There is a Reason Joe Biden Looks Confused


Joe Biden was first elected to the U.S. Senate nearly 50 years ago, at the age of 29, in 1972.  That was the year that George McGovern managed to lose 49 states to Richard Nixon.  Biden has been a Democrat politician for a long time.  He spent nearly 40 of his years in the Senate serving with fellow Democrat Robert Byrd, a former KKK recruiter who filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The Democrat party has changed over Biden’s 50 years in the Senate.  I’m not sure that Biden and many of the other old-time Democrats fully comprehend what has happened to their party.

Biden seems to take the Bob Dole /  Hillary Clinton view of the presidential primary:  “Vote for me.  It’s my turn.”  That approach worked out poorly for Dole and Clinton, and it seems to be working out even worse for Biden.  There are many reasons for this, but one of them would appear to be that there is some internal debate about who is really in charge of that lovable, zany political “organization” which apparently can’t even count the votes in their own internal primaries.  If Biden is anticipating an orderly transition of power, he’s not paying attention.  Which is entirely possible.

The Democrat party started as an organization to centralize and control power at the expense of various minority groups, and has evolved into an organization which organizes various minority groups in an effort to centralize and control power.  Democrats tell blacks, gays, women, and others that they are oppressed minorities, and that their only hope of achieving any political clout whatsoever in such a hostile environment is to vote Democrat:  “Support us, help us get elected, and you get a seat at the table of power.”

This approach has some merit, but it is proving increasingly difficult for the Biden / Schumer / Pelosi / Clinton types to maintain control over such divergent groups who all have different goals, which are often at odds with one another.  Biden helped create this organization.  And now it won’t support him.  He must find this disconcerting.

AOC is raising funds and developing a political organization within, but completely separate from, the Democrat party.  Blacks are starting to wonder what they’ve gotten in return for 50 years of devoted support of Democrats.  Antifa socialist thugs are making the Democrat party look like a bunch of socialist thugs.  There are so many subgroups in the Democrat party vying for position that it’s become hard to define the Democrat party’s position on, well, on anything.  Every Democrat party subgroup has a leader, all of whom hate Republicans and middle-class Americans even more than they hate each other.

You think the 2020 Democrat presidential primary is crazy?  Just wait 10-20 years.  It’s hard to imagine where this is going.

But it’s not going toward Joe Biden.  He’ll still be running for president, as long as he’s still breathing.  And he’ll still be wandering around Iowa livestock sales and New Hampshire diners looking like he can’t remember where he put his car keys.  He looks confused because he is confused.  This is not Biden’s Democrat party.  Which is fine by me.

I don’t like the new Democrat party much more than the old one.  But at least the party that Biden knows is no more.  That’s good.

But I’m not sure how much better the new version is.  That’s an incredible statement, considering how horrifying the Democrat party once was.  But the new one is nasty and dangerous as well.  In its own ways.

There are a lot of things which confuse Joe Biden.  When it comes to the modern Democrat party, I’m sympathetic to his confusion.  This really is getting crazy.  But it’s his own dang fault.  He helped build an organization based on hate and jealousy, to destroy his opponents.  And then he found it hard to control.  That’s too bad, Joe.

I suspect that Clarence Thomas is enjoying this.

FIR Cards


Like the military, police departments have an alphabet soup of acronyms. Some of them are official, and some are not. Acronyms and police jargon are not used in Incident Reports. Incident Reports (IR) are written for prosecutors, judges, juries, and may be presented in a trial. If an arrest is made for Attempt to Elude an officer does not use the phrase; “Frequent Flier” in the IR. One of the most popular unofficial acronyms was “JFB”; Just [redacted] Beautiful. This was used to describe crime scenes, TAs (traffic accidents), internal department requests, as well as roll call visits from city council members, to include their requests for whatever their cause of the month was.

FIR (Field Intelligence Report) were 3×5 cards that were used to provide information about individuals that were not arrested. I did not write a lot of tickets but I did conduct traffic stops. I looked for vehicles that looked like they had been purchased at an Al Qaeda salvage auction and were cruising around aimlessly in residential neighborhoods.

Whether it was broken taillight or running a stop sign, I would pull them over. There was a good chance the driver had no insurance. There was also a good chance the driver might be a burglar or had a warrant out for their arrest. It should come as no surprise that someone who breaks the big laws ignores the small violations. Some burglars break into a home and start moving what they want to sneak into the garage. They park their car a couple of blocks away from their target, and then come back to the house with the car, open the garage door and fill their car with your possessions. In some cases, they could be on parole for burglary and a condition of their parole was they were not allowed to drive because of their prior use of a vehicle in multiple crimes; it’s called profiling.

One night I wrote a ticket to someone driving a used car bomb. I also wrote a contact report, a FIR Card, and I forwarded it to detectives. Two years later I received a phone call from a detective to discuss that contact report. That particular contact report helped to solve approximately 20 residential burglaries. The detective read through two years of contact reports and the one I wrote allowed him to make a great arrest. The detective did the grunt work and deserves all the credit.

