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Remember the Roman Republic


“A republic, if you can keep it” – Benjamin Franklin

“Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst.” – Robert Heinlein

The Roman Republic began to come to an end when time honored government traditions and boundaries were discarded in the service of a worthy objective. 

About four hundred years after the founding of the Roman Republic, in 133 BC, Tiberius Graccus was elected to the office of tribune. He saw that large numbers of Roman citizens had no land and no place to live. Slaves and money flooded into the Republic following the victory over Carthage. The slaves displaced free men, who could no longer find work, and the money drove up the price of land and increased taxes. These poor people were forced off their land and had to work as sharecroppers for the rich. They had no way to improve their status. This was also a problem for the state because only landed citizens could be drafted to serve in the legions.

A group of Senators sympathetic to the plight of these poor citizens proposed splitting up public lands and giving workable plots to worthy people. The citizens so gifted would be required to work the land and would be prohibited from selling it. The Senators wrote a bill, the Lex Agrera, to enact this idea, and they chose Tiberius Graccus to present it directly to the Assembly thereby doing an end run around the Senate. This bill was strongly opposed by the rich patricians of the Senate because many of them were leasing big plots of the public land and would be required by the proposed law to give those lands back to the state for redistribution.

Tiberius tried to have the proposed law read to the plebian Assembly in preparation for a vote, but another tribune, Marcus Octavius, vetoed the reading of the bill, as was his right as a tribune. Traditionally, a tribune would rescind his veto after making a speech explaining his opposition to the measure, but Octavius did not. He made it clear that he’d make the veto permanent and prevent the bill from ever becoming law, openly flouting the clear will of the people of the Assembly. Thus, one of the oldest traditions of Rome was violated.

Tiberius responded by putting a bill before the Assembly to have Octavius deposed as tribune. There was no law against doing this, but it had never been done before and crossed another traditional boundary. With this move, Tiberius alienated even his supporters in the Senate, the ones who had proposed the Lex Agrera in the first place.

 After Marcus Octavius was removed from office the Lex Agrera became law, but then the Senate, which was in charge of Rome’s budget, refused to fund the effort to re-distribute the land.

Tiberius was again stymied, but he came up with a new strategy. It so happened that a large area of land in what is now Western Turkey fell into the hands of the Roman people at the death of the king there, who was a client of Rome. Following Tiberius’ lead, the Assembly seized control of the land and the king’s treasury for the purpose of funding the redistribution of Roman land. This again flouted tradition since the Senate was supposed to control the money and foreign affairs.

Then Tiberius, nearing the end of his one year term as tribune, proposed that he be re-elected as tribune so as to continue the land re-distribution plan. This was yet another audacious and unprecedented move, and it alarmed the Senate, who thought that Tiberius was trying to make himself king. Indeed, he had usurped much, egging the plebian Assembly on to take more and more of the Senate’s prerogatives. The Assembly now controlled foreign policy and the money, and Tiberius seemingly controlled the Assembly. With repeated re-election, he would be king in every way but name.

The vote to enable Tiberius’ re-election was to be put before the Assembly, but a mob of patricians and their clients lead by one of the Senators pounced on Tiberius’s supporters just as the vote to re-elect was to take place and beat them down with clubs, killing 300 of the plebians along with Tiberius.

So, things escalated in a contest of brinksmanship, smashing one unspoken traditional rule after another, until the issue was settled with violence. From that point on the Republic was often ruled by violence since people had learned that violence settles disputes in a way that civil discourse and proceedings no longer could. Partisan politics of the conservative Senators trying to keep power with the elite class, while the tactics of the Populares, who looked to the lower classes for support, divided the people and classes into warring factions. For nearly 100 years things were unpredictable at best and brutally bloody at worst. Finally, the stage was set for a tyrant to take power.

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And Justice For All


The killers of my maternal grandmother’s cousin are still alive and kicking, living just a walk away from most of grandma’s relatives. On November 16, 2018, thirty-nine years after the Vietnamese forced them out of power, two Khmer Rouge senior leaders, Nuon Chea, aka Brother Number 2, and Khieu Samphan, its head of state, were […]

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Metastatic Leftism


Keeping thousands of doctors across the country up to date on the latest science and research is not easy. Most of us receive various medical journals each month, and they’re generally a good source of information. For this to be helpful, however, the journals and their content must be trusted. For example, if a journal was owned by Pfizer, the articles in that journal about Pfizer drugs might be questioned, and thus, less valuable. Which is why these journals go to great pains to maintain and demonstrate their impartial, objective viewpoints. Otherwise, why read them?

During the Clinton administration, JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) ran an article about a “research study” which supposedly demonstrated that a majority of American youth do not view oral sex to be real sex, which therefore supposedly demonstrated that when Bill Clinton famously said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinski,” he was not directly lying. Now, the American Medical Association is not a great measure of the viewpoint of American physicians (I don’t belong to it – last I heard less than 6% of American physicians did belong to it – long story why – that’s another post…), but still, they were attempting to use their influence to shape public opinion. These are dangerous waters. They were willing to risk making themselves look silly, and lose the reputation they had built up over the course of decades, simply to provide temporary cover for a favored politician. I made a mental note to take what I read in JAMA with a grain of salt. And then this week, I receive this medical journal in the mail:

This journal has not one, but two articles about transgender medicine. One is presented in a similar format to the typical diagnosis and treatment articles that you might read in a medical journal. The other is presented as an editorial. The writing styles and content are similar.

