Wednesday, January 27, 2021

One of the finest film endings I have ever seen.

Not to mention relevant.

In insane times, who is in charge? 

For your station in life and the duties you bear...

...you are.


 


Thursday, January 21, 2021

On the other hand...

Using the Defense Production Act could be salutary--if the stuff is made here. 

Our bipartisan-forged dependence upon the Sinofascists is one of the reasons we got hammered by the plague. Telling 3M to import more masks from Shanghai isn't going to fix anything. Except the wallets of men whose wallets desperately need thinning.

We can't make our own Tylenol, for the love of pete. And we know it.

I am also curious to see how Biden's "Buy American" plan is going to work, what with economic nationalism not being a shareholder fave.

Remember: the American media consists of money-losing subsidiaries of large multinationals.

Also remember that Wall Street invested heavily in Team Biden.

Which is why you are going to get four years of neoliberal log-rolling like this.

Never make the shareholder class angry. 

Hat-tip to Don for the find.


 

 


Your weekly reminder: everyone's mental health has taken a big hit.

Some numbers:

 According to data from Mental Health America (MHA), however, more people are facing deteriorating mental health. From January through September of 2020, the number of people who have taken MHA’s anxiety screenings has increased by 93 percent over the entire previous year. The organization’s depression screening has seen a 62 percent increase over 2019’s totals. Before the year was even over, more people were trying to find out if they were suffering from anxiety or depression than ever before.

MHA isn’t the only organization with data pointing to the mental health impact of the pandemic. A survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation in July 2020 found that 53 percent of adults said the pandemic had a negative toll on their mental health. Data collected from the CDC found that 41 percent of adults experienced symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder in December 2020, compared to 11 percent in January-July of 2019.

It can be seen in the increase in overdose deaths

And the preliminary statistics on suicides are frightening, too.


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

One playoff win in my 51 years on the orb.

So the two newest passengers on the Detroit Lions' Carousel of Derp (a/k/a "the Hell-Ride Without a Paddle!") have boarded.


 

Any assessment is nearly pure speculation, but there are a few scraps of info which suggest a direction, if nothing yet about the quality of the leadership.

First, new GM Brad Holmes was full of praise for Matthew Stafford, if non-committal. That is good, given that there are teams who need a veteran QB and the Lions are short of draft picks thanks to the previous regime. He deserves better than yet another rebuild and his value will never be higher.

And yes, I said "rebuild" despite Holmes expressly disclaiming the term "rebuild." Because in the next breath he recogized that the defense is atrocious. Because it is--historically so. That ensures that some level of rebuild is in the offing. 

You want additional proof that the team is resigned to a rebuild, whatever else they want to call it?

Campbell has a six year contract. That's a roll-up-your-sleeves-for-the-handyman-special kind of deal. 

So, here we go. 

Again. But I am so very, very, very slightly pleased with the fact that the necessity has been recognized.

Affirm what can be affirmed and advise that principled opposition may be necessary.

That, and a Pauline offer of prayers. 

Seems a reasonable pastoral statement from the head of the USCCB.

 



Great optics, Champion of Intersectionality!

So the first guy Biden boots is the African-American Surgeon General.

And he passes over the next in line to fill in as acting--and she's a female career civil servant.

Snubbed, she understandably resigns.

Oh, and the full-time replacement will be a male Obama retread.

Neoliberals to Progressives: 

Sure, sure--we'll mouth your platitudes. 

And then we'll do what we want. 

What are you going to do about it? 

Yeah, that's what we thought.

 

Can't go target shooting when it will run you a buck a round to perforate the paper.

The Great Ammo Shortage of 2020 is likely to be the Great Ammo Shortage of 2021.

I mean, I've seen people rejoicing when they find Tulammo, for pete's sake. 

And no, it's not a good time to get a reloading press, either.

Exciting times, these.


 

So Kwame gets his sentence commuted by the Bad Orange Man.

Like many things the outgoing President has done, dubious

But I can't work up any outrage about it. A big part of it is that Kilpatrick's story has always struck me more as a tragedy than anything else. He had everything going for him...and he threw it away in hubris. 

