Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Why We Fight, We’ll Not Be Driven Away

 

Catholics who still practice the Faith are not supposed to know there ever was an “old rite” or that there is a “new rite” at all. The entire project of the Revolution at this stage is to deny there ever was such a thing as the Old Faith.

Anyway, all this is why they are as furious as a bag of feral cats that there are still Traditionalists, and that the traddie movement is gaining ground. That lot was supposed to have died out or been driven out, and the fact that there are new ones, people like me who never knew the old rite in the wild, and the families now having twelve kids and going to the Missa Cantata, and all the homeschooling and whatnot… Combine that with the internet’s ability to let everyone know what’s really happening, and plenty of beautiful pictures besides, and it must be making them absolutely apoplectic.

Just as in the secular world, there are those in the Catholic clergy and laity that seek to erase history. History and tradition can be a safe harbor that allows us to reflect on what is good, and whether or not we are charting a proper course. History and tradition allow us to examine our triumphs and failures. Erasing history and tradition only creates the belief that change must be done for the sake of constant change, whether it leads to progress or not.

The revolution of the Progressed Catholic must erase tradition and history so that the new creed has only one sacrament. Revolution, an apocalyptic sacrament that must be practiced for it’s own sake, endlessly.

There were those who saw Vatican II as a reformation. Uncommon disobedience became a common virtue. Like the first Reformation, some Catholic clergy and laity could not abide the thought of one Pope, so we now have thousands upon thousands of Popes in Catholic education, parishes, and even the Vatican.

Leaving the Church is not an option for me. I’ll stay and fight. I’ll pray for our wounded that have left the battlefield. I’ll pray for those that are causing confusion and scandal.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. This Week Through Althouse Eyes

 

As an alternative to bickering with our insipid local stoolies, buffoons, and/or fake swing voters with the exact same comments, cut ‘n’ paste materials, and blatant advertising for rival sites yet again, I thought I would offer up some notes from my non-Ricochet online reading this week. Who knows, maybe a conversation will break out?

I found this line of commentary and posting from Ann Althouse through the week very interesting, not to mention honest and refreshing. (As if this needs to be said, I don’t always agree with her but she does often provide intellectually honest insight into other ways of seeing the world.)

From before “the vote”:

That’s what I’d like to see from the government. Stability. Good sense. Regularity.

Could you just do that, Democrats? Is that too easy for you?! Do you admire Donald Trump? Are you trying to beat him at his game? Chaos. Weirdness. You pathetic imitators! His chaotic weirdness should have kept him from getting elected in the first place, but what happened happened. And now he is President, so he’s inherently less weird and chaotic. There’s the continuing strangeness of his being President. I still fall into a reverie now and then: How the hell did that happen? On perhaps 6 occasions, I have watched video of the election night coverage — the real-time recording that goes on for hours — as if to drive it home into my resistant brain that it really did happen. It wasn’t just a crazy dream.

The people who voted for Trump are real. They are not despicable or “deplorable.” They are voters in a democracy, and democracy — crazy though it is — is our beloved system here in the United States of America. We’re wedded to it, for better or worse, and I’m trying to make the best of it. There’s some wild excitement and there’s some serious work to be done. I don’t want any more chaos than is needed to claw through the days to the next election. Let’s have an election, not a kooky congressional extravaganza. I need Pelosi and Schiff and these various Congress critters to shrink back into their place and let the presidential candidates have the stage. Let’s be normal.

… I am a true swing voter (in a swing state). All I want is a very competent, reliable, sensible, good person who can handle the presidency. I don’t want your ugliness and hysteria. I don’t want to see my fellow citizens cranked up into a frenzy. The very reasons I voted against Trump are getting cooked up into reasons to vote for him — by you, you idiots.

But this week, you have a chance to turn back from your crazy ways. It won’t take all of you. Just some of you. Please, House Democrats, please vote “no.” Stand down and let us get back to the 2020 presidential campaign. Surely, some of you still believe that elections matter and elections must be the norm in America. The rest of you seem as though you’ve already given up and ceded the 2020 election to Donald Trump. That’s how I will interpret a “yes” vote on the impeachment, a disclosure of your consciousness of 2020 loserdom.

[emphasis added]

As a side note, that bit about letting “the presidential candidates have the stage” interests me. Ann (if I may be so informal) is smart and recognizes that that is what is needed for them to cull the clown car (my words, not hers) to find the best and strongest candidate. Is part of the strategy here by the powers that be to help hide the fact that they are a bunch of clowns and there is not a winner among them? Do they acknowledge in those smoke-filled backrooms (showing my age with that reference) that the only possible path to victory is to take down Trump?

From after “the vote”:

This is not the vote the Republicans have been demanding — that is not “a formal vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry,” which is what happened in the cases of Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. So the Democrats are doing some theater of voting out in the open today, but it’s not the vote that accords with historical practice. It’s not the vote the Republicans have been talking about. It’s a vote about what the rules will be.

Of course, the House gets to make its own rules — that’s in the Constitution — and the majority will win and get what rules they want and can get away with claiming for themselves. Apparently, the idea is to give the President’s supporters nothing until the Intelligence Committee has finished its work. The Democrats apparently want the Intelligence Committee to produce a one-sided report, with any balance on the side of the President to come only after the matter is referred to the Judiciary Committee.

So the Democrats will be out in the open today, explaining to us Americans why that is fair and why that is about getting to the truth? How will that work out? Here’s how the NYT puts it:

But Thursday’s vote indicates that Democrats, once wary of holding a vote on the issue, have now united solidly behind the idea.

Or they’ve heard enough criticism about their partisan, secretive ways and they’re yielding to pressure to legitimatize themselves. The NYT’s use of the phrase “a vote on the issue” hides the just-admitted reality that it’s not a vote on the issue the Republicans demanded — the issue of whether to authorize the impeachment inquiry. It’s a vote on procedural rules for continuing the inquiry. The difference in issues is obvious if you think of the consequences of a “no” vote. What would happen if there’s a “no” vote on these rules? Things would continue as they’ve been going, right?

They believe it adds an air of legitimacy to the inquiry and gives them practical tools they will need to effectively — and quickly — make their case to the public. It is also meant to call the bluff of Republicans who have been arguing for weeks that the process lacks legitimacy because the full House hasn’t voted on it.

But it doesn’t call the bluff because it’s not a vote on authorizing the inquiry. The Democrats are trying to get something while playing it safe. They’re trying to get our opinion of their legitimacy.

We’ll see how that works out.

ADDED: The NYT gives a lot away in saying “They believe it adds an air of legitimacy…” Democrats are only trying for an air of legitimacy, not actual legitimacy. And right now, they see themselves as lacking even an air of legitimacy.

[emphasis added]

Wrapping up the week on her blog:

“The Pelosi impeachment resolution was supposed to deprive the GOP of its complaint that the process wasn’t formal. Instead, it formalized a rigged process and gives Republicans a solid rationale for rejecting the entire proceeding. Democrats gripe that the GOP refuses to talk about the substance of the case against the president. But it is Democrats who have made that impossible, given the secrecy and one-sided approach. Due process is at the heart of America’s system of ordered liberty, and the ‘evidence’ Democrats are secretly compiling in the basement of the House is already soiled. That’s why every House Republican — even vulnerable ones — felt confident in voting ‘no’ on Thursday’s resolution. Republicans pointed out that even as Democrats were claiming the vote meant ‘transparency,’ Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff was holding another closed hearing, to which most of the House and the president’s legal counsel weren’t privy. ‘Democrats cannot fix this process,’ said House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney after the vote. ‘This is a process that has been fundamentally tainted.'”

Writes Kimberly Strassel in “A Partisan Impeachment Vote” (WSJ). …

[emphasis added]

Note how the fundamentally “tainted” process provides “confidence” to “every” “Republican” to reject it outright. Remember that later when we are yet again shown just how weak, spineless, pathetic, and stupid some senators really are. Yes, I’m looking at you Collins, Murkowski, ….

Have a nice day.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Who is Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman?

 

To ask this question is forbidden. As I was told by one of my Ricochet colleagues the other day, “you do not publicly convict a decorated soldier for espionage either. Especially to save your own rear end. Stop telling me how much you love the troops, Donald. You are full of it.”

I’ve seen a lot of that sentiment. No one respects the uniform more than me but I also know that the uniform is not a cloak of holiness. Like the rest of the society it draws from, the US armed forces has its share of people whose actions do not represent the uniform in a good light. The Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth is full of them.

So who is Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman? Let’s ask someone who knows. This was posted on Twitter by Lt. Col. James Hickman, US Army (ret.):

I know LTC Alex Vindman from a Combined US-Russian exercise called Atlas Vision 13 in Grafenwoher, Germany. He worked with the Russian Embassy and I was assigned to the JMTC (Joint Multinational Training Command), within USAREUR (US Army Europe). He worked coordination with the Russian 15th Peacekeeping Brigade, and I was in charge of all Simulations planning, as well as assisting the USAREUR Lead Planner as the Senior Military Planner.

The following account of LTC Vindman’s words and actions are completely accurate to the best of my recollection and have been corroborated by others. We interacted on several different occasions throughout the planning cycle, but it was during the actual execution of the exercise, that we had an issue relevant to his recent testimony. As stated earlier, Atlas Vision 13 was conducted at JMTC in the VBS2 (Virtual Battle Simulations 2) Classrooms for Simulation. Vindman, who was a Major at the time, was sitting in one of the classrooms talking to the US and Russian soldiers, as well as the young officers and GS employees about America, Russia, and (President) Obama. He was apologetic of American culture, laughed about Americans not being educated or worldly, and really talked up Obama and globalism to the point of uncomfortable.

He would speak with the Russian Soldiers and laugh as if at the expense of the US personnel. It was so uncomfortable and unprofessional, one of the GS employees came and told me everything above. I walked over and sat within earshot of Vindman, and sure enough, all was confirmed. One comment truly struck me as odd, and it was with respect to Americans’ falsely thinking they’re exceptional, when he said, ‘He [Obama] is working on that now.’ And he said it with a snide ‘I know a secret’ look on his face. I honestly don’t know what it meant, it just sounded like an odd thing to say. Regardless, after hearing him bash America a few times in front of subordinates, Russians, and GS employees, as well as, hearing an earful about globalization, Obama’s plan, etc…I’d had enough. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to step outside.

