendo and cynical foot dragging, to Deep State sabotage, the forces arrayed against the President are considerable, and some are deeply troubling. And it appears that the way that the President is handling each of these attacks is by the book, Sun Tzu’s book.

As an example, let’s examine Thursday’s raucous and rancorous press conference through the rubric of The Art of War.

On Monday, National Security Advisor Flynn tendered his resignation. On Wednesday, President Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. In the press conference which followed that meeting, President Trump stoked the indignation of the Fake News media by dodging their predictable gotchas on the resignation of Flynn. Instead, he continued his recent practice of only taking questions from non-hostile outlets. “Pretend inferiority and encourage [your enemy’s] arrogance,” Estimates 23.

On Thursday, President Trump responded to the Fake News media’s predictable outrage, met with the press corps, and then proceeded to drop his hammer on them, mercilessly and repeatedly. “Offer an enemy a bait to lure him; feign disorder and strike him,” Estimates 20.

Yet, in the middle of this assault, President Trump pointed toward a path for the Fake News media to begin to redeem themselves. “To a surrounded enemy, you must leave a way of escape,” Manoeuvre 31.

Look, I want to see an honest press. … the public doesn’t believe you people anymore. … But if you were straight, I would be your biggest booster. I would be your biggest fan in the world, including bad stories about me.

It was masterful. I was on my feet cheering. And I’m certain that a good portion of America was with me. I’m also just as certain that a portion was sneering, and not just the wind-up apparatchiks in the Fake News media, but the legions of Opposition Pundits who still stubbornly insist that President Trump is a buffoon and that he can only be saved by admitting them, and their epic opinions, to their well-deserved place at the Big Table.

But let me tell you something about Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. It is one thing to read it. It is another thing to understand its implications. And it is quite another thing, an exceedingly rare thing, to be able to successfully execute its strategies. And if you don’t know Sun Tzu well enough to consistently and successfully execute it, then you don’t belong anywhere near President Trump’s Big Table.


Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Oxford University Press, 1963, Translated by Samuel B. Griffith.

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Some Perspective on WH Contempt for the Press

 

Jon Gabriel wrote a thought provoking post earlier today about the schizophrenic response to President Trump’s Thursday press conference. This post, similar to the schizophrenia inducing event itself, turned into a heated debate about the president, his temperament, and his reputed contempt for the press.

While it’s undeniable that President Trump is contemptuous of the press, I would just like to provide a little perspective on what contempt for the press actually is. No, I’m not comparing our fearless leader favorably to Adolph Hitler or any other odious autocrat from history. I would just like you to view a few minutes (or as much as you can stand) of the following White House press briefing led by Jay Carney three days after the Benghazi attacks.

I’m tempted to describe this performance and what it represents, but words fail me. Please just watch a few minutes and marvel. Then we can discuss the concept of contempt for the press with a little perspective from our recent, alternative universe past.

White House Press Briefing September 14, 2012

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I’m Moving to Canada

 

Last weekend my husband and I exhibited at the California International Antiquarian Book Fair with our Canadian location on the booth sign. So many visitors to the fair came into our booth and said either “I’m going to move to Canada”, Oh yeah, “You are lucky to have a nice/reasonable leader (most didn’t know it is a Prime Minister in Canada)”, Right, it was recently announced that Canada will now balance it’s budget in 2050. Trudeau is running the money faucet like there is no tomorrow and are no grandchildren to worry about, or both. Initially we said nothing but after a while I couldn’t help but comment on the fiscal issue. They always looked back at me with a quizzical look.

Beyond the ignorance about Canada generally, I still can’t get over people who assume that everyone in the world that they meet is politically in sync with them.

One American (California) dealer went around to the International dealers on what she called her “apology tour for Trump”.

I know this is no surprise to anyone here but it is very tiresome.

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Click here to see the ab workout doctors and gyms Don’t want you to know!

 

Stop overpaying for expensive gym memberships and fad exercises that don’t work! See the hidden ancient new ab workout technique accidentally discovered by an out of shape middle-aged desk worker.

He got results fast, and you can too. Click here to find out all about it…


Ancient farmers had perfect abs and knew about this technique. Ancient horticulturalists had abs that could crush rocks, and they perfected it, performing it ritually ever spring and fall. But the athletic gym monopolists have worked to hide it. Why don’t they want you to know this easy home exercise? Simple.