Hopefully he's learned something--and if he hasn't, he still can't run for office in Michigan for another 13 years, anyway. 

 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Because they can.

Policies like Secretary Levine's led to unnecessary deaths of vulnerable elderly people and unnecessary separation of the elderly from their families.

Not that Secretary Levine's elderly mother was subjected to the same policies, because of course not.

The mindset which drives "Insider trading" applies to much more than stock portfolios. 

Thus, the "oligarchs of the people" will always have better for themselves than they will for the common herd. 

And make no mistake--they look out for each other, as this incarnate Peter Principle moment demonstrates.

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Moral Compass of a Neoliberal.

I mean, the title says it all: Mao fangirl is now a senior advisor for Biden.

One of her favorite political philosophers killed forty five million human beings.

To be fair, those Chinese were backwards rural types--literal peasants.

If they wanted food, they should have thought of that before they chose the career path.

In any event, the destroyed were definitely not well-connected members of consulting and mergers/acquisition firms who cozy up to the ruling party

Still, it's nice to know what kind of murderousness is acceptable in polite company.

Maybe we'll see the Mao ornament return to the White House Christmas tree in 2021, too!

And I suppose we have a little data on how tough Uncle Joe's new management is going to be on Red Chinese trade chicanery, too.

 


Saturday, January 16, 2021

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

John Jalsevac gazes into the maelstrom.

 And it makes him angry.

Me? Some, but more despair.

Reason no longer reigns anywhere. Overreaction breeds overreaction and so the cycle reinforces itself.

"The avalanche has started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote."

Nevertheless, his thoughts are worth a read. Here's a sample:

Trump repeated his accusations against Pence at the rally on Wed[nesday] morning. “If Mike Pence does the right thing we win the election,” he said. He even dared to suggest that if Pence didn’t do what he said, it was because he lacked “courage”.

Pence responded with a statement explaining why he couldn’t do what Trump was demanding he do. Clearly, he was right. You’d have to be insane or delusional to think the framers of the Constitution or the 12th amendment intended to grant the vice president the authority to do what Trump was demanding Pence do. (“Hey, let’s give unilateral authority to reject legislatively-certified electoral votes to the politician whose continued position and power depend on the outcome of that vote! What a great idea! Because a little tyranny never hurt democracy, amiright?”) Which is why it has never happened in the history of the country.

According to reports, during the ensuing riot some of the rioters rampaged through the Capitol looking for Pence, so they could string him up. Some of them built a gallows in front. A day later, “hang Mike Pence” trended on Twitter.

If you don't need to visit DC or your State capital next Wednesday...don't. I know someone in who works for the State in Lansing, and the word has been passed to stay away from the office that day.

 

Sucks to be him, I guess.

Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is going to be indicted for his role in the Flint water nightmare.

Might be (?) hard to sustain from a very cursory view, but I can't be arsed to care.

Someone has to be responsible, and I am perfectly fine if the former "Tough Nerd" is one of them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Trump is speaking later today.

He could do a lot to calm things by speaking against calls for armed protests.

That would be Presidential--especially after not speaking to his Veep until late yesterday.

It would be a better approach than offering Bill Belichick a Medal of Freedom.

Not sure how much money I would bet on it, coins being in short supply these days.

--He says with profound worry about the future.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Kathy Shaidle, Rest in Peace.

Ovarian cancer claimed the great blogging pioneer on January 9, 2021. 

It is impossible to calculate her influence, either in the digital world or on free speech.

Rest assured that she received the sacraments before she passed.

Naturally, she wrote her own obituary

Kathy Shaidle 1964 - 2021

Following a tedious rendezvous with ovarian cancer, Kathy Shaidle has died, wishing she'd spent more time at the office.

Her tombstone reads: GET OFF MY LAWN!

She is relieved she won’t have to update her LinkedIn profile, shave her legs, or hear “Creep” by Radiohead ever again. Some may even be jealous that she’s getting out of enduring a Biden presidency.

Kathy was a writer, author, columnist and blogging pioneer, as proud of her first book’s Governor General’s Award nomination as of her stint as “Ed Anger” for the Weekly World News. A target for “cancel” culture before the term was coined, she was denounced by all the best people, sometimes for contradictory reasons.

