Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Valhallan Interlude, Part 2: A Need for Mead


[Previous –> A Valhallan Interlude, Part 1]

The horse touched down lightly in the dust near the parking lot. ‘I still don’t think this is a good idea,’ he said. Not many horses talk; then again, not many horses fly, so they probably broke even there. He looked up apprehensively at the storm clouds racing rapidly towards them across the night sky.

The girl riding on the horse’s back didn’t seem to notice them as he trotted towards the entrance. She tried to dismount. There was the sound that a suit of brass outer garments makes when it drops from a height with a girl in it. ‘Ow …’ said the girl from the ground. She found herself gazing at the big flashing neon sign on top of the bar. ‘Who calls a bar Rolling Thunder?’ she asked.

The horse, who was liking this situation less and less, shivered. ‘I don’t know. You’re really going to leave me out here?’

‘Oh, relax,’ she said, rolling onto her front so she could get up again. ‘I’ve left you outside of places before — what’s so bad about here?’

‘You really don’t feel it?’ said the horse. The wind was picking up and raindrops started pattering down from overhead.

‘I just really feel like letting my hair down,’ the girl said, pushing her helmet into an outsized saddle bag. ‘Will you be all right?’

‘Me? Fine …’ said the horse casually. ‘You go and enjoy yourself.’ Instantly he knew he’d said the wrong thing. The temperature in the night air seemed to drop several degrees, independent of the unnaturally gathering storm that only he seemed to be noticing.

‘… I never enjoy myself,’ she said quietly.

Well, that was clever. Way to go, horsey. He looked around at the parking lot. There were quite a lot of big motorbikes here, he considered. Oh, well. Best find some nice overhang, in out of the rain. Looked like she could be a while …


No one drinks like a depressed Valkyrie. Except, perhaps, with the possible exception of a depressed would-be Valkyrie who’s wondering what she’s doing with her life.

She’d made quite the entrance as she’d strode into the cavernous interior of the bar, her clothes clinking gently. Like an Old Western gunfighter. People turned to stare. They quite frequently did that, she’d noticed. She really wondered why.

There was a song playing on the jukebox as she entered. Something about a man being sad about the rat in his compost pile, or something. She didn’t really follow country music, but the refrain seemed to catch her mood: ‘Gnawing on the orange rind of life … Just wishin’ you would be there again …’ Yeah …

This was a big place. Surprisingly dark, too. There was the odd light or two, here and there, and the stage was lit up, but not much. She guessed people liked the atmosphere. She sat down at the bar, in the middle of a row of empty stools. ‘Mead,’ she said. ‘Lots of it.’

The bartender took one look at her and nodded. You see a lot, tending bar. Different sorts of people. And, very occasionally, someone like her. Good thing they’d got a fresh barrel in.

A prickle of something made him look up. Looked like there was a storm coming in … ‘Hey, Gary, make sure things are battened down, wouldja? This feels like the big one … Mead, comin’ right up, miss.’


Outside, the horse looked up. It was raining pretty hard now, the odd rumble of thunder in the background. And something else. Something on the breeze. He sniffed, and the hair of his mane started to stand up on end. Uh-oh. He knew this was a bad idea …


In a far dark corner, someone watched from under a deep hood. It was nice here. The bar staff were friendly, and they didn’t try to hurry you. Which was good … There was too much hurry in the world, lately …


The bartender looked around. Rolling Thunder was, against some appearances, and the expectations of those who didn’t know the place, actually a respectable establishment.

Sure, you had the biker crowd, and there were the guys from the mines, and the guys working construction, and quite a few others. And quite a few gals, too, come to think of it. People who liked to wind down somewhere where they felt welcome — and he always made sure they did feel welcome. He liked his customers, and he liked his job — and they were good company. He found it never paid to judge on appearances. You could easily miss what mattered most.

It was a place where most things within (and quite a bit over) the letter of the law were tolerated as just a part of life. Which was as it should be. (In a civilized world, things that some people no longer regarded as “civilized” had to be allowed to happen — like teaching lessons. Mostly these boiled down to things like Not Hitting Girls, with a side order of Be Honest and Do Right; that, and the feeling that the world’d be a better place if more people got a pair of matching gold wedding bands first … And if a girl’s brothers or father, or even a few concerned friends, had to go teaching education without a license, well, the other guys would hold your coat.)

You had all these kinds of people. And it was part of what made it such a nice town to live in.

And, occasionally, you had the ones like the girl in the brass outerwear. She wasn’t trouble, exactly, she was just … different. She was also singing, up on the stage, with a mead glass in her hand. It was … something else …


The horse heard the singing. It was hard to miss. ‘Oh, no.’

She knew what happened when she got like this. He started looking for a way in. One that a well-nourished horse in the prime of his condition could actually fit through.

He found one round back, where a couple of big men were securing things against the coming storm. ‘Hey,’ he said, ‘hold the door?’

They both looked at him.

‘Guys?’ he said.

They looked at each other, and then at the horse. It was interesting to see which one hit the ground first.

The horse sighed. You’d think people’d never seen a talking horse before … He managed to gather them both up by their shirts and started pulling them back through the double doors. What? He couldn’t just leave them out here. There was a storm coming … And, because he was a conscientious horse, and he had an idea of what was behind that storm — or, at least, riding along with it — he nudged the door locked after him.


Over above the storm, there was the sound of engines. Motorbikes rode over the clouds as lightning bubbled below them. This was kind of daring, considering, but the riders didn’t seem to notice. What was keeping the bikers in the air — it’s not like they were on genuine flying horses or anything — wasn’t immediately clear. But the great big wing-shaped streamers of glowing light flapping behind them might have had something to do with it …


The hooded figure sat back in the dark corner and smiled. This was good music. Good pair of lungs on that girl. Good voice. A lot of heart. A little undisciplined maybe, but there was something there … If only she could figure out what …


The bikes touched down on the road leading up to the bar with a roar that could barely be heard over the surrounding storm. The wings of light flickered in and trailed back into the riders’ backs. This was going to be fun …


Grown men were crying into their beer. This tended to happen, whenever she sang, the horse reflected as he peered through a window in the big double doors from the kitchen.

The cook was eyeing him nervously, and deciding that he clearly hadn’t really just seen a real live horse walking through his kitchen. The horse sighed and pushed his way through the doors.

It wasn’t as if she was a bad singer. Anything but, in fact. That was kind of the problem. Just because she couldn’t really sustain the more classical or operatic stuff for very long didn’t mean … She had this way of putting something into the music, he thought, as he passed a group of bikers sobbing unashamedly. She let it breathe. She let the music come alive

… And the thing was, that could be a powerful thing — but when someone was as wounded deep inside as she was, it could also start doing unexpected things …


‘Who let the horse in here?’ said a man by the bar. ‘I ain’t drinkin’ with no horse standing by me.’

The horse, who if he had a fault it was a tendency to be a bit of a wise-ass, found a clear area and sat down on his haunches, and turned to give the man a big, horsey smile.

‘C’mon, now, get!’

‘The horse is with me.’ A path cleared.

She may, just, have been slurring her words slightly, but no one just then would have been prepared to admit it. The man who’d been complaining about the horse took one look around and then stepped back like a gentleman so she could reach the bar, which was crowded with customers.

Considering the quantity of mead she’d taken in, it was kind of impressive that she was even still standing upright. She put an arm around the horse’s shoulder. ‘A drin’ for my friend here!’

