Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Chocolate

 

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz

“Strength is the capacity to break a Hershey bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of the pieces.”
― Judith Viorst, Love & Guilt & The Meaning Of Life, Etc

Surely you knew that October 28 is National Chocolate Day. No. Well, it is, and of all foods, surely chocolate is most deserving of its own special day! I got a running start on the day with a rich chocolate brownie, with sea salt, and a small cup of good black coffee, while listening to live jazz on Sunday evening.

The quotes by Schulz and Voirst are two boundaries to the truth of chocolate. A little chocolate now and then is a very good thing…andstopping at “a little” is an enormous test of human nature.

I grew up on milk chocolate, Mom’s preference, and an occasional variant: triple-layer German chocolate cake. That was, for decades, Dad’s preference for birthday cake, which became most of our preference for birthday cake. I do not know that it was so much the flavor as the effort of putting it together and the ties of tradition, the sign that this birthday was a Brown family event.

In the years since, I went from tea to black coffee and from milk chocolate to very dark chocolate, more bitter than sweet. With these very strong flavors, the volume I want to consume has dropped, along with the caloric overhead. So, the change in taste helped steer a more moderate course between “a little chocolate” and a whole Hershey bar.

What is your favorite form of chocolate?

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Nixing Huawei

 

The Trump administration has announced that it will move to prevent federal tax money already earmarked for rural 5G high-speed wireless services from being spent on equipment from the Chinese company Huawei.

I advocate free trade, and see trade restrictions as a tool that should be used sparingly, deliberately, and as briefly as practical.

However, I am entirely in favor of blocking Huawei, and any other Chinese vendor, from participating in the build-out of America’s nascent 5G infrastructure.

I think the cellular 5G network will, when it is finally deployed, transform the way we interact with each other and with the internet (though not necessarily for the better). I believe augmented and virtual reality will eventually be as significant in our daily lives as the “flat” web is today, and the promised bandwidth of 5G networking will be crucial for that.

But it behooves us to prevent an unscrupulous rival nation from planting itself so deeply in our technological infrastructure.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Kafkaesque Persecution of Gen. Flynn

 

“Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested.”

Thus begins The Trial by Franz Kafka, one of the most frightening of all dystopian novels. This novel foretold the nightmare which surely follows from the totalitarian takeover of all aspects of life including, in this case, the legal system and the Courts. It is one of many such tales from the chamber of horrors which make up this genre, such as, for only one example, Orwell’s 1984, which cause us to express thoughts like “it Couldn’t Happen Here”, which, as it happens, is the title of another novel of this same kind, by Sinclair Lewis. His novel is said to be roughly based on the career of “The Kingfish”, Huey Long, of our home state, and we can assure you Gov. Long could and did, happen in the Great State of Louisiana. Actually, one might say “it” happened twice, as his younger brother followed him later in the Governor’s office.

It couldn’t happen here? Try telling that to Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, U.S.Army (Ret’d), who served his country in uniform for 33 years, 5 of which were inactive combat underarms. At the very height of an already brilliant career and a lifetime of accomplishments, he is sitting in his office in the White House as the newly designated National Security Adviser when he is visited by two agents of the FBI, one of whom is straight out of Kafka, the grotesquely detestable Peter Sztrok, who just happened to be in the neighborhood and thought they would “drop-in” for a friendly, “relaxed”, “jocular” chat. This visit, following a “friendly” phone call from then-Assistant Director McCabe, prompts one of the many questions which arise from this whole malodorous episode — how does one just drop in for a visit to someone in the White House? Finding him to be most welcoming and friendly, even giving them a tour of his area of the White House, they “chat him up” to try to trick him into lying about whether or not he made a call to the Russian Ambassador about the subject of sanctions imposed by the previous administration, not the most challenging task for experienced lawyers and FBI agents, considering that they had the transcript of all the calls on their screens the whole time.

What follows will be a detailed discussion of the story of the disgraceful entrapment of Gen. Flynn by some of the most unsavory lawyers ever to “serve” the United States Department of Justice, drawn from the language of briefs filed by the General’s new counsel, Sidney Powell and her obviously extraordinarily talented team. However, a prefatory note is definitely in order to explain, to the extent possible, the mindset of the author of this discussion. That mindset is one of a person who practiced law– as a trial lawyer– for well over one-half a Century, one who reveres our Rule of Law and the Court system it serves. I have filed many pleadings, documents, memoranda, briefs, petitions, complaints, etc., and I mention that for no other reason than to emphasize that one learns by experience to be very careful in the use of language when writing for a Court. A failure to take the proper level of care can be very costly in terms of opprobrium from the Court and can get expensive in actual terms if followed by the imposition of monetary sanctions for making irresponsible and unprovable claims. I set forth this material in order to demonstrate my belief that while some of Ms. Powell’s claims may seem at times to “push the envelope”, I do not believe she, a lawyer with as unblemished a reputation as a federal appellate practitioner can possibly have, would make any of these claims unless she knew she could prove them. As an examination of the exhibits, she attached to her most recent filing shows she has more than ample ammunition to back up those claims.

The legal basis for Ms. Powell’s Motion to Compel the Government to produce items that should have been produced long before Gen. Flynn agreed to plead guilty is a 1963 Supreme Court decision entitled Brady v. Maryland. It requires the government o produce:

” … all evidence “material either to guilt or to
punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.” 373 U.S. 83, 87(1963). Because the government is supposed to pursue justice—not merely convictions—its
responsibility to produce Brady material is a grave one, its scope wide-ranging, and its duration
ongoing. Indeed, this Court has entered both an initial Standing Order to produce Brady material,
on December 12, 2017, and an updated Order on February 16, 2018, making it clear to the
government that its duty to produce exculpatory evidence exists independently of Mr. Flynn’s
guilty plea, and that that duty has not expired.”

The above language specifically notes the special attention paid by this particular Judge to Brady in view of the gross misconduct of government prosecutors in the case of Sen. Ted Stevens, over which this Judge presided. That case, and its corrupt prosecution, is one of the main topics of Ms. Powell’s excellent book, Licensed to Lie.

In her brief filed September 11, 2019, she reiterates that since signing on as Gen. Flynn’s attorney she has requested a number of specifically described documents only to be met by the refusal of prosecutors who “exude arrogance”. Following is the list of documents which I note should have been given much wider attention by a fair and professional press, if only we still had one:

“1. A letter delivered by the British Embassy to the incoming National Security team after
Donald Trump’s election, and to outgoing National Security Advisor Susan Rice (the letter apparently disavows former British Secret Service Agent Christopher Steele,
calls his credibility into question, and declares him untrustworthy).
2. The original draft of Mr. Flynn’s 302 and 1A-file, and any FBI document that
identifies everyone who had possession of it (parts of which may have been leaked to
the press, but the full original has never been produced). This would include
information given to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates on January 24 and 25,
2017.
3. All documents, notes, information, FBI 302s, or testimony regarding Nellie Ohr’s
research on Mr. Flynn and any information about transmitting it to the DOJ, CIA, or
FBI.
4. All payments, notes, memos, correspondence, and instructions by and between the
FBI, CIA, or DOD with Stefan Halper—going back as far as 2014—regarding
Michael Flynn, Svetlana Lokhova, Mr. Richard Dearlove (of MI6), and Professor
Christopher Andrew (connected with MI5) and Halper’s compensation through the
DOD Office of Net Assessment as evidenced by the whistleblower complaint of Adam
Lovinger, addressed in our brief. This includes David Shedd (former Deputy Director
of DIA) and Mike Vickers, who were CIA officers; James H. Baker; former DIA
Director LTG Stewart; former DIA Deputy Director Doug Wise; and the DIA Director
of Operations (DOD). This should also include any communications or
correspondence of any type arising from the investigation or alleged concerns about
Mr. Flynn that contained a copy to (as a “cc” or “bcc”) or was addressed directly to the
DNI James Clapper and his senior staff; to CIA Director Brennan and his senior staff;
or to FBI Director Comey, his Deputy Andrew McCabe and senior staff.
5. The Flynn 302 dated January 19, 2017, mentioned in the Mueller Report.
6. All and unredacted Page-Strzok text messages. Mr. Van Grack’s October 4, 2018,
letter asserts: “To the extent the text messages appear to be incomplete or contain gaps,
we do not possess additional messages that appear to fill such gaps.” The government
should be compelled to identify to whom “we” refers, where the originals are, and
whether any of the gaps have been filled or accounted for.
7. All documents, reports, correspondence, and memoranda, including any National
Security letter or FISA application, concerning any earlier investigation of Mr. Flynn,
and the basis for it. (The existence of these earlier investigations was disclosed in the
Mueller Report; see Vol. II at pp. 24, 26.)
8. All transcripts, recordings, notes, correspondence, and 302s of any interactions with
human sources or “OCONUS lures” tasked against Mr. Flynn since he left DIA in
2014.
Case 1:17-cr-00232-EGS Document 111 Filed 09/11/19 Page 4 of 14
5
9. The unredacted Page-Strzok text messages as well as text messages, emails and other
electronic communications to, from, or between Andrew McCabe, James Comey, Rod
Rosenstein, Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr, John Carlin, Aaron Rouse, Carl Ghattas, Andrew
Weissmann, Tashina Gauhar, Michael Steinbach, , and Zainab Ahmad,
regarding Mr. Flynn or the FISA applications or any surveillance (legal or illegal) that
would have reached Mr. Flynn’s communications.
10. All evidence concerning notification by the Inspector General of the DOJ to the
Special Counsel of the Strzok-Page text messages, including the actual text of any
messages given to the Special Counsel, and the dates on which they were given.
Although the Inspector General notified Special Counsel of the tens of thousands of
text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page no later than July 2017—the
prosecutors did not produce a single text message to the defense until March 13, 2018.
11. All evidence of press contacts between the Special Counsel Office, including Andrew
Weissmann, Ms. Ahmad, and Mr. Van Grack from the departure of Peter Strzok from
Special Counsel team until December 8, 2017, regarding Mr. Flynn.
12. Unredacted copies of all memos created by or other communications from James
Comey that mention or deal with any investigation, surveillance, FISA applications,
interviews, or use of a confidential human source or “OCONUS lures” against Mr.
Flynn.
13. An unredacted copy of all of James Comey’s testimony before any Congressional
committees.
14. The James Comey 302 for November 15, 2017, and all Comey 302s that bear on or
mention Mr. Flynn.
15. Notes and documents of any kind dealing with any briefings that Mr. Flynn provided
to DIA after he left the government.
16. Any information, including recordings or 302s, about Joseph Mifsud’s presence and
involvement in engaging or reporting on Mr. Flynn and Mifsud’s presence at the
Russia Today dinner in Moscow on December 17, 2015.
17. All notes, memoranda, 302s, and other information about the McCabe-Strzok meeting
or meetings with Vice President-Elect or Vice President Pence (these meetings were
referenced in the Mueller Report at Vol II, p. 34).
18. All Mary McCord 302s or interviews, including when she knew that Mr. Flynn did
not have “a clandestine relationship with Russia.”
Case 1:17-cr-00232-EGS Document 111 Filed 09/11/19 Page 5 of 14
6
19. Any Sally Yates 302s or other notes that concern Mr. Flynn, including treatment of her
meetings with FBI Agents on January 24 and 25, 2017, her meetings with anyone in
the White House, and the draft 302 of the Flynn interview on January 24 she reviewed
or was read into.
20. An internal DOJ document dated January 30, 2017, in which the FBI exonerated Mr.
Flynn of being “an agent of Russia.”
21. All information provided by Kathleen Kavalec at the Department of State to the FBI
regarding Christopher Steele prior to the first FISA application.
22. Any and all evidence that during a senior-attended FBI meeting or video conference,
Andrew McCabe said “First we [Redacted] Flynn, then we [Redacted] Trump,” or words to that
effect.
23. The two-page Electronic Communication (EC) that allegedly began the “Russia
Collusion” investigation.
24. All information that underlies the several FISA applications, including any
information showing that any of the assertions in the applications were false,
unverified, or unverifiable.
25. All documents, notes, information, FBI 302s, or testimony regarding any debriefing
that Bruce Ohr gave to anyone in the FBI or Department of Justice regarding
Christopher Steele.
26. Testimony, interviews, 302s, notes of interviews of all persons who signed FISA
applications regarding Mr. Flynn or anyone that would have reached Mr. Flynn’s
communications, without regard to whether those applications were approved or
rejected.
27. All FISA applications since 2015 related to the Russia matter, whether approved or
rejected, which involve Mr. Flynn or reached his communications with anyone.
28. Information identifying reporters paid by Fusion GPS and/or the Penn Quarter group
to push “Russia Collusion,” communications regarding any stories about Mr. Flynn,
and any testimony or statements about how the reporters were used by the government
regarding Mr. Flynn.
29. FBI 302s of KT McFarland, notes of interviews of her or her own notes, and text
messages with Mr. Flynn from approximately December 27, 2016, until Flynn’s
resignation.
Case 1:17-cr-00232-EGS Document 111 Filed 09/11/19 Page 6 of 14
7
30. Any information regarding the SCO’s and DOJ’s destruction of the cell phones of
Peter Strzok and Lisa Page (after being advised of the thousands of text messages that
evidenced their bias) that has been classified or otherwise not available to the public
from the published Inspector General Report.
31. Any information regarding eradication of cell phone data,
texts, emails, or other information belonging to Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that created
the “gap” identified by the IG.
32. Information about any parts of any polygraph examinations failed by Peter Strzok after
Mr. Flynn was first the subject of any FBI investigation—authorized or unauthorized.
33. Brady or Giglio material newly discovered by the government (and by the Inspector
General in his separate investigations) in the last two years.
34. A full unredacted and copies of the recordings of Mr. Flynn’s calls with Ambassador
Kislyak or anyone else that were reviewed or used in any way by the FBI or SCO in its
evaluation of charges against Mr. Flynn.
35. All FBI 302s, notes, memoranda of James Clapper regarding Mr. Flynn, and the cell
phone and home phone records of Mr. Clapper and David Ignatius between December
5, 2016, and February 24, 2017.
Although not previously requested, the government should be compelled to produce:
36. Unredacted scope memos written for the Special Counsel and any requests by Special
Counsel that mention Mr. Flynn or his son.
37. All FBI 302s or any notes of interviews of David Ignatius or any other reporter
regarding the publication of information concerning Mr. Flynn and/or the reporters’
contacts with James Clapper, Andrew McCabe, John Brennan, Michael Kortan, or
anyone in the FBI, DNI, DOD, DOJ, or CIA regarding Mr. Flynn.
38. FBI 302s and interview notes of Jim Woolsey, including notes by SCO members of
conversations with Woolsey about Mr. Flynn, Flynn Intel Group, the Turkey project,
and his separate meeting with officials of Turkey after the meeting that was the subject
of the FIG FARA filing.
39. All communications between Mr. David Laufman, Ms. Heather Hunt and any other
member of the National Security Division regarding the FARA registration for Mr.
Flynn and FIG and notes, reports or recordings of their interaction with Covington &
Burling with regards to the filing and its contents. See Def.’s Resp. to the Ct.’s Order
of July 9 & Gov.’s Filing of July 10, Ex. D, July 11, 2019, No. 17-232-EGS.
Case 1:17-cr-00232-EGS Document 111 Filed 09/11/19 Page 7 of 14
8
40. Unredacted notes of the and Strzok from the interview of Mr. Flynn on
January 24, 2017.

In a time when we are met almost daily with claims that a new “bombshell” has just “exploded” onto the scene, usually with the editorial pronouncement that this one is bound to be “the one which puts the final nail in the coffin of the President and his entire administration, every now and then something actually qualifies for that description, and Ms. Powell’s brief of October 25, 2019, definitely qualifies as explosive. The title of a very good analysis by the highly qualified and careful writer Margot Cleveland in The Federalist sums up the feeling of many observers, including this author, “Sidney Powell Drops Bombshell Showing How The FBI Trapped Michael Flynn“, and offers a good summary of the thrust of this most recent filing:

“While the briefing at issue concerns Powell’s motion to compel the government to hand over evidence required by Brady and presiding Judge Emmett Sullivan’s standing order, Powell’s 37-page brief pivots between showcasing the prosecution’s penchant for withholding evidence and exposing significant new evidence the defense team uncovered that establishes a concerted effort to entrap Flynn. Along the way, Powell drops half-a-dozen problems with Flynn’s plea and an equal number of justifications for outright dismissal of the criminal charges against Flynn.

What is most striking, though, is the timeline Powell pieced together from publicly reported text messages withheld from the defense team and excerpts from documents still sealed from public view. The sequence Powell lays out shows that a team of “high-ranking FBI officials orchestrated an ambush-interview of the new president’s National Security Advisor, not for the purpose of discovering any evidence of criminal activity—they already had tapes of all the relevant conversations about which they questioned Mr. Flynn—but for the purpose of trapping him into making statements they could allege as false.”

Reading this entire brief — and then re-reading parts of it several times in order to be sure one has read what one thinks he has read — leaves the reader in a state of dumbfounded shock at the knowledge that “This Could and Did Happen Here”, with apologies to Sinclair Lewis. Obviously, I am not the only one to come away with that overall reaction of something approaching nausea as several commentators I have found to be reliable journalists, I should hasten to add, of the old school when journalists were actually honest, have uniformly described similar conclusions. One such commentator is John Hinderaker of PowerlineBlog.com, who states that Ms. Powell is “uncovering corruption in the FBI and the Department of Justice that, she credibly alleges, included the framing of General Flynn.” He continues:

Is that too strong? I don’t think so. Yesterday Powell filed a reply brief in support of her motion to compel the production of more exculpating material by the prosecution, and to hold the prosecutors in contempt of court. Her recitation, which relies in part on text messages that I take it have come to light recently, makes a compelling case of FBI and prosecutorial misconduct. The reply brief is embedded below; I encourage you to read it in its entirety.