Kathy did not lead a particularly “full life,” her existence having been comprised mostly of a series of unpleasant surprises. Her favourite corporeal pleasure was saying, “I told you so,” which she was able to utter with justification multiple times a day. A bookish movie-buff and agoraphobic homebody, as a child Kathy (as per the Roz Chast cartoon) “always preferred the little couch ride on the merry-go-round.” Yet Kathy managed to acquire a reputation for mouthiness, a side effect of her bullshit allergy.

Contrary to cliche, Kathy did not conduct herself with particular “grace,” “dignity” or “courage” in her final months. She didn’t “bravely fight on” after her cancer was pronounced terminal. All she did was (barely) cope, and then only with assistance from her generous employer, and some energetic and selfless friends whom she’d somehow managed to acquire over the years, much to her astonishment.

Of course, the greatest of these was her stalwart beloved of over 20 years, Arnie, with whom she is now in the ultimate long distance relationship. They can all finally catch up on their sleep.

Donations can be made to the Dorothy Ley Hospice, Toronto.

 

Amy Welborn explains why switching social media platforms probably isn't the answer.

Typically lucid and cogent insights on a hot topic:

Over the past couple of days, the calls to Follow Me on [Alternative Platform] have heightened. I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook (and hardly any at all commenting or “discussing”), but every other post, it seems, over the past few days has been invitations to migrate, declarations of cancellation and so on.

I won’t be following anyone on to any new platforms. Not a one. In fact, this is a clarifying moment for me. It’s time to take a few more steps away. I’m in the process of stripping down my FB presence – they don’t make it easy, that’s for sure. It might take a few weeks, but in the end, I’ll still have a FB page, but it will only have a week’s worth of posts on it at a time – and none of those personal, just links from here.

(My only concern – and the reason I’m taking time – is to catch personal photos or anecdotes I might have posted there, but not saved elsewhere.

Before this (yes) wall o’ text, let me just give you an abstract. Maybe save you some time:

If you’re frustrated by the limitations of social media, discern why. Maybe it’s not time to find another, more acceptable form of social media. Maybe it’s time to turn away. 

* * *

What about this? What about seeing this as a clarifying moment and girding your loins and actually leaving the cave?

Maybe begin with the following. First recognize that this internet/social media loop is not random. It didn’t just happen. Like marketing, it’s designed.

It’s designed to elevate and harness various aspects of human personality and behavior, not for the benefit of society, not for your personal benefit, but for their profit.

There’s no nobility here. There’s no idealism. It’s about money and power, period.

It’s about using particular types of energy that make you tick, like you’re a cog in a machine.

  • First, and most obviously, you’ve given up your data. All of it. It’s there, from your Social Security number to what you searched for on Ebay just now. It’s all there.

But of more interest to me is how this ecosystem engages and exploits:

  • Our curiosity
  • Our nosiness
  • Our anxiety
  • Our loneliness
  • Our aspirations
  • Our desires
  • Our tribalism
  • Our anger
  • Our ego
  • Our creativity
  • Our drive for change
  • Our desire for freedom

Yes, the Internet can help us direct our good qualities in positive ways. But I think it’s clear, particularly in the context of the authoritarian ecosystem this is turning out to be, it’s mostly a negative and it’s time to leave it behind, as much as we can.

For it is good and natural to:

  • Want to know and understand
  • Feel as if I belong
  • Know that I’m not alone in my views, interests and loyalties
  • Express myself
  • Connect
  • Play
  • Share what I know
  • Share my gifts

How does social media exploit these good, even holy aspirations and desires and turn them into destructive, demeaning dross? 

Read it all--and discern accordingly.

And let me just add that the odds that the tech titans are going to leave alternate platforms alone are too low be meaningfully calculated--see, e.g., Parler. You will likely move in only to find your new digital home condemned because the gatekeepers have determined that it isn't like all the others.

Evergreen.

He was a great believer in letting a thousand voices be heard, because this meant that all he actually needed to do was listen only to the ones that had anything useful to say, “useful” in this case being defined in the classic civil-service way as “inclining to my point of view.” 

