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Love your country, especially in the coming hours. Celebrate this land, our Constitution, and the people who believe in it. Liberty is the bond we share, and it won’t be broken. Yesterday I heard fear in the faculty room over speaking. Just normal, everyday teaching, even those on the left have the fear. This cannot […]

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“Comrades! The kulak uprising in your five districts must be crushed without pity … You must make example of these people. (1) Hang (I mean hang publicly, so that people see it) at least 100 kulaks, rich bastards, and known bloodsuckers. (2) Publish their names. (3) Seize all their grain. (4) Single out the hostages […]

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My Sis, Western Chauvinist, didn’t know she had the comment moderation feature ‘ON’ over at her blog. I asked her why she hadn’t posted my comments . . . She was pretty startled. Now she’s turned it off and hopes her friends will drop by. It means so much. Thanks.  

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Dr. Rachel Levine, Failing Up


One of my favorite phrases is “failing up.” That’s when someone who is perceived to be unsuccessful, even a failure, is promoted. People who’ve worked in the federal government know what I’m talking about.

Recently Dr. Anthony Fauci, the 80-year-old, 30+ year head of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases and Allergies – allegedly our nation’s top epidemiologist – has been used, perhaps unfairly, as an example of failing up.

But today, we have a new candidate. Dr. Rachel Levine, President-elect Joe Biden’s announced nominee for Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. It is perhaps the number three position at HHS, responsible for several hugely important agencies, from the Food and Drug Administration to the Public Health Service. It is arguably one of the top scientific positions in all government and the nation’s top health official (although Dr. Fauci was asked to be President Biden’s “chief medical advisor“).

Of course, we know why Dr. Levine was chosen: She is transgender. It has everything to do with politics, and nothing to do with science, and certainly not with competence or integrity. Having lived through Pennsylvania’s horrific mismanagement of the COVID crisis, there is overwhelming evidence that Dr. Levine is grossly unqualified to serve in any position of public trust.

Yet, the minute Dr. Levine is criticized by any public person, they will instantly be accused of bigotry. One dare not mention that Dr. Levine’s gender dysphoria in the context of criticizing the health secretary’s scientific and policy judgments. If you do, the thought police emerge instantly and make Dr. Levin into a victim. I’ve seen it. Just don’t go there.

Every Senate Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which will hold a hearing on Dr. Levine’s nomination, will highlight her transgenderism, followed by every single Senate Democratic floor speech once it reaches the full chamber (and it will). That aside, there’s ample ammunition in Dr. Levine’s awful record to torpedo the nomination.

Unfortunately, in a nominally Democrat-controlled Senate, symbolism and politics will trump science and competence. It will be interesting to see which Republicans will go along with Dr. Levine’s confirmation. I’m betting most of them, including Pennsylvania GOP Senator Pat Toomey, but I hope that I am wrong. Watch what happens to Senators who are critical of Dr. Levine.

What follows is but a small sample of Dr. Levine’s failures as noted by Pennsylvania’s leading media. With a record like this, given the responsibilities for vaccine distribution and administration and health policy in general, our nation’s health leadership and infrastructure – and those who depend on it – are in for a very challenging time.

Documents from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania – one of the state’s most populous county in the Philadelphia suburbs, reveal the fear county officials had about Dr. Levine’s and the state’s mismanagement, especially with regard to nursing homes.

Pennsylvania has consistently lagged behind other states in COVID testing.

More than two-thirds of COVID deaths in Pennsylvania occur among aged Americans in long-term care facilities, among the highest in the country. Early in the crisis, Pennsylvania had a plan to deal with that. They not only failed to use it, Dr. Levine and Governor Tom Wolf (D) forced unprepared nursing homes, against their protests, to accept COVID-positive patients. 

Perhaps even worse, Dr. Levine and her team quietly changed the death counts as the crisis worsened.

But here’s the coup de grace. As the Pennsylvania COVID nursing home crisis worsened, as Dr. Levine was forcing nursing homes to accept COVID positive patients, she moved her mother out of her nursing home into a luxury hotel.  Too bad other Pennsylvania families could not have been afforded the same opportunity.

Pennsylvania’s vaccination rate, despite having one of the highest per capita populations of 65+ Americans, trails many states, including Florida.

There is nothing inspiring about a record or a person like this. It should frighten and alarm you. Dr. Levine should never have been nominated and should have been fired as Pennsylvania’s health secretary months ago.

Now it is time for Americans and the media to hold Senators accountable for the confirmation process and to watch their votes carefully.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Sucking the Joy out of Life


I like coffee, like most people. I don’t mind coffee grinds, so not only do I enjoy unfiltered or Turkish coffee, but I have also regularly enjoyed eating fresh ground coffee beans with ice cream or yoghurt or just some cream. Yummy!

But I learned some bad news recently: unfiltered coffee raises cholesterol LDL levels.

So I tried it. By using a paper filter in addition to the metal mesh, I dropped my LDL levels by 20+ points.

So now I am still addicted to coffee, but I don’t enjoy it anymore. I liked the flavor of all the cholesterol-raising oils and goodies. Coffee is good for people (3-4 cups a day is often an ideal benefit-balance), but not if it is unfiltered.