So they can sell more overpriced gym memberships.

Doctors don’t want you to know this technique either because they have learned that perfect abs are the key to perfect health.

But a middle-aged desk worker discovered what they had been hiding, and he found it in the comfort and serenity of his own desk chair. And it’s so easy that anyone can master it!

So stop doing crunches! Stop pretending to be a plank of wood! Read on to find out this miracle route to perfect abs.

We are going to reveal today, just for you, the secret to a shredded six pack and bulging obliques.

The history of this exercise goes back to ancient Assyrian farmers, whose work in planting and harvesting fields exposed them to heritage non-GMO strains of healthy gluten pollens (HGPs) in the atmosphere. These HGPs entered their nostrils and started a healthful and natural reaction that resulted in the most perfect abdominal muscles. We’ll tell how that works later, but trust us when we say it will blow you away!

Of course, the phony food industry, in collusion with a cabal of fitness instructors, has seen to it that HGPs are now exceedingly rare and expensive, and only available through hard to find health food stores that the FDA doesn’t want you to know about. But our chemists have isolated the compounds in the HGPs and discovered exactly what they do and how they work. But more on that later.

Ancient archeologists, excavating the ruins of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, have discovered that the gardeners here too had the same perfect abs as the Assyrian farmers, even though they were not working as farmers? Was it coincidence, or was there something else at work? The national flower of Babylon was the dandelion, and it turns out that ancient dandelions contain a similar compound to HGPs, known as Hearty Flower Pollen (HFPs), and the FDA banned use of HFPs decades ago for their known side effects of hallucinations and seeing mysterious hands writing on walls. But we put 2 and 2 together and isolated the beneficial effects common to both.

How did we do this? First let’s take you back to our out-of-shape middle-aged office worker. Let’s call him Chet. Chet noticed that every spring and fall, some of his coworkers would be out sick for a few days, then come back with totally shredded abs. Now Chet himself never got sick, and his abs were practically non-existent. He had to find out why.

Chet noticed that all of his sick coworkers were covertly practicing a therapy called “sneezing” to help them shake their illness. Chet discovered that during a sneeze, the abdominal muscles can rapidly contract, and that when sneezes are made in quick succession the coworkers would describe a “sick burn” of the sort normally associated only with professional weightlifters and gym instructors. After 3 or 4 days, his coworkers had washboard abs, but the illness would quickly pass and they would stop the sneezing exercises, leaving them with same flab as before.

Clearly a more long term solution was needed.

That’s when Chet stumbled upon the research on HFPs and HGPs. As it turns out, in the correct dosages, these compounds can allow the body to enter the correct mode for sneezing, on command, and without having to randomly contract a short-lived virus first. The secret element to both compounds was distilled and isolated by Chet, and now it’s available to you in an easy to use powder form.

It’s so simple that you’ll wonder why more people aren’t using it. One dose, once per day in each nostril, and you’ll be doing sneeze crunches for 20 minutes. In 3 or 4 days you’ll be totally ripped! Just keep administering Chet’s Special Ab Spray, and you’ll maintain your abs forever. And the best part is, your first week is on us, all you need to pay is $39.95 in shipping and handling.

Try it today, and rediscover the secret to perfect abs!

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It Couldn’t Have Been Any Better

 

Though perhaps little remembered today, the country music duo of Johnny Duncan and Janie Fricke were a staple of late 1970s and early 1980s country radio. It was then, as a kid growing up in the great West Texas city of El Paso, that I developed an appreciation for that particular musical genre which would never abate.

The ballads of Duncan and Fricke were often a bit on the seamy side, so I didn’t truly begin to understand what they were singing about until my teenage years, but when I did, I appreciated them even more.

Here they are performing “It Couldn’t Have Been Any Better” on a 1977 episode of Pop! Goes the Country:

Today, forty years later, their infectious joy still shines through their music. It can’t help but put me in a good mood while feeling down.

Regrettably, Johnny Duncan is no longer with us, having passed away in 2006 after a bout with cancer. Janie Fricke, however, is still performing at 69 years young.

Perhaps we all have idealized remembrances of our youth, when life seemed simpler, happier, and free from the day-to-day drudgery and stresses of adulthood. Are there any songs that take you back?