At that point I verbally reprimanded him for his actions and I’ll leave it at that, so as not to be unprofessional myself. The bottom-line is LTC Vindman was a partisan Democrat at least as far back as 2012. So much so, junior officers and soldiers felt uncomfortable around him. This is not your professional, field-grade officer, who has the character and integrity to do the right thing. Do not let the uniform fool you…he is a political activist in uniform. I pray our nation will drop this hate, vitriol and division, and unite as our founding fathers intended!

Note: The above was written over the course of 11 Tweets and has been edited for readability.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Society That Hates Women

 

Sometimes it seems there’s a kind of cosmic mind-meld going on in the world. This past week was one of those times. It started with Andrew Klavan’s final thoughts on episode 790 of his podcast and ended in the Amazon (synod) in the Church, after passing through a contentious debate about feminism between a Catholic apologist and a Catholic professor of philosophy and theology. You can’t make this stuff up.

But, while we’d like to think the society that hates women is some foreign nation of macho-men where women are covered in black baggies from head to toe (and utterly dehumanized) and aren’t permitted to drive or even leave the house without a male member of the family as escort, I’m talking about our society. Right here, in the good ole US of A, and the West more broadly. 

It’s so important, I’ve transcribed Klavan’s soliloquy in its entirety:

A lot of horror movies are based on a horror of women and the changes their bodies go through. The Exorcist is about a young girl coming of age. It’s really about a girl becoming a woman and it’s kind of a horrifying thing that she becomes sexualized. The Omen is about having a baby. Rosemary’s Baby is about pregnancy. Women and the changes their bodies go through provide a certain amount of horror. And not just in the minds of men, but I think in the minds of everybody, there’s something about that can be turned to horror. 

That horror — I think we’re going through a moment of sexual psychopathy. This idea that somehow it’s alright to butcher a child, to give a child hormone blockers, and basically chemically castrate little boys and things like this. Where is the science on this? Where are the longitudinal studies saying that a child who says something at nine, or ten, or fifteen is going to think the same things when he or she is twenty-five? Where is the science? How can we possibly do this? And underlying it is a terror of women. A horror of women.

You know, this idea that men… there’s a new ad company putting out ads for men’s underwear that suggests that men can have periods, so that, like, women don’t even exist. In Britain they ban ads that show women raising children because they think that somehow degrades them, that women raise children, that women make homes for things. It used to be, you know, we had this idea that women were doing something higher than men were doing. It was higher even than the pay that men got. And, yeah, there were men who took advantage of that and men who took advantage of the sacrificial nature of motherhood and the sacrificial nature of homemaking… there were men who mistreated women for that. But, the idea that it is somehow degrading to be a woman has seeped into our society. And that’s what all of this is about. It’s not about freedom, it’s not about, oh, taking care of transgender people. I have no animosity toward them whatsoever. 

It’s not about any of that. It’s about a horror of women and not allowing women to be women. If you’re a man, you’re allowed to go and compete, as long as you wear a dress, man, you can go in and compete with them in sports so they have no chance of winning. Oh, yeah, women don’t — not just women have periods, not just women have babies, men do these things too! It is basically an erasure of women. An idea that the things women naturally do and the things that women naturally turn to are somehow degrading. And I just think it is absolutely psychopathological. It’s a kind of sickness that we’re going through. A kind of sexual sickness that is a side effect of the sexual liberation of people, which is not liberating at all.

While I agree with most of that, I think even Klavan gets some things wrong about how women are viewed. More on that later.

Meanwhile, our erstwhile Catholic brothers, Trent Horn and Tim Gordon, were so opposed to the ideas of feminism, you’d have thought they’d start another war of religion! Tim Gordon is writing a book (No Christian Feminism) in which his research has shown that even first-wave feminism was really about getting women out of the home and into the workplace and encouraging sexual promiscuity in both women and men. It was ultimately about the destruction of the family, which explains the Marxist/socialist vibe in feminism today. “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” — Mussolini

But, I think the nub of the argument they failed to fully articulate is the opposition to, even disgust with, the nature of women. Women want provisions and protection from a good man, to be cherished for their unique vulnerability as women. I’m generalizing, of course, but I’m also speaking from experience, having reached adulthood in the post-sexual revolution era and having once bought into the lies of feminism. Namely, that women only reach their full potential by acting more like men.

All of this eventually gets Biblical. Doesn’t everything? After all, we’re discussing created beings and, as such, the purpose, or nature of things. The nature of men and women is revealed in the punishments for Original Sin in Genesis, Chapter 3:

To the woman he said:

I will intensify your toil in childbearing;

in pain* you shall bring forth children.

Yet your urge shall be for your husband,

and he shall rule over you.

To the man he said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, You shall not eat from it,

Cursed is the ground* because of you!

In toil you shall eat its yield

all the days of your life.h

Thorns and thistles it shall bear for you,

and you shall eat the grass of the field.

By the sweat of your brow

you shall eat bread,

Until you return to the ground,

from which you were taken;

For you are dust,

and to dust you shall return.i

What is God telling us about the nature of men and women here? That women desire to be wives and mothers, despite the suffering and sacrifice entailed. That is their end as women. And that men desire to provide and protect their families by the sweat of their brows; by labor outside the home, despite the suffering and sacrifice it involves. This is the division of labor provided in the nature of the sexes, and we’ve discovered what happens when society messes with nature: everyone is immiserated. “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” isn’t just a pithy aphorism. It’s a deep-seated truth!

Now, I have libertarian sympathies like most conservatives, so I’m not advocating women be banned from the workplace. I believe people should be permitted to make choices (other than killing innocents to solve their problems) even if they’re bad ones. I’m just advocating for a recognition of the damage our societal choices have done and are doing. Despite our history-making prosperity and previously unimagined opportunities for women, women are increasingly unhappy. And it’s no wonder. Unless they’re behaving like men by competing in the workplace and receiving recognition for their achievements, they’re disdained by society. They better not be staying home and baking cookies, as Hillary Clinton once sneered. What a waste of life!

Which brings me back to where Andrew Klavan is wrong about how women are viewed — particularly in the Catholic teaching of the Virgin Mary. Klavan disagrees with Catholic teaching about the perpetual virginity of Mary because (paraphrased) “denying her sexuality is a poor model for a good wife.” Well, now, it depends on whose spouse you believe she is, I would say. She conceived in an act of spiritual intimacy with the Holy Spirit. She is the daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Son, and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Joseph was her earthly husband-figure and is revered for the sacrifices he made on behalf of the Holy Family, including his own chastity. Klavan’s position implies that it isn’t enough for Mary to be the Mother of God and the Spouse of the Spirit, just like it isn’t enough for women generally to be mother and wife, to form the next generation and make a welcoming home for her husband. That’s precisely the message women have been getting since the widespread acceptance of contraception and abortion. It’s the lie of sexual liberation and the misunderstanding of the potential for chastity within marriage (whether Josephite or not) provided by the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit.

This is playing out in the Catholic Church under the papacy of Francis, too. In the recently concluded Amazon Synod (really a cover for heterodox German Catholics to taint Church teachings with progressivism), there was widespread agreement among the hand-picked progressive participants that what the Amazon region really needs is deaconesses (and married priests… another whole story). Message received; it’s not enough for women to lead faithful lives as wives and mothers, or to dedicate themselves to the Church as religious women. We won’t realize our full potential until we achieve the status previously reserved for men by receiving Holy Orders. Be more like men, ladies! That’s where it’s at! Up next? Priestesses. Bank on it.

None of this begins to address what has happened to men in the new normal of sexual psychopathology. Just note the lack of bass voices among young men you hear in the media. Or the disrespect manly men receive as “toxic” masculine. Or the ongoing fight for men’s right to their own children after divorce. 

I don’t have much hope for a return to sexual sanity anytime soon. I just hold on to the reminder from our Catholic friend, Mate De: Jesus is in the boat. The storm may rage around us, but we just have to hold fast and keep praying for him to wake up and save us from ourselves. 

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Turkish Trick or Treat?

 

A young veteran reminded me of the truly ancient roots of conflict in the Middle East, pointing to lines we do not even see on the sand and soil. This prompted me to return to a summary sketch I laid aside months ago, after fleshing out an account of what we now call Iran. Then the House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution condemning the Ottoman Empire for committing the first genocide of the 20th Century…and 12 Republicans joined Rep. Ilhan Omar in opposing the resolution! What? Why? What follows is a single summary of the other three big players, historically, now known as Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

Iran and Egypt can point to the most ancient civilizations, as their progenitors were contemporary regional powers. The clash between them was captured in the ancient Hebrew texts, as the Jewish people were caught in the middle. Saudi Arabia comes next, with claims to punching far above their weight with armies fired by the fervor of a new faith, and more recently of being the secular and religious guardians of the faith. Finally, the Turks can claim to have been the most successful and latest power to rule the region for centuries after imposing final defeat on the (Christian) Eastern Roman empire.

Saudi Arabia:

The Saudi claim is oldest of the Muslim claims, as armies swept out of the desert around 600 years after the birth of Christianity, and notably conquered both Egypt and Persia:

In the seventh century AD the weakening Eastern Roman empire, which had inherited [Egypt], lost control to the Islamic empire when the latter’s fervently enthusiastic forces swept through in 639-640, taking Libya at the same time. For the next century the region was governed directly by the Umayyad caliphate to the east, restoring a situation that had existed periodically between the rise of the Assyrian empire until the division of Alexander the Great’s Greek empire.