Check out the words used in the editorial: Care, committed, advocacy, biologic sex, inclusive, diverse, gender identity, unique, and continuity. What makes that list even more remarkable is that all of those words are found in the first sentence of the editorial. That is remarkable. It reads like satire. The Babylon Bee could post this article with no alterations.

The “science-based” article states that there are over 1.5 million Americans who identify as transgender. For comparison, there are about 1.2 million Americans who identify as Presbyterian. I’ve been practicing medicine for over 20 years. I’ve treated lots of Presbyterians, but I’ve never encountered a transgender patient. I’m not sure what to make of their stats, but Miss Lewinsky cautions me to take them with a grain of salt.

The article helpfully provides some definitions:

“Transgender describes persons whose experienced or expressed gender differs from their sex assigned at birth.”

Wow. Ok, so their experienced gender means, I guess, how they feel about themselves today. Or something. Man, their definitions need definitions. And I love the phrase, “sex assigned at birth.” Assigned by who? On what basis might their sex have been “assigned?” I wonder if that basis for their “sex assignment” might be relevant to the topic of this article? They don’t say. That’s a lot of very careful, awkward phrasing with no possible purpose except to avoid reality.

Avoiding reality is generally unhelpful in scientific articles.

Another definition:

Gender dysphoria describes distress or problems functioning that may be experienced by transgender and gender-diverse persons; this term should be used to describe distressing symptoms rather than to pathologize.”

Ok, first, you can’t put a phrase like “gender-diverse person” into a definition without defining it. I have no idea what one of those is. The mind boggles. Please help me with that.

Next, a phrase I’ve never seen in a medical journal: “this term should be used to describe distressing symptoms rather than to pathologize.” I was previously unaware that the word “pathology” could be used as a verb. Pathology essentially means disease. I think they’re saying that when you “pathologize” something that you’re describing it as a disease. And I think their point is that we shouldn’t do that to common, normal, healthy behaviors, like transgenderism.

Just as a reminder, this article was written by physicians, in a scientific journal. Or apparently, as Andrew Klavan would say, a former scientific journal.

I won’t review the entire article. I have better things to do than write silliness like that, and you have better things to do than read it.

The modern left is beyond satire.

And now, their experienced dysphoria has pathologized my beloved medical journals. It’s tragic. It really is.

So now, I’m not even allowed to study medical research without having Democrat talking points shoved down my throat. It’s everywhere. Like a metastatic cancer.

With a similar impact on the host.

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Venerated Venues: The Friendly Confines


When it comes to sports, I am first and foremost a baseball fan. I’ve been to Old Comiskey Park, Fulton County Stadium, “The Murph” (and later to Petco), Camden Yards, RFK Stadium (and later to Nationals Park). I’ll go wherever baseball is played (when I have the money) and enjoy myself and the surroundings, but […]

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College Costs


My wife and I attended Syracuse U on AFTOTC scholarships (me after enlisted service and she right out of high school). We graduated with engineering degrees in 1982. A military friend has a daughter getting ready to graduate and was bemoaning the cost of tuition. Out of curiosity, I looked it up. Our senior year […]

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Every voter is unique, but here’s a simplification of Republican voter types: 30%: Early Trump supporters (MAGAs), who preferred Trump over his 16 rivals. 60%: Late Trumpers, who hated Trump during the early primaries, but support him now. 10%: Trump-haters Most of those who make a living in conservative politics and punditry are Trump-haters. Most […]

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Important Theological Question of the Day


I don’t care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I just want to know what gender (or, preferably, sex) they are!

As I was putting up my nativity set last night and placing the angel overlooking the crib, it occurred to me how feminized angels appear in our popular art. It’s always bothered me that the angel in my set has huge hands(!) and is wearing a dress. And a shiny stole, and, well, lookie there! She/he/it appears to have bosoms!

I was under the impression angels are male. Certainly, all the named ones are (Michael, Gabriel, Raphael). What’s up with all the pretty gal angels adorning our art?

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Orthodox Church Structure: Veneration and Worship


“Taste and see…” It is an evening service at the beginning of Great Lent. The lights are subdued, not completely off like they will be on Great and Holy Friday, but dimmed enough such that the candles have their say in the illumination of the small nave. This is an evening liturgy, and being Lent […]

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Outrage: It’s All in the Labeling


This photo has been making the rounds on Facebook. I had 17 years of formal education and never once had a class in “white history.” I did, however, have classes in the history of the United States, which included people of all colors. If white people often appear in that history, it may have something […]

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Virginia Teacher Fired for Not Using Compelled Speech


“‘Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the twentieth time that day. ‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first–verdict afterward.’ ‘Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly.” — Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

In the latest installment of Leftist agenda-driven stuff-and-nonsense, the school board for West Point High School in Virginia, by a unanimous (5-0) decision, has fired French teacher Peter Vlaming for not using compelled speech and for “misidentifying” a female student who identifies as a male as a female. In a statement following the board’s decision, the Superintendent stated:

“The School Board has policies that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity. As detailed during the course of the public hearing, Mr. Vlaming was recommended for termination due to this insubordination and repeated refusal to comply with directives made to him by multiple WPPS administrators. As superintendent, it is my responsibility to enforcement board policy, and due to Mr. Vlaming’s non-compliance I therefore recommended termination.”