Powell’s most explosive charge is that the FBI falsified the Form 302 that recorded the content of its agents’ interview with Flynn in order to set him up for prosecution:

On February 10, 2017, the news broke—attributed to “senior intelligence officials”—that Mr. Flynn had discussed sanctions with Ambassador Kislyak, contrary to what Vice President Pence had said on television previously. Overnight, the most important substantive changes were made to the Flynn 302. Those changes added an unequivocal statement that “FLYNN stated he did not”—in response to whether Mr. Flynn had asked Kislyak to vote in a certain manner or slow down the UN vote. This is a deceptive manipulation because, as the notes of the agents show, Mr. Flynn was not even sure he had spoken to Russia/Kislyak on this issue. He had talked to dozens of countries. Exs. 9, 10, 11.

Second, they added: “or if KISLYAK described any Russian response to a request by FLYNN.” That question and answer do not appear in the notes, yet it was made into a criminal offense. The typed version of the highly unusual “deliberative” 302 by that date already included an entire section from whole cloth that also serves as a criminal charge in the Information and purported factual basis regarding “Russia’s response” to any request by Flynn. The draft also shows that the agents moved a sentence to make it seem to be an answer to a question it was not.

If this is correct, the criminal complaint against Flynn should indeed be dismissed, and various people now or formerly at the FBI should face criminal prosecution.

As I have already probably waded far too deeply “into the weeds” for many, I will resist the temptation to detail some of the additional claims made in this brief, and the temptation is, I admit, strong in view of the astonishing nature of much of the conduct and the corruption it reveals, but will close with a high recommendation that, whether one is a lawyer or not, the entire brief of October 25, 2019, be read in its entirety.

However, I must note a Court Order entered only yesterday, October 28, 2019, which may signal the distinct possibility that the Court itself may deliver the final, and biggest, “bombshell” of all. In his brief Order of yesterday, the Court said it was cancelling a November hearing it had earlier scheduled “in view of the parties’ comprehensive briefing concerning Defendant’s Motions to Compel Production of Brady Material.”

Paul Mirengoff, who also writes for PowerLineblog.com, and who is not at all given to any embroidering whatever in his writing, summarized the Court’s Order as follows:

The cancellation of oral argument tells us that Judge Sullivan is ready to rule, but not what his ruling will be. I understand, though, that Gen. Flynn’s legal team considers today’s order by Sullivan good news. Its comprehensive discussion of prosecutorial abuse in this matter stands unrebutted.

Let’s hope Judge Sullivan sees it this way. Michael Flynn has endured unconscionable treatment from the country he served with great distinction.

Ms. Powell is reportedly working on a new book, possibly a sequel to Licensed to Lie. It is beginning to look like she will have plenty of material if the Court decides, especially after enduring the overwhelming corruption in the Stevens case in his court, he has well and truly had enough of the kind of blatant and deliberate misconduct which has apparently marked the persecution of Gen. Flynn. It is my opinion, as someone who practiced law for a very long time, and who reveres the American Rule of Law, that every lawyer who is proven to have played an active role in this nightmare visited upon a man of honor and integrity like Gen. Flynn, should be permanently disbarred, never to be allowed before the Bar of Justice again.

Returning to the Kafka novel, it is interesting to note that Josef K. never did know what he was alleged to have done in order to be arrested, nor did the Court in the novel, nor did anyone else. Josef K. died, never having been informed of the accusation nor having been availed the right to confront his accuser, if, indeed, there ever was one. A tale for our time?

Author’s note: I am well aware that much of this discussion either borders on the tedious, as “going into to the weeds” often does, or goes over the line into pure tedium. The reason I did this is because it seemed to me that it was worth doing as the media simply will not report facts like this to the public. Perhaps I was able to get these important facts out to a few citizens who have not seen them and will find them helpful to a fuller understanding of just how outrageous this corrupt prosecution has been. JAG

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

Brexit won’t happen on October 31st but there will be a general election on December 12, the first wintertime General Election for the United Kingdom since 1923. The current projection on ElectoralCalculus.co.uk has the Tories favored to gain a 58 seat majority. The bill, which passed 438 to 20, now goes to the Lords where […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Are You Buying What They’re Selling?

 

In the early days of my television career I worked at a very small independent station and had to learn to do a lot of things. It was a vastly superior education than the one I had received at university. I was fortunate enough to learn from men whose broadcasting credentials reached all the way back into the glory days of network radio. They were both patient and allowed me to make my share of mistakes and learn from them.

One of my first assignments was to write and edit promotional spots. Here my mentor was the corporate programmer and passed on this bit of sage advice. Never assume that the rest of the public shares your interests or tastes and never assume that your successes are an indication that you know what you’re doing. That last bit confused the crap out of me.

He explained, “I’ve been at this for 30 years and sometimes people will watch shows for reasons I never thought of. Sometimes they watch in spite of what I think.”

In 2013 NBC aired a live presentation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music to great ratings success but fundamentally misunderstood the reasons people watched. Instead of seeing it as a combination of bankable star and beloved show, they (and their competitors) just thought it could be replicated by any Broadway show as long as it was presented live. They were wrong.

And so it is with politics. As we run up to 2020 are people buying what the major factions are selling? Are you buying socialism? A return to “normalcy?” A continuation of Trump? Or are you buying something for totally different reasons?

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Kayla Mueller This Was for You

 

The “dark and dangerous” operation that claimed the life of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was named after 26-year-old Kayla Mueller, an American who was kidnapped by the extremist group and killed in 2015.

Mueller, who was described by her family as a “compassionate and devoted humanitarian,” traveled to Turkey in 2012 after her graduation and then crossed the border into Syria, on a mission to help those fleeing the civil war in the country. She was leaving a hospital run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders in the Syrian city of Aleppo when she was kidnapped in August 2013.

A friend of mine, who was a detective, had a sign on the corner of his desk; “The only reason some people aren’t dead yet is because it’s against the law to kill them.”

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi met the demise he deserved. My tears are reserved for Kayla Mueller, and for the victims of ISIS. She was from Prescott, AZ. From the Arizona Republic:

On Sunday, the Muellers praised President Donald Trump and the soldiers who pulled off the mission.

“We are so grateful for them … we are so grateful,” Marsha Mueller said. They were glad there was no loss of life on our side. They are grateful their daughter and the others who were tortured and killed by ISIS have not been forgotten.

“I still say Kayla should be here, and if Obama had been as decisive as President Trump, maybe she would have been,” Marsha Mueller said.

“For me what matters most I’m hoping now we will finally get the answers we have been asking for all along,” Marsha Mueller said. “I think this administration truly might help us. I don’t think they are as closed about what happened.”

There are times that death comes for those that deserve it. Kayla Mueller did not deserve death, Baghdadi did.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. More Unforced Errors?

 

Rats. . . Or is this more evidence of panic on the left? Are the Democrats, the Deep State, and their media minions freaking out, racking up penalties on both offense and defense, because of increasingly effective pressure from the Trump team? Consider their responses in the first 48 hours after American special operators successfully raided the rat hole of the now dead terror chief of ISIS, a man who would be caliph.

WaPo: “Watch me burn my journalism card.”

NYT: “Hold my Manhattan:”

NY Times: Trump Gets No Credit for Baghdadi Raid

Deep State operatives: “Watch us burn our military and intel expert cards!

Top military officers.”

General discontent.”

Parents of Kayla Mueller: “You did that a long time ago.”

On Sunday, the Muellers praised President Donald Trump and the soldiers who pulled off the mission. 

“We are so grateful for them … we are so grateful,” Marsha Mueller said. They were glad there was no loss of life on our side. They are grateful their daughter and the others who were tortured and killed by ISIS have not been forgotten.

“I still say Kayla should be here, and if Obama had been as decisive as President Trump, maybe she would have been,” Marsha Mueller said.

[…]

After Kayla’s death, the Muellers became outspoken critics of the American government’s handling of its foreign hostages. They had been encouraged to keep her captivity secret, and discouraged from attempting to free her or pay a ransom. 

[…]

But the Muellers know it is not over, and they have faith that President Trump will continue to hunt down others involved. “They’re going to get them all,” Carl Mueller said.

The swamp: “Watch us hate on President Trump on national television hours after he tells the normals he had the ISIS terrorist chief whacked. To make it extra woke, we’ll do it while we are supposed to show we honor America’s military members.”

Trump . . . was shown on the videoboard ahead of the fourth inning during a Salute to Veterans in-game segment. The crowd immediately responded by booing Trump loudly.

After initially boing Trump, the crowd continued into a “lock him up” chant.

Understand that the crowd was almost entirely composed of Swamp creatures, as the prices for standing-room tickets in Washington matched the grossly inflated real estate valuations and salaries of the Swamp.

As of noon today, standing-room tickets (which the Nats sold for $269 in this week’s season-ticket-holder presale) were going for at least $800. Diamond Club seats were priced at around $5,000.

Paul Mirengoff: “I’m almost red-pilled now!

The faces of some folks near me exuded hatred. They reminded me of an ugly crowd scene in an old Hollywood movie — one in which simpletons are portrayed as hate-filled and easily swayed.

[…] I can now imagine something like a civil war in America.