Good Advice(s)


If wisdom lies in learning from the experiences of others, then I am not particularly wise. My M.O. is more of a barely-learns-from-his-own-repeated-mistakes sort of thing.

But let’s start with the piece of advice I did take when my wife and I were expecting our first children: twins. We were talking to an older co-worker of mine whose twin boys were already on the other side of college. “Let me give you the most important advice about raising twins we learned early on.”

My wife and I had by then stopped blinking, and were probably both leaning toward him, E.F. Hutton commercial-style, waiting for the nugget of sagacity soon to anoint us both.

“Don’t try to be fair,” he said.

What? That’s it? What does that mean? Luckily for us, he elaborated. “Look, you will not always be able to do the same thing with each one, or give each one the same thing or attention all the time. So, from as soon as they understand what you’re saying, tell them, “yes, your sibling got it this time, but you’ll someday get something he/she doesn’t get, and it will all work out in the end, we promise.”

That not much sounding bit of counsel turned out to be genius. While it wasn’t bulletproof (because they were kids and they still complained), when they saw that what we said was true, it saved us what is surely an incalculable amount of grief.

Now, let us flash back to 12 years or so previous to that anecdote, to a time when I was still in my teens, in that golden and idyllic time where the vast, vast majority of young men my age are what scientists call morons. Not to brag or anything, but I’d like to think that I was just a bit dumber than that.

At 18, having just come from a meeting with a Marine recruiter, I told my father that I was going to pass on the contract to be a helicopter mechanic that I’d been on the verge of signing, and that instead I would bet on a device known as an “open contract:” a magical (as it was explained to me) document allowing me to choose from a veritable plethora of military occupational specialties (, and–here came the best part–I didn’t even have to choose one until I was almost all the way through recruit training! Imagine the possibilities: Marine Force Recon; Marine Super Ultra Force Recon (I’d be in the inaugural platoon); Marine Sniper; Marine Tanker; Marine Aide-de-Camp To the Commandant; Marine Guy Who Loads Tough Looking Ordinance On Attack Aircraft, But Gets To Use A Forklift So It’s Not That Hard A Job; Marine Marine (something to do with yachts, I was given to believe); and lastly, Marine Action Film Star. This last M.O.S. required an extra dose of youthful delusion, as I don’t even have a face for radio, as the old joke goes. Mine is more of a face for print.

My father, without even looking up from his dinner, said: “never trust a recruiter.”

But dad, I said, the Marines wouldn’t lie to me! The Few, the Proud, and I’m pretty sure I heard “trustworthy” in there somewhere.

“Don’t trust ’em.”

Months later, at the end of recruit training, the Senior Drill Instructor was finally announcing everyone’s, and we were all giddy with anticipation. Those recruits who were guaranteed contracts were a lot less giddy, though. Those chumps came in knowing already what their stupid jobs were to be. Even though my last name begins with a “C”, it seemed to take forever for them to get to me, since they were going by groups of occupations, rather than in alphabetical order. But some of the jobs sounded pretty good. One open contract guy got cartography, which probably surprised him more than the rest of us, since when I talked to him later, he said he didn’t even know the Corps had cartographers. And then they began reading off who got to be the 0311s, the Marine Infantry Riflemen, Backbone of the Corps. Well, it wasn’t Marine Action Film Star, but I’d be happy to be an 03, I thought. But they finished reading the names out, and mine wasn’t among them. Finally, my moment came.

“Campbell!”, Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant Gaither said. “3381.” Ooh, that number is higher than 0311–much higher. Why it’s over three thousand higher! It must be something super exotic and exciting and involving a lot of John Rambo-style killing with large caliber weapons carried impractically on the hip! Awesome. Old Blood-n-Guts Campbell, they’ll call me. The bastard child somehow of Dan Daly and Chesty Puller, with Archibald Henderson as my godfather. I’ll be a legend. Just let me at those filthy enemies of America.

But then came disaster: “I like my eggs over-easy, Campbell. Food Service,” and he flipped the paperwork at me with some combination of boredom and contempt. The final count for the 20 of us who were open contract was something like 16 grunts, one (surprised) cartographer, and three cooks-to-be.

Fortunately for me, the denouement of this story was pretty good. I found I really liked being a cook, and even earned a meritorious promotion in my service school. Plus, when I got to that veritable cornucopia of single ladies, the Marine Barracks, U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, I even got to be on a crew-served weapons team for the year. .50 caliber machine guns are really, really fun, folks. Still, the whole drama would’ve been avoided had I listened to my dad. Having had a choice in my fate would’ve been better than letting the personnel-assignment propellerheads of Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children choose for me. Fathers: sometimes, they know things. Who’d have thought it?

