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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The "Instant Legolas": a repeating compound bow.

 A need? 

Of course not.


Another for the short list of good things to come out of 2020.

Friendly advice: You need to learn self-defense.

Because the future of law enforcement is here: more progressive DAs, fewer prosecutions and fewer police.

If you're on the wrong side of "the depth of emotion," you are on. Your. Own, pal.

Sure, Schmidt and those like him will probably prosecute your wrongthink fanny to the max when you dare to protect yourself, but at least your loved ones will be periodically able to see you through a plexiglass portal.

While far from ideal, it's better to be seen than viewed.

Schmidt said his office will presumptively decline to prosecute those whose most serious accusation doesn’t involve deliberate property damage, theft or the use or threat of force against someone else.

Charges that fall under that category include interfering with a peace officer, second-degree disorderly conduct and rioting, among others.

Those whose most serious accusation involves a city ordinance violation will also not be prosecuted.

“As prosecutors, we acknowledge the depth of emotion that motivates these demonstrations and support those who are civically engaged through peaceful protesting,” Schmidt, who recently took office, said in a statement. “We will undermine public safety, not promote it, if we do not take action to bring about immediate change.”

Prosecutors will scrutinize the cases of protesters accused of resisting arrest or assaulting a public safety officer and consider “the chaos of a protesting environment, especially after tear gas or other less-lethal munitions have been deployed against community members en masse,” the district attorney’s office said in a news release.

Protesters accused of crimes that caused only financial harm will be offered conditional dismissal after paying restitution or making other amends.

It's not all bad news, though. Schmidt showed that he has the mad skills of a true stand-up comic:

“The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office is neither condoning nor endorsing the conduct that led to the arrest or citation of a person,” the office said. “A prosecution decline decision does not change Oregon law.”


Born in a coronavirus ICU.

There are still miracles in this world of ours.

Even in 2020.

Let the Olaseinde family and the staff of Saint Barnabas Medical Center tell you the story of one.

With the best will in the world...

I firmly believe Bishop Barron is a man who operates in good faith. An energetic and irenic shepherd, he shows the treasury of the Faith to the world. Yes, I am aware of his stumbles on the Last Things and in other areas, but I will bracket those for now.

However, like all contemporary bishops, he firmly shackles himself to the crumbling Vatican II paradigm, insisting that, contrary to what our sensory and statistical input are constantly telling us, things have been good since 1965, all things considered.


Exhibit A: this brand-spanking-new FAQ on the most recent ecumenical council.  

Hoo, boy. 

There's a lot to respond to there, but I will confine myself to two areas.

1.    First, the question of deliberate ambiguity in the conciliar documents.  

This answer does not cover itself in glory, he says politely. First, it engages in the genetic fallacy by dismissing the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre's quote of the progressive Dutch Dominican Edward Schillebeeckx because Lefebvre reports it. Sorry, doesn't work that way, even if you don't like the man. 

Secondly, while no, Schillebeeckx did not vote on the final form of the documents, his influence on the conciliar documents and debates is well-documented. He would certainly have been privy to the various drafts and discussions. For him to say such a thing--especially in light of his overall theological record--is far from implausible.

Thirdly, no less than Walter Cardinal Kasper acknowledged in L'Osservatore Romano that the documents offered compromise language which can be interpreted in different ways--in other words, inherent--and certainly foreseeable--ambiguity. If you want to quibble about "deliberate," go ahead and lawyer. 

How about "wilful and wanton disregard for the consequences"?

[Pope John XXIII] saw a new era unfolding, which he met with optimism, in the unshakeable trust in God. He spoke of a pastoral objective of the council, meaning an update, a "becoming today" of the Church. It was not meant a banal adaptation to the spirit of the times, but the appeal to make the faith transmitted today speak.

The large majority of the Council Fathers grasped the idea. He wanted to meet the requests of the biblical, liturgical, patristic, pastoral and ecumenical renewal movements, which arose between the two world wars; to begin a new page of history with Judaism, full of burdens, and enter into dialogue with modern culture. It was the project of a modernization that he did not want [to--]and could not even be[--]modernism.

An influential minority stubbornly resisted this attempt by the majority. John XXIII's successor, Pope Paul VI, was fundamentally on the side of the majority, but he tried to involve the minority and, in line with the ancient conciliar tradition, to reach an approval, as far as possible unanimously, of the conciliar documents, which in total were sixteen. 