It seems like there’s almost enough hatred in the air to fuel one, and the hatred won’t go away when Trump is no longer president.

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From John Brennan’s twitter: “As in previous times of National peril, we rely on our military, diplomats, intelligence officials, law enforcement officers, & other courageous patriots to protect our liberties, freedom, & democracy. May they stay resolute & strong despite corrupt political headwinds they face.” Whatever you think of Trump, people like Brennan who think […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Book Review: Murder in the Grove by Michael Henry

 

I swear I was only going to read a chapter or two last night, but here I am at four in the morning just having closed Murder in the Grove by Ricochet’s own Michael Henry. Like the earlier books by Michael Henry I have reviewed (Three Bad Years, At Random, and The Ride Along), Murder in the Grove is a good, solid book and well worth reading.

The main character is Willie Mitchell Banks, whom we met in Michael’s earlier books. Willie Mitchell was a district attorney in the Mississippi Delta country. He had been in office in his rural county for nearly a quarter-century before retiring and moving to the big city of Oxford, Mississippi (population currently less than 25,000). By the time of Murder in the Grove, he has been living in Oxford long enough to be in good with the old geezers who play golf down at the country club each day, and it is there that the adventure begins. One of his relatively new friends asks if he will look into a murder that happened in 1962. At the same time, his successor as DA is having to bring a murder trial to Oxford in a change in venue due to the accused’s being too well known in their rural county in the Delta, making it impossible to impanel a jury. Willie Mitchell gets involved in both the current trial and in investigating the murder from long ago. And soon enough, more bodies are turning up all over the place.

Willie Mitchell Banks is a very relatable character. He has strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes he does smart things, and sometimes he does dumb things. This is not a novel about a superhero. It’s not a novel about a special forces guy or a secret agent. Willie Mitchell often carries a gun, but he’s no gunslinger. It’s a novel about a fairly regular guy who makes mistakes and can sometimes not see the obvious until his face is rubbed into it. It’s also a novel about friendship and relationships.

What else do you need to know? The total body count is about twelve, although four are dead before page one of the novel. Only two of the deaths are “on screen,” meaning in Willie Mitchell’s presence.

This is not a book fraught with tension. Yes, there is tension. When will Willie Mitchell figure out where his real problems are coming from? How will he get out of this jam? Are all the murders tied together? But it isn’t the sort of tension where you hate the bad guys with every fiber of your being and are waiting for the good guy to burst in the door. It’s a good level of tension. The main bad guy is a charming, old psychopath. He is bad enough and has been getting away with crimes for decades, in fact, for more than half a century. But he isn’t so bad that you hate the book for letting him live so long or bringing him into your brain.

Finally, it’s a book with a lot of poetic justice. As you may have gathered from my description of Willie Mitchell Banks, he is not a dispenser of instance justice one might find in action movies. When he is directly involved with justice, it is after a trial. But that does not mean that all the bad guys live to come to trial.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Remove the Training Wheels

 

The rise of socialism and nanny state ideologies in the West demands a response, but a cheerful and hopeful one. Too often conservatives are caught in anger explaining why the Left’s ideas won’t work instead of happily explaining why our ideas have succeeded and could succeed again.

It all reminds me of a child learning to ride a bike.

Picture a dad teaching his kid independence by letting go of the moving bicycle. Perhaps the kid crashes. A compassionate bystander yells “You monster!” … obviously a Democrat. The kid never trusts his dad or his own capabilities again and lives with training wheels. The kid grows up to be a Democrat.

Or the kid falls off the bike and bleeds. Mom and Dad commiserate, but encourage him to try to ride again without safety wheels as soon as possible. The kid does and becomes a free cyclist, perhaps even venturing beyond beaten paths and demonstrating an aptitude for exceptionalism. “You monster!” the kid yells at the Democrat.

For the kid to thrive, he must endure hardships and the parents must instill hope and confidence in him. Hope is not a critique of poor choices. It is a vision of what could be; usually a vision of what has been achieved by daring people before us.

Without government safety nets and assistance, families and neighbors have helped each other voluntarily. Human kindness did not begin with the nanny state. Problems such as poverty and sickness will always be with us. But they can and should be moderated by charitable assistance in face-to-face care wise to each person’s circumstances, rather than by bureaucratic accounting which must seize resources before doling assistance by general and careless formulas.

A good parent can seem awfully harsh, and even tyrannical, to a fearful kid who has not yet dared to live more fully. But it is the parent’s job to cut short all pessimism and to keep insisting that a grand adventure awaits.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

Susan Quinn’s WaPo post from yesterday is showing up in my Facebook feed. Definitely a positive development. This is the only social media account I have, so no telling if our posts are showing on other platforms.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Is the Washington Post Developing a Conscience?

 

US Special Forces
Let me put your mind at ease: the answer to the title is “no.” WaPo is not coming to its senses in changing its obituary on al Baghdadi. The question is, why did they greatly distort Baghdadi’s history, and then why did they back off their repugnant distortions?

Originally WaPo changed their description of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from terrorist-in-chief to “austere religious scholar.” They noted the brutality of his forces (here is one listing), but focused on his academic career.

In response to the protests against WaPo calling al Baghdadi an austere religious scholar, WaPo changed its description to “extremist leader.” The Vice President of Communications at WaPo, Kristine Coratti Kelly put out a tweet that said, “Regarding our al-Baghdadi obituary, the headline should never have read that way and we changed it quickly.”

In one sense, this debacle is a positive event. First, it validates (although they probably don’t need validation) that someone at WaPo was actually prepared to honor a man who has been responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. I suspect the only people who would appreciate those descriptions were his followers, and maybe Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. But even more interesting is WaPo’s caving into criticism. Since the newspaper doesn’t care about pushback from the Right, I wonder if the obituary had gone a step too far, even for the Left.

At this point, I’ll be pleased with any actions that show the ugliness, deceit, and distortions of the Washington Post.

Even from the Left.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Will Democrats End Up Agreeing It Was a Lynch Mob?

 

RatsPresident Trump used a perfectly good term, with a long non-racial history, despite the fraudulent posturing of Democrats (quickly exposed in their hypocrisy with an avalanche of examples) and TruCon lapdogs who took a break from potty-mouth tweets to posture against the Great Big Ugly Man and all of us who dare support him. At the same time, the deep state coup, now acknowledged and praised by the New York Times, beclowned itself as one of the chief rats started running. Attorney General Barr and his man on the case, DAG Durham, look like they will not pull punches, going for sunshine disinfectant instead of a cloud of stench-masking air fresheners to get the greasy, stale smoke odor out of the FBI, DOJ and intelligence agencies fleet. But, if you think that the end game is everyone rolling, or the buck stopping at President Obama’s desk, you would be wrong. In the end, the most we will get is “fact checkers” “proving” President Trump’s grammar was wrong.

As loudly as the Democrats and their media organs are playing fake Ukrainian folk music, they are trying to cover the discord of the real baseline, and no, it isn’t a symphony warming up. The intelligence community can hear Barr and the band running through “For Whom the Bells Toll” and “Thunderstruck” backstage.

Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) are still singing their impeachment cantata. But a huge orchestra, with plenty of brass (not to mention subpoena and prosecutorial power) has assembled and is tuning up. We’re told that Michael Horowitz’s much-anticipated inspector general’s report on the origins of the FISA warrants against American citizens, after numerous delays, will be released imminently, perhaps as soon as next week. Horowitz was quoted as saying it will be “very detailed” and feature “limited redactions.”

You can see why James Clapper objects that he was just following orders. Expect the same song from John Brennan, James Comey, the disgraced former director of the FBI, and other anti-Trump activists in the “intelligence community.”

Not to contradict the music critic at American Greatness, but the “just following orders” chorus is surely under hasty revision, and if it comes to that, the players will all be singing off a new sheet. Of course, they are going to have to learn their lines and get some help with elocution in their recitative, if the former Director of National Intelligence* (a retired Air Force three-star general, don’t you know**), James Clapper is representative:

James Clapper is never the smartest man in the room, even when he’s all alone, by himself, in solitary confinement, which he may very well soon be.

But Thursday night, after the corrupt, lying former director of national intelligence got the word on live television that the feds have opened a criminal probe into the Russian collusion hoax, the co-conspirator suffered a meltdown for the ages.

All dialogue guaranteed verbatim:

“Well, I should … you know be very curious since presumably … I uh I guess uh I’m one of those under investigation and … I uh don’t know — ”

The host cut in: “And you just heard about this?”

“Yes,” the below-average tongue-tied thug stuttered, beads of flop sweat forming on his pasty brow, “I just uh uh, you know, read the clip, um, about 20 minutes ago, um, I found the timing interesting given, uh the uh, increasing heat around the impeachment inquiry and so, uh it it uh, the timing’s interesting, I’ll just let it go at that.”

The fearsome chords clouding men’s’ minds are driving the Congressional Democrats, raving leftist base, and their media organs to act “like they have something to hide.”