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Hope and the Deep State

 

“Hope” by Aaron Zelman and L. Neil SmithI post reviews of every book I read here, but this post is about a novel I read fifteen years ago, Hope, by Aaron Zelman and L. Neil Smith, which, although I considered it a thriller bordering on fantasy when I read it in 2002, I now consider prophetic and highly relevant to events now playing out in the United States.

Alexander Hope, a wealthy businessman with no political experience, motivated by what he perceives as the inexorable decline of the U.S. into a land where individual liberty and initiative are smothered by an inexorably growing state, manages, defying all of the pundits and politicians, through a series of highly improbable events, to end up elected president of the U.S., riding a popular wave of enthusiasm he generates in large rallies where he tells crowds things they’ve never heard before from the lips of politicians of the Locust and Quisling branches of the unified party of the ruling class, or from their mellifluous mouthpieces in the mainstream media. Crowds find themselves saying, “Wait—that makes sense!”, and the day after the election finds America with a president unlike any in its history.

Hope arrives in Washington with no political allies: members of both purported parties see him as an interloper and potential destroyer of their comfortable and lucrative racket. The minions of the bureaucracy and the “Beltway bandits” who feed at the federal trough are in a state of abject panic: here is a president who understands that about 95% of what they’re being paid for is not among the enumerated powers of the federal government. Never before has there been such a threat to the welfare/warfare/surveillance/nanny/spy empire, and this “deep state” reacts and begins to draw its plans against this elected interloper.

President Hope owes nothing to anybody except the voters who elected him. He has no constituency in Congress, and is unbeholden to lobbyists and donors. The legacy media, joined at the hip to the slavers, is unanimously aligned against him and his agenda. Hope has no alternative but to push government by Executive Order to the limit, finding that his predecessors have created ample precedents he can now exploit to dismantle or at least obstruct the administrative state. He continues, as he did in the campaign, to go over the heads of the media and communicate directly to the electorate, unfiltered.

This is a dangerous course, and before long the deep state begins to respond with acts, both overt and covert, to deal with the imminent threat.

Does any of this sound familiar? As I noted, when I read this I thought it fantasy; now it seems like we’re living it. If you like political thrillers, you may enjoy what has now become almost a guide to current events. I shall certainly be re-reading it in the months to come. There are a few goofs regarding constitutional law, but I didn’t find them to seriously detract from the story.

Zelman, Aaron and L. Neil Smith. Hope. Rockville, MD: Phoenix Pick, [2001] 2008. ISBN 978-1-60450-293-0.

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Earth: Enjoy It While You Still Can

 

I wrote this at 12:01 am on Feb. 16, 2017 — the end is near. I’m impelled to post this now, because I don’t know how much longer I have. Disaster is approaching (fast). Don’t make too many long-range plans. And, for Pete’s sake, don’t buy any green bananas.

What on Earth am I talking about? The start of the “Nibiru Cataclysm,” of course.

Also known as Planet X, the idea that our world, or very large portions of it, will soon end in this collision between Mother Earth and a large planetary object has been around for a little over twenty years, and was first postulated by Nancy Lieder, a “contactee” and communicator of the “Zeta message.” Nancy writes of her participation in the “hybrid program,” and of her “hybrid” children, here. (Warning: The ick factor is strong with this one). Her website, ZetaTalk will, it promises, “lead you through the vast amount of information being relayed by the Zetas in answer to questions posed to their emissary, Nancy Lieder.” So if you have unanswered questions after reading this post, please check back with Nancy.

If you’re still here, that is.

But I digress. Back to total annihilation for a moment.

Here’s how this is going to go down: On January 25, 2016, a large, hurtling space object was identified speeding towards Earth at approximately 26,000 miles per hour. NASA noticed it, and dubbed it 2016 WF9. NASA has announced that there is no reason for concern, and that the object will pass Earth harmlessly by.

Not so fast, according to Russian astronomer Dr. Dyomin Damir Zacharovich, who believes this object is a broken-off fragment of Nibiru, or Planet X, which is also hurtling towards Earth not far behind it. He’s concluded that this Nibiru fragment is going to hit the Earth today, February 16, 2017.

Says Dr. Zacharovich:

NASA is lying through its teeth. It is not conceivable that they do not know the truth. We have seen the data! The object they call WF9 left the Nibiru system in October when Nibiru began spinning counter clockwise around the sun. Since then, NASA has known it will hit Earth. But they are only telling people now and telling lies. That they call it 2016 WF9 proves they are lying. If they just discovered it yesterday, it would have a 2017 prefix.

