Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Rest in Peace.

 My Uncle Robert passed away before my Mom could get there. Prayers for the repose of his soul and for the comfort of those who loved him would be welcome.

Also, Jan Stirling, the beloved wife of author S.M. Stirling, passed away unexpectedly early Saturday. 

I met her only once, but she was graciousness incarnate to my family, a kind and true lady.

Prayers for the repose of her soul and her bereaved husband are also most welcome. 


Friday, May 07, 2021

Prayer request.

My Uncle Robert took a sudden turn for the worse, is unconscious and has been placed in hospice, all in the space of a few hours. My Mom's younger brother, she and my father took the red-eye to Arizona to see him before he passes.

The family storyteller and adventurer, he had settled in Arizona after the Alaska winters became too much for him.

There are so many stories I could tell, and some are even G-rated.

I am only now starting to realize how much I will miss him. Prayers for him and my distraught Mom are most welcome.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Quote of the day.

Men of talents and virtue can love others and yet acknowledge the evil that is in them.

 --From the Confucian Book of Rites I, 1.1.3.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Big, over-long book review post coming.

As it should, other tasks have precedence. 

And if you could offer up a prayer that our 12 year old Impala could be provided with parts tomorrow, I would appreciate it. Getting the right from the supplier has turned into a nightmare of mis-represented garbage transmissions being sent to our mechanic, who is almost as mad as I am. 

But we can't keep using the gas-guzzler for every task, and I am almost out of patience.

Still, expect a super-sized accounting of books about the siege of the Toledo Alcazar by late tomorrow.


Monday, May 03, 2021

This scenario had also crossed my mind.

In response to soaring crime rates and chaos at the municipal and state levels, the Federal government swoops in with the answer:

National police

One does not have to endorse Kirk's wheels-within-wheels theory--in fact, one should not

But the reality is that human beings abhor chaos and the fear that comes with it. And history shows us that fearful people will do all sorts of things to make the fear go away.

See, e.g., the Patriot Act, Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Safety Administration.

A national police force would sound comparatively mild to people horrified by soaring homicide rates.

But it would be politicized right out of the gate, with historically-predictable results. By the way, the previous link omits the salient act of the politicized Asaltos: their participation in the assassination of parliamentarian Calvo Sotelo. Which, in the self-reinforcing spiral of Spanish politics, made the officers' coup viable. 

Likewise, the arrival of a national police force, accountable only to the party in power, would invariably aggravate division, with foreseeable results

Which, in our times, makes it a virtual cinch to occur. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

In a (Doctor) Strange mood.

 

"I went forward in time, to view alternate futures. 

To see all the possible outcomes of the coming American conflict."

"How many did you see?" 

"14,000,605." 

"How many without blood?" 

"None."

The tinder of our mutual hatred is bone dry.

Our leadership class is incapable of doing anything except stoking the hatred.

Cassandra has decided she's just going to go to the park, watch the birds, smoke some menthols while she can, order carryout from Troy's Panda Kitchen and catch the next Pitch Meeting.

Thought for the day.

 "Fascist" is what a socialist calls the people he wants to see killed. 

 "Republic" is what he calls the system that makes their killing legal.

 

[Reading about the Spanish Civil War will make you something of a pessimist about human nature, especially in the political realm.]

Monday, April 26, 2021

Biden used "genocide" to describe the Armenian Genocide.

This is unequivocally a good thing

Long overdue, and bravo.

The declaration even said "Constantinople"...

Saying the quiet part out loud.

In the midst of encouragement to eat bugs and not meat, a recent video surfaced highlighting an older World Economic Forum article which asked the reader to imagine a 2030 where the protagonist owns nothing and is happy about it.

While author and Danish parliamentarian Ida Auken added a disclaimer saying she was opening a conversation and not setting forth a dream of the future, that is difficult to square with the ending paragraph:

All in all, it is a good life. Much better than the path we were on, where it became so clear that we could not continue with the same model of growth. We had all these terrible things happening: lifestyle diseases, climate change, the refugee crisis, environmental degradation, completely congested cities, water pollution, air pollution, social unrest and unemployment. We lost way too many people before we realised that we could do things differently.

There is a group of people missing from the urban "better path" here: children. 

Which is baffling, given that Auken herself is apparently a mother of three

But reading through the scenario, space for children is entirely absent. Indeed, you can't raise kids when "the living room is used for business meetings when I am not there" and you have to wait for cooking utensils to be delivered.

No country for toddlers, this place. And it is striking that this appears to be a mirror image of Ayn Rand's child-free cutthroat capitalist utopia. 

In each, humanity has to be cut to fit--with predictable results.

Words to live by.

"Anyone who says 'sorry....but' is lying about the 'sorry' part."

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Remember the response to the OPM hack in 2015?

The tyrants of China sure do. 

Because there wasn't much of one.

Which is why they keep hacking away.

Yeah, it's good that we're swatting Russia with a little--emphasis deliberate--more vigor now.

But apparently there's too much money to be made in China to do anything meaningful about their behavior. 

Right, Jeffrey Sachs, treasured adviser to Rome?

Eli Savit, Friend to Johns and Sex Traffickers.

I'm torn on about this one: on the one hand, you get what you vote for, and Savit practically panted while telling the voters of Washtenaw (Ann Arbor) County about his big plans for breaking glass everywhere. And the well-heeled whites tittered excitedly at the prospect of being Portland East and chose this sack of shit.