Responding to reports that Attorney General William Barr’s investigation into the 2016 spying on Donald Trump’s campaign is now a criminal probe, Schiff and Nad­ler laid down their thumbscrews and emerged from their impeachment dungeon to express outrage. In unison, the twin Trump tormentors declared that partisanship has infected the Justice Department and “the rule of law will suffer new and irreparable damage.”

Meanwhile, an actual American hero and true patriot, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, called foul on the Corrupt Clown Show:

The man sees more clearly with one eye than most of his fellow politicians, let alone the commentariat. See him open the actual rule book, voted into effect by Pelosi’s party, now being broken with her complicity. Understand, Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrats have the power to change the rule book. They just have to vote to change the rules, just as they just have to vote on the floor, before the American people, to make the whole “impeachment” thing completely legal. They actually want nothing of the sort, and neither do the TruCons.

The frantic flailing of the deep state coup members and the TruCon dinghy crews is supposed to create such splashes as will somehow distract the electorate from that line on the horizon, a wave gathering size as it approaches shore. When their rotten-timbered vessels are swept under, will the rats clutch to a raft of memorandums-to-the-file claiming they were just following orders? Perhaps, but the last target named will not be an Obama.

Sure, President Obama did worse than the wildest things the 1972-4 coup plotters attributed to Nixon. But the senior plotters can’t all say they were just following orders if their statements point to the Oval Office. No, we will not hear Clapper, Comey, Brennan, and Rosenstein say they were all just following orders … unless they are directed to lay it all on their Attorney General, the first African-American woman to hold that office. What they cannot do is let The One be touched, so, if they need to plead temporary insanity, that is what they must do. If mass hysteria doesn’t pass legal muster, we may find them standing together with the former Attorney General, forming a firewall for the Obama faction and the leftists controlling the national Democratic party.

We will end up being told that President Trump got the grammar all wrong: it was really Lynch’s mob. The Obama faction must be protected at all costs, protecting her path to power in 2024 as transformational leader of the revolution at the end of the long march through the American institutions.


* While we are disinfecting our republic, the entire layer of bureaucrats, whose idle hands are sure to be the devil’s playground, in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence needs to be wiped off the Executive Branch organizational chart.

** Exhibit AA in why we should never uncritically credit political/executive level military service as a shield or sword for the bearer.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Arahant Begins: A Ricochet Silent Radio Origin Story

 

I had a most unusual wartime career. I’m from Illinois but my great-grandfathers fought for the Confederacy. A touch of rebellion and a streak of belligerence runs in the family. The Depression hit us hard. Before Pearl Harbor, I was living in a tiny, fifth-floor, walk-up apartment on the lower east side of Manhattan, taking night courses in business administration at City College. I wrote stories in my spare time and worked for a midtown publisher, Street and Smith. On December 12, the morning after Hitler declared war on the USA, a friend and co-worker of mine joined the mobs at the recruiting station near the office. Bob and I both went Navy. That was the last I saw of him for a couple of years, and they were busy years. I was a radio operator on a sub tender in the south Atlantic. The Navy trained me well. I thought I had no natural aptitude for technology. It seems ironic given how things turned out.

In September 1943, mid-winter south of the Equator, I was suddenly shipped Stateside. No explanation. Two weeks later, I reported to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and was ordered to report for tests at the Naval Research Laboratory. They had some kind of psychological screening program. I was sent to a crowded waiting room at the base hospital. The air was blue with cigarette smoke, cursing, and boredom. Waiting, waiting, waiting. To my surprise, my old New York pal Bob walked in, but that moment, before we even had a chance to say hello, a duty officer appeared with a clipboard. When it’s alphabetical, I usually go first, like I did here. He barked out, “Arahant! Asimov! Heinlein! Hubbard! Get in here, on the double!”

We jumped to it. Bob and I nodded to each other. He seemed to know the two others as well, the little Jewish guy in civvies and a slack-looking lieutenant. Another angry bark, “No talking!” We filed into a small classroom. Here, several doctors and civilians seemed to be in charge.

“Gentlemen, we are going to ask you some questions. Nothing can leave this room. Is that understood?” Our mumbles of “Aye, sir” must have sufficed. To my great surprise, I saw a stack of Street and Smith fantasy magazines on the desk, mostly Astounding, some headlined stories by Bob and me, and also this Hubbard character. What the hell?

One of the docs spoke up. He had a cold smile. “You men have real imaginations.” From him, it didn’t sound much like a compliment. “We have certain problems at the War Department that you might be able to help us with. They involve security matters”. Now they split us up for individual interviews. I was handed over to a doc and two civilians.

“Lieutenant Arahant, can metal explode?” This was weird. “Sir,” I responded, “I’m not a chemist or an engineer.” “We know that, Arahant. We are finding out how much you can deduce about subjects you don’t know. Can metal explode?”

“Fire is rapid oxidation, and an explosion is very rapid oxidation, so if magnesium flares are burned, I suppose they could be made to explode.”

“Could two pieces of metal explode just because they’re placed too close to each other?”

“Sir, when we lay magnetic mines, we are careful not to put them too close to the ship. Is that what you mean?”

“Not exactly. Let me ask a different question. Suppose a four-engine bomber was set up to carry only one bomb. Why would we do that?”

“Sir, I’m Navy, not Air Corps.” “We know that, Lieutenant Arahant. Use your imagination. Why might we do that?”

“It could be a television-guided crew-less plane that goes off on impact.” They liked that answer.

“Yes, it could. Suppose it was crewed, though, at high altitude, and we told you the plane had to go into a steep dive in the two minutes immediately after releasing the bomb?”

“Dive? That seems like the last thing you wanted to do, unless you were doing it to pick up speed. Like going downhill. Plane goes three miles a minute, maybe four in a dive…you’d do it to be six, eight miles away when the bomb went off. And that would mean…” I was suddenly uneasily aware of the implication. By their smiles, I was clearly a star pupil. “Maybe you should just tell me what this is about.”

“That’s all, Arahant. Thank you. You’ll receive your orders. Dismissed.”

Two days later, I was assigned quarters at barracks outside Washington, seconded to the staff of Robert Lovett, the Assistant Secretary of War for Air. He had a hard-charging staff that was remaking the AAC into an Air Force. The sheer logistics were incredible, almost impossible. There were so many conflicting priorities, so much bureaucratic underbrush that had to be cleared away. Increasingly a lot of it was Buck Rogers stuff that had to be brought into being fast enough to beat the Germans and the Japs. There was no rule book for any of this, no existing Manual of Arms for radar or death rays or robot rockets. Now I was beginning to get an inkling into why they needed men like me. A background in writing science fiction and fantasy was, ironically, the basis of a useful military skill.

Studying business administration taught me the importance of process, the way complicated production decisions split off like widening branches of a tree. Designing systems was not easy or intuitive work. Statistical analysis became the most powerful tool we could apply to these critical decisions.

Dr. Vannevar Bush, FDR’s top science advisor, was in and out of our office all the time, mostly to see Lovett and Thornton. Lovett’s longtime friend from New York law, General “Wild Bill” Donovan, the head of OSS, was his usual lunch companion. Gradually I was getting clued in.

It was an easy train ride to Princeton, where I was assigned to get a lagging project back on track, any way I had to do it. We were building a giant electronic calculating machine called ENIAC to supply firing tables for gunners as well as other possible uses. There were no moving parts. It was all vacuum tubes. I couldn’t advise them much on their electronic engineering bottlenecks, but I was doggedly forcing myself to learn its logical structure for solving problems, which was frankly all the War Department cared about. The ENIAC team was on the right track, so I recommended that we fund them to the limit. Actually, during the War there were no limits.

One day a Hungarian-accented, flashily dressed know-it-all showed up to take charge of the scientific end. He was a civilian with a blonde girlfriend, a shiny, late prewar convertible Buick, and an apparently unlimited gasoline allotment, all three of them in very short supply, and it was easy to resent the SOB. There were women working on ENIAC—they were the only labor supply left—and the professor introduced himself to every one of them, “Call me Johnny”. But with me, it was strictly Doctor Von Neumann. At first, he didn’t have any great respect for me. “So tell me, ah, Arahant, what is the status of the mercury delay lines? Why is the cathode ray storage unit not in place? Why are tubes burning out so quickly?” I replied evenly, “I don’t know, Doctor, and that’s the job of the electrical engineers. I’d be happy to introduce you. All I care about is the logical decision-making structure of ENIAC, and it matters little to me whether it’s done with tubes, relays, or water wheels”. My irritated bit of insolence brought a wan smile to his face. “Right you are, Lieutenant. Perhaps you know what you’re doing after all. Carry on with your work”.

I soon found out what Von Neumann was here for, and why this obscure project was of such interest. Vannevar Bush had given him a calculation puzzle that only ENIAC could solve, if anything or anyone could. It chilled the blood. If, just for the sake of argument, of course, you could instantaneously create a temperature of ten million degrees, would it set fire to the atmosphere of the entire Earth, incinerating the planet? I knew this was no mere hypothetical. We worked frantically through the spring and early summer of ’45 on the problem. To my immense relief, ENIAC said no. I handed the classified paper to Von Neumann, who laughed his mirthless laugh. “Glad to know, Arahant. Thanks.”