The Nibiru system is filled with asteroids and dust. It was only a matter of time before one was hurled in our direction. The object is larger than NASA says. Our preliminary data suggested a 2.2km asteroid that will have no problem penetrating the atmosphere without burning up.

And this is just a precursor to the damage Nibiru will cause when it gets here. NASA probably knows the impact zone. I do not. We are all in peril.

If this has whetted your appetite for more information on Dr. Zacharovich, best of British luck. There doesn’t seem to be much about him on the Internet that doesn’t relate specifically to what I quoted above. (Some sites even imply that he does not actually exist! The nerve!) However, there are other “Nibiru believers” for whom a search might bear more fruit. For example: Dr. Herman Schwartzbaum, who believes that Nibiru is populated by a race of giants who launched 2016 WF9 on purpose, to cripple our defenses, before they colonize us later this year (He also believes that US Special Operations Forces have clashed with invasion forces of the 30-foot tall Annunaki (his name for the aliens), while searching for Taliban enclaves in Afghanistan). Or, Zecharia Sitchin, whose 1976 book, “The Twelfth Planet” was cited by Nancy Lieder as her inspiration. Apparently, Sitchin believed that humans evolved on Nibiru, and colonized Earth during a previous “flyby” somewhere in the ancient past.

How much damage will the first incursion of the “Nibiru Cataclysm,” due sometime today, cause? According to Dr. Zacharovich, it may wipe out a city as large as New York, or it may cause a tsunami capable of inundating a continent. This will be followed, on October 5, by collision between the Earth and Nibiru itself, completely wiping out life on our fair planet and obliterating us all.

So, what have we done to prepare?

Well, not much. In fact, the only serious international attempt to save us from swift and sure oblivion has, apparently, run out of money, and has been abandoned. According to The Sun, “the mission suffered a major setback when European space ministers,” (please don’t laugh) “gathering in Switzerland in December for a regular policy and budget meeting, rejected funding for the Asteroid Impact Mission project.”

Sad! As President Trump might tweet.

Now, I think I’ve covered all the critical stuff here, and I don’t want to delay my important post, for obvious reasons, so before I go, let me just say this:

I can imagine that many of you have itchy fingers, and are just dying to press the “Flag” button and shout “Fruitcake!” in your loudest outdoor voices. Some of you are probably pondering just WTH She is up to here. You’re asking, “is She promulgating Official Ricochet Policy?” Or maybe, “have Rob, Peter, and even, Yeti, lost their ever-loving minds, once and for all?” Or, perhaps you’re wondering, “does She have her Moderator Hat on, or has She doffed it for this insane conspiracy theory post???”

The answer to all the above questions is very simple. Yes. Or No. Pick one and go with it and you’ll be right either way. But do please note that I have provided copious links to back up my statements with actual, verifiable facts. I know they are actual, verifiable facts, because they are on the Internet, and I can link to them.

So, perhaps everything stated here is true, and perhaps it’s not.

Either way, I’ll see you all on the other side.

I hope.

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Rallies on the Right

 

Does anyone know anything about “Spirit of America” rallies to be held on Feb 27 and March 4? It’s an organization called mainstreetpatriots.us. I found it because I was thinking there has to be some way we can counter the highly visible and destructive antics of the Left. I mean, outside the urban areas, and except for Calif, most of the people did vote for Trump–we have to show we’re still here.

The problem is, will these draw even respectable crowds without Trump himself there? And with no particular issue being the focal point?

Anyway, assuming these rallies will really happen, the Ricochet community should be aware. The website lists a contact for most states.

I hope and pray it works, because the media onslaught against Trump is merciless.

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For Your “Trump Is Hitler!” Relatives, a Dose of Reality

 

So, as many other Ricochetti, I have occasional interactions with family members and friends who are on the other side of the aisle politically and a discouragingly large number of these folks are afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome in one degree and form or another. One common form is TiH-mania, “Trump is Hitler”- mania. This is a particular form of psychotic break from reality in which the victim earnestly believes that Donald Trump is in no way to be distinguished from Adolf Hitler.

