Ayatollah Air Power


If push comes to shove, could American air power lay waste to the Iranian regime in a cake walk, a turkey shoot? Consider what we know, publicly, of Iranian military capabilities in the air. They have aircraft from the pre-stealth era, drones, and extensive surface-to-air missile defenses. Perhaps, however, their best “air” assets are computer coding and diplomatic shuttle flights.

Photo by Gene Blevins/LA DailyNews

It was not big news when fairly rag-tag forces shot down a low and slow flying armed MQ-9 Reaper drone. After all, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has a wing dedicated to advising foreign forces, including the Yemeni forces fighting other Yemeni forces backed by Saudi Arabia. This is not secret, so the U.S. Central Command was willing to claim Iranian participation in the June 2019 shoot-down:


Silver Screen? Or Distant Mirror?


Half a century ago, as the final year of the Sixties unfolded, Hollywood studios looked at the youthful trends of the previous year and loaded themselves up with inexpensive campus political dramas, left-wing fare that would be ready for release in the spring and summer of 1970. “The Strawberry Statement”, “The Revolutionary”, “Revolutions Per Minute” and “Zabriskie Point” were one-sided bets on what audiences at the dawn of the Seventies would be eager to pay for—sympathetic, appealing violent dramas and coarse comedies about campus rioters who sleep around and curse a lot. To the chagrin of Hollywood planners, who were usually stuck with two-year lead times on feature film projects, they bet wrong. There will always be an audience for violent drama and coarse comedy; it was the “rioters” aspect, the anti-police violence as entertainment that proved to be an astoundingly tin-eared wrong step on Hollywood’s part. It would cause an enduring, decades-long counter-reaction that at the time was dismissed as a transient “backlash”.

The Vietnam War was still near its height as springtime ’70 brought on the protesting season, as it’s been in much of western Europe since the 1830s or thereabout. The first Earth Day was planned for April 22, and would be the most peaceful of the year’s mass demonstrations. The campuses were already primed to explode. Mine literally did in March, when a homemade bomb killed its radical builder and leveled a Greenwich Village townhouse. When President Nixon announced an incursion into Cambodia—okay, raids, an invasion, let’s not be too fussy—the semester was nearly over anyway and many campuses, although non-violent, were also non-functional. When four students were killed at Kent State University on May 4th, school ground to a halt all over the country.


Remembering the Ross Perot Moment


Establishment politicians and those invested in business as usual use “Ross Perot” as a bogeyman, a warning not to stray from whatever candidate they shovel up and tell us we must give money, time, and our vote. Except that it was Perot who was the most electable candidate until the skulduggery or head fake or whatever rattled him around his daughter’s personal life. He had taken the lead in the polls but never recovered after showing weakness or indecision for that week or so.

He was a successful entrepreneur who criticized the self-licking ice cream cone of American CEOs, who (with their think tank and pundit platoons) insisted that American workers absorb the hit of global wage and employment competition while not subjecting their own gilded packages to critical comparison with the then ascendant Japanese executives. “If you want to make a million dollars, become a rock (music) star!” Ross Perot was not engaging in class warfare. Rather, he was using the contradictory narratives of wage competition and executive compensation to point to larger misaligned priorities in U.S. corporate policy, underwritten by U.S. government policy and muscle. Hence his early criticism of NAFTA as it was being negotiated.


Quote of the Day: Abraham Lincoln and his Religiosity


Lincoln grew into an intensely religious man, although we rarely hear him described in those terms nowadays. His religious faith became fundamental to his thinking and decision-making during the Civil War; we rarely hear that either. When he assumed the enormous burden of the presidency with war approaching, his faith grew deeper. When his beloved young son Willie died in early 1862, it deepened again—and seemed to continue growing deeper until his death. In the end Lincoln should almost certainly be remembered as the most important religious figure America has ever produced. I don’t mean he was a theologian. But Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah weren’t theologians either.

– David Gelernter, The Fourth Great Western Religion


One Cool Four-Star General!


U.S. Air Force Four-Star General George Babbitt played with The Ventures when they first began! It’s fun to hear “Walk, Don’t Run” and watch him as he revels in the opportunity to play with them 38 years later.


Food for Thought, Towards 2020


Green shoots or suckers? Time will tell, but consider a few recent stories from diverse sources. Will this collection of dots end up forming a map to President Trump’s reelection in 2020? Perhaps.

We are told that the left has a lock on the minds of the youngest eligible voting cohorts, “Millennials or Generation Y” and “Generation Z.” Gen Y, the generation born near the turn of the millenium, is now 25-42. Gen Z, little talked of, like Gen X, is now 7-24. So, they are experiencing the craziness of the left’s cultural crusade first hand. Consider three articles on this latest voting-age generation.


Uncommon Knowledge: The Deniable Darwin


Is Charles Darwin’s theory fundamentally deficient? David Berlinski makes his case, noting that most species enter the evolutionary order fully formed and then depart unchanged. Where there should be evolution, there is stasis. So, was Darwin wrong?