Honeymooning in Moscow (or Havana, or Managua, or Caracas)


If you’re like me, you’re tempted to belt yourself in while watching the Democratic debates or, at the very least, have your significant other hide the remote to keep you from skipping to more riveting fare such as The Home Shopping Network or The Weather Channel.

However, I forced myself to watch Friday night’s debate to make yet another attempt to understand what, for me, has so far been incomprehensible: What accounts for this phenomenon of “Feeling the Bern”? I have to confess, I’m no closer than I was back in 2016. Who should we be focusing on more; Bernie Sanders or his supporters?

There are many things that put me off concerning Bernie Sanders (not the least of which has been the recent revelation of a few of his sexual fantasies). But there’s one question I simply can’t get past, “Who in their right mind spends his honeymoon in Moscow?” Even though Bernie himself describes those ten days in 1988 as “weird”, it does not answer how the USSR became his choice for the place in which to begin his marriage. One thought did occur to me. I do have friends who went on mission trips (as their honeymoons) to emphasize the role that faith was going to play in their marriages. So, was this sojourn by Bernie and his new wife meant to demonstrate their fealty to a faith that is far different from that of my friends?

During the last debate, and in several prior instances, I muted my TV each time Bernie spoke in order to attempt to get a read on his body language. When he is not behind a lectern he appears to be ill at ease; at times, clearly uncomfortable. When asked a question that puts him on the defensive, his jaw tightens and he gesticulates wildly. Even when he attempts a smile it comes out as a grimace.

But, more interestingly, is his demeanor when behind a lectern. Bent over, tightly gripping the lectern with both hands, he resembles a fundamentalist preacher (think “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”) more than a politician. And, perhaps, that is precisely what many of his supporters are looking for.

As I look into Bernie’s audiences, and from what I have read in the polls, the bulk of Bernie’s support appears to come from young people, 25 and below. Not to be excessively Freudian, but I could not help but wonder: Is Bernie the stern father (or grandfather) they never had?

In listening to interviews with Bernie’s supporters, I heard (from almost all of them) that “Bernie is real.” And, compared to his primary opponents, they are probably correct. When I listened to Warren, Buttigieg, Biden, and the rest, it was little more than a nonstop panderfest with each one trying to one-up the previous one in terms of promises to their fringe constituents. (I have to admit that Elizabeth Warren’s promise to have a transgender youth vet the next Secretary of Education has set the bar so high that it may never be topped.)

In a recent edition of National Review, there was an excellent piece on Bernie which emphasized that his politics “have been nothing if not consistent.” This, in itself, is not necessarily bad. However, as with a fervent religious convert, a Socialist like Bernie cannot disavow a single tenet of his “religion” without losing his identity (and his soul).

Just like the American Communists of the 1930s who swallowed their principles and unabashedly endorsed Stalin’s Nonaggression Pact with Nazi Germany, Bernie cannot go back on his previous endorsement of thugs such as Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega or Evo Morales. When pressed on the actions of those tyrants, Sanders can do little more than make tepid criticisms (On Ortega’s presidency, “…he has become a dictator, and I think that’s unfortunate”.).

Even when faced with the terrible plight of those who lived in the former Soviet Union, Sanders still found much to praise about the dictatorship, “Why, they have cheap housing; there are no homeless.” Huh? Did he take a look at his surroundings? Did he realize that Soviet Citizens were squeezed into grim, soul-crushing concrete structures that made our own Cabrini-Green slums look like a Sandals Resort?

I believe that both Sanders and his supporters, in their heart of hearts, know the truth but I believe that there’s something more nefarious that’s come into play and that is the old saw that inside every progressive there is a totalitarian screaming to get out. It didn’t come as any shock to me that Sanders has been enthusiastically endorsed by the extreme ‘wingnut” section of the Democratic Party. If there had been an avowed Stalinist (or Anarchist) to declare for the Presidency, I believe that AOC and her cohorts would have been all in for that candidate.

No, I believe that inside Sanders and his supporters is the overarching belief that they are the “true believers”; that they, like their ideological forbearers in the Soviet Union, are destined to enjoy the fruits of their ideology (such as luxurious apartments in the city and spacious dachas in the country) while the rest of us unenlightened “proles” should be consigned to the lifeless, joyless existence that we deserve.

I believe that we all remember Valerie Jarrett’s remark to Tom Brokaw shortly before Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2008, “We will be ready to rule on day one.” Notice that she did not use the words “govern” or “lead” but “rule.” And, that’s what he attempted.

We should expect no less from Bernie and his followers. Make no mistake about it (and casually mention it to your never-Trumper friends). If you choose to “feel the Bern,” don’t be surprised if our constitution and republic are incinerated.

It’s National Pizza Day!


There’s no question what I’m having for dinner tonight. The only question is delivery, frozen, or homemade?

Okay, there’s another question. What toppings? I usually prefer a garbage pizza, but my favorite two-topping pizza is pepperoni and onion.

