Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Living Symbolically

 

I don’t think it is much of a stretch to argue that the way in which people think dictates more about what people do than anything else. This is, in my opinion, why culture matters. It also helps us understand why language matters – the strengths and weaknesses and thought patterns of any given language give words to our thoughts, which in turn help shape and mold our deeds. To take one extreme example as illustration: in lands where the phrase “inshallah,” meaning “if Allah wills it,” is dominant, then people end up with more fatalistic and less curious approaches towards any new idea.

Symbolism in turn underpins culture and language. How we live symbolically trickles through the rest of our lives. Eco-warriors, who really are doing acts that have no concrete impact beyond symbolism, may not make any real difference to the planet, but they certainly make an impact on themselves and on the people with whom they come in contact. So do other unhelpful symbolic belief systems, like those of Social Justice Warriors or anti-Israel BDS activists.

More

This week on the mighty GLoP podcast, we once again throw pre-agreed topics to the curb and let the Big Brains (that’s really what they make us call them) take the show where they will. So, we cover the infamous history of Rob’s NYC neighborhood, The Watchmen and The Man in The High Castle, whether or not The Irishman is trash or treasure, and are the Ferengis (characters on Star Trek: Voyager for you non-nerds) members of the Chosen People? A GLoP investigation. Finally, fair warning: we do some Rank Punditry® on impeachment and some of you may be get triggered by what you hear. We apologize in advance to those that don’t want to hear politics, and urge you to use your fast forward button the the last five minutes where we discuss Christmas vs. Hanukkah (or is it Chanukah?) and then do stick around for an outtake or two after the closing song. 

More

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Strip Clubs and Baby Mamas

 

Obama’s minions gave us the IRS scandal, Fast and Furious, the Benghazi cover-up, the Iran deal, the NSA unmasking, the surveillance of the adversarial press and now, as we know, FISA abuse and the arrogant, clandestine, likely illegal, investigation of a political opponent.

Minions within the federal bureaucracy are used to taking their cues from leadership, eager to please, to push past their shared agenda while a complaint press provides cover. Sondland and his cronies naturally assumed that the aid promised Ukraine would be used as leverage. It was a perfect storm of opportunity; corruption was a given; the aid was held up; a quid pro quo could easily be accomplished while providing the comfort of the usual cloak of deniable plausibility.

More

Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Thin-Skinned Media Can’t Abide Being the Bad Guys in ‘Richard Jewell’

 

“Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell — based on a true story — is a well-made, well-acted picture about a clear act of injustice against an innocent man,” Time magazine’s movie critic Stephanie Zacharek begins. “So why does it leave such a sour aftertaste?”

Criticism of the new film stems from the same source: thin-skinned journalists. Our brave firefighters are always eager to trash every group of Americans. Evil CEOs, corrupt politicians (at least those with an R after their name), and the troglodytes in flyover country have been bombarded with weak accusations and bad faith as long as the news media has existed. But when anyone points the finger at their misdeeds, the press cries foul.

More

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Deplorable Anecdote

 

Worked from home today; some new work requirements require I up my game when it comes to Spanish, so I’m using an online language training service. At/about 1300, I took a break to get some lunch and to restock my supply of Heineken tall boys. (Who knew language training was such thirsty work?)

I went to the Key Largo Publix for my Class VI Personal demand items (such as health and hygiene products, soaps and toothpaste, writing material, snack food, beverages, cigarettes, batteries, alcohol, and cameras—nonmilitary sales items) resupply. The parking lot was unusually full for that time frame. Oh, the Snowbirds are beginning to descend upon us. Got it.

More

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Yeah, Finland Is Great. So What?

 

Finland is a happy and homogeneous little country of 5.5 million people. A consistently strong Winter Olympics performer. Heavily forested. Oh, and one more thing: it’s a “capitalist paradise,” at least according to a Sunday New York Times op-ed by Finnish-American journalist Anu Partanen. Dynamism and innovation coexist nicely with high supertaxes and a superbig welfare state. Partanen’s message to America: Be not afraid of universal healthcare, tuition-free college, and months of paid parental leave. Also the taxes. Your economy will be just fine with a much cozier version of capitalism.

And maybe she’s right. But why is it reasonable to automatically assume what works well in a tiny country full of Finns would work equally well in a big country not full of Finns? Different people, different geography, different history, different culture. As my AEI colleague Stan Veuger said in a 2016 podcast Q&A about the Nordic nations: “They’re relatively homogeneous, they have stable politics, they do not have a tradition of ethnic groups or racial groups that have long been disadvantaged. So that makes a lot of these programs more feasible and more affordable too.” And their egalitarian natures seem to predate their welfare states.

