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.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘The Past Beats in Me Like a Second Heart’: Casa Venida and the Slow Death of Bowling

 

Casa Venida was a modest little 12-lane bowling alley, located in the blue-collar town of Compton, California. But man what a great place that was!

Casa Venida was a dark place: low lighting, dark corners, no windows. But the bowling pits were brightly lit. Twelve little numinous shrines, each of which contained ten 3.5 pound, female-figured bowling pins, the innocent victims of my roundhouse hook.

The bowling alley also had a few pool tables, a bar, and a middle-aged, heavily breasted woman who owned the place and took no guff from anyone. When I opened that door to Casa Venida, I was home.

I knew that place inside out. I set pins, shot pool, kept score for leagues, bowled in leagues, bowled in pot games, played liars’ poker with dollar bills, and drank Shirley Temples from the bar. When I wasn’t doing those things, I was sitting in the spectator seats smoking cigarettes with Red, while we savagely critiqued the sad-sack recreational bowlers. We thought we were as clever as all get out.

Casa Venida was a refuge, a social club, and a playground. School sucked big time by comparison. I wasn’t one of those cute, clever, and confident boys that girls and teachers paid attention to, so school wasn’t a whole lot of giggles.

A steady girlfriend would have leavened my joyless school life, but I was too intimidated by girls to ask one out. (Did you women out there know you had such an powerful effect on boys like me?) I had a girlfriend for a very brief time. I can’t remember how I got her. Probably pure luck. She was a Jewish girl from the better side of Compton. I got to third base. Any farther would have been scary and inconceivable. I can’t remember how that brief relationship ended. She probably finally sized me up and came to the conclusion that she could do better.

Playing sports in high school would have been a godsend, but though I considered myself a whiz of a sandlot athlete, I wasn’t good enough, once I reached high school, to make the varsity teams in any sport.. I would sinned incessantly, as E. A. Robinson once wrote, if that could have gotten me on the baseball or basketball teams.

But don’t feel sorry for me. I had a place to go: Casa Venida, the neighborhood bowling alley, where there were no unattainable girls, no teachers to ignore me, no books to read. Is it any wonder that I preferred the bowling alley to school?

And I found my sports niche in Casa Venida. I discovered that if you go down far enough in the sports world, you might be able find your sport. I found bowling. And I was good. At one time I held the second highest junior average in LA. Later I bowled on the University of Oregon team. (Yes, bowling was an official sport at Oregon at the time. We even had a one-time professional bowler, Lou Belissimo, as our coach.) So I found my sport. It just wasn’t one of the big three, something your dad can brag about to his friends.

A few years back, I drove through Compton and stopped at Casa Venida. It was desolate, with shuttered windows and refuse on the pavement outside. It looked as though it had been that way for a long time.

Thomas Wolfe was right when he said that you can’t go home again. You can’t go home not only because the place won’t be the same, but also because you won’t be the same.

In the mid 1960s, there were about 12,000 bowling centers in the U.S. Today there are about 5,000. When I bowled for the University of Oregon, there were 8 lanes, later expanded to 16, along with a number of bowling classes. A few years back, the U. of O. removed all 16 lanes.

In the 1970s, there were over nine million league bowlers in the U.S. Today there are about 1.5 million. Bowling alleys used to count on their leagues. League bowlers showed up every week, the often ate before they bowled, and they drank a lot from the bar when they bowled. At Casa Venida, we had twelve leagues a week, Monday through Saturday. The first league started at six p.m., the second at 9. Almost all teams were associated with the blue-collar companies the men worked for.

The decline of league play is sometimes blamed on a trend toward social isolation.*

We have one of those giant recreation centers, Big Al’s, just a few miles from my home in Portland. It has a huge restaurant/sports bar, an arcade with hundreds of video and roller-ball games on the second floor, 24 regular lanes on the bottom floor. There are also 12 psychedelic lanes (dark with pulsing lights and loud music). Big Al’s, has no league play at all. In fact, its 36 lanes look forlorn most of the time when there are just a few rec bowlers in action. I get the feeling that its main revenue comes from the giant restaurant/sports bar and the arcade on the second floor. The guy who built this thing was wise to hedge his bets.