Egypt:

Over the centuries, the Arabian dynasties were battered, weakened, and lost the appearance of uncontested divine blessing, as Christians stopped and rolled back some of the conquests, and as the Mongols ravaged kingdoms Christian and Muslim alike. From this arose a non-Arab, and yet not ethnically North African, movement that set its headquarters in Egypt. Under the Mamlūks, Egypt became the cultural center of Islam for almost two centuries, a status it would reclaim in the 20th Century, with universities and modern media, movies, radio, and television broadcast content:

During the Mamlūk period [1250–1517] Egypt became the unrivaled political, economic, and cultural centre of the eastern Arabic-speaking zone of the Muslim world. Symbolic of this development was the reestablishment in 1261 under the Mamlūk rulers of the ʿAbbāsid caliphate—destroyed by the Mongols in their sack of Baghdad three years earlier—with the arrival in Cairo of a youth claiming ʿAbbāsid lineage. Although the caliph enjoyed little authority, had no power, and was of dubious authenticity, the mere fact that the Mamlūks chose to maintain the institution in Cairo is a measure of their determination to dominate the Arab-Islamic world and to legitimize their own rule. It is curious that the Mamlūks—all of whom were of non-Arab (most were Turks and, later, Circassians), non-Muslim origin and some of whom knew little if any Arabic—founded a regime that established Egypt’s supremacy in Arab culture.

Mamlūk legitimacy also rested on the regime’s early military successes, particularly those against the Mongols, who were seen by many contemporaries as undefeatable and as a threat to the very existence of Islam as a political culture.

[…]

With the Ottomans’ defeat of the Mamlūks in 1516–17, Egyptian medieval history had come full circle, as Egypt reverted to the status of a province governed from Constantinople (present-day Istanbul). Again the country was exploited as a source of taxation for the benefit of an imperial government and as a base for foreign expansion. The economic decline that had begun under the late Mamlūks continued, and with it came a decline in Egyptian culture.

It was the Revolutionary French who, by seizing and holding Egypt as a threat to English global ambitions, triggered a long chain of administrative and governing changes, together with a mix of secular and Islamic learning spread by new educational institutions and printing presses. The old domination by regional foreigners gave way to local faces negotiating sovereignty with contenting Western European powers as well as Ottoman Turks and rival North African peoples.

With the onset of the Cold War and the fading of British and French empires, Middle Eastern states started aligning with Moscow or Washington. A secular pan-Arab movement imagined an alliance of modernizing states getting military technology from Moscow. It was expressed as Baathism in Syria and Iraq, and Nasserism in Egypt. Nasser led a coup against the last king of Egypt, starting the long reign of military officers who went through the form of popular election to be president–for life.

Under Nasser and his successor Anwar Sadat, Egypt achieved cultural dominance in the region, producing movies, television, and books. To this day, if you take an Arabic language class, it will likely be Egyptian Arabic, just as Spanish classes tend to be based in Castilian Spanish. It would take until the turn of the 21st Century for the original Arabs to mount their own international influence campaign through funding of mosques, religious schools, and broadcast.

Yet, the Egyptian generals’ rode a tiger that the former Ottoman, militantly modern secular Turkish state did not face. When Sadat made peace with Israel, he signed his own death warrant. Sadat was assassinated by soldiers who were influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood:

President Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt was shot and killed [6 October 1981] by a group of men in military uniforms who hurled hand grenades and fired rifles at him as he watched a military parade commemorating the 1973 war against Israel.

[…]

A devout Moslem, Mr. Sadat was harsh toward fundamentalist groups, such as the Moslem Brotherhood and the Islamic Association. He banned both groups, calling them illegal. He said that he would not tolerate mixing religion and politics and that these groups were using mosques to denounce him.

Hosni Mubarak, Sadat’s successor, managed an uneasy domestic balance, aligned with Washington instead of Moscow. He did not break the peace treaty with Israel, but he allowed the country to become more fundamentalist, with Egyptian women’s rights severely eroded, driven back under the headscarf and out of anything approaching equal civil status in reality. The current strongman, President al-Sisi, is the first in Egypt to plainly say that Islam must reform itself and stop blaming outsiders, but this has, so far, not resulted in significant change on the street or in external influence.

Turkey:

The capital of Turkey was established as the capital of the Roman Empire, and then the Eastern Roman Empire, when the empire split to solve the problem of excessive complexity in an increasingly effective threat environment. After Rome fell in 410 AD, less than 400 years after the birth of Christianity, Constantinople, named after the first Roman emperor to worship Christ, remained an obstacle to Islam’s advance until Sunday of Pentecost, 29 May 1453. Yes, that is over a millennium of withstanding threats from all sides, even the sack of the city by a Roman pope’s minions in 1204.

You can see, then, that Constantinople would be a great jewel in the crown of Muslim conquerors, a prize beyond all others because everyone else had failed to take and hold the city. It finally fell to a young Ottoman Turkish commander, with the technical assistance of a Hungarian Christian named Orban. Conquering Constantinople took a massive siege cannon, Chinese technology rapidly advanced with European metal founding, to finally reduce the impenetrable walls.

In a thousand years the city had been besieged some 23 times, but no army had found a way to crack open those land walls.

Accordingly, Orban’s arrival at Edirne must have seemed providential. The sultan welcomed the master founder and questioned him closely. Mehmed asked if he could cast a cannon to project a stone ball large enough to smash the walls at Constantinople. Orban’s reply was emphatic: “I can cast a cannon of bronze with the capacity of the stone you want. I have examined the walls of the city in great detail. I can shatter to dust not only these walls with the stones from my gun, but the very walls of Babylon itself.” Mehmed ordered him to make the gun.

Freed at last, Islam almost snuffed out Christianity, until the miracle before the gates of Vienna, where Polish lances arrived just in time to save Christian Europe. John III Sobieski, the King of Poland, led the Winged Hussars, who fell on the Ottoman army like an army of avenging angels. When was this? Pay attention to the date: September 11, 1683. While that date was purged from American education, others most certainly did not forget it, even if Bush the Second and his minions desperately denied this by diversion.

The Ottoman Empire persisted, even flourished, then fell further and further behind Western Europe. Yet, they were never in position to project influence like the series of European states through the Age of Discovery, the naval exploration race started over two centuries before the Ottomans were permanently outmatched as a land force. Oh, they could hold their own on their own turf, but in the end they needed (German) European equipment and advisors to give the British a bloody nose in World War I.

In the dying days of the empire, from the outset of World War I until 1923, when a young Army officer named Ataturk put an end to the remains of the Ottoman regime, the last two sultans presided over the industrial-scale murder of ethnically Armenian Christian populations, who had persisted under Muslim dhimmitude for four and a half centuries.

Disgusted with the complete helplessness of the late Ottoman empire against late Christian Europe, competent Turkish Army officers seized power, led by the Turkish hero of Gallipoli, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He forcibly instituted a program of secular modernization which held until the rise of Erdogan.

Under the Ataturk model, urban Turkey became the Germany of the Middle East. As Germany struggled to recover from the self-inflicted man shortage of World War II, they invited Turkish men in as Gastarbeiter, guest workers. I met such men in the mid-1980s settled in small towns as “Greek” gasthaus proprietors and employees. It was from this relatively successful model that the foolish political class projected success when they opened the flood gates to Muslim migrants from very different cultures.

However, the Eurocrats had contempt for the Turks’ relatively conservative beliefs, and repeatedly refused EU membership on the excuse that Turkey refused to ban capital punishment. Apparently the Turks were good enough to die to protect Europeans’ homelands from Russian tanks thrusting into their underbelly, but not to be part of the European club. This was not headed in a good direction.

With the end of the Cold War and the temporary collapse of the Russian Empire, the logic of NATO was severely strained. Why should Turkey not cooperate with Russia against other players in regions of mutual interest? The rise of computerized, networked weapons eventually meant that choosing one major arms producing country’s equipment would expose other countries’ equipment to data collection readily transmitted back to the producers. So, when it came time for bids for the next generation of equipment, there was going to be a tension between allies. Buying S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems necessarily conflicts with F-35s and other semi-stealthy aircraft.

By the same token, cooperating with large U.S. military force movements through Turkey places the Turkish government on the opposite side of rural, more religiously devout Muslim Turks, and reinforces the old image of decadent Ottoman rulers dominated by European military powers. Just as Bush the Second and his entire team of diplomatic, intelligence, and military “experts” were blind to the meaning of September 11, so too were they blind to the implications of planning to send a large military ground force attacking out of eastern Turkey into northern Iraq, to catch Saddam Hussein’s regime in a pincer move.

Look, this was not just spaghetti on the wall theory, I personally know soldiers, units, that were mobilized from their civilian home communities and then left sitting at military bases in the continental United States as the august experts, who we are supposed to trust more than President Trump, gawped, shuffled, and then hastily re-planned how to get the troops into theater and how to open that second front.

Bottom line, the American forces all came in through Kuwait, and only civilian contractor forces ran limited logistics out of Turkey and Jordan. Oh, but when we needed quality, I mean Western European/American/NATO quality construction on a petroleum fuel quality control laboratory that would be our liquid logistics soldiers’ ticket out of the Iraqi theater, I was not at all surprised to see a Turkish crew.

This is a photograph taken near nightfall. This construction crew took internally timed breaks. All the equipment would stop, one worker would be seen running with a tray of coffee or tea around a semi-circle of the other workers. Five minutes later, the dude ran back to the coffee/tea urn with the empty cups, and the cutting and welding sparks flew. Nobody sauntered or lazed about, nobody. The Turks definitely hold themselves above the Arabs and are prepared to demonstrate the difference.

At the same time, within Turkey, the divide between urban and rural populations grew as it did in America. The more rural Turks were more traditional, more devout, less secularized. These Turks finally got an effective voice in the party that Erdogan rode to power. It was the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which voters swept into power in 2002, that stood up against President George W. Bush, refusing to allow the movement of U.S. troops and supplies through Turkey in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Erdogan’s hand was not directly on that decision, because he had been temporarily banned from office, but he was clearly the party leader and became prime minister in March 2003.

Since then, Erdogan has consistently moved to consolidate power, including breaking the previously independent military, that had acted repeatedly to preserve the Ataturk secular reform system. Even as Erdogan has redefined the presidency into a strong executive office, he has ridden popular support from the forgotten people of Turkey, mobilizing enough voters to overcome major urban population preferences. These moves, and his speeches, have raised the image of Erdogan as the sultan of 21st century Turkey:

On July 9, [2018] President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will take his oath of office in parliament. Turkey will thus officially move from a parliamentary system to a presidential system. Just 13 years have passed since Turkish officials started EU accession negotiations. At the time, it seemed that democracy, freedom of expression and social harmony were growing.