The bartender shrugged. He saw all sorts. And besides, after the girl’s singing, the waitresses couldn’t keep up with the flow of orders. He was never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak …

‘And what will your friend have?’ asked the bartender, after a moment.

‘Um, do you do beer in a bucket?’ said the horse.

The bartender blinked. And then went to find a bucket.

The horse leaned in close to the girl in brass. ‘Listen,’ he whispered urgently, ‘we need to talk. That storm—‘

They say misery loves company — well, so does drama. The door burst open, showing the storm outside. Several figures stood silhouetted in the doorway against the rain, with more behind them. Lightning flashed. Thunder rolled. ‘Well, looky here, horsey,’ said a voice like swansdown and bourbon mixed with cigarette smoke. ‘Why the long face?’


To be continued … 

[Previous –> A Valhallan Interlude (Part 1).] [Next –> Part 3: Smokey Bourbon Blues.]

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Valhallan Interlude


Hoy-at-a-ho! … Hoy-a-ta-ho! …’ The voice echoed across the rooftops. The horse galloping its way across the night sky was clearly not of this world. Nor was the brass-clad young lady riding along on its back. However … well, it’s all very well singing in the moonlight like that, and she had a good voice for it, but she’d just never been able to get the proper … operatic feel for things. 

‘That wasn’t bad,’ said the horse. 

She sighed, deeply. Her brass outerwear clinked at the motion. ‘I wish I didn’t have to wear this thing.’ 

‘Listen, it may not be to your taste, but it is traditional.’ 

‘I’m not cut out to be—‘

‘Nonsense! Come on, one more go — maybe this time it’ll work.’ 

The girl sighed again. Only a little more sadly.

As the horse galloped along on thin air — and into a rather difficult air current — it had a little too much to keep its mind on to look back just then, but if he were a betting horse, he’d wager there was a sparkle of teardrops in the moonlight behind him.

‘It’s no good. I may as well pack it in,’ she said, trying to adjust the traditional brasswear. ‘Woooah—‘ — only some quick emergency manoeuvres by a flying horse of long experience stopped her from falling off — ‘—And I can’t ride worth a damn,’ she added as she got her grip on the reins again.

‘Your singing’s really coming along,’ said the horse gamely. ‘And I think—‘

‘And my complexion’s all wrong,’ she continued, oblivious. ‘I can’t get the iron and storm into my gaze. Who’s going to want a Valkyrie who looks like I do.’

The horse didn’t comment. For one thing, he could see that the girl on his back was obviously feeling extremely low, and for another—

‘It’s not as if this thing even fits,’ she said dejectedly. 

He stayed quiet. Sometimes you can see that anything you can say is probably going to be the wrong thing at the wrong time. 

‘You may as well take us down. Right over there.’

The horse peered. Looked like a bar. Bright neon lights flashing over it. He gave a sort of shrug.

‘Hey, watch it!’ 

‘Sorry. Okay … You’re the boss …’ He started his descent. For the record, he didn’t think this was a very good idea …


[Next –> Part 2: A Need for Mead.]

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Art of the Deal, Baby!


Just last night from Trump’s latest tweet:

I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico. The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to……stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border. This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States. Details of the agreement will be released shortly by the State Department. Thank you!”

Some of the “details” of the agreement from the State Department:

Mexican Enforcement Surge

Mexico will take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration, to include the deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border. Mexico is also taking decisive action to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organizations as well as their illicit financial and transportation networks. Additionally, the United States and Mexico commit to strengthen bilateral cooperation, including information sharing and coordinated actions to better protect and secure our common border.

Migrant Protection Protocols

The United States will immediately expand the implementation of the existing Migrant Protection Protocols across its entire Southern Border. This means that those crossing the U.S. Southern Border to seek asylum will be rapidly returned to Mexico where they may await the adjudication of their asylum claims.

In response, Mexico will authorize the entrance of all of those individuals for humanitarian reasons, in compliance with its international obligations, while they await the adjudication of their asylum claims. Mexico will also offer jobs, healthcare and education according to its principles.

The United States commits to work to accelerate the adjudication of asylum claims and to conclude removal proceedings as expeditiously as possible.

Further Actions

Both parties also agree that, in the event the measures adopted do not have the expected results, they will take further actions. Therefore, the United States and Mexico will continue their discussions on the terms of additional understandings to address irregular migrant flows and asylum issues, to be completed and announced within 90 days, if necessary.”


Commentary from Others:

“Mexico successfully avoided the catastrophe of tariffs but will pay a heavy price,” said Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. “Potentially tens of thousands of refugee claimants will have to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed. Mexico will have to house, employ, educate and provide health care for them. This is a huge commitment.”

Chuck Grassley: “No tariffs on Mexico. Mexico came through”

Steve Scales: “Trump has proven those who doubted him wrong by getting Mexico to step up their efforts to help us secure our southern border,” ..“Tonight’s deal made by President Trump also puts us in a better position to make USMCA a reality.”

My Commentary:

This is obviously a huge win for President Trump. He puts a huge dent into the illegal flow of immigrants into the country while at the same time avoids a trade war with Mexico that could really hurt the American economy. He also avoids a knockdown breakdown fight with the Chamber of Commerce wing of the Republican party.

For Mexico, this whole turn of events may be better than many of your more conventional commentators realize. As a result of the very serious, intractable and likely unresolvable trade war with China, the number one destination for cheap manufacturing leaving China to go elsewhere has got to be Mexico according to some more thoughtful trade commentators. Now that Mexico has cemented further its economic relationship with America, nowhere else has its geographic access, natural resources and abundance of cheap labor to bring to life that less expensive manufacturing that is going to need to move out of China. Of course, American will also get a manufacturing boost where much of the low tech manufacturing would have headed home anyway, but with our bifurcated trade world on many products, you may see part of the product produced here and part in Mexico.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post


Sorry, couldn’t resist. Mark Steyn once joked about Mitt Romney’s annual gathering in Utah as the ‘GOP Spectre board meeting’. Well Lord Ashcroft, former Conservative Party deputy chairman and owner of the excellent Conservative Home website, gave a speech to Mitt’s band of goons this year. Far from being a secret plan to destroy the […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A WWII Story


Inspired by the 75th anniversary of D-Day celebrated last week, I found the story of my step-father’s experience being shot down over Italy in 1943. I want to share this as first-person history of the war. He wrote this around 50 years after it happened.

December 2 dawned clear and crisp, excellent visibility and a good day for flying. We struggled out of our warm sleeping bags and hurriedly dressed into our regular uniforms, Army ODs under flying coveralls, leather flying jackets, and GI boots. It was chilly enough that our breakfast turned cold before we had halfway finished, but the sun was already promising a warmer day.

At briefing we learned that only two squadrons, half the group, would be flying today. I was to fly copilot position for Lt. Williams. Williams had already completed his tour of 50 missions but had volunteered for an additional five, a choice that would facilitate his promotion to captain when he returned to the States. I had met his crew, which we were flying with today, only at the morning briefing. My own Crew was not reunited yet because of the need to replace my bombardier, Lt. Muirhead who had, with another crew, crashed in Turkey after having been hit on his first raid over Greece.