He succeeded; but he paid a price. In many places, compromise formulas had to be found, in which, often, the positions of the majority are immediately alongside those of the minority, designed to delimit them.

Thus, the conciliar texts have within themselves an enormous potential for conflict; they open the door to selective reception in one or the other direction.

It is understandable that the Word on Fire staff did not stumble across a L'Osservatore Romano article from April 12, 2013 which was only in Italian. But trust me--it's well known to those who have long-noticed such ambiguous formulations.

2.    Blame for the obvious decay in sacramental practice and belief.

I will agree that blame for clerical corruption can hardly be laid at the feet of the 21st council. This grim and pervasive infection existed long before 1962, and its effects will be with our descendants.

Those who still practice the Faith, that is.

Because that's the essential problem with this section: it asks us to look at raw growth numbers outside of Europe. But it does not directly acknowledge that sacramental participation continues to crater even in places where the nominal numbers continue to rise. 

To wit, look at these daunting figures for Catholic observance in the United States between 1970 and 2019. Yes, the nominal numbers continue to rise, but sacramental practice is fading away.

And two quotes from Archbishop Fulton Sheen from the 1970s do not a convincing rebuttal make. I love Sheen and look forward to his canonization. But he left this vale of tears in 1979, and things have not exactly turned the corner. 

Forty more years have passed, and it has become worse than turbulence, with no end in sight. One does not have to reject a council recognize its failure in its expressed aims. And one does not have to blame the council for everything to recognize that it played a negative role, even if just via contested interpretations of ambiguity. 

Indeed, refusing to accept either failure or a share of the blame suggests that the council has ceased being an historical event conditioned by time and place. Instead, it has become an idol which is not to be blasphemed.

That mindset does not bode well for the future.

Prediction: Bransfield will die in comfortable obscurity.

The Rev. Michael Bransfield was the Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston. He lived quite the lavish lifestyle in one of America's less economically-dynamic states, and was known for sexually-harassing seminarians.

The pontiff, in a disciplinary move that attracted attention, accepted Bransfield's resignation, ordered him to leave West Virginia, to apologize for his actions and to make restitution.

So far, Bransfield has accomplished the first. Which given his history of frequent and lavish travel, appears to be his preference anyway.

His frustrated successor has had no further contact with Bransfield, who issues the occasional response through a lawyer.

The reality is, a man who wrote five figure checks to influential bishops and brazenly-looted a hospital has the cash to live well for the rest of his life. Just like good ol' Ted McCarrick.

And now Bransfield appears to be guilty of disobedience to a pontifical directive. Or maybe not--the wording is a bit unclear. But so what? As the examples of Gustavo Zanchetta and the long-promised-never-delivered McCarrick report from the Vatican demonstrate, the combination of what and who you know is the best protection a corrupt cleric could ask for. And if you add in a formidable reservoir of cash, you will prosper regardless of who is pontiff--just ask Maciel's Racketeers of Christ.

The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate didn't have any of the above, so once they were accused of "crypto-lefebvrism" by some disgruntled members, they were dead.

So, since Bransfield still has cash and connections, he will live out the remainder of his mortal span in comfort. The last thing any of the episcopal brotherhood he knew well wants is to make a sleeping dog bark.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Awaiting the additional inevitable college football cancellations.

There were news reports that the Big 10 had voted 12-2 to postpone at least the fall football season. That was walked back, but there is definitely some kind of formal vote happening today involving conference bigwigs.

My prognostication bona fides remain intact, as I incorrectly said that baseball was done a little over a week ago. While it's still dicey, with the Cards the latest to have coronavirus problems, it's still going. I still strongly doubt that MLB will finish even this super-abbreviated season, but "Play Ball!" is still ringing out in empty stadiums.

And while Michigan athletics has done a bang-up job of keeping the virus at bay, the reality is that football is the most likely to see an outbreak, and has the most fragile schedule if it does. The Mid-American Conference, featuring three of Michigan's four directional schools, saw the writing the wall and cancelled on Saturday.

There's just no way you can create bubble conditions for college athletes. And while the revenue hit will be catastrophic, there is just no way around it. Spring ball would be weird, but maybe we will have a real vaccine by then.

Russia. Quality control. Pick one.

Pootie-poot (not to be confused by my younger reader(s) with PewDiePie) announced that Russia has registered a coronavirus vaccine.

