April 24, 2017

Favorite Gospel Writer


Be cool if there was a book or article on the favorite gospel writer of various saints and historical personages.  A google search revealed the following: 

___

On a Catholic web forum:

Many of us have a favorite Gospel writer—wouldn’t it be interesting if that Gospel is the one that relates most closely to our own temperament? In fact, many Christian writers have speculated about the temperaments of the Gospel writers, as each seem to reflect a unique–and slightly different–perspective. To the extent that each of the Gospels offers a slightly different perspective on the Paschal mystery, it may be possible to characterize each one’s “temperament.”

Matthew demonstrates definitively that Christ is the Messiah, the fulfillment of all the prophecies of the Old Testament and emphasizes the Kingdom of God. St. Luke highlights Jesus’ relationship with the Father, especially through prayer, as well as the poor, women (especially Blessed Mother), the lowly and the suppressed. Mark is the least “scholarly” and tells a straightforward fast-paced story; he shows Christ’s urgency and his conquering action. John is the most mystical, poetic, and theoretical of all the four. To hazard a guess, we would propose that St. Matthew is choleric, St. Luke the relationship-oriented sanguine, St. Mark the straight story, simple and unadorned (phlegmatic), and St. John (the truth will set you free; the only Gospel where Christ carries the cross alone, the most poetic and mystical of all four gospels) –idealistic, melancholic.

*

Father James McIlhone, priest-scholar, professor at Mundelein Seminary for 23 years, author, recipient of academic honors, and the director of biblical formation for the archdiocese:

 “I think it’s a toss up between Mark and John. Mark gets a bum rap. I try to show people he’s not this little school kid who doesn’t know what he’s talking about and had to be corrected by Matthew and Luke, but rather a prominent theologian in his own right.  And of course, John is just spectacular. The depths and wonder of what he says. The line we say over and over again, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” When you read that in Greek, “The Word became flesh” -- in a definite moment of time God became one of us. ‘Dwelt among us’ isn’t a good translation. ‘Pitched his tent among us’ is the meaning of the Greek. And of course the tent is the dwelling place of God.  The tent ultimately becomes the temple of God, and then the next line is, ‘We have seen his glory,’ and the glory is the presence of God. So Jesus in becoming one of us, becomes for us what the temple was for Judaism, and then that just develops throughout John’s Gospel.”


*

Ordinary Christian commenters:
  
My favorite is Mark. He writes and shows us “Jesus as an Action Hero.” When I finish mark I always sit back and think, “Wow, Jesus was amazing.”

*

I’ll take Luke. Hasn’t always been, but right now … Luke. The prominence of women, the poor, and the forgotten make me want to learn from the parts of Jesus’ teachings I ignored for most of my life.

*

John has a sense of the mystical and talks a lot about love. With John, I get the feel that he writes with a sense that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

*

I’m with Fajita— John’s my man. I like the thought of him being the “best friend”. I know if someone was going to write my story, I’d want it to be my best friend.

*

I’ll put my vote in for John too! I fell in love with this Gospel in Ross Cochran’s class at Harding and it has been at the top of my list since then!

*

I have to go with Luke on this one. Jesus gets his hands really dirty in Luke’s gospel. At times I am a Matthew guy, but I love Luke’s storytelling.

*

I’m a big fan of John. I like knowing it was written by Jesus’ best friend. I really love hearing Jesus share his insights into why he came and what his mission was all about.

*

I like Matthew’s geneology of Jesus showing God uses both men and women who have made mistakes to bring about a perfect messiah.

*

I’ve been hanging out in Matthew for so long these days, and love his rich Jewish slant. So, for now he’s my favorite. I sat at the feet of a good friend years ago as she taught through Mark, and at the time that was my favorite.

*

John… or Luke… I could go with either, but I think I’ll stay with John because of all the poignant teaching from Jesus during the last supper.

*

The Book of Mark is underlined & scribbled with more notes in my Bible than the other Gospels, with Matthew marked up as a close second. I’m not sure that means I like Mark the best, but maybe his telling of “The Story” speaks to me more plainly.

*

Luke, hands down.

*

John.  He brings me to my knees in worship of the King like few others

*

I would pick John. I love the fact that John is more theological than historical.