Our target was a long, low bridge over the River Sangre, just north of the spur in the boot of Italy, and only a short run from our base at Foggia. Since the target was considered lightly defended, we would go in without the usual fighter escort, drop our bombs, head out over the Adriatic and return to base at low level over the water, a tactic used to protect our vulnerable undersides from fighter attack. The British 8th Army was attacking along the Sangre River at this time and our effort was to interrupt German reinforcements and supplies from reaching the battle area by taking out the bridge. Briefing over, we loaded into the waiting jeeps and scurried out aircraft which the ground crews had ready and waiting, and the air was soon filled with the noise of 48 sputtering Wright Cyclone engines starting up the cold air. The bombers lumbered out to the steel mat runways, and take-off was underway Assembly took longer than usual since we didnt have the wide dirt field that we had at our last base so had to take off singly rather than three at a time. Nevertheless, after circling the field and climbing 15 or 20 minutes, the two squadrons were at altitude in defensive formations of two boxes of 12 planes each and heading for the target. Williams and I were in the unenviable position of end Charlie, the lowest position in the second box, the furthest back in the formation. It was a vulnerable, spot during fighter attack and difficult to fly during radical maneuvering, like at the end of a crack the whip. However, we were buoyed by the prospects of a short and easy flight, another mission to accumulate towards the magic 50 missions and home.

So far the flight was uneventful, no enemy fighter sightings and no sign of flak. The bomber formation droned northwards, confidently ignoring any need to fly evasive action. Lt. Williams and myself, although we kept on our steel (bucket) hats, had our parachute shoulder straps draped over the back of our seats, as was usual until we were approaching the target or were under attack. Williams, the aircraft commander, had turned the controls over to me, expecting, most likely, to take them back when the formation started maneuvering for the bombing run. It a beautiful day. The air was smooth in the cloudless sky and flying straight on course was easy, even at the end of the box.

Suddenly, Williams grabbed the controls when, without any warning, the ship was rocked by 88mm flak which was now bursting all around us. Relieved of the wheel, I slipped on my shoulder straps and watched to see how the rest of the formation was making out. We were apparently directly over the battle line and taking fire from ground field pieces (88mm) which had been adjusted for anti—aircraft fire. The accuracy was devastating. A second close hit and we could hear the flak fragments slicing through the ship. Finally, a tremendous blast as we took a direct hit (crews from other ships in the flight reported on return to base that we took a direct hit just aft of the bomb bay). The formation rapidly pulled ahead, while the ship went into a steep dive in spite of Williams efforts to pull out. It was obvious to both of us that we were no longer flying but were going down out of control. Picking up tremendous speed, the ship dove for the ground, which now filled the windshield in front of us. The bomber then, in some obscure (to me) maneuver, was over on her back, Williams and I hanging by our seat belts. Only seconds had passed since we took the direct hit. Up to now, with the ship falling out of control, there was no opportunity for anyone in the front of the aircraft to think of getting out. However, with the bomber upside down, the overhead water-ditching hatch offered possible escape. This hatch was intended for water—ditching only because using it for bail out in normal flight risked striking the gun turret, aerials, or twin tails of the B-25. It was what we had. Our only conversation came at this point -when Williams said “Let’s get the hell out of here.” Pulling the emergency handle, we had only to release our seat belts and fall, Williams going first, with me right behind him. Slowing down enough, I reached for my ripcord which had apparently blown out of its pocket and was dangling in front of me, but in easy reach. Pulling the cord, I could see the chute tracking out between my legs, then a gentle tug and I was floating below that glorious canopy. Somehow I was spared. Two of us were out. I could see no other chutes in the air but my area of vision was very limited. In sorting out events, I tried to recall if Williams had remembered to attach his shoulder straps, which would have been difficult while we were hanging on our seat belts. And since it seemed the hit was in the back part of the ship, I thought it unlikely that the crew there could have survived the blast, though access to their escape hatches would have been practically impossible under the circumstances, even if this were not true.

When the chute had quieted down, I could see below me a huge fire, and several military vehicles closing in on a small winding road. I had never parachuted before but, following training instructions, I pulled hard on one of the risers to guide the chute away from the fire and the road. Too hard. The chute swung me up one side, then the other, in a pendulum like movement, dumping out air with a large flap on each swing. By this time the ground came up fast, and the chute dumped me in the scrub about a hundred yards from the fire, which turned out to be the burning remains of my aircraft. The fuel had exploded but the six 500-pound bombs aboard, which were still on safety, obviously had not.

Coming in sideways, and tumbling head over heels, I scrambled to only to see five German soldiers with automatic weapons breaking through the scrub, even before I had time to unbuckle the parachute. As they carefully hurried up to me, one of them, apparently the leader, said “For you der vor ist over,” and started to pat me down for weapons.

He went on to spend over two years in Stalag Luft 1 in Barth, Germany, an officer’s POW camp run by the Luftwaffe. Donald Pleasence was one of his camp mates. He was liberated by the Soviets.

God bless him and all those who fought to defeat fascism.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Scarlet Letter


In 1982, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley secured the Democratic nomination for Governor of California, a first for an African-American politician since Reconstruction. The polls showed him easily defeating the Republican George Deukmejian and the early post-election editions of The San Francisco Chronicle carried the headline “Bradley Win Projected.” But in the end, Deukmejian won by less than 94,000 votes (in an election that saw almost 210,000 votes go to third-party candidates.)

When the question arose as to how the pollsters screwed it up, the theory of “The Bradley Effect” was born. In a nutshell, white voters were supposedly “ashamed” to admit that they were supporting a white candidate over a black candidate and lied to the polling companies, especially if the individuals asking the questions were black. It is a theory that has been both pushed and dismissed without proof one way or the other for almost 40 years now.

In the last three years we’ve seen three massive failures of public opinion polling worldwide: the 2016 US presidential election, the UK referendum on EU membership and, most recently, the Australian Parliamentary elections. Of those three, Australia is the most interesting. Down Under, the Aussies have mandatory voting. If you don’t vote they will seek you out afterward for a reason. If the authorities aren’t satisfied with your answer there’s a modest fine. ($20AUS for the 1st offense, $50 for repeat “offenders.”) Since its institution in 1924 turnout has never been lower than 91%. Modeling the electorate or predicting turnout is not their problem. The only logical conclusion is that respondents are deliberately misleading them.

The idea that someone in 1982 either felt shame or feared retribution is laughable. That can no longer be said today. Give the wrong opinion now and within minutes your picture could be on social media with pleas for crowdsourcing your identity, with the ultimate purpose to make your life a living hell with everything from threats to your life, your property and your livelihood.

Of course, none of the legitimate pollsters would put up with any of their employees doxxing survey participants. But the thought only has to exist in the minds of the public to put a chill upon the whole process.

Make no mistake about it: de-platforming, de-monetizing, doxxing and shaming on social media is the new Puritanism. Like the heroine of Nathanial Hawthorne’s story, we’re all to be branded with a new scarlet letter, be it “C” for Conservative or “T” for Trumpist. That’s going to push the gap between public pronouncements and the private actions of the voting booth farther and farther apart.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. New Abortion Laws are Splitting the Right, Too


Compared to many of you, I’m new to the abortion discussion and am self-conscious about taking positions on it. I have never been pregnant nor have I had an abortion. Until about 15 years ago, I was pro-choice. Gradually I have found myself soundly in the pro-life position. Yet the arguments that are occurring, even among those on the Right, have caused me to take a closer look at my beliefs. I thought our having that discussion here about the abortion laws might help many of us learn from each other and clarify our views.