Were I a kid again, there would be little reason for me to hang around Big Al’s. There is no league play, so I wouldn’t be able to keep score for ten cents a line per bowler. And there would be no Shirley Temples for me from bowlers who scored 111 in the 7th frame (a longstanding league bowling tradition). And I wouldn’t be able to set pins because the automatics have taken over.

As far as I can see, there are no permanent bowling alley kids that hang around the place. So there would be no more liars’ poker, no more criticizing bowlers from the spectator seats (no spectator seats in Big Al’s), no more social life at the bowling alley.

Here’s an odd little fact that might have a larger meaning: I’ve come across four guys who used to hang with me at Casa Venida and all became hardcore conservatives. How about that? What does that mean?

______________________

“The past beats in me like a second heart” is a quote from John Banville.

* If you want to read a very good book on the decline of league play and how that’s a reflection of social isolation, read Robert Putnam’s seminal book, Bowling Alone.

Here comes Halloween and Bob the dog will be going to the various festivities dressed as a lion. Party down, Bob.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Fruit of the Poisoned Tree: Illegitimitate Illarum Illegitimus

 

Every once in a while, it is useful to stand back, take a deep breath, and consider what is going on in the broadest context: Can Trump even be safely removed from office? Which event, at this juncture, is best for the long-term good of the nation — impeachment or referendum?

If you are a never Trumper, let’s suppose that tomorrow it is discovered that President Trump authorized a wiretap on Elizabeth Warren’s campaign on October 24, 2019. How many people who voted for Trump are now going to decide, “yup, he’s gotta go?” More likely, the response will be “wrong, but fair” given how their vote was treated after Obama authorized wiretapping the Trump campaign and transition team in service of retaining/regaining Democrat control of the White House and the levers of power. Never happened, you say? To which I respond, “we’ll see.”

This is where we are. Everything that is happening now has to be viewed in the context of what we know or suspect happened in 2016. What we do know is that the foundation for the current impeachment “inquiry” was laid then. We were told before Trump was sworn in that there was an impeachment effort underway. So in what reality does President Trump get removed from office without a vote of the people (of the people, not for the people) without consequence to the system that permits it?

The title to this post is a slight alteration of the legal maxim “fruit of the poisonous tree” which excludes evidence improperly obtained from being used in a trial of the accused. The conviction can still be obtained through other evidence, if available and sufficient. But what if the tree is poisoned so that there is no fruit? In this metaphor, the corruption is so broad that every attempt at developing and presenting evidence of wrongdoing is itself suspect.

There are those that might say it doesn’t matter that this has been a case of identifying the person then looking for the crime, once the crime is found it is sufficient. That is so offensive it is hard to even fashion a reasoned response. It does matter. And it matters to millions upon millions of people. Get out of the DC beltway wargaming mentality. See what this will do to confidence in any party or system that supports this — and make no mistake, the Republicans will own it if it happens.

Uneasy rests the crown on anyone who holds office after Trump’s removal. They feared that Trump’s election would create a cult of personality that would undermine democracy. But it was treating him as illegitimate (and by extension his voters) and conspiring to remove him with only the barest fig leaf of constitutional blessing that has made it so. If only they had let the country be normal, the band would play, and the circus would move on at some point. But, no, they had to make sure that the riff-raff could never be permitted to believe they had any voice in this country. They had to “burn the village to save it.”

Hat tip to Rich Lowry and Ann Althouse.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Remember Just Before the 2016 Election, HRC Was Up 14 Points

 

Gallup Admits Poll Claiming 52 Percent of Americans Support Impeachment May Have Included Illegal Aliens

But Gallup has confirmed to Breitbart News that it does not know how many illegal aliens or non-citizen legal residents were among the 1,526 respondents questioned in the poll conducted between October 1 and October 13. Gallup also confirmed that it does not know how many of the poll respondents are registered voters.

As a result, it appears that the Gallup Poll released last Wednesday, which has been widely reported in the mainstream media as an indicator that public support for impeachment is on the rise, dramatically overstates the percentage of American citizens–and particularly American citizens who are registered voters–who support impeachment.