*

Gospel of Luke. For two reasons.
Reason #1: The parable of the Good Samaritan
The single best articulation of the Christian ethic.
Reason #2: The parable of the Prodigal Son
The single best articulation of the Heart of God.
Within those two stories is the whole of the Christian story.

*
I am addicted to Matthew right now because it lays out most clearly to me what a disciple of Jesus would do. It is a story that you appreciate much more clearly if you understand the back story and the things going on in the first century. I love the time dedicated to the question, “If Jesus is the Messiah, why are things going so bad right now?”

*
I like how Matthew grounds me and Luke provokes me.  Matthew drives me back to the OT to find the Kingdom of Heaven there. In that way, for me, it serves as a recommendation of the radical behavior of Jesus in Luke. It’s as if Matthew says “Jesus is a totally legit prophet, because he preaches the word of God as faithfully as anyone before.” Then Luke comes along and says “‘Totally legit’ will blow your mind.”

*
I don’t know if I have a “favorite”, because I appreciate them all so very much……..BUT, if I was pushed to the wall at gun point, I think I would have to go with John. It’s an adventure every time I read it!

*

JOHN.  I’ve always loved the amazing ‘little’ details he throws in to flesh the stories out. (NT Wright is brilliant in ‘John for Everyone’, Parts I and 2)

*

I mostly relate to John. In the synoptic gospels, Jesus is teaching things and everyone seems to nod their heads and say, “Oh, now I get it.” But in John, everytime Jesus teaches something, people walk away confused or angry. The message seems to be this, now that you are thoroughly confused by Jesus, you have a question to ask yourself, “Am I going to follow Jesus because I understand him or am I going to follow him because I trust him?” That’s not an easy answer. If we follow because he makes sense to us, then we are really worshiping our ability to figure it out.

*

Calvin Coolidge:  “John was a particular favorite of Coolidge's, and he took the oath with the Bible open to the gospel of John.”

*

Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat (1779-1865): John

*

John Bunyan, author of “Pilgrim’s Progress”:  John

*

Fr. Stephen Salocks, Dean of Faculty at Boston Seminary: 

“Fr Stephen answered that his favorite is St John, the fourth Gospel – a very rich Gospel, plus it’s a bit of a luxury to have a full course to teach about that Gospel! Scot asked Fr Salocks to explain what the difference between the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John are. Fr Salocks began by saying that he always says the biggest problem with studying the Synoptic Gospels is that they have already read John’s Gospel. In the 21st century we have a defined portrayal of Jesus, a Christology – in the 1st century coming out of the life, teaching, suffering death and resurrection of Jesus, the Apostles go out and proclaim. Towards the end of the 1st century, the original eyewitnesses start to die out – Jerusalem is destroyed by the Romans, there is a breach between Christianity and Judaism; all this created a need for a concrete way to preserve the Tradition. Fr Salocks noted that are always called a people of Scripture and Tradition because of this. From this desire to record the tradition, a disciple of St Peter in Rome writes down everything he knows and has heard about Jesus – this is the first Gospel, Mark, written from Rome to try to help Christians in Rome understand who Jesus is. This isn’t a bed of roses either – it’s suffering, serving, being a disciple. Within the next ten or fifteen years, that Gospel and other sources of Tradition are present perhaps in Antioch where Matthew likely wrote his Gospel. Matthew is addressing a different situation than Mark – how do we understand Jesus as God with us? The end of Matthew, Chapter 28, encapsulates the entire theme of the Gospel – “I am with you to the end of the age.” But Jesus now is emphasized as the authoritative interpreter of the Scripture – this is a reaction to the dialogue between the Christian and Jewish faiths about who the authentic interpreter of the Tradition is. Roughly the same time, in a place that is a bit more fuzzy, Fr Salocks continued, Luke is writing a Gospel. But right from the start, Luke emphasizes that he is not an eyewitness but rather is drawing on the experiences of others (Luke 1-4). He also has a copy of Mark’s Gospel and some resources from Matthew. Luke’s focus is Jesus as the Savior, and how Salvation becomes known through the peace and forgiveness that Jesus brings. Luke believes that the message to “take up the Cross daily and follow” Jesus is so important that he writes a second volume – what we know as the Acts of the Apostles, Fr Salocks concluded.