Now, however, Turkey is preparing to endow its increasingly Islamist, nationalist and authoritarian president with an unprecedented amount of power. The abolition of parliamentary control gives Erdogan sole power over the executive branch of government. And, through his power to appoint important judges, he will also control the judiciary.

President Erdogan has been characterized as the first 21st-century populist, and critics point to a turn from reform to “New Sultan:”

Erdoğan’s speeches since he assumed the presidency, particularly after an attempted coup in 2016, have been the most consistently populist of his career. Much of his fury has been directed at perceived enemies within. But Erdoğan has also sharpened his critique of foreign adversaries, complaining Turkey has been betrayed by the international order.

H. Res 296, a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide passed today, with a vote of (405 to 11 with 3 present ) on Tuesday.

This is the fourth time such a resolution was introduced to Congress since 2000, but the first time it received a House vote. The previous three times the various resolutions were pulled due to pressure from the executive branch.

As Slate correctly notes, the decision to change the House policy position on Turkey and the Armenians is inherently political, as was the old position:

Turkish pressure is often cited as the reason the U.S. government has been reluctant to use the G-word in recent decades, though blaming Turkey lets several U.S. administrations off the hook. These administrations, for understandable reasons, didn’t think a fight over a century-old event was worth alienating a NATO ally and key security partner. George W. Bush lobbied against an American genocide resolution in 2007. Barack Obama called the Bush administration out for this as a senator and then did the exact same thing as president, using terms like “difficult and tragic history.”

[…]

So what changed? Lawmakers didn’t suddenly have an epiphany about the events of 1915 to 1923 or the definition of genocide. And this issue has long been a priority for Armenian American voters. What changed is Turkey’s image in Washington. Members of Congress have little patience for arguments about the importance of the U.S.-Turkey alliance after Turkey’s recent offensive against the Syrian Kurds, U.S. allies, a campaign that has itself been referred to as ethnic cleansing.

President Donald Trump’s role in facilitating that offensive and his enthusiastic embrace of authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan likely made this an easy vote for many Democrats. But a government that held an American evangelical pastor as a hostage for two years isn’t all that popular with Republicans either.

Never mind that President Trump used the far more effective real tool of economic sanctions to squeeze Erdogan into releasing the American evangelical pastor without “quid pro quo.” This was a long popular position finally seen as politically useful in the context of President Trump and a NATO ally now under the near dictatorial control of the man who would be sultan. Note well that there was no visible effort by the State Department deep state, or Secretary of State Pompeo, or President Trump to stop this resolution. The real adults in the room are under no illusions now about the current leadership of Turkey, nor of the electoral base supporting Erdogan.

Because a House resolution is not an expression of American government policy, unlike a joint resolution signed by the president, President Trump can use this gesture in negotiation. After all, everyone knows the House is in conflict with both the Senate and the president. If President Erdogan says he must act to represent his electorate, President Trump can point to the “people’s house” also reflecting feelings of their districts, and so suggest that both nations should find some way forward acceptable to both populations.

On the other hand, we might use the failure of Turkey to take responsibility for its direct predecessor state’s actions as a reason to take further negative actions. The closest comparison would be West Germany taking ownership for Nazi Germany’s genocidal policy. As German reunited, they have not cast off historical responsibility, in contrast to Turkey’s consistent failure to acknowledge Ottoman actions were genocidal, even as their leader aspires to revive some portion of Ottoman era influence.

Meanwhile, Republicans are in no position to weaponize the House vote against Rep. Omar, since only Republicans joined her in not voting for the resolution. Instead, this is an issue within the Democratic Party coalition, as reflected in the disappointed, disingenuous, or ducking comments inside Minnesota. As the Star Tribune reported, “abstention on Armenian genocide vexes Omar supporters:

Omar’s decision to abstain and the subsequent explanation she gave has triggered another round of intense criticism for the freshman Democrat, in Minnesota and across the nation. Many members of the Twin Cities Armenian community expressed shock and deep dismay.

[…]

Omar’s defense also drew rebukes from some leading Minnesota Democrats, who argued the current conflict in Syria makes the resolution all the more important. House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, called the vote “deeply troubling.”

“The current Turkish regime is a dictatorship and is bent on destroying the Kurdish people in what could be a genocide in present time. …[All] Americans, especially progressive Americans, should be speaking with one voice against Turkish genocide historically and currently,” said Winkler, who lives in Omar’s district.

DFL Gov. Tim Walz, who sponsored a similar resolution as a member of Congress, tweeted that “the Armenian Genocide is historical fact, and the denial of that fact is a continuation of the genocide.” Both Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, who is the highest-ranking American Indian woman serving in elected office nationwide, declined to comment further.

Jaylani Hussein, who leads the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, defended Omar’s track record on human rights. Hussein argued that as a refugee, Omar is uniquely qualified to understand the complexities of such issues.

[…]

The latest controversy also appeared to further strain relations between Omar and members of the local Jewish community concerned about her support for sanctions against Israel and her past criticism of pro-Israel lobbying groups in Congress, which some interpreted as anti-Semitic. “Our local Armenian and Jewish communities celebrate together, commemorate together, learn together and now we are appalled together by this manifest example of suborning Armenian Genocide denial,” said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

As resolutions go, this one was very clear and not at all tinged with partisan overtones. Both President Wilson and President Reagan are approvingly acknowledged. America is praised for large private fundraising for relief efforts between 1915 and 1930. The House urges that the good things America did should be taught when facts of the genocide are taught. Here is the official text [links added]:


H. Res. 296

In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

October 29, 2019.

Whereas the United States has a proud history of recognizing and condemning the Armenian Genocide, the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, and providing relief to the survivors of the campaign of genocide against Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites, and other Christians;

Whereas the Honorable Henry Morgenthau, United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to 1916, organized and led protests by officials of many countries against what he described as the empire’s “campaign of race extermination”, and was instructed on July 16, 1915, by United States Secretary of State Robert Lansing that the “Department approves your procedure * * * to stop Armenian persecution”;

Whereas President Woodrow Wilson encouraged the formation of the Near East Relief, chartered by an Act of Congress, which raised $116,000,000 (over $2,500,000,000 in 2019 dollars) between 1915 and 1930, and the Senate adopted resolutions condemning these massacres;

Whereas Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term “genocide” in 1944, and who was the earliest proponent of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, invoked the Armenian case as a definitive example of genocide in the 20th century;

Whereas, as displayed in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Adolf Hitler, on ordering his military commanders to attack Poland without provocation in 1939, dismissed objections by saying “[w]ho, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”, setting the stage for the Holocaust;

Whereas the United States has officially recognized the Armenian Genocide, through the United States Government’s May 28, 1951, written statement to the International Court of Justice regarding the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, through President Ronald Reagan’s Proclamation No. 4838 on April 22, 1981, and by House Joint Resolution 148, adopted on April 8, 1975, and House Joint Resolution 247, adopted on September 10, 1984; and

Whereas the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018 (Public Law 115–441) establishes that atrocities prevention represents a United States national interest, and affirms that it is the policy of the United States to pursue a United States Government-wide strategy to identify, prevent, and respond to the risk of atrocities by “strengthening diplomatic response and the effective use of foreign assistance to support appropriate transitional justice measures, including criminal accountability, for past atrocities”: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that it is the policy of the United States to—

(1) commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance;

(2) reject efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the United States Government with denial of the Armenian Genocide or any other genocide; and

(3) encourage education and public understanding of the facts of the Armenian Genocide, including the United States role in the humanitarian relief effort, and the relevance of the Armenian Genocide to modern-day crimes against humanity.

Attest:

Clerk.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Service is Just a Tree in Europe

 

There is a tree in the apple tribe and subtribe that is called the service tree. The name has an etymology that has nothing to do with the other word of the same spelling. The Latin name is “sorbus,” and the binomial is Sorbus domestica.

It produces a fruit called the sorb, and it has often been used in making fruit wine and brandies. It is not the most common fruit out there, and perhaps it has been lost to us against its more popular cousins, the apples and pears.

Have any of you had sorbs? Have you had some product of it, such as sorb wine or brandy or jam?

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. It’s a Good Day

 

It’s that magical time of year again: time for the annual SRA (Security Risk Assessment)!!! Medical offices across this great land look forward to this all year long. As you no doubt are aware, the SRA was developed by the ONC in collaboration with HHS OCR, and is required by CMS to be sure that your EMR complies with HIPAA. It is far too complex to be understood by mere doctors, so I pay a consulting firm to submit the proper regulatory paperwork to the proper TLA’s (Three Letter Acronyms) on my behalf. A cynic might think that it’s not that it’s complex, but rather that it was designed to require third party consultants, to help the government control healthcare. But that would be very, very cynical. So never mind.

As I was filling out another form, answering questions that I do not know the answer to, for the consulting firm that audits the consulting firm which administrates my EMR and is currently being audited by SRA from HHS OCR, I was reminded of ductwork. What does ductwork have to do with medical charts, you wonder? They are both heavily regulated by the government. So they have a lot in common. This was explained to me by a government inspector some years ago, in Tennessee:

I was building a new office, and so I had a steady stream of contractors, and a steady stream of inspectors, coming in and out of the building that was starting to take shape. My general contractor recommended a certain HVAC installer. I knew him (this was a small town), and I knew that he was a notorious drunk. I asked why he wanted that guy to install my heating and air system.

My general contractor explained that the drunk HVAC guy’s cousin was the inspector for HVAC. The advantage was that his stuff got approved with less hassle and fewer fines than most other contractors. The disadvantage was that he was always drunk, so there were more mistakes and problems to fix after he left, but nothing that can’t be fixed later, he explained.

Sounds great, I said.

What else could I say?

Once the heat pumps were installed, the inspector showed up. He seemed like a nice enough guy. He used to install HVAC himself, before taking a job with the government. After talking about family with the HVAC contractor (one of their cousins had just gotten nailed for his sixth DUI), he walked around for a while, looking at stuff. He pointed to something and said something like, “The regulations say you can’t do that. But there’s another reg that says you can. So we’ll leave it.” He was trying to be nice, obviously. But I was curious.

I asked, “Why are there so many rules? Even you don’t know them all, and many of them conflict with each other, like the one you just cited. If they’re so complex that it’s impossible to follow all of them, then why do we have them?”