If you encounter such a person and you think the case is mild enough that the person in question may still be capable of rational thought and may still have contact with objective reality, you should ask that person these questions:

  1. Has Trump ordered the Majority Leaders of the House and Senate to dissolve Congress and replace it with an “Imperial Government of the People”? No? Then he’s not Hitler.
  2. Has he reinstituted the draft for all able-bodied, military-aged people? No? Then he’s not Hitler.
  3. Has he ordered the expansion of American “Lebensraum”- say, into Mexico or Quebec- and the “merciless” Americanisation of the native populaces there? No? Then he’s not Hitler.
  4. Has he placed all press and broadcast media directly under a censorship authority controlled by his party (not the federal government per se, but his party in fact and practical effect)? Has he effectively subjected all public comment on his administration to the veto of his agents? That is, has he placed the editors of the New York Times, the Nation, Slate, Salon, NBC, CBS, PBS, ABC and CNN directly under the authority of a law that will be enforced by Steve Bannon? No? Then he’s not Hitler.
  5. Has Donald Trump forbidden public demonstrations against his administration, policies or personal authority? No? Then he is not Hitler, not by a mile.
  6. Has he recruited 50,000 military aged men to serve as the backbone of an internal police force that will be tasked with beating, assaulting and terrorizing his political enemies in order to insure obedience to the state? No? Then Donald J. Trump is definitely not Adolf Hitler and for that matter he’s not even a minor-league Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez or Nicholas Maduro.
  7. Has Donald Trump secretly ordered his agents to set the Capitol building on fire and then blamed the Democrats for it? No? Then he’s not even an amateurish Hitler wanna-be.
  8. Has he ordered the Bill of Rights to be suspended? No? Has he even suggested that, as some Democrats were suggesting just last year (and the year before that … and the year before that), that the First Amendment in that Bill of Rights should be “re-examined” to allow laws making it illegal to criticize say, the lifestyles of certain politically protected classes of persons or certain politically fashionable ideas? Did his party even advance legislation to bring this about? No? Then he’s not Hitler. For that matter, he’s not even Harry Reid or Hillary Clinton.
  9. Has he dissolved the senates or other deliberative bodies of the several states and placed those state governments directly under the control of his administration? No? Then Donald Trump is most assuredly not Adolf Hitler.
  10. Has he set up anywhere any sort of concentration camp or mass-incarceration prison, say in Madison, Wisconsin, for the express purpose of imprisoning his political enemies? No? Then, good grief, the man is not even an Pol Pot, much less and Adolf Hitler!

I’m stopping the list here only because it covers the defining actions of Adolf Hitler in the first four to six weeks of assuming power. We will be a month into the Trump administration next week, and sane, rational people see nothing even faintly resembling these actions. “But he’s going after illegals!”, said an online interlocutor. “You mean like self-named “Deporter in Chief” Barack Obama?” was my reply. Like Jonah Goldberg, I find plenty to criticize in President Trump but at this time in his first term, I found plenty to criticize about George W. Bush as well. Does anybody else here remember that badly-handled incident with North Korea? In any case, comparing Trump to Hitler or any of the major or minor dictators of recent vintage- is about as thoroughly irrational as a political comparisons get.

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Don’t Let The Bastards (including me) Bring You Down!

 

Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people. 

The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less. –Socrates

Ricochetians, not only do I have great respect and admiration for you all — that has grown into an affection that I’ve never developed in a non-physical Community. Indeed, I’ve opted to spend time with y’all rather than corporeal acquaintances — which is unheard of for me. But I have to get some things off my chest per the recent skirmish with @richardepstein over his essay that was designed to raise your hackles. Not intentionally mind you — which is the ultimate irony. In his castigation of the President’s demeanor and disposition — he was oblivious to his own boorish gravitas. Just as two mirrors facing each other will bounce back the same image, ad infinitum — two narcissists always manage to look passed their own churlish visage only to see the other lout.

But I’m not here to zing Dr. Epstein for the millionth time on Ricochet. This is about you, us, and our Community.

First, let me make a confession that will be obvious at first — yet still manage to get your dander up. I hope you will not only hear me out — but believe me when I say I’m not referring to you, your intelligence, or your character — all of which I absolutely value or I would not waste the time or especially the money. For all it’s bluster, Dr. Epstein’s argument was a rational, structured, and (somewhat) researched thesis — with all the defenses and weaknesses therein to plumb. Specifically, as @skipsul bulls-eyed, a slipshod premise that was largely an ideological tantrum being thrown about Free Trade. Y’all are far too smart and capable to let some elitist legalese keep you from parsing the inconsistencies that are right at the surface. I know you feel inundated with anti-Trump polemics. And you likely are. But polemics are notoriously built on poor logic — and once you side-step the bravado and ad hominem — you will easily be able to not only defeat the argument but use it against the author — and ultimately persuade them into your thinking! I have no doubt! Why? Because you convinced me — and here are my feelings on Donald Trump in all their fearful, absurd, and irrational insanity.