More

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Memories: The Restroom Reader

 

I told Mrs R that if she hadn’t shredded all of our canceled checks and credit card statements, that I’d be able to use them to put dates on some family travels and photos. It would also help me complete a detailed timeline of family history.

The canceled checks are all gone, but a couple of weeks ago she found a stash of credit card statements from the late ’80s that somehow hadn’t been tossed. Those are some of the very years that I wish I remembered better. We had children at home, so those should have been the best years of our lives. Some events stand out, but too much of it went by in a blur.

More

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. House Democrats Admit They Never Had an Impeachment Case Anyway

 

This morning we are graced with “news” that House Democrats will present two articles of impeachment to the full House. The two “charges” are probably the two most vague, unspecific, unconstitutional things they could manage to throw out without dropping the whole thing altogether, proving that at this point mostly about the 2020 election and doing as little damage to their brand as possible.

If they fail to add to these two, they will be left with “charges” that not only have nothing to do with law or the Constitution but are flaming examples of exactly what the Founders/Framers were trying to prevent. It would be hard to think of two that would better illustrate the “maladministration” suggestion rejected by Madison and the rest of the Constitutional Convention, including the man who originally suggested it.

More

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Democrats Have Wanted to Impeach Trump Since Day One

 
President Donald Trump / Shutterstock.com

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her committee chairmen have put forward articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Democrats have wanted to impeach Trump since the first day of his presidency (and before) and are trying for the fourth time now in the House.

On the day of Trump’s inauguration, January 20, 2017, the Washington Post’s “investigations editor,” Matea Gold, authored an article titled “The Campaign to Impeach President Trump Has Begun.” The article was published online at 12:17 PM EST, approximately the same time that Trump was raising his hand and swearing the presidential oath of office.

More

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Vote Conservative, Actually

 

In what may be the Conservative’s last ad filmed before the election, BoJo parodies the carol singers scene from Love Actually to good effect. This just premiered a couple of hours ago on the UK and is already hugely popular. “Brilliant,” as my countrymen like to say. The Conservatives are polling at about 43%, Labor at 33%, and then the also-rans. It’s important that Boris get a majority of seats in order to forestall a “hung” Parliament or a bunch of jockeying to form a coalition. Wonder if this ad is good for a couple of points?

More

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Conservative Is As Conservative Does

 

Trump thumbs upPresident Trump is the most conservative president of my lifetime, including President Reagan. This is true, as a matter of fact, across all three of the legs of the old conservative coalition stool: economy, national defense, and social conservatism. With an impressive record of promises kept, despite the worst efforts of Democrats and Conservatism Inc., American voters have a real choice in 2020.

President Trump has done more to strengthen NATO, as opposed to papering over other nations’ hiding under our nuclear umbrella and so shifting the burden onto our taxpayers and our cities under ICBM target designations. He has, without a massive military build-up (despite his hyping of our latest purchases), imposed more economic pain on bad actors (Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran) than any president since at least Reagan, and done so to the advantage of American working families. President Trump’s policies have paid off in growing NATO member states spending at least 2 percent of their GDP on their own defense, from two to eight members, outside the United States. This satisfies Americans’ basic sense of fairness, building a reasonable basis for continued commitment to an alliance that is finally showing signs of taking itself seriously. Such a substantial demonstration of commitment also serves notice to Russia and China that NATO is not a paper tiger.

More

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Why Are We Here?

 

When the Russia/Mueller fiasco fizzled and Democrats realized that none of their candidates could beat Trump, they got desperate enough to just go flat out for a phony impeachment. Schiff literally did a dramatic reading of the transcript that was altered for effect. Rep. Nadler’s Law School professors were worthless, adding nothing to the conversation much less the case. Nancy Pelosi, in recognition that this is a kangaroo court simply directed them to impeach before the hearing was over.

More

Kevin McLaughlin and Matt Whitlock sit down with Senator Joni Ernst, the Senate’s first female combat veteran, to talk about motorcycles, Iowa’s famous pizza spot, hanging out in chicken coops, and more!