Three weeks later, the Second World War was over. After a national thrill of gratitude and relief, the challenges of the postwar era faded in. Gradually, millions of men returned to their prewar civilian jobs. I was still in uniform, but I was granted leave to visit my parents and my brother in Joliet. In January 1946 I was finally discharged. I pinned on my “Ruptured Duck”—an honorable service lapel pin—and applied for a job at Lehman Brothers on Wall Street. Well, Secretary Lovett wasn’t going to stand for that. I wasn’t even sure he knew I existed, but evidently, he did, and pulled instant strings to get me a better offer from Brown, Brown, and Harriman, his firm, as a business consultant.

In name only, at least at first. My real job was working with his now-privatized staff assisting Bill Donovan’s now-privatized staff in keeping the ghost of OSS alive after the war. Robert Lovett was appointed head of a committee to establish a permanent US intelligence agency. I didn’t really fit in with the tweedy, old money Ivy League crowd there—we joked it stood for “Oh So Social”—but I made myself useful helping run spies in resource-rich Brazil and Argentina, where I’d had some wartime experience. We used Ford and General Motors’ extensive business operations there as cover, with their consent. As part of the cover, I made frequent airliner trips to Michigan, which I fell in love with and would make my home.

I kept in contact with Bob Heinlein. Throughout 1946 he sent me clippings about the emerging conflict with the USSR. He was doing fine, getting published again, as was his Philadelphia pal Isaac Asimov. They were the hard science boys. In my scrivener days, I was strictly fantasy, especially historical fantasy. Bob’s other pal L. Ron Hubbard was also a fantasy writer, not really a science fiction man, but he shared with Bob a more-than-lively interest in the fairer sex, emphasis on the sex. I enjoyed those breezy phone calls with Heinlein but I was no longer part of that world.

Two big developments in 1947 affected my future. In February, the Central Intelligence Agency was established, and I was appointed to administer its portfolio of strategic investments, a multibillion-dollar fund to secure resources and influence world commerce. Then, near my old ENIAC post in central New Jersey, Bell Laboratories perfected a tube-less chemical compound replacement for the thousands upon thousands of vacuum tubes we’d used. I shifted Agency investments into AT&T as well as companies like Fairchild Instruments, and David Packard’s lab in California, and Eckert and Mauchly, the ENIAC boys, who were struggling to get an electronic computer out of the labs and into the mainstream of American business life.

We were building the future together. I’d become one of the biggest decision-makers on the Street, yet hardly anyone knew my name. I liked it that way, as did CIA, as did my bosses at Brown, Brown, and Harriman.

By New Year’s Day, 1950, my personal holdings stood at 10 million dollars. I was determined that in my lifetime, my goal would be to exceed 100 times that.

I reached it by mid-1951.


You have been reading the account of the creation of the Arahant we would come to know in Ricochet Silent Radio, introduced in the very first feature-length RSR adventure, The Wire Men (2015), which is the continuation of this story. Arahant serves as the backdrop, motivator, and plotter behind most of the subsequent RSR stories to grace these web pages since then. The real-life R> member @arahant is a skilled and gifted writer of historical fantasy whose books are available on Amazon.

Ricochet Silent Radio is unofficial fan fiction based loosely on the personalities and writings of actual Ricochet members, and the personal history, dialog, and actions attributed to them are entirely fictional. An equally fictional account of the start of the Ricochet Silent Radio Network can be found here.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Trick or Treat: A Celtic Lament

 

You may think that what I have to say about my Celtic forbears and Halloween is unduly critical. Ancestry.com DNA says I am over 80 percent Irish and 14 percent Scottish. I assume those missing percentage points (and some of what is now classified as Irish) are from miscellaneous invading Eurotrash, probably mostly Vikings and Normans. In any event, I believe my critical disposition to be a clearly heritable trait. My favorite T-shirt carries these inspirational words from W.B. Yeats:

Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.

Anyway, we’re off:

Celtic peoples had a near-exclusive lease on most of Europe for almost 2,000 years. They produced no major roads or cities or significant architecture. Rather than become an empire or nation-state, they remained a stubbornly tribal people. At a high-water mark 2,400 years ago, a Celtic people (Gauls) sacked Rome. However, over the following four centuries, Rome went on to become a powerful unified political entity while the Celts chose not to change. Beginning with Caesar and ending with the British, apparently it never occurred to the Celts that a tribal culture would invariably lose to nation-state invaders and that they should adapt and evolve accordingly.

Eighteen centuries after Caesar, one of my ancestors and his kin were among the highlanders in the left-wing of the Jacobite army that collapsed at Culloden. They were fighting as members of a clan/tribe against a professional army from a nation-state as if this time the whole tribal people versus nation-state thing would somehow work out.

A painful truth is that the political and cultural history of the Celtic world is more like that of the Lakota, Apache, or Australian aborigines than that of Persians or Greeks. The stubborn attachment to political structures, myths, and modes of life that don’t really work in the face of more modern forces have left a pervasive (even if largely unconscious) sense of loss and displacement that strangely lasted across generations.

Celtic languages persist only on the edges of western Europe and Celtic culture is mostly a matter for archaeologists and cultural historians to uncover; present traces are often so ephemeral. Little of that old Celtic world has survived into the modern world — except Halloween and it is oddly embarrassing that it has.

Halloween is based on the notion that the spirits of your dead kin and acquaintances will be even more obnoxious in death than they were in life and, therefore, must be appeased or they will maliciously interfere with ordinary affairs and outcomes. So, on (at least) one day of the year in the pagan Celtic world, the dead get to possess the living, to be heard and appeased (particularly the recently departed). Screaming, demonic noises, unfortunate sartorial choices, and generally scary behavior were the norms. (Pity the unsuspecting tourist just up from Ephesus or Capua.)

Ironically, this pagan idiocy was largely preserved by Christian authorities as part of the too-clever-by-half conversion strategy of coopting pagan festivals and symbols. Examples of this approach include assigning saints to intercessional roles formerly occupied by various Roman gods. A major tactical decision was to celebrate Christmas around the time of the winter solstice. The Christmas tree, for example, is from Celtic and pre-Celtic myth about the dying son-lover of the earth mother goddess bleeding into the roots of an evergreen in the dead of winter which then suddenly sprouts colorful fruits of all kinds to symbolize the rebirth to come in the spring.

It was a marketing tour de force to somehow incorporate that bizarre colorful pagan tree into Christian life as a symbol of the season of celebration of Christ’s birth. (Don Draper could not hold a candle to the Church’s earliest missionaries.)

In that same vein, the newly growing Church also made a tactical decision that those stubborn Celts could keep their beloved but patently stupid autumn ancestor ghost festival if (a) it was renamed All Souls Day, (b) toned down, and (c) followed by a holy day of mandatory attendance at Holy Mass— All Saints Day. So, All Hallows Eve, with its attachment to scary, spooky, ghostly stuff was incorporated into the liturgical calendar and thus, ultimately, into the wider Christian world.

The older and crankier I get, the more mixed feelings I have about Halloween. On the one hand, it seems like the equivalent of a minstrel show or blackface musical number in which the worst of Celtic pagan culture is preserved as an insulting caricature which vaguely mocks rather than appeases the ancestors. On the other hand, my grandkids like it and no one in my family has the slightest interest in my pontifications about pagan Celtic cultural arcana, so I make no serious attempt to spoil it for them. Also, I am the sire of a highly gifted pumpkin carver who is beginning an artistic family Halloween tradition with his own sons.

So have fun this Halloween. Let your ancestors scream and be appeased because they will likely again have much to dislike about how the world that they left you will change in the coming year.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Two Announcements and Two Headlines

 

Sunday was a good day for America. Overnight, between Saturday and Sunday, a joint operation by our nation’s elite forces, with assistance from the real intelligence community (not the headquarters cabal), ended in the death of the ISIS terrorist group’s chief, a would-be caliph, and seizure of significant amounts of high-value information.

President Trump, immediately after confirmation, alerted Americans that he would make a significant announcement on Sunday at 9 a.m. He made the statement and either before or after called Sen. Lindsey Graham, resulting in a second press statement at the White House. Meanwhile, the Washington Post fully justified its mass cancellation by not only the Executive Branch but also any decent American. No, Mr. President, I am still not tired of all the winning.

To set the tone for the day, here is President Trump’s great statement of moral clarity in the morning:

Yes, I’d say that was just about perfect. No “word salad” here, just a clear moral voice about what real evil is, what real good is, and the miserable cowardice of the man who would be caliph, screaming and dragging three of his own children down a dead-end tunnel where he murdered them while blowing himself up.

But wait, there’s more! Senator Lindsey Graham was summoned to the White House and sent out into the Press Briefing Room, no longer used for media personality grandstanding, to sing the praises of President Trump’s policy later in the morning. My read of his voice and body language was that the good senator did not much like eating crow.

I’m just imaging the phone conversation went something like this:

DJT: “Hey Lindsey, you see my statement this morning? Yeah. The operation was perfect! The only thing that could have been better was if that [redacted] coward didn’t take his children with him. What a monster.”

LG: “Mr. President, this was great news.”