Latin American Death Squads!


You have likely heard for most of your life, from the ever-more-leftist universities and media organs, “Latin American death squads” are a tool of right-wing dictators and military governments trying to suppress the people’s champions, the leftist, progressive, forces. You have also heard Democrats consistently defend leftist regimes in Latin America. You will recall that a Democrat-controlled Congress prohibited funding support to the “Contras” in opposition to the socialist Sandinista government in Nicaragua (a crew that is now back in power through the ballot box).

You will also remember that the New York Times suppressed knowledge of the Holodomor and the Holocaust, as each unfolded. So, it is quite shocking, and refreshing, to see the New York Times publish “Venezuela Forces Killed Thousands, Then Covered It Up, U.N. Says.”


45 Years, or a 12-Step Program for a Successful Marriage


I would never have imagined that I would be married so many years. In fact, when I first met my husband-to-be, I told him that I didn’t know if I would ever get married. It just seemed like such a traumatic, demanding step; besides, who would have me?

But I was wrong—and I’m so glad I was. In meeting my husband, I found a man who is generous, smart, funny, helpful, and kind. He can also be stubborn, determined, and obsessive about detail. But I digress . . .


Morozhenoe: The Real Cold War


Ever heard of “Ded Moroz?” It’s Russian for “Grandfather Frost” — their Santa Claus. Morozhenoe is Russian ice cream, and even in Soviet days, it was available at ice cream stands all over Moscow, even in cold weather. Russians have some things in common with Americans–wide open spaces, manifest destiny, a less than delicate attitude towards life, love of country, a well-known space program. And ice cream; they make astonishingly good ice cream.

In 1986 you could go into a cafeteria–Stolovaya–and get a pretty good basic lunch. Chicken soup, bread, a vegetable, a glass of tea for about 35 cents. This is part of what makes writing about the Iron Curtain days tricky for pre-Trump conservatives: the Soviets weren’t lying about everything, just a lot of things. The subway was immaculate and cost seven cents. Ice cream was available everywhere, as evidently it was part of a confidence-building Five Year Plan at some point.


Can AOC Chill Out for Cultural Cool Cred?


MiniAOCLeftist thugs bullied and threatened the life of an 8-year-old girl for daring to parody, to expose to laughter, their leader AOC. The leftists, who have so far faced no criminal or even social media company sanction, have proven, once again, that totalitarians cannot tolerate laughter at them or their ideas. Yet, if AOC could only chill out and seize the obvious pop-culture reference, couldn’t she gain a broader and deeper cultural cool cred?

The Mini AOC social media accounts were created by a father and mother with an 8-year-old daughter who had the acting chops, the presence, to gently satirize Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They did not seek anonymity. Rather, they acted as Americans who expect to be able to poke fun at our politicians.


Chilling Out on the 4th of July


Two and a half years ago, I shared how my father acquired a cannon for holiday noisemaking and celebration in the story “Holiday Traditions: Entering the New Year with a Bang.”

As part of the Bicentennial Year, the Bellmore Johnson Tool Company re-released the Winchester Model 98 signal cannon, a 10-gauge blank-firing miniature cannon. They were all-metal, painted black, and fired by pulling a 10-foot lanyard. […] Firing produced a roar, a flash of flame, and cloud of smoke, and the cannon recoiled several feet.


Lies, Fears and Arrogance: The Irrelevance of Truth


With the latest attack on Donald Trump regarding his plans for Independence Day, I became even more sharply aware of the blatantly deceptive words and actions of the Left. Yes, I know it’s all about politics, but they are so willing to do just about anything—including physical and verbal attacks—that they border on demonstrating a type of psychosis.

It’s difficult to separate their lies and fears from their arrogance.


Group Writing: Supervillainry


Cold, when all is said and done, makes a disappointing superweapon.

I mean, the comic book movies are pretty convincing. The hot superhero shoots a lava jet at the cold supervillain, whose ice ray (not to be confused with a freeze ray) sets out an opposite jet, they meet in the middle and cancel each other out in a brilliant contest of CGI. You get Frozone making walls of ice out of thin air. Or you get the Terminator, freezing in liquid nitrogen and shattering like the hopes of a Hillary voter on election night.


Leftist History over American Herstory


Just where does an American-based corporation and their rich, male, former jock, brand representative get off imposing history over the narrative of a woman? I had thought we were past powerful privileged men silencing, dismissing, and trivializing herstory. Yet here we are, with another patriarchal pack mansplaining a woman’s original work. The corporate leadership of Nike, following the lead of Colin Kaepernick, have branded Betsy Ross’s original flag design a white supremacist symbol.

Leftist propaganda organs have amplified this slander, claiming white supremacist groups use the original flag design to signify rejecting the post-Civil War constitutional amendments. The left’s real objection, of course, is to the actual history, the Declaration of Independence that they despise, assigning to it the same strained and stained meaning claimed by the black-robed bigot, Chief (In)Justice Taney in the fraudulent Dred Scott decision. Instead of supporting herstory, and taking back a woman’s original creative work from some knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers, the leftist elite privileged this attack on women, thus banishing a woman’s art as shameful.