He laughed and said, “Yeah, I know. It sounds strange, right? But there’s a good reason for it. The old guy I took over for explained it to me like this. There are regulations against just about anything you could possibly do. So if an inspector walks into a site and just feels that something’s not right; you know, it just seems wrong, or the general contractor’s a jerk, or whatever… you know, you’ve got a bad feeling about the whole thing well, then, you can find some kind of reg to use to shut it down. If the rules were too simple and straightforward, it would really limit the ability of inspectors to use their own judgment.”

I instantly realized how important it was that I should be really nice to this guy, so I spent the rest of his visit talking about hunting and fishing. He finished his paperwork, left with a friendly smile, and my general contractor got to work fixing all the stuff the HVAC installer had screwed up because he was drunk.

My general contractor, I’ll never forget, smiled, and said, “It’s a good day.”

My SRA from HHS OCR to ensure that my EMR complies with HIPAA is the same thing. There’s really no way to follow all their rules. I don’t even know what they are. But that’s not the point.

The point is that my betters can determine who is permitted to do what, based on their own judgment. If the rules were simple and straightforward, it would limit the ability of the government to control its citizens.

This is why our Constitution was designed to control our government. Because, unrestrained, any government will gradually gain complete control of its citizens.

As my HVAC inspector cheerfully explained, it sounds strange, but there’s a good reason for it.


I think most of my answers for my SRA are largely correct.

It’s a good day.

 

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Surprise Quiz! And No Peeking.

 

After reading Ricochet posts for a couple of years, I’ve figured out what goes into the makeup of an ideal Ricochet conservative. So I’ve devised a true/false test to see just how pure of a Ricochet conservative you are. So mark either a True or a False next to each of the numbered statements below.

You can check what your score means at the end of the test. (Though modest by nature, I will tell you that I did very well.)

  1. You think that Trump is egotistical, has a tenuous relationship with the truth, and is about a half-bubble off plumb. But you agree with almost everything he’s helped to accomplish and you’ll be voting for him if he runs again.
  2. You’re a practicing Jew or Christian and you bring up (or brought up) your children in a church or temple. If you belong to a mainline Protestant congregation, you probably feel out of step at times.
  3. You’re a strong supporter of the free enterprise system — with reasonable limitations, of course. For instance, you have nothing against the FDA overseeing the safety testing of drugs and other products. 
  4. You have a general distaste for regulations and you agree with Trump’s efforts to reduce their number.
  5. You think that AOC, Bernie Sanders, and fellow socialists haven’t learned from history.
  6. You strongly support the First Amendment. Let the ideas fly, you say, and let us sort them out rather than let the government sort them out before they reach our ears.
  7. You strongly support the Second Amendment. In fact, you would allow firearms all the way up through the semi-automatic, combat-looking AK 47 to be legally sold. You also think that all adults — with the exception of convicted felons and the certifiably insane — should be able to buy those legal firearms. You probably have a firearm in your home.
  8. You think that colleges, especially the humanities, have become too political and left-wing partisan.
  9. You’re a proponent of limited government and suspicious of central planning.
  10. You’re respectful of the Founding Fathers and thankful for the blessings you received by growing up in America. And you’re not too shy to say so.
  11. You’re a strong supporter of property rights. And that means you believe that a person has the right to sell his stuff to whomever he wishes. That stuff includes wedding cakes. You also believe that a person has the right to rent his property to whomever he wishes. What goes on in your mind as you accept or turn away a prospective renter is none of the government’s business.
  12. Following the lead of the greatest conservative of them all, Edmund Burke, you think that long-established laws and habits have stood the test of time and therefore are probably based on human nature itself. So you’re cautious about change and innovation.
  13. You believe that life begins at conception and you, therefore, consider abortion murder.
  14. You believe in the work ethic, and you’ve probably shown up for work a bit sick — sniffles, sneezy, runny nose, tired, achy — more than once.
  15. You think that children need heroes so you disapprove of those who focus on the flaws of the American past. You would rather students hear stories of American greatness. It doesn’t even particularly bother you if children in the lower grades are told fictional, uplifting stories like Washington and the cherry tree. Truth comes in many forms, you believe, and some of those forms are mythic and legendary.
  16. You lead a conservative lifestyle. You invest conservatively, live modestly, and you even look conservative. You’re not a clotheshorse and you keep your hair neatly trimmed or styled.
  17. It saddens you that the mainstream media have moved away from objectivity and toward left-wing partisanship.
  18. You think that reducing taxes is good for the economy.
  19. You think that the policies of big-city mayors and the welfare state have helped to undermine the well-being of urban minorities.
  20. “Live and let live” is one of your mottos.

Here are your scores in the number of statements that you have marked false.

0 to 2: You’re conservative down to your toes. (This is what Bob the dog and my wife Marie scored.)
3 to 5: You’re conservative enough to annoy liberals. (This is what I scored.)
6 to 9: You’re flirting with liberalism, brothers and sisters. You’re still in the fold, but you need to back off just a bit before you fall off the conservative precipice and into the slough of left-wing despondency.
10 to 15: You watch CNN and believe everything you see and hear there. You miss dreadfully the professorial and sonorous intonation patterns that you remember coming from Obama’s mouth. “Orange man bad” is your mantra when you meditate.
16 to 20: You’re a Commie and report back regularly to your comrades in the Kremlin.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Trump as the Red Pill

 

Two recent events illustrate what is wrong with American government. First, former acting CIA Director John E. McLaughlin recently said “Thank God for the Deep State” in a semi-joking fashion to praise the partisan narcissist CIA employee working with Rep. Schiff to bring down the Trump Administration. Second, Homeland Security was called in to secure one of the US Department of Agriculture’s office buildings in DC earlier this month; a female employee reportedly was preparing to bring a gun to work to shoot those responsible for moving two research units to Kansas City (along with her job).

The common thread is an attitude of entitlement that is out of hand. At the top end of the career ladder, there are those who expect deference both to their perks and their policy preferences. In particular, the CIA and State Department appear to be in open revolt against the Trump Administration. These are the people who brought you the Iran Deal, who preferred the asinine Baker Plan to The Surge, who were still writing papers about Soviet expansionist plans instead of looking for Islamic terrorists or Chinese technology thieves. They openly resent the idea that outsiders and amateurs are allowed to make policy just because the American people elected them. These careerists include the people who advanced careers out of the sham Peace Process in which we all had to pretend that the likes of Yasir Arafat could be a state leader capable (or willing) to deliver non-violence. But those signing ceremonies produced a lot of framed photos and career points, which is what really matters. The careerists feel more affinity with their counterparts in other countries than to us domestic deplorables.

At the other end of the ladder, government employees at the federal, state, and local levels are increasingly becoming a political force that looks to punish and suppress any hint of taxpayer reluctance and to extinguish expectations of accountability. In the Terminator movies, Skynet was just software until it became self-aware. Our bureaucrats are already at a similar point of maladaptive evolution.

The Chicago teachers’ union just this week got lots of additional money the city does not have to continue to deliver a spectacularly bad product to the families of that city. Their political power is frightening. One has to wonder what federal employees would be doing now to hold funds and services hostage if President Reagan had not broken the air traffic controller strike in 1981.

It is particularly important that Trump survives impeachment and wins re-election if, for no other reason, than a loss would allow the avowed enemies of taxpayers to further entrench and make themselves immune from scrutiny or accountability. It is also important that there are serious adverse personal consequences for the authors of the Russiagate coup attempt.

It is truly bizarre the extent to which the imaginary fears and vituperation projected upon Donald Trump have told us so much about our real enemies. A guy who is not exactly a paragon of linguistic precision nor addicted to accuracy and verbal precision has nevertheless ushered in a moment of extraordinary clarity.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Post of the Week Created with Sketch. The Story That Disappeared

 

Yesterday, in the middle of a very busy day, on a break, I noticed a story on the KOMO Seattle Web site with a title somewhat like this:

King County Council Member considers Leaving Seattle Over Crime Issues

Backstory: The King County Administration Building (headquarters) is in an area of downtown Seattle especially prone to street crime and filth brought about by the high number of homeless people and tent camps. County employees have been assaulted on their way to and from work. If the Council has been discussing the possibility of moving headquarters out of Seattle, I could certainly understand.

When I returned home after work, I went back to the KOMO Web site looking for the story, and it had totally disappeared without a trace. I searched all over the KOMO site and found nothing. Hmmmm… I wonder who objected to that particular story? And why?

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

   

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Political Martyrdom of Donald J. Trump

 

Thursday’s impeachment inquiry vote went down as expected – the only crack in the partisan divide came on the Democratic side where two representatives, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota voted “no.” The frothing-at-the-mouth opponents of President Trump were downright gleeful. But the anti-Trump forces might be well to heed the immortal words of Sir Humphrey Appleby from Yes, Minister, “If you’re going to do this damn silly thing, don’t do it in this damn silly way.”

The closed door, locked in the basement, no questions allowed from the other side is a bad look. If they wanted to design a procedure to bolster the President’s witch hunt claims they couldn’t have done a better job. Then there’s the Bulwarkian cheerleaders on the Right, awash in the money of Leftist activists such as Pierre Omidyar, cementing the view that his foes within his party hold the ordinary voter in disdain and only cater to the donor class. “They’re coming after me,” Trump said at the recent Values Voter Summit, “because I’m fighting for you.”

So far, the only thing that these unlikely political bedfellows have accomplished is to take a man of limited political skill and limited political capital and turned him into a martyr. Instead of cleaving his supporters away from him they’ve merely cemented the “them vs us” appeal of his presidency.

Then there’s the timing of everything. One of the unintended consequences of the 22nd Amendment was to more than triple the length of the quadrennial campaign season. Where once an Eisenhower could declare in June of an election year, now challengers start debating 18 months out. So why not just wait another six months and take the President on in the electoral arena? Probably because his opponents realize the current generic polling that has so many amateur observers in a froth are meaningless. At this point in the 2012 race the Quinnipiac University poll showed that a solid majority of 54% said Barack Obama did not deserve to be re-elected. Yet he won by 4 percentage points and a hefty 126-vote margin in the Electoral College.