I abhor the man with every fiber in my being. Every single aspect of his behavior repulses me. I’ve never witnessed such crude self-infatuation, not only in my entire career, but in my entire life. That he leads America, the greatest Country that has ever existed and still complains brings me a gut-wrenching contempt that is only outdone by the flippant disregard he has shown active duty and veterans. I believe him to be the complete embodiment of the Machiavellian Dark-Triad. In that he accomplishes all the turbulence and deception of The Prince — not by design, not by intellect — but by his sheer gluttonous ego. This isn’t a call for him to resign (hilarious in its futility) — this isn’t a call for you to act. Donald Trump’s success is some type of Faustian destiny — and he will stay in that office as long as it suits him.

Are you still with me? I hope so. Listen, these feelings I have toward the man have only been ameliorated by you here at Ricochet. Especially the Trump supporters. Intelligent, charismatic, devoted, charitable, and wonderful people — the personification of American grace and civility. In you, I lose my doubt. In you, I no longer feel fearful. In you, I even see hope. In your definitions of his necessity — whether as a warrior, wrecking ball, or even family man — I feel more charitable to him because I feel charitable towards you. If you did that for me with your humor and charity — you can easily defeat any Ivy League professor’s self-reverential onanism. Trust me. And I will be here to cheer and ridicule all the elitists — but please guys: stay positive. Don’t lose self confidence. Reject Ad Hominem attacks. To borrow from Socrates again: “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.” And y’all are too decent of people to maintain that verbosity for an extended period. I know. I saw you grow sick with the whole spectacle and contemplate leaving.

The common refrain is that the front page should reflect the mood of the users — and while that does happen quite a bit — it isn’t always the case. But honestly and truly, would you want it that way? Politics are a contact sport — I consider Ricochet as a Dojo. A place to hone my critical strikes but also practice my falling and develop my callouses. And to do this with friends that I admire — which make the victories more thrilling and the losses more acceptable (while nourishing as well for me).

I’ve not always considered myself Conservative or Liberal. Not sure what I consider myself now. I’m a compassionate person with a career in Social Work, but I’m also a Bill of Rights absolutist and Constitutional textualist. People have clocked me as a Centrist — but I see myself as only an American. One who has made it a point of order and pride to be able to get along with anyone in our beloved Country. I’ve made it my life’s work to be an advocate for our Military personnel and be an unflagging resolver of conflict. Racially and culturally — its programmed in my DNA to resolve American antipathy. Those mystic chords which Lincoln spoke of are the rich melodies that have filled my heart as long as I can remember.

I’m a braggart, a wise-cracker, and a ham. I’m given to contrarianism, maudlin outbursts, and vanity — but I’m also compassionate, strong, genuine, with an egalitarian compass.

Yes, this essay has been about me (haha suckers). I am also an unabashed narcissist — but I’m one who loves to see others succeed. By competing, vying, and even duking-it-out occasionally. But always having it in their hearts to graciously win, valiantly lose, and laugh about the whole thing. These aren’t things that are in an elitist’s passel — this is why I’ll always be on your side – even if I don’t agree. Its perhaps the greatest cognitive dissonance one can maintain — and it’s an American birthright.

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How to Do Valentine’s Day When You’re Thousands of Miles Apart

 

This is the first year that @1967mustangman and I will be together in person for Valentine’s Day. The first year of our relationship was long distance, and our trips to see each other were determined by our grad school schedules.

Granted, I think Valentine’s Day is a stupid holiday that usually ends up encouraging men to spend ridiculous amounts of money on flowers that are going to end up in the trash out of a sense of obligation and single women to drink heavily while contemplating “I don’t need a man! I’ll get a puppy. A puppy won’t argue with me about how to fold a fitted sheet or cheat on me with his ugly executive assistant.”