It’s fascinating to see how well all three Gospels tie together, Fr Salocks noted – even the spelling is coherent in many ways, not just the phrasing and wording. They are truly of the “same eye” – “Synoptic.” It wasn’t until the 18th century that someone drawing up columns to study the Scripture put all three Gospels side by side and saw the incredible similarities between the three. John, of course, is the non-Synoptic Gospel, called by one scholar the “maverick.” John is the spiritual Gospel, one that delves more deeply – miracles are fewer, and not even called that – they’re “signs,” emphasizing John’s focus on Revelation throughout his Gospel. Fr Salocks said he likes that idea, as he feels that Scripture itself is incarnational, the Word of God and the human words about the Word. Scot emphasized that most people think “synoptic” is more related to “synopsis” – to think that all three Gospels were written from the “same eye” is a great way to explain the similarities and emphasize the reality of Inspiration. Scot asked Fr Salocks to explain a bit more about the Inspiration in the Catechism. Fr Salocks explained that the phrase “Word of God” in Greek or Hebrew – the whole sense of “word” is more than a verbal sense, it is the reality of God, the experience of God. When a prophet said “the Word of God came to me thus,” they were saying that the reality of God had touched them. We can imagine, Fr Salocks continued, a prophet being overwhelmed, or the people of Israel escaping slavery, and the reality of God overwhelms them as much as the Red Sea overwhelmed chariots. Inspiration is a heavy theology course in and of itself, Fr Salocks commented, but the Scriptures are the object of God’s Inspiration and not a “divine download” from God to the evangelist or to a prophet, where the bars go to 100% the Gospel is complete! No, it is rather a process whereby a people together with a gifted individual in their midst collaborate to record how God has revealed Himself to them, and how do we understand that. As soon as a person or a people being to think about and talk about their experience of God, they are interpreting it, Fr Salocks said – we look at the Scripture and we understand that this is a record of our ancestors in the faith interpreting their experience of God, putting it into words in their time. Because it is the Word of God, we approach it with faith in the context of the Church. There is an allegorical sense to Scripture – how does each passage help us understand Jesus or help us to know how to act?”

April 13, 2017

Happy Triduum



Kathryn Jean Lopez goes on a 30-day retreat./

That's hardcore.

*

I tend think people who for Lent give up social media and/or reading the news are engaging in a 'win-win': a win for God, and a win for man. (Giving up chocolate or coffee is a win for nobody.)

I say that after gluttonously consuming news after earlier-than-normal 6am wakeup. In this case I got all fired up over the dragging of a "volunteer" off a United flight for insubordination. I fired off emails to both senators asking that the fraud the airlines pull (that of intentionally overbooking) be banned. As if that's the most important thing in the world. As if the Egyptian Christians shouldn't be news item number one. Oy. I'm so easily roiled over the wrong things.

You get the feelings Christians in Egypt (and Europe, long term) are like the Indian tribes of this country circa 1840. Soon to disappear. Which means it's a good time to double up our faith and hope.

April 05, 2017

Causes of White Despair

It's sort of like the chicken or the egg--whether "white despair" was first triggered by economic issues or a spiritual malaise.

Not surprisingly this WaPo article points higher rates of white mortality to economic causes: "In their latest paper, Case and Deaton highlight a host of 'social dysfunctions' that are on the rise in white communities, including 'the decline of marriage, social isolation, and detachment from the labor force.' They believe that all of these problems may share an underlying cause: The economic forces which made life much harder for those without a college degree in recent decades."

Certainly work is a generator not just of wealth but of dignity.  As Pope Francis said:
"We get dignity from work..Work is fundamental to the dignity of the person. Work, to use an image, 'anoints' with dignity, fills us with dignity, makes us similar to God who has worked and still works, who always acts."
But what's interesting from the graphs below is how it shows the deep white mood crash came around 1998.  Just before the economy slowed (click to enlarge):



Meanwhile the decline in church attendance crashed in '99-'00, also before the '01 recession:



So it's difficult to say that all of this was caused simply by the economy.

April 01, 2017

A Day in the Life

Friday: A "get 'er done" day fraught with wall-to-wall speed programming. Gosh these programming emergencies feel exhausting and today was just nonstop fun and excitement.

After work dropped off wrong-sized shorts at UPS, as delivered yesterday. I'm starting to think when you order sizes they take it as a "nice to have". As in, "it'd be nice to deliver him a XL but he'll settle for a medium". Second time that's happened in the past month.