…Gallup also apparently heavily skewed the weighting of sample respondents–a sample that most likely included illegal aliens and non-citizen legal residents–by dramatically decreasing the percentage of Republicans included in the weighted final results that showed 52 percent support impeachment, while dramatically increasing the percentage of Democrats included in those weighted results.

Also, Gallup neglected to mention that the question they asked wasn’t whether the respondent supported “impeachment” but whether the respondent liked “peaches.” Close enough for Gallup.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Monopoly on Virtue

 

German philosopher Max Weber was the first to define the state at least partially as an organization of people which claims a monopoly on violence. It sounds threatening and ominous when you put it like that, but you can understand how a government’s establishment of a monopoly on violence is important to a stable and peaceful society.

Mr. Weber wrote of this concept exactly 100 years ago, in his 1919 essay, “Politics as a Vocation.” He was writing in Munich during the German Revolution, and he feared that politicians, who are skilled at manipulating the emotions of their constituents, could misuse this enormous power, and utilize their monopoly on violence due to emotional outbursts rather than calm, rational reflection. Weber died of pneumonia at the age of 56 the following year. Hitler took power about 15 years later and validated many of Mr. Weber’s concerns.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

A lot has changed in the last 100 years. The advances of capitalism and liberal democracy have created a large middle class in many western countries, and those with personal property and wealth can be difficult to intimidate, as Napoleon understood. So many modern western governments have traded in their sticks for carrots. Your interaction with your government today is less likely to involve somebody like Joseph Stalin telling you that it’s not fair that you have more stuff than someone else does, and is more likely to involve somebody like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez saying that it’s not fair that there is someone out there who has more stuff than you do. I suppose it feels better to have our leaders appeal to our jealousies rather than our fears. It almost sounds compassionate, in a way – much less ominous than a monopoly on violence. But I have grown to fear the state’s monopoly on virtue. I think this is much, much more dangerous, for many reasons – let me explain.

One of the many problems with leftism is that leftist policies don’t work. Whatever leftists try to fix, they generally make worse (Just ask anyone who lives in Chicago. Or California. Or Baltimore. Or New York City. Or Detroit. Etc.). They work around this by emphasizing their good intentions and de-emphasizing the actual impact of their policies, which tend to vary between disappointing and horrifying.

This makes sense politically, but it results in increasing hostility between well-meaning people.

Since it’s the good intentions of leftists that matters, that means that conservatives must not have good intentions. Thus, rather than debating the best way to fix a problem, we tend to end up in a battle between good vs. evil. This makes negotiations difficult. How can you compromise with evil?

When negotiation becomes an unforgivable sin, democracy becomes impossible. So does civil society.

Joseph Stalin and, um, nobody in particular…

This was one of Alinsky’s most brilliant insights, and one of the most powerful tools of modern leftists like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The politics of personal destruction enables the left to avoid the discussion of ideas and solutions (a discussion which they are sure to lose), and instead take people like Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, and Donald Trump outside the realm of polite society. Even if people like that actually survive such attacks and win public office, they are rendered powerless. Leftists can’t debate ideas, so they “disappear” those who hold them. This is much more effective.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama

What’s even better is that this destructive force extends to anyone who agrees with those targeted for destruction. Agrees with them about, well, anything. This is why so many of us here on Ricochet use aliases. And this is why many of us view the Never-Trumpers as accessories in the murder of democratic government.

And this is why so many mainstream Democrats completely lost their minds when they saw Ellen DeGeneres enjoying a football game with George Bush. Anything which appears to humanize Republicans is unforgivable. If we just disagreed with them, we could still be friends. But those people are pure evil. Would you enjoy a football game with Adolf Hitler? Of course not. Virtuous people do not treat pure evil with civility. That might tend to validate evil. Which makes the virtuous people evil.

Ellen DeGeneres should have stayed home.

This technique of controlling public debate is important. But there are many other facets of this approach that are problematic.