My dislike of the made-up holiday aside, this is the first time in years that I will be with someone for Valentine’s Day — should be awesome, right? This year probably won’t be quite as romantic though as last year. Here’s the schedule for tonight:

  • 5:45 – VC makes a nice dinner, but doesn’t open a bottle of wine because we both have to work tomorrow.
  • 6:15 – Mustangman comes rushing over from work, which he will undoubtedly gotten out late from because someone always stops him on his way out.
  • 6:18 – We eat. “You might want to only eat half and take the rest for lunch tomorrow, since I didn’t make anything to take for lunch.”
  • 6:45 – We leave to go run errands before the stores close. There’s a big sale on at Macy’s, and it ends today.
  • 8:45 – Return home. Do stuff around the house. Do cat control, because it’s the time of day that Marcello gets squirrely and starts destroying things.
  • 9:30 – Mustangman goes home. I go to bed.

Not very romantic. However, last year was romantic, even with thousands of miles separating us.

For the 15 months we spent doing long distance, Skype and FaceTime were our best friends. Every evening we would get on Skype for 3-5 hours, essentially spending the evening together. We would keep the line open while we were studying or cooking or cleaning. It gave a sense of normalcy and intimacy even though we were on opposite sides of the country. A couple days before Valentine’s Day last year, Mustangman said “What do you want to do for Valentine’s Day? I feel like we should do something.” I looked confused for a minute. “I’m not sure what we can do with you in Portland and me here…” He suggested we have a Skype date. We would both make the same meal at our respective houses and “share” a meal together while on Skype. “How about doing some filets? Filets would be good.” Yes, filets would be good, but I was a poor grad student, and the idea of spending $15 on a single piece of steak did not sound good. Initially I said yes, but then the day of Valentine’s Day, I told him I was just going to use up some chicken I had in the fridge.

“Babe, I really don’t need to be spending the money on expensive steaks right now. I’m just going to have some chicken.”

“Hold on … just hold on.”

“I’m going to the store right now. If I see something on sale that looks nice, I’ll get it.”

At Publix, I walked up and down the meat department looking for something cheap. I noticed a young man with a camo Tennessee Vols hat and the green Shipt t-shirt I had started seeing more and more of recently. The guy was talking on his phone loudly when he reached into the meat case, grabbed what he was looking for, and walked on. Mustangman was on the phone with me as meandered around the store.

“Hey babe, are you going to be home soon?”

“As soon as I finish getting what I need.”

“So, maybe in like 30 minutes?”

“Yeah, probably.”

“Ok, just don’t buy any meat.”

I got home, unpacked my groceries, and within 15 minutes there was a knock on my door. When I opened the door, that same young man from Publix was standing there, grocery bags in hand.

“Are you VC?”

“Yes…”

“Your boyfriend, Mustangman, wanted me to bring you some things on his behalf for Valentine’s Day. Here you go.”

In the bags from Publix were two rib eyes, two dozen red roses, dinner rolls, and two boxes of Earl Grey tea. That night, we ate a romantic dinner together over Skype, and finished the evening by watching Dangerous Beauty at the same time on our own computers. “I wanted to be able to have a romantic night with you, even if you’re in Alabama, so I went online and found a grocery delivery service.”

It was one of the most romantic times in our relationship. I think this one’s a keeper.

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A Bright Story for your Day

 

Regardless of whether you hate football, the Patriots, or are ambivalent about both, this is a heartwarming story. Black athletes are often the heroes for Black children, and sadly many of the best athletes are not great role models. Here is the story of a young man who took stock of himself and after some success he has done his best to give back to children in the best way he can. He lives by example in many ways.

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The Love Story of Josie and David

 

It was the summer of 1976 when Josie and David met. Josie had graduated from the College of Saint Benedict with a Nursing degree in May. She had applied to work as a nurse at Camp Friendship in Annandale, MN, a camp for those with mental disabilities. David had been working at the camp for a few years, this was his third summer as the primary cook at the camp. They got to know each other over the summer of ’76, they fell in love. Josie planned to move away from Minnesota at the end of the summer. Where was she going to move to? She wasn’t sure yet, she was ready to go somewhere else because she had lived in Minnesota for her whole life. David wanted to stay in St. Cloud, MN. He didn’t want to leave. They had the summer that they could be together. Would that be it?