Forget the stark reality of the situation in a universe where a tree is a tree, a rock is a rock, a dog is a dog, and a woman is a woman. We live in a time where many words have lost their meanings altogether. Fascists really consider themselves empathetic liberals. Self-proclaimed anti-fascists (excused by CNN anchors) will crack your skull with a baseball bat because you stand for principles like free speech and tolerance. In this postmodern, neo-Marxist wonderland up is down, in is out, female is male, male is female, and occasionally sometimes male and sometimes female depending on one’s feelings and moods at the time. Mean-spirited and unfeeling biological truth be damned! In the interest of full disclosure, I want you to know that I have always identified as a male, so whatever I write can be dismissed entirely because I am part of the dominant patriarchy that, for thousands of years, has oppressed women and women who believe that they are men.

Verdict first. Trial after. At this writing, there is no word yet, whether Mr. Vlaming and his attorney will sue the school district for wrongful termination and violating his First Amendment right of free speech. The fact that Vlaming has counsel is probably an indication that a lawsuit is in the offing. I certainly hope that they do sue, even if a win in a court with financial penalties is a temporary loss to Virginia taxpayers. If a lawsuit is filed and if it works its way up to the Supreme Court, there is a remote, infinitesimal chance, that a microscopic portion of this post-modern, Leftist compelled speech idiocy will perhaps diminish…slightly. (I’m out of qualifiers.)

No word as yet, whether the school board will force Mr. Vlaming to bake a cake for the student he so wrongfully discriminated against as a way to apologize for his outrageous anti-transgender bigotry. He wasn’t teaching in Colorado…so, there is that.

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Quote of the Day: ‘This Was a Sockdolager’


When I was growing up, Davey Crockett was a Disney character played by Fess Parker. I even had the coonskin hat. It wasn’t until much later that I learned that he was a real person who had a real role in American history. In fact, it would be good if we had more of his type now. We also need more like Horatio Bunce.

The following is a summary from a more extended article from the Foundation for Economic Education and I recommend reading it and remembering that, as the article says, “the precise rendering and some of the detail are fictional.”

Among other things, Crockett was a member of Congress representing Tennessee for two terms.

One day in the House, a bill was taken appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. The bill was about to pass when Davey Crockett rose to speak against it. Part of his speech was :

Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.

When asked later why he opposed the bill, he told of a time several years earlier when several congressmen noticed a fire in Georgetown. After seeing the destruction, the next day they passed a bill for $20,000 for the relief of the victims.

Then, as he described it:

The next summer, when it began to be time to think about the election, I concluded I would take a scout around among the boys of my district. I had no opposition there, but, as the election was some time off, I did not know what might turn up. When riding one day in a part of my district in which I was more of a stranger than any other, I saw a man in a field plowing and coming toward the road. I gauged my gait so that we should meet as he came to the fence. As he came up, I spoke to the man. He replied politely, but, as I thought, rather coldly.

I began: ‘Well, friend, I am one of those unfortunate beings called candidates, and–’

‘Yes, I know you; you are Colonel Crockett, I have seen you once before, and voted for you the last time you were elected. I suppose you are out electioneering now, but you had better not waste your time or mine. I shall not vote for you again.’

This was a sockdolager . . . I begged him to tell me what was the matter.

I should stop and point out that a “sockdolager” is “a forceful blow.” The farmer was Horatio Bunce. He went on to point out that the bill to support the fire victims was against the Constitution.

“‘It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be intrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he.”

Crockett agreed and promised to say that his vote was wrong to other voters in the district and Bunce agreed that if he did, Bunce would help him win. Crockett fulfilled his promise and so did Bunce.

Like I said, we need more voters like Bunce and more congressmen like Davey Crockett who pay attention to them and the Constitution.

P.S. I don’t think any members of Congress took him up on his challenge for private charity.

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The Captain of the Nevada: Dec. 7, 1941


Author’s Note: This is my annual reposting. I have made modifications due to excellent input by Ricochet members.

I read “Day of Infamy” by Walter Lord when I was 11 years old. It is still the best first-hand account of the attack on Pearl Harbor. A great read, you won’t be able to put it down.

At 8 am on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, the 183 Japanese planes of the first attack wave descended on Pearl Harbor. Admiral Nagumo’s attack fleet was less than 100 miles from Pearl. Luckily the Enterprise, the huge American aircraft carrier, was at sea. Not so lucky was the fact that the American battleship fleet was anchored and inert, tied up in a neat row called Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor. The battleships were huge sitting targets. Even if someone had sounded an alarm when the planes were spotted on radar, it wouldn’t have made that much difference as it takes two hours for a battleship’s boilers to come up to full pressure so she can move properly.

All of the battleships at Pearl that day had dead cold boilers. Completely tied up at anchor, after coming up to full boiler pressure, it would have taken another 45 minutes with the help of multiple tugboats to get a battleship away from Battleship Row and moving.

It was Sunday morning and almost everyone was attending Sunday morning services. However, to this fact and everything I stated in the preceding paragraph, there was one exception. The Battleship USS Nevada had about one-third of her crew and one officer and one quartermaster aboard. The boilers of Nevada were at about half pressure. She was making repairs, even on Sunday morning.

The Japanese planes of the first attack wave descended without any warning whatsoever. Seeing the sitting ducks on Battleship Row, the pilots converged instantly for the attack on the American ships.

Nevada was the last ship on Battleship Row in position 8. Ahead of her at anchor was the Battleship USS Arizona. In the first 15 minutes of the attack, a bomb struck Arizona perfectly penetrating her forward deck armor and exploding her forward ammunition magazine. The entire ship detonated in a huge explosion. The explosion killed 1,117 of her crew of 1,400. Half the ship was gone and the other half was a burning inferno.

