Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. History Matters: Riots on Familiar Ground

 

Two older veterans’ remarks pointed to the late 1960s being repeated on the same ground. The forces involved may well have changed, and that may matter a great deal. What has not changed is the physical geography, apparently. We should pay attention to both the forces and the ground if we are to begin to truly understand and so have a chance at preserving our constitutional republic. This is a national problem. It is made worse by local bad governance and leadership, but there is a much larger and persistent problem of national-level entities seeking to influence politics through violence and the threat of violence.

I had just completed reviewing the books for my local veterans’ organization post. I exchanged greetings with two older veterans sitting at the bar, with the cable news showing Saturday morning’s ugly light in Minneapolis. “Protests,” said the screen. “It is not a protest if you throw rocks or Molotov cocktails,” I remarked.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. COVID-19 Symposium: An (Im)movable Feast

 

I won’t pretend that I have a singularly unique quarantine story, or even one anywhere near the hardest. Life could be much, much worse and I am supremely grateful, above all else, that I got a choice in how this happened. When my university decided to move online, a few days after Yale and Columbia began demanding that their exchange students return and we had the first two confirmed coronavirus cases on our campus, my parents began making plans for me to come home before it became impossible. I said no. There were still exams I had to sit in May, I said, and there was no way I was going to be able to study with everyone home, or take my last three weeks of classes over Zoom with our unstable internet connection. One of my classes had yet to go online, and I didn’t want to leave and miss a tutorial. Flight prices were going to skyrocket. And these were all true enough, especially the excuse about exams, but I stayed mostly to keep my family safe. 

This was the first winter and spring in all I could remember that my dad hadn’t caught pneumonia, hadn’t ended up with an inhaler or at the ER, struggling to breathe. So I, who had almost definitely been exposed to the virus on campus, and if not there in our university’s city at large, was going to make a long train trip and go through two airports, one that had been host to thousands of Americans on the continent from heavily infected countries escaping while they still had time, to come home? To potentially kill or do irreparable harm someone I loved? Hell. No. 

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Progressive Gamble

 

As I watch the growing chaos, I am beginning to conclude that progressives are making a big bet that the best way to lever President Trump out of the White House and seize power for themselves is to promote anarchy. They seem bent on achieving the two-way win: if they succeed — great; if they fail, they are simply creating evidence for their true believers that even more chaos is required.

I hope the NeverTrumpers now see what it is that they are aiding and abetting by making common cause with progressives in wishing that President Trump was not … well … President. No, I am not asking that NTs swear fealty to President Trump; I have not so sworn. But civil society requires that people abide by our public compact. And progressives have no desire to do so and are pleased to make law fit desires rather than make desires fit law.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Before Standardized Testing

 

A bit more than a week ago, the regents of the University of California voted unanimously to approve Janet Napolitano’s proposal that the UC system cease using the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the ACT to help their admissions departments choose from among their applicants those most apt to profit from the instruction the universities in the system offer. This they did in the face of a UC Faculty Senate study confirming the utility of these standardized tests for that purpose and demonstrating that the poor showing of African-American and Hispanic high school students on these examinations had little, if anything, to do with test bias and much to do with poor high school preparation.

In theory, UC will now design its own test for applicants, but this can hardly be made to produce the results desired – for it will surely be unavailable to students from out of state, and no examination testing the candidates’ intelligence and preparation is likely to produce results dramatically different from what one secures via the SAT and ACT, which do an excellent job of predicting future academic success. In practice, all of this is obfuscation: for, as I argued on 18 May in “The Value of Standardized Testing,” the real aim of those who want to eliminate standardized testing or make it optional is to make it possible for their schools to practice that species of systematic racial discrimination that passes under the euphemism “affirmative action” without anyone being able to prove that this is what they are doing.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Question Authority, Especially on Face Masks

 

I own two face masks; my fetching spouse of 36 years, at least two or three. Our Governor here in Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, long commanded us under his virtually unlimited emergency powers to wear “face diapers” in public places, indoors. Outdoors is “optional,” but “recommended.” Virginia’s Governor, quite belatedly, has just followed suit.