Kaepernick Crossing the Delaware


View original artwork here.


America the ‘Just OK’


Stallone Laurel Dias, originally from India and a soldier in the US Army, takes the oath to become a US citizen during a ceremony in Boston.
What is still the most desired — by far — destination for potential migrants from those developing countries? America. Which country had a hand in 72% of the Nobel science prizes since 2001? America. Which country has 18 of the 30 most valuable internet companies, as well as the top five? America. Which is the richest large nation on a per person basis? America.

Yet America is “just OK,” says The New York Times in a transparent attempt at contrarian Independence Day clickbait. But compared to whom? Other rich nations, apparently. They have lower poverty rates, educate their kids better, and get more bang for their healthcare buck. Journalists Taige Jensen and Nayeema Raza conclude “the myth of America as the greatest nation on earth is at best outdated and at worst, wildly inaccurate.” The United States has “more in common with ‘developing countries’ than we’d like to admit.”


ACF Critic Series #35: Deadwood


Just in time for the 4th, here’s an odd celebration of American freedom: I talked to Paul Cantor talk about David Milch’s most famous achievement, Deadwood–the movie and the TV show. A Western, lawless, but orderly vision of America. An America with commerce but without religion, with freedom but without equality–what kind of community and what kind of justice are possible in such a situation? Something piratical, un-Puritan.


You Say You Want a Revolution, Part 2


Here’s what this post, and last week’s post are about: The cultural changes in the media that Ricochet readers don’t like didn’t happen by pure accident. They took decades. We propose equally patient, persistent, but ruthlessly effective efforts to push culture in another direction over the next 20-plus years. We are chewing over how to create or capture a big chunk of tomorrow’s media and the arts. It’s a myth that nothing can be done about the entertainment business. Success is Hollywood’s definitive history teacher.

@drewinwisconsin raises a tough point. He said, “So that’s probably why it’s important to try to change or break the current system rather than try to build an equivalent system that will have no users. Consider how much power and scope Google+ had, and it still couldn’t survive against Facebook. And that’s Google — already a malignant influence.”


Minnesota City Council Stops Reciting Pledge of Allegiance


Is it really a big deal that a small Midwestern city stops reciting the Pledge of Allegiance? My answer is, “yes,” and I’ll tell you why. The city council of St. Louis Park voted unanimously to stop reciting the Pledge. Here were some of their remarks regarding this decision:

Ellen Hertz, a business owner in the city, says she has no problem with the change, but doesn’t think it was necessary.


Is China a ‘Strategic Partner’ or a Cold War 2.0 Foe?


President Trump may not be interested in cold war with China, but cold war is interested in him. Well, at least if his fellow Republicans have any say in the matter.

If there’s any clear takeaway from the G20 trade ceasefire, it’s that Trump views the fate of Chinese telecom giant Huawei as something to be negotiated. Just another pressure point. This Bloomberg headline pretty much nails it: “Huawei Lifeline Shows Trump Prefers Business Deals Over Cold War.


A Quiet Revolution in Property Rights


Rose Knick with her lawyers at the Supreme Court.
One of the most important cases in the recently concluded Supreme Court term is Knick v. Township of Scott. Though Knick didn’t receive much attention in the press, it gave landowners a powerful new procedural tool to upend the unwelcome dominance that state and local governments have had over land use governance.

The facts of the case are as follows: Rose Mary Knick owned a small family graveyard on her 90-acre rural plot in Township of Scott, Pennsylvania. In December 2012, the Township adopted an ordinance that required “all cemeteries be kept open and accessible to the general public during daylight hours.”


Public Shaming of the Border Patrol


Border Patrol agents have it tough enough: a huge increase in migrants coming from Central America, demands of their time to provide medical transportation, and babysitting. Oh yes, and law enforcement.

But one professor thinks that they need to be chastised for the role they play on the southern border. Kate Cronin-Furman, a professor of University College London, insisted in a New York Times op-ed that she doesn’t want to dox the Border Patrol agents. She only wants to embarrass them into leaving their jobs, by collecting and using the information that is available from immigration lawyers and journalists:


An Antidote to Conservative Gloom on Campus Free Speech


FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff is in National Review this week with a rather simple message for conservatives: There are actually a lot of things we can feel good about regarding the state of free expression on college campuses today.

The welfare of campus discourse is not perfect, of course, and its easy to sense that the issue is only getting worse–especially as free speech on campus gets no shortage of media exposure. The playing field has also changed in other fundamental ways. College students today are more aligned against free speech than they were ten or even five years ago, for reasons Greg and Jonathan Haidt expound on at length in their bestselling book The Coddling of the American Mind.


A Tale of Two Visits to the DMZ


Consider two images of two United States presidents at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Korea. The two images convey very different messages, very different possibilities. Which do you prefer?