The words “binary choice” are the things that make up the nightmares of the President’s foes. Impeachment would not only remove Trump, but part of the punishment could be making him ineligible to run again. They know that the Sanders/Warren economic plan is not the winner the true believers think it is. If the choice is between another four years of Donald Trump and replicating the Venezuelan disaster on the world’s largest economy, Donald Trump wins hands down.

Impeachment makes sense for the Democrats if it’s successful. If it fails it will fail spectacularly. For “Never-Trump,” it is an exercise in self-righteous stupidity and is a lose-lose proposition. If the President’s most ardent supporters – the ones they label “cultists” – only make up one-third of the electorate, then permanently alienating them is a path to permanent rump status. Politics of principle without ever having the means to govern reduces those principles to a useless mental parlor game. Their fantasies of a reconstituted Bush/Romney party in the post-Trump era are just that – fantasies.

So, here we go. They’re going to do this damn silly thing in this damn silly way and take a flawed and wounded President and make him a martyr. You can wish for an event but you can never control the outcome. And one should always be careful of what one wishes for as you just might get it.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Friends Don’t Treat Friends This Way

 

The organization J Street has been a thorn in the side of Jews and Israel for quite a while. They purport to be pro-Israel, but many of the policies they support work to Israel’s detriment. Recently they held a conference that Ben Shapiro reported on; six of the Democrat presidential candidates attended the conference or sent videos in their stead:

This week, four of the top candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination—Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro and Bernie Sanders — gathered at the J Street Conference to explain why the United States ought to pressure the state of Israel to make concessions to terrorists, why the Obama administration was correct to appease the Iranian regime and why American Jews ought to value the opinions of Bernie Sanders over those of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the future of Jewish safety.

Two other top Democrats — Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden — sent video messages in support of the group.

In contrast, all the candidates were invited to attend AIPAC’s conference and not one of them attended. Although AIPAC doesn’t always agrees with Israel’s actions or decisions, its commitment to Israel’s interests is straightforward.

If we assume that attending this conference was not in itself a statement, what did the candidates specifically say? Here’s Shapiro’s summary:

So it was no wonder that Bernie Sanders arrived at the J Street conference and quickly suggested aid to Israel be redirected to the Gaza Strip, run by Hamas, to the cheers of attendees. It was no surprise when Buttigieg suggested that the Iran deal correctly ignored Iran’s terrorist funding and ballistic missile testing, while also suggesting that America reconsider aid to Israel if Israel continues to build in disputed areas of Judea and Samaria. It was no shock when Julian Castro pledged to open an embassy in East Jerusalem for the Palestinians — despite the fact that no solution has been negotiated with regard to the final status of Jerusalem.

Elizabeth Warren added her two cents worth:

Warren stated that she would welcome the Palestinian General Delegation back to Washington and would reopen an American mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Warren also stated that she would resume financial support to UNRWA, knowing full well that these funds would be used to incite Palestinian terrorism against Israeli citizens.

Why should attendance at the conference and these comments be judged unacceptable? First, J Street is no friend of Israel. Here is a statement from its website, as an example:

J Street believes that Israel’s capital is in Jerusalem and will be internationally recognized as such in the context of an agreed two-state solution. We believe that the surest way to achieve that international recognition for the Israeli capital in Jerusalem is through a negotiated and viable two-state solution whereby– as outlined in the Clinton parameters and subsequent discussions between the parties– Jewish areas of Jerusalem are secured as the capital of Israel and Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem become the capital of the future Palestinian state.

Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for centuries, long before the Muslims built on the Temple Mount. To consider dividing it as part of a two-state solution is not acceptable. Attending a conference sponsored by an organization that works against Israel’s interests in this area as well as others is not acceptable.

In looking at the candidates’ comments, their suggestions to negotiate with terrorists is absurd. The Palestinians and the related terrorist organizations refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Notice, too, that there are no expectations of the Palestinians regarding the Israel/Palestinian conflict.

The farther the Democrats move to the left, the more their anti-Israel comments grow. Although they make statements about Israel being a friend of the United States, their criticisms essentially threaten Israel’s existence.

Friends don’t treat friends this way.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Just Judge

 

Queen Elizabeth once famously referred to 1992 as the annus horribilis, one upon which “[she would] not look back with undiluted pleasure.” Among other calamities, it was the year of Andrew and Fergie’s separation, of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips’s divorce, of explosive revelations which set the already on-the-rocks marriage of Charles and Lady Diana hurtling towards the ash-heap of history, and to top it all off, the year that Windsor Castle burned down.

Right about now, I’m trending (see how woke I am?) in that direction with regard to my feelings about 2019. Not sure that the magnitude of disasters that have beset the denizens of Chez She are of monarchical or even royal proportions, but there has been one, after another, after another, and it will live in my memory as, if not the annus horribilest of my life, probably one of the top five.

I seem to have had my butt glued to the dentist’s chair for an unconscionably long time this year. Root canals (some of them re-dos of previous ones). Gum surgery. Crowns. It’s a good thing I like my dentist (been going to the same practice for over fifty years; I’d rather change my gynecologist than my dentist), and that he’s very competent. One of the cars (there are two, aged ten and eleven–so I guess, together, they can drink, smoke, vote, and own a gun (for now) in any State in the union) decided to demonstrate its independence by crapping out on me, miles from home, and requiring extensive repairs. My best friend’s cancer has recurred, and another very good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’ve had a couple of (so far looking like minor) health scares, myself. After a year of no coal-mine-related house subsidence to speak of, we had a few instances that required work and remediation. My step-daughter’s long-standing relationship fell apart. I lost a cherished friend through (I’m pretty sure) no fault of my own. Mr. She’s health, which has been failing for a few years, got substantially worse.

On a brighter note, I suddenly found myself, to alternate feelings of bemusement and hilarity, on the front lines of the SJW wars in the knitting community (don’t laugh; they are real and meaningful), when I was “canceled” on Ravelry for two months for making “triggering” and unwelcome comments which the moderators and PTB’s believed showed innate privilege on my own behalf, and staggering insensitivity to “survivors of violence” on theirs. It was in the midst of a conversation about, among other things, surviving assault and violence, and I wrote frankly about my experiences, apparently triggering some readers, and making me wonder, as I have before, how we’re ever supposed to have conversations about difficult things if we’re not allowed to mention the difficult things we’re supposed to be having conversations about.

My comments on Ravelry were about my stepson Sam, and about my feelings after he was assaulted, and after he died. Apparently though, I’m not permitted to voice my thoughts among a group of (mostly) women who were describing sexual assaults they said were perpetrated on them, because I wasn’t actually the one murdered. (Sam, unfortunately, was unavailable for comment.) So I did the best I could, but I guess the fact that I wasn’t the actual “murderee,” combined with my “privilege” and my “rudeness” in “triggering” the assembled company, did me in. Go figure.

That brings us to October 31, 2019. Halloween. And the inevitable wondering about whether life was going to deal me yet another 2019 “trick” or if, finally, my luck had changed. The preponderance of evidence leading up to the date pointed in one direction; but I am nothing if not an incorrigible optimist, so I couldn’t help hoping for a dies mirabilis, to act as a counter to the rest.

You see, October 31, Halloween, was the date set by the Court, in its wisdom, for the sentencing of Sam’s murderers. They’d pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and several related charges, and one of them had an agreed-upon sentencing of 5-10 years followed by lengthy probation. So the only matter at issue was the sentencing of the other, more seriously charged individual.

Apparently (I’m not a legal scholar, so this is a layperson speaking), the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has two sentencing ranges for third-degree murder. The first one is something like 7-24 years, and the second one is 20-40 years (those are minimum-maximum incarceration times). The judge has great flexibility in determining the imposition of the sentence, and takes into account prior criminal history, aggravated circumstances, intent, and a bunch of other stuff that loses me and that, anyway, I don’t want to think about.

The District Attorney had done a terrific job of building the case, aided by the Pittsburgh Police Detective who was on the scene, arrested the miscreants, and stayed involved until the end. Sam’s family owes them an unrepayable debt for their competence, their caring, their attention to detail, their humanity and their diligence. The DA asked for and hoped the judge would impose a sentence at the higher end of the lower scale; something like 14-24 years.

Sam’s family had had second thoughts (as I suspect most such families do) about whether we should have advocated acceptance of the guilty plea from both of them. Was third-degree murder a serious enough charge to see this criminal put away for a good long time? Were we better off trusting the Judge to see justice done? Or should we have put the matter in the hands of a jury? Would the murderer get off with a slap on the wrist? I didn’t know until it was over just how much those thoughts, and those questions, were eating at me, and how much they’ve affected me over the course of the last several months.

So, at 8AM on October 31, Sam’s sister and I presented ourselves in the Witness Room at the Courthouse, where we met with the “Victim Advocate,” (God bless the Commonwealth of PA, which apparently does acknowledge our right to feel violated by what was done to Sam, even if the knitwits on Ravelry do not), and the District Attorney. Shortly thereafter, we were shown into the courtroom, which was populated by several others, most of whom may have been related to the defendants; I don’t know.

The Judge entered. A tiny lady bearing an uncanny resemblance to Ellen deGeneres, and smothered in her judicial robes. “You’ll like her, she’s very direct and has a lot of common sense,” the victim advocate had told us.

The proceedings took about an hour. The DA made his case. The defendants’ attorneys spoke. Somewhere in there, I began to feel as if I were witnessing a nomination for a couple of “Outstanding Citizen of the Year” awards. Broken childhoods. Challenges early in life. Gender dysphoria. Mental illness. All seemingly offered as mitigation for such a heinous crime. Not sure how some of these public defenders sleep at night. Lord, it was hard to listen to.

The mother of one of the defendants spoke. I have no idea what she said. I hold no animus against her. Poor lady, she’s probably hurting too.

Then, it was Sam’s sister’s and my turn to make our “victim statements.” I went first. I’d already provided a written statement but chose not to read it. I had no notes and just winged it. “Are you Francis’s stepmother,” they asked. “His name is Sam. His family calls him Sam,” I said.

Here’s approximately what I said (trigger warning):

I thank the Court for the opportunity to speak. You know, I’ve never thought of myself as a “victim” or as a “survivor” of violence before, so this is new to me. But I’ll try not to waste too much of the Court’s time.