All of Pearl Harbor was mad confusion. People running everywhere trying to get to their posts, pinned down by strafing Japanese planes. On Nevada, the highest ranking officer was Ensign Joseph Taussig, Jr. He was the youngest officer, just out of the Naval Academy, he had only been on Nevada a few days. Also aboard was Quartermaster Chief Robert Sedberry, a man with many years of experience. Ens. Taussig manned the forward anti-aircraft battery himself. A shell smashed his leg, it would later be amputated. Still conscious, he continued to command the anti-aircraft defense. Meanwhile, Sedberry and others made the decision to take the ship into action. They must swing the ship free from her berth without the aid of tugboats, without two hours to bring the ship to full steam, without a civilian harbor pilot, without the navigator, and without the captain. Sedberry manned the helm.

She got past the burning remains of Arizona just barely. As Nevada slowly pulled free of her anchorage and steamed down past Battleship Row wild screaming cheers were heard all over Pearl. There she was, the Nevada moving! She was heading for the harbor mouth. She was heading out to sea for the counter-attack! As she got about dead center of Pearl Harbor, out of the sky came 171 Japanese planes, the second wave attack.

The Japanese pilots of the second wave were greeted by a riveting sight. Most of the American ships were in flames but a single American battleship was moving out to sea. They knew very well that this ship had 14-inch guns on board. These guns could fire accurately over 20 miles. This ship could do over 20 knots (about 23 miles per hour). In three hours at full speed, she would be in range of their attack fleet. A single 14-inch shell could pierce the unarmored deck of any one of their aircraft carriers. One shot might easily sink a Japanese carrier.

The entire second wave descended on Nevada. It is interesting to note that it is not as easy to hit a moving target as it is to punch holes in a sitting duck. However, Nevada wasn’t moving that fast and there were 171 planes to get her.

Soon Nevada was on fire from one end of the ship to the other. She had been torpedoed and was taking on water. Ens. Taussig, although severely wounded, continued anti-aircraft fire at the Japanese planes. Chief Quartermaster Sedberry had been radioed a final order. If Nevada sunk in the harbor channel she would plug Pearl Harbor for a prolonged period of time. Most of the crew had already abandoned ship. The Quartermaster and a few men guided the huge ship towards Hospital Point just inside the harbor mouth to the east. There they beached Nevada in the sand like a giant canoe. Still conscious, Taussig was carried off the ship.

What is significant about this? Why am I relating this story? Simply because human events, their outcomes, and their significance, are so hard to predict. At first, you might think Nevada‘s short but glorious cruise a total waste and insignificant. However, because she was moving when the second wave appeared, most of the Japanese planes wasted their bombs attacking her. If the Japanese pilots had instead found all of the American ships out of action, they would have immediately turned their attention to the rest of Pearl Harbor’s extensive military facilities. The dry docks and fuel tank farm most of all. Back in Tokyo, Admiral Yamamoto received the full report. He was furious about the second wave and its failure to bomb the dry docks or fuel tank farm. He said:

“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

Because of Nevada, most of Pearl remained intact and was fully operational in short order. With Pearl Harbor’s facilities, the American fleet quickly recovered. At the Battle of Coral Sea, the Japanese found themselves to be less than invincible and suffered major damage. With the help of a brilliant American code breaker, the American fleet ambushed the Japanese fleet at Midway. This battle crushed the Japanese and broke the back of their fleet. Midway was the measure for measure for Pearl Harbor. Nevada‘s short but heroic effort did more than just lift the spirits of the men fighting and dying at Pearl that day. She made it possible for the counter-attack to take place.

One should always remember that G-d is in control of events. Sometimes we can foresee events and sometimes not. It is therefore important to serve in the moment both dutifully and creatively. Leave the rest to G-d. This is why freedom is so important. Even a young ensign or an old quartermaster might make contributions that affect the outcome of the entire war. When men are free, they hold themselves to a higher standard than any tyrant can obtain from his lackeys. No matter how much power the tyrant holds, the free man will prove superior.

Nevada beached and burning at Hospital Point.

Authors Note: I first posted this in 2012. I made some small changes for a repost in 2013. No changes but a minor title change for 2014. No changes but a little grammatical polishing for 2015 and 2016. The photos of “Battleship Row” and “Nevada free and heading for the harbor mouth” were added in 2016. Small changes have been made for 2018 because of the perceptive comments of Ricochet members on the 2016 and 2017 edition.

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From December 7, 1941, to “The Long Awaited Day”


My dad and his identical twin brother both enlisted in the Navy at 17 years of age during WWII. My uncle chose the aviator side of the Navy, my dad chose the Submarine Service. They earned a monthly bonus for hazardous duty, and perhaps that was an incentive to help their parents that were having a tough time financially trying to recover from the Great Depression.

The photo on the right was taken in Portland. The twins with their dad after completing basic training.

They both served in the Pacific. Their sister had been killed in a car accident at 19 years of age. The twins were still infants. They came into the world very late in their parent’s marriage. Their next door neighbor was a Portland Police detective, he told my dad that it was a blessing for their father and mother that he and his brother came into this world when they did. Their father signed their enlistment papers. The enlistment papers for the last two children he and his wife had. They both survived the war.

My dad was in combat off the coast of Japan as an 18-year-old and completed four war patrols before his twentieth birthday at the end of WWII. He went back to the boats after earning his college degree as an officer.