Surprise--the development process appears to involve corner-cutting:

Russian officials have said large-scale production of the vaccine will start in September, and mass vaccination may begin as early as October.

However, the international scientific community is sounding the alarm that the rush to start using the vaccine before Phase 3 trials – which normally last for months and involve thousands of people – could backfire.

“Not sure what Russia is up to but I certainly would not take a vaccine that hasn’t been tested in Phase III,” Florian Krammer, Professor of Vaccinology at the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said on Twitter Tuesday. “Nobody knows if it’s safe or if it works.”

Versions of the vaccine made available to regime critics may come with special additives like Surprise Polonium! and side effects may include Sudden Falls From Upper Story Windows.

Badges of servitude.

There's no particular merit to this guest op-ed by an emeritus professor from a Minnesota Catholic college. It's a comfortably-retired white leftist doing a rote "confession" of his own racism in order to lambaste a white conservative for being an even bigger racist. 

By the way, the racism confessed by the professor was voting for Bill Clinton, who implemented "welfare reform" (scare quotes in original).


It also has the lumpy prose style and hectoring condescension one expects from a member of the American liberal arts professoriate.

But it is helpful as a type that one frequently sees these days: a white person of means confesses privilege in order to broad-brush every melanin-deficient American as also racist. And said racists need to start making sacrifices--starting with the ones he despises over there. 

How brave. He risked a lot of affirmation from his friends and neighbors for that one. Oh, sure--I'm certain he got a lot of nasty grams, but he already loathed that kind of cracker anyway.

The worst part of it is how much this professed Christian hand-waves away 15.7 million people [before coronavirus, so the number is rocketing up] living in poverty--including 4.2 million children--because of their skin color.

These preening posers do this Every. Single. Damn. Time.

Well, yes, the white poor may be experiencing declining life expectancy from suicide, opiods, alcoholism and other "deaths of despair," but they, too, have "White Privilege." 

"Sure, you might be living in Tyvek-and-plywood-reinforced huts in rural America, you can't afford college, your unskilled job opportunities have been outsourced to the developing world, coronavirus is plunging the economy into Great Depression 2.0 and you had to bury a couple of family members because of fentanyl, but chin up--at least you're still a racist."

Presto! They disappear into the undifferentiated mass of "whiteness," so you can safely ignore--and even despise--them.

Neat trick.

Yes, WP describes a real, negative social phenomenon which black Americans are forced to confront.

But the phrase is--with necessary crudeness--the shittiest formulation for it. And when it is deployed by economically and socially-privileged whites like Nelson-Pallmeyer--and always with an insouciant "sure, there are poor whites, BUUUUUT..."-- one is entitled to think that the speaker's concern about people of color is secondary to a more pressing concern for separating himself from other kinds of whites. Who are conveniently lumped together regardless of status for the purposes of levying a harsh judgment.

There's this word used to describe people who judge groups by skin's on the tip of my tongue....

So why don't we reformulate the problem into a phrase that doesn't make millions of suffering poor people "privileged" bigots promoted to villain status because of said skin color?

The framers of the post-War civil rights amendments were aware that black Americans--slave and free--had borne and continued to bear what they called "the badges of servitude." These "badges" are racist conditions, worn as a consequence of skin color, that have to be confronted by our African-descended brothers and sisters. The badges interfere with earning a living, commerce, housing and the like.

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was directed at such badges and conditions. And while it took an obscene amount of time, the Supreme Court recognized all were still with us, thanks to the malign victory of Jim Crow and de facto segregation outside of the South, and were still targeted by the Act. 

And yes, fellow Union men, functional segregation was a thing in the land of the Bluebellies. The companion case to Shelley v. Kraemer, which struck down racially-restrictive covenants to sell property in 1947, was McGhee v. Sipes. And McGhee arose in...Detroit.

[Aside alert: dogged white abolitionists frequently stripped out these kinds of restrictive covenants from the property they owned. One such man was Sebuel Conant, a 19th Century Detroit abolitionist who owned a prime stretch of land in Motown. He ensured that the property he owned had no such covenants. Not surprisingly, what became known as Conant Gardens became an attractive, prosperous neighborhood for black Detroiters in the 20th Century.]

Long story short: I am fully aware that racism is still a thing in our society. Much diminished, thankfully--but still real. But couching it in terms of "white privilege" or "whiteness" or the Kafka Trap that is "white fragility" is not just wrong, it's corrosive. Such terms are just no-cost status markers for higher-status whites to smile for the camera as they verbally slap lower-status ones.