In his experience, it was a number generally smaller than ten. The people who wanted a thousand, etc., really meant that they wanted their own voice to be heard while the other nine hundred and ninety-nine were ignored, and for this purpose the gods had invented the committee. 

Vetinari was very good at committees, especially when Drumknott took the minutes. What the iron maiden was to stupid tyrants, the committee was to Lord Vetinari; it was only slightly more expensive, far less messy, considerably more efficient, and, best of all, you had to force people to climb inside the iron maiden.  

--Terry Pratchett

Wisdom from Across the Pond.

My contention is that good men (not bad men) consistently acting upon that position [imposing “the good”] would act as cruelly and unjustly as the greatest tyrants. They might in some respects act even worse. 

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under of robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. 

The robber barons cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some points be satiated; but those who torment us for their own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to heaven yet at the same time likely to make a Hell of earth. 

This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on the level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.

 --C.S. Lewis.

Cheery was aware that Commander Vimes didn't like the phrase 'The innocent have nothing to fear', believing the innocent had everything to fear, mostly from the guilty but in the longer term even more from those who say things like 'The innocent have nothing to fear'.

--Terry Pratchett.

 

Friday, January 08, 2021

The Epic of Peter Kemp, Part I: Among the Carlists.

 Peter Kemp

To say that the late English soldier and journalist Peter Kemp (1913-1993) led an unusual life would be an understatement. In the summer of 1936, he was studying to be a barrister when the Spanish Civil War broke out. Like many English idealists, he decided to take up arms in the struggle. 

Unlike almost all of them, he chose the Nationalist side.

While it is true that most Western Catholics sympathized to one degree or another with the rising in July 1936, Kemp was not Catholic, and to my knowledge never became one. The simple fact was, Kemp was genuinely appalled by anti-Catholic atrocities and loathed communism. 

And that was enough for him to forsake a promising career path and his upper middle class lifestyle to take up arms in Spain--despite having no military training nor any knowledge of Spanish. In his memoir of the War (written in 1957), Kemp is circumspect about his motivations, but his sympathies are always clear--e.g., his stifled rage as his recounts a Republican militia's literal crucifixion of a local priest in a village liberated by his unit is obvious. 

At the same time, he does not heartily endorse Franco-led Spain. At one point, he speculates that the untimely death of Nationalist General Emilio Mola was a great loss, depriving the victors of a man who could have blunted the regime's worst features.

He announced his plans to his parents and, to his surprise, his father helped him buy clothing and gear that would be useful in his expedition. He said goodbye to his parents, and never saw his father alive again--the latter died of heart failure several months after Kemp embarked. With the assistance of a sympathetic English journalist, he obtained a visa into Nationalist Spain, himself posing as a journalist. He then immediately sought out a unit to join and was directed to the red-beret-wearing Carlist Requetes.

Spanish Carlism is a fascinating phenomenon, and one that endures to this day in northern Spain. It has its roots in the Spanish War of Independence against Napoleon, and acquired its "Carlist" moniker during the first of Spain's 19th Century civil wars, a succession crisis between the deceased King Ferdinand's brother Carlos (styled the Fifth) and his daughter Isabel II. The Carlists supported the former, but despite coming close to victory on a couple of occasions, were defeated in a fierce seven year war between 1833 and 1840. Isabel II is a minor character in Amistad, and it's actually a fair depiction: the puppet of her mother and her mother's advisors, she remained disconnected and willful when she came into her own.

The disastrous reign of Isabel ended in 1868, and a second Carlist War, led by Carlos VII, followed from 1872-1876. Carlos VII was the most impressive of the pretenders in virtue and intellect. Alas, the Carlists again were defeated and Carlos went into exile. The direct Carlist line went extinct with Carlos' son Jaime, but the movement lived on, strong in Navarre, the Basque country and other parts of northern Spain.

Carlism is often described as "reactionary" and "absolutist," contrasting it with the various constitutional monarchies and short-lived Spanish republics. To which I can respond: 

"Eh. 'Reactionary' is an overloaded term. 'Absolutist'? If you squint too much, maybe. But not really."

