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I was perusing my RSS Feed today and I came across this little gem from The Other McCain: Jonah Goldberg Only Steals From the Best. Referencing a article published on 18 January 2019 and written by Jonah – “Trump’s Border Wall Is a Political MacGuffin” Wherein Jonah gives the unconvincing argument that the wall doesn’t matter, […]

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Today was a deeply sad day for many Catholics both in America and across the West. It’s one thing for your enemies to make up things about you. But for your friends and those who are your fellow travelers do not even wait to hear your side of the story. Many conservatives did this. It’s […]

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Gather ‘Round the Stove

 
A Chicago newspaper illustration prior to the 1913 American League Meetings

If you want to keep the peace then you don’t step on the third rail of American conversation. No, it’s not Donald Trump. It’s not even politics. Or religion.

“So, what do you think (fill in the blank with local baseball team) should do this offseason?”

These wintertime conversations used to take place down at the General Store around the stove (hence the phrase, “The Hot Stove League.”) Sometimes the conversation would get so heated the stove was no longer needed.

Eventually, the conversation moved to talk radio and now has migrated to the internet. Neither move elevated the conversation one bit, nor has the creation of the new “nerd stats” which make everybody and his sister Sally an analytical genius General-Manager-in-Waiting. Now, instead of talking about dingers, and Uncle Charlie, it’s WHIP and WAR, launch angle and exit velocity.

What hasn’t changed is the unreasonable and often contradictory nature of it all. The starting points remain the same. “Well, if I were in charge I’d start by trading for (last year’s Cy Young Winner) for (the worst player on my team) and a bag of batting practice balls. If you were (the targeted player’s team) you’d go for that trade, wouldn’t you?”

Mmmmm, sure. Why not?

Or it’s this one: “Man, that contract of so-and-so’s is a killer! Why did they give him all that money? And he’s always hurt and can’t stay on the field! The idiots!” And five seconds later the same guy says, “Why don’t they offer that player an outrageous sum of money for an outrageous length of time? I’ll tell you why! ‘Cause our ownership is cheap, that’s why! And that GM is an idiot!”

Ohhhhhhhh-kay.

Next are the geniuses who have figured out that time only moves in one direction. “Our guys are getting old. That guy’s bat has slowed down, and that other guy has an aging arm. They should bring up that Paul Bunyan kid. Tore up the Forest League last year. Kid can’t miss, I’m telling you.”

“I heard they were thinking of trading him to the Yankees for pitching.”

“What?! Are they freakin’ nuts?! This kid is gonna be a superstar! He’s the future of this franchise! Idiots!”

Wisdom of the ages? “Potential” is that French word for “ain’t done it yet,” Frank Robinson was not an “old 30,” and in the words of that great baseball savant Doris Day, “The future’s not ours to see, Jackson.”

Of course, the Hot Stovers are blessed in their ignorance. As they argue over transactions they’re only trading numbers on a spreadsheet. They know nothing of the people behind the game — who was struggling because one of their parents was dying, which kid in the minors seems to be universally loathed by his teammates, or who had nagging little injuries that kept them from performing well but it wasn’t bad enough to put them on the DL.

But in these cold days of January, with snow on the diamonds and even spring training games feeling like an eternity away, it keeps the blues at bay. Throw another log on the fire and let’s check Twitter for the latest rumors.

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https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/319202/     Pretty much speaks for itself. Never Trump is sick. Willing to help destroy the lives of conservative students.  

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Renovating The Inner Underdog

 

Part One
Hi. My given name is “Bella,” but for a long while, I was an underdog.

About four years ago, I lived in a warm, supportive family. They taught me valuable life skills, like not barking over every little thing, how to be housebroken, and sitting and shaking hands and paws on command.

I liked people, especially my people, almost all other dogs, and most kitties too.

Things were simply great.

Then one day my family started using words I didn’t know yet, words like “foreclosure” and “eviction.” No longer was anyone, even the kids, playing with me much.

Soon after that, their belongings were all in boxes, and they ushered me into their sedan. They drove me to a “family friendly” neighborhood, opened the car door, and said “Good luck! Kiddo. Hope you’ll find a new home soon.”

Initially, I was stunned and I slunk off to wait for them to come back. But it didn’t happen.

“Family friendly” area or not, people yelled at me a lot. I became rather hungry and skinny as no one would let me approach their pets’ food and water bowls. Worse than that, packs of semi-wild dogs eagerly found me an easy target.

Have I mentioned yet that I am part pit bull? So although such rude canine behavior terrified me, I found I could give out even worse than I got.

Over the next several weeks, a station wagon would show up and two young people, armed with a long broom handle type of contraption, would chase after me. Now in addition to pit, I am also part border collie, so I easily could outrun these folks. Only one day when they showed up with a bit of steak attached to that contraption did they find out that I was an easy catch.

Naturally, I was scared, but they brought me to a local animal shelter. This place was warmer than the outdoors, and I got a doggy bunkmate named Buddy and an adoring staff to feed me all day long. They gave me the name I have now, Bella, and treated me like the princess I had longed to be.

Part Two
So one day soon after my ASPCA capture, my new mom, Carol, was driving down the road. For three years, she had been looking for a large dog to complete her life. The internet was right there helping her. However, every time she thought she had located the right animal, she would go to that specific shelter to retrieve it only to discover he or she was already adopted.

