Orthodox Church Structure: Veneration and Worship

Take away the minarets, and put a cross on top, and you’ve got the best one of all.

“Taste and see…”

It is an evening service at the beginning of Great Lent. The lights are subdued, not completely off like they will be on Great and Holy Friday, but dimmed enough such that the candles have their say in the illumination of the small nave. This is an evening liturgy, and being Lent it is a special liturgy. The hymns and antiphons are all in a minor key, mournful and repentant. The priest is wearing darker vestments of purple. Even the censer is changed out for one with quieter bells, or perhaps no bells at all. The icons on the iconostasis glow and shimmer above their vigil candles. The icons on the walls around watch with their eternal gaze, keeping company during this holy time of year.

“Taste and see…”

The scriptures this evening were from Genesis, from the creation account. “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Gen 1:28, ESV). A reminder of our beginnings in the mists of time, a time stretching back to the beginnings of human memory and witness on Earth, far earlier than we can touch, and yet we are again in that moment in the garden, indeed somehow eternally in that moment as we gather.

There’s no place like home.

During Lent, other churches too are gathering at night, in areas rural and urban, in large and venerable churches that have withstood the centuries, or in small house and mission churches whose exteriors look nothing at all like a church. Some might even be rented storefronts, or basements, or rented halls. Yet the structure and layout are more or less the same, and always a part of the worship. Some may be grand, some may be humble, and some are even purely temporary, to be dismantled, struck down, and packed away for use at another time or place.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Where the people gather is called the Nave, a word from the same root as Navel, because the church is seen as the very Ark of Salvation, of which Noah’s Ark was but a prefiguring. As my priest is fond of saying, the Nave is like the hold of a ship, full of everything and everyone getting sloshed about, but it’s also the shelter from the raging storm outside. And we are all saved together. At the end of the nave is the Iconostasis, a screen beyond which is the Sanctuary, and the Altar Table. The church may also have a narthex, a room of entry before the Nave (and where, in older times, the catechumens and guests might have to wait past a certain point in the liturgy, not being privy to the mysteries of the Eucharist). Candles and lamps abound.

Great or small, this is the church. Whether you visit a cathedral or a chapel, this is always the structure — perhaps a narthex, certainly a nave, an iconstasis, and a sanctuary beyond. The Church is where people are saved, and where the faithful find shelter and protection, and above all where they may venerate and worship The Lord. The grander the church, of course, the more ornamentation one may find. The Iconostasis may, particularly in Russian churches, be particularly grand and with many tiers of icons. There may be a dome as well, with The Pantocrator ruling over all, and icons of the four gospel-writers on the pillars of the dome. The Sanctuary apse may be surmounted by a great icon of the Theotokos, with Christ enthroned upon her, in the Platetera form. The walls and ceilings may even be entirely covered with icons of saints and depictions of the miracles of Christ or the prophets., or there may just be a few laminated wooden ones about.

But the purpose is always the same: veneration and worship. What architectural innovation there is in Orthodox churches is purely cultural or regional. The American-Orthodox architect Andrew Gould has described, for instance, an American style of Orthodox church, with wooden clapboard siding, a sort of amalgam of traditional New England church with Orthodox rules (see here for a church he designed near me). And the worship includes not just the living congregation present, but the great cloud of witnesses, the saints who are yet alive in Christ, and even the presence of angels (there are those who have claimed to witness angels in procession with the priest and deacons during the Great Entrance). God is the God of the living and all those who have died in Christ yet live with Him. The icons present are reminders of the greater family of Christians who have gone before us and worship with us.

The Greek or Russian domes are, of course (and forgiving the pun) iconic when one thinks of Orthodox churches, but they serve a purpose where present. For one, they let in light from all directions, but they also are, in a way, a model of the heavens above. Just as Gothic or Romanesque vaulting create massive vertical space, drawing the eye ever upwards towards the heavens, so too do the domes. The domes, however, often can allow for a more free and open Nave than can the vaulting of western churches. However, you will not find steeples (but you will find lots and lots of bells).

“Taste and see that the Lord is Good”

On this Lenten evening, the Great Entrance is a somber and quiet procession. The hymn sung just prior to the procession chants a line from the Psalms: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” It is, like the church itself, an invitation to indeed taste and see (and smell the incense, and touch the icons) that the Lord is indeed good, and to stand in His presence. There is an old saying that One Christian is No Christian. We are made for communion and community with others. On this Lenten evening, and on any other times where we gather in this nave, this Ark, we are reminded that we are not ever really alone as Christians. We could argue theology till the end of times, but unless we gather together in community, in our Ark, and unless we do indeed taste, and see, and experience life in the Ark together, we cannot fully live.