I’ll just say that I’ve definitely had some thoughts and feelings that I’d never have had, if the horrible circumstances that we are deliberating today had never occurred. For instance, I think about what it feels like to bash someone else in the head over and over and over until he dies. And I wonder which blow killed Sam. The first one? The last one? The hardest one? The most well-placed one? The cumulative effect of all of them?

And I wonder what Sam felt, while this was happening. When did he stop feeling? What was he thinking about while his head was being beaten to a pulp?

Sam’s father isn’t here today. He doesn’t know I’m here. He has dementia. Quite often, he doesn’t remember what happened to Sam. And he asks me where Sam is, and why Sam doesn’t call us or come to see us.

Sometimes, I lie. And I tell him that Sam is very busy. But that he loves us, and I’m sure he’ll call and come to see us soon.

Sometimes, if I think I should, I tell Sam’s father the truth. And when I do, I relive the horror, again, and again, and again.

But it is worse for Sam’s father. Because every time he hears it, he is hearing it, and processing it for the first time. Then he forgets again. A blessing. For a time.

The real victim here is Sam. But he can’t speak for himself, so I’m going to try to speak for him.

Sam was a gentle person. We’ve heard about the challenges of gender dysphoria and mental illness in the defendant’s lives, and how they should mitigate the sentence. Sam had those challenges too. But he didn’t use them as an excuse to hurt, or kill others. He was a gentle and kind person.

Sam would not want revenge. I think he would want justice.

We live in a civil society, bound by laws. And those laws state that perpetrators of heinous crimes must be punished for them. The two individuals here today perpetrated the most heinous crime one person can commit on another: they deprived him of his life.

I ask the Court to impose the harshest sentence that it deems just, on these individuals. And if it does, I will not feel joy. I will not feel satisfaction. I will not feel vengeful. I will simply feel that justice has, at last, been served.

Justice.

For Sam.

That was me. Then Jenny spoke. Her statement was so heart-wrenching I can’t even. But she ended with a plea that “mercy” if it was to be extended in this proceeding, be extended to Sam’s family, and particularly to his eleven-year-old niece, who’d grow up without Uncle Sam in her life, and who’d never know his sweetness, his kindness his generosity, or his off-beat and goofy sense of humor.

Then, the defendants spoke. Praeteritio.

And the DA again, reminding the judge that the more seriously-charged defendant had, when Sam ran upstairs and locked himself in the bedroom to escape the assault, gone down to the basement, retrieved a pickax, and broken down the door so he could continue the beating. He again asked for the Judge to consider sentencing at the higher end of the lower scale.

Finally, it was the Judge’s turn. She started with the defendant who’d agreed to a 5-10 year sentence, followed by probation, she explained that in great detail, and then enumerated the ways in which this defendant must stay away from Sam’s family forever until the end of time.

And then she moved on to the second defendant.

And the lady I will forever think of as “Maximum Beth,” threw the book at him; she told him that waffling about “regretting things that happened” was a fiction. “You did this,” she said. “You caused this.” She gave him the same set of “no contact” restrictions as the other one. And explained his sentence.

The ultimate for third-degree murder in Pennsylvania. Minimum of 20 years. Maximum of 40.

God Bless her.

Justice.

For Sam.

Hope lives.

PS: I’m offering this up as a very tardy entry into the October Group Writing “Trick or Treat” set of posts. I was due, I think, on October 21, but “life happened as I was busy making other plans,” to paraphrase one of John Lennon’s more rational remarks. Forgive me, please. (Maybe it’s still October 31, somewhere.)

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Qotd: Prince Hal to Henry V

 

Presume not that I am the thing I was!—William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2

The character speaking here is the newly crowned Henry V. As “Prince Hal,” he had endured and even enjoyed low company. He has known all of his kingdom’s rascals and rogues. But now he is king. He is a new-made thing, who is now in charge of enforcement of the law, and because of his misspent youth, he knows just where the heavy hand of the law should bear down.

In a recent conversation, @dougkimball suggested that the impeachment drama is very Shakespearean, and that the Democrats see President Trump as a weak king, such as Richard II or Lear. I am not sure that any Shakespearean character fits the President and his situation, but the Democrats had best fear that Henry V is not the one.

Another quotation also comes to mind:

When you strike at a king, you must kill him.—Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The ‘Dear Colleague’ Impeachment

 

Looking at the rules and procedures the Democrats have proposed for the running of their impeachment efforts, one is reminded that its various features are very similar to another set of adjudication processes designed, implemented, and vigorously promoted by progressives as affirmatively better than what is required by the Bill of Rights.

I’m referring to the Title IX compliance requirements Obama’s Department of Education established for the nation’s colleges and universities via its infamous 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter for adjudicating allegations of sexual misconduct.

As the Obama Administration had every right to expect, the overwhelmingly left-wing administrator corps of the nation’s institutions of higher learning leaped joyously to obey.

They immediately established adjudication procedures that featured some, or all, of the following;

  • the accused has no right to counsel, and in some colleges is affirmatively barred from having counsel present.
  • the accused is not informed of the specific charges against him or the identity of his accuser until the trial or just before.
  • the accused is not allowed to question the accuser or directly challenge the accuser’s testimony.
  • the accused’s questions, witnesses and evidence must be preapproved by the accuser’s advocate or counsel.
  • the accused is not allowed to question the accuser’s witnesses or directly challenge their testimony.
  • the accused is not allowed to see or hear the testimony or examine the evidence against him.
  • the accused is not allowed to present witnesses to testify on his behalf or present evidence in his favor.
  • the accused is not allowed to have access to any transcripts or records of the proceedings.
  • the same official serves as prosecutor, judge, jury – and/or also counsel for the accuser.
  • the accuser can alter her testimony (including changing dates and locations), even after the accused has presented a defense.
  • the accused can be barred from attending hearings on his case.
  • the accused has no presumption of innocence and may be required to disprove his guilt.

Now, let’s look at the impeachment inquiry being run by Adam Schiff and supported by nearly 100 percent of the Democrats in Congress.

  • Secret accusers
  • Secret testimony
  • Secret evidence
  • Secret hearings
  • Secret transcripts
  • Prosecutor (Adam Schiff) has veto power over questions, witnesses and evidence by advocates for the accused.
  • No counsel for the accused.
  • Prosecutor also acts as judge – deciding what is admissable and what is not.

And to make matters worse, just like they did with the Obama administration’s destruction of due process rights for accused students, the principal cheerleaders for this travesty are the very same people who proclaim themselves to be the first guardians of Americans’ civil liberties – the Press.

This is scary stuff.

One of the reasons I decided that Trump would get my vote in 2016 was the absolute terror that even more of the folks who came up with the “Dear Colleague” letter, and their willing allies from academia will get their hands on the levers of power if Hillary was ever sworn in as president. I feared that we only saw a mild preview of what a “social justice”-driven president can do with Obama.

The National Lawyers Guild is already on board with these very same “Dear Colleague” rules to go off-campus and be applied in real criminal courts. And there are at least three Supreme Court Justices who would rule trials under these rules to be in keeping with the Constitution.

If anything, it should now be very clear that the removal of civil liberties and due process protections from disfavored individuals and groups is a feature, not a bug, of any system of adjudication favored by the left.

If they can do this to a sitting President of the United States, imagine what they can do to you.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. #WeAreComing: The New Trump Campaign Ad

 

During Game 7 of the World Series, President Trump ran a new 2020 campaign ad. The ad was short (30 seconds), but expensive ($250,000) to air. The estimated number of viewers for the game was 23 million, so it had a long reach. The ad had the usual montage of success images and ridiculed the impeachment hoax, but what I found interesting was the final line:

“He’s no Mr. Nice Guy, but sometimes it takes a Donald Trump to change Washington.”

This is interesting because he basically admits he’s not presidential, but this is a time when we need someone that is not presidential to change Washington for the better. This positions the incumbent as the outsider. That’s a bold strategy, Cotton.

I think it can work. The Dems have used a three-pronged attack on Trump: he is not presidential enough, he should be impeached, and he is a source of chaos in the hope that people will vote D to end the chaos. Instead, Trump is saying that the chaos is a sign of what’s wrong with Washington (deep staters, secret hearings, investigation as a weapon, spying, self-serving politicians, etc.).

Using political jujitsu, Trump plans on taking all the chaos and impeachment “smoke” the Dems have created the last three years and turning it against them. The admission of being “not a politician” will work with the voters he needs, because they are sick of politicians. The weakness is turned into a strength. The bug is really the must-have feature. The ad makes him look like a fighter and reverses years of Dem and media attacks. Playing the outsider card, being the populist fighter, and Tweeting “hero dog” memes for 12 months is a winning strategy for the swing states.

.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Courage

 

“The fishermen know the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” — Vincent Van Gogh

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” ― Vincent Van Gogh

Note: During his lifetime Van Gogh was never famous as a painter and struggled to make a living. Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime, “The Red Vineyard.” This painting sold in Brussels for 400 Francs only a few months before his death. They say Van Gogh was crazy but maybe that’s what extreme courage — living outside the comfort zone — does to a person.

The Red Vineyard

“Besides we are men, and after all, it is our business to risk our lives.” ― Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

Here’s one in honor of Trump: “With enough courage, you can do without a reputation.” ― Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

“Those who have nothing to die for have nothing to live for either.” — Anonymous

“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” — John Wayne

I always think of courage when talking to the kids in my neighborhood. Israeli kids, at the age of ten, have more street smarts and raw courage than most people, of any age, from other lands. These kids know everything, have a solution for everything but are full of respect for everyone, too. Something magnificent is happening here and we have only just begun to see what lies in store for us.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Shakespeare On The Potomac

 

The drama playing out in Washington is striking, something out of Shakespeare. In the press Trump is portrayed as the ineffectual Richard II, the scheming and illegitimate Richard III, the lost and aging King Lear, the arrogant Caesar and the lustful and intemperate Henry VIII. The opposition sees Trump as irredeemably flawed. His leadership in their vision can only bring political disaster and a series of impending future political tragedies of monumental enormity.

