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.

 

Wisdom from the Carlist Communion.