Acknowledging that the badges of servitude are still borne by some of the American family makes more sense, and is in line with our history. 

And I recognize that genuine historical knowledge in America is rare enough to be a super power. But the sources of our national regeneration and healing can be found in an honest appraisal of our past, both good and bad. There is wisdom there as well as folly--if we want to reach for it.

Monday, August 10, 2020

More "mostly peaceful" demonstrations.

Chicago's "Magnificent Mile" was subjected to considerable looting last night.

Social justice is an ever-evolving phenomenon, it seems:

The unrest began shortly after midnight and anti-police graffiti was seen in the area of the Magnificent Mile, which is one of Chicago’s most-visited tourist attractions. Hours earlier, dozens of people had faced off with police after officers shot and wounded a person Sunday in the Englewood neighborhood, located about 10 miles (16 kilometers) away.

Brown said after a crowd dissipated following that shooting “we are monitoring social media and we come across a post of a caravan of cars being prompted to go to our downtown and loot.”

Along the Magnificent Mile, people were seen going in and out of stores carrying shopping bags full of merchandise as well as at a bank, the Chicago Tribune reported, and as the crowd grew vehicles dropped off more people in the area. On streets throughout the downtown area, empty cash drawers from stores were strewn about and ATMs were ripped open.

Stores miles from downtown were also ransacked, with parking lots littered with glass and items from inside the stores. Clothes hangers and boxes that once contained television sets and other electronics were seen – evidence that thieves had taken racks of clothes and removed them from the hangers.

“This was obviously very orchestrated,” the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a prominent Roman Catholic priest and activist on the city’s South Side, told WBBM-TV as cameras panned the downtown area.

When you've lost the Rev. Pfleger....but such happens in every revolution. The vanguard eventually gets a tumbrel ride as expectations mutate and take on a grimmer visage. 

The French revolutionaries had Liberte, Egalite, Fraternity.

 America's social justice vanguard has If it's a chain, it's free rein.

Though mistakes will inevitably be made.  

Still, as history shows us, you can't have a revolution without breaking a few....million kulaks.

[Afternoon Update: Chicago authorities literally raised the city's drawbridges to keep the violence from intensifying. 

A Twitter wag: "I actually had "fortified cities making a comeback" on my 2020 bingo card."]

Friday, August 07, 2020

Stan Van Gundy hasn't been hired as a coach since his tenure with the Pistons.

152 wins, 176 losses during his loooooong four years in Motown.

He just revealed that he's also no good at flacking for communists:

We committed genocide against Native Americans. We have enslaved, lynched, segregated and incarcerated blacks over 400 years. Women couldn’t vote for 140 years. Using abuses elsewhere to try to distract from our own poor record on human rights is dishonest
Speaking of history, what about the NBA's record of looking away from child abuse at its Chinese "academies," Stan? All the way back in...[checks notes]...2019?

It takes zero balls to parrot speech that has corporate sponsorship--that's why we hear so much of it. Stan's tweet--repeating all the approved slogans--ruffled not a single shareholder feather.

But it takes a metaphorical pair to blow the whistle on your own corporation's misdeeds. 

Funny: despite all the orange balls bouncing around the Orlando bubble these days, the NBA can't find even one when it comes to discussing its partnership with the Chinese Reich.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

It could be a fair cop.

No doubt this one has political motivations: New York's attorney general has filed suit to dissolve the National Rifle Association, accusing the upper echelons of the organization of using it as a personal ATM.

Speaking as someone who may or may not own firearms that may or may not have been lost in an unfortunate fishing mishap...I'm willing to buy into this one.

In her lawsuit, Attorney General Letitia James called for the dissolution of the NRA and the removal of CEO Wayne LaPierre from the leadership post he has held for the past 39 years, saying he and others used the group’s funds to finance a luxury lifestyle.

She also asked a New York court to force LaPierre and three key deputies to repay NRA members for the ill-gotten funds and inflated salaries that her investigation found they took.

James accused the NRA leaders of flouting state and federal laws and signing off on reports and statements they knew were fraudulent, while diverting millions of dollars away from the NRA’s charitable mission to benefit themselves and their allies.

The attorney general requested that the court bar the four men — LaPierre, general counsel John Frazer, former treasurer Woody Phillips and former chief of staff Joshua Powell — from ever serving in a leadership position for a New York charity in the future.