One more question. Thin crust, regular crust, or deep dish?

Darn, too many decisions. I’d better start planning dinner now!

Update: National Pizza Day has helped fight crime!

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Remember the good ol’ days when former Vice President Joe Biden was the Democratic frontrunner? Democrats clung to him against their own best judgment for several months based on subtle nudging from the party establishment and favorable coverage in mainstream media. Elizabeth Warren’s lies helped at a time when she started to look like a […]

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Winter of Our Discontent and the Balm of Color and Light


I recognized the effects of color one winter when I bought a bag of lemons, before they were priced out of my league. I had them in a bowl in the kitchen, and I noticed that I was drawn to keep looking over at them. The little shock of glossy yellow was comforting. I got a similar effect from a heap of limes and tomatoes I purchased for salsa, chili, and spaghetti ingredients. My groceries were doing double duty as medicine for the soul.

I observed something else during the drab, frozen days when darkness closed in before five and a bleary dawn held off until almost nine the next morning. Movies I watched piecemeal on the treadmill were a real mood lifter. Even a few minutes of absorption in a drama not my own made a difference. Of course watching movies was a far more sophisticated solution than buying a bag of fruit. But viewing life in faraway places; where the sun always shone, a gentle breeze ruffled lovely dresses, green lawns stretched alluringly, ladies took walks in rose gardens, and characters conferred under trees where the light through the foliage made fretted patterns in the grass had healing properties that made me glad for the technology that provided luxurious escape.

I saw, too, that a simple photo could hold my attention a little longer than was wonted in non-winter seasons. Pictures online of San Diego’s Balboa Park under blue skies, palm trees with ocean backdrop, a zoo excursion that I could tell took place on a glittering, balmy day, all filled me with longing and yet were strangely soothing.

My bright, pine-ceilinged dining room, when the colors of the curtains were still crisp and we displayed the custom stonework to good effect, was a source of comfort. Each stroke of color, gentle or bold, gave me a corresponding lift when I looked at it. Today I was able to find photographic evidence to share with you. The first picture shows the room at its best, on a rare sunny day. Even the vintage glass fire extinguisher still speaks to me in its sharp red tones. The second photo captures a variegated bouquet of autumn leaves I had gathered before ten days of winter weather had set in. I still see why I wanted it on my kitchen table, why I photographed it, and why I shared the picture with friends. Even one vase of natural colors can stave off winter’s discontent.

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Oregon War Memorial Vandalized as Antifascist Protest Turns Violent Where have we heard this before?  Or, rather, when?  Obviously, it is a continuing theme of the domestic terrorist group that calls itself Antifa.  They look for things to vandalize, and law-enforcement officers to attack.  Now, the article states that this was a counter-protest, of a […]

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General Election Ireland


Today in Ireland a general election was held for the first time in four years. All candidates will be vying for a seat in the 158 seat Parliament, Dail Eireann. The key number is 79 seats, win that or arrange it through deal breaking with others and you can have power. The outgoing and biggest party Fine Gael led by Leo Varadkar is predicted to lose seats and thus government. Whether power was to be given to Fianna Fail (Irelands biggest opposition party) or to a rising Sinn Fein (the party of the Provisional IRA) is now to be uncovered.

There were a host of smaller parties too taking part in the election in Ireland from the centre-left who may yet be kingmakers in a coalition government. They are the Greens (environmentalist and urban), the Labour party (traditional party of the working class in Ireland), the Social Democrats (breakaway party of Labour and more left wing), Aontu (breakaway party from Sinn Fein and more traditional left wing) and People Before Profit (basically communist lite). There are also some new parties established since the last election in Ireland who are also vying for support from the right. These are Renua (conservative, pro life and pro religion) Irexit (anti EU) and the National party (very like UKIP anti EU and anti liberalism). Added to both groups are a range of Independents of no political party but a wide variety of opinions on the issues. They are expected above all else to do well if coalition talks begin.

The first exit poll has Fine Gael and Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein all around 22-24%. This could be interesting once votes begin to be counted tomorrow. Coalition government or another election.

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Hi everyone! I’m new here. I usually hang out on Twitter, but decided to check out Ricochet. I just wanted to share an article/video from Reason Magazine about California’s AB5 bill which restricts freelancers, including people like me. Writers can only write 35 articles a year per publication. It’s dystopian. California leads the way in […]

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Getting Around in Thailand: The Night Bus


You haven’t lived until you’ve boarded a bus at sunset and trundled through the night to arrive at your destination just after sunrise. Those hot towels the attendant distributes with tongs at 6 a.m. make it worth the long hours, the bleariness, and the cheap comedies played on the television up front.

No, really. These were special trips.