This particular day in June 2015, she was driving along. A voice in her head stated calmly “Do a U-turn and get back to the ASPCA right now. Your dog is there waiting for you.”

I heard the reverse of that internal psychic message, so you better believe I was waiting in the very front of my kennel, cold nose pressed to the wire and my long tail wagging away, when the pet shelter volunteers escorted her in.

Within two days, I was moving into her home. I really loved her, and both she and the big guy with the strange beard often conversed about “love at first sight.” I think they meant me.

But I was not exactly what they expected. Although I had loved the shelter volunteers, I didn’t like most people. I had learned that people will kick you when you are down and out. They are apt to throw sticks and stones, and set their meanest big bad dogs upon you.

People act so cruelly that you end up starving, homeless and going without sleep. I still liked kids, as children are kind to even us homeless dogs. But adults are a different matter entirely. I knew now that when you see grown-up people, it is far better to cower and slink away than try to be friends.

In my case, this meant growling a little and hiding behind my mom. (A bit hard to do given that I now weighed 62 pounds.)

A month after being adopted, there was a smell of smoke in the air. My new family started loading boxes of their favorite things into the garage near their car. They acted nervous. But they still played with me, so maybe I had nothing to worry about.

However, my nervousness skyrocketed when I got woken from a nap and put in the car. I must have had a funny expression as Mom said, “You need to get out with people a bit more. You should realize there are people who are a lot like you. They are going through hard times and they need love. You don’t know this, but you have it in your heart to give them hope.”

We ended up at a place called “Moose Lodge,” in Clearlake, CA. Around 400 people who had been evacuated from a major fire were living in tents and RVs on this property. And now I was expected to show up every few days and be with kids who needed to be around me. These were kids who most likely had lost their homes and their pets.

The thing was, sometimes their moms and dads showed up too.

These grown-ups had an energy I felt was familiar. They were desperate like I had been. They had faith that was shot, and eyes that were tremendously sad. Often they needed to be cheered up more than their kids.

Carol would tell these adults to command me to sit and shake. They were so happy I could do that one trick that they would sometimes wipe a tear away from their eyes. Then I realized I could help them by licking their hands or even jumping up near them, but not on them. When an adult needed a ride to the doctor or to the grocery stores, or anywhere else that came up, they would be shown into our car.

I confess the first few times a stranger got in the car, I was upset. What would I do if they became mean like the adults had been in that family-friendly neighborhood area where I once had tried to live? How would I protect my mom and myself?

But Carol taught the passengers the “Bella Song” which had as the main words, “Bella, Bella, Bella, a Beauty of a dog, she makes everyone who knows her so happy and proud.” The words made the people laugh, and also made me relax. I was once again becoming a “people canine.”

Over the next several years, I was trained as a service animal. This allowed me to accompany my owner to her therapy sessions. The concept she would dwell on the most was this one: “Do feared things first.” (I have to say, there is wisdom there.) And sometimes her therapist would mention that “you can teach a troubled dog new tricks.”

So basically I am a re-created, renovated victim of PTSD. My mom admits she has her PTSD issues to overcome as well. But together we have learned to overcome this affliction for the most part, and then put it in the back of the wheel box should we feel it re-surfacing. Life is good, people are friendly, and I truly can bark that I look forward to each and every new day. Things seem to be getting better all the time.

Member Post

 

Now that Gillette has taught us what it means to be a man, I started to wonder what it means to be a woman. Fortunately, I was able to see some highlights from yesterday’s women’s march. Best I could tell from women speaking at the march the three keys to femininity are: hatred of Trump, […]

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Now We Know Why Carter Page Has Never Been Charged with Anything

 

Powerline has been running a series called What We Have Learned So Far, in which developments in the Russia collusion story are updated as new reporting or pronouncements are made. The latest update nails down the knowing falsity in the FISA application: The people who asked the FISA court for surveillance authorization on Carter Page knew (and did not disclose to the court) the source of the allegations and the likelihood that they were politically driven fabrications. They also knew if they revealed this to the court no authorization would be forthcoming and the investigation would be deprived of a key opportunity to develop adverse information on Trump.

While certainly violations of DOJ guidelines and potential crimes were committed by one or more of the people involved in the investigation, does this mean that the FBI was corrupt, and the loss of public confidence is justified? For purposes of my comment let me define how I use the term “corrupt”: Corrupt means the unjustified use of government power for personal benefit (financial or ideological) that was knowingly and intentionally in conflict with the public trust. This is a pretty high bar. It allows for bad things to happen simply because someone was deluded or mistaken and bent rules in an honest (if crazed) belief that an individual was a danger to the public in some fashion. This doesn’t mean that the person is excused and cannot be held accountable, but it does go to the question of whether to lose confidence in an institution when persons within that institution do bad things.

Scott Adams, I think, has a good take on this: If the likelihood that something is true is extremely remote but the consequences of it actually being true are extremely dire, is it not reasonable to investigate? He used that question to posit that the FBI was not acting corruptly to open an investigation on Trump even knowing that the allegations that he was a foreign agent were likely untrue. The problem, of course, is that this rationale could have easily been used to open up an investigation on Obama given his practice of empowering our adversaries and weakening our alliances. Nevertheless, this does blunt the belief that the investigation could not have been opened or participated in in the absence of corrupt motives.