I see no need to wear a mask on my outdoor runs and bike rides. After all, science shows that the risk of contracting the coronavirus outdoors is about zero. 

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Trying to Heal a Fractured Nation

 

A few quick thoughts leap to mind on the spreading riots. First, where the heck are Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? This is perfect for them, and it somehow seems disappointing without their presence, like apple pie without ice cream. They should have had first-class tickets to Minneapolis that afternoon. They should have led our fractured society toward healing by stealing the inaugural television out of the very first Target, officially kicking off the healing process of looting and vandalism, sort of like a politician throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game. They should be on every TV news program for weeks. Where are they? You think I’m kidding. I’m not. Where are they?

Second, I can’t believe that the looters think that they are healing a fractured nation by stealing electronics from retail stores. But I struggle to understand their real motivation. Harvard professor Cornel West said:

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Live Video: NASA/SpaceX Launch

 

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Theory of Enlightenment

 

There are people who believe in what I call the “theory of enlightenment.” According to this theory, terrible moral outrages were the norm until a few enlightened beings pointed out the immorality of the practices. After a few protests raised the consciousness of the rest of society, laws were enacted, and utopia reigned. The theory of enlightenment is routinely applied to such things as child labor, working hours, and the second-class status of women.

What is ignored is that these practices were necessary before people had the luxury of pronouncing them immoral. Children had to work at a time in which sticks served as plows. In such an unproductive world, everyone either worked or starved. People labored long hours because they weren’t productive enough to work fewer hours and still eat. Women were less valuable than men in a violent world where brute strength was often a matter of life and death.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Lessons Unlearned from ’67 Race Riots

 
Detroit Tigers left-fielder Willie Horton. (Louis Requena/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

A long time ago, in a Detroit far, far away, the Tigers split a doubleheader with the Yankees. Tiger pitcher for the first game, Mickey Lolich, had just lost his 10th straight game, a club record. During the second game, left fielder Willie Horton hit a home run to help the Tigers beat the Yankees. Radio announcer Ernie Harwell had been instructed to say nothing about the thick, black smoke billowing north of iconic Tiger Stadium.

In the long, hot summer of 1967, a tinderbox had been constructed of police distrust by black citizens, unemployment woes, a war far away, agitators, and “politics out of doors,” as it was called a century earlier. A raid of an after-hours bar struck a match when more than 80 people attending a party celebrating the return of a couple of soldiers from Vietnam were arrested and someone threw a bottle at police, then a brick through a window. Hours after the early morning raid, some described a carnival atmosphere in the neighborhood. The pastor of a local church later recalled a scene of “…gleefulness in throwing stuff and getting stuff out of buildings,” first a clothing store in the neighborhood, later grocery and retail stores in other neighborhoods. The media didn’t want to incite a spread of the violence so nothing was reported, deliberately, at first. But the violence and looting by both black and white spread anyway. Aided by a hot windy day, Detroit was in flames.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Two Pictures, One Coin

 

I present to you two pictures. The first picture is of a police officer using his knee to suffocate George Floyd, a non-violent suspect in a white-collar crime. This police officer needlessly killed Mr. Floyd and will no doubt be charged in his death, likely going to prison for manslaughter along with the other officers that did nothing to stop him.

Because of his position as a police officer, an unquestioned authority figure within our cultural landscape, this officer believes that the law does not pertain to his behaviors. He can shoot your dog, plant evidence, or even kill you during a no-knock raid with no consequences because the public generally respects the police, and they don’t want to be considered “anti-cop.” He feels no shame in hiding his actions behind a badge. The officer regards our silence toward unpunished police brutality as tacit permission to continue and even escalate his casual use of violence. The fact that he eventually killed someone is not a random accident; it is the long-term consequence of a man that was never held accountable for his actions.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. President Trump Announces Counteroffensive Against China

 

At the end of the social media executive order signing announcement, President Trump made even bigger news. The transcript is now posted, along with the permanent video and the executive order. See the president’s opening remarks and Attorney General Barr’s comments below.* These were a big enough story in themselves.