The summer came to an end and Josie decided it was time to move away from Minnesota. She embarked on a road trip, by herself, across the country. She traveled to St. Louis, MO, Oklahoma City, OK, Albuquerque, NM, Phoenix, AZ, Los Angeles, CA, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, among other cities. In each city she applied at hospitals to work as a nurse. Sometimes she slept in her car, sometimes she slept in a tent at a campground, and on a few occasions she stayed at cheap motels. She interviewed at many of the hospitals. She was offered a job in Albuquerque and she accepted in September ’76. She had never lived there and had never been there before. She knew no one else there. She was still in love with David, sending him letters along her road trip route. David stayed in St. Cloud, MN. He was working a dead end job. He too was still in love with Josie.

After Josie accepted her job in Albuquerque she called up David. She told him the good news and she wanted to know if he still loved her. She asked him, “Do you love me?” He said, “Yes, I love you.” She said, “If you love me and you want to be with me, you’ll follow me. Will you move to Albuquerque with me?” What would David do? Everything he knew was in Minnesota. He’d never been to Albuquerque. Would their relationship last. It didn’t take long for David to respond. He said, “I’ll be there in a week.” He loaded up his car and moved to Albuquerque to be with Josie.

She had a job. What would he do? He found a job at the University of New Mexico as a night janitor. It was a start. Surely other good things would follow, and follow they did. By the summer of ’77 they were married.

They stayed in Albuquerque until the fall of ’83. It was then that they moved to West-Central Illinois to be closer to Josie’s father. The move happened when Josie was six and half months pregnant. Their first child was born in November. Over the next eight years two more children would come along. Thirty years after their first child was born, their first grandchild was born. The passion for traveling that Josie had continued on – David gained an appreciation for it – and that passion was inherited by their three children.

Their love story came to a pause a year and a half ago when Josie’s earthly life came to an end. They were married for 38 years and were together for 39 years. One day they will be reunited again in the heavenly kingdom. Their love lasted much longer than just the summer of ’76.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Josie and David are my mom and dad. I’m the youngest. (And yes to be clear, my dad is still alive and well.) Their love story is my favorite – the adventurous spirit of my mom to move somewhere completely new and my dad wanting to be with my mom so bad that he would give up everything he knew.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

David and Josie on their wedding day, 1977.
David and Josie, summer of 2014.
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Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

 

Like many of you, I was appalled at the shoddy reasoning exhibited in the recent 9th Circuit Court opinion governing President Trump’s executive order. Subsequent reading has only further muddied the waters for me, but today’s post by the great Richard Epstein has calmed me down a bit.

Regardless of the merits of this particular case, one thing that all conservatives can agree on is that the 9th Circuit is a disgrace. Overwhelmingly liberal and a fine example of a corrupt judiciary run amok. I mean the 9th circuit has been overturned 80% of the time in recent years! This is fact. I know, I heard it from Hannity.

It turns out that this statistic is misleading. Perusing SCOTUSblog’s Stat Archive one finds that the picture is not quite as obvious as the one painted by the Right Wing of our media. For the years 2010–2015 it is true that the 9th circuit has been overturned about 79% of the time, but this does not make it “the most overturned court in the country” nor does it appear to be wildly outside the norm. Here is how the statistics break down:

6th Circuit – 87%
11th Circuit – 85%
9th Circuit – 79%
3rd Circuit – 78%
2nd Circuit and Federal Circuit – 68%
8th Circuit – 67%
5th Circuit – 66%
7th Circuit – 48%
DC Circuit – 45 %
1st Circuit and 4th Circuit – 43%
10th Circuit – 42%

At least the 10th Circuit appears to be doing pretty well (Go Neil!).

Furthermore, as my resident Legal Expert, the brilliant and beautiful Mrs Lockett, informed me these statistics tell us next to nothing about the merits of any particular district court. First, these statistics only measure cases where the Supreme Court has granted Cert, which leaves out hundreds of cases during the measured period. Second, cases granted Cert by the Supreme Court stand a greater than average chance of being overturned as they represent a genuine controversy exists or that two jurisdictions have come to different conclusions on the merits. Third, the 9th circuit represents one of the most populous and diverse regions in the nation and handles many more controversial cases than many of the other districts. Finally, that statistic would only be significant to Conservatives if the Supreme Court was considered “conservative” – no one on our side would be making this argument if the Warren Court were overturning 5th Circuit Court opinions at an alarming rate.

What can we learn from this? Judge things based on the merits and don’t just accept statistics at face value, especially when they confirm your biases.