Once again I learn that things I enjoy are often not good for me; I am sure there is a lesson in there somewhere.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Biden Score Card


Every Tuesday I am going keep a running score card of the destruction of Biden/Democrats/ Socialists. I plan to keep score of the cost of regular gasoline, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the strength or lack of it against the Chinese RMB or yuan.

The gasoline price is different in many locales. States and local taxes play a big part in the discrepancies. I am going to use the place where I purchase my fuel which is at Costco in the Charleston South Carolina area. I found that they are about 10 cents cheaper than other local stations in the area but not always cheaper than outlying areas. SC is on the lower end of the state tax, Pennsylvania being the highest.

The DJIA will be from Monday unless it’s a holiday and so will the dollar/yuan. Remember with the yuan, the more yuan you get for a dollar the stronger the dollar and Vice a versa .If anyone would like something else followed let me know in comments.

I will post the numbers tomorrow for a benchmark .

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******************************************************************************************************** Update: Thanks to all for “liking” this post. I appreciate engaging in conversation with all of you on this matter of national interest at this special time in our history. I was under the understanding that Ricochet existed to foster such polite discussion. I realize now that there is policy of not promoting any […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Day Not Covered, A Freedom We Shall Miss


President Trump issued an annual proclamation, declaring January 16 Religious Freedom Day, 2021. It could not be more timely, given what is about to unfold in our nation’s capital and across the world. Set this one aside for reference over the coming months, as Americans are forced to choose between faith and laws/edicts.**

Proclamation on Religious Freedom Day, 2021
LAW & JUSTICE Issued on: January 15, 2021
[emphasis added]
Faith inspires hope. Deeply embedded in the heart and soul of our Nation, this transcendent truth has compelled men and women of uncompromising conscience to give glory to God by worshiping both openly and privately, lifting up themselves and others in prayer. On Religious Freedom Day, we pledge to always protect and cherish this fundamental human right.

When the Pilgrims first crossed the Atlantic Ocean more than 400 years ago in pursuit of religious freedom, their dedication to this first freedom shaped the character and purpose of our Nation. Later, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, their deep desire to practice their religion unfettered from government intrusion was realized. Since then, the United States has set an example for the world in permitting believers to live out their faith in freedom.

Over the past 4 years, my Administration has worked tirelessly to honor the vision of our Founders and defend our proud history of religious liberty. From day one, we have taken action to restore the foundational link between faith and freedom and promote a culture of religious liberty. My Administration has protected the rights of individual religious believers, communities of faith, and faith-based organizations. We have defended religious liberty domestically and around the world. For example, I signed an Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty[*] to ensure that faith-based organizations would not be forced to compromise their religious beliefs as they serve their communities. This includes defending the rights of religious orders to care for the infirm and elderly without being fined out of existence for refusing to facilitate access to services that violate their faith.

We have also protected healthcare providers’ rights not to be forced to perform procedures that violate their most deeply-held convictions. Additionally, we have ended the misguided policies of denying access to educational funding to historically black colleges and universities because of their religious character and of denying loan forgiveness to those who perform public services at religious organizations. Throughout this difficult year, we have continued these efforts, cutting red tape to ensure houses of worship and other faith-based organizations could receive Paycheck Protection Program loans on the same grounds and with the same parameters as any other entity. We have also aggressively defended faith communities against overreach by State and local governments that have tried to shut down communal worship. Together, we have honored the sanctity of every life, protected the rights of Americans to follow their conscience, and preserved the historical tradition of religious freedom in our country.

While Americans enjoy the blessings of religious liberty, we must never forget others around the world who are denied this unalienable right. Sadly, millions of people across the globe are persecuted and discriminated against for their faith. My Administration has held foreign governments accountable for trampling — in many cases, egregiously so — on religious liberty. In 2019, to shed light on this important issue, I welcomed survivors of religious persecution from 16 countries in the Oval Office, including Christians, Jews, and Muslims, and made history by standing before the United Nations General Assembly and calling on all nations of the world to stop persecuting people of faith.  The United States will never waver in these efforts to expand religious liberty around the world and calls on all nations to respect the rights of its citizens to live according to their beliefs and conscience.

On Religious Freedom Day, we honor the vision of our Founding Fathers for a Nation made strong and righteous by a people free to exercise their faith and follow their conscience. As Americans united in unparalleled freedom, we recommit to safeguarding and preserving religious freedom across our land and around the world.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2021, as Religious Freedom Day. I call on all Americans to commemorate this day with events and activities that remind us of our shared heritage of religious liberty and that teach us how to secure this blessing both at home and around the world.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.

* Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty, Issued on: May 4, 2017 [emphasis added]

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to guide the executive branch in formulating and implementing policies with implications for the religious liberty of persons and organizations in America, and to further compliance with the Constitution and with applicable statutes and Presidential Directives, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. It shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom. The Founders envisioned a Nation in which religious voices and views were integral to a vibrant public square, and in which religious people and institutions were free to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government. For that reason, the United States Constitution enshrines and protects the fundamental right to religious liberty as Americans’ first freedom. Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government. The executive branch will honor and enforce those protections.