“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Her investigation, which began in February 2019, found a “a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligent oversight at the NRA that was illegal, oppressive, and fraudulent,” according to a statement by the attorney general’s office.

Her lawsuit paints a picture of widespread wrongdoing at the influential gun rights group, and a freewheeling atmosphere in which top officials repeatedly took advantage of their positions for their personal benefit.

I have been an on-and-off member of Satan's Own Rifle Regiment throughout my life, but I have definitely been off for good since 2019. The Association has turned into little more than the extension of LaPierre and his whims, with the Board of Directors [sic] being a bloated shadowy House of Lords rubber-stamp for what Wayne wants to do at any particular time.

Former congressman Allen West called out the Association for financial and governing chicanery in May 2019, and the allegations seemed well-founded. But the snooze bar was hit and despite dumping the culture-warrior NRA-TV channel, business went on as usual.

Now we have this lawsuit. Which almost certainly has been bolstered by info from disgruntled members of the NRA bureaucracy. If the Association goes down in flames, you can blame LaPierre, his cronies and everybody who enabled them. It had become a racket and now the bell has tolled.

Some pushback against the Epsilons.

The blameless owners of the Nordic Pineapple in Saint John's, Michigan, have decided that Norway will not be cancelled after all.
People reached out from their own community and across the world but it was a reader from Norway who first suggested what the Offenbeckers viewed as the right solution — a vimpel.

A vimpel is a Swedish term referring to a long, pennant-shaped flag in the colors of a national flag used in Scandinavia. 

While vimpels aren't official national flags, Kjersten Offenbecker said they are often displayed by residents in Norway, an alternative to the country's flag, which can only be displayed there during certain times of day.

It is also worth noting that they quickly put the American flag back up, instead of keeping them both down. I sympathize with the poor folks, and am glad to see that they will run up the full flag of Norway on occasion, too.

But I have no sympathy for the title: "confusion" isn't a synonym for willful ignorance.

A worthwhile analysis of Jacques Maritain at 1P5.

In all the cacophony over the spreading plague in March, I missed this fine essay by Jerry Salyer on the legacy of the great French Thomist.

Maritain is a cuss word in many trad Catholic circles, despite his steady adherence to the Magisterium of the Church. I readily confess to being a fan, profiting from my reading of the philosopher's works. I think his fellow French layman Etienne Gilson is better still, but I like Maritain. But virtually every time I see Maritain quoted by a traditionalist, he is given the most crabbed and uncharitable reading possible, which is a shame.

Some of the roots of anti-Maritain animosity are found in the soil of the Second World War, which saw France occupied and reduced to a rump Axis satellite whose capital was at Vichy.

[Because I can't avoid an aside in a longer post to save my life:

By the way, a good argument can be made for the de jure legitimacy of Vichy as the heir to the Third Republic--such is done here by historian Julian Jackson, who as an Englishman has no skin in the game. As I sense pearls being clutched, let me swiftly remind readers who are not up on critical legal nuances that legitimacy simply means that the government is properly constituted under the law. It does not mean that all of said government's actions are "legitimate" in a broader moral--or even legal--sense. But it is worth noting that Vichy economic modernization efforts were continued by the Fourth Republic under what was called the Monnet Plan.]

The French Church and its members were as split as the rest of France when it came to the question of allegiance. And in this case, Maritain supported de Gaulle and the great Dominican Thomist Garrigou-Lagrange supported Petain, which destroyed what had been a solid friendship.

Since Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's theology is rightfully (Hint: read him) held in high honor in traditional circles, wagons also circle in defense of the Father against all threats, real or perceived. I confess to also being a fan of de Gaulle, so make of that what you will.

However, it is fair to question whether Maritain's stalwart defense of democracy during the age of totalitarian ascendancy left him unable to see its flaws. And this can be seen in another indictment laid at the pedestal of Maritain's legacy: what can only be described as blind admiration for Saul Alinsky. But while embarrassing, Maritain is only guilty of naivete', mis-reading a man who charmed many into thinking he was something other than a prophet for centralized state power.