So the FISA application was sought to conduct an improbable foreign intelligence surveillance of Trump with Carter Page being the entry point. And the officials authorizing the application and swearing to its truthfulness knew its weakness and that no criminal proceeding could ever go forward against Page due to this defect. Was that, in and of itself, corrupt? My response is “no.” Was it a violation of Page’s civil rights? Yes, and he should be compensated for that and the government should make clear what was going on.

So, what, was going on? A counterintelligence investigation of Trump. Because as improbable as it seemed (and should have seemed) it would be important to find out if he was a foreign agent. (For reasons stated above it was just as important to find out if Obama was a foreign agent … but never mind.) And the government knew they could never prosecute a criminal case against Page or Trump? Absolutely. So why do it?

To answer that question let me remind you of the case of Wen Ho Lee. Dr. Lee was a researcher at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who was accused of passing classified information relating to nuclear weapons to the Chinese government. Dr. Lee was an American citizen born in Taiwan and of Chinese ethnicity. He came under suspicion but the Clinton Administration would not authorize a surreptitious entry on to his premises to confirm or refute espionage because it would compromise a potential criminal action against him. By the time the government laid a sufficient predicate to arrest and do a search, the incriminating documents could not be found. Some months later the government case collapsed and a federal judge apologized to Dr. Lee for the government’s behavior. Was Dr. Lee a spy? There is no way to know. He says not. But the Chinese did obtain critical information about how to place multiple re-entry vehicles (multiple individual nuclear weapons) on a single rocket. This single technology was an exponential increase in Chinese nuclear capability.

In the counterintelligence world, knowledge trumps consequence. That is, it is more important to know what happened than to punish the perpetrator. Since the nation is the victim and not individual citizens, the objective is to develop new counter strategies when it becomes known that another nation(s) has learned of and can exploit a vulnerability or technology. That is far more important than bringing justice against a spy. And there are times when you don’t want a foreign country to know that you know what they now know.

So let’s return to Citizen Trump. Let’s say that the FBI/DOJ had non-corrupt purposes in investigating him. The FISA surveillance would be one, but only one, technique. The government officials knew that it was flawed and would negate any opportunity to charge Page or Trump criminally. Now there are two possibilities: (1) if Trump’s malfeasance was verified the FBI/DOJ would develop strategies to blunt Russia-Trump conspiring, and/or (2) the FBI/DOJ would implement strategies to undermine Trump’s ability to control the government whether or not it was verified — the “soft coup”. Whoever was pursuing (2) for partisan reasons was clearly corrupt. Anyone sincerely deluded about the risk to the country might also participate in (2) but not necessarily be corrupt. Many FBI/DOJ personnel could be involved in the support of (1) taking it only so far as the relevant evidence justified.

If this is the case that I have posited, then it is extremely important that it be sorted out as to who was just doing their job in chasing down an improbable but consequential claim, who was so deluded to justify knowingly lying to the FISA court, and who was acting corruptly. And even if that happens it is also important to sort out how a subordinate executive agency investigates the President? That is the role of Congress and not anyone in the executive branch.

But it is a conundrum. Let’s assume that under the Bush Administration FBI/DOJ developed adverse information about Obama. Obama gets elected, so now the FBI/DOJ role is terminated. The Democrats who control Congress (and the media) have no interest in pursuing an investigation, and the Republicans although in receipt of the FBI/DOJ data have no power to do so. So a foreign agent is allowed to remain in place without limit on governance. This was ostensibly where we were with Trump, except that Trump did not have the uniform support of his party and the Democrat media was anxious to undermine Trump. That put a “soft coup” in play — and that is the rationale for a belief in an unconstitutional “Deep State.”

How a Dam Bursts

 

The stream was dammed for the old mill well before 1976. That’s the only certain date I can give, but by that time the old mill was gone and you had to be a digger to find its foundations (I was.) There were a couple of mature hickories growing in the ruins. Let’s say the dam had stood for a century, give or take a human generation.

It was a small earthen dam on a lowland stream, holding back a hundred acres of pond water that drained from a few thousand acres of forests and fields. It rose perhaps 15 feet from its base to the outlet, perhaps a bit less. It was simply but well constructed with a hard clay interior and plenty of earth above high water, for weight. Twin four-foot pipes at one end drained away beneath the adjacent road.

The road came after the dam, I think. It ran on a fill laid across the steep stream bottom, below the dam and intersecting at one end. The little pocket between the dam and the fill had its own culvert, which it needed because the dam seeped a little. I never saw water on the face, but the ground adjacent was muddy even in dry weather. That would have been the pond’s water column pressing on groundwater, that percolated up on the other side.

Most of the time the little system of pond, dam, and spillway was quiescent. When it rained the pond rose and the outlet pipes ran. When it was dry the water stayed below the outlet and stagnated. When the local beaver clan got too ambitious some responsible person would usually tear out their work. If they repeated the offense, well honestly, trapping those guys is a lot of bother. Back when it was my job, I let Mr. Savage handle it after dark.