Sec. 2. Respecting Religious and Political Speech. All executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech. In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury. As used in this section, the term “adverse action” means the imposition of any tax or tax penalty; the delay or denial of tax-exempt status; the disallowance of tax deductions for contributions made to entities exempted from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of title 26, United States Code; or any other action that makes unavailable or denies any tax deduction, exemption, credit, or benefit.

Sec. 3. Conscience Protections with Respect to Preventive-Care Mandate. The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate promulgated under section 300gg-13(a)(4) of title 42, United States Code.

Sec. 4. Religious Liberty Guidance. In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.

Sec. 5. Severability. If any provision of this order, or the application of any provision to any individual or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this order and the application of its other provisions to any other individuals or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

Sec. 6. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


May 4, 2017.

** “No American Should Have to Choose Between Faith and the Law,” January 16, 2018

“No American—whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner—should be forced to choose between the tenets of faith or adherence to the law.” — Proclamation by President Donald J. Trump

Tuesday, January 16, 2018, marks America’s celebration of National Religious Freedom Day. President Donald J. Trump made the observance official in a signed proclamation this week.

Religious freedom has shaped the history of the United States since our forefathers sought refuge from religious persecution. Federal recognition of Religious Freedom Day began with President George H. W. Bush in 1993, and presidents have generally signed a new proclamation every year since.

January 16 is the anniversary of the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom’s passage. Considered one of the foundational texts of a young America, the document outlined what principles constituted true respect by a government for freedom of religion. “All men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities,” wrote its author, Thomas Jefferson.

The Virginia statute served as a model in many ways for the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which followed a few years later with its familiar words, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

In that spirit, Religious Freedom Day is a moment to celebrate and fight to protect religious freedom in America and around the world. “We will continue to condemn and combat extremism, terrorism, and violence against people of faith, including genocide waged by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria against Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims,” President Trump writes in this year’s proclamation.

The President’s commitment to religious freedom has guided the Trump Administration’s work during its first year:

  • President Trump issued an executive order last May titled “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty,” reinforcing the religious freedom protections of the Constitution and minimizing “undue interference by the Federal Government” in areas such as health care.
  • The President and First Lady met with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican later that month, discussing how religious communities could help combat terrorism and relieve human suffering in afflicted parts of the world.
  • Vice President Mike Pence has been a forceful advocate for religious freedom, perhaps most visibly in a stirring speech delivered at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians last May.

President Trump’s proclamation is a reminder that civic participation and religious observance shouldn’t be opposing forces. “The free exercise of religion is a source of personal and national stability,” the proclamation reads.

“Faith breathes life and hope into our world.”

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Is the Mark of the Beast in the Needle?


A retired pastor in our church is part of a really wonderful ministry distributing wheelchairs in Nigeria. Most of those in need of the chairs are victims of polio. As recently as thirty years ago, Nigeria had thousands of new polio cases every year. Thankfully, at that time, Rotary International stepped in and spread the vaccine throughout the country. Other organizations also played a part, so cases fell from 350,000 cases worldwide to 407 cases in 2013. I believe there were just 22 cases in 2019, but people who contracted polio decades ago still need wheelchairs. My friend was planning to make his annual trip to helo distribute wheelchairs last year, but, you know, the Covid. 

I understand why some people would have concerns about the vaccines for Covid-19. Through abrupt and often contradictory policy changes over the past year, the government and the medical establishment have done much to damage their credibility. The vaccine was made so quickly (thanks to the administration’s Warp Speed program), that it worries some. I can understand that those worries. Don’t agree the worries are sensible, but I can understand them.

But some people these days doubt the efficacy of vaccines in general — and if you don’t recognize the effectiveness of vaccines in battling polio and smallpox and measles and many other diseases, your opposition of the Covid-19 vaccine might be consistent, but your attitude doesn’t speak well for your intelligence (and possibly your sanity).

As bad as that kind of nuttiness is, I’ve come across an even worse story going around the vaccines among some Christians. They are claiming the vaccine(s) are the Mark of the Beast.

You might know of the Mark of the Beast from Scripture or from The Omen films. In the Bible’s book of Revelation, chapter 13, verses 16 and 17, Jesus’ disciple John wrote, “It [the Beast, the Antichrist] also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.”

So there are indeed some people typing into the internets that the vaccine is this Mark of the Beast, and anyone who takes it is buying a ticket straight to hell.

Is this idea even worthy of a response? After all, Proverbs 26: 4 says, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.”

But on the other hand, Proverbs 26: 5 says, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

So I find myself trying to give a reasoned response to bat guano crazy: 

Why the Vaccine is Not the Mark of the Beast:

  1. A shot in the arm is nothing like a mark on the head or forehead. If you are going to take this passage literally (not usually a good idea in the Book of Revelation), then the vaccine is just dealing with the wrong part of the anatomy. I’ve been persuaded through the years the mark is probably symbolic. The head is used to represent thinking like the antichrist and the hands represent acting like the antichrist. But people who take a vaccine for their own health and the health of others seems like a Christ-like action to me.
  2. Since there is talk that the vaccine will be necessary for travel and certain kinds of employment, this is obviously fulfilling the “they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark” portion of the Scripture. Of course, in the last few months, many of us couldn’t buy or sell without a mask. Is the mask the Mark of the Beast? (I’m sure there are a number of people who think so.) For years, restaurants have posted “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” signs. Are shirts and shoes the Mark of the Beast?
  3. If taking the Mark of the Beast results in losing one’s salvation, perhaps we need to alter some Scripture. Ephesians 2, verses 8 & 9 should read, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and by not getting the vaccine — and this is not from yourselves (except for your foresight in not taking the vaccine); it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast (unless you boast about not getting the vaccine).” And Romans 10:9 needs to read “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, and don’t get the vaccine, you will be saved.”
  4. The idea that the vaccine is the Mark of the Beast is exactly what Paul was talking about when he warned (in I Timothy 4: 7) against people who listen to “godless myths and old wives’ tales.” Old wives’ tales may no longer be a politically correct phrase, but it captures well the “vaccine is the Mark of the Beast” vibe. This passage warns against allowing people to tell you what you should do. Earlier in that chapter, in verses 3 – 5, Paul wrote, “They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to rejected if it is received with thanksgiving because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” “Medicine” or “vaccine” could well be substituted for “food” in that passage. I believe it is wise to receive the Covid-19 vaccine with thanksgiving. If you don’t want to take it, fine, but don’t condemn other people for doing so.

I very much doubt anyone here at Ricochet is of the “vaccine is the Mark of the Beast” crowd, but I hope this post is helpful if you encounter such people.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Farewell Message from First Lady Melania Trump


Issued on January 18, 2020:

My fellow Americans,

It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve as First Lady of the United States.

I have been inspired by incredible Americans across our country who lift up our communities through their kindness and courage, goodness and grace.

The past four years have been unforgettable. As Donald and I conclude our time in the White House, I think of all the people I have taken home in my heart and their incredible stories of love, patriotism, and determination.

I see the faces of brave young soldiers who have told me with pride in their eyes how much they love serving this country. To every service member and to our incredible military families: You are heroes, and you will always be in my thoughts and prayers.

I think of all the members of law enforcement who greet us wherever we go. At every hour of every day, they stand guard to keep our communities safe, and we are forever in their debt.

I have been moved by children I have visited in hospitals and foster care centers. Even as they fight difficult illnesses or face challenges, they bring such a joy to everyone they meet.

I remember the mothers who have battled the disease of Opioid addiction, and have overcome incredible hardships for love of their children.

I have been inspired by the devoted caregivers for babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, and communities that give these children the support and care they need to grow.

When I think about these meaningful experiences, I am humbled to have had the opportunity to represent a nation with such kind and generous people.

As the world continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, I thank all the nurses, doctors, healthcare professionals, manufacturing workers, truck drivers, and so many others who are working to save lives.

We grieve for the families who have lost a loved one due to the pandemic. Every life is precious, and I ask all Americans to use caution and common sense to protect the vulnerable as millions of vaccines are now being delivered.

In the midst of this hardship, we have seen the best of America shine through. Students have made cards and delivered groceries to our Senior Citizens. Teachers have worked twice as hard to keep our children learning.

Families have come together to provide meals, supplies, comfort and friendship to those in need.

Be passionate in everything you do but always remember that violence is never the answer and will never be justified.

When I came to the White House, I reflected on the responsibility I have always felt as a mother to encourage, give strength, and teach values of kindness. It is our duty as adults and parents to ensure that children have the best opportunities to lead fulfilling and healthy lives.

The passion for helping children succeed would drive my policy initiative as First Lady.

I launched Be Best[*] to ensure that we as Americans are doing everything we can to take care of the next generation. Be Best has concentrated on three pillars: well-being, online safety, and opioid abuse.

In a few short years, I have raised awareness of how to keep children safe online; we have made incredible progress on our nation’s drug epidemic and how it impacts the lives of newborns and families, and we have given a voice to our most vulnerable children in the foster care system.

Internationally, Be Best has evolved into a platform that encourages world leaders to discuss issues impacting the lives of children and allows them to share solutions. It has been an honor to represent the American people abroad. I treasure each of my experiences and the inspiring people I have met along the way.

As I say farewell to my role as First Lady, it is my sincere hope that every American will do their part to teach our children what it means to Be Best. I ask parents to educate your children about the courageous and selfless heroes who worked and sacrificed to make this country the land of the free. And to lead by example and care for others in your community.

The promise of this Nation belongs to all of us. Do not lose sight of your integrity and values. Use every opportunity to show consideration for another person and build good habits into your daily lives.

In all circumstances, I ask every American to be an ambassador of Be Best. To focus on what unites us. To rise above what divides us. To always choose love over hatred, peace over violence, and others before yourself.

Together, as one national family, we can continue to be the light of hope for future generations and carry on America’s legacy of raising our nation to greater heights through our spirit of courage, goodness and faith.

No words can express the depth of my gratitude for the privilege of having served as your First Lady.

To all the people of this country: You will be in my heart forever.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

* Be Best

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I’m not very smart, so I get lost easily. Someone calibrate me on the chain of command operating in DC right now. My understanding is the States respond with Guardsmen per request from the President (via SecDef, via SecArmy/SecAirforce), right? So the Guard deployed now are on the orders of the President. All 25,000 of […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. What The Left Wants: The Seattle City Council is Racist


The Radical Leftists in Seattle have “dropped the mask”, so to speak, and display their outright racism. How do I know this? How about a story on the Web site.