Congrats--you own the empowerment of human trafficking and sex abusers that his "no prosecution for johns" policy ensures.

On the other hand, a humanitarian crisis can be averted by higher levels of authority stripping away prosecutorial discretion.

That has to happen here. It's one thing to decriminalize the selling of sex--that appears to be a policy with merit. 

But it's another thing to ring the dinner bell for exploiters. Which is what Savit is doing. 

The Legislature needs to step in and strip away the ability of prosecutors to roll out the welcome mat to sex trafficking.

Ideally, Washtenaw voters will give this creep the boot in 2024. But in Balkan America, there's hardly a guarantee that will happen. In the meantime, the State can't let the victims pile up.

Anyway, here's the anti-trafficking approach, which is mercifully free of the bullshit about "empowered sex workers" that is peddled by the 1% who enjoy being/buying high-end courtesans:

What we need is a policy with a statewide demand-reduction strategy, providing a legal framework with criminal penalties as well as treatment and rehabilitation. 

My anti-trafficking recommendation is for partial decriminalization, also known as the Equality Model. This model includes three equally important components: 

First, we must decriminalize and offer services to prostituted people. We need to educate and address public perceptions regarding prostitution. Prostitution isn’t glamorous; it is exploitation of a human being. and it is inhumane. People in prostitution must be provided exit strategies and services, not arrest.

Second, we must hold exploiters accountable, including sex buyers and third-party facilitators such as pimps and traffickers.

Third, we must provide a comprehensive and funded continuum of safe harbor, treatment and restoration services for all trafficked persons. A comprehensive approach not only protects, but also provides treatment and restoration services.


Monday, April 19, 2021

Repeat after me: Marxists are not hypocrites.

Power is not a means; it is an end. 

One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. 

The object of persecution is persecution. 

The object of torture is torture. 

The object of power is power.

 

It is wrong to call Buy Large Mansions! leader Patrice Cullors a "fraud." 

I understand the compulsion, but the barest read of history demonstrates that Marxists are impervious to allegations of hypocrisy.  

Marxism is simply a method of power acquisition that drapes itself in the finery of social uplift for the masses. It sets forth principles--and then proceeds to ruthlessly dispense with them and those who hold them. 

It has done so from the beginning. All that matters is what the party decides. And when the party line changes, so do the party members. Or else. 

Marxism always reaches a "two legs better" equilibrium, with former revolutionaries living in the dachas of the murdered or exiled nobility. 

Sure, there are always true believers who get betrayed--and when they're lucky, they live to warn others of the true nature of the beast. 

But in the final analysis, Marxism always takes on the features of that which it claimed to oppose--but in reality, merely envied. 

From the historical record, I'd say that Ms. Cullors is actually a superb Marxist who knows how to follow the well-trodden path.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The Meaningless Label.

The following is cobbled together from discussions with close friends about Catholic things. I have tried to give it a coherent, essay-like framework, but it will read like the incoherent spitballing it is:



I am in a spiritual stasis right now--not decaying, but not moving much toward sanctity either. The daily rosary has survived my periods of sullen reluctance (last night being a new low in that regard), Sunday is still obligatory and I find my way to the confessional. 

But my pessimism regarding the Church and the daily-less-recognizable land of my birth simmers as two eternal burners of low-grade despair. The latter I will save for another time, but rest assured--it's bleak.

As to the former, I am trying to assess the following question:

What is Catholicism?



Near as I can see, Catholicism as seen on the ground, is a collective culture of spiritual affirmation. A Catholic can find a sympathetic ear/pat on the shoulder for almost whatever one chooses (or not) to believe and however one chooses (or not) to act.

I already hear the hackles raising about how "non-inclusive" the stated teaching of the Church is on certain hot button matters. But let me assure you in no uncertain terms: the fact teachings are written down somewhere tells you nothing whatsoever about what any particular Catholic believes or acts.

Least of all from those who claim to represent or support them.

We live in the Archdiocese of Detroit, and despite some gruesome missteps on abusive priests, I think our Archbishop tries to be a decent shepherd. And he granted the traditionalist community a great gift by inviting the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest to take over a parish in downtown Detroit. Moreover, he celebrates the confirmations at the parish and Mass in the Tridentine form.

No small thing--especially in our age of official suspicion for the past and Forward! Only Forward! leadership. 

As you may recall, in March 2020 the virus that originated in Wuhan hit Michigan. And the parishes were closed down. But the ICKs offered outdoor confessions, with no static from the archbishop. Then the archbishop eventually re-opened the parishes and simply asked that masking and social distancing be done by those in attendance. 

Now, I report this as one who has come to loathe masks and fully believe that one can have a forthright, good-faith debate over their value. As noted previously, I've also been jabbed with the first dose of Pfizer, so you can also discount me as just another mouse living in fear, etc.

Judge away--it's what we do best.

But while one can have a good faith dispute over the value of masks, one cannot dispute that the Archbishop has the authority to require their use on archdiocesan property. To their credit, the Canons have posted a sign asking for same. 

And being Trads, the gratitude and filial respect was exactly as expected:

"No masks--we're Trads!" say 95 percent of the attendees. 

The most telling incident came when the archbishop celebrated confirmation in late 2020. We were there for my middle son's. My elderly parents were present, too. Mirabile dictu, almost everyone was masked. But the archbishop was busy that day, so he could not stay to celebrate Mass.