I was about four years old and still remember family life tied to the calendar of when his boat would come back to San Diego, and then leave again. On the days and nights that dad had the duty when the boat was tied up in San Diego, we would have dinner in the wardroom with him. He left the Navy when I was about 7 years old. Growing up in a Navy family I thought everyone was in the Navy.

I’ve seen bucket lists that people make public on the internet. Pearl Harbor, and the USS Arizona should be on that list. I would also recommend visiting the Bowfin, and the Submarine museum. When my wife, daughter, and I visited the Arizona we found it to be a very moving moment. When you watch the families of WWII veterans lay wreaths in the water over the Arizona it’s difficult not to shed a tear or two.

When we walked onto the Bowfin it brought back some childhood memories for me. My daughter was amazed at how tight the living conditions were for the officers and crew. Living memory for me, I had been aboard a Balao Class submarine that was still in active service, historical insight for my daughter.

When the ceasefire message, “The Long Awaited Day Has Come”, was sent out to the submarine fleet my dad as a 19-year-old submarine combat veteran had the foresight to ask the radio operator for a paper copy of the message. We still have that paper copy of that message.

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Good News: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” Has Been Rescued!


As discussed in this thread, the classic “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is having a bit of trouble this year. Thanks to the grumbling of a few, some radio stations are dropping it from their playlists. Luckily, just as it looked like the song was about to breathe its last, someone rewrote it and has given […]

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The Real Problem with Rudolph


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has been taking it on the chin from oh-so-important SJW types. Their arguments are ridiculous, of course. But Rudolph is problematic. The current kerfuffle caused me to dig out this blog post I wrote a few years back. I stand by it.

I’m not a Grinch. Really. I’m not. I love Christmas, both for its religious significance and its pervasive cultural presence. Lights, decorations and goodies. What’s not to love?

But I do have a few quibbles. I don’t like to hear Christmas carols in October, and I’ve made my position clear that Thanksgiving should not be observed amid Santas, elves on or off the shelf, angels or creches.

And I don’t like Rudolph. Does that make me a bad person? Sorry. Rudolph is an upstart, and he has shoved that red nose right to the center of the celebration. Rudolph first appeared in 1939—the same year Hitler invaded Poland. Coincidence?

Unlike the Fuhrer, who blew across Europe with the speed of lightning to achieve his dream of world domination, Rudolph held back, planning and plotting, no doubt. Which one is the genius now?

Maybe the canny reindeer just felt the need to wait for the World War to blow over before implementing his own blitzkrieg. His beginnings were humble, first showing up in a promotion for the department store Montgomery Ward. Yes, Virginia, Rudolph started his career as a shill for a retailer. His creator retrieved the copyright for the reindeer’s hard-luck tale and published a children’s book in 1947.

Then came the master stroke—lyrics and a tune were written promoting Rudolph. Cowboy songster Gene Autry recorded it, and the song was the smash hit of 1949 (the same year Mao took control of China. Coincidence?). That cheesy song is second only to White Christmas in the holiday hit parade.

Rudolph is definitely a latecomer to the holiday lore. Santa Claus was practically invented by Clement Clark Moore in the poem A Visit From St. Nicholas, published in 1823. I’m sure visions of sugar plums danced in my head when I was a child, even though then and now, I wouldn’t know a sugar plum if I choked on one.

Mr. Moore is the undisputed expert on the jolly old elf. And how many reindeer does he say pull the airborne sleigh? Eight! Eight, tiny reindeer. That’s it. Yet every present-day depiction of Santa’s flight includes that mid-20th-century interloper. Donder, Blitzen and the gang have been reduced to also-rans.

Rudolph has achieved his dream of Christmas domination. For now. But what goes around, comes around. Someday there may be a Hubert, the blue-eyed reindeer, with a feel-good story and a knack for promotion, who will kick Rudy right out of the harness.

Reindeer games. What’s not to love?

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The White Lib’s Burden


Progressives currently get more votes than conservatives but lose elections due to their density in a few blue states. A simple, though tough, solution presents itself. With apologies to the original: Take up the White Lib’s burden— Move out into the weeds— Move with your pets to exile To serve your planet’s needs To live […]

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El Reloj Extremo and Other Obstacles to Globalism


When they talk of open borders, I can’t help thinking about all the funny mistakes people can make in another language, even if they’re pretty good at it. It makes me think that the Globalists have a lot of hurdles to clear before their goal of a United Federation of Earth can be realized. Unless […]

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Veneration at Pearl Harbor


77 years ago, today, December 7, 1941, America was formally at peace, while much of the world was in flames. It was a sunny Sunday morning in Pearl Harbor, when the skies filled with Japanese attack aircraft and a peaceful day exploded into war. The strike was aimed at the old heart of the U.S. Pacific fleet, the battleships floating at anchor in Pearl Harbor.

Before dawn on 7 December 1941, the American strategic center of gravity in the Pacific reposed in the seven battleships then moored along “Battleship Row”, the six pairs of interrupted quays located along Ford Island’s eastern side. Quay F-2, the southernmost, which usually hosted an aircraft carrier, was empty. Northeastward, Battle Force flagship California was next, moored at F-3. Then came two pairs, moored side by side: Maryland with Oklahoma outboard, and Tennessee with West Virginia outboard. Astern of Tennessee lay Arizona, which had the repair ship Vestal alongside. Last in line was USS Nevada, by herself at quay F-8. These seven battleships, ranging in age from eighteen to twenty-five years, represented all but two of those available to the Pacific Fleet. The Fleet flagship, Pennsylvania, was also in Pearl Harbor, drydocked at the nearby Navy Yard. The ninth, USS Colorado, was undergoing overhaul on the west coast.