When the only way to compete in the public arena is via increasing levels of good intentions, then a politician’s natural tendency to “do something” is exaggerated. Calvin Coolidge’s adage of “Don’t just do something, stand there” becomes entirely impractical. So government spending grows. And government gets bigger. And more powerful. And Thatcher’s ratchet effect just keeps moving to the left. There is no other way.

Also, this worship of good intentions has more impact if the citizens really believe that the only way for them to get ahead is through the assistance of benevolent politicians. If individuals thought that they could get ahead through merit and hard work, then leftist promises of free stuff would have less impact.

If government intends to motivate you with carrots rather than sticks, then it must make you jealous of others. Accentuation of jealousies means removing hope of improving your own lot in life, and believing that the deck is stacked against you. The tendency of leftists to sound so negative is not an accident. “You didn’t build that” really means that “You CAN’T build that.” You need me. To build anything.

That is power. That is not paying indulgences hoping to maybe get into heaven later. That is paying tributes to have hope for a better life here on this earth, next week. That has real impact.

By trying to convince people that they can’t succeed on their own, they prevent many talented people from even trying. The stifling impact of this message on our society and economy is difficult to overstate.

Not to mention that it’s hard to solve problems if you’re not permitted to discuss them. When only the leftist (or statist) position is acceptable, then public debate becomes less reasoned and more emotional. Which essentially ensures that nothing will improve. It can’t.

The left has learned that if it can’t win the debate, it should end the debate. Define leftism as virtuous. Once you establish a monopoly on virtue, then you win by default. Society may not win. But leftists will. And since they’re the good guys, then we can sacrifice a few eggs to get a beautiful, virtuous omelet.

Our constitution was written to control the government’s monopoly on violence. And it has done a fairly good job, in that regard.

It has proven entirely inadequate to the task of controlling the government’s monopoly on virtue.

Majestic achievements of the greatest architects and builders have been destroyed by common pests, like termites and black mold. The extraordinary achievements of our founding fathers are being systematically dismantled by common punks, like Saul Alinsky and Hillary Clinton. Their strategy is simplistic and vicious, but effective.

Socrates would be offended by the brutally oppressive techniques of modern leftists. So would our Founding Fathers. So would Max Weber.

And for what it’s worth, so am I.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Corruption of the Intelligence Community Under Obama Should Have Surprised No One

 

We’ve heard non-stop since Trump was elected that he acted in an unprecedented manner in XYZ. By contrast, Obama received rapturous coverage from the MSM. Conservatives, like yours truly, who lived in the Chicago area, were much more skeptical about him.

For example, there was the sweetheart deal he had with Tony Rezko. But especially troubling to me was when his campaign twice tried to shut down my friend Milt Rosenberg’s Extension 720 program on WGN radio. Milt had hosted this program since 1973, but he had never experienced this from any campaign.

Obama grew up politically as a Crook County Democrat. I was not in the least surprised by the IRS scandal, Fast and Furious, Benghazi, and the spying on Trump’s campaign in 2016. It was in a day’s work for Obama. What did surprise me was the extent to which McCain and company covered for him. It’s a cliche but that’s how we got Trump.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Vexillology and Heraldry Series #3: Parts of Flags and Related Terms

 

Once again, I am starting with the definitions on Wikipedia’s page. Snarky comments in parentheses are mine to indicate what I really think of their definitions. You can find the earlier conversations in this series here and here.

Parts of Flags

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a3/Flagterm.png

Canton—Any quarter of a flag, but commonly means the upper hoist quarter, such as the field of stars in the flag of the United States or the Union Jack in the Australian Flag.

Charge—A figure or symbol appearing in the field of a flag. There are terms for specific types of charges or alternate names for single changes, such as:

  • Badge—A coat of arms (really a heraldic achievement) or simple heraldic symbol.
  • Emblem—A device often used as a charge on a flag. It may be heraldic in origin or modern, for example the maple leaf on the Canadian Flag.

Field—The background of a flag; the color behind the charges.

Finial—A decorative or protective cap atop the flagpole. Often shaped like a sphere, but can also be a shape with heraldic significance, such as a spear or an eagle. Sometimes referred to as a capper. (By whom, Wikipedia? Give me names and addresses of these people. I will kneecap them for this offense. Finial is a good word. It’s what you use to cap the ends of curtain rods. It is what you screw on to hold a lampshade on the lamp. And, it’s that thing on the end of a flagpole, and no, I don’t mean a flagpole sitter.)