And as he exited, almost everyone present took them off--right as he walked by. 

Because We're Trads, and We're All About the Authority of the Church--Except When We Decide Otherwise! 

My eldest child, thinking of her grandparents, was quietly enraged and left the building. Before, she was attracted to the place, and considered it as a possible wedding site. Now-- well, I'm not going into that right now. Let's simply say that collective witness can trump Mom and Dad's, and in a very bad way. Hypocrisy is also witness, and Catholicism's cacophony of clashing authorities daily drowns out those with the best will in the world. 

The "lived reality" is that you can believe and act as you like and an "authoritative" Catholic who will shrug and say it's fine. Jim Martin will be super non-judgy about your polyamorous relationship and Robert Sirico's think tank will explain why your job being shipped overseas to cheaper sweatshop/slave labor is just one of those things you have to accept for the greater economic good.

Or hyper-Catholics can figuratively flip off their shepherd as he leaves the building. 

And there's nothing anyone will meaningfully do about any of it.

In Catholicism, "it's all good"--which is just another way of saying "it's really, really bad."

Yes, full spectrum Catholicism exists...in super-tiny cells, here and there. Which means that virtually every Catholic can open his eyes and find waving, bumper crop fields of hypocrisy stretching far as the eye can see. 

The result of the Church opening up to the world has been to give every one of the faithful or would-be-faithful justifiable reason to resent the compromised, and increasingly politicized and polarized witness that has been the foreseeable result.  

There is no Catholic witness.

Catholicism "as a lived reality" is a prime example of doublethink: we know all of this stuff is authoritatively written down somewhere, is supposed to command respect and we ourselves believe (parts) of it.

But in the very same instant we also know we do not believe it because it does not correspond to the reality we see in front of us or among those who also share the label. 

We own and live both faith and infidelity. And it's making us nutso.

Of course we know the liturgy is supposed to be ancient, the pope and bishops thoughtful, authoritative guardians of the truth, the teachings of the Church consistent and all this commands the assent of the faithful. 

And at the same time we know the liturgy has a tenuous connection to the past, the pope and bishops say whatever they want, thumping the pulpit with the Order of the Day as yesterday's Order of the Day is turned into memory hole ash. Alas, the Church is not Oceania, and the briefest of searches will prove that the past can be discerned and demonstrated to be in conflict with the present.

It's at this point that I almost admire the papal positivists ever at war with Eastasia, energetically pounding together all the jagged, mismatched puzzle pieces that keep pouring forth with their rhetorical mallets, claiming to make them fit.

But only almost. Because that desperate project is also unsustainable. It is akin to an automobile recall repair using parts from an entirely different automaker--with ferocious pounding, you might get it limping along, but eventually it will break down. 

Paradoxes and mysteries of revelation most can work with. Bullshit sales jobs from earnest pamphleteers are another thing entirely. 

In the current environment, you can believe and behave any old way you want and still call yourself a Catholic--which renders the term meaningless. The incessant, pounding babble at the long cafeteria lines, left and right, renders the authentic call (when it can be found) inaudible. And if one considers it carefully for even a few minutes, this is repellent. It makes a mockery of the claim to be any kind of teacher or guide, let alone one who is the supposedly the custodian of truth. And it makes a mockery of calling oneself faithful, too.

Thus, I fully recognize that my "ignore Rome" mindset described below is unsustainable in the long term. I, too, am complicit in that which I decry. But I don't see an alternative, though Lord knows I wish it were otherwise.

 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Lift for the Day.

"Don't be so hard on yourself--you're not the worst person in the world. 

A whole lot of people would have to die before that was the case. 

Probably not as many as you think, but still--a whole lot."

Friday, April 09, 2021

Rest in Peace, Your Highness.


My English ancestors started departing for these shores in the 1840s, which means you  think I would have gotten over the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

There are no shortage of bad branches who will not be mentioned, but the Queen and Prince-Consort were neither. And now the latter has died.

He was a man with no filter, for good and ill. But more for the good. His generation kept the lights from going out in Europe and the world, and disregard for the new pieties instituted by succeeding generations should not be held against his. They were up to the task in a time of horror, whereas I doubt the succeeding ones are aware of what is coming, let alone capable of getting through it.

I loved the guy and will miss him. May God rest his soul.

 

 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

The police shooting equivalent of a tree falling in a forest.

 Now, as an increasingly-lawful neutral proponent of order, I have no truck with those who stormed the Capitol. Yes, with the perspective of time, it seems that much of the reportage was overblown. Yet there was no shortage of leadership malfeasance, from the President to the Pentagon to the Speaker, etc., which made this far worse than it had to be.

Ultimately, moral agency demands that the protestors take the consequences for the laws they broke.

However, a curious silence has fallen over the circumstances of the death of Ashli Babbitt, the sole protestor who died of a gunshot fired by a Capitol police officer.  

To this day, we do not know the status of the investigation. Alas, the only journalist asking questions about the current status is former CBS correspondent Sheryl Attkisson.(1) In a climate where police shootings justified or not must be carefully investigated, the lack of updates is striking.


Note (1) Unlike Attkisson, I do not think that the failure to identify the shooting officer during the investigation merits concern--unless federal procedures are different. As the Hakim Littleton shooting in Detroit shows, there are good reasons not to give out officer names before a violation has been established.

Marie Kondo-ing your spiritual life.