Because there were two kinds of buses. You could take an orange bus—an “orange crush bus,” as one of the missionaries called it. Any time we did opt for this probably inexpensive option, it was by day, thankfully, and for shorter trips. These were not air-conditioned. They were crowded, and the seating was not unlike that of a school bus in the US. I remember my mom buying us snacks and drinks we didn’t usually have, my overindulgence making me sick on one of these trips. I’m sure I enhanced the travel experience for everyone around me.

Then there was the “night bus.” Everyone knew what the night bus was. Maybe you’ve never heard of it, but when the sentence “I’m taking the night bus to Bangkok” was uttered, I assumed the whole world would recognize the transportation mode referenced. The night bus was in the class of vehicle we called “tour buses,” distinguishing them from orange crush buses. These were impressive giants on wheels, at least to me, walled in on both sides with towering tinted windows and offering a long aisle with row after row of cushioned seats. And they were all air-conditioned. You could take the tour bus during the day, but we usually booked them for night journeys. Maybe travel was cheaper that way, or maybe we were always pressed for time and opted to sacrifice sleep for efficiency.

The prospect of going somewhere on a night bus was exciting. The destination itself was always packed with mystique and rich experiences. There was always the anticipation of seeing friends, going to department stores with rides, spending days by the beach, revisiting familiar guest houses with outstanding places to play—anything could happen. The night bus was no obstacle to these joys; it was part of them. We always got dressed up, and I packed the tiny green tote bag our friends had given me for my birthday. You never know what you might need on a trip like this. Then it was off to the part of town where these idling behemoths were parked along the street. We would wend our way through the people and pedicab drivers, go through the doorway, and climb the several steps (steps!—it was that high), until we were level with the driver and right under the TV that was invariably blaring a comedy show wherein there was always a big man dressed as a woman and characters getting hit on the head with a large metal pan.

Under the noisy dialogue and canned laughter, we’d go down the row and then settle in our soft seat, contemplating the trays in front—food would be coming. And although the TV wasn’t serving up anything riveting yet, they would play a movie later. This was rarely family fare, but one never knew—maybe for once a Disney movie would come from that intriguing screen. From the huge windows we saw, milling down below us, people who weren’t going anywhere special, and the sunset streaking the sky with color.

Then the bus would slowly pull away and lumber off. We would settle back, experiment with the levers that tilted our seats back a few inches, and pull our trays down. It wouldn’t be long before the attendant would come by with a whole meal. It came in a little white cardboard box, if I’m remembering right, thin enough that sometimes a little round spot of grease would stain the outside, a mute promise of the satisfying contents I would find when I opened the box. And sure enough, tucked neatly inside, there would be a chicken drumstick, a muffin, and whatever else was fitting for night bus fare.

After our meal, the lights would go out and we were cocooned in darkness with the TV flickering up ahead. The grown-ups would rest their heads on the seat back and try to rest, like responsible adults. I’m not sure what we did as kids. We fidgeted and tried to watch the television. I remember a long conversation with a friend when I was a little older. But I’m sure we didn’t have time for too much activity. I imagine it didn’t take long for the humming engine and rocking ride to soothe us, dwarfed in the soft seat, to some kind of sleep.

That last sentence would have been a perfect ending to this essay. The best writing advice says that less is more, end it quickly before the reader loses interest. But the reality of the night bus experience prevents me from heeding this wisdom. A master planner somewhere decreed that it did not do to not allow passengers to slumber through the night and awaken blissfully at the destination. No, the ideal ride meant that around 2 a.m., the bus would stop, and bleary passengers would disembark, stumble into a small restaurant, and be served a hot meal consisting of bland rice porridge. Then it was back on board for several more hours in the dark.

After dawn—and for some, surely the night was very long—it seems like there were a series of loud announcements made through the speaker system. Then, the hot washcloths. I wasn’t sure why they were necessary, but I gamely wiped my face with them, as others were doing. After that, children and items were gathered, and we’d make our way down the aisle and down the steps. After our long repose in the cool air, our senses weren’t prepared for the humid early morning already streaming with traffic. We didn’t mind, however, because then it was time to hail ourselves a tuk-tuk. But that’s another story.

Our family in 1976, feeling fresh after an all-night bus ride from Nakhon Phanom to Bangkok. I’m the one in front. We’re posing in front of the missionary guest house, where we found all sorts of interesting things to get into, once we’d had our naps. I’ll have you know that my mom has already taken plenty of Facebook flack for my parents’ outfits, a lot of it from my sister, who was an infant and obviously had no say in the matter.

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So I understand this Joe Walsh fellow is out of the race, no longer competing against President Trump for the Republican nomination. I’d never heard of Joe Walsh until he announced his exit this week; what I’ve heard from him since then makes me glad he’s gone. I know there’s a strong feeling among a […]

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Give Them Cake!


That expression has come to signify a person of privilege completely out of touch with common people. “Cake? Okay, queenie. How about we address the hunger first?” But we can do better. Why not cake?