Fly—The half or edge of a flag farthest away from the flagpole. This term also sometimes refers to the horizontal length of a flag. (No, it isn’t. We use a very special term for that: length.)

Hoist—The half or edge of a flag nearest to the flagpole. This term also sometimes refers to the vertical width of a flag. (No, it isn’t. We use a very special term for that: width.)

Obverse—The front of a flag. For most flags, this is the illustration you will see.

Reverse—The backside of the flag. It is different in some very “special” jurisdictions, like Oregon, who just had to show off their beaver.

Flag of Oregon.svg

Other Terms

Fimbriation—A narrow edging or border, often in white (silver/argent) or gold, on a flag to separate two other colors. For example the white and gold lines of the South African Flag.

Flag of South Africa.svg

Length—The span of a flag along the side at right angles to the flagpole.

Width or breadth—The span of a flag down the side parallel to the flagpole.

Basic Contexts of Use

There are six basic contexts of use, and vexillologists have symbols for them that you might encounter:

Civil flag—Flown by citizens on land.
State flag—Flown on public buildings.
War flag—Flown on military buildings.
Civil ensign—Flown on private vessels (fishing craft, cruise ships, yachts, etc.).
State ensign—Flown on unarmed government vessels.
Naval ensign—Flown on warships.

The United States flag, known by many names, such as “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “The Stars and Stripes,” or “Old Glory,” currently serves all of these contexts.

Some countries also have flags for other contexts, such as the UK’s having an RAF ensign.

Then there are very special contexts, such as the crazy-person designator context. In the US, here is the flag for that:

If you see this flag, back away slowly and avoid eye contact. If you happen to fly this flag, the men in white coats with the butterfly nets will be visiting you soon.

Thoughts? Additions? Comments? Forgotten parts? Take it away, Ricochet.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

I’ve seen my share of kills, but nothing as cold-blooded as this. Working the streets as a cop you see your share of mayhem, with intention, and unintentional stupidity. From OregonLive: Three young teenagers fatally shot a 65-year-old man while he collected cans along a quiet North Portland street and then took his car on […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

Ring the doorbell again. They might be out of candy.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

RedState reports: This is coming in the form of some hilarious spin from The New York Times, but the big news here is that my previous speculation was correct. The Barr-Durham probe into the origins of the Trump-Russia fiasco is now officially a criminal investigation. Sundance at The Conservative Treehouse adds more details … My initial […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Battle to Reclaim the Church Has Begun

 

The idiots, diabolical prelates, aging Vatican II boomers, atheists and pro-abortionists handpicked by Pope Francis, in all his wisdom, who used non-Catholic indigenous Amazonian people as a prop to push through a resurgent Marxist Liberation Theology (previously condemned by St. John Paul II) and open the door for ordination of women has been a dark comedy of errors. How could I say that the indigenous Amazonians are being used as a prop? Perhaps because Austrian Bishop Erwin Kräutler, the leading spokesperson for the Amazon Synod has articulated that,

“I have never in my life baptized an indigenous [person], and I also do not have the intention of ever doing so.”

Baptism is one of the duties of any priest. Priests and prelates are in the saving-of-souls business. That’s what they have been called by Christ to do upon ordination. They do this by performing the sacraments – baptism, confession, confirmation, marriage, Extreme Unction (also referred to as the Last Rites). When a priest, bishop, or cardinal articulates that he has no intention of baptizing someone to save their eternal soul, then that cleric is no longer working for Christ and one has to ask who he may be serving instead. There has been virtually no discussion of baptizing and converting non-Catholic indigenous Amazonians but instead discussion of melding pagan worship with Catholic worship and much moaning, groaning, and handwringing that there’s never enough priests in the region, so the Church must ordain married men, make women deacons, and consider at some point ordaining women to the priesthood. There is so much more to comment on about the Amazonian Synod that I just don’t have time to address, but Ricochet member Scott Wilmot has been doing yeoman’s work on addressing some of the other abominations.