 

There was a time not so long ago when if I had seen the Pontifical Academy for Life [sic] eulogizing Hans Kung [may God grant him the mercy I seek for myself] I would have been beside myself. 

Now I see it and say: yep. Just another Tuesday in Gangland


Of course the made men are going to toast each other--they're at the top and they're going to enjoy it. At some level, it's like getting angry at a dog taking a leak on a lamppost. It's what they do.

How did I reach this place of relative equanimity?

It's simple. I followed the Marie Kondo method: I am tidying up my spiritual life and discarding things which do not spark joy. 

And there is nothing coming from Rome which is worthy of attention unless I choose to attach importance to it. Stoicism--yeah, more than a bit.

But that's where I am: prayers for the church and pope in the rosary and liturgy and that's it. 

No intensive scanning of apostolic exhortations, CDF declarations, etc. 

Because here's the reality--the last seventy years have taught us that everything is provisional. Today's authoritative encyclical is tomorrow's memory hole ash. The catechism comes with a bottle of white-out. The laity don't have to "receive" anything they don't like. 

Orwell died a decade before Vatican II, but he would certainly have recognized the three generations of double-think which have followed. And likely laughed quite heartily at his bete-noire Minitrue-ing itself. 

You know what applause-hungry nobles who crave attention hate the most? Being ignored. 

Try it.

 

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Vaccine reluctance crosses racial and political lines.

I have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and will get the last in a couple of weeks. I think it is salutary and it was the right decision for me in my situation.

But I won't be wagging my finger at the more reluctant among us. There are various legitimate concerns about the vaccines ranging from the novelty of their RNA background to bad-to-horrific historical experiences with health care institutions--to name but two. Obviously, there can be other factors which involve reasoned calculations against getting the jab(s).

You will see infographics about vaccine reluctance in "red states," and while there is no doubt resistance among rural whites, there is also reluctance among African American populations which the slick partisan presentations frequently elide. And there is good reason for African-Americans to be wary--generations of substandard care would make anyone reluctant to get jabbed with a brand new medical treatment for which there is no legal recourse if it goes south.

Michigan shows both phenomena, and again, I can understand why people are skeptical

A little space for folks who are reluctant would be nice.

I'm looking at you, Karens.

Oh, and one more thing: I'm not carrying around a "vaccine passport" of any kind. Just in case you're wondering.


Monday, April 05, 2021

Orwell, Spain and the Catholic reader.

 Orwell (L), photographed as member of the POUM militia forces 

fighting for the Republic during the Spanish Civil War.  

It is no understatement to say that George Orwell's service as a volunteer soldier for the Spanish Republic during the 1936-39 conflict was the clarifying moment of his life:

Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.

[The last eight words are sometimes lopped off of the above quote, an Orwellian edit I will not repeat.]

Such a statement makes reading Orwell's works about the War an absolute necessity if one wants to understand him. These works are his war memoir, Homage to Catalonia (1938) and the pre-Homage notes contained in Spilling the Spanish Beans (1937), Looking Back on the Spanish War (1942), and Notes on Nationalism (1945).

But.

The unpleasant reality facing an observant Catholic reader of Orwell is that he reads as one who has drunk deeply from the wells of English hostility towards "Popery." To be sure, he does not use terms like popery, Romanism or make derisive references such as "hocus-pocus." But he did say things like "stinking Catholics," alas. Orwell was baptised an Anglican and buried--at his direction--according to Anglican rites. He also seems to have periodically attended Anglican services despite being an atheist.

In addition to reflexive Anglican anti-Catholic attitudes, Orwell biographer Gordon Bowker also points to young Eric Blair's sour experiences being educated by Ursuline nuns as a formative moment. 

Even with the above in mind, Orwell's casual--even occasionally celebratory--acceptance of the destruction of the Catholic Church in the Spanish Republic still shocks. 

A January 1937 report presented to the ruling council of the Republic by minister-without-portfolio (and later justice minister) Manuel de Irujo revealed there was not one open Catholic church in Republican-held territory--with the exception of the Basque provinces. 

The convents and abbeys had been emptied as well, and their former occupants usually imprisoned or shot.

At that point, the Republicans controlled at least half of Spain's territory, and the majority of its population and urban areas.

The revolution had snuffed out open worship by Catholics. But that wasn't all: de Irujo reported that Republican security forces made regular sweeps of private homes, removing and destroying religious items and paraphernalia.

As it turned out, de Irujo (himself a Basque) was the only minister who thought religious persecution was a problem, and the report was quietly buried. 

[As an aside, one of the reasons the Basque region fell so quickly to the Nationalists during the latter's 1937 offensive was that Basques as a whole--even the fiercely-separatist ones--were appalled by the violence of the revolution. Many Basques wanted to separate from Spain, but only a minuscule number wanted to separate from the faith. Plus, there were still a significant number of Basques with an attachment to Carlism, and the latter were all-in on the uprising.]

In Homage, the perceptive Orwell was correct when he observed that the Church in places like Catalonia had lost touch with the people. Too often it was in fact the dutiful handmaid/schoolmarm of those with money and power--something we still see in high places today. Indeed, in a visit to a Catalan cemetery, Orwell notes that he saw only one headstone with a religious message. He also archly reports that the secular headstones were larded with cringeworthy praise for the deceased.

So it would be fair to say that there existed a profound disconnect between the majority of Catalans and the faith of their forebears which happened long before the events of 1936.