Rantz: Councilmember Gonzalez renews push to fire white Seattle police officers.

If that’s not racist, I don’t know what is. Given that the population of Seattle is about 85% white, and the Seattle Police Officers Guild has some say in what happens, firing white police officers might just be a small problem; I sure hope so.

Another thought: Maybe it’s a good thing that the Left has abandoned all attempts at dissimulation. We used to have to dissect their behavior, but now everything is all right out there in the open. They used to be cagey about their goals, and now everyone can see what they are aiming for.

[originally posted at]

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Underprepared for the Capitol Riots, Overprepared for the Inauguration


In earlier posts, I put forth my take on the lack of a plan for the January 6th riot that took place in the Capitol building in Washington DC. I’ve been following the news on what happened, I’ll call it the under-reaction on January 6th. Now there seems to be an overreaction for the inauguration of Joe Biden.

The FBI has now been walking-back the story of capture and assassination teams breaching the Capitol. The Norfolk FBI office states that they issued warnings, yet the DC office has been silent on whether they were aware of warnings and warned the Capitol police of those warnings. The agent in charge in Norfolk may be on his way to Billings, Montana in the very near future if Democrats in Congress have their way. One must not disturb the narrative.

Certain Dems are floating their own conspiracy theory that Republican members of Congress conducted reconnaissance tours for the rioters. The media loves that, but they don’t have any names, just memories of seeing tours being conducted with people they’ve never seen before in the building. Adam Schiff, that paragon of honesty demands an investigation.

Now the National Guard soldiers sent to DC have come under suspicion and must be vetted before the big day. What must not be vetted is M4 carbines that are not a suitable weapon for crowd control, unless of course, you’re in Caracas.

One wonders why members of Congress are in charge of the Capitol police and directly involved in tactical decisions to protect the building. I do understand the concern if Senator or Representative Snirtler decides to wade in the reflecting pool dressed in nothing but a garter belt, or is shagging a Chi-Com spy. Who wouldn’t want to keep that a secret?

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Fighting for “Consensual Reality”


Now there’s talk of de-platforming conservative cable news programs. Is anyone surprised? Former Facebook executive Alex Stamos spoke on CNN on Sunday, and is “fighting for the people” in protesting the right-wing programs:

And then we have to figure out the OANN and Newsmax problem that these companies have freedom of speech, but I’m not sure we need Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and such to be bringing them into tens of millions of homes. This is allowing people to seek out information if they really want to, but not pushing it into their faces I think is really where we’re going to have to go here.

I’m sorry to share a quotation that is slightly incoherent, but I think the gist of his comment is that he wants to respect freedom of speech, except he doesn’t. And he appears to want people to find information they are interested in, except that companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast shouldn’t be providing it.


The bottom line is that the Left will probably be trying to go after conservative TV programs, although they may go after the cable providers to do so. Do they have the power to take that step? Probably not, but when has violating legal protections ever stopped the Left?

Stamos referred to the conservative news programs as a “sealed ecosystem,” although I think he has some projection going on. He also spoke about OANN and Newsmax challenging Fox News:

They can do that both on cable. They can do it online, and that becomes a huge challenge in figuring out how do you bring people back into the mainstream of fact-based reporting and try to get us back into the same consensual reality.

(Italics mine)

I think all of us would greatly appreciate fact-based reporting, but not the kind of consensual reality that Mr. Stamos is talking about.

What do you think?

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This is the title of an excellent post by Paul Rosenberg. The whole post is worth reading. I will give his main points along with brief comments. 1. What was the timeline on January 6? As I have posted, it appears to exonerate President Trump from the charge that he encouraged the events at the […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. January Group Writing: Old Injuries, New Procedures


Whether you love or hate Donald J. Trump, I think we can all agree that the guy can just wear out some hyperbole. His use of superlatives in his speech used to make me nuts (and I’m a fan), but it grew on me over time and I ended up finding it hilarious.

Still, he had some major accomplishments. One of which, that he talks about but almost no one else does, is his revamping and remodeling of the Veterans Administration. I’ve heard from all kinds of vets that the system has been streamlined and vet-focused to the point where one has a hard time hating it anymore. That’s impressive, ’cause I’m a hater.

I was told, back in the day when I was a mere whelp of a Lieutenant Colonel, that processing claims with the VA for service-related disability was a process that would take three to five years after I retired from the service. Then, a couple of years before I retired, the VA started its Benefits Delivered at Discharge program. Six months before separation, troops could file their claims and the pie-in-the-sky goal was that upon final separation from service, the benefits troops were entitled to would be available immediately, with all assessments and adjudications complete. Nice goal, man, but we are talking about the VA. Good luck with that.

I dropped my claim exactly six months to the day before I mustered out. I showed up for every assessment for which the VA sent me an appointment. My benefits, such as they are, were turned on seven months after my retirement. So, a 13-month process. For VA deliverables, that was at the time considered light speed. Since POTUS 45 undertook the task to revamp the VA (a task on par with mucking out King Augeas’ stables in a single day), I’ve received feedback from a bunch of vets that the system is now actually functional and timely. That, I thought, is a good thing, as I’ve recently concluded that more interactions with the VA were necessary.