If you’re still a staunch supporter of Francis after the all the revelations, scandals, slanders, and heretical pronouncements, pagan idolatry, deliberate obfuscation, financial malfeasance (the potential pending collapse of the Vatican bank), racketeering, promotion of known sexual predators to the curia — then your loyalty to Jorge Bergoglio may be based on a childish notion that the pope should never be challenged and must be doing Our Lord’s work, or perhaps you’re ideologically possessed and want the Church to be more relevant to various causes like the promotion and encouragement of LGBT lifestyles, Climate Alarmism, Gaia worship, collective salvation, social justice, identity politics, open borders, wealth distribution, and multiculturalism.

There are countless news articles available over the past several years that will bolster what is asserted above and each one should shock and disgust any person of faith or anyone trying to live a decent and ethical life. This pontificate is an unmitigated disaster that increasingly shows that it is being engineered by diabolical forces at the highest level. There is simply too much evidence, testimony and now eyewitness accounts that Bergoglio is not simply a bad pope but a pope who it has been reported by a journalist for whom he continues to grant access that may not even believe that Christ was God while on Earth – the Arian heresy (a report, which to date His Holiness has still not personally refuted); and is, through rigged synods, doing all he can to undermine close to 2,000 years of Church teaching.

The vomit-inducing spectacle of watching pagan idol worship take place in the Vatican gardens at the invitation of Francis, should have upset any Catholic who has a passing familiarity with the Ten Commandments and realize that bowing and chanting before false idols violates the First of the Ten and to worship false idols is an invitation to the demonic. When a woman who presented the carved statue of a kneeling/squatting naked pregnant woman to him claiming it depicted “Our Lady of the Amazon” or Mary, the Mother of God, Francis, rather than being shocked or disputing the claim, blessed it. The statue was subsequently referred to and identified as Pachamama, a fertility goddess and representation of “Mother Earth” which Catholics do not recognize and spokespersons for the Vatican have subsequently said that the carved idol does not depict the Virgin Mary. The pope has not apologized for blessing a pagan idol.

After a few days of this nonsense, two faithful Catholics removed five of the Pachamamas from the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina near Vatican City and unceremoniously tossed each one into the Tiber river, where it was reported that they eventually floated out to the Mediterranean.

The men involved were following the example of previous saints and prelates of the Church who also courageously destroyed pagan idols that defiled consecrated Catholic churches. The response on Catholic social media by traditional Catholics has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic and appears to be a sign that the laity (not unlike commuters in London hampered by Extinction Rebellion protests), may have reached their breaking point on the insidious agenda of this pontificate. Francis sycophants have compared the courageous men to ISIS terrorists, lied about what they actually did, called them racists and one even claimed they only tossed the Pachamamas into the Tiber because they couldn’t get their hands on the Pope and toss him in.

Now, it would be one thing if Francis and his preferred cardinals, bishops and priests were attempting to make minor changes to Church teaching based on sound and irrefutable theological arguments but this isn’t the case. In fact, Francis and some in the curia, often vent their anger at traditional Catholics who are trying to preserve Catholic teaching.

A few days ago, I recommended that Vatican City be exorcised – based on all the scandals of this pontificate. I sincerely believe that a comprehensive door-to-door exorcism of every apartment and every room in Vatican City including – beginning with the papal apartments – and re-consecrating St. Peter’s Basilica – seems to me to be a wise thing to do.

Then yesterday (Wednesday) evening something quite disturbing happened. Dr. Taylor Marshall, a traditional Catholic, theologian, YouTube video commentator (often with fellow theologian and teacher Timothy Gordon) and author (most recently of Infiltration; The Plot To Destroy The Church From Within with a forward by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, one of the few outspoken critics of this pontificate) tweeted out that someone was rewriting his Wikipedia page and putting in false information, particularly about his credentials.

Now, I probably would have chalked this up to any rabid sycophantic follower of the Pope or a follower of some of the LGBT-promoting priests and prelates here in America – but Dr. Marshall has found that the IP address of the computer of the person hacking his Wikipedia page has been located within Vatican City.