The fleet at Pearl Harbor represented America’s responses, since the beginning of the 20th Century, to the last naval arms race, the race to build the most powerful floating artillery platforms. One of the oldest, the USS Arizona had been the “next step of the US Navy’s response to the naval arms race that had begun in 1906 when the Royal Navy completed the HMS Dreadnought.” In a single morning, the race to build the biggest, fastest, battleships was ended, replaced with the new race for superiority through naval air power.

The USS Arizona was struck by several bombs, but it was the massive secondary explosion of ammunition on board that doomed the ship and her crew.

[T]he battleship was utterly devastated from in front of her first turret back into her machinery spaces. Her sides were blown out and the turrets, conning tower, and much of the superstructure dropped several feet into her wrecked hull. This tipped her foremast forward, giving the wreck its distinctive appearance.

Blazing furiously, Arizona quickly settled to the bottom of Pearl Harbor, a total loss. She burned for more than two days and was subsequently the subject of only partial salvage. Over 1100 of her crew were killed, including Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, Commander Battleship Division One, and the ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain Franklin Van Valkenburgh. Their sacrifice, and that of the other men lost at Pearl Harbor, is now permanently memorialized by the USS Arizona Memorial, erected over her sunken hull in the berth it has occupied since shortly after 8 AM on 7 December 1941.

Damaged beyond repair, the USS Arizona was left in place, a watery grave for at least 900 sailers. The next year, as much material was salvaged as possible, leaving the submerged hull, visible through the water. Many other places, at sea and on land would take on great significance through the course of the war, but “Remember Pearl Harbor!” was a rallying cry, amplified within days by a hit song of that name. The singers urged: “let’s remember Pearl Harbor, as we did the Alamo.”

While a memorial was proposed shortly after the war, the bureaucratic gears were still grinding slowly when the Korean War erupted. The men on the USS Arizona were not ignored, as “Admiral Arthur Radford had a flagstaff placed on the wreck in 1950 and ordered that the colors be raised at the site every day.” President Eisenhower signed legislation in 1958, authorizing the creation of a memorial, along with public fundraising.

The fundraising was slow, and seemed stalled until the King took an interest in 1961. Elvis Presley headlined a fundraising concert that, while it did not raise all the required funds, reignited public interest, completing the fundraising that year. The USS Arizona Memorial was dedicated the next year.

The memorial has over 1 million visitors, from around the world, annually. It was closed to visitors after its dock became unsafe earlier this year, due to harbor bed settling. In response, expedited contracting was authorized to get the repairs done early in 2019. While survivors will not be able to go onto the Memorial this year, there will be a ceremony on the shore, overlooking the USS Arizona.

The National Park Service and the United States Navy will host the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day 77th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony to honor and remember the 2,390 American casualties lost during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the island of Oahu on December 7, 1941.

Video of the ceremony will be posted at the YouTube page of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

Like the Vietnam Memorial, the USS Arizona Memorial is a site of veneration. The number of visitors, and the annual return of survivors and their families, shows the significance of the place. Flying across the ocean to visit year after year is not an act of mourning but of devotion. The memorial structure is built over, but not touching the ship, which is a grave. Flag raising, salutes, flyovers—all these are formal acts of honoring the ship and its crew resting within.

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What the Opioid Crisis is Really All About


There is a wonderful post by Avner Zarmi that compares the clash between traditional and contemporary culture to a Twilight Zone episode. In that episode, people with beautiful faces were shunned because the average face was horribly misshapen. Worse, those with beautiful faces had to live in a restricted area away from the normal, ugly people.

Zarmi contrasts traditional, religiously observant individuals of our own day with everyone else. He compares these shunned traditionalists to the beautiful faces in the Twilight Zone episode. By contrast, those who go with the flow and live by more casual standards are the normal, ugly people in the Twilight Zone episode.

Per Zarmi, people are less content today than when they lived more traditional lives. Proof of this is increased drug use. Life is too much to bear, despite increased material prosperity, and people demand drugs to hold their own in an upside down world where beautiful is ugly and ugly is beautiful.

Based on my own experience as a rehab counselor, I can assure you that the increased legalization of marijuana is extremely troublesome. Marijuana use may lead to use of hard drugs and, even when it does not, marijuana itself can easily become addictive.

Brave New World, a book written by Aldous Huxley in 1931, painted a picture of a future where people lived an anesthetized existence brought on by their consumption of soma, an anti-depressant and hallucinogenic drug. Less than 100 years later, Huxley’s dystopian nightmare has become a desirable reality among increasing numbers of lost souls.

Zarmi calls for a return to “Biblical morality,” which could be interpreted every which way, but I think a good starting point would be observance of the Ten Commandments. If we could only follow them — especially #10, not to envy — our lives would certainly be a lot simpler and less in need of substances to make us feel better.

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Came to post..


I came here to write a post (about Late Trumpers, the Weekly Standard and the Washington Examiner). First I wanted to skim through Ricochet latest posts to see if people are already talking about it. Instead got lost in all your great non-Trump-related posts, and all the comments. You guys are awesome.