[Were I a better writer, I would work this point in with a little more grace and artifice, but I’m not so I won’t. Plus I’ve got the day off for MLK, and thus cracked my first breakfast beer at/about 0700, so: Anyone who joins the military and plans on having the VA provide their healthcare upon departure, well, that’s just a bad plan.]

The worst part of interacting with the VA was the assessments. I would get a letter saying that I had an appointment in Miami at 0800 or 0900. Now, trying to traverse Miami during those hours is a fool’s errand. The Hialeah and Hollywood municipalities are only approx 50 miles from my domicile. Ever spend three hours to travel 50 miles? Yeah. It was no fun. Some day, I’ll sit down and document my assessment adventures; there were times I felt like I was in bizarro world.

Some few months before I retired (I officially became a civilian on 01 FEB, 2016) I dislocated my hip in a fight. An 18D (SF medic) wrapped his arms around my ankle/shin, placed his foot in my crotch (after making a due diligence check that all mission-essential equipment was out of the way), arched his back, and popped the hip back into place. The noises the hip made, both while coming out and popping back in, were like unto the sound that the cartilage on a chicken wing makes when you rip it apart. Good times.

The hip never really got better. It hurt constantly, but I had full use of the joint, so I kind of blew off chasing follow-on medical care. One of the doctors I went to see stated, “I don’t think it’s your hip. I think it’s your spine.” Okay. The injury was livable and it was just pain, so I didn’t worry about it.

Over the next several years, the pain traveled from my hip up to my back, then across the pelvis so that I had both legs feeling the love. I finally went back to the medicos when I started losing muscular control (usually accompanied by a feeling like a taser shocking me). The stairs of my workplace are concrete. I started to get concerned that I might take a header down concrete flights of stairs. Been there, done that. Pass on doing it again.

The two phrases I remember from the MRI reading were “massive osteoarthritis” and “significant spinal stenosis.” I was walking around like the tin man without an oilcan in sight. The treatment is (until that inevitable point when I have to get surgery) to get epidural shots in my spine, every three or four months. Relief received from each series of shots is random.

I did take great umbrage during our shutdown period when no “elective surgery” was performed. Elective? Really? I always thought that one got elective surgery when one wanted bigger boobs, or a smaller nose. I had no idea that the shots that let me walk around like an actual human being were “elective.”

I put in an amendment to my original VA claim and waited with great trepidation for the assessment appointment paperwork to show up in the mail. Eesh. More long trips that would basically mean taking a whole day off work for a one-hour session with the assessment doc. Tarnation.

Instead of mail showing up six to eight weeks after I submitted my claim, I received a series of voice mails on my cell (DOD contractor, secure building, no cells allowed inside the building) to which I responded.

Apparently, now, if one lives more than 30 miles from the nearest VA facility, the VA comes to you. I was telephonically given a date, and paperwork was pushed to me via FEDEX confirming the appointment and what I needed to bring with me.

Of note, the address for the appointment was a motel off of Highway 1 in Florida City, 20-odd miles north of my residence. Highway 1 is also named, on the mainland, anyway, the Dixie Highway. How has that escaped cancellation, one wonders. Many of the motels and hotels cater to people that want to visit the Keys, but don’t want to pay Keys hospitality rates, and consider the 20/30 minute drive just to get into the Keys as an acceptable trade-off.

Still, Florida City? Get off of the north-south running Dixie Highway to either the east or the west, and you are truly in America’s Mogadishu. Maybe 8-Mile in Detroit is in the running for a more run-down, dilapidated piece of Americana, but it’s a tight race.

I pulled into the parking lot of the Leisure Inn on the appointed day and wondered where to go. Would they have a conference room rented out for performing assessments? Would they be conducting assessments from rented motel rooms? That seems like it would be very sketchy.

As I rounded a corner to get to the lobby of the motel to check-in and find out where I needed to go, I espied a huge, super-modern Winnebago (or whatever) variant in the parking lot. The name of the contracted diagnostic company was emblazoned all over the sides of the vehicle.

I’m thinking I’m probably in the right place.

The interior of the vehicle was as high-speed, clean, and well-appointed as any doctor’s office. The staff was wonderfully pleasant.

The doctor I saw was very caring and matronly; I have no idea how much older than me she was. She painstakingly explained that she did the assessment and sent the report up. She would have nothing to do with nor any input on the adjudication of my claim. Got it, ma’am.

After the assessment, she took off her glasses and gave me the motherly look. She seemed like she might be about to give me hot chocolate. Granted, January in South Florida and the temp was in the mid-70s, but I’m always up for some hot chocolate. Instead, she asked, “Young man, you’re in a lot of pain, I’m amazed you can even function, why in the world have you not had the surgery yet?”

I hate it when motherly professionals drop truth bombs on me.

I explained my situation, and why it was not a good time for me to be down recuperating for 8-12 weeks. She observed that I’ve got “a lot going on” but then (turning the whole motherly thing up to 11) admonished me not to wait until I was truly in crisis to attempt getting fixed.

“Yes, ma’am.”

Best VA appointment I ever had. Thank you, President Trump.