Maritain could not see that Alinsky’s “community organizations” were always meant to be substitute churches which were ordered by their very essence to the derogation of the proper authority of the most important of the natural and supernatural mediating societies, namely, the natural family and the Catholic Church. Maritain could only see in Alinsky’s work the coming-into-being of new guilds, along the lines of the medieval guilds, that could put a check on the greed and radical individualism that underlies so much of the practice of free market capitalism. He thought that these organizations could embody the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, so that the grave social injustices of capitalism could be held in control without tyrannical federal intervention. But he failed to realize that these organizations were in fact meant by Alinsky to be stepping-stones to the advent of, and eventual workers for, a centralized power structure that would coercively bring about his dreary, ugly, a-religious concept of social justice. Maritain seems to have failed, in other words, to recognize that it is perilous indeed to make common cause with those who have rejected the religious essence of man. Social justice without a truly Christian, religious foundation is a perversion of social justice.

That analysis jibes with my reading of Maritain: with respect to postwar political and social developments in democratic societies, he read them with a generous Catholic lens. While he easily saw the dangers of openly-totalitarian movements, he was less able to see how the language and processes of democracy could be co-opted by those who did not call themselves communists or fascists, but who had goals which ended in the same neighborhoods. He would see small community organizer movements as analogous to the early bands of disciples from Acts...but was unable to recognize the far different ends toward which such movements strove.

And now to the Salyer piece itself, which carefully weighs defenses and critiques of Maritain, past and contemporary.

To be sure, Maritain speaks appropriately of “correcting and transfiguring” pagan wisdom in one breath, yet in the very next he talks of “triumphing over” and “toppling” it. If the former expression suggests nature’s fulfillment and regeneration through grace — evoking as it does the Thomistic dictum gratia non tollat naturam, sed perficiat — the latter expressions have a decidedly aggressive ring and seem to have slipped into Maritain’s discourse via equivocation. “Correcting” is not “triumphing over”; “transfiguring” is not the same as “toppling.” By the same token, it is worth noting that Maritain countenances the phrase “Greek and pagan,” even though the two adjectives in question are no more synonymous than are “Arab” and “Islamic.” The New Testament is itself written in Greek, after all, and to try to describe in any detail the thought of Saint Augustine without ever alluding to Platonism is rather like trying to understand Dante without making any reference to Virgil. For that matter, with regard to Father Eschmann’s dig about paganism, Maritain’s opponents could just as easily have retorted that it is characteristically gnostic and Protestant to understate the spiritual significance of community, authority, and institutions.

Read the whole piece. It is thoughtful and fair-minded. And then pick up some Maritain for yourself.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

The interesting background to a word I use--but probably not enough.

Dagnabbit, true names and taboo deformations--linguistic journeys are some of mankind's most fascinating.
“Taboo deformation is one possible way for a word to change its meaning,” says Andrew Byrd, a professor of linguistics at the University of Kentucky who specializes in Indo-European languages. Basically, we are scared of the true names of certain beings or concepts, because to use them might mean we summon them, which we don’t want, or anger them, which we definitely don’t want, or simply make other humans mad at us, which is slightly less bad but still not ideal. The true name is powerful, and we normal humans can’t handle that power. So we avoid using the true name, but sometimes we still need to communicate with each other about those beings or concepts. That means we have to figure out a way to talk about something without using the actual word for it.
Very much related--and discussed in the article--is how Jews and Christians have roped off the true name of the Lord. Which should not be used--least of all in deeply cringe-y hymns.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Massive explosion on the Beirut waterfront.

2020, I hate you with the fury of a thousand suns.

Protesting in the Cul-De-Sacs.

The story is interesting, but doesn't do justice to Chief Best herself. From my view of the story--and Seattle is definitely worth watching closely--the Chief has been the sole adult at City Hall.

She could have been more forthright in challenging the lunacy of her superiors, but to what end besides her own termination?

This letter was not a surrender to the mob, but a warning about how insane City Council had become.

It was prompting the responsible citizenry to be as loud as the protesters who had extracted concessions that made mob violence more sustainable. "Citizens, you have to act."

At least, that's my read. And recall that she acted with superb efficiency when Seattle's mayor finally ordered the anarchy in CHAZ/CHOP to end.

In any event, I am not remotely as sanguine as the Hot Air writer that protests in suburbia will move the needle toward an appreciation for order.

2020 has upended many expectations of how Americans behave in a crisis. Everything is off-balance, and we are all feeling it.

Predicting where things will go from here is an errand even a fool like me would balk at.

Finally: acknowledging an important part of the story.

Please note that very important prefix: "ex-."