Then off to pick up more of that daily bread called beer.

Back home took dogs on their customary 7-minute constitutional. (It only feels like 20 mins.) No rabbits were harmed during this interlude.

Finally my time: The rich rigatoni repast of recliner. I watched some baseball, a brainless enough change activity. Then the sweet mercy of having food delivered via amazon.com/restaurants. This time Rusty Bucket, a good fish dinner, suggested tip was $5 and no delivery fee. Nice.

Finally the Presanctified Byzantine liturgy at the Eastern church I favor. The inertia factor seems to increase every year but I was bound and determined to do this (and, hopefully, the Stations of the Cross).  It's like I'm trying to keep up with my past self.  Forty-five minute round trip. But the liturgy worked its magic and re-centered me.

Later I thought about how I meant to ask Dylan for what emotions he feels when he hears the tune "When I Ruled the World" by ColdPlay. Specifically not about the lyrics, but the song tune itself. It seems ineffably sad, combined with a wistfulness.  Later, after having heard the lyrics clearly it's no wonder it's a downer of a song, to put it mildly - the singer is expressing his damnation ("I know St Peter won't let me in"). Seems a case where the lyrics match the tune in terms of the emotions evoked.

Saturday: Ah, let the healing begin. The morning began grumpily, as I was in severe reading and coffee deficit. A bit of tension over my wife's concern over my overfeeding the dogs - both are slightly overweight. I kept thinking that feeding the dogs ain't so easy since bending over ain't that easy at 53 and three quarters.

Slept in till after 8am on the strength of an important repetitive morning dream: I had discovered via a google popularity search that the phrase "leader of the free world" was used often in 2008 with Obama, but not in '16 with Trump. This was a miscarriage of justice, another case of liberal bias. A few hours after waking I figured I go through the motions and check the search term popularity and it spiked majorly (or bigly) just after Trump was elected. The opposite of what my dream foretold. Likely because pundits were sarcastically offering, "this guy is the leader of the free world?"

But by 10am I was satisfying my drought by consuming the latest National Review. It was a good issue, with a dense retrospective of a visit to Jerusalem by Richard Brookhiser, a sobering look at how Chuck Berry's invention of rock and roll changed us all, pieces on Calexit and the French elections, and a review of the Ignatius Press history book on the bishops of New York City.

From the article on Chuck Berry:
The electrification of the id at a young age doomed students to an impoverished spiritual and intellectual life, [Allan] Bloom believed: “Rock music provides premature ecstasy and, in this respect, is like the drugs with which it is allied.”
A culture influenced by rock is fundamentally different — more individualistic, more pleasure-centered, more rebellious — from what prevailed before 1955.... We live in the lyrical and spiritual universe of the Chuck Berry song.
Ain't it the truth. "We ain't delinquents, we're misunderstood" goes the West Side Story lyric, or in this case, "We ain't delinquents, we just listened to rock growing up."
Friend Ron had sent me the book Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and I'd put off looking at it since it seemed to me a statement of the obvious: that Islam is greatly flawed and so let's read about someone with an axe to grind about it. I was prepared to tell him that I was more interested in the genesis of Islam than it's current often malicious execution. But when Ron asked if I'd read it, I felt the call to at least start it. And it's surprisingly engaging and well-written. Read it for an hour or two after an early Outback dinner. No wonder it's a best-seller. I should know that bestsellers don't get that way by accident.

Steph left this evening for, of all things, a weight-lifting conference in Dayton which features the author of a book she's reading on strength training. Aaron is the evangelist here - he told her about the author and asked her to come to Dayton with him and two of his lifting buddies. (An interesting foursome.) Aaron never does anything half-assed, be it his job, child-begetting, or physical training. When he was into running, he had to run a marathon. Similarly now in workouts, he's dedicated to the nth degree. Plus three kids in this day and age is probably equal to 5 in 1950. (Somewhere the Hodges are laughing.) He's definitely not of a phlegmatic constitution.

So Steph will be gone from 5 till at least 11pm. Bachelorizing tonight.
I appear to be on a book buying jag. Fourteen for the month of March; almost one every other day, yikes. I guess it's in case there's a book famine.