The church may be grand, built in the style and ornamentation fit for a Roman or Russian emperor, or it may be a humble and very temporary structure, but its purpose is for a place for us to gather in community, to venerate and worship the Creator of all.

This essay is part of December’s Group Writing series on Veneration.

Remember the Roman Republic


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metastatic Leftism


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

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

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

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

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

The article helpfully provides some definitions:

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

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

Avoiding reality is generally unhelpful in scientific articles.

Another definition:

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

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

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

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

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

The modern left is beyond satire.

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

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

With a similar impact on the host.

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Important Theological Question of the Day


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

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

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

Virginia Teacher Fired for Not Using Compelled Speech


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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote of the Day: ‘This Was a Sockdolager’


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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, as he described it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Captain of the Nevada: Dec. 7, 1941


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nevada beached and burning at Hospital Point.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Real Problem with Rudolph


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reindeer games. What’s not to love?

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

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Veneration at Pearl Harbor


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the Opioid Crisis is Really All About


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the things that make life truly beautiful. 

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

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

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

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

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

But that’s not the way it feels.

End of an Era?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Britain Is Toast


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QotD: Milt Rosen on Rockets


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

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

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

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

Here’s the satellite which obviously survived:

I discussed this last year on the John Batchelor Show.

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“Who is this person who speaks to me as though I needed his advice?” – Longshanks, Braveheart Braveheart is an interesting historical fantasy that has almost nothing to do with actual history, but has an incredibly and delightfully evil villain. In contrast to his flamingly homosexual son, Longshanks is ruthless and cunning. He is quite […]

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Heroic Virtue: The Venerable Cardinal Wyszyński


Stefan Wyszyński.jpgCardinal Stephan Wyszyński, often called the “Primate of the Millennium” led the Polish Catholic Church for more than thirty years, and along with it, survived some of its most challenging times.

He was born in Zuzela, a tiny village bordering on the Bug River (a funny name, but a waterway with immense significance as a dividing line, in the cultural, religious, political, and military senses) on August 3, 1901. Like much of Poland, the area was ping-ponged around from Russia to whatever version of Poland was in effect at the time, and as a result of the instability, even families like Wyszyński’s which could claim some minor upper-class or noble status, were penurious and lived hard lives. His mother died when he was nine, and he spent the next decade or so in school and then seminary, and was ordained on August 3, 1924, his twenty-third birthday.

He continued his studies and earned a reputation among his fellows as a dedicated and thoughtful priest. So dedicated and thoughtful that he had to leave his living in Włocławek when the Second World War broke out, as he’d come to the attention of the Nazis, who viewed him as a likely candidate for leader of a resistance movement, and as someone who had rather more influence than they liked with the local population.

He disappeared to a town near Warsaw, surfacing again as “Radwan II,” ministering to insurgents and the Polish underground resistance, and becoming known as a man who helped Jews trying to escape (many have testified since the war to his efforts on their behalf).

His canonical career after the war saw him elevated to the position of Bishop of Lublin in 1946, and Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw in 1948. Two years later, Archbishop Wyszyński signed an agreement with Poland’s Stalinist overlords separating the church from politics and education, and allowing the church some autonomy in the selection of Bishops (Karol Wojtyla was selected under the system, in which the church put forth three candidates, and the authorities allowed one to go forward). In the annals of “relations between the Soviet Union and the Catholic church,” Wyszyński’s accord is regarded as perhaps the most effective in terms of allowing some religious freedom in a country that, officially, allowed no such thing.

However, the political climate and position of the church in Poland continued to deteriorate, resistance from the faithful increased, repression by the authorities increased, and in 1953, the same year he was elevated by Pope Pius XII to the rank of Cardinal, Wyszyński was placed under house arrest. (The precipitating factors in this were probably his publication of “non possumus,” a letter to the Communist authorities stating that the Church had ceded all the ground it was going to, and that it would go no further, along with his refusal to sanction and punish priests who had fallen afoul of the regime.) He spent the next three years interned at a remote monastery with fellow detainees and prisoners, some of whom were brutally tortured and abused. It was not until the year after his release in 1956 that Wyszyński was finally allowed to travel to Rome for his formal investiture as Cardinal and Primate of Poland.

In 1966, Wyszyński persuaded the Communist authorities to allow the commemoration of one thousand years of Christianity in Poland, a celebration of the baptism of Poland’s first Christian prince, Mieszko I. However, the celebration was internal only–not only was Pope Paul VI enjoined from visiting Poland to join the festivities, but Wyszyński was prohibited from attending any overseas events acknowledging it. It was not until 1979 that a Pope visited Poland, a rapturous visit by that same Karol Wojtyla approved by the Communist authorities as Archbishop of Krakow fifteen years before, and ardently supported by his old friend Stefan Wyszyński for elevation to the Papacy.