More

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Our Liberty’s Greatest Threat (At the Moment)

 

It is not often that either Chris Mathews or Joe Scarborough are right about anything. But a couple of weeks ago, on the same day, they both used their own words to speculate that the nation was on the verge of a crisis that would endanger its very existence. Of course, they were dead wrong about what the crisis was or the reasons for the danger. As a matter of disclaimer I would like to make it clear that I did not go on an MSNBC binge. I picked up these insights from short clips. Long ago I determined that MSNBC should only be consumed with accompanying dozes of good Irish whiskey. And, unlike Irish whiskey, MSNBC should always be restricted to short, well-spaced dozes. The whiskey is always more enlightening, honest and clarifying.

More

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Guilty until Proven Innocent

 

The impeachment hearings have been a sham. I won’t list all of the violations of historic protocols, procedures, and assumptions that have been made by the House of Representatives. In the last 50 years, we have seen the abuse of the term “presumption of innocence” in particular. Aside from the overwhelming partisan politics, the confusion has emerged from the government’s inability to determine whether the impeachment process is a political one or a legal one. Unfortunately, this ambiguity has benefited the actions of the Democrats and been damaging to the case of the Republicans and President in particular. There are also far-reaching implications of what I believe to be the Democrats ignoring the presumption of innocence for the country at-large. Let me explain.

First, you might want to decide for yourself whether the presumption of innocence is a legal term or a universal right. One source defines it this way:

More

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Porn: To Ban or Not to Ban, That is the Question

 

Political Twitter does this thing where a subject pops up and debate rages for days; eventually, the debate migrates to blogs, where someone writes on the topic du jour, then someone else responds, and then someone else responds to that response, and so on. The debates are always largely pointless, they debate theories that are entirely theoretical and hypothetical. And yet, here I am, weighing in, because unfortunately everyone else weighing in on the “ban porn” debate is wrong.

For those of you smart enough to stay away from Twitter, it started here:

More

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Paul Volcker, R.I.P.

 

Paul Volcker died today at age 92. A colossus of a man both physically (at 6’7″) and professionally, it sometimes seemed to me his achievements at the Federal Reserve were eclipsed by “maestro” Alan Greenspan who succeeded him in 1987. A full recounting of his career is impossible, of course, and he did much after leaving the Fed, a job he never asked for but served when asked.

In his biography of Greenspan, The Man Who Knew, Sebastian Mallaby notes that Volcker was deeply influenced by a speech in Belgrade in September 1979, weeks after his appointment. Arthur Burns gave the speech, a former Fed chair himself, who claimed that the independence of the Fed was over because monetary experts had too many questions to speak with one voice against political pressures. Mallaby argues that the desire to wring inflation out of the US system, characterized by the Saturday Night Special announcement that Fed policy was being fundamentally changed, was Volcker’s attempt to prove Burns wrong. (As I was writing this, Mallaby has released a version of this point in his retrospective of Volcker today.) Thus began the long disinflation that was the achievement of Volcker’s career.

More

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Lara’s Theme Harms California Insurers

 

California’s Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara took the highly unusual step this past week of instituting a one-year moratorium preventing the state’s insurers from refusing to renew their homeowners insurance policies. He did so to ease an affordability crisis when homeowners insurance rates spiked in response to the $24 billion in claims that these insurers had to pay to cover losses from the disastrous fires across California in 2017 and 2018. Heeding constituent calls, Lara aims to protect homeowners who had “been dropped after decades of premium payment and loyalty.” At a minimum, 800,000 homes are covered by the new policy, with more to come.

The insurance companies have loudly protested this move, but to no avail. They suffer collateral damage from catastrophic losses not of their own making. Unfortunately, it is easy to identify the parties responsible for these devastating losses. Start with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), the heavily regulated public utility company, which recently agreed to a $13.5 billion settlement to be paid for death, personal injury, and property damage claims from the 2017-2018 wildfires. Next is the California legislature, whose ham-handed regulations in the pursuit of “environmental justice” and “diversity and inclusion” have contributed to PG&E’s chronically poor performance. Nonetheless, a strong wall of government immunity for discretionary functions insulates the state treasury from all liability—yet another classic illustration of undue power without correlative responsibility.

More

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Ode to Jeaux by a Tiger Fan

 

Basking in the gleaux of Jeaux,

After years of seasons seaux and seaux.