Carlists advocate, albeit a bit inconsistently, the return to the "Kingdom of the Spains." What many Anglosphere readers forget--assuming they ever understood it in the first place--is that Spain was a collection of historic kingdoms and regions, officially united by the marriage of Isabella the Catholic and Ferdinand. But even after the marriage, the rights of the lesser kingdoms and regions, called fueros, were respected. Which is likely one of the reasons why the "expulsion" of Muslims in 1611 was very much a patchwork affair that ranged from wholesale deportation in some regions to minimal efforts in others (and much hiding of or quick returns by Moriscos in the latter).

This regionalism was a strong counterbalance to the authority of the monarch in Madrid, and was very attractive in places like the Basque region and Navarre. Whereas the European liberal constitutionalism embraced by the supporters of Isabel was very much a centralizing/nationalizing process which made Madrid much more important. 

And it has been pointed out by one of the few scholars who have written about Carlism in English that the northern Carlist heartlands were among the most decent places to live in 19th and early 20th Century Spain. Land ownership was fairly widespread, and landowners who rented out typically gave their tenants generous terms. The cities were smaller, but reasonably prosperous and not wracked with labor grievances--charitable efforts were not lacking. And, crucially, the Church was very much grounded in the lives of the people: clerics came from the region, lived among the flock and were not distant episcopal princes. 

The downside to this was that Carlists tended to be uncomprehending of the problems in other areas of Spain--especially the larger industrializing regions. They naively assumed that their model could transfer seamlessly to other areas of Spain and be a quick fix. 

In short, what the Carlists hearkened back to was definitely a pre-Enlightenment conception of Spain, admittedly not 'constitutional' but far from "absolutist." And they were flexible enough to recognize the newer problems experienced by the working class, glomming on to Rerum Novarum--even if they did not see that the leaven would not magically-percolate. However, it is worth noting that the Carlists' greatest political theorist, Juan Vasquez de Mella, was a major influence on the draft of Quadragesimo Anno.

While they had minimal love for the official Bourbon monarchy, the birth of the Second Spanish Republic was an apocalyptic moment for the Carlists. They began to prepare for the worst, arming and training Requete militias in the north. They would also never fully trust or be trusted by what became the Franco regime, with rebellions by and political persecution of Carlists being a lesser-known feature of the Caudillo's Spain. But that's for another post.

So in July 1936 when the Generals launched the coup, the Requetes rallied to the rising and played a key role in securing north central Spain. However, despite drills, they were not professional soldiers, and their suicidal courage won victories--at unnecessary cost.

This lack of professionalism probably made the red berets the ideal start for a young foreigner with no military experience or grasp of the language. Kemp was gladly welcomed to their ranks--if not his surname, which proved to be difficult to pronounce en castellano. Instead, he was "Mr. Peter"--or "[Rank] Peter" when he was promoted. 

His Anglicanism was the subject of frequent questions, not least of which was the presumption that as a Protestant he also simply had to be a Freemason. Kemp was not, but that question would be periodically asked throughout the rest of his service in the War--at least until his near-death from a mortar attack. But the Requetes were mollified by his regular attendance at Mass and obvious dedication and courage, and patiently remedied his lack of Spanish.

His assignment to a Requete unit also brought him into full contact with the crusader-Catholic mindset of the Carlists--especially the clerics. The Carlists were quite motivated to fight against the Reds, as they described all Republicans--increasingly accurately, as the War dragged on. But the Chaplain of Kemp's unit was unusually bloodthirsty, and was gently upbraided for it by the unit's Colonel, who pointedly reminded the Requetes that the average Republican soldier could be made a good Spaniard again after the War. So, yes, we should definitely take prisoners, Padre.

[As it turned out, many Republican prisoners of war were considered reliable enough to be offered the opportunity to serve in Nationalist units, and thousands did. They generally were not given elite-level duties, but each one freed up another Nationalist soldier.]

So Mr. Peter was given his rifle and marched into a divided village, with the opposing forces a few feet apart in some places.

The next installment will look at the rest of his service with the Carlists and his subsequent enlistment in the Spanish Foreign Legion.


Bibliographical Note on Carlismo

While there is no shortage of literature (of wildly-varying quality) in English on the Spanish Civil War, books on the phenomenon of Carlism can be safely counted on one hand.