DJT: “I know you are really happy our great military finally got this guy.”

LG: “Made my year, Mr. President. Please pass on my congratulations and thanks.”

DJT: “Well, now that you mention it, I can get you in front of the cameras here and let you say it yourself. In fact, let’s do it this morning!”

LG: “Well, gosh, Mr. President, I’d be honored to do that.”

DJT: “Great, I know the American people and our great military will appreciate you standing up like that for them today.”

But wait, there’s more! The Washington Post completely vindicated the mass cancellation of subscriptions. They surely thought they were being very woke and doing their party a solid as they published their obituary of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Even worse, the Washington Post changed their headline, perhaps after apparent leftist Trump Derangement:

And then they doubled down:

Decent people noticed:

Then both the comment section on the WaPo story and Twitter savaged the Post with #WaPoDeathNotices. See John Hinderaker’s “You Can’t Mock the Post Enough.” Contrast the Washington Post to the Times of India coverage of the notorious life and death of the man who took the pseudonym al-Baghdadi:

He will be remembered as a ruthless terrorist, powerful enough to declare a so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria and to export his bloody vision of holy war around the world…

As John Hinderaker noted separately:

On Tuesday, the White House announced that it is terminating its subscriptions to the New York Times and the Washington Post. Why not? The Times and the Post are disreputable partisan rags. They have no stature, no standing, and there is no reason why taxpayers should have to support their partisan journalism.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Tree Falls in the Forest

 

There are many tragic elements to our current political moment, but by far the most tragic for liberty is the capture of the media by the Progressive Project. “If a tree falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The mainstream press is incurious about the perfidy at the heart of the greatest political scandal in American history. Thus the only sure corrective — the people’s will expressed in thousands of precincts across America — is suppressed.

This thought was inspired by an anecdote included in Scott Johnson’s (PowerLine blog) review of Kim Strassel’s new book, Resistance (At All Costs): How Trump Haters Are Breaking America:

[W]e received this email message about Kim’s book from former SWIFT CEO Leonard Schrank. Writing from Brussels, Mr. Schrank noted:

“I was in Boston a week ago for an MIT workshop on Cybersecurity. I had time to hop the MTA to Harvard Square and its famous book store (three floors, classical music playing) at the Harvard Coop. The main floor had table after table featuring the latest books from the usual constellation of liberal/progressive authors. I browsed them all but no Kim Strassel. I finally asked the always helpful Information desk who queried his computer and directed me way up to the third floor “domestic affairs” section. I had to ask for help again on this floor and we finally located three copies buried on the bottom row of a bookshelf. I grabbed my copy and paid.

“Being an MIT alumnus, I call this Resistance cubed: Resistance to Resistance about the Resistance.”

As Strassel establishes in this valuable book, the tentacles of the Resistance reach wide and deep.

As Instapundit often notes in quotes:

Modern journalism is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn’t know because they might reflect badly on Democrats. (Jim Treacher)

Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving. (David Burge)

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Atheists are Irrational

 

Study after study shows that religious Jews and Christians are happier, more stable, more charitable, have happier families and children… the list goes on. In my case, religion gives me enormous confidence, a strong purpose and a sense of fulfillment when I work toward that purpose.

So if Atheists really were interested in the best outcomes, shouldn’t they choose religion based solely on the results regardless of whether or not there is underlying proof of the existence of a deity? After all, a truly hard-data-driven approach leads to a seemingly-inevitable conclusion. Or do atheists not really care about empirical results?

Note, of course, that religious people often shy away from my argument as well. Believers, like atheists, like to wallow in the well-trodden and fruitless muck, trying to prove or disprove the existence of a god. Yet most of our lives are occupied doing things for practical, utilitarian reasons, like “Does it work better if I do it this way?” When we choose to wear clothes or use table manners or treat other people with respect, we are not doing so out of a deep conviction about The Truth, but because we get better results when we act that way.

Well, we clearly get better results when people act as if they believed in religion, even if, when pressed, they may well admit that they have profound doubts. So if we really want better lives, then why not act accordingly and follow the data?

 

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. This Catholic Traddie’s QOTD

 

It’s a relief that Greta Thunberg has not yet been chosen to be a cardinal.

It comes from an essay titled Pandaro’s Box written by By Bishop Robertus Mutsaerts, Auxiliary of ‘s Hertogenbosch.

Greta is the young climate change scold that sailed across the Atlantic to deliver us from the evils of fossil fuels, plastic straws, air travel, and heating our homes during the winter months.

Whereas our vocabulary once consisted of words such as “our Mother the Church,” “hellfire,” and “virtues,” now it’s all about Mother Earth, Amazonian fires, and ecology. These points of view are not at all different from those of political parties and pressure groups.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Are You a Political Warrior?

 

When I first came to Ricochet, I was baffled at how people engaged so seriously in political discussion. I mean, it’s just politics—right?

As discussions got especially rabid and polarized over the entry of Donald Trump, I found myself feeling compelled to take sides. At the same time, I was trying to keep up with the destructive efforts of the Left and the media. What in the world was going on?

On several Ricochet posts I questioned people about their hostility within the entire political arena. They explained that it had always been a contentious environment. Cooperation only meant who caved in first, and the most often.

I began to realize that this was not just a hostile arena. Although many people refused to call the dynamics a “civil war,” the news reported the violence of antifa, and the hateful accusations and lies used to bludgeon people on the other side (of wherever their particular party sat). Sans weapons, it was definitely a war.

With that realization, I recognized how I had changed. Slowly but surely, I had become more and more frustrated with the unwillingness of people to look at all the facts, with their preference to create stories out of whole cloth. I’d never seen the media so vicious and obsessed, the commentary repeated over and over like the lines in a tragic play or horror movie. I began to write my own rants, rail against the distortions of facts and the damage that was happening to people, to their lives and their families. I had to let my own political warrior emerge.

What does that mean? I discovered a part of me that feels compelled to fight against injustice in the political arena. People who had once seemed over the top in their writing were suddenly my partners in the fight. I also found (at least in my own experience) that many people were focusing on the serious issues at hand: betrayals by our intelligence agencies, by the previous administration, by the media; a refusal to acknowledge any of the accomplishments of Donald Trump, or discounting their relevance to our country. I was angry. I felt betrayed. And I felt compelled, even obligated, to speak out against the lies and to encourage the Republicans to fight. Fight!

I don’t like to fight—at least not if I don’t have to fight. I’d rather talk things out, build relationships, find a way to work together. But I can’t even imagine trying to do that with people on the Left, not even my own friends.

Have I changed? If I’ve changed, is it permanent? I don’t feel more violent. I still seem to have my core that is settled, balanced, and thoughtful. But I’ve discovered a part of me that, when the situation calls for it, I will fight. Maybe my training in using a gun has contributed to my outlook. There is still a part of me that wants all the hatefulness, betrayals and deceptions to just go away, even though I know they won’t.

 

* * * *

 

Has the political environment changed you? Are you sitting on the sidelines, watching but trying to avoid the ugliness that permeates the current actions? Are you at the other extreme, fighting back or picking fights to call out injustice? Or are you somewhere in the middle, trying to find your own balance of listening and learning, as well as fighting for truth, integrity, fairness and the Constitution?

 

* * * * *

 

I know my own limitations. I couldn’t be a member of the military; I don’t have the courage and constitution for it. I’d make a lousy politician; I’d be kicked out of most gatherings for misbehavior. But I can write; I can speak out; I can represent ideas that support our Constitution and condemn those who would destroy it. I am a political warrior.

What about you?

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Donald Trump’s Peculiar Integrity

 

I know that “integrity” isn’t the word a lot of people think of when our current President is brought up. It isn’t a word that I normally associate with him either. But, as I ponder the very mixed bag that is President Trump, it occurs to me that his peculiar brand of integrity really is, for me, his redeeming feature.

The first and popular meaning of the word “integrity” has to do with moral character, and that is the sense in which the word seems, even to me, ill-suited in its application to Donald Trump. I’ll concede that in a heartbeat, and without argument.

But the second meaning of the word “integrity” has to do with its root in the Latin word “integer,” and means “whole” or “of a piece.” There’s an implicit understanding that the wholeness of a person exhibiting this second kind of integrity springs from a solidness of character — in that sense, it circles back to the first meaning of the word. But this idea of a person who is “of a piece,” the same all the way through, is a useful idea in its own right, and one that I think can be applied to our current President.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

One: I believe that the nation’s press has failed us through its consistent and inadvertently blatant bias. When ninety percent of all political donations by news organizations go to one party (that would be the Democrats), it is hardly surprising that journalists tend to put their mouths where their money is, so to speak, and slant the news. (What is less certain is that, by and large, they even know they’re doing it.)

We needed a President willing to call out the press. We got that in Donald Trump. In a different man, we might have had someone willing to take on the press but not pick fights with every single critic, large and small. That would have been nice. But Donald Trump is Donald Trump: he picks fights with everyone because that’s his nature — it’s integral to who he is.

Given the choice (which I wasn’t) between a man who would allow the press to remain unchallenged and Donald Trump, I’d rather Donald Trump, because I think discrediting a corrupt press is that important.