Roger Scruton noted that the “form follows function” philosophy of architecture is mistaken when “function” neglects the constant human desire for beauty. In “Why Beauty Matters,” he referred to studies showing that the productivity of laborers is improved by working in beautiful settings. Modern architects were not wrong to emphasize utility. They were only misled to believe that beauty is a frivolous addition, rather than a practical aspect.

Similarly, Mother Theresa of Calcutta frequently reminded her admirers, both faithful and secular, that her service to the poor was not primarily material. Above all, she emphasized the need for people to feel loved and appreciated. It would not suffice to feed the hungry and mend the sick. They need smiles and laughter, touch and sincere conversation, so that charity can be accepted not as a burden or cold duty but as a gift of personal concern and communion.

For practical efficiency, we often structure our gift-giving by division into bare necessities. “I could give this cause $100. But I could give to 5 causes if I give $20 each.” We send rice and dry goods. We donate old clothes.

All gifts are helpful, of course. Sometimes the most basic are the most appreciated. Sometimes only certain things will survive the journey.

But people don’t live on spreadsheets. We internalize the differences between a wave and a hug, between a simple loaf of bread and a delicious cake. Sometimes, at least, give your best.

Removing Vindman


One of the benefits of being retired is that I have a lot of time to follow world events. One of the drawbacks of being retired is that I have a lot of time to follow world events. I honestly think I may have spent too much time in the last five months watching and reading about the whole Ukraine mess. I think I understand the chronology and have a pretty good understanding of the motivations of the actors involved.

Today, LTC Alexander Vindman got reassigned, his brother removed, and Amb. Sondland fired. Immediately and reflexively, LTC Vindman became a martyr to some on the left. But, as I like to do, I quote Uncle Joe Biden, “Come on, man.” Some call it a purge. But how on earth can President Trump ever rely on Vindman as a member of the National Security Council staff?

Beyond the evident truth that Vindman thinks he is a policymaker, rather than a policy advisor, how can his advice ever be devoid of suspect motives? Imagine some crisis or policy meeting in the situation room and the principals look across the table and see Vindman. Could they ever suspend their doubts about his contributions? I say this even acknowledging that whatever he says there may be appropriate and entirely correct. He went outside his chain of command to report a phone call in which his superiors saw no wrongdoing. He testified about his disagreement with the elected official’s policy. His history can’t be put aside, so he has to go.

I spent almost forty years working in the far less contentious world of television production. If I ever disagreed with a producer about a replay or a visual effect, when there was time the good producers would listen to my objection and take it into account. But the decision was theirs, not mine. If I continued to object or took it further, his job wasn’t in jeopardy, mine was. The thing about live sports production that’s exciting is that you have seconds to do it. The production crew has to mesh to get it right instantly. There’s no time for debate. There’s probably not an employee anywhere that hasn’t sometime felt he knew better than his boss. But a subordinate has to know his position in the chain of command.

I knew where I stood. Apologists for Vindman may not understand how he, rightly or wrongly, could never be trusted again.

Friday Night Lights: Celebration


Lights on HilltopsA visit to the White House homepage prompted two thoughts. First was renewed admiration for the nameless team working tirelessly to keep up with reporting on the good things happening in our country under the leadership of President Trump. Second was a bit of happiness, joy even, at living in this land, right now, even with all the sound and fury seeking to continuously stir up negative emotions. So, I offer a snapshot, really a screenshot, and a song to close out the week and start the weekend.

Just viewing that screen should make most people feel at least a bit of happiness. However your week has gone, this song should either resonant with your mood or list it. You are sure to tap your toes or even find yourself moving with the beat. You might even break out with the chorus.

Have a good to great weekend, and you are welcome for the earworm.

Quote of the Day: In the Image of God


On the day of the March for Life, Jan. 24, I posted a QOTD on Psalm 8 which I used as a springboard for a teaching moment on why abortion is wrong, all of which climaxed with this as the central thesis:

Abortion is wrong for many reasons: the destruction of innocent life, the negation of love, the violation of human dignity. But those reasons are just satellites around the very core reason, that abortion violates the very image of God.

I posted that in the wee hours of the morning and then went down to participate in the march. I never got to see President Trump’s speech that day except on a video clip later that evening. Only recently did I read exactly what he said. Here’s a key paragraph:

“When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God’s creation. When we hold a newborn in our arms, we know the endless love that each child brings to a family. When we watch a child grow, we see the splendor that radiates from each human soul. One life changes the world… We cannot know what our citizens yet unborn will achieve. The dreams they will imagine. The masterpieces they will create. The discoveries they will make. But we know this: every life brings love into this world. Every child brings joy to a family. Every person is worth protecting. And above all, we know that every human soul is divine and every human life, born and unborn, is made in the holy image of Almighty God.”

President Donald J. Trump

My goodness. We essentially said the same thing with the same rhetorical development. We both started with the majesty of God’s creation, developed it to His creation of mankind, asserted the dignity of mankind, and concluded that abortion is wrong because we, born and unborn, are made in the image of God.