And yet, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the public extirpation of the Church in the Republic met with Orwell's approval. In Spilling the Spanish Beans, he describes the Church as parasitic and sneeringly dismisses reports of nuns being raped and murdered (the latter indisputably happened). In Homage, he describes with with unstinting admiration the leveling effect of the anarchist revolution in Barcelona, with the erasure of class distinctions and modes of behavior, and describes the dismantling of former churches as part of this sea change.

Later, he states with full approval that there was not a Catholic church open in the Republic (the situation in the Basque provinces does not figure much in his writing) before the summer of 1937, and dismisses the Church on more than one occasion as a "racket." And the killing or exile of priests is another fact he reports without a hint of objection. In fact, one gets an unpleasant whiff of Outer Party members denouncing Eurasia's atrocities even as they celebrate Oceania's.

So...why? Why would a man who genuinely loathed totalitarians regardless of handedness view the Republican Red Terror with, at most, just a shrugging acknowledgment?

1. Orwell dismissed war propaganda as a matter of course.

Part of it can be ascribed to his disdain for pro-Franco reportage in England, which he regarded as propagandistic garbage. To be fair, he would level even more venomous criticism of leftist newspapers. Indeed, perhaps the most valuable aspect of Looking Back is his unstinting attack against the falsification of history by partisanship and propaganda. The seeds of what would become 1984 were beginning to bloom in this essay.

2.  Orwell's perch gave him a limited view of the War.

Another factor is his lack of information about the national scope of Republican atrocities, which was not something trumpeted by the Republic as it sought to influence Western public opinion. It is safe to say that he was not fully up to speed on this, either. His time in Spain was spent on the Aragon front and in Catalonia. Soldiers--even in revolutionary militias--do not get to wander around.

The problem here his view does not alter much after the Civil War ends. He concedes in Looking Back that there were Republican atrocities, and he further indicts both sides for believing and disbelieving atrocities depending on who was doing them:

I have little direct evidence about the atrocities in the Spanish Civil War. I know that some were committed by the Republicans, and far more (they are still continuing) by the Fascists. But what impressed me then, and has impressed me ever since, is that atrocities are believed in or disbelieved in solely on grounds of political predilection. Everyone believes in the atrocities of the enemy and disbelieves in those of his own side, without ever bothering to examine the evidence. Recently I drew up a table of atrocities during the period between 1918 and the present; there was never a year when atrocities were not occurring somewhere or other, and there was hardly a single case when the Left and the Right believed in the same stories simultaneously.

Is there a veiled admission of his own ideological blinders here? Perhaps. But again, one is faced with a silent, yawning void when it comes to sympathy for papist victims of the revolution.

3. "Political Catholicism."

A third factor at play is his candid loathing for what he called "political Catholicism." In his discussion of this phrase in Notes on Nationalism, he attempts to take the late G.K. Chesterton to the woodshed for being an exponent of such. In fact, Orwell goes so far as to equate the "political Catholicism" of Chesterton with Communism:

Ten or twenty years ago, the form of nationalism most closely corresponding to Communism today was political Catholicism. Its most outstanding exponent – though he was perhaps an extreme case rather than a typical one – was G.K. Chesterton. 

Whilst one can find fault with Chesterton's oeuvre--hack work and bad analysis will never be lacking in any writer of prodigious output--it is difficult to see this equation as anything other than the reflex of a man who has a bug about Catholicism. While his formulation theoretically allows for distinguishing between "political" Catholicism and that of a less-objectionable "non-political" sort, I have yet to stumble across Orwell finding something praiseworthy in any form of Catholicism. Even though Orwell states genuine admiration for Chesterton as as a writer of talent and an anti-imperial "little Englander," you will not find any admiration for Chesterton as a Catholic.

Where this inconsistent-but-still believing Catholic comes down in his assessment of Orwell is here: the man simply had a blind spot on the subject. And it was one that operated almost at the level of reflex, to boot. It was not something that he was ever able to remedy, either--quite simply because he was incapable of recognizing it. Perhaps if his small circle of friends and associates had contained a believing Catholic, things might have turned out differently. Or maybe not even then.

Ultimately, I find his case to be salutary. It is a reminder that honest men have their blind spots and can still operate in good faith. Even the most objective and ruthlessly analytical of them can miss things for whatever reason. And from that, we can learn something about ourselves--if we are being honest.

 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

"It's not Orwellian if it's private enterprise! If you don't like it, start your own commercial behemoth!"

Just anticipating the usual brain-dead libertariot responses to this development:

Amazon drivers must consent to invasive biometric workplace surveillance or be fired.

Telescreens are just fine if corporations are using them, comrades!

Some drivers are understandably concerned about the new technology, as Amazon will be collecting data on everything from miles driven, speed, acceleration, braking, turns, and following distance. The cameras can even sense when a driver yawns (or appears to), and certain behaviors will trigger the sending of footage to Amazon, which could be used to reprimand drivers later. Reuters has reported some drivers have quit instead of signing the consent form. 

Hat tip to Liberty Journal for this revelation.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The downward spiral continues.

Apropos of this insightful tweet about conservatism's corporate suicide pact (bad language, but it's grimly on point).

Cigna goes Full Critical Theory Stasi on its employees, demanding information about religious and sexual identity and forcing struggle sessions on their whiteys.

The blowback on this in a decade will be fascinating as Hell. And probably almost as fiery.