Let’s stop and talk physics. Percolation is how we model the way fluid seeps through a porous barrier and similar physical situations. The math is nice and abstract; it’s based on the idea of a network of particles each in contact with its neighbors. Whether any gap lets fluid through is up to the nature of the fluid and the particles, and a bit of chance. Percolation of water through earth is driven by pressure — it takes force to push water through those gaps.

Let’s stop and talk engineering. An earthen dam can allow water to percolate within limits and still go on standing forever. As long as the percolating flow doesn’t go too fast with too much volume, the particles of earth won’t budge. Raise the pressure and more water will percolate, maybe starting to move a grain here and there.

When enough grains have moved to open a connected channel, the system has entered a new realm where percolation no longer matters. The phenomenon of interest now is erosion. As long as the water flows the channel will widen.

Let’s go back and talk physics. Pressure is a force, as is weight. The pressure at the base of a dam is the weight of the water above it. Deeper water, more pressure, more percolation. Now isn’t that so simple a caveman could get it?

Cue the ominous music. Some fool, it’s always some fool, decided to raise the water to improve the fishing. The damn pond already had great fishing, panfish, and predators — crappie, a range of bream, largemouth, and pike. Maybe the would-be Fish Lord wanted his picture in Field & Idiot or something.

A few dozen tons of riprap and rubble will stop a spillway in no time at all. Did you know that? He raised the outlet by three feet.

Nature didn’t get around to filling the additional impoundment for over a year, I’m told. I imagine the stagnant water became offensive in the summer. But Atlantic hurricanes can drop a lot of water a hundred miles inland. I forget which storm it was, might have started with ‘A.’ The dam had seen bigger storms every third year since it was built, but the extra depth and pressure this time were the end of it.

Witnesses told me that when the dam went, it went fast. The wall of water topped the road and ran long enough to take that too. The state repaired the road. The dam was private. The fool with the rocks moved away.

Most of the dam is intact today, only the middle quarter failed — the deepest part, of course. It was undercut by pressure driven seepage that evolved into erosion from beneath. The undisturbed core is plain to see in the remaining segments; it really was a fine dam. You can look at it today, the outlet pipes, the rockpile, the missing segment, and the swamp behind it all. The simple physical truth stares you in the face and says something completely unprintable.

There’s probably a metaphor here for a constitutional republic, one that delivered well on its original promises and good intent and could have gone on indefinitely. Then a few comfortable and privileged fools wanted more. Being privileged, they took that which properly belonged to the community into their own hands and remade it. Being fools, they broke it.

I’ll skip it, that’s too easy. Besides, our fools are still fishing in high water. As more and more outlets are blocked, however, I wonder what it will look like when the regime changes and the real erosion kicks in.

My Letter to Procter & Gamble, Parent Company of Gillette

 

I couldn’t find the address for Gillette, so I wrote to its owner, Procter & Gamble:

I have been a faithful customer of Gillette for years. Its ad that attacks men and boys is unacceptable. Boys will be boys. To argue to the contrary is stupid. Male mammals are different from female mammals. Period.

I have no more need for my Gillette razor as I bought a Schick razor last night. I am returning my Gillette razor to you.

You should apologize immediately. This is the worst corporate move since the New Coke and the Edsel. I don’t know how you are going to escape this. However, I would be happy to make an example of this so that you and other business never ever do this again.

Very Truly Yours,
GARY E. ROBBINS, P.C.

Writer’s Block or Making Excuses

 

I don’t have writer’s block—at least not in the conventional sense. Once I pick a topic, the words seem to flow —with some careful editing. And I love to write on Ricochet. But I just feel like I don’t have much to say anymore. We have so many skilled writers on Ricochet, and they often seem to know precisely what to write on.

There are those who write on the politics of the day: what comment by Trump has enraged the media; where is the latest issue where the Republicans have stepped in it; are we hopeless to have any effect against the Progressive movement?

There are those who have exotic pasts, intriguing family members (I’m looking at you, @she), moving life situations.

There are those who are enormously witty and clever, who can write me under the table when it comes to humor.

There are the radical issues that always garner input: transgenderism, body mutilation, toxic masculinity—all important topics, and some I’ve written on and commented on.

There are some personal topics: Judaism, hospice, guns, problem-solving, and other miscellaneous topics—all which I’ve written on and probably annoyed people beyond their tolerance level.

So I’m sitting here, saying to myself, after writing posts for many years, do I have anything new to say? I’ve written to some degree on all the topics I’ve mentioned above. But writing on politics doesn’t speak to me at the moment, exotic experiences are not in my past or present, and I can be funny sometimes but I’d hardly call myself a witty writer (although I still love the post I wrote on John Kelly raiding the Department of Justice).

Is there a topic that hasn’t been beaten to within an inch of its life? Are there subjects that are important to me, that I can learn from and ask people to share their understanding so that I can learn from them?

Please don’t misunderstand. I read a lot of posts on Ricochet, on all the topics I’ve highlighted, and many are insightful. But I’m just not moved to write on them myself right now.