Fortunately ten were $2-$4, so it's understandable. The pricier selections include the Dominican Sisters' Manual of Marian Devotion (impulse buy because it was 40% off on St. Benedict day) and Fantasy Life, because it's a baseball picture book that followed minor leaguers along their journey, which is like crack cocaine to me. Those two were about $45.  Ideally I could just stop buying right now for a couple years just read what I have to my heart's content. But somehow I think I won't do that. At the very least I can just buy the $2-3 offerings. These books are like rabbits, reproducing endlessly. Which reminds me of the Jonah Goldberg funny about dog-walking:
But now because the foul, oh-so-hoppy scent of bunnies is everywhere, leash walks take an eternity. She has developed a basset-like obsession with olfactory investigation.
Speaking of which, I took the dogs on this overcast Columbus (pardon the redundancy) day to the local park near the senior center. It's a place I'd taken Maris many a time when she was a puppy but never Max. So now Maris got to introduce Max to this particular park. It was uneventful till the end when I decided stupidly to go off the path, onto the grass near the forest, where of course I ended up falling on the slickness and landing on my backside in a mile-long puddle. It rained 25 inches yesterday, so grasslands have become tricky-to-identify swamps. My back pocket held my iPhone, and I was nervous for awhile I'd ruined it by getting it too wet. It got plenty wet, but apparently not too wet.

March 28, 2017

The Last Apologist

I feel moved by the plight of one Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong. He's kind of like a rugged individualist out there trying to make a living on his own, without the carapace of a Catholic Answers (not that they're doing that well) or an EWTN. He rides alone, like that lone cowboy, only the world has no more demand for cowboys. He points out the sweet spot in apologetics was 1995-2005 and indeed that was the hot time. Who knew there were boom and bust cycles in apologetics? He says there's a bust now because people care little for truth and much for relativism, and that could be true.

I'm trying to figure why the 1995-2005 years were good. I think it's because a generation of Catholics - the '70s and '80s kids like me - grew up without apologetics whatsoever in the unlikely quest to ignore religious differences for kumbaya purposes - so then we all got hooked on this new, amazing thing, like how the Bible isn't anti-Catholic after all. But then the bust happened, perhaps because kids today get enough apologetics in (chastened) Catholic schools or because we're already going to hell in a hand basket and there's no thirst for truth period.

He needs $7,000 and he's at $865. I contributed $60, which seems lame but the problem is that it's hard to discern if my contributing more would be contributing to him being where God doesn't want him to be. I can't tell how effective he is, and if you're not effective is that what God really wants you to do? Maybe so; our God is not the god of efficiency, to put it mildly. I could try to be heroic, a chivalric romantic gesture that is appealing (as many a lost cause is), but would it only defer the inevitable?  The thing about giving is it seems like you have to discern what God discerns for the recipient. 

March 14, 2017

Zmirak's Recipe for the Contraception Issue

Interesting to read John Zmirak's article contra the Benedict option and supporting courting existing Catholics starting with the nettlesome issue of the ban on artificial birth control: 
What’s the answer to all of this? We need that other 95 percent. And given that the key issue on which most dissent hinges today is contraception, we need to do a much better job conveying the Church’s position to ordinary people. 
It’s a hard sell already, because the argument hinges on rediscovering and accepting that there is teleology in nature – that bodies and organs have purposes, not merely “functions” dictated by evolution. But that argument can be made, and we might start by boning up on how teleology and what Aristotle called “final causes” pervade the natural world. (For the best arguments on this subject, see Edward Feser’s The Last Superstition.) 
Next we can show people how, without some notion of natural law, we cannot make the case for human rights – much less for legal rights, or filigrees like anti-discrimination laws. (The best introduction to natural law is J. Budziszewski’s What We Can’t Not Know.) 
Finally, we can point to the miserable outcomes produced for children by parents who treat their sexual powers as toys in a selfish game of utilitarian hedonism. The statistics on children of divorce and of single parents are eloquent on that topic, and Charles Murray summarizes it concisely in Coming Apart

March 09, 2017

Filipino Scammer Poetry

I thought Nigerian scammers were mostly Nigerian but alack it's migrated even to the Philippines.

I decided to add line breaks to the missive for poetical purposes.  All words are shown exactly as they appear in the original email; a masterpiece of the genre, if you ask me.