Now, there is no question that some of the memorials can be shown to be upraised middle fingers to Reconstruction. Some were indeed erected with bad intent, part of a celebration of the racist caste system which triumphed in the wake of the Union no longer having the energy to insist upon the principles of Reconstruction after Grant left the Presidency.


The over-looked reality of the "TRAITORS!" howling from people whose disdain for Johnny Reb also clearly embraces Billy Yank involves two important factors:

First, none of the victorious Union leaders wanted treason trials. The men who had bled and watched comrades die in windrows across five Aprils tried not a single Confederate for treason. Ultimately, not even for Jeff Davis, and it took decades for him to encourage Southerners to be good Americans in the reunited republic--but even he did, however long it took him. The wisdom of the men whose determination broke the Confederacy into flinders and burned large parts of it to literal ash chose to spurn the gallows as justice.

Which moves me quickly to point two:

With a tiny number of exceptions barely worth consideration (google "Confederates in Brazil"), the defeated Confederates overwhelmingly accepted the verdict of the battlefield and embraced reconciliation.

And that was no small matter. Most civil wars feature post-credits scenes of vicious guerilla warfare and/or firing squads that that take years to shut down.

Yes, in the American South, while there was a bloody spasm of Klan violence, such episodes were either smashed to bits or even caused disgust among white southerners, causing its founder to renounce it and preach racial amity himself. All in all, ex-Confederates mourned their defeat and then pieced together lives as part of the re-United States.

Was it perfect? Of course not. Freed men and women were gradually bonded to a second-class citizenship that frequently involved terror and forced labor indistinguishable from slavery, and always denied their full dignity as citizens and human beings. Even white Southern Unionists watched as the Lost Cause erased them from history and turned every state south of the Ohio into Noble States' Rights Dixie.

The Union--which deserves the bulk of the blame for the state of affairs that evolved-- essentially accepted this state because it left the nation a Union. And the Spanish-American War and later the First World War saw that pay dividends as the sons of southern white men rallied to the flag their fathers had once fought against.

And now, a graduate of Washington and Lee University brings the reconciliation dimension to the discussion:

But with the Union victory, Lee submitted to federal authority and set an example of reconciliation for a defeated South. Lee’s post-war leadership of Washington College led the faculty to ask that his name be added to the school’s masthead. One hundred and fifty years later, Washington and Lee University’s faculty want to remove Lee’s name. This would be a mistake.

By accepting the invitation to be president of Washington College, Lee showed white southerners how to accept their defeat and resume their loyalty to the United States. Lee signed the amnesty oath on the same day he was inaugurated as president of Washington College.

As he wrote to the trustees, “It is particularly incumbent on those charged with the instruction of the young to set them an example of submission to authority.” The Confederacy’s greatest hope chose unity over division.

Lee raised money, attracted students from the North and South, reinvigorated the Honor Code, built a chapel, and enforced a policy against student misconduct that applied both off and on campus. He restored a ravaged college to financial solvency, annexed a law school, instituted new majors in journalism and business, and began instruction in modern languages.

In doing so, Lee set the course for the institution’s current status as a world-class university. Simply put, my school’s identity does not celebrate the Confederacy but champions an elite, liberal arts education that teaches students of diverse backgrounds and perspectives to think, do good and equip others to do the same.

By leading Washington College for the last five years of his life, Lee followed in George Washington’s footsteps by working toward national unity and “the healing of all dissensions.” To be sure, he achieved notoriety by turning down Lincoln’s offer to defend the nation established by Washington.

Lee instead chose to lead rebel forces in an effort to dissolve the American union. But in the final act of his life, he sought to heal, not divide. “I think it the duty of every citizen,” Lee told the trustees, “in the present condition of the Country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony.”

We have to figure out what kind of nation we want to shape in these tumultuous times.

Do we want one whose notions of justice demand constant atonement for sins but forever withholds forgiveness?

Or do we want one that holds out the hope of civic redemption and points to the better angels of our nature, suggesting that the repentant have something to teach as well?

Monday, August 03, 2020

Werner Herzog: maybe not the world's most interesting man.

But the German director/actor is definitely a very interesting man.
Once, long ago, he was just another Euro arthouse film-maker, the creator of malarial marvels such as Aguirre, Wrath of God, Woyzeck and Fitzcarraldo. Today, he is a brand name, a meme, the mad professor from central casting with his clipped accent, deliberate manner and sudden explosions of Old Testament rage. He must occasionally feel that he’s playing the role of Werner Herzog in someone else’s movie.