More

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. “Nativity” by Joseph Bottum

 

I just this moment finished reading Nativity, the Christmas story by Joseph Bottum. It’s wonderful–exhilaratingly wonderful, look all genuine artistic accomplishments. Portraiture as knowing and incisive as those of O’Hara. Prose as sure and glowing as that of Fitzgerald. And through it all the wry, self-possessed sensibility of a storyteller who long ago turned his back on New York to live in the Midwest–and seems to have decided to revive the great tradition of the American short story all by himself just because nobody else seemed interested.

The title of the story, again, is Nativity. It comes in at under 50 pages and costs less than two bucks. The beauty of the thing will wring your heart.

More

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Man Bites Dog: Leftists Betray Leftists Before UK Election

 

The British Parliament will stand for election on 12 December 2019. The norm, which all of us have come to expect, is for “October surprises.” That is, carefully hoarded negative stories to be sprung on the “conservative” party just in time to decisively tilt the election. Obama’s college transcripts have never been leaked, nor has the damning Los Angeles Times recording of Obama with Rashid Khalidi, a Jew-hating Muslim radical. So, it is a true “man bites dog” story when the Times of London publishes a crushing story, based on a massive leak of potentially fatal internal Labour Party documents. The updated story starts:

John McDonnell has apologised to the Jewish community “for the suffering we have inflicted on them” after Labour’s failure to stamp out rampant anti-semitism in the party was exposed in a massive leak of documents from its own disciplinary department.

More

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Cornered Rat Reponds

 

Last week, the airwaves were full of media praise for Nancy Pelosi to cover for a meltdown seemly aimed at reporter James Rosen but I feel was much more a vent toward a plan going very badly. The media certainly came with both barrels. Chris Mathews and selected Hardball panelists agreed that it may well have been her “finest hour.” That tower of truth Lawrence O’Donnell celebrated her “crushing” of Rosen. Andrea Mitchell attested to Pelosi’s “deep faith” and her sincerity in citing her status as a properly raised Catholic. And the ever-so conservative of convenience David Brooks, no doubt more impressed by the crisp crease of her pantsuit than her substance, called it a “beautiful moment.”

When I bothered to watch the clip of the press conference (actually just a tight, measured statement to the reporters) and her turning on Rosen as she was leaving, my first impression was of a cornered rat striking out and releasing the frustration with its predicament. It might have been quite a bit of her own doing, but Pelosi has been cornered into calling for the bills of impeachment after losing all of the battles needed to make the measure favor her party and her ends.

More

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Inspector General Horowitz’s FBI FISA Abuse Report

 

Read the FISA Abuse report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz yourself here rather than relying on talking heads to tell you what’s in it. And remember, none of the pundits or so-called experts on TV currently confidently telling you what’s in the report have had time to read its 476 pages yet.

Update: U.S. Attorney John Durham rebased the following statement:

More

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Danger of Making Ruthlessness Seem Reasonable

 

I use a lot of dangerous drugs. Well, not me personally, but on my patients. Of course, I use dangerous drugs only when the disease I’m treating is more dangerous than the drug. In diseases that are not life-threatening, naturally I avoid dangerous drugs and try to stick with safer therapies. Chemotherapy drugs can save your life, but they can also have significant side effects. Side effects that you would not tolerate if you were treating a sinus infection. But if you have cancer, and you’re trying to avoid dying, it may make sense to take a chance on side effects – even very serious side effects. In truly desperate circumstances, there are few actions one would not consider, no matter how drastic.

That’s what always bothered me about the great leftist / progressive / socialist leaders of the 20th century: Hitler, Lenin, Mao, Stalin, and so on. They saw a problem and took drastic measures to fix it. When I consider the horrifyingly drastic measures they took, I wonder, “What possible problem did they see that warranted such drastic actions? Who on earth could have possibly thought that was a good idea?” Even for those who lack sympathy for others, killing millions of people is no small thing. They claimed that they were trying to save or improve their countries for their citizens. Which some considered to be an adequate reason. Think about that. And then, think about Greta Thunberg.

More

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Vroom! Vroom!

 

I used to ride motorcycles way back when (an expression which translates to “Damn, I’m old.”). I started riding when I was 14, always on borrowed machines. I bought my first motorcycle for $200, a used Honda CB-160. I rode that thing for a couple of years, then sold it—for $200.

In college, I sold my car and bought two motorcycles—a Honda CB-450, and a Honda XL-125. I rode those for a couple of years until I started dating a gal who refused to ride (makes dating tough, but she had a car). Unfortunately, both bikes got stolen. I ended up buying a car, then broke up with the girlfriend.

More