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The attached link pretty much sums up my perspective to Bidens Inauguration. Don’t go, don’t protest, don’t watch, don’t discuss. It is a rigged election and needs to be treated as that. Let Biden and the Democrats have their fun. Make them look silly for ten of thousands of soldiers for nothing.   Per […]

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Rush Limbaugh’s valuable early warning system is calling attention to a new propaganda campaign: The National Guard, the Army, and the police are rife with anti-Biden traitors that must be rooted out for the new President’s safety.  MiniTrue and its minions are working hard: During an interview Monday morning on CNN, Democratic Rep. Steven Cohen […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘You’re a Better Man Than I Am, Gunga Din!’


One of my favorite authors, Rudyard Kipling, died 85 years ago today. Eighty-five years. Lord, not all that long ago. I’m within two decades of that lived milestone myself. (I’m 66, for those of you who are keeping track, or who’d like to weigh in on what an irrelevant old hag I am.) On that day (January 18, 1936), almost all the members of my family–Mum, Dad, aunties and uncles, grandparents, etc.–who formed my early life experiences and values had been born and were very much alive. I remember them all.

These days, it’s fashionable to criticize, or even cancel, Kipling for his supposedly “racist” views, and because he expressed them in the decades before I was born, in a different time and in a different world. We now live in a world in which the ability to express “black and brown” voices is somehow contingent on the requirement that other, “white” voices be suppressed and deleted. “Better, or worse?” to phrase it in the language that my optician uses when he’s giving me the option to tell him which version of the eye chart might best indicate the state of my failing vision and the need to move towards a stronger prescription.

Easy answer, that.

Worse. Suppression of voices is always worse. And never more so than in an historical context when, for “better or worse” they have already been documented, and, for “better or worse” they are already on the record. How else should we recognize the mistakes of the past than by facing them? How does canceling or deleting them help in that endeavor? Pro tip: It doesn’t. But it does at least remove the pretense that our ideas should engage with intellectual rigor to overcome ideas we may find distasteful, and it makes it easier to proclaim (what I am pretty sure, given human nature, is temporary) victory.

Rudyard Kipling lost a son in WWI. By all current shibboleths, this should give him absolute moral authority in anything he says from that point on. But, no. His ideas aren’t popular from the standpoint of the culturally ignorant.

Poor man. And poor family.

Without further ado, I append one of his most famous poems, one I’ve written about before, and one which the Left would much prefer to cancel. Please let me know if you find it somehow offensive. I’d love to chat.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Projection and Illusions


One year ago this week, I had to bury the cold dead body of someone I loved more than my own life. Ten days earlier and just before noon, I had answered the phone to hear a stranger from the medical examiner’s office in another town tell me she was dead.

For the 15 years prior to that moment, she had been systematically dismantling herself, beginning in small ways but eventually moving on to big, unsustainable ways. She died like the character in The Sun Also Rises went bankrupt: gradually then suddenly.

And now she is just gone.

When she first started going off the rails I was operating with the illusion that she was just missing some vital piece of information which, once she got it, would cause the lightbulb to come on and bring her back to her senses. I assumed that no one would ever make such self-destructive and unsustainable choices unless they just misunderstood the likely consequences. For two years I lay sleepless at night as I wrestled with ways to get some magical and transforming piece of information into her.

Maybe if I say it this way, I imagined, then she will finally understand.

But I was blind to what was really going on because I operated with the false premise that she wanted out of life what I wanted out of life. My lens for interpreting what was going on was the lens of how I personally would have felt in her circumstances. But that reflected a costly mistake of understanding on my part which led to years of ineffectual efforts to help her. For years, what I intended as help was effectively worthless because it was based on the assumption that what she lacked was more knowledge and understanding. It took me too long to realize that she understood exactly what she was doing.

Some people live in circumstances that you or I might find intolerable. But it does not necessarily follow that they themselves find their circumstances intolerable. I have learned, through hard experiences, that some people prefer their horrible circumstance to any alternative that would require changes in self-discipline or the denial of their appetites. Their problem is not a lack of information but that they have consciously chosen their immediate appetites over their long-term well-being. Usually, they know what they’re doing.

“The thought of being sober the rest of my life depresses me.” Those words, spoken by her, went round and round in my head as I stood over her grave last year.

There is a human tendency, I think, to interpret the actions of others through the lens of our own motivations and desires. We assume, usually, that another person’s experience of his own life is like ours would be if we were living with his circumstances. If I would be miserable, say, being in debt, I assume that another person who is in debt must be miserable. If I would be miserable being addicted to drugs, I assume the drug addict must be miserable. As it happens, though, it is often the case that things like indebtedness and addiction are preferable to people for whom the alternative, to them, seems worse. The choices required to avoid debt, or to live life with sobriety, are actually undesirable to them. It isn’t that they don’t understand or that they lack information. It is that they don’t want the alternative.