Fortunately, I had an insight this morning that might just help me along. The topic, “Small Subjects, Big Ideas,” showed up. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I think there are a lot of important but neglected topics in the news: topics or stories that are intriguing, tragic, uplifting, educational, and even funny. Subjects that motivate me to think, to figure out why they appeal to me, to investigate what I have to learn from them. And they are hopefully topics that you will learn from and enjoy, too. I only hope that this will move me in a positive and productive direction.

Thoughts?

President Trump: The Adult in the Room

 

Speaker Pelosi and her coterie stewed in their foiled plans to flee the country and gather anti-Trump anecdotes from far-flung Swamp patches — leftists burrowed into career State and Defense staffs. Meanwhile, President Trump stood before a portrait of President Washington, faced the American people, and delivered a reasonable legislative proposal in measured tones.

The president offered a three-year extension to 700,000 DACA recipients and to 300,000 persons in another category, who claim they need protection from a situation in their home country. He repeated his demand for $5.7 billion to erect an additional 230 miles steel slat barriers this year. In addition, he called for 2,750 new border agents and 75 additional immigration judges, while highlighting the shocking number of pending cases, now nearly 900,000. Trump pledged to hold a weekly meeting following passage of this legislation to reach a complete reform of our immigration system.

Trump repeatedly called the situation at our southern border, and in our interior, a crisis. Yet, he offered one more opportunity for the Article I institutions to take the lead, and legislate on a subject squarely within their enumerated powers. He neither used the word “emergency” nor threaten to declare a national emergency. He had earlier reiterated his authority to do so but showed a preference for encouraging Congress to Be Best.

The President said Sen. McConnell will place this proposal before the Senate for a vote this next week. We will see if the Majority Leader keeps the bill intact or slides in measures to stop the wall and expedite the amnesty. I think he has taken Trump’s measure and will not cross him and his voters on this matter.

Two footnotes:

  1. Once again, the White House did not leak when President Trump needed to keep his planned remarks under wraps, driving viewership and foiling spoiling attacks in advance of his initiative. The reporters firing questions at him, as President Trump walked out to board Marine One earlier in the day, showed no clue of what his announcement later in the day would actually be.
  2. The President has been very consistent in his messaging on this issue. See his last speech from the Oval Office. See his comments at a naturalization ceremony he held in the Oval Office earlier the same day. There, he highlighted the positive stories of legal immigration and spoke of the obligation to embrace America and our Constitution as their own. The White House has posted a fact sheet: President Donald J. Trump’s Plan to Reopen the Government and Fund Border Security. See also this one-minute video:

The White House has not yet posted the remarks, so here is the C-SPAN transcript, converted from all-caps, edited for garbled or missing transcription, and broken into paragraphs for readability (emphasis added to show vocal emphasis, possible ad libs):

Just a short time ago, I had the honor of presiding over the swearing in of five new great American citizens. It was a beautiful ceremony, and a moving reminder of our nation’s proud history of welcoming legal immigrants from all over the world. The beauty and majesty of citizenship is that — all Americans, whether they are first generation, or 10th generation are bound together in love and loyalty, friendship and affection. We are all equal, we are one team, and one people proudly saluting one great American flag. We believe in a safe and lawful system of immigration, one that upholds our laws, our traditions and our most cherished values.

Unfortunately our immigration system has been badly broken for a very long time. Over the decades, many presidents and many lawmakers have come and gone. We are now living with the consequences, and they are tragic, brought about by political stalemate, partisan gridlock, and national neglect.

There is a humanitarian and security crisis, on our southern border, that requires urgent action. Thousands of children are being exploited by ruthless coyotes, and vicious cartels and gangs. One in three women is sexually assaulted on the dangerous journey north. In fact, many loving mothers give their young daughters birth control pills for the long journey up to the United States, because they know they may be raped, or sexually accosted or assaulted. Nearly 50 migrants a day are being referred for urgent medical care.

Vast quantities of lethal narcotics are flooding through our border and into our communities, including meth, cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl. Drugs kill 78,000 Americans a year, and cost our society in excess of $700 billion. Heroin alone kills 300 Americans a week, 90% of which comes across our southern border. We can stop heroin.

Illegal immigration reduces wages and strains public services. The lack of border control provides a gateway, a very wide and open gateway, for criminals and gang members to enter the United States, including the criminal aliens who murdered a brave Californian police officer only a day after Christmas. I’ve gotten to know and love Angel Moms, Dads, and Families, who lost loved ones to people illegally in our country.

I want this to end, it’s got to end now. These are not talking points, these are the heartbreaking realities that are hurting innocent precious human beings every single day, on both sides of the border. As a candidate for president, I promised I would fix this crisis, and I intend to keep that promise one way or the other.

Our immigration system should be the subject of pride, not a source of shame, as it is all over the world. Our immigration system should be the envy of the world, not a symbol of disunity and dysfunction.

The good news is all these big problems can be solved, but only if we have the political courage to do what is just, and what is right. Both sides in Washington must simply come together, listen to each other, put down their armor, build trust, reach across the aisle, and find solutions.

It’s time to reclaim our future from the extreme voices who fear compromise and demand open borders—which means drugs pouring in, human trafficking and a lot of crime—and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown and solve the crisis on the southern border. If we are successful in this effort, we will then have the best chance in a very long time in bipartisan immigration reform. And it won’t stop here. It will keep going, until we do it all.