The best is Martin Blinkhorn's Carlism and Crisis in Spain: 1931-1939. While focusing on the crisis of the Second Republic and the Civil War, Blinkhorn does a superb job of describing the roots of the phenomenon in the 19th Century, giving the best summary history of the movement in English. It is the essential work.

Also useful is the anthology Spanish Carlism and Polish Nationalism: The Borderlands of Europe in the 19th and 20th Centuries. It contains a helpful introductory essay by Alexandra Wilhelmsen, daughter of the late, great Frederick Wilhelmsen and another useful one surveying de Mella's work. 

The only history of the 19th Century Carlist Wars is Edgar Holt's The Carlist Wars in Spain. Hard to find, and thus hideously-expensive, your best bet is an inter-library loan. Very much a popular history, Holt writes an engaging, flowing narrative. Alas, the bulk of the book is on the first war, and gives short shrift to the second. 

Finally, there is a fascinating post-SCW pamphlet written by an unidentified Carlist for an American audience: The Future of Spain: Spanish Carlism Before the World. It tries way, way, way too hard to ingratiate itself to an American audience, klutzily invoking George Washington and rather ludicrously suggesting the Constitution may have been inspired by the fuero traditions of the old Spanish monarchy. Yeah. But it does provide a valuable summary of Carlist ideals by a Carlist writer. And also a gritted-teeth acknowledgment of Franco that is more interesting for what it does not say.




Thursday, January 07, 2021

And now for a neck-spraining segue.

Because there's only so much staring into the abyss I can stand, even in blog format, a question from out of nowhere:

Does anyone else play Stellaris?

If you do, I would like to pick your brain to help me better endure the empire-shredding crisis of 2500. Learning from mistakes is helpful, but learning from yours beforehand would be even better.



Year Zero comes to the Capitol.

I have been trying to collect the welter of thoughts in response to the mob attack on the Capitol yesterday.

The bottom line is that it was another act of iconoclasm, an assault on American history indistinguishable from the ones we saw over the summer and continue to see now.

Only this time, it came from a tribe of the Right.

The reality is there are a large number of people, including prominent ones in elected office, who do not love the Republic. At most, they love a hypothetical state, one which, like "true communism," will never exist no matter how many bodies are added to the foundations.

And yes, there were and are no shortage of cranks on the right--I remember talk radio during the Clinton years, the Michigan Militia and the like, up to the unlamented Steve King, as well as other cringe legislators in safe districts and cynical executives, government and private sector. But at least--or so I used to comfort myself--the average guy on the right was a patriot who loved America's history and respected her symbols. 

I have no love for the corrupt corporatist oligarchy which attempts to dictate what we say or do. I agree that many of them--the information-molding monstrosities of BigTech leap to mind--are corrosive to the institutions of the Republic and the civil society which undergirds it, and deserve to be smashed repeatedly with the anti-trust hammer.

Pour encourager le autres.

And there are additional social, economic and political reforms which need to be made to give the country a chance to survive intact into the second half of this century. 

Simply, the grim reality is this: America no longer generates a sufficient number of the kinds of virtuous citizens she needs to sustain herself. She is spending the capital built up by previous generations, and spending it quickly.

Yesterday demonstrated that with grim clarity: average right-leaning joes stormed the Capitol.

People who heretofore loved the symbols of this nation--and probably still do, not comprehending they are wounding that which they profess to love. Nevertheless, wound it they did. 

Yes, left-wing shit-stirrers were present, contributing to the chaos. Which only reinforces my point about America not generating virtuous citizens to sustain the Republic. But that point is easier to point out to folks in a right-wing tribe. It is, to quote a much-beloved formulation, a truth which is self-evident.

It's harder to accept it when an allied faction does it. Maybe even impossible, as this comment thread at The American Catholic suggests.

More to the point, the leftists were not the majority of the stormers, and the blame cannot be shifted to a convenient them.

Can America regenerate peacefully, reforming herself to endure and more broadly prosper, long-term? Sure--all the tools are there, awaiting the vision and spirit of self-sacrifice and compromise which would enable their use.

