May 13, 2022

Shea & Zmirak, Brothers From a Nudder Mother

So for ol' time's sake I went out to proto-blogger Shea’s website hoping I could find some solidarity for once, some cheap comfort, and to mea culpa, “I was wrong about Bush in ’04 and you were right and now I’m on your side with respect to the proxy war with Russia.”  Figured he'd be against printing $40b to Ukraine given what it could do in this country. Hoped he might even put in a good word for Biden overreach on the disinformation campaign and how the Patriot Act ended up being a killer of civil liberties and...

Ha, life isn’t a fairytale. He’s got his tribe and I’ve got mine and he doesn't appeared concerned that his president is daring Russia to start a nuclear war let alone give a rat's ass if the 1/6rs rot in jail. 

Instead he’s just his old self, bitter at how the GOP (the dog that caught the car) is going to get credit for rolling back Roe v. Wade. He’d prefer it happen any other way than that way and posted a video from a pro-choicer who says that overturning Roe is just another in a long line of misogynic GOP capers. 

Maybe he’s just a prisoner of his Left Coast media or just stubbornly tribal. Or is micro-targeting his intended audience. 

He also posted the obligatory screed against his bete noir John Zmirak and I marveled at how he and Zmirak are like twins albeit at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Stylistically both brutal warriors. They're either both right or both wrong in terms of style so they apparently agree that God wants them to be that way. They see the world as Manichean and feel no compunction, as I increasingly do*. It's so interesting to me to see Christians who don't play nice or see any merit in the opponent's argument.  Just hard to figure where anger is righteous and when it turns unrighteous. And of course what may be good for Shea and Zmirak might not be good for the average Christian to model. God calls people to different roles.

Perhaps that even extends to politics. Perhaps God doesn't call us to be consistent individually but that the Body of Christ as a whole to be complimentary if not consistent. So if Dr. Cornel West isn't pro-life or doesn't care about due process for 1/6rs, that's because his role is to advocate for Blacks and women outside the womb (despite the damage to their conscience and spiritual life). Others defend the unborn and due process, but their role isn't to lobby for greater controls over police or equal justice for blacks. 

I suppose it's just completely unrealistic on this earth to expect someone else to be politically consistent, and prideful to expect it in ourselves. We're not wired that way. We're wired as tribal people, not disembodied brains that calculate and measure rationally like Spock. 

* Someone said on Twitter recently: "The most basic failure of the conservative movement...is they embraced the suicidal libertarian notion that power could be destroyed and so they are doomed to lose every engagement from the outset...The side that wants to win will always beat the side that just wants to be left alone."

May 11, 2022

GOP Slogan: "Fast to Recognize Foreign Wars, Slow to Recognize Internal Ones"

So Congress recently executed a nicely clarifying vote in which they signed on to printing $40b to give to a corrupt Eastern European country with a border problem. Remember those old silly days when there were caveats from Congress: "But how we going to pay for it?" 

Fifty-seven doughty Republicans bucked the knee-jerk neo-cons.  My own newly minted self-described "MAGA" congressman Mike Carey, who promised three months ago he would vote like Jim Jordan, did not vote like Jim Jordan. Par for the course of course. But helpful for voting purposes. I’d rather lose ten winnable races for the chance to get one America-friendly politician in.  Party labels are a joke now. 

Republican office holders are very quick to recognize when we are at war with an external foe, even if there was no declaration of war - but exceedingly slow to recognize an internal war. I daresay you could steal an election from them and they'd play dumb.

On Mark Halperin's substack there was a reader quoted who is appalled by the irrationality of MAGA crowd.  

Certainly I can understand his dismay at adopting the Left’s posture of irrationality (see “Trump is agent for Russia & likes urine-sex!”).  It’s a political advantage when only your side is irrational.

The best case scenario was that by mirroring the Left’s irrationality (including riots!), we would create conditions for a “reset” or truce, seeing how the costs were rising and there wasn’t the asymmetrical “craziness” advantage.

That did not happen of course and only made things worse but then that strategy depended on having rational Democrat leadership (catch-22 alert) and a fair judicial system (ie no ridiculous Mueller probe which should’ve been closed ten mins after it began).