I'm not talking about lawsuits, which should also be useful. I'm thinking more broadly.

"Might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb" offers timeless insight into human nature.

In the meantime, yes--raise that corporate rate.

Do eet.

Woke policy, woke taxes. 



Tuesday, March 23, 2021

George Orwell describes American political narrative shifting in 2021.

 Hell, over the last 18 hours....

Winston was taking part in a demonstration in one of the central London squares at the moment when it happened. It was night, and the white faces and the scarlet banners were luridly floodlit. The square was packed with several thousand people, including a block of about a thousand schoolchildren in the uniform of the Spies. 

On a scarlet-draped platform an orator of the Inner Party, a small lean man with disproportionately long arms and a large bald skull over which a few lank locks straggled, was haranguing the crowd. A little Rumpelstiltskin figure, contorted with hatred, he gripped the neck of the microphone with one hand while the other, enormous at the end of a bony arm, clawed the air menacingly above his head. 

His voice, made metallic by the amplifiers, boomed forth an endless catalogue of atrocities, massacres, deportations, lootings, rapings, torture of prisoners, bombing of civilians, lying propaganda, unjust aggressions, broken treaties. It was almost impossible to listen to him without being first convinced and then maddened. At every few moments the fury of the crowd boiled over and the voice of the speaker was drowned by a wild beast-like roaring that rose uncontrollably from thousands of throats. The most savage yells of all came from the schoolchildren. 

The speech had been proceeding for perhaps twenty minutes when a messenger hurried on to the platform and a scrap of paper was slipped into the speaker’s hand. He unrolled and read it without pausing in his speech. Nothing altered in his voice or manner, or in the content of what he was saying, but suddenly the names were different. Without words said, a wave of understanding rippled through the crowd. Oceania was at war with Eastasia!

Monday, March 22, 2021

Got a bit derailed.

I have this habit of reading (or re-reading) multiple books at a time. It's manageable, but it does tend to mash my ADHD "SQUIRREL!" button.


So I picked up Orwell's Homage to Catalonia and here I am. I will still have the other review up. But it may be preceded by a review of Mr. Blair's account of his service with the POUM militia during the Spanish Civil War, the event upon which his intellectual and political worldview pivoted. 

And did you know that Orwell and his wife Eileen adopted a son? Here are the reminiscences of Richard Horatio Blair, who recalls a loving and attentive father, even as that father was clacking away at his masterpiece while dying of tuberculosis.

In any event, that's the story. 

In the meantime, you might want to put aside some of your stimulus money for rocketing gasoline prices this summer.

But remember that energy and food prices aren't "core inflation," so it'll be fine.

 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Kudos to Rachel Maddow and MSNBC.

A superb segment on Fr. Emil Kapaun, Medal of Honor winner in the Korean War.

And kudos to President Obama for bestowing the Medal--which I had forgotten about, to my embarrassment.

Watch it all.

Book review inbound.

Yes, another one which is, in part, about the Spanish Civil War.

And yes, it's lengthy, so probably not before late this afternoon.

For those who see parallels between contemporary America and 1930s Spain, I offer this word of comfort:

We certainly aren't any later than February 1936 right now in our own Republic.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Just another sunny day in California.

An explicitly anti-Christian ethnic studies curriculum for public schools that encourages students to chant to Aztec gods in the name of social justice and advocates "countergenocide"?

The real face of "equity" is starting to be revealed. And it looks a lot like some very old, implacable and blood-stained stone faces from the human past.

Sane people need to starve these institutions by removing their children from them--or better yet, never enrolling them in the first place.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.
 
 
[Update and Editor's Note, 3/15/2021]: sadly, there are insinuations that I post unverified propaganda. In response, I will note that the evidence is easily found and you can read the actual pages of the proposed curriculum here.]

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Today in Spanish History.

 

On this day in 1895, Carlos VII, the Carlist claimant to the Spanish throne, instituted the memorial for the "Martyrs of Tradition."

It commemorates all who have died in service to the Comunion Tradicionalista over the years. 

The closest American analogue is Memorial Day. But the Carlist version is much, much more militant. 

As the late Jose Maria Gironella pointed out in his Note for the American edition of The Cypresses Believe In God, Americans have a hard time making analogies and their understandings of common terms fit Spain. In Spain, a Catholic is a Spanish Catholic, a Communist is a Spanish Communist, and so forth. Ideas are embraced because the men who hold such ideas are embraced first. 

In other words, if all analogies limp a little, then American analogies for Spain may do little more than twitch slightly. Keep that in mind for 10 marzo.

Woke backfires.

Burger King UK is groveling over its "Women belong in the kitchen" tweet.

It just reminds me that the dominant culture nowadays honors women who work in any kitchen but their own. Because the latter is oppressive or something.

My much better half recently picked up an Angela Davis (!) book from two generations ago and paged through it. 

In it, the celebrated Marxist author proposed that women be liberated from housework by instead having teams of workers handle such things. 

Who would be more likely to make up such teams, she wondered? Naturally, such workers would be honored in the new order. But the bottom line was that working in the home is laudable for women only if it's someone else's home.

And here we are.


Friday, March 05, 2021

Finally--a pregnancy discrimination law that is clear.

Genuinely good news from the Times--federal pregnancy discrimination law may finally grow some teeth.

I loathe the national Chamber of Commerce, but they are on the right side of this one. 