Are there massive forces arrayed against it? Absolutely: there are giant piles of money to be made from the current spiral, and cupidity is amply rewarded by selling out the long-term well-being of the citizenry and Republic. All the while spouting pieties about individual rights, justice, global cooperation, privilege and the sacrosanct nature of private enterprise, naturally.

Those are tough odds, but not impossible. It has happened before--survival cancels programming, and crises have a way of focusing the collective mind.

But peaceable regeneration becomes impossible when people sever themselves from their traditions, virtues and reason--and then act accordingly. 

God grants no nation a promise of enduring unity. And we appear to be much nearer the end of that unity than even my pessimistic estimation had feared.


Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Today.

The storming of the Capitol could only be done by people who have cast off reason and love of country. That the spiritually-mutilated and alienated persons who did so would likely identify themselves with the "right" induces  despair.

That no small number of those who condemn the terror also bear no love for the nation only intensifies it.

So now we have our answer: 2021 is going to be worse.

Let me see if I have this right.

 I file with TurboTax and the IRS has no problem routing my stimulus relief payment back in April 2020.

But now I am being told that the IRS, using the very same, entirely-unchanged routing data, might not be able to send me a smaller payment, and I will have to file my 2020 tax return to get that money.

Oh.

Speaking to Newsweek, a spokesperson for Intuit said: "The IRS is the sole party with the ability to determine eligibility and distribute stimulus payments. As part of the income tax filing, the IRS receives accurate banking information for all TurboTax filers who receive a tax refund, which the IRS can use to deposit stimulus payments.

"While the IRS is exploring options to correct their issue, they have stated that this may cause a delay in stimulus payments for some.

"We know how important these funds are for so many Americans and that everyone is anxious to get their money. We are partnering with the IRS to help taxpayers receive their payments as quickly as possible," the spokesperson added.

The Intuit website notes: "For those eligible [for the second stimulus check] but who don't receive the payment for any reason, it can be claimed by filing a 2020 tax return in 2021."

The IRS also said in its Monday statement: "While the IRS is exploring options to correct these payments, if you have not received your full payment by the time you file your 2020 tax return, you may claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your tax return.

Just exactly what I needed to hear right now. And, of course, if I try to file my return shortly after the opening date, it will be flagged as possible fraud and delayed like it has been two out of the last three years.



Monday, January 04, 2021

Coronavirus *is* a menace.

And while I do not share the sentiment, I can certainly understand why people think it has been overplayed for political purposes. When people who claim to take it seriously act otherwise, it breeds deserved distrust.

Exhibit A: virus-ravaged New York's vaccination rates are low, especially on weekends:

For now, the vaccination effort does not resemble the sort of mass mobilization many imagined. New York City has yet to open any large vaccination sites. Instead, hospitals administered many of the first vaccinations to their employees. Hospitals have been encouraged to use each shipment of vaccines within a week, and the operation does not always have a race-against-the-clock feel.

The number of vaccinations plummets on weekends and all but stopped for Christmas Day, when more planes landed at Kennedy International Airport than vaccine doses were administered in New York City.

The vaccination program is now in its third week and has yet to accelerate dramatically, even as supply has begun to increase. More than 340,000 doses have been delivered to New York City so far.

Exhibit B: a Congresswoman who tested positive for the virus on December 28 was present for the vote for Speaker of the House yesterday--which blatantly violates the CDC guidance for infected persons.

[By the way, if you get hung up on the moniker for corona in the first link of Exhibit B, keep that and other irrelevant thoughts to yourself.]


Posting will be light and moderation on.

I'm a little tired of arguing, and tired in general. 

Current status: más o menos.

But I have a book review in progress and will have that up later on.

Hope you are having a good start to 2021.

Yeah--no, you can't do this.

Telling the Georgia Secretary of State to find votes is bonkers, full stop.

It's worse than a loopy mistake--it's wrong.

Georgia's results and the behavior of Fulton County voting officials warrant plenty of suspicion. But "finding" votes is not the response. 

And even if Georgia were flipped, the result is still President Joe "My Term Is Gonna Be Lid!" Biden. 

In one phone call, Trump demonstrates why voters recoiled from a second term.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party demonstrates why voters recoiled from giving them more Congressmen.

Anybody get their stimulus yet?

 

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'...