Late Former 
--by Mrs Villaran Nenita
I am Mrs Villaran Nenita
a Filipino by nationality
widow to the late former
minister of finance.

I inherited a total sum of $6.Million
        - American dollars! -
from my late husband, the money
was concealed in a metallic trunk
box and deposited with a security
and finance company in abroad.

That was because I needed
a maximum security/safety
of my trunk box and no body
nor government organization
can trace the where
about of the money
until I am ready
and prepare to claim it.

The Security company didn't know
the real content of the box
because it was deposited by my late
husband as a family valuables.

I will send to you the Authorization
certificate to call
the security company
in my next mail
which is the Certificate
Of deposit

Kindly reply.

March 06, 2017

Extraordinary Form

Read a series of rich Amy Welborn posts on the new Vatican II liturgical setup where we are "parachuted into Lent". Good turn of phrase. In the old days, for a thousand years, we were prepared for Lent by three weeks of semi-penitential season to help us focus so that Ash Wednesday isn't such a rude surprise. I definitely feel like I should be in better shape for Ash Wed given that the day feels almost like a solemnity given the fasting and ashes.

It tempted me to want to buy The Liturgical Year but it's a 13-volume set, a priest's life work. I'm awed that someone could write thirteen books on the liturgical seasons - one, I believe, on Septuagesima Sunday alone (a Sunday I'd never heard of till this year). The fellow must've had quite a love for liturgy.

The wondrous, timeless liturgy at Holy Family on Sunday was just what the Great Physician ordered: inspiring, challenging and consoling all at the same time. Wondrous music. No wonder Antonin Scalia liked it so much. And I'm really liking the priest there at HF. They have a gem.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is actually a sacrifice at Holy Family: when the priests lifts the chalice in the new mass, it's a gesture akin to a toast. But with the simple reorientation of the priest towards the altar, the gesture becomes physically what it signifies: an offering of the Son to the Father. There's a deep satisfaction in seeing symbol line up with reality. And since we're body and soul, not just soul, that satisfaction makes perfect sense. The Incarnation is in some ways the secret to everything.
So it was an hour and a half liturgy and it felt like 20 minutes. Utterly amazing. And I so love my '62 Missal. Likely the most beautiful book I've ever owned.
Mesmerizing temptation scene in the desert. So much to meditate on, like how Satan said the angels would protect Jesus if he cast himself down and after Jesus said no, the angels came anyway. Also interesting how the Spirit, not Jesus making the decision on his own, led him to the desert for the 40-day fast.

March 01, 2017

Trump's My New Guilty Pleasure

I relish Trump skipping events that other GOP officeholders would take as an immutable facts of life: like getting abused at the White House Correspondents' dinner (often a commercial for liberalism given comedians and media are left-wing).

And how Trump disinvited the unhallowed NY Times to a press conference.

And how Trump doesn't allow Democrat human shields like Rep. John Lewis to deter him from criticizing them.

I think it never occurred to other GOP'rs mainly because they have a case of Stockholm Syndrome and have grown accustomed to being abused by their media captors.

Trump reminds me of Howard Cosell's book title: "I Never Played the Game"; it's remarkable to see an officeholder so unbeholden to the press, having won without them. At least unbeholden until of late when his approval numbers have taken a hit.

It's also remarkable to actually feel like Trump the billionaire is an underdog (and America loves an underdog) given how unfairly the press has treated him. The lack of restraint that Trump generally shows is more than matched by the mainstream press -- except they flood the airwaves more than he can flood the Twitterverse.

And I'm thrilled with his cabinet picks, SCOTUS pick, Mexico City policy, Keystone, etc...

*

Yes to what Jonah Goldberg says here:
One of the things the mainstream media doesn’t seem to fully appreciate is that just because Trump isn’t having a honeymoon with the press, the Democrats, or a good chunk of independent voters, that doesn’t mean he’s not having a very real honeymoon with Republicans. They want him to succeed and they want his “enemies” not just to lose, but to be humiliated (hence the popularity of Milo in some corners, and a chunk of my least friendly e-mail). 
Indeed, I think there’s good reason to believe that the honeymoon is more intense precisely because Trump is under such a sustained assault. Something similar happened under George W. Bush when the Left lost its collective mind and did everything it could to undermine a wartime president. Conservatives — me included — out of a sense of both loyalty and anger rallied to Bush and had a tendency to overlook certain foibles and mistakes for the greater good. We may not be at war — at least not like we were in, say, 2005 — but the Left and the media are clearly at war with Trump. And because Trump often makes it difficult for his allies to defend him on ideologically or politically consistent terms, the attachment is often more emotional than rational.
From: http://www.nationalreview.com/g-file