First, there are many states that have decided, with exceptions and no exceptions, to ban abortion. There are a whole range of criteria for whether abortions should be banned and when and how abortions might be legal:

Multiple states such as Kentucky and Georgia have passed bills that ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, around six weeks of pregnancy, while Alabama recently passed the strictest abortion law in the country, banning the procedure with few exceptions.

Several other states are considering “trigger” laws that go into effect to ban abortion should Roe v. Wade be overturned, while other states like New York have passed bills that enshrine abortion rights.

In most of the states that have passed legislation regarding abortion, those laws will go into effect in the next month or two; in many cases, legal actions, particularly by the ACLU, have already been issued. And several other states are in the process of reviewing the status of abortion in their states to determine whether to take action.

The most intense controversy seems to be whether or not exceptions have been included in these laws for rape, incest, or the health of the mother. The Alabama Senate wrestled with this issue:

The Republican-majority chamber adjourned in dramatic fashion when leaders tried to strip a committee amendment that would have added an exception for cases of rape or incest. Sponsors insist they wanted to limit exceptions because the bill is designed to push the idea that a fetus is a person with rights, in a direct challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman’s right to abortion.

Whether this approach would have the intended impact at the Supreme Court is difficult to discern.

The controversy rising among those on the Right is how to address exceptions to these bills:

Reporters on Capitol Hill have peppered Republican lawmakers with demands to know whether they agree with Alabama’s law, which forgoes the rape and incest exceptions.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that for him personally, the Alabama law goes too far and that his position is in line with the views held by both President Trump and former President Ronald Reagan, who favored the exceptions. But Minority Whip Steve Scalise said that when he was in the Louisiana legislature, he supported anti-abortion legislation that only had exceptions for when the life of the mother was in danger.

‘I am strongly pro-life and I do believe we ought to try to protect life at every stage and that is why protecting the life of the mother was an exception I’ve always supported,’ he said.

There are some people who feel that after the horrendous experience of a rape or incest, a woman should not have to carry a baby to term; if her life is at risk, how does one decide which life to save? In some cases, the woman’s health at risk has included her mental health.

On the other hand, no matter how the baby was conceived, the baby is a human being, too. It didn’t choose to be conceived by rape or incest. It doesn’t bear responsibility for causing the mother’s health to be at risk.

And finally, if both lives are to be considered, should the mother be expected to carry the baby to term and take the option to relinquish him or her through adoption? Wouldn’t this choice be the most moral and fair for both?

A number of questions can be gleaned from this discussion—

*What criteria should be included in an abortion ban law, in your opinion?

* Should the potential impact on the Supreme Court be a consideration?

*What are your thoughts about exceptions to be made?

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Oberlin College Destroyed Small Bakery – Now It Will Pay Up


The day after the 2016 Presidential election, an African American Oberlin College student shoplifted from a bakery close to the campus.

The Chronicle-Telegram originally reported the story:

Oberlin police reported that Aladin tried to buy a bottle of wine Nov. 9 but Allyn Gibson, whose family owns the bakery, refused to sell it to him. Gibson confronted Aladin about the two bottles of wine the student allegedly had hidden under his shirt. The police report said Gibson told Aladin he was calling the police and not to leave. Aladin allegedly tried to leave, and Gibson told police he took out his phone to take a picture. That’s when Gibson said Aladin slapped the phone from his hand and the device hit Gibson in the face. Police have said Aladin then ran from the store, dropping the two bottles of wine to the floor.

Over the past almost three years, Oberlin College allowed for its students to whip themselves into a froth rather than the college calling out the individual who was an actual thief. The college did nothing to rein in those students who deemed the bakery owners as racist. As students arranged for demonstrations outside the bakery, professors and administrators joined in the protests. Flyers were made that became a common item in the community, and which announced with huge headlines that the bakery owners were racists. Eventually, the college refused to purchase any of the bakery’s goods for their cafeteria service.

Since when is calling the police when a crime is committed a racist activity? And if a college encourages its student body to become a massive, business-destroying organization, should the college itself be on the hook for damages?

Legal Insurrection reported on the story,

According to our reporter in the Courtroom, the jury awarded $11 million. Here are the details: Allyn W. Gibson was awarded $3 million, David Gibson $5.8 million, Gibson Bros. $2,274,500. Next Tuesday there will be separate punitive damage which could be a double award (meaning tripling the $11 million to $33 million). In the word’s of the article’s author, Oberlin College claimed the Bakery was worth only $35k, less than one semester at Oberlin College:

I’m still shaking my head at the tone-deafness of the defense in belittling this family business which has sustained five generations of Gibsons, and at the time of the protests sustained three generations: 90-year-old Allyn W. Gibson, his son David Gibson, and his grandson Allyn D. Gibson.

There were also almost a dozen employees. After the protests, the Gibsons stopped taking salaries and most of the employees have been laid off. This is real life to these people. To say that the business was worth only $35,000 erases the lives of these people. Maybe it’s just the plaintiff’s lawyer in me coming out, but I’d cross-examine this defense expert and college president, and show in closing argument, the tuition, room and board charges at Oberlin College. This business, which has been an important feature of the community since 1885, is deemed worth less than one semester at Oberlin College?

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: Summer in the City


The New York City of my youth was a fading star. We grew up on my parents’ stories of New York in the ’40s and ’50s; its heyday many would say. The glamour of Manhattan, the Waldorf and the Plaza, the bustling of its industries, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Yankees, Broadway hits coming one after the other. But all that started to unravel in the ’60s and by the time I was fully conscious in the early ’70s, NYC was on the brink of bankruptcy, the Dodgers long gone, and my parents pretty much abandoned going into the City, as we called it on Long Island, for anything but the Christmas Show at Radio City. But the City was still a major destination for school field trips and the sight of the NY skyline still reminded us that NY was the center of the world. From far away, you couldn’t see the City fraying at the edges.

My best friend in high school loved the theater, and starting around 1975, we would regularly take the train to Manhattan and walk up from Penn Station to Times Square to buy half price tickets for Broadway shows. Sometimes we’d even buy tickets for the Saturday matinee and then an evening show. Twenty dollars went far in those days. I was under strict orders not to wander far from Midtown, even though Midtown by that point was peep shows and massage parlors, interspersed with restaurants, camera discount stores, and theaters. Once I told my mother I had walked through Central Park and remarked how pretty it was. She told me not to ever set foot in Central Park again. I never told her that sometimes we took the subway.

But through the grime, NYC was still a magical place. When you passed over the bridge or through the tunnel from Long Island to Manhattan, you crossed into a completely different world with a feeling like no other. The sheer scale of the place, the volume of people, the increased pace, the stores, the hawkers, the street artists. When you tilted your head, you just kept looking up and up and up. The constant noise. The sound I most associate with NYC is the honking of horns. You rarely hear horns honking in the suburbs. But in NYC, it’s the soundtrack, the background music of the city.

Which brings me to my title. A few weeks ago, I was listening to the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City” while driving. The iconic bridge, with its jackhammer and honking horns, put me back in NYC in 1975 on a typical NY summer’s day. Summer in NYC also has a special feel: The heat radiates off the sidewalks and the streets, making the canyons of NYC shimmer in the sun. The smells are amplified. I think there are even more horns. Walking around, you are sweaty and slimy of course, but you also feel something else. You feel gritty, like you’re coated in the same black soot that covers the buildings from the exhaust of thousands of cars and buses.