It seems that the battle to reclaim the Church is underway and has ratcheted up a notch.

 

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Nature’s Power

 

We have had some serious rainfall here in the Seattle area the past few days. This often brings flooding to our rivers, and the Snoqualmie River is no exception. Here is some video of Snoqualmie Falls. You cannot deny Nature’s Power, or her Beauty.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Republicans Storm the Schiff SCIF!

 

Yes, the title of this post is hyperbole, and I’m delighted to describe the most dramatic event for the Republicans in the impeachment process this year; I hope they were all taking notes. I think this action was especially noteworthy and beneficial to the Republicans and I’ll describe the reasons. Let me first give a brief description of the event:

House Republicans stormed a closed-door impeachment hearing on Wednesday to protest the inquiry and refused to leave until Democrats held an open hearing.

About 30 House Republicans, headed by Rep. Matt Gaetz, forced their way into the hearing as Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, was providing private testimony as part of the impeachment inquiry inside the House Intelligence Committee’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF).

Here are the reasons this demonstration was so significant:

  1. It’s sending a message to the House Democrats that they can’t control everything in this process.
  2. The Republicans are finally discovering the joy that Trump has known for months of demonstrating pure power.
  3. No one even tried to stop them, eject them or punish them; they were chastised for taking their phones into the room.
  4. Schiff left in a huff with Laura Cooper so that the interview didn’t happen.
  5. The Republicans continue to demand transparency, the right to call witnesses and a copy of the transcripts.
  6. The Democrats have been given notice that the Republicans are not going to cave in to their tyrannical and secretive activities.
  7. Democrats who are reluctantly going along with this charade are going to be even more uncomfortable as Republicans point out their irresponsible efforts to withhold information from the public.
  8. Even those Republicans who weren’t with the 30 who attended the sit-in did their part in bringing in 17 pizzas to feed the troops.
  9. Republicans must continue these kinds of protests; others are calling the protest a political ploy, but their actions are bringing international attention to the situation.
  10. These actions could unite Republicans like they haven’t been united in a long time, both in the House and in the Senate, as well as their backing the President.

Let’s hope this is not just a one-time effort, and that Republicans are developing other strategies to shine a light on the misadventures of Adam Schiff and his cohorts.

Keep on fighting, Republicans!

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Don’t Ask Me to Dance

 

I don’t like to dance—never have, never will. I think the last time I was on a dance floor was in ’82 or ’83. I hate dancing. It doesn’t thrill me the way it does other people, and I’m sure some of you are wondering why. Well, I’ll tell you.

First of all, I sweat like a pig. We’re talking buckets here. Every time I got on the dance floor, it was open the spigots all the way. What about a slow dance, you may ask. Well, I could tolerate slow dancing. What could be better than pulling some PYT close against you and grinding around? Doing it without her saying, “Ew, you sweat like a pig! Leggo me!”

Next, there’s the issue of rhythm. The old adage “All God’s chillun gots rhythm” is blatantly false. Sweating is bad enough, but when I dance to anything with a beat faster than a whale’s heart, I jerk around like a spastic after downing an entire pot of coffee. You might as well strap electrodes to my arms and legs and give me random shocks. “Look, Stad’s doing the Funky Chicken!”

Then there’s the music. I’d much rather listen to it or even play it than dance to it. But if you take a date to a place with dancing, she’s gonna wanna dance, not sit and talk—and talking is how you get to know one another, and hopefully you’ll score that night get to see her again. But after one dance with me, she’s ready to go home. “I’ll take a cab, thank you.”

However, I do like to watch people dance. It’s fun to grab a table next to the dance floor, sit back with a cold adult beverage, then pick out the cutest chick with the tightest dress and study her, all the while praying for a wardrobe malfunction. Think of it as anthropological research into the mating ritual of dancus babelicious.

Wife: Why are you staring at that young girl on the dance floor?

Stad: Uh … I was thinking about buying you a dress just like hers.

Wife: Yeah, right. (eyeroll)

So there you have it. No dancing for me. Not even Sandra Bullock could drag me onto the dance floor. (But if you’re reading this Sandra, feel free to try—nod nod, wink wink.)