In his message to the Polish people, Saint Pope John Paul II said this to his friend:

There would be no Polish Pope on this Chair of St. Peter . . . if it was not for your faith undiminished by prison and suffering, and your heroic hope.”

Cardinal Wyszyński stayed engaged in the spiritual and political life of his beloved Poland until he died. During the Solidarity revolution of 1980, he appealed to both sides to act with respect and responsibility towards each other. And on May 25, 1981, he spoke on the telephone to the Pontiff, who was terribly wounded, and still undergoing hospital treatment following an almost-successful assassination attempt twelve days prior. Wyszyński, suffering from abdominal cancer at the time, offered his own life to God in exchange for John Paul’s.

Three days later, he died.

On December 12, 2017, Pope Francis confirmed the “heroic virtue” of Stefan Wyszyński, and titled him as “Venerable.” It’s a step on the road to sainthood. A miracle awaits.

How to Get Into an Ivy League College


How do you get into a good college? T.M. Landry College Preparatory school in Louisiana boasts a 100 percent college acceptance rate. What is their secret? Well, according to the New York Times, they lie.

The Times article alleges that the school, “falsified transcripts, made up student accomplishments and mined the worst stereotypes of black America to manufacture up-from-hardship tales that it sold to Ivy League schools hungry for diversity.”

I get that lying about grades can help, but it is the “up-from-hardship tales” that got my attention. They claimed on a transcript that one young man’s “alcoholic father had beaten him and his mother and had denied them money for food and shelter.” That is awful but the student in question says none of it is true. Yet college admission folks evidently love those types of stories and they are the ones you need to impress.

I want to do what is best for my kids. Yelling about homework is getting old. For their academic future, should I down a few forties and beat the crap out of their mom? Colleges love that stuff . . . but, no thanks.


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The appointment with my surgeon this morning went far better than I had hoped for. The cancer in the polyp had not spread to the colon wall at all; however out of an abundance of caution, one foot of the seven feet of the large intestine would be removed. Piece of cake for him as […]

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Another Look at George H.W. Bush


The following comes from Dov Fischer at spectator.org on the passing of George H.W. Bush. After praising Bush as a decent and heroic individual, especially for his service in WWII, Fischer writes the following:

The Microcosmic: James A. Baker III and the Hate

Microcosmic — he had James A. Baker III as his Secretary of State. Baker was the worst public anti-Semite in high government office since the time of World War II. I can forgive Baker for hating Jews because that is his DNA. I cannot expect someone to overcome his DNA. But I cannot forgive Bush for allowing Baker to run roughshod over Israel and for his despicable quoted closed-door comments about Jews.

In the late 1990s, I decided to move from the highly regarded national law firm where I was practicing law to a new firm, and I had a law recruiter lining up interviews for me. I actually was in somewhat high demand. All the interviews were with similarly regarded national firms. The process typically entails six or so hours of interviews, all day long, with six to eight attorneys, one after another. At one law firm the day was going exceptionally well until a late-afternoon interview with a gentleman who had a photograph of James Baker on the wall. I entered his office. He offered me a seat.

I do not talk politics at work. I definitely never ever talk religion at work as an attorney. (I have been known occasionally to discuss religion in my other career, as a synagogue rabbi.) I wear a yarmulka.

The guy interviewing me immediately did the politically incorrect and said, “I see you are wearing a yarmulka. What are your thoughts about Israel and the West Bank?”

I could not believe the question. People just do not ask that. And certainly not during an interview to practice complex civil litigation at a major national law firm. I delicately responded with a soft joke, trying to change the subject. However, like a rabid dog, this fellow would not leave it alone: “What are your thoughts about Israel and the West Bank?”

I softly asked him why he wanted to go that route in the interview instead of discussing my litigation skills and experience. He explained that he had worked as a top aide to Secretary of State Baker, and he then proceeded to lambaste Israel, its political leaders, and said something quite inappropriate about Jews. It was surreal. He made his point pretty clearly: If I am strongly supportive of Israel, there will not be room for me at that law firm.

I got the point and quickly grasped that this interview was going nowhere. So I smiled gently, and I replied: “Well, I guess I will not be working here. I love America deeply and passionately, and yes I also have a deep affection for Israel, just as Italian-Americans have a special place in their hearts for Italy, just as Irish-Americans relate warmly to the Old Sod. In terms of my political views on the Middle East, I believe that Israel should annex the West Bank and extend sovereignty over all of it. I do not even call it ‘West Bank’ but ‘Judea’ and ‘Samaria.’ In fact, I was part of a group of 35 young families ten years ago, before I went to law school, who pioneered creating a new Jewish community in Samaria, what you and Mr. Baker would call a ‘West Bank Jewish settlement.’ I later came back to America and went to law school. But that Samaria Jewish community is one of the proudest achievements of my life, and I will tell you that Israel never will leave that land. There now are thousands of Jews living there. And you can tell that to James Baker, too.”