“Hot town, summer in the city. Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty”

As I was listening to the song, I started to think about how much the lyrics and the music so perfectly capture the feel and sounds of NYC in the summer. It’s an edgy song, describing the misery of the relentless heat when you are trapped in concrete in the days before air conditioning, “hotter than a match head”, a far cry from languorous and lazy summer days depicted in other classics like Gershwin’s “Summertime” or even Mungo Jerry’s. I had never questioned that the song was about NYC. But when this month’s topic was introduced, I thought that it would be the perfect time to find out for sure.

Of course it was! John Sebastian and his family grew up in New York City. The song was actually first conceived by his younger brother Mark when he was around 15. It expressed his teenage longing to get away: “Our family’s apartment was at 29 Washington Square West, the 15th floor, and my bedroom looked out over the Hudson. I wanted to run away, go down by the docks, dreaming of whatever this romance thing was, having a band of my own.” (NY Times).

“But the night it’s a different world, go out and find a girl. Come on, come on and dance all night. Despite the heat, it will be alright”.

Apparently, John liked the transition evoked between the hot town by day and the cooler nights of the chorus. His brother had imagined it as a ballad, but John heightened the tension by creating the edgy piano solo and the rough vocal “Hot town”. They added the street sounds by recording on 48th street (Applebome, 2006), the first rock song to do so, even hiring an old-time radio sound effects guy to get the feel just right, according to one site.

His brother Mark remembers: “That summer I was in the Loire with my mom dragging me around to chateaus. I wanted to be in New York and hear “Summer in the City” playing from the window. My mom rented a radio and I heard “I Want You” from Dylan, then started to hear my song. I was in shock. What I’d written was more of a mellow ballad, and John took it to this whole other place that was aggressive and exciting and fun.” (NY Times).

The music smooths out for the chorus and the vocals change, perfectly capturing the relief brought on by nightfall. Even if the temperature is still high, the sun no longer drills into your brain and it’s time to relax and enjoy yourself. Even if you didn’t dance, people would go out on the porch or stoop to catch the evening breeze.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate more and more the artistry of rock and roll. I’ve always loved it as music-actually the first rock song I ever heard was Summer in the City playing on a jukebox when I was about 7. But now I notice how well many of the songs are crafted, the texturing and layering of sound, and the thought and care that went into making the best of them. Did you know it took over 100 hours of recording time to produce the 5:12 minutes of “The Boxer”? George Halee produced it and Summer and the City as well. In NYC of course!

The NYC of Summer in the City is long gone. NYC came roaring back in the ’90s and cleaned up its act (or at least the peep shows). Many of us, though, surprisingly feel nostalgia for the gritty decay of 1970’s NYC. But we still have that musical gem from 1966 that will take us back there for 2:39. Which is probably just the right amount of time.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. To Answer the Challenge of MBD


Michael Brendan Dougherty posed a challenge on Twitter:

I objected to his choice of target as I think French is a good ally and we should be grateful for what he’s done. But I’d like to see one critic engage Sohrab Ahmari’s point about how liberal principles, divorced from a pre-liberal inheritance, resolve disputes in one direction. (@michaelbd)

I would like to answer that challenge.

First, the question itself is odd. There are no liberal principles, divorced from a pre-liberal inheritance in America. Liberalism and the American nation have been linked since the beginning. Even cursory glance at American history has shown that Liberalism, morality, civic organization and local cultural norms are perfectly compatible with a Liberal order and if they at odds now the question is why?

The first cause is, of course, slavery. Liberalism, informed by Christianity, could not abide slavery despite the shared racism of whites in both the North and the South. As the Southerners began to realize that their fear grew that their access to wealth and status, Cotton, was going to be at the mercy of Northern majorities at some time in the future. The fear of that caused the South to try and overturn a lawful election by force, which led to the Civil War. This violation of Liberal norms destroyed an old consensus about the Federal government and gave the Federal government greater credibility against the State Governments. This altered the course of our Republic and changed the balance of forces in our Federal system.

Still, through the rest of the 19th century, it could be said by the standards of today both Democrats and Republicans were hard right wingers on social policy and economic policy. The ultimate fusionism practiced by both parties. This consensus advantaged Republicans though and that made Democrats desperate to find other ways to power. This was provided by a massive wave of immigrants in the 1880s that lasted until the 1920s. The previous wave of immigrants to the US had been more easily absorbed because of the Civil War and the fact that many of the migrants came here, from Europe, because of the failure of the Liberal revolts in 1848-49.

The new wave of migrants was not familiar with Liberalism and the Irish while knowing Liberalism had a good reason to hate it. These alienated migrant communities were very receptive seedbeds for Democrat politicians that wanted to break up Republican control of the Federal Government. At the same time new ideas, new ways of governing and incredible technological progress gave credibility to new Progressive ideas that were directly opposed to the Liberal Republic formed by our founding documents.

Progressivism won its first triumph with Woodrow Wilson who set about taking a wrecking ball to our Constitutional norms attacking Federalism by removing the protection of the Senate from the States, revamping the voting public, attacking property rights, freedom of Association, Free Speech and wedding his assault on Liberal values and norms to a new more robust nationalism that led to things like Prohibition, which was anti-immigrant as well as anti-alcohol, and attacking individual rights in general through Eugenics which strips the individual of agency and instead talks of the needs and good of a “race”.

With our entry into World War I being only a little more than a year America, unlike Europe, returned to sanity. Electing Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, of blessed memory, there was a return to Liberal values of the past. And Coolidge’s re-election against Davis was the last election in which, in the modern sense, both candidates were Conservative.

The twin blows of the Great Depression and World War II changed that again with the awesome power of Government to accomplish things, seemingly, apparent for all to see. This forged a more powerful political consensus that a form of Wilsonian progressivism was needed for the foreseeable future and leaving no real Conservative option politically. The New Deal coalition agreed to avoid attacking the Constitution as directly as Wilson did correctly understanding that a frontal assault on our Liberal values was the only threat to the new consensus.

The New Right rose up to oppose this Consensus with William F. Buckley’s famous battle cry of “Yelling Stop!”. To often overlooked is the rise of the New Left as well. The New Deal Consensus was as despised by the New Left as it was by the New Right. What made the New Left angry was the restrictions put on their pursuit of justice by our Liberal values, norms, and process. With the New Left primarily engaged with the Old Left, the New Right was able to position itself as the only sane alternative to the New Left thanks to the leadership of Goldwater and the great Ronald Reagan.

The New Deal liberal didn’t have a principled stand to take against the New Left because they held liberal values loosely, as a concession to political reality and so they failed to answer the moral claims of the New Left for Justice. It was the New Left that picked up power and support from oppressed minorities, immigrants and marginalized and their claims were always that the old order was at fault for all injustice. Does a police officer get away with abuse of power? It was the jury trial that was at fault. Did Right-wing politicians win elections? It was the fault of our voting system? Was their inequality? Obviously the fault of private property.

As the New Deal Liberals fell to pieces in the late sixties and early seventies it seemed that all that was left to choose from was the New Left and the New Right. Reagan won that battle for the New Right and the New Dealers began to break into the New Left and the New Right. It was always the case that New Deal Liberals didn’t like the New Left but felt that they had a strong moral point and a righteous cause. They hated the New Right correctly perceiving their old enemy of Liberal Values creeping back into power. Never did Reagan perform a more appropriate and symbolic action then by hanging the portrait of Calvin Coolidge in his office.

We should not overlook that the New Dealers breaking Left and Right changed both the Right and the Left creating new alliances and new coalition dynamics that changed the New Right and the New Left after Reagan.