The proposal I will outline today is based, first and foremost, on input from our border agents and homeland security professionals, and professionals they are. They know what they’re doing. It is a compassionate response to the ongoing tragedy on our southern border.

In recent weeks, we have met with large numbers of Democrat lawmakers to hear their ideas and suggestions. By incorporating the priorities of rank-and-file Democrats, we hope they will offer their enthusiastic support, and I think many will. This is a commonsense compromise both parties should embrace. The radical left can never control our borders. I will never let it happen. Walls are not immoral. In fact, they are the opposite of immoral, because they will save many lives and stop drugs from pouring into our country.

Our plan includes the following. $800 million in urgent humanitarian assistance. $805 million for drug detection technology to help secure our ports of entry. An additional 2,750 border agents and law enforcement professionals. 75 new immigration judge teams to reduce the backlog of, believe it or not, almost 900,000 cases.

However, the whole concept of having lengthy trials for anyone who sets even one foot in our country unlawfully must be changed by Congress. It is unsustainable, it is ridiculous. Few places in the world would even consider such a possible nightmare.

Our plan includes critical measures to protect migrant children from exploitation and abuse. This includes a new system, to allow Central American minors to apply for asylum in their home countries, and reform to promote family reunification for unaccompanied children, thousands of whom wind up on our border doorstep.

To physically secure our border, the plan includes $5.7 billion for a strategic deployment of physical barriers, or a wall. This is not a 2,000 mile concrete structure from sea to sea. These are steel barriers in high priority locations. Much of the border is protected by natural barriers, such as mountains and water. We have 115 miles that we are currently building or under contract, it will be done quickly. Our request will add another 230 miles, this year, in the areas our border agents most urgently need. It will have an unbelievable impact.

If we build a powerful, and fully designed, see-through steel barrier on our southern border, the crime rate and drug problem in our country would be quickly and greatly reduced. Some say it could be cut in half. Because, these criminals, drug smugglers, gangs and traffickers do not stop at our border. They permeate throughout our country, and they end up in some places where you least expect them. They go all over our country. A steel barrier will help us stop illegal immigration while safely directing commerce to our lawful ports of entry.

Many of these security ideas have been proposed by Democrats themselves, and all of them have been supported by Democrats in the past, including a physical barrier wall or fence. Furthermore, in order to build the trust and goodwill necessary to begin real immigration reform, there are two more elements to my plan.

Number one is three years of legislative relief for 700,000 DACA recipients brought here unlawfully by their parents at a young age, many years ago. This extention will give them access to work permits, Social Security Numbers, and protection from deportation, most importantly. Secondly, our proposal provides a three year extension of temporary protective status, or TPS. This means that 300 thousand immigrants whose protected status is facing expiration will now have three more years of certainty, so that Congress can work on a large immigration deal, which everybody wants, Republicans and Democrats. And our farmers and vineyards won’t be affected because lawful and regulated entry into our country will be easy and consistent.

That is our plan: border security, DACA, TPS, and many other things. Straightforward, fair, reasonable, and common sense, with lots of compromise.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to bring this bill to a vote this week, in the United States Senate. Our proposal is not intended to solve all of our immigration challenges. This plan solves the immediate crisis — and it is a horrible crisis, it is a humanitarian crisis, like we rarely see in our country — and it provides humanitarian relief, delivers real border security, and immediately reopens our federal government. If we are successful in this effort, then we can start the broader project of remaking our immigration system for the 21st Century.

Once the government is open, and we have made a down payment on border security, and immigration reform starts to happen, I plan to convene weekly bipartisan meetings at the White House so we can do a finished product, a great product, a product that we can all be proud of, having to do with that elusive immigration problem.

Whatever we do, I can promise you this: I will never forget that my first duty and ultimate loyalty is to you, the American people. Any reforms we make to our immigration system will be designed to improve your lives, make your community safer, and make our nation more prosperous and secure for generations to come.

Thank you and God Bless America.

Renovating Memories

 

Scientists now tell us that every time we pull a memory out of long-term storage, we then re-write it, and in this rewriting, it may get changed. This may play into some instances of what has come to be known as the Mandela Effect.

Someone asks, “Does the Coca-Cola logo have a hyphen or dash or even a wavy dash?” You might try to remember and picture the logo. Perhaps because the last option of the question was a wavy dash, you might think that is correct, and you store the logo back in long-term memory, but now with a wavy dash (Coca~Cola). The next time you see the logo, with its high, small hyphen (CocaCola), it looks weird, because you’re now remembering that lower wavy dash.

Another possible example: The Berenstain Bears came after my childhood. I saw some references to them and heard people refer to them, but never saw one of their books until one of my nieces had one. For those who have studied the Mandela Effect, you probably know that many people swear that they remember it as the Berenstein Bears. And usually, Berenstein is pronounced with a long E in the last syllable. I had heard the name. I had also had a semester of German in college, and we all know a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So, when I saw my niece’s book all those years ago, I swear that I saw “Berenstein” and wondered why people were not pronouncing it with a long I in the last syllable. At least, that’s what I think I remember. Maybe I actually saw “Berenstain” and wondered why it was not pronounced with a long A. Maybe the memory of “Berenstein” came later because of reading the Mandela Effect. Or, maybe the Mandela Effect is real and caused by a multi-verse that we flow in and out of as easily as we walk from room to room.