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I heard a great song in my car yesterday – “Operator,” a 1972 folk/love song by Jim Croce. It’s a simple, beautiful song about a man’s effort to recover from a breakup with his girlfriend. What makes it so wonderful is that everyone can identify with the message. Everyone. Right? But then I started to wonder what someone would think of that song if they were under, say, 40 years old.

First of all, they would wonder, what the heck is a pay phone? Why would you need a dime to make a phone call? What is an operator? And why would you need the assistance of that person (or anyone else) to make a phone call? Ever heard of speed dial? Heck, just tell your phone to make the call and it does it on its own, right? And then, he can’t read the number on the matchbook because it’s old and faded. OK, so what is a matchbook, why would you be carrying one around, and why would you use that as a filing system for contacts? Many young people have forgotten the time when basically everybody smoked. Restaurants had complimentary matchbooks and ashtrays at the tables. And before cell phones, a matchbook might be the most convenient way to jot down a quick note, like a phone number. Lots of important information was written in matchbooks in those days. But there is something else in that song that I think many young people today would have difficulty identifying with:

The sense of longing. The pain of separation. Today, the guy in the song would be on his ex-girlfriend’s Snapchat and Instagram and he would rarely go more than a few hours without a running commentary of her current activities, in real time, complete with photographs. They would be texting, and maybe even FaceTiming and so on. It’s hard to miss someone when they don’t really leave.

I have three teenage daughters. They get nervous if their boyfriend doesn’t return a text within a certain amount of time. I’ll say, “Relax – he’s probably busy.” She’ll respond, “He posted on his Instagram 18 minutes ago. He’s on his phone, but he’s not responding to me. Something’s wrong.”

I can’t imagine dating in this environment. If one of us was busy, I would go days or weeks without seeing my girlfriend. And that was probably good. It gave us both a break. And a chance to think about things. No male can think with a pretty girl nearby.

Now, the availability and expectations of perpetual contact have had a profound impact on courting. I think it adds a lot of pressure, especially for the boyfriends. Lord help them.

Missing out on that sense of longing, to me, is really too bad. I think that how you handle being apart is a good indicator of how you’re likely to do together. But I sometimes think that it’s more than the sense of longing that today’s youth don’t fully understand.

I’m not convinced that they really understand love. Actual, true love. I suspect that some young people now would hear “Operator” and think to themselves, “What the heck? Has that dude never heard of Tinder?”

As the left has spent the last several decades successfully attacking traditional family structure and the role of men and women in that structure, they have also been promoting free love. Once the pill came out, and we dispensed with most of the restrictive religious and ethical limitations on sex, then relationships became more about sex than they are about the search for a lifetime soulmate.

In my view, the women’s liberation movement was really the men’s liberation movement. No more rules. If it feels good at the time, do it. Why not? If a woman won’t have sex with you, she’s not being sensible or selective, she’s just being a prude. Go find someone who will make you feel good. Because that’s what it’s all about. So girls start competing with one another not with beauty or personality, but simply with willingness to perform sexual favors for nearly anyone. This race to the bottom diminishes everyone involved.

Our obsession with sexual pleasure has led to neglect of other, more important things. Like love. Devotion. Longing. Sacrifice. All the things that make life truly beautiful.

All the things that make life truly beautiful. 

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when you watch movies, love stories rarely involve pornography, and pornography rarely involves love. We can see that in the dating scene now. Love can be difficult and painful, so it’s better to just stick with casual sex. That, at least, is fun. Less potential for emotional complications. And if it doesn’t work out, you haven’t really lost anything.

Of course, that also means that you really didn’t have anything to begin with. But, whatever.

So how does this end? We don’t know. It may be generations before we see the end result of our loss of interest in love. But I find it terrifying. One reason that human societies tend to be so violent is that, in my view, hate is a stronger emotion than love. This is especially true if we diminish the role of love in our lives. One might expect such a society to become more hateful, bitterly divided, and violent. So our disinterest in love is scary.

And sad. I miss beauty. The beauty of real, true love. Love – real, true love – is beautiful. It’s meaningful and real.

I only wish my words could just convince myself that it just wasn’t real.

But that’s not the way it feels.

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End of an Era?


During this time of national mourning at the passing of President George H.W. Bush, many have called this the end of an era; an era of decency, of country first, of selfless service to our fellow man. It is true that the 41st President, who came of age abruptly at the start of World War II and ended his long period of public service overseeing the fall of the Berlin Wall will be remembered for his humble kindness, his understated strength, and the “kinder, gentler nation” he set out to establish. But this is not the end of an era, as the pundits and television philosophers would have us believe.

Just as President Bush firmly believed the man elected President was the custodian of the Office, we the people are the custodians of this nation and I think we forget how much power we hold. As Lincoln said in his speech at Gettysburg, “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” So we elect leaders-in this case a President-for the moment: to fight, to lead, to make peace, to unite. But it is also our duty to hold them, and each other, to a standard of decency and virtue, and the man should never outshine the office of which “we the people” established.

Analysts have made countless comparisons of the elder Bush to President Trump regarding decorum, trying to juxtapose adjectives to demean the current president’s unrefined style. But I find it interesting that people who see everything through the prism of Trump never take a moment for self-reflection about the impact their words make on public perception. The same can be said for some members of Congress, for the so-called experts on television and newspapers, for late-night comedians who confuse condescending lectures for jokes. So we must not let a small class of people define decency as meekness under threat of losing our traditional values, but to be steadfast in the fight for self-government, self-determination, and open, civil discourse about the path forward for a still-great nation and not succumb to tantrums of identity politics, race-baiting, and hypersensitive P.C. culture.