Reagan restored legitimacy to the Presidency and the Conservative philosophy, controlling inflation, building self-confidence back into the American people, reducing government interference in general and seeing off Communism. This led to the land side of Bush I but Bush was a manager, an excellent manager, but a manager nonetheless who did not have the vision for carrying forward a Conservative agenda. Bush responded to the problems brought before him, often brilliantly, but the country needed more guidance more. FDR had nearly 12 years to enact his consensus Reagan had 8 and FDR were followed by men of similar vision Reagan was not.

Post Reagan, there was no political consensus that could make sustained change. Clinton and Bush worked around the edges nudging things a bit left or right and when Obama finally tried to return to the New Deal, of all things, his actions gutted the Democrat parties and awakened the forces of the New Left. The Social Justice Warriors of today who are once again attempting to defeat their old foes of the New Deal progressives.

In this kind of environment where no political consensus is holding both sides are winning victories and suffering defeats. It is still the case that Progressives, as they always have, hate the liberal values of our founding documents. Now there is a New Right that hates the Liberal values of the country as well. As always the radicals on both sides hate a system that demands balance and consensus and time to get things done. Liberal values do not demand specific outcomes what they do is set limits on what those outcomes can accomplish and demand the outcomes reached are done through a wide balance of forces, factions and regions so that no one is a such an oppressed loser they feel the need to rebel and that no one is such a triumphant winner they have the power to do away with the norms.

Affluence, driven by capitalism and technology, always undermine morals, conformity, and civic institutions. Morals, cohesion, and institution are hard and require work, affluence poses the question “Do you really need to make so much effort?” Affluence tempts us to make the perfect the enemy of the good. Technology limits our need for the irritating and vexing other and with one-half of the political parties opposed to the Constitution and at least some factions on the Right also opposed how can our Liberal values and morals not be undermined? It is the way of things.

Mark Charles is running for President as a Democrat. He says that he is “Thrilled and honored to Run for President.” But he is neither. He claims in his announcement video that the Constitution is designed to both imprison Blacks and oppress women and the poor. That when we see injustice it is because the Constitution is working properly. What kind of oath of office could Mark Charles swear if he were elected? He should be, by all rights, ashamed to run for President.

It has been a habit on the Left to proclaim to love the Constitution only to undermine it, to want the country to live up to the promise of the Declaration of Independence only to seek to destroy the reason of the document. On the Right what kind of Conservative are you if the founding documents of our Republic are not worth conserving? We preserve the Liberal Order of our founding documents and our message on cultural issues, morality, work, and economics will benefit greatly because what we say is true. That should be enough for us.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Book Review: I Want To Live


“The absolute raw truth of the matter is this: I have no idea what I am doing now, much less what I will be doing a year from now. Years of living my life for another person has left me without a clue as to how to live for myself.” from the book,

“I Want to Live – Confessions of a Grieving Caretaker by Susan D. McDaniel.

I got to know Susan as a member of Ricochet, where she posted about her faith and her role as a caretaker. I am on page 68 of her new book. I bought it because we lost my mother-in-law in April. My sister-in-law and she lived together, but she was also her caretaker. Being a home health care nurse gave her insight and skills that other caretakers have to blindly learn, but when she passed, she became any other person who is grieving a loss. I wanted to read this book, then give it to her. What I am finding within the pages of this little book is way beyond what I ever expected.

“My life is a wreck. A nuclear wreck. My life makes Chernobyl look like a wet matchstick. ”  This is how she describes the initial loss. Susan was not only a full-time caretaker of both her parents, but she lived most of her life within her family environment. She worked for her dad and never married. Yet she never describes her life as deprived or limited. She is also funny, her humor is endearing, describing herself as gifted with two skills, annoying people and loving to write; who can’t relate?

Susan is someone I would be delighted to have as a friend or neighbor, where I could drop in for a cup of coffee and just talk about anything. For a self-described recluse, she sees the human condition and the answers to life’s pain clear as a bell, even in the midst of it – no blinders or denial. This book is not only a gift, but a blessing. She has the gift of writing, but her desire to write springs from wanting to help others. There is the blessing and it is genuine – no pretense.

My takeaway so far is this is my new go-to book for anyone that has suffered a loss, be it the death of a parent or relative, a spouse, a dear friend, even a pet. This book would also be helpful for someone experiencing divorce or separation, looking to find their footing in the midst of turmoil, or as she says, “finding a new normal”. Grief is grief and Susan has a gift for writing simply from the heart – from which the wellspring of life flows. “I Want to Live” is the cry from anyone who is suffering in any situation, to know you are going to be ok, and how to navigate your next minute, hour, day in your different world. It speaks also to the fact that it doesn’t take a college education or traveling the world to gain the kind of wisdom found here. We’re all vessels waiting to be filled with it from the dispenser of all Wisdom, if we just ask.

Susan says every family member or caregiver is different, every part of grieving is different for each of us, not a “one size fits all job”. There are no rule books or boxes to check or timetables. I see that now. You cannot know the depths of another person’s grief, and as she said, the grief starts well before the situation where the loss actually occurs. The chapter on “Nostalgia” should come with a Kleenex warning. I found myself wiping away tears, not of sadness but of thankfulness. She nails it in this department. How blessed we are because this friend, or pet or family member or co-worker was a part of our lives, even briefly.

If you have suffered any kind of loss, or have been a caretaker, or are a counselor, or mentor, you will draw much from this simple little $10 book. I will give it to my sister in law, then order more copies as a gift to those who have or will experience loss. I loved it. I think you will too.

@susanmcdaniel, thank you for writing it. I hope you will keep writing, write about the pets in your book, and what happened to you that caused you to lose trust after the tender age of five. I hope you will write about fixing up your house, and the car repair place down the road where people gather to vent! This little book is needed in our broken and fragmented world more than ever. I hope that our Ricochet community and beyond discovers what a treasure you and your writing are, and will support you!

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post


Once again, globalist Republicans show their colors. Right after the Corporate Caucus undermined Trump on his tariff threat to Mexico, Mitt Romney reveals he might not endorse Trump in 2020.  It’s okay, Mitt. We’re not angry. Not even disappointed. Just shaking our heads in amazement.  Trump won on Mexico anyway, making the Disneyfied small-worlders look […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post


I received an unexpected phone call from one of my dad’s shipmates today. He is 90 years-old, a graduate of the Naval Academy and they served on the same submarine after WWII, the USS Tilefish, as officers. I recognized his name from Christmas cards exchanged over the years. He had watched the D-Day ceremonies and […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. They Didn’t Have Bone Spurs – Or Fallopian Tubes


Whoopi Goldberg, famous for playing herself in a nun’s habit, dreadlocks, and her unwavering support for the Vietnam War (you didn’t know that?) has used her platform on The Stew to attack our President for avoiding the draft due to “bone spurs”. There are several things wrong with this approach which I doubt The Stew audience will grasp, but let’s get the easy ones out of the way first.

The Vietnam War was different than WWII in nature. (I hope our Democrat friends can accept that statement without my having to elaborate)

It was a different era, a different zeitgeist, and we will never know if Donald Trump would have tried to avoid that war (although I suspect he wouldn’t have, since at minimum being labeled 4-F was for ‘losers’, as Trump haters might imagine him saying, and a cynic would imagine him vying for an officers job away from combat due to his military school background, but couldn’t do such a thing without impugning almost every other military officer). In those days, men really didn’t have a choice but to join the service without social repercussions.