No, we did not share notes! Thank you, Mr. President. Great minds think alike.

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Many years ago, I worked at a non-profit that was developing a website to help shut-ins find qualified caregivers near them. My boss, who had also conceived of the site, was true dyed-in-the-wool progressive, so much so that she drove a Prius un-ironically adorned with an NPR sticker. She wanted this website to succeed because […]

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Ricochet’s own Granny Dude offered the invocation at our annual Cumberland County (Maine) Lincoln Day Dinner this evening. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to grab a photo opp with Honest Abe himself. She done him (and the great State of Maine) proud! Ricochetti are representin’ for our 16th President, the Great Emancipator!

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PowerLine Quotes a Liberal Who Gets It


I am amazed at people on the right who want Trump to lose. He has been the most conservative president since Reagan. He is also the best GOP president at manipulating the message since we elected the former actor.

Read the whole thing, but the closing is great:

Viewers were left to wonder: Why wouldn’t Pelosi applaud money for historically black colleges and universities? What’s her beef with a serviceman who returns from deployment to hug his kids? Where’s her feeling for the brother of a man killed by an undocumented criminal? All of these visuals could be explained in policy terms, but as Ronald Reagan once confided to his diary, “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.”

Sea Change: No One Blaming Iowa on Trump!


I’ve scoured all the usual suspects across the Internet, excluding social media, only because … raw sewage. But neither the alphabet media nor the NY or LA Times nor the Post nor Pravda has attempted to blame Iowa on Trump.

If anything, they seem to be hoping the whole kerfuffle is forgotten before someone ties their performance to a long string of epic political blunders. Like nominating Hillary so she would retire the DNC’s massive debt in 2016, or staging the most ham-handed coup attempt in the history of the republic in the name of protecting democracy. A move so reminiscent of mid-20th-century fascism that their preemptive accusation of fascism against the opposing side signaled their own transparent perfidy.

Having achieved a sort of political nadir, it appears that the identity-manglers need a fresh, creative boost to continue on their great decline to explore new depths of villainy. And I know just the creative stalwarts to show them the way!

The challenge: Blame Iowa on Trump in such convincing fashion that the usual suspects can resume their rocket-powered descent into unparalleled impotence. Remember, the House is still investigating and you may see your efforts inform the next articles of impeachment!

Ricochetti, to your keyboards.

The Best Advice from the Best Advisor


Our group-writing topic for this month is advice, and I thought it only right to begin with the very most important advice that I or anyone else could give. It was, of course, given by Jesus:

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Those two commandments are completely the key to living a fulfilled and fulfilling life. The interesting and challenging part is that much of fulfilling the first – loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength- is wrapped up in fulfilling the second, as explicated in the Tanakh, the Sermon on the Mount, in the various Pauline, Petrine, Jacobine and Johannine epistles.

“He who loves me is he who keeps My commandments,” Jesus said, and I do love him, so I strive and struggle to keep those commandments. Afflicted as I am with tendencies toward the full complement of human vices, this means often that I come back in contrition and ask for the grace to live beyond the influence of lust, rage, greed, and self-centered thinking. It is easier in some areas than in others.

Loving my enemies has consistently been the hardest one. I take great comfort in the fact that Jesus did not say “pretend they are not your enemies” or “the harm they intend you or inflict on you does not matter.” He only commands us to love them, which means seeking their moral good and their salvation. Not pretending the evil they do is good.

The evils we do aren’t good either, of course, but we are not meant to live in condemnation under their shadow forever, either. My final piece of advice: Always come back to the Lord, always count on his mercy, always trust in his wisdom. It is readily available to those who ask.

Media Musings: Is That Chicken a Bit Off? [Updated]


Don't be Chikin Fill Red KettleIf food has a sell-by date, perhaps news, as opposed to history, has a tell-by date. I am just getting around to this topic, reflecting on a story that was very much under the radar this past month, after initially being served up with lots of sizzle before Thanksgiving. Yes, this would be Chick-fil-A versus the Salvation Army.

You will recall that Chick-fil-A very prominently disassociated itself from the Salvation Army, smearing the Salvation Army as bigoted. This smear by a professedly Christian family-owned business was especially dangerous to the continued viability in the public square of any bible-believing Christian organization or individual. Such action demanded a response from organizations like the American Family Association, yet we heard nothing all through the Advent and Christmas season, the prime time for Salvation Army fundraising.

AFA, like Chick-fil-A, is a family-controlled entity in its second generation. Where Chick-fil-A was founded by S. Truett Cathy, AFA and American Family Radio were founded by Donald Wildmon. Today, the two founders’ sons lead their respective organizations: Dan T. Cathy at Chick-fil-A and Tim Wildmon at AFA.

So, we would rightly expect that Tim Wildmon would follow Christian doctrine and reach out personally to correct a brother in Christ, Dan T. Cathy. Apparently, he did so, and apparently the Chick-fil-A CEO responded almost immediately. What? Who knew?