February 28, 2017

Politics, Schmolitics

Four, perhaps related, thoughts:

1. Co-worker saying that abortion is better for the baby in some cases, i.e. if they're doomed to a life of poverty.

2. Civil libertarians were up in arms in the early '00s due to fear the Patriot Act would allow the government to search our library borrowing records. Within five years the government would kill American citizens overseas without much protest from the same civil libertarians.

3. There was a huge uproar over the cruelty of the Iraq sanctions before the Iraq War, but relatively little said of the thousands of Iraqis who died during the subsequent war.  More was said about the lack of armor US soldiers were receiving and the faulty intelligence on WMD.

4. There was great gnashing of teeth over the torture of terrorists, but not much over Obama's drone program that simply killed terrorists.

Seems like a culture of death to me.  And/or that suffering is seen as a much greater evil than death (especially when it involves library records).

*

Perhaps historians will look back at the presidencies of Bush and Obama not as leaders who took on the big issues of radical Islam and health care respectively, but as having missed the much more important issue of unifying the country.

It may be that no president can do that but should the polarization continue there's a chance that disunity will be the story, and that the culprits will be Bush and Obama (and possibly Trump, although one wonders if we're too far down that road now for it to matter).

Both Bush and Obama proved to be arrogant and willful: Bush, despite promising a humble foreign policy started two unwinnable wars and engineered an intrusive security state. Obama, despite promises of uniting the country, rammed health care through with only Democrat votes (having even to bribe some of his own Democrats to vote for it with kickbacks).

Obama's cool, aloof style and Bush's deafness to his father's wisdom suggest these are the most arrogant presidents in generations.  And that fact was hardly lost on Americas; Bush drove the left insane as Obama did the right.

Hillary and Trump both seem to continue the Obama/Bush pattern. Trump, self-evidently, and Hillary by the inability to admit she is cable of error.

Still, it seems America wants arrogant presidents. After all, Hillary and Trump won their party nominations and George HW Bush was one of the more humble of presidents in recent memory and got flattened in '92.

February 27, 2017

One Liners

"La La Land should have spent more time in Wisconsin." - Andrew Clark

*

How complex can it be to figure out how the wrong envelope got in Beatty's hands?  Do we need Woodward and Bernstein on this?  So we don't know who caused the Oscars mistake without (apparently) a big investigation. And we think we'll solve the Russian hack?

*

The press is outraged that the NYT is barred from a press conference. My question: do press conferences ever make news? Aren't they a way to feed the media beasts predigested facts and mixed with falsehoods?  The whole thing seems like a way for reporters to be able to tell their kids and grandkids they were in the same room as the president or his spokesman. And a decent way for journos to avoid honest show leather reportage.

*

Unintentional hilarity from a MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski tweet:
"Exclusive: Bloomberg cancels WHCA dinner afterparty via @axios"
Oh no! The afterparty of a dinner that serves no purpose but glorify the incestuous relationship between "journalists" and the people they cover has been boycotted by Bloomberg! Wake the kids and phone the neighbors.

The whole WHCA dinner jumped the shark years ago.  It's probably a pretty reliable indicator of the decline of journalism: As the dinner became bigger and glitzier and celebrity-driven, journalism became sillier and more biased.

*

Trump asked Kasich to a meeting?  That's odd; it would seem to take a surprising amount of humility for the potus to do that.  People are complicated, not reducible to caricatures.

*

"This is the core claim of populism,” writes Jan-Wener Muller in 'What is Populism', “only some of the people are really the people.”

*

"I'm pretty sure President Trump is basically Hitler. You can tell by how terrified people are to appear in public demonstrations against him." - James O'Keefe

*

"I think it is the Judges who generally indulge in contempt of court." - Chesterton

*

Ironically, the 9th Circuit is like Donald Trump: ego-driven and uninformed.

*

"Electorate would be more willing to abide by advice of expert-class if expert-class wasn't viewed as having messed up so many big things." - Chris Amade