Trump was asked about this the other day by Piers Morgan, and I thought he gave a remarkably candid answer. He said it was a different war and he did not agree with it. He did not claim any real handicap from bone spurs.

Anyone living during that era knew hundreds of young men who were finding some loophole to avoid being sent to a jungle ambush in Southeast Asia. You could even get a ‘student deferment’ which worked for the better-heeled. 

While I won’t assign heroism to this diverse group that ranges from exiles to Canada to simple college students and people pretending to be gay or crazy, I’m neither going to condemn them after learning the background and nature of that war. Neither will I claim this lack of enthusiasm to serve in that era disqualifies a man from being President ( including Bill Clinton) or for giving speeches lauding the heroism of Americans. At least as long as he doesn’t claim hero-status for himself.

So now to my main point:

I’ve gotten so used to hearing the phrase “the men and women who fought and died…” that I was a bit shocked at hearing the references to the “men who fought and died” on the beaches of Normandy, absent the inclusion of “women”. Quickly I realized it was accurate. No women were there to die, or even fight. Not one. Note, this is not a slight on females or their overall contribution ( including being the mothers of these young men) to the war effort.

For about as long as this phrase has been in common use, I’ve been somewhat annoyed, since, even today, the number of men who die in battle and in our modern ‘wars’ amount to about 99% of all casualties, yet women as a gender class get 50% of the credit (albeit men still get top billing at least). Even today it is only men who must register for the draft, and it looks like that ‘right’ remains uncontested by our feminist sisters and brothers. I’m unaware of Whoopi’s position on making her sisters required to register for Selective Service, or in a retrospective hypothetical, whether Whoopi would have refused any loopholes herself so as to be drafted to heroically serve her country in Vietnam.

Our new logical standards, promoted mostly but not exclusively by women, dictate that if only one woman out of a hundred is a casualty of war, or invented some part of a telescope, then she stands as a representative of her gender and shouldn’t be overlooked. This is fair enough. She should not be overlooked, but does her entire gender get rhetorical credit by mere proxy? Somehow the obvious must remain unacknowledged.

Nevertheless, when women are disproportionately affected by something, whether it’s jobs in science and maths, or pregnancy (100%, but lessening due to modern advances in ‘medicine’) it’s either a societal problem that must be addressed and/or some political right that females have special privileges to control, even to the exclusion of male input or sensibilities.

In this spirit, I contend that Whoopi, or any female not having served in the US military in a combat division in the Vietnam era (which is every female in existence), has no right to criticize Trump’s draft status or even question the validity of his medical claim of bone spurs.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day – Handling Classified Information


I’m amused by people who make a living disclosing classified information, including the names of intelligence operative wringing their hands about whether I can handle classified information…. Sometimes people can convince themselves that what they’re doing is in the higher interest, the better good. They don’t realize that what they’re doing is really antithetical to the democratic system that we have. They start viewing themselves as the guardians of the people that are more informed and insensitive than everybody else. They can, in their own mind, they can have those kinds of motives. And sometimes they can look at evidence and facts through a biased prism that they themselves don’t realize.

– Attorney General William Barr, in an extended interview with CBS’s Jan Crawford.

I don’t think I can much improve on this quote by Bill Barr. Res ipsa loquitur – the thing speaks for itself.

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90% of Venezuelans live in povertyVenezuela has shown the world how to end wealth inequality! Child-mortality has increased 140%Nowhere in the world is women’s reproductive health more highly valued than in Venezuela. Very-late-term abortions are now mandatory. Venezuelans have eaten their zoos’ animalsThe country, horrified by the injustice of caging animals and conscious of the […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. How Liberal Was Liberalism


Every year, I have two encounters with John Locke. The first comes when I go to the American Political Science Association, where I try to understand the arguments of the hardcore political philosophers brought in by Claremont and Institute for Humane Studies, and so on. The second comes about a month later when I teach the Founding to a group of Freshmen at my university. A point I try to drive home to my students, and which, given the recent discussions regarding Sohrab Ahmari around here, is relevant to Ricochet, is that the world of 17th Century England, and especially the Civil War and the Glorious Revolution, doesn’t look much like the United States of today, and that properly understanding Locke and Montesquieu requires thinking in terms they would have known.

At APSA, there’s always a debate between the philosophers between three basic positions. Position one is the view that Locke is an individualist radical who intended to completely up-end society. However, given that he was writing in 1688, he couldn’t rightly say that, so the message is hidden in the text. This is the dominant Straussian position. Position 2 is the “Built Better than He Knew” position, which is similarly related to the same named position on the Founders held by, for example, Harry Jaffa. In this telling, Locke was trying to justify the Glorious Revolution, but he -and later Adam Smith -actually had found a better way to place civil government and civil society to produce a virtuous and free nation.

Then there’s my position, which I find frankly under-represented. Locke was writing in 1687-89, addressing the particular issues of that time period, and while he does appeal to universal constants and laws of nature (that just makes him modern), he is neither creating a novus ordo secularum nor is trying to tear down the society in which he is a part. Rather, he is trying to explain what just happened in the crazy world of the Glorious Revolution and explain how his society actually worked.


Locke starts his two treatises with an extended dismantling of the divine right of kings. His critique is thorough, pointing out that God never said anything about divine right, even if He had, He hadn’t said anything to any of the ancestors of any of the current kings, and even if He had done that -there are far too many extant kings to claim that all of them held divine right. No one actually operates as if the Divine Right of Kings was true.

So, in his second treatise, he looks at how governments actually operate in England and the rest of the world.

So how did they operate? It’s easy to take modern social structures and back-lay them on 17th Century England, but this would be a mistake. The past is a foreign country -they do things differently there.

A few years back I read A Quarrel with the King, a history and quasi-biography of the late 16th and early 17th century England, told through the relationship of a prominent northern English family (the Earls of Pembroke) and the Kings from Henry VI to Charles I. Along the way, there’s several chapters on how England actually worked.

At the heart of the English society was the commonwealth -the term applied broadly and narrowly, but in this case, really meaning something approximating “the village.” England at the time had only a limited idea of private property -at least as far as land and livestock went. Both were held in common by the entire village, and this was because the relationship between livestock and land was necessary for the continued survival of the village. The land was marked off into fields and chalks. The livestock was grazed every day in the chalks, and every night was kept in a different field. The sheep droppings would fertilize the fields. Each family would be given a plot of land, the shepherds would guarantee its fertility, and this allowed the growing of enough food to feed the village, and then to trade to other villages for whatever couldn’t be produced locally. These villages were largely self-sufficient, at least locally, but they were also mainly steady-state organizations. The social and economic roles played by everyone in the village kept a delicate balance. If anyone didn’t pull their weight, the entire village would starve. The legal regime -in which no one owned land, but rather had the use of the land provided they produced the required allotment of goods and services for the village, encouraged this. Contrary to the common story, these villages did not have many problems with their commons, because everyone’s use of the commons was closely watched by everyone else. No one would overgraze their livestock, or try to cheat another family out of their time with the animals -because if anyone did that, it would throw off the balance, and everyone would starve. (The transition to private property happens during this period, and is largely driven by technological changes that makes farming much more efficient -which caused a lot of other villages to close down, which were then bought by lords like the Pembrokes to build their great estates. Some of the villagers were taken into service by the lords, some went to the cities, and others became basically brigands -who, when the Civil War came, were drafted into both Royalist and Parliamentary armies.)