This business of projecting our own sensibilities onto others, as a way to understand them, contributes to miscalculation and wasted time in many areas of our lives, not least in the area of politics and public policies. Conservatives often blunder, in my opinion, by projecting their own motivations onto the left. Conservatives are generally trying to have a rational conversation about the utilitarian benefits of various policy prescriptions. Because conservatives want the economy to grow, or stable formation of families, or a reduction in poverty, they assume that the left is operating with similar humanitarian concerns, just misguided or uninformed regarding how to actually achieve those ends. Conservatives, I think, misinterpret what the left is up to in this regard. The left probably has no true interest in a reduction of poverty or in a growing economy. Their actions for two generations suggest they have almost zero interest in helping the poor. The left’s interest in the poor is mostly confined to exploiting sentimental rhetoric about them as a way to consolidate the left’s power. Conservatives project their own sensibilities onto the left when they believe they are engaging in a rational discussion with them as a way to persuade.

There’s a famous scene in Indiana Jones where the title character confronts a sword-wielding Egyptian. The Egyptian demonstrates mastery of his weapon with an elaborate and intricate display. It seems impressive, right up until the moment Indiana Jones pulls a gun and shoots the swordsman.

In the conversation taking place between conservatives and the left, conservatives are the Egyptian and the left is Indiana Jones. In fact, a person could be forgiven for suspecting that the populist revolt which started in 2016 was in recognition of this dynamic. A lot of voters recognized, even if conservative politicos did not, that the left and the right are not playing the same game.

It is vital to develop a reality-based understanding of the motivations of others.

The life of drug dependency and dissipation, lived by my late loved one, drew my wife and me into close contact with all of the pathologies of the urban poor. Over the years I spent thousands of dollars of my own money bailing hapless young men out of jail – men who are entirely unrelated to me. I have also paid their fines, propping these young men up so that they can go to work without the imminent prospect of arrest. I have carried both younger and older men to rehab. I have paid, out of my own pocket, the drug rehab expenses of some of them. I have loaded my car trunk with groceries and carried the groceries into the home of a drug dealer in Texas to feed the hungry children who lived there (the drug dealer apparently having uses for his own money other than feeding his children.) None of this was done as part of some organized service or ministry. My wife and I are just followers of Christ, and these are things we’ve done in the moment, when we had some connection, in an effort to be faithful to our understanding at the time of Christ’s calling in our lives.

So I’m not bragging, I’m just explaining. I actually hate writing about these details. But I don’t know any other way to illustrate the fact that my perspective is informed by the rough and tumble of engaging with real people. When you have seen the filth and cleaned the bodily fluids out of an addict’s apartment, these things cease being theoretical. The personal price to me in heartbreak has been far more costly than the money.

And here is what I have learned: Almost without exception, the people I have tried to help have failed to take advantage of the help I have offered. The young men usually end up back in jail. The drug addicts usually end up back on drugs. It has nothing to do with their race. Zero. It has little to do with information. It has everything to do with their character and with their culture.

They love and value the wrong things. Their understanding of the world is at odds with what is true. Their culture denigrates the very commitments and disciplines that could otherwise alter the trajectories of their lives. They do not value work. They do not accept the benefits of delaying gratification. They are dying, not because they don’t understand, but because they prefer the chaos of their lives to what would be required of them to avoid it. In fact, trendy blame games, like “white privilege”, actually serve as a congenial excuse when you are a young man who won’t stop smoking weed, get out of bed, and maintain a steady job.

This is what I have learned: human freedom and moral agency offer far more explanatory power about a person’s actions than does anything about that person’s material or environmental conditioning.

It is actually hard, in the current environment, to give yourself permission to learn from experience when the conclusions you are inclined to draw depart from the cultural narrative. We are so enamored with experts that sometimes we’re afraid to actually learn from experience and form our own opinions. It could be that I’m only speaking for myself, but I suspect not. For generations, we have been told that human behavior is the result of economic and environmental conditioning (e.g., “poverty causes crime”). What if the dominant narrative has the direction of causality entirely reversed?

Anyway, my own unhappy experience suggests that adult poverty in economically free societies is usually self-inflicted and often knowingly chosen by the poor themselves over the personal impositions they would otherwise have to endure. And by all means, we should avert our eyes from the financial incentives of the poverty industrial complex, with its legions of helpers and experts, all of whom would be put out of work without a strong fictitious narrative regarding the causes of urban poverty. Ensuring that we project our own sensibilities onto our understanding of the urban poor will guarantee many more years of employment for helpers and experts.

Conservatives would be well-served by a wholesale reconsideration of whether perceiving the left as misguided-but-still-persuadable is really a case of projecting conservative sensibilities onto the left. Every conservative meme that mocks the most recent logical absurdity of the left is a testament to the right’s abiding perception that the greater intellectual coherence of our arguments offers some kind of advantage over the left. As if the left cared a whit any longer about intellectual coherence.

There’s an old story told about Joseph Stalin which is, I think, apropos. Somewhere along the way, he had done something that was widely expected to receive the condemnation of the Pope. When someone informed him that the Pope was going to be unhappy with his actions, “Oh really?’, he responded. “How many armies has the Pope?”

The modern left is far more Stalinist than Wilsonian. Conservatives need to consider the possibility that our continued belief, that we can carry the day through superior reason, might be an unhelpful case of projection.

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Biden/Harris will overreach. They will try to ban the Keystone Pipeline, all plausible energy projects.  There is talk of annual $200 fines per firearm, turning half of America into criminals overnight. If bullets get $1/round tax, then smuggling will come back into vogue.  The cultural attacks will continue, and ramp up. The Left cannot resist. […]

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