On January 8, Todd Starnes wrote a piece on effectively breaking the news following a posting the day before on the AFA website. I read both posts with interest and then puzzlement at the underlying document. A key detail was entirely omitted from both the AFA and Townhall pieces.

Here is how the January 7 AFA piece, “Chick-fil-A responds to AFA Letter,” by their president, Tim Wildmon starts:

Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A chairman and CEO, responded to my personal letter and the more than 116,000 people who signed AFA’s petition asking the company for clarification after Chick-fil-A stunned much of the evangelical community by changing its corporate giving.

In November, Chick-fil-A announced that it would not be donating money to the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Homosexual activist organizations had hammered away at the two Christian non-profit groups because their doctrinal statements supported a biblical view of human sexuality and marriage. In turn, Chick-fil-A was accused of supporting “hate” because of the corporate giving.

In my personal letter to Mr. Cathy, I asked him two questions: (1) Will Chick-fil-A publicly state that it does not believe the Salvation Army and FCA are hate groups because of the ministries’ beliefs about sexuality, marriage, and family? (2) Will you publicly state that Chick-fil-A will not hesitate to fund these two ministries again, should the opportunity arise in the future?

Mr. Cathy’s written response included this statement: “We inadvertently discredited several outstanding organizations that have effectively served communities for years.”

Here is Todd Starnes’ take: “Chick-fil-A has a change of heart.”

Late last year Chick-fil-A ruffled feathers across the fruited plain when they announced they would no longer provide charitable donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Salvation Army.

Both organizations had faced years of withering attacks from sex and gender revolutionaries who were angered because the two renowned Christian ministries affirmed the biblical definition of marriage.

So when Chick-fil-A made their decision public, many Christians accused the company of backing down to a bunch of militant LGBTQ bullies. And in response many of Chick-fil-A’s staunchest supporters flew the coop.

…And the other day — American Family Association president Tim Wildmon received a response — from Chick-fil-A chairman and CEO Dan Cathy.

So, both of these outfits are claiming that Chick-fil-A had only just responded very recently. They linked the letter sent by Dan T. Cathy to Tim Wildmon. So, they gave us the source document. Let’s all take a look, shall we? See the problem? Let me isolate the first part that should prompt questions:

December 5, 2019. Now, is that a phony date, slapped on a letter that was not actually delivered until the first week of January? If so, wouldn’t that make the rest of the letter subject to very close scrutiny? On the other hand, was the letter correctly dated and sent on or about that date to Tim Wildmon? I know it was the Christmas rush, but a first-class letter surely was not taking a month for domestic delivery. I doubt it took more than three days. One would think that Todd Starnes would be a little curious here. Nope. Not a word.

And the lack of curiosity does not end at the letter heading. Let’s look at the meat of the matter, the key paragraph that is supposedly responsive to the undisclosed AFA letter, on which we can take Tim Wildmon’s word, for purposes of our inquiry.

So, we get:

  1. We’re all good Christian folk here (so please keep coming to our restaurants for your church group outings and bible studies).
  2. We get that you are upset but it was all a big misunderstanding. We really have not changed.
  3. Nevertheless, we are not going to give to any organization that LGBT activists don’t like. We’ll abandon the most effective organizations, like Salvation Army, while claiming to want “a greater impact by addressing the challenges of hunger, homelessness and education.”

Notice, the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes are not mentioned. The Cathy family representative will not follow his father’s courage and integrity by naming the organizations his COO smeared, or allowed to be smeared, by name in the interview that started all the ruckus. But this does not bother AFA’s leader, who took what he got and declared victory.

There may be any number of reasons for this decision. Todd Starnes and Townhall, though, should surely be minimally curious and note the obvious. Yet neither the obvious date issue nor the obvious dodge by both organizations’ leaders drew a single line of reporting or analysis.

This stuff just isn’t that hard.

[Update — 7 February 2020]: My search of the AFA website did not turn up a post between the November and January posts. Searching the Internet turned up two relevant documents. First, there is an AFA posting dated December 10, 2019. This post includes a link to the letter sent by Tim Wildmon to Dan Cathy. The post’s title says it all: “CFA’s Dan Cathy gives AFA Silent Treatment.”

On Monday, December 2, I overnighted a letter to Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy. In the letter, I asked him to clarify statements made by the leadership of Chick-fil-A and the Chick-fil-A Foundation. You can read the letter here.


Mr. Cathy has not responded to my letter. This is disappointing.

This makes things worse, not better. The Chick-fil-A letter is dated December 5, 2019, two days after the AFA letter would have been delivered. So, did it get lost in the mail? Was it held in the Chick-fil-A headquarters. Is the date false? Why did AFA not address this discrepancy, one that would seem to contradict Wildmon’s post on December 10?

Why is this not addressed in the professional reporting?