Because these villages were so delicate, there was a great deal of social coercion used to make sure everyone did their part. Councils of elders could fire shepherds and other specialists if they failed to do their jobs. The indigent were required to be taken care of by their nearest family members, on the threat of the family being expelled from the village. These communities also built up long traditions, their own holidays, and other special quirks which kept everyone working and prevented the village from starving. One of the more interesting passages was about the food allocations everyone got for feast days -food allocations that depend on everyone having already done their part to gather the food into the village first.

This is the reality Locke was writing about when he describes how the commonwealth comes together. By 1688, the method of coordinating village production is currency, not conditions, but the villages are still highly dependent on everyone left doing their part. It also makes some of his more bizarre requirements make a lot more sense. For example, I have long wondered why it was that Locke allows people to leave the commonwealth only on the condition that they cannot take their property with them. But, when you realize that the (predominantly) real property is part of a complicated production chain, the loss of which would kill the village, it makes much more sense why Locke would require people leave their property behind when they exit. He simply scales the idea up to the size of England.

The amazing thing to me, contra the radical individualist reading, is just how much of this system Locke leaves in place. He is perfectly happy to allow every village and community to organize its affairs however it would like, and only when the self-sustaining political units are ready and able to come together does he allow for the creation of larger nations. Even then, though, the larger nation is only allowed so long as it doesn’t interfere in the operations of the constituent villages -all of them have to agree to band together. This echoes the actual justifications for the Civil War. Beyond the religious arguments, the King’s economic policies were making a disaster of the commonwealth -with villages dying all over, and their parliamentary representatives unable to get the King to do anything about it. Pembroke -despite being an aristocrat with a long history of service directly to the Crown -sided with Parliament precisely because of the damage Charles I was doing to Wiltshire.

All of this, Locke is willing to leave in place.


It is true that much of Locke’s theories of government are built on procedural rules. However, Locke wrote against a background of very powerful local and regional political bodies that -while following procedural rules -governed in very specific, coercive, and intrusive ways. These local bodies could tell you what to eat, where to worship, and how to work. The way the decisions should be made matters, but Locke continues to allow this level of government intrusion, only allowing people to leave if they don’t like it, because without these decisions being made and obeyed, the whole networked economy of the village crashes, and everyone dies.

With later technological developments, even more liberality with the rules of the community becomes possible. Generally speaking, the American economy is not so fragile as the 17th-century English economy was. But this does point to the key insight Ahmari was making: Lockian Liberalism -of the type the US was founded on -assumes a civic culture and view of how everyone should live their life. It allows society to enforce that way of life in order to preserve the continued existence of the commonwealth.

The procedural rules, the “neutral public square idea” are not in Locke or Adam Smith. They are later additions -probably at earliest Jeremy Bentham in the early 19th century, if not 20th-century innovations of Rawls and Nozick.

There are those who say that Locke leads inexorably to Bentham, but I don’t see it. I don’t think Ahmari does either.

We can be perfectly true to the ideals of Locke and still support a great deal of socio-political decisionmaking by governments.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post


At the beginning of the week, we learned that the Mueller Report Dossier contained a selectively edited transcript of a phone call between Trump’s lawyer and Flynn’s lawyer. It was a typical lawyer conversation that was made to seem corrupt. Mueller’s dossier stated as fact that Konstantin Kilimnik had “ties to Russian intelligence”. Today we […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: The Curse of Summer Heat


Few people I know like the heat of a Florida summer. In fact, if people say they enjoy it, we assume they have a screw loose. Part of the culture requires that you complain about the heat at least once in a conversation. And when summer starts early, as it seems to have this year (today it will be 98 degrees), the moaning and groaning are cacophonous.

So, I commiserate with others on the weather; it’s always a good conversation opener. When I meet someone new or am not feeling fully awake, the weather is always a reliable topic. And something we can all agree on.

But quite honestly, I’ve come to realize that commenting on the weather for me is just a lazy habit. For example, I have never paid a lot of attention to the weather when we have made decisions about where we will live. We’ve lived in Massachusetts (humid summers, nasty nor’easters), Colorado (where in the 1980’s we were snowed in for several days), California (which has many more problems that negate the mild weather), and now Florida, the lightning capital of the US (with its humidity and thunderstorms). My husband hates the cold, so no matter how hot it gets, he rarely complains. He knows when he has a good thing.

I didn’t mind the cold wherever we live, just the icy streets after a freezing rain. And I don’t mind the heat, I just take my walks early in the morning. What I’ve learned is that there are many things more important than nasty weather, hot or cold. And you can always count on the weather changing.

Instead of focusing only on the outer world, I’ve learned to appreciate the inner life, where the weather can’t touch me. In here, I can find stillness beyond my emotional storms. I can find insight where the outside world doesn’t reach me. I can find truth when the world is busy fighting evil.

From day-to-day, with our prediction tools, we never know for sure what the weather will be like.

But today, in here, the weather is just fine.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. My Father’s Trip to England in 1944 on a Luxury Liner


My father was made Master Sergeant, at age 19, while in the 959th Field Artillery Battalion of the 191st Field Artillery Regiment. He had joined the National Guard in Clinton, Tennessee after graduating High School in 1940. Yank Magazine had a “Diaper” contest for the youngest Master Sergeant and someone had entered him in the contest. He won a trip to the Hollywood Canteen where he danced with Hollywood starlets. One of these was Ava Gardner who had a horrible complexion, he remembered. Alas, Rita Hayworth was not there to make up for it. He hated dancing.

On April 18, 1944, he departed from New York on the Nieu Amsterdam for a voyage of seven days to Firth of Clyde, Greenock, Scotland. The trip was pure misery. (I saw recently that one of the National Review cruises was on a newer version of the Nieu Amsterdam.)

The ship had been a luxury liner but was stripped and fitted for troop transport. The dining room was now a large mess hall and the men slept in tightly spaced hammocks, Navy style. My father says the seas were high for almost the entire trip and most of the troops were violently seasick.

On the first evening, troops were ordered to the mess hall for their first meal, and the floor quickly became covered in vomit. As he was taking this in, one of the kitchen helpers pulled a side of beef over the floor toward the kitchen- right through the vomit. My father said he never set foot again in the mess hall and subsisted the entire week on the many Hershey bars he had brought with him.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Memory and Forgetfulness: Part 3


The Normandy D-Day Ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery was absolutely first class. The staging, audio and video production were excellent. Both presidents gave exceptional addresses. While each reflected their own nation’s character and perception of the good, they both kept the focus on the surviving veterans, there with them, and those who have long laid to rest in this consecrated ground. Warning: this is at least a two hanky event.

The ITV YouTube channel carried the Normandy American Cemetery ceremony, with President Trump and President Macron. President Macron helicoptered in just before the ceremony started, as he had started the day in the British beach sector with Prime Minister May, and with representatives of the British royal family at a church service. He, and the French people, did a fine job as grateful hosts. Don’t miss the WWII cargo aircraft formations towards the end of the American ceremony, with the two presidents and their wives side-by-side looking out over the beach to the sea. That rumble is the sound of liberty.

Watch 97-year-old Tom Rice make the jump on the 5th, part of the Daks over Normandy event:

And here is one of the British paratroopers who took part in the big jump:

Both presidents made the point of our duty to honor those being commemorated with a continued dedication to liberty. Both claimed that the history of these old warriors, and their forever young comrades, would not be forgotten so long as our people value and preserve liberty.