The Never Trumpers see the flaws as well, magnified and monstrous. In their worldview, political winners must be heroes and not just be virtuous now, but always. There is no room for the penitent, much less the continual, sinner. Superior virtue should always trump grandiosity and ugly self-promotion. To the Gary Robbins’ (@garyrobbins) of the world, Trump is a poseur, a promoter, the PT Barnum of modern politics, feckless, unworthy, a travesty really, a mockery to those who want their presidents to be made of, not have, brass.

But like all of Shakespeare’s titled characters, Trump is nuanced. He’s a family man despite his divorces. He’s funny. He’s glib and remarkably unfiltered. He’s likable. He doesn’t pretend to be perfect, and at times can seem humbled. He is relentless and undaunted. Trump’s the real thing. And despite all his opposition, he is implementing the policies he articulated when he won office. And those policies are working. We are no longer dependent on foreign oil. Our taxes are lower. Our wages have risen. Businesses are expanding. We’re making progress in securing our southern border. Markets are up. ISIS and its leadership have been delivered to the devil. Trade relationships are more favorable to US interests and trade adversaries are chastened. Allies are no longer ignoring their fiscal commitments to defense. People are getting off public assistance. Unemployed and under-employed Americans are getting back to work. Interest rates remain modest. And our judiciary is more constructionist in direct conflict to those who would like a judiciary that is inventive and adventurist when it comes to testing the constitutionality or application of the law.

The tragedy that the Democrats are trying to avert is their own; with Trump they are losing the court as an arbiter of their opaque ideas of fairness and justice. The Left has been eroding our constitutional liberty and cementing in the bureaucratic state since the days when Wilson and his war council took the lead from El Duce and seized control of our government. FDR, a war council member, learned. With ending the depression as his calling and with help from an overwhelming Democrat majority, FDR started the country down the path to statism.

The policies being touted by today’s Democratic presidential hopefuls are neither new nor unique. We had 70% tax brackets before Kennedy dropped them in the early sixties. The socialization of medicine has been a staple of every left-wing politician’s promise over the last 75 years. Wealth confiscation has been in political conversation since Robin Hood holed up in Sherwood Forest. There is nothing new to see here. Why are Democrat politicians so blatantly expostulating these unpopular and unmanageable Leftist policies? There was a time not long ago when Democrats had to speak of their statist tendencies in hushed tones and soft denials. Abortion should be rare, they said. Gun ownership should be legal but controlled. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. We believe in the sanctity of marriage. Now, they are almost shrill. They support abortion, any reason, any time. Everyone is entitled to free healthcare. Guns should be confiscated. A church that does not sanctify gay marriage should lose its non-profit status, etc. It’s like the last gasps of a dying man to his wife, Mary, setting the record straight: I always loved Alice.

The Democrats want to turn this plot from their tragedy to Trump’s, making it, for them, a sweet comic ending. No, Hillary will not seize the opportunity and lead the Democrats to victory. Her tragedy has already played out. Joe Biden is a prototypical Shakespearian tragic hero and as a result, there is only one ending for him. As for the rest of the candidates, no Shakespearian drama can be both tragedy and comedy. They have all already rehearsed their last words in public, so we know what they really loved all these years.

Trump will win a second term and the Democrats will be left to wonder where they went wrong. He’ll never be a perfect President, but neither will this play end a political tragedy.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

“Many career employees at the State Department and National Security Council are passionate about what they do, have a strong sense of purpose, are committed to their mission, and are artful at preventing US election results from stopping them.”    

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Trick or Treat: The Art Thief and the Wild Swordsman

 

Are your dreams tricks your sleeping brain plays on you? Or are they treats? Mine are usually treats. They are cinematic extravaganzas. In fact, I am not always in my dreams, and sometimes famous actors are, even if I have no idea who they are at the time and only recognize them later. Or, there was the time after James Gandolfini’s death where I saw him playing the romantic lead in a RomCom dream. Sure, my dreams don’t always make perfect sense, but they are far better than the dreams I hear other people tell about where they are late to a test for which they haven’t studied and they happen to realize they are naked. Those other people’s dreams are definitely tricks. If that is the sort of dream you have, it’s time to sit back and read about another type of dream.

My first realization in this dream found me standing in a 1920s style convertible. It was the type where the opened roof was opened all the way back to the end of the car since, in those days, the trunk was literally a piece of luggage that one tied to a luggage rack on the back of the vehicle. The convertible was bright yellow. It was a larger car with perhaps as many as three banks of seats. At the very least, it was what would have been called a seven-passenger touring car. It was also moving. My middle brother was driving.

I come from a family of three, all brothers. My father was a gruff old policeman. Middle Brother is not gruff. His personality is nothing like Dad’s. What Middle Brother did get from Dad was left-handedness and artistic ability. He also decided to follow my father into being a policeman. The artistic ability matters to this tale because as I was standing in one of the areas between seats, I noticed there were several works of art stuffed into the floor area of the last bench seat in the vehicle.

“Did you paint these?” I asked my brother.

“No, I stole them.”

Given that our father was a law enforcement officer and so is Middle Brother, this came as something of a shock and raised some concern about being in a vehicle with stolen artwork.

“I also fought the Foiler recently,” Middle Brother declared.

As one does in dreams, I immediately knew something. You might have dreams where you know you are late for a test and haven’t studied. In this dream, I knew who the Foiler was. He was a crank who went around in a fencing outfit and stuck people with his fencing foil. The fact that my brother said that he fought the Foiler was interesting. I pictured it as his fighting the crank also armed with a foil. To my knowledge, my brother has never been into fencing and has probably never touched any sort of sword other than a military dress saber. First, my brother is stealing works of art, and then apparently sword-fighting in the streets. What other revelations might such a trip hold for me?

We happened to be on the main street of the city we grew up in and passing Weber’s Dairy when my brother mentioned his fighting the Foiler. I doubt the old Weber Dairy building is there any longer, but we passed it in this big, yellow convertible from the 1920s with hot art in the backseat.

Of course, no sooner was the Foiler mentioned than he appeared at the next intersection with a light. He jumped into our land yacht and started complaining about my brother’s having fought him. I grabbed up the stolen art and handed it to the Foiler and had my brother pull over, so we let the Foiler off at the next intersection with hands full of stolen art. Then, we drove off.

That is not an atypical dream for me. How about you? What sort of dreams do you have? Are they tricks? Or are they treats?

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

In hindsight, we now know that the so-called whistle-blower claim was the predicate for a secret hearing and that the whistle-blower law was indeed used, though falsely, to shield this so-called whistle-blower from identification to say nothing of cross-examination, legal responsibility and confrontation. And now we know that the claim itself was second or third […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. How We Fire-Beleagured Californians See Things Right Now

 

The Marvel cartoon sums up our feelings nicely. Several weekends ago, a friend’s property was caught in the wake of this mad man in Lake County, CA. The mad man not only attempted to burn down his residence, but then let his fire spread out over 30 acres across the highway from his place.

I raced over to my friend’s place, to find California’s finest already there. Not only fire truck operators and guys in tractors creating fire breaks, but pilots for the helicopters and air tankers. For several hours my girlfriend, her sister, father, and I stood entranced beneath the aircraft.

We watched spellbound below a careful choreography between the sky acrobats zooming their copters and planes in a dance that would eventually spell the end of the fire. Part of the high-risk job of piloting calls for multitasking: you need to know what part of the fire needs to be hit hardest with what: water or fire retardant. At the same time, you have to make sure that as you dump water on the fire, you don’t slam your aircraft into a tree, or hillside, or another aircraft.

I got the cartoon off Facebook, and it captures how we felt that day.

P.S. My friend’s home and that of her neighbor survived without anything worse than a minor amount of smoke damage. A few hillsides with tall grasses were charred, but the beautiful California live oaks withstood the flames.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Really Great Halloween Party

 

Way back in the 1980s, I played in a string quartet with some other amateur ladies. We played strictly for fun, and we did have a lot of it. One year, we decided to have a Halloween costume party for our many musician friends. We asked all of our friends to base their costumes on something musical, and that could be anything at all with a musical theme. We made cookies with music-note cookie-cutters, and someone brought a cake with a very clever frosting in music-staff and notes.

But the best part of that party was the costumes people dreamed up. Starting with myself, and my first husband, who was a mechanical engineer… He always liked to say that I played the violin and he played the stereo. He bought some foam-core board and made himself a very elaborate boom-box costume. He painted on all the controls, front, back and sides, including all the legends (labels) and the battery compartment. I had the bright idea of going as a clarinet. We bought some black poster-board and silver paint. We cut out the front and back, and he painted on all the silver keys. Then, he made me a headdress that was the mouthpiece, with very realistic reeds on the front. I wore the costume like a sandwich-board, with shoulder-straps connecting the front and back of the clarinet. My one mistake was forgetting to put a hinge somewhere in the front panel so I could sit down! By the end of that party, I had very sore feet!

The other violinist in our quartet and her boyfriend also had a very creative costume (as a couple). They were very into opera at that time, so they did Carmen. However, in a very interesting role-reversal, HE was Carmen, and SHE was Escamillo! Her outfit was well-done, with a great bullfighter uniform and the requisite red cape. His costume brought the most comments, however. He used two grapefruits as breasts, and a low-cut dress and mantilla. Now, Dan was, and still is, a rather shy person in real life, but this costume totally brought out his extrovert side, and he was great as Carmen, and generated gales of laughter, especially whenever one or more of the heavy grapefruits fell out. They did their shopping for their costumes at the thrift store, and the produce section of the grocery store.

Our violist came as Minnie Pearl, of Grand Old Opry fame, and her thrift-shop costume was evocative of Country Music. And whenever she was greeted by someone, she replied in Minnie Pearl’s distinctive How-DEE! Another friend came as the Phantom of the Opera.

Our other musician friends had lots of fun dreaming up musical costumes. One of our trumpet-playing friends came as “87-measures-rest” since the trumpet section often has long stretches of silence. Another one of our friends came as Dolly Parton (a perfect foil for Minnie Pearl), so we had a fair amount of Country. We had a couple come as piano keys, one white and one black (could we get away with that today?). A violin player in our string group (we had our own quartet as well as all playing in a separate string orchestra) came as a Fermata, with a t-shirt that read “Hold Me, I’m a Fermata.” Beethoven didn’t show up, but Brahms did.

Looking back on it, that had to be the best Halloween parties I’ve ever been to. Ever.