In 2019, after Democrats took back the House, the bill finally received its first congressional hearing. In another breakthrough, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an often right-leaning group, threw its weight behind the PWFA, because the bill’s “end goal was something we could support,” explained Marc Freedman, vice president of employment policy at the organization. The lobbying group collaborated with the bill’s supporters to revise the legislation in an effort to win bipartisan support.

“The folks that we worked with on this bill are not folks that we are usually in agreement with,” said Mr. Freedman, but “giving pregnant women the ability to stay in a workplace is a good thing, and we wanted to find a way to get to that endpoint.”

The two sides found middle ground: creating a formalized negotiation process and clarifying definitions for particular terms, including “known limitations” stemming from pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, that would remove ambiguity for both employees and employers.

Last September, the PWFA passed the House with an overwhelming 329 votes, including 103 Republicans. “I don’t think anybody had that number in their head,” Mr. Freedman said.

But the bill didn’t advance to the Senate — in part because of a contentious election season — and had to be reintroduced in the current legislative session, where it stands today.

 

Some hate crimes are more equal than others.

[The alleged perpetrator] told detectives he stabbed the victim "because he didn't like the way he looked at him" and also said to an officer, "I stabbed that guy. If he dies, he dies. I don't give a f--k."

The victim, who was stabbed in the back, remains in the hospital in critical condition after losing one of his kidneys and his adrenal gland, and suffering damage to his liver.

Hate crime charges were not initially expected, but then the NYPD revealed that one of [Salman] Muflihi's previous arrests was for allegedly punching another Asian man.

That led police to believe the the attack may have been racially motivated, but the Manhattan District Attorney's Office declined to prosecute the stabbing as a hate crime.

You can read the whole sorry thing here. The prosecutor's excuse is that the "suspect" "may not have seen" his victim--despite the whole "didn't like the way he looked at him" part. 

Looks like "reasonable cause" to me, but I confess to not being versed in criminal procedure.

The fact that the current government of the City marinates in a worldview that looks askance at Asians as bearers of "white privilege" is nothing for the community to worry about. Just ordinary ol' prosecutorial discretion at work.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Tax the rich? Sign me up.

The mega-rich have only gotten richer, and they aren't my friends. 

Senator Warren has a great idea which needs to be enacted into law post-haste.

We do not object to a man, or refuse to honor him, because he has risen from the gutter; but we do refuse to honor a man who was born in a gutter and has remained there, but claims respect simply because he has succeeded in gathering a mass of gold around him.

 --Orestes Brownson.


Burn, baby, burn!

I honestly don't care if Portland turns into a massive cloud of slowly-dissipating ash.

You get what you vote for, and this what you wanted.

Have fun watching local businesses die and insurance premiums soar.

What bugs me is that this will prolong the never-ending ammo shortage.


Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Commissar Dorsey's newest purge is underway.

For those of you who care about Twitter, an interesting report from one of the newly-unpersoned.

The straining out of small fish has begun.

As a consumer of Mystery Grove's (another of the purged) catalog, permit me to recommend their small-but-worthwhile collection here--while it can still be found.

 

What do Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Microsoft, Apple, BMW and Samsung have in common?

 Use of Uighur slave labor in their factories.

But they put up the correct hashtags in February and June, so that makes it all better.

Uighurs’ placement in factories outside Xinjiang has been conducted under a central government policy known as “Xinjiang Aid.” Factory bosses receive cash compensations for each Uighur worker they employ. Some companies have even advertised their ability to supply Uighur workers through online bookings. One such ad, claiming to be able to supply 1,000 Uighur workers aged 16 to 18 years, read: “The advantages of Xinjiang workers are: semi-military style management, can withstand hardship, no loss of personnel … Minimum order 100 workers!” 

Although state media are claiming Uighurs are being compensated for their work, the ASPI researchers found they live in segregated dormitories, are unable to go home, and they undergo Mandarin and ideological training outside working hours, similarly to Uighurs in the internment camps.

In one case, a batch of “graduates” from a so-called vocational training center in south Xinjiang were transferred directly to a factory in the eastern Anhui province, according to a government report. The factory, Haoyuanpeng Clothing Manufacturing Co. Ltd, lists Fila, Adidas, Puma and Nike among its clients. Xinjiang workers have also been placed in factories that are part of Apple’s supply chains, including a plant in Guangzhou visited by Apple CEO Tim Cook in December 2017.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Spanish Civil War: An Introduction for the Anglosphere Reader.

Building upon the review of Mine Were of Trouble, I would like to offer a list of books to help cradle English speakers get a grip on the War in Spain.

I am compelled to offer three framing comments at the beginning.

1. First, works about the War--even in English--are inevitably politicized. The War inspires strong passions in the Western world to this very day, and the historians who write about it are no exception. Even the act of toning down one's reactions and trying to assess the facts objectively, in a comparative framework with other ideological conflicts, is subject to accusations of bias. One is accused of (or lauded for) being pro-Republican or pro-Nationalist, pushing a narrative. And readers can be sucked in as well.

Raises hand.

The necessity for the reader is to recognize the historian's biases and his own and to engage in periodic reality checks.

For example: is the author presenting one side's atrocities in a different light than the other's? Pro-Republic authors frequently have a tic in this respect. This is best seen in what I call "the church caught fire and the priest died" pro-Republic depictions of the Loyalist pogroms of 1936.

Thousands of Catholics--laity, clergy and religious--were targeted and slaughtered by Republican forces in the wake of the rising of the generals.