Be that as it may, I have seen other much more extreme changes. In most cases, I can justify them as people selectively changing their memories because they didn’t come off so well in them.

A particular example I can think of is with a relative of mine. This relative was born in the South and was a Southern Democrat. As the ’60s moved into the ’70s and ’80s, Southern Democrats were more likely to vote for Republicans on the national level, although often still voting for Democrats on local tickets. I know that this relative was still a Democrat until at least the early ’80s. In the late ’60s, for a young Democratic woman, the bloom was still not off the rose of Camelot. Bobby Kennedy was killed in 1968, and the last great hope was the young Edward. In ’69 came the Chappaquiddick Incident. My relative’s response was that she believed Kennedy had gotten out of the car to get some fresh air and walked home, and that it was Miss Kopechne who drove off the bridge, and Kennedy didn’t really know until the next day.

This is excusable. We see this on both sides today. People do not want to believe or admit that their political icons or heroes are human, and seldom the best examples of humans. People make excuses for people on their side. I’ve seen people make excuses for Obama and Holder. I’ve seen people make excuses for Trump. I’ve seen people make excuses for Republicans who opposed Trump in silly and destructive ways. It’s part of human nature.

In 1980, Kennedy ran for President in what turned out to be a quixotic run to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination, much as Reagan had run in the primary against Ford four years before. He came and spoke in the town she was in, and she got to meet him. I do not remember her having said anything negative about the meeting at the time. In fact, according to my memory, she enjoyed the experience and campaigned for him. Now, again, just because she campaigned for Kennedy over Carter in a Democratic primary does not mean she was for him. Maybe by that time, she just wanted to get rid of Carter in any way possible. I know she had voted for Nixon in 1972, for instance, but who wouldn’t have given the competition?

In the ’80s, she got more conservative, and probably also acknowledged that the Democratic Party was not the party her Daddy and Grandaddies were voting for in Georgia and Alabama. For the next few decades, she became more and more anti-Democrat. When 2016 came along, she was on the Trump Train early. And she was on the Trump Train hard.

Recently, we were talking about something, and Teddy Kennedy’s name came up.

She said, “I met him when he was running for President in 1980. Just being in his presence, I could feel that he was pure evil.”

Given what I remembered, that came as a surprise. I asked her if she remembered her theory about Chappaquiddick from ’69 or ’70. She did not. When I reminded her of what she had said then, she replied, “I most certainly never said that. I always thought he was evil.”

Someone’s memories have changed. Now, it could be mine, but I really have no motivation to misremember, nor have I been pulling out those memories very often over the ensuing years. Also, it is important to note that the theory that Ted Kennedy was not in the car at all was not something my relative came up with on her own. It was being bandied about at the time and still is being discussed. You can find discussions of this theory (and some of its history) on Youtube:

There are also other theories, like this one:

To me, it seems more likely that over the years she has excised any memory of having defended Kennedy. This could well have happened after years of the events being in the news and her changing opinions of Democrats and Kennedy. Every time she recalled what she thought and said back years before, it might have changed a little until it looked nothing like my memory of it.

Or, it is possible that it was her in a different universe who defended Kennedy, and one of us is experiencing the Mandela Effect, which is real. Still, I prefer the rule of parsimony. It’s easier to believe that over many decades that she reprogrammed her memories with subsequent information and attitudes.

Have you ever run into something where someone very insistently remembers something differently than you do?

Gillette and the Bungled Message

 

I finally watched the video which has given rise to such agita, and in my opinion is that Gillette’s marketing department tried — and failed — to get across a very old message. Part of the problem is that when one is thinking about organizations possessing moral authority, marketing departments aren’t usually on the short list.

The early medieval period was pretty chaotic. The collapse of the security provided by the western Roman Empire left Europe with a power vacuum. Various strongmen vied with each other for territory, leading to almost continuous fighting. The Church was almost the only widely recognized authority in the region. It promulgated the Peace of God to get the warring parties to quit raiding churches, abbeys, and convents, and to stop robbing the unarmed clergy.

Shortly thereafter, the Truce of God was added. Days when combat would be forbidden were extended from Sunday only to Thursday through Sunday. In addition to the clergy, immunity to harassment was supposed to be extended to women and children, unarmed men working in the fields, and traveling merchants. Over time, a code for individual behavior evolved.

An expression of this code is summarized in The Song of Roland.

It is frequently pointed out that knights failed to live up to this ideal. This fails to consider that if ideals are easy to achieve, what one needs to do is raise one’s ideals.

Gillette would have been castigated if they had advanced anything like this, which is a pity because it gets closer to what I think they were shooting for. One treats women with respect because to do otherwise brings one into dishonor, not only in the eyes of others but in one’s own eyes as well. “It is how gentlemen behave,” my grandmother told me as she had me hold the door for her. I still hold doors. The last time a woman berated me for doing so, I told her “It’s not about who you are. It’s about who I am.”