Looming in the background were the spreading riots on the pretext of the apparently wrongful killing of a handcuffed black man by a white cop. The president addressed that as well, exactly as a president should. The even bigger news came near the end of the question and answer period, foreshadowing the nine-minute speech that may reshape international relations around China. In under 30 minutes, over two days, President Trump was more presidential, and more consequential, than President Obama was in eight years.

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We don’t tend to do location work on this show, but when a major news event happens in the city where one of our hosts live, we get a up-close and personal view. And when that host is James Lileks and Minneapolis, the amount of detail, insight, and thoughtfulness could fill a dozen podcasts. James describes what the last few days have been like, and where he thinks his city is heading. But that’s not all we’ve got for you. We’ve got the NYT’s Bari Weiss on Joe Rogan, podcasting, and why our medium in now a major media platform (it’s very meta conversation). Then, obscure law professor and fast food aficionado John Yoo stops by to school us on platforms versus publishers (guess what Ricochet is?), that pesky section 230, and why Twitter probably should not be fact checking the President.

Music from this week’s show: My City of Ruins by Bruce Springsteen

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Judge Sullivan’s Wicked, Twisted Road

 

Our republic has arrived at a critical moment in its battle with a deadly infection. The threat is hardly a virus. It is a perpetual cancer that any people valuing liberty will have to fight time and time again. As a nation, we were gifted with important tools for the fight. But they have grown rusty, mostly from lack of use and being pushed to the back of the shed for more shiny instruments pretending to be modern while only offering an ancient, destructive blunt force: authoritarian tyranny.

I contend that the latest symbol of this is not the Wuhan Mask Police but one who is supposed to be a guardian of those rusty but vital tools written into our Constitution. He is a living example of how deeply rooted and corrupting this cancer can be.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. What to Render Unto Caesar

 

Too many Christians are secularists when it comes to government authority. This is likely to be a hotly debated assertion recently brought to the fore in the David French vs. Sohrab Ahmari debate. And now even the Catholic bishops of Washington state are submitting the lives and souls of the faithful in their care to the governor by awaiting his determination as to when and how to once again offer public Masses and the holy sacraments, rather than exercising the freedom President Trump has reasserted by stating religious services are essential during this crisis. Clearly, this is not what Jesus meant when he said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s…”

So, what should we Christians be submitting to government authority? Paul Krause at CRISIS Magazine says, not much. Throughout salvation history, peoples, and nations have gotten into trouble whenever they’ve chosen secular authority over God. This is powerfully foretold in 1 Samuel 8:10-18, when the Hebrews are clamoring for a king:

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Democratic Nursing Home Policy?

 

Having failed to bury news of his March 25 order prohibiting nursing homes from rejecting patients with COVID-19, Governor Cuomo tried blame-shifting. He was “following federal guidelines,” he claimed, citing a March 13 order from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The head of CMS rejects the claim.

“Under no circumstances should a hospital discharge a patient to a nursing home that’s not prepared to take care of those patients’ needs,” Verma said on Fox News Radio. “The federal guidelines are absolutely clear about this.”

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Technological Advances in Virtue Signalling

 

The American Astronomical Society is hosting its first virtual conference this week, thanks to the coronavirus. I’m not attending, but I understand that it includes a virtual experience, with a lobby and so on. I came across this screenshot of the virtual lobby. You will note that it includes a prominently-labeled “gender-neutral restroom.”

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF Critic Series #38: Dark City

 

This week, I talked to Justin Lee about Alex Proyas’s Dark City, the sci-fi neo-noir cult hit of 1998! (Perhaps eclipsed by the Matrix, which came out in 1999 and told a surprisingly similar story, indeed, the production of the latter bought props and sets from the former…) A man who loses his memory is chased by alien powers through a city of perpetual night, but discovers his super-natural powers in the process. Everything from Plato’s cave to our modern problem with innovation is in discussion.