In a grand irony, this butchery turned the officer corps' rising into a Catholic crusade. The initial proclamations of the Generals explicitly spoke of restoring order to the Republic and respecting its institutions, including the separation of church and state. And there really is no evidence that such were insincere. 

The massacre of the Faithful changed all of that, with Catholics of every class and region under Nationalist control becoming fiercely pro-Nationalist and swelling the ranks and resources of the Generals' forces. This forced the Generals to change their tone fairly quickly: by autumn of 1936 the Crusade for Catholic Spain was on.

The slaughter is acknowledged by Republic-favoring historians, but it is often described in the passive voice, occurring as opposed to directed--spasmodic, spontaneous and unforeseeable--definitely not the systematic killing of Nationalist firing squads. 

Um...no. The Republic threw open the arsenals to anti-religious fanatics and what followed was entirely foreseeable. Anti-religious rages had been blazing, albeit at a much lower level, for months before the War. What did they expect when they handed the militias military weaponry and the color of law? 

It is true that members of the Republican leadership tried--sometimes successfully--to intervene to save people, and eventually the pogrom wound down. But this was due as much to the flight of Catholics to Nationalist territory and the sending of the fanatical militias to the front lines to do some actual fighting against people who could shoot back as to policy. 

Bottom line: watch how each side is depicted for similar actions. Because pro-Nationalists get their passive voice on as well.

2. Secondly, have a note pad handy. It is taken me years to get the names of the various personages straight. When you first run across someone who appears to be a major personage, write down his or her name and political affiliation. Gil Robles was not Calvo Sotelo--that took me a while, for some reason. 

And do the same for the major factions. Because, you see, there is usually a very unhelpful Spanish acronym, or a puzzling adjective before an otherwise understandable noun, which describes the welter of contending organizations.

Trust me: you do not want to confuse the CEDA with the CNT, the PSOE for the PCE or POUM, or the Alphonsine monarchists with the Carlist ones, etc.

3. Learn Spanish.

At least the pronunciation--you are much less likely to sound like an idiota. Canada and CaƱada are...different places after all.  But getting at least a tentative grip on the language will help you see the mindsets better, too.

With those advisories in hand, on to the recommendations:

1. Hugh Thomas' one volume history. Still the gold standard. First published in 1961, and considered fair enough by the censors to be published and sold in Franco's Spain. Genuinely even-handed, even if it focuses more on the Republic. Which is actually fair enough in and of itself: the dysfunction of that half of Spain necessitates more words.

2. The Victorious Counterrevolution by Michael Seidman. Absolutely essential. It could also be entitled "How the Nationalists Won." A searching evaluation of the factors that led the Spanish "Right" to win their civil war when similar forces in Russia and China lost theirs. 

Bottom line: no bleed-out from a previous war (World Wars I and II, respectively), better logistics, better use of resources, much less corruption and infighting. Nationalist soldiers ate well and civilians had a functional currency which meant they managed to do the same. Foreign assistance was not as decisive as pro-Republic historiography suggests--the Nationalists just did better with theirs than the Republic did. Alas for Spain, the regime would founder economically after the War and only start to get its legs underneath it with American aid and the abandoning of quasi-fascist demands for autarky.

3. Martin Blinkhorn's history of the Carlists in the Second Republic and the War. At least you will understand how one of the major members of the Nationalist coalition thought and fought.

4. Franco and Hitler by Stanley Payne. Payne is the dean of American historians on all things Spanish, but the Civil War is his specialty. 

Payne is often accused of being pro-Nationalist--and to be fair, he is a friend of Franco's daughter, Carmen. But he is also a consistent puncturer of pro-Franco mythology created by the regime, not least of which were their attempts to retcon Spain's relationship with Germany during the Civil War and World War II. Contrary to Cold War mythmaking, Franco wanted to join WW2 on the side of the Axis. But neither side could get past this negotiation stalemate: Spain had not recovered from the Civil War and needed resources before it would commit to a declaration of war, and Germany wanted Spain to commit to a declaration of war before it would send resources. The most Payne will concede to the regime is that it had a very distorted understanding of Nazi war aims and Hitler's plans, looking through the outdated experience of German aid in the civil war. It did not understand what Hitler's completed new order would mean, and how small a place was planned for Spain within it. Spain's escape from destruction in World War II was mostly lucky, owing more to Barbarossa consuming Germany's focus--and eventually its armies--than it did to cannily fending off Germany's overtures. Though there were definitely pro-Allied elements in Spain who helped.

5. Finally, a novel: General Escobar's War. A fictionalized account of the devoutly-Catholic General Antonio Escobar Huertas's actions during the Civil War, it is genuinely moving. Escobar stayed with the Republic despite his brother and youngest son going over to the Nationalists, and he was executed by the victors in 1940. It created quite a stir when it was published in 1982, as it does not spare either side. 

I have more suggestions, but the above should occupy you for a while.

The Thanksgiving Indult: an update.

Sharon Kabel has written the definitive essay on the question of the legendary "Turkey Indult."

It cites me, so you know it's good. 

Humor aside, it is exhaustively-researched and well-worth a read. It also prompts questions about the relaxation of abstinence and fasting requirements before the 21st council. Tolle, lege.

Rest in Peace.

  My Uncle Robert passed away before my Mom could get there. Prayers for the repose of his soul and for the comfort of those who loved him w...