“No,” he says. “I play parts in films. And normally it’s villains. I have to spread fear among the audience, that’s what I do. But, yes, I’ve also done more stylised things, like guest roles on The Simpsons. Also, my voice in documentaries is in some ways a stage voice – I’ve found a voice the audience understands and likes. And also I live the life of 20 or 30 different Herzogs out there on the internet. There are a lot of impostors. Voice imitators. If you find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter it’s a forgery, an invented persona. Some are hilarious, some are silly, some are mediocre.” He clears his throat and regroups. “So to answer your original question, no but yes. I understand that the representation of self is not as it used to be.”

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Part II in a Continuing Series: "I'm so old..."

"....that I remember when Dawn Eden wasn't a denunciation-addicted scold."

Her Twitter reaction to Monsignor Pope's coronavirus diagnosis is utterly malignant. 

You can Bing it yourself--I don't want to leave a link to it on my page. There are only so many Maoist outbursts I want to subject innocent readers to.

And like the pontiff she venerates, she is studiously-silent when people on her side are guilty of the same or worse.

E.g., the packed funeral of Congressman Lewis.

All is politics, and the Monsignor's are wrong. Hence the repetitive tweeting and retweeting on his sins, despite the fact we've witnessed similar kinds of outdoor spectacles for literal months now.

If this is what the Dawn of Mercy looks like, I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

The protests have revealed that some people have big plans.

Plans that go far beyond reforming policing.

Truly transformative plans. 

Audacious, even.

Positively gulag-y.

And the studied silence about behavior like this from so-called responsible voices on the left speaks eloquent volumes--not a clause of it good.

Using the logic deployed throughout Days of Rage 2.0, your silence is violence.

You either support it or are too afraid to speak against it.

Regardless, those targeted by these displays have long memories and are keeping track.

Sad news for Detroit radio.

The best straight man in Detroit sports radio has died.

He was diagnosed in 2018 but only announced his battle with it last week.

He did not let on that it was found at Stage 4.

I myself settled in the Detroit area in 1993. Sports radio was part of my commutes back and forth to school and work, and 1130am was on my Olds Cutlass' pre-program button.

He was a great radio host and the perfect complement to every personality he worked with.
But his job, or jobs rather, hardly were Samuelsen's defining characteristics.

"He was such a great husband and great father, you could see that," [Detroit Lions play-by-play man Dan] Miller said. "He would bring his kids to a taping or to the football show. The love in that family is really what is just gutting me tonight, to know the void they have losing their father. Anything I feel is just for them.

"He used to bring Josh with him to tapings, and the way he looked at his dad was the way every son is supposed to look at his dad. It was just such a beautiful thing.

"My heart just breaks for that entire family."

Samuelsen, who also wrote for the Detroit Free Press and, made his public announcement about the cancer Monday morning, explaining to the audience why he had missed some recent time because of some infections. He used the platform to urge listeners to get a colonoscopy, which long has been recommended only for those over 50. He was diagnosed at age 46, already in stage 4.

48, leaving behind a wife and three children. Far, far too young. Hits a little to close to home, and I will miss listening to him.

May he rest in peace and the Lord comfort all who loved him.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Three thoughts.



Do not bother trying to reason a half-wit out of a position she didn't reason herself into in the first place.


The coming disintegration of huge segments of "higher education" will, on balance, be a good thing.

I have an item which is supposed to be mailed from Portland.

Yes, the Oregon one.

Hasn't arrived at the post office yet, and that facility wasn't a happy place before the riots.

And then there's the matter of the Bolsheviks having their nightly Fort Sumter re-enactments.

Probably shouldn't hold my breath waiting for it.

I'm so old....

...that I remember when we were worried about the proven dangers of crowded Georgia funerals to the health of vulnerable populations, particularly African-Americans.

But that was spring 2020.

I had more dark hair way back then.

Institutional Rot.

The most important revelation from the Jeffrey Epstein case document drop is not the names of the perverts who were serviced.

No, the most important revelation is how deferentially the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation managed the matter.

When you don't interview all of the victims, you won't learn about more perpetrators or potential networks.

Big sighs of relief there. As there no doubt were when the non-prosecution agreement was drafted--with the help of one very prominent co-conspirator. Contrary to law, of course.

The level of corruption here is a choking smog.