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Do you dread video conferences? Elisha Krauss and Mary Katharine Ham are here to help you get your Zoom game on point—with practical tips, make-up recs, horror stories… and one will share how a fake eyelash almost ruined one of the most important moments of her life. Buckle up!

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Covid-19: My New York Experience

 

I can’t help but feel that there are two different experiences in the country with the coronavirus. There is the east coast experience and there is the rest of the country. When one looks at the state by state numbers, the two states of New York and New Jersey make up about a third of all the cases in the country and over 40% of the deaths. And the New York State numbers are incredibly skewed to New York City. I think it’s pretty much acknowledged that New York City and the surrounding suburbs have been the epicenter of the contagion. It does not surprise me then that we are reacting to the lockdown differently.

Here is my experience as a New Yorker, albeit one from Staten Island, which is subtly different than one from Manhattan. But Manhattan has actually been spared, relatively speaking. It’s the outer boroughs of the city that has absorbed the brunt of the pandemic.

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Kelly Sadler, former Special Assistant to President Donald J. Trump, is the Communications Director at America First Action. We talk about Trump’s Social Media crackdown, whether the lockdowns will decide the 2020 election, China and Trade, why blue states are failing, whether Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is STILL in talks to be Biden’s VP, and the state of journalism today.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Bulfinch’s Mythology

 

“Our work is not for the learned, nor for the theologian, nor for the philosopher, but for the reader of English literature, of either sex, who wishes to comprehend the allusions so frequently made by public speakers, lecturers, essayists, and poets, and those which occur in polite conversation.”–Thomas Bulfinch

Ah. Polite conversation. Remember when people in public life engaged in polite conversation? Me neither, for the most part. (Of course, there are exceptions.)

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Section 230 in the News Again

 

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act prevents web sites from being sued as if they were publishers. Without that, there would be no Facebook or Twitter, or product reviews on Amazon. Any site that allowed users to post could be sued for what they said.

I was a CompuServe Sysop when the Cubby case hit, and if it had been decided differently, the Internet as we know it today would not exist. Now the President has signed an executive order to review Section 230. This isn’t a huge surprise; two of the original authors of the bill have called for reviews based on the changes to the Internet since the 1990s. Here is an excellent article on the subject.

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OK, fair warning: we’re in week 10 or so of this lockdown thing, and the men of GLoP are getting a bit punchy. Add to that some technical issues and being a punching bag in certain quarters, and well, you get a very shall we say, eccentric show. How so? Well, as you’ll hear, we abandon the first take and start the show all over again about ten minutes in. And in the interests of transparency (and comedy) we left our screws-ups in (well, most of them). We cover a range of topics (including this YouTube video tracking hit TV shows of the past 60 years) and go down a host of tangents — too many to list and spoil here. What we can tell you is that you’ll laugh, you’ll marvel at some middle aged juvenile jokes, you may be offended, and you’ll definitely learn a lot about fly and zipper technology. We did.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Worse Chinese Virus?

 

No, it’s not a biological weapon, it’s an economic one. By completely upending its social structure from an agricultural society to an industrial one over very few years, and by heavily subsidizing its manufacturing capacity, China has pushed the US out of vast areas of the tech market. So much so that we cannot launch defensive weapons without using Chinese chips. And you thought COVID-19 was scary.

This information comes from the March 2018 volume of Hillsdale’s Imprimis speech digest by David P. Goldman of the Asia Times. It’s a must-read. In it, he suggests How to Meet the Strategic Challenge Posed by China. Short answer: DARPA and NASA.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘Twas the Year Before College

 

Among many people my age there is the expectation of pursuing a college education. Understandable, as college is supposed to improve career opportunities, monetary success, social status, and general edification. In some regards this holds true, however the cost of attending university to obtain these things has proven to be greater than the ever-increasing price tag. 

My opinion is in no way indicative of a generation, or of the population of peers with whom I attended university. 

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