Watching the memorial service, I was struck by the image of the flag-draped casket of the president held firmly and marched down the Cathedral aisle by eight stout servicemen and followed by generals of each branch of the military. As a veteran, the ceremony it held a special solemnity to it. As an onlooker, it was clear how much service to our nation meant to President Bush. As a young man, he fought for that flag and what it represents. He honored it through public service in the CIA, as a congressman, a Vice President, and a President. Just as this one man modeled a lifetime of service for country, so too do we have the responsibility to honor the sacrifice of all who make the journey to their final resting place under a flag-draped casket, or the field of a foreign land watched over by the American flag. It is our solemn duty to engage the gears of discourse to promote permanent and enduring moral truths, prudence, and a society free of the yoke of an increasingly-restricting government. It would be more than a wasted opportunity to step aside and set this great nation adrift, or worse let it be commandeered by despotic forces.

So, is this an end of an era? No. President Reagan, who was honored at his State Funeral at the National Cathedral in 2004, said in a famous 1964 speech, “Now we have come to a time for choosing.” We can choose to grow the prominence of civil discourse by encouraging new voices in support of traditional values, self-reliance, and first principles-such as here on Ricochet. We engage with our community leaders and school boards and support and vote for public officeholders who commit to small government and encourage an open marketplace of ideas instead of a death sentence of a society of victims. We may be losing The Greatest Generation of which the majority experienced the sacrifices of war, but today we have selfless men and women who voluntarily trade their well-being in the name of duty, honor, and country. We can honor them, and the office of which George H.W. Bush was a faithful custodian, by passing on the torch of freedom.

President George H.W. Bush oversaw the closing chapter of the Cold War along with the closing chapter of a certain order of American politics, but his passing is not the closing of the American chapter. We mustn’t mourn an end of an Era, because it isn’t one. This is a time to reflect on our history: the transgressions and the righteousness, the victories and the defeats. We can use it as a springboard to begin a new chapter, sparked by the flame of the past that may never be extinguished as long as it shines as a beacon for liberty the world over; that the oppressed know freedom’s flame has a home here. We are blessed living in this great experiment: man can accept the responsibility for self-government and be the master of his own destiny. The era of honor, duty, decency, and service continues for now. Our nation depends on it. As Reagan said in that same speech, “You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We can preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we can sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”

Let us now make certain we do all that we can do, and let a new chapter begin.

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Britain Is Toast


Government is inherently wasteful and prone to stupidity and as such outsourcing to the private sector is often the conservative solution to solve that particular problem. But does it really work?

Serco is an international services company based in the UK that does everything from catering to running air traffic control. Last year it brought in revenues of £2.95B ($3.78B USD). Serco began life as a UK subsidiary of RCA and was spun off as its own company in 1985 when GE swallowed up its American parent.

In 2017 it was awarded the contract at University Hospital Southampton to provide catering for the NHS. That contract is worth about £125M. What are they getting in return? How about a two-page, eight-step instructional guide to teach the staff in the fine art of the “Production and Service of Toast.”

There is a very good possibility that there are a lot of rogue, untrained toast makers among us that represent a danger to themselves, their loved ones and to society at-large. So, with a tip of our Oxford Herringbone English Tweed Wool Baker Boy Cap to the UK Sun, here are the basics with the reminder (item 3 under Safety & Hygiene) “Do not use the toasters unless you have been trained on the safe use of this equipment.”

You will need the following items: Toaster, Plastic Tongs, Hair Net, Wipes, Plate or tray for collecting toast, Brown or white bread.

And as an additional safety reminder, “At NO point during operation of the toaster are you to leave the toaster unattended.

*Ensure you wash your hands and wearing a hairnet
*Collate all equipment required for use – as per above
*Place bread into slots
*Turn toaster dial to setting 2.5 and push lever down
*Wait beside toaster until completion of full cycle
*Remove toast from toaster with plastic tongs and place on receptical (sic) [Plate/tray]
*Place completed toast in either Beverage trolley toast compartment or suitable receptical (sic) for transporting to ward
*Offer to patient butter/margerine (sic) and appropriate conserves, knife and napkin

The “author” of this tome is listed as Billy Storrs and is to be reviewed again come next 24th of July. Perhaps by then young Billy can be taught to use spell check on his computer and see the error of his ways. I mean, where’s the instructions for the proper placement of the orange cones and use of the safety harness?

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QotD: Milt Rosen on Rockets


Milt Rosen is far less famous than Wernher von Braun, but he played a major role in the early space program. I heard him speak at the Naval Research Lab’s 75th anniversary celebration in 1998 and briefly talked with him in 2009. He wrote an excellent book about Project Viking which he signed for me. Here’s Milt and Sally Rosen in 2008.

With SpaceX this week reusing a first stage for the third time and landing it intact, it’s easy to forget how challenging rocket development was in the 1940s-60s. Milt’s comment was:

Rockets are just another name for trouble. Either you just had trouble, you are having trouble, or you are going to have trouble.

Tomorrow is the 61st anniversary of the explosion of Vanguard TV-3. The Vanguard people thought that this first experiment of all three Vanguard stages live was unlikely to work perfectly and place the payload in orbit. Under pressure, the Eisenhower Administration announced that that would be the case. Flopnik was the result.

Here’s the satellite which obviously survived:

I discussed this last year on the John Batchelor Show.