So remember:

Quote of the Day: Texans

 

“A whole lot. And a whole lot more [expletive] human battleships,” he says. “And every single one of ’em is crewed by the angriest, most [expletive] off, most fanatical, most vicious humans you’ll ever run into. They call themselves Texans.” Tnk’rkr The Wise, as written by Oshay

One of my hobbies is writing in a collaborative story/strategy game called From the Ashes. One part weaponized spreadsheet, one part role-playing game, one part writing project, and 100 percent geek, it is one of my main forms of relaxation. Most of the players are college-aged or older, several have kids of their own, and the group is fairly fun to hang out with. As you can imagine, the language is a bit rougher than around here at Ricochet. The link above is definitely not CoC-compliant.

People write stories of nations and heroes in a space opera setting. Some write stories that are more grounded, some discuss intricate plots, others do stories that have a fair amount of wackiness. I write the story of an explorer for hire — imagine Captain Kirk, Inc. It’s a nice break from real-world politics.

Some of the writing is pretty interesting, especially given it is done for free. Oshay, in particular, writes fairly decent military science fiction. In the snippet above, a Chelonian (turtle-like alien) admiral is describing their human allies, and I figured our resident Texans would enjoy knowing that even in the 25th century, you don’t mess with Texas.

Celebrating the Man Who Showed Me What It Means to Be a Man

 

My dad died Thursday. That’s a sentence I’ve been thinking through over the last couple weeks, but I’ve never wanted to say.

Just under a month ago when they took him to the hospital with stroke-like symptoms, that was bad enough. It got worse when we found out that it was a brain tumor. We thought we could fight it at first. Yeah, it would be hard, but we could do it. But as time progressed and complications amassed, it came to the point where treatment options fell off the table one by one, and all we were left with was palliative care. But even through that, dad was still himself. Sure, the tumor caused him to lose the use of the left side of his body, but he didn’t lose his personality.

After he had been airlifted from West Palm Beach to Halifax1, his first request was for a bucket of KFC. And even on his last full night, he got my sister to pick up an appetizer platter from Boston Pizza2. He was still telling jokes to us and laughing at every one we told him. He was thanking the doctors and nursing staff at every chance he could get, even to the point of sending my mom to pick up pizza for the nurses. And he took every available opportunity to lean in for a kiss (or six) from my mom.

Long story short: He was still my dad. And I miss him already.

But as I’ve seen this dreaded day drawing closer, it’s brought me to think. We’ve seen various groups decrying “toxic masculinity” over the last few days, first from the new APA guidelines for counseling men and boys, and then from the most recent Gillette commercial. I’m not going to complain about those things because I know that would only serve to add fuel to an already raging cultural dumpster fire. The thing that I feel is often missing from this discussion is not the admission that masculinity can be toxic, but rather the discussion of how true masculinity can be curative.

In my dad, there was, at times, a mixture of both, just as Martin Luther wrote that Christians are simul justus et peccator – at the same time righteous and sinner. He never committed any of the worst atrocities associated with toxic masculinity, but at the same time, I’m sure he was “traditionally masculine” enough to be considered problematic by some.

He had a big, booming voice, and would use it liberally when his anger bubbled up. In his anger, he would at times deliver ultimatums that were not negotiable. If you got on his bad side, it was tough to get back. He could be stubborn, pig-headed, and firmly set in his ways. And at times he exemplified some of the “harmful” aspects of masculinity that the APA outlined in their document — “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression.”

But my dad was so much more than that. Through his relationship with my mom, he taught me that men and women are different but equal. He loved mom with every fiber of his being, and he respected her just as much. While they shared the load in the home, there was a clear division of labor between my parents in many areas, most of which fall into the category of “traditional gender roles.” But he never thought less of her for it – they were equal partners in their marriage, and each did their part for the good of the whole. Together they modeled for me what it means to be faithful in marriage, and especially why our vows include “in sickness and health, for better or for worse, forsaking all others, until death do us part.” He showed me what it means to be faithful to the very end.

And while he could be tough at times, he was also capable of being tender. His manner with kids, whether in his dental practice or with my darling little niece, was a sight to behold. He loved children and the joy they bring to the world around them. And he had a laugh that could bring joy to the heart of everyone around him – if his jokes didn’t do it first.

He taught me the value of working through pain. He taught me to take responsibility for my actions. He taught me to consider the needs of others before my own. He taught me as many things as he could from all the things he knew – from how to change a tire, to how to use a table saw, to how to grill a burger. (And so many things in between!) Most importantly, he taught me right from wrong, and he taught me to love Jesus.

He was my staunchest defender, my most vocal ally, and my wisest sounding board. He did everything he could to prepare me for the world and help me avoid the mistakes that he had made over the years.

In his final days, he would keep telling me two things: that he loved me, and that he was proud of me. It’s almost as if he was making sure that the last words I would hear from him were those words of affirmation. But there was one thing that he got wrong. He said that he’s proud of the man that I’ve become in spite of him. But that is not the case.

I am who I am precisely because of my dad. He was not a perfect man, but he was a real man. The kind of man that our world needs more of. The kind of father that our society needs more of.

I love you, dad. And I miss you. But I’ll never forget you, and I will always strive to live up to your example of what a man should be.


1 My parents had been intending to spend the winter down in Florida.

2 Boston Pizza is a Canadian restaurant chain, for those who have not seen it before.