He got from me what he wanted. But he had one more question: “And what is your opinion of James Baker as a person?”

I responded: “You mean the guy who said ‘F- – – the Jews’? Well, he is entitled to his opinion. You now have asked me my opinion. I regard James Baker to be a bastard. And I regard people who admiringly worked for him not only to be bastards but also to be lowlifes. Any more questions?” End of interview. I went to work somewhere else — same salary, same benefits. All the major law firms pay the same.

George H.W. Bush should have removed Baker, as other Presidents remove cabinet officers who do not represent Administration values. However, Baker accurately reflected Bush Administration values. By contrast, Ronald Reagan’s Secretaries of State had been Gen. Alexander Haig and George P. Shultz, each fantastic.


The Macrocosmic: Destroying the Reagan Revolution and Institutionalizing the Era of the RINO

On the bigger macrocosmic plane, I identify George H.W. Bush as the man who destroyed the Reagan Revolution. No Democrat could have done that. Only a Republican successor to Reagan. Bush never believed in Reagan’s economic principles and in the economic miracle that Reagan wrought. He mocked Reaganomics as “voodoo economics.” When he took over after Reagan was termed-out, he reversed the great economic miracle of the post-Carter age, and he sent the economy into a downspin that cost him the White House. He promised “No New Taxes” and then imposed new taxes. He brought in the RINOs who transformed the Reagan conservative revolution and left the GOP vision of conservatism stymied for the next quarter century. Symbolic of his vision thing, he named David Souter to the United States Supreme Court. That was not prudent.

Theodore Roosevelt had been a transformative President. TR chose not to seek reelection, and he promoted the candidacy of his protégé, William Howard Taft. Roosevelt came to believe that Taft had become too conservative, so TR formed the Bull Moose Party to oppose Taft. With the 51% Republican vote split between the two, Woodrow Wilson was elected with 41% of the vote. The next transformative President, Franklin Roosevelt, died in office and was succeeded by Harry Truman who carried out FDR’s program. And then came the next transformative President, Ronald Reagan. Reagan did not die in office. He did not choose to bypass reelection; rather, he was termed out. But he was so popular that his coattails carried his Vice President, George H.W. Bush, into the White House. Bush had Reagan to thank for making it in, and he inherited a fabulous prepared table. As history confirms, Reagan had driven the Soviets into terminal decline, with collapse of the USSR around the corner. America was strong and at peace. The Iranian hostages were at home, safe and sound. The economy was humming. A new morning had dawned in America. All Bush had to do was be prudent and stay the Reagan conservative course — and also secure the southern border. Instead, he went full-steam RINO, promised a “kinder, gentler” approach than Reagan’s kind and gentle approach, introduced new taxes that he promised never to launch, tanked the economy, and fatally terminated the Reagan revolution.

About the Shrinking Middle Class


Despite all the hand-wringing, America’s middle class shrank because its members moved into the upper-middle and wealthy classes. As economist Robert J. Samuelson reported in The Washington Post, between 1979 and 2014, the poor ($0 – $29,000) dropped to 19.8% of the population from 23.4%, the lower middle class ($30,000 – $49,000) dropped to 17.1% from 23.9%, and the middle class ($50,000 – $99,999) dropped to 32.0% from 38.8%. During the same years, the upper middle class rose to 29.4% of the population from 12.9% and the wealthy class rose to 1.8% from 0.1%.

Reports of wage stagnation are based on very misleading statistics. First, many of the studies were based on “households.” The problem is that “household” is a moving yardstick because the number of people in the average American household has been falling. As young Americans became more affluent, they moved out of their parents homes and started households of their own.

So, for example, if a single household includes two workers each of whom earns $20,000 a year, the combined household income is $40,000. If they each receive a $10,000 raise and can now afford to move into separate apartments, their combined wages total $60,000, but the average household income drops to $30,000.

Second, reports of income stagnation have excluded benefits from the studies. Finally, the reports tend to overestimate inflation. Correcting for all of the errors, wages – far from stagnating – have actually grown by over 50% since the seventies.

Member Post


So, Chuck Grassley has written to FBI Director Wray demanding answers for this incredible massive FBI raid on a protected Whistleblower to the Hillary Clinton Uranium One Crime. [link] Forgive me for my cynicism.  I don’t trust our Government. Most assuredly not the democrats and also our own GOP leaders. Maybe Grassley is a good […]

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