Two: The United States has long recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but it took the blunderbuss of Donald Trump to finally move our embassy there. He did it as he does most things, with little consultation and without the benefit of more seasoned diplomatic input. He just did it — and about time, too.

We needed a President who would simply move our embassy, and we got that in Donald Trump. In a different man, we might have had the boldness to move the embassy but the introspection and caution — the humility — to get out of Syria in a sensible and responsible manner. We didn’t get that. We got a man who decides and acts, for better or worse.

Three: The bureaucratic state is a bloated, overweening monstrosity, sticking its ugly snout into every aspect of our lives and polluting everything with its reeking and fetid breath.

Sorry, let me try again.

The bureaucratic state has grown too large, and is a drain both on the economy and the culture. President Trump, without apparent concern for the hyperventilating concern of the oh-my-G-d-the-sky-is-falling set, has been busy dismantling large swaths of the regulatory apparatus, seemingly with the intent of returning us to the dark ages of, oh, 1980 or 1990, perhaps.

That dismantling includes pulling us out of the Paris climate boondoggle, reining in the rabid dogs of the EPA, telling the federal government that it does not get to decide who uses which restrooms in America’s public schools, and nullifying some of the worst excesses of the previous administration.

We needed a President who didn’t care much about precedent, about not upsetting the precious apple cart of entrenched bureaucracy. We got that in Donald Trump. In a different man, we might have had a more judicious disrupter, one who gored the noxious oxen but left basic civility intact. Alas, President Trump isn’t that man of nuance and discernment.

I want half the disruption Trump brings, and I want it more than I dread the other half of the disruption he brings. He’s disruption all the way down: that’s his peculiar integrity. On balance, I far prefer to have what he brings — all of it — than not to have the part I think we needed.

Maybe, in 2024 or 2028, we’ll get a man with a different kind of integrity, with the assertiveness to take on the sacred cows of the left while respecting more of the norms I value. But right now, we have Donald Trump. I’ll take four more years of that.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Price Controls

 

“Four things have almost invariably followed the imposition of controls to keep prices below the level they would reach under supply and demand in a free market: (1) increased use of the product or service whose price is controlled, (2) Reduced supply of the same product or service, (3) quality deterioration, (4) black markets.” – Thomas Sowell

Did anyone notice California’s governor imposing statewide rent control on September 10? It was done to make housing more affordable and more available. It was sold as a means of fixing the homeless crisis. Of course, the cities that already had rent control are the cities with the greatest housing shortages and highest rents, but why let reality intrude on a great theory.

Now the whole state of California gets to share the benefits enjoyed by San Francisco and Las Angeles.

And while California’s Democrats proclaim “this time it will be different!” Thomas Sowell’s prediction is almost certainly a more accurate prediction of what California is about to experience.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Who Is Pachamama?

 

Several Amazonian idols were collected by two anonymous men, who entered an ancient church in Rome called The Church of St. Mary in Traspontina, not far from St. Peter’s Square. Before dawn on October 21, they tossed them into the Tiber River.

The carved Pachamama figurines were found and scooped out of the water by the Italian police and are in the control of an Italian police commander. The Pope apologized, according to the latest news, to the Amazonians, not the faithful, who are the subject and guests of the Pope’s recent Synod. Catholics and apparently two mysterious men, were outraged at the false idols being placed at various altars and other holy areas during this Synod.

Several Ricochet members have already posted these stories, including @scottwilmot, and @brianwatt.

Definition of Pachamama according to Wikipedia:

Pachamama is a goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes. She is also known as the earth/time mother. In Inca mythology, Pachamama is a fertility goddess who presides over planting and harvesting, embodies the mountains, and causes earthquakes.

The Pope was seen seated on a bench before a ceremony, along with several cardinals, as people bowed and honored Pachamama. He has suggested that the idols be returned, and is contemplating bringing them to the Church of St. Peter tomorrow, for the closing Mass of the Amazonian Synod.

There is a website about the figure.

As I peeled back the layers of this organization, who have been around since the 1990s, I discovered the goals are to move the world into a “new age” of respect for the earth, and nature, including “giving nature legal protection, for respecting indigenous peoples, and respecting all life.” Sounds good right (haven’t we been there before)? Wait, there’s more…. If you research the people giving the lectures, you’ll read how democracy is bad – the enemy, income inequality is a problem that needs to be resolved, wealth and success are wrong, and corporations are raping Mother Earth and the world’s resources, contributing to global warming, income inequality, and climate change. Some of that may be true. I respect the younger generation who are following in the footsteps of the original 1960s movement to respect the earth, our fellow human beings, to be kind to one another, equality for women, protecting children and those less fortunate, and to seek peace.

I also draw the line between taking those issues and turning them into reverse racism, gender fluidity, as if God made a mistake creating male and female, idol worship, the denigration of sovereignty, and traditional western culture. If you look closely at Pachamama.org, you will find something beyond respecting the Amazon forest and people. You’ll find classes training in ancient cults, including Egyptian and other “mysterious” forms of worship (their words), as part of their teaching programs. You’ll find humanity to be the answer, rather than God. You’ll find every New Age gobbledegook regurgitated from the ’60s, and probably every pagan civilization in the past since civilization began, that eventually met with demise, spouting the oldest lie found in Genesis – “ye shall be as gods.”

The worship of Mother Earth is nothing new, but there is a difference between respecting the earth and nature, and all-out worship, as in front of an altar. Missionaries throughout the world for centuries have sought to bring relief to the suffering, through education, clean water and food, medicine, and safe housing, while bringing the truth of the Gospel to the world — dismissing false idols, that are nothing more than myth, stone, and wood. The goddess Pachamama, and all other false gods and goddesses have never changed one thing, or bettered the lives of any human being. So what is going on? What is the purpose of this Amazonian Synod brought forth by the Catholic leadership? Where are the Gospels or the message of Jesus as being the Savior of souls? That part has been left out.

I was a kid raised in the New Age generation. I thought every path led to the same place. I had the books and likeminded friends and believed in this lie for decades. My personal spiritual journey came full circle and can assure you it was empty of substance and truth. So here we go again. Only on a much larger scale. To the Vatican – where are you and why are you not teaching new generations who don’t know what saving grace means? It seems they just want to Save the Planet and nothing else.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Bombshell: Yes, I Am A Logophile.

 

Since I have been required to notify everyone in the neighborhood of my legal status, I see no reason to conceal it from you any longer: I am a registered logophile. It’s true. I love words. Shun me if you will, but I am no longer ashamed of the way God made me.

I’m not going to participate in the “nature versus nurture” debate of what caused me to be this way. My family and close friends already knew anyway, and at my advanced age, there’s no reason to stay in the closet.

As required by the terms of my probation, I hereby publish a list of some of my favorite words, along with why I love them so:

  1. Glossolalia: Speaking in “tongues” in an unknown language. Though this term typically refers to practices in some fundamentalist religions, I also use it to describe sentences constructed by members of Congress, including Maxine Waters, Eric Swalwell, Hank Johnson, AOC, Jeff Sessions, and, of course, the late James Traficant of Ohio.
  2. Onomatopoeia: Buzzzzz, sizzzzle, and hissssss are examples. I love this word because I learned to spell it in the 7th grade to prepare for one of the last spelling bees in the US not won by an Indian-American.
  3. Niggardly: Meaning selfish, miserly. This word has tremendous shock value, and I dare you to use it in public around honor graduates of any US public education system. Most recently in the news when used by former DC Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who is African-American, to describe a budget allocation. Williams was roundly criticized for his racist language.
  4. Snafu and Fubar: I love these words because they were totally made up by our armed forces and they’re so pleasing to the ear.
  5. Ululate: This ancient word re-emerged to describe the wailing by wives and daughters of the millions of victims of Middle East violence over the last 3,000 years. Plus, it reminds me of my Mother’s first name: Eula.

I could add to this list for days, but I wanted to mention another category, words I hate because they spread like Ebola through the ranks of the useful idiots who masquerade as journalists, who repeat them mindlessly:

  1. Unprecedented: Used by every media person and angry politicians to describe actions that have actually been carried out many times before.
  2. Ubiquitous: For many moons during a period in the recent past, every reporter on television used this term repeatedly. As you might expect, it’s use became, you guessed it, ubiquitous.
  3. Bombshell: Used now to describe everything. (See title to this piece).
  4. Tipping Point: Actually two words, and I hate them both.
  5. Tsunami: Everything is now a tidal wave.

Okay, you Ricochetti out there who are closet logophiles (and you know who you are), kindly add to these lists. There are words you love and words you hate. Let’s hear them.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. What Warren and Bernie Sanders Supporters Are Worried About: Student Loan Repayment

 

Via Bored Panda:

Comments are worth reading as well. Here is one, regarding why a person can get $200K of student loans, but not even $20K in business loans:

Kevin Burgess
because the business loan could be forgiven, and written off as a loss. Student Loans cannot. Even though they actually come from the U.S. government, they’re handled by third parties, who count on it as a never ending income stream for the economic life of the student. Even in death it’s not cancelled.