Ultimately I think most GOP voters pre-Trump were like people in a remote village in Africa who just learned there was a war going on in 1943. MAGA all get it now and are driving the GOP ship.  We didn’t choose this war and are shocked by it but like it or not we’re in it.

Halperin is big on the "presumption of grace".  I'm not sure what he means by that. If someone is clubbing me over the head, am I still supposed to presume something? Does he mean to give the benefit of the doubt? What if there is no doubt?

The definition of presumption is “to assume based on probability”.  In what world can a MAGA voter use probability to assume grace from Blue given they stole two years from the president of the country by way of a frivolous case and are picketing SCOTUS houses?  (Not to mention wrecking a man’s reputation -- Kavanaugh -- just to try to prevent him from going on the Court.) The most rational probability is they hate us and want to screw us.

**

Max McGwire's post:

What could $40 billion buy if it wasn't being shipped to Ukraine?

It’s enough to give every American man, woman, and child $120.68

It’s enough to give every American living in poverty a check for $1,075.

It would build 2,000 miles of border wall (based on the price per mile when Trump left office). The US-Mexico Border is 1954 mi long, so we'd have money left over to start securing the Canadian border too.

HUD says it would cost $20 billion to solve homelessness. So, we could solve homelessness, and if it didn't work the first time, we could solve it again.

Could deport 3.8 million illegal aliens.

Could detain 685,000 illegal border crossers for 365 days each.

We could buy nine to ten years worth of baby formula at retail for US mothers.

Average medical debt in the US is $5,953. $40B could pay off the medical debt for 6.7 million Americans.

We could end hunger in the United States and make sure that everyone who needed food, had it. And we'd have 10-15 billion left over.

Cancer patients paid $5.6 billion in 2018 out of pocket for their treatments. $40B could pay Americans out of pocket cancer treatments for at least 7 years.

You know after 9/11, when people said it would be too expensive to rebuild both twin towers, so they settled on one massive Freedom tower? That cost $3.9B. We could have built ten of them with the money we are sending to Ukraine.

Average 4 year degree costs $141,324. We could put 283k Americans through college for four years. Or put 1.2 million Americans through trade school.


May 10, 2022

The "Uber Drivers" Who Stole an Election

Saw film "2000 Mules".  It surprised me on the upside given the quality and how D'Souza frankly addressed the elephants in the room like “How come in 2020 the Republicans won the undercard but not the top of ballot?” And “Isn’t it reasonable to assume that Trump pissed off more suburban voters than he drew new Hispanic and other voters?”  

The documentary understandably didn’t touch machine fraud; there’s no way to audit those machines. Which, of course, is an argument against them. My initial thought is that if the Left went to so much trouble to set up an Uber driver system to stuff ballot boxes then likely the machines must not be a trustworthy vehicle to commit fraud. I mean, if you have the machines, why risk the human labor? That's not to say the machines weren't a problem or couldn't be in the future. 


Probably the most surprising thing though is that even after the post-2020 election period when there was white-hot attention on voter fraud, ol’ Georgia went about fraud in the Jan ’21 run-off like nothing had changed -- well, they did make a small change - mules (or ballot-stuffers) wore surgical gloves to prevent leaving their DNA on the ballot since someone had been charged a few weeks earlier by that method. 

The mule count seems to help explain the disparity between the results in rust belt city Cleveland versus rust belt city Milwaukee. As podcaster Max McGwire said recently, "I had someone recently ask me if I deny the fact that Joe Biden got 81 million votes. He thought it was a gotcha question. No, I don't deny he got 81 million votes. I deny that he got 81 million votes from 81 million voters. There's a difference..." 

The brazenness of the ’20 theft feels historic but then the combination of outdated voter rolls, Zuckerberg drop boxes, and covid all gave the Dems a historic opportunity to cheat. 

Some Republicans blame Trump for losing the ’21 Georgia senate seats by complaining about voter fraud and decreasing GOP turnout, but the real determinant was the hard work of the mules who received a healthy $10 a ballot. 

**

In other news...no doubt Biden and Dem leaders are snickering over SCOTUS leak outrage, saying, “wait till they find out we stole a presidential election!”. Many Republican voters are like villagers in a remote country first learning about WW2 in 1943. Ignorance is bliss, except when you are a voter.  And Republican leaders are, of course, hoping for that ignorance given they just lavished $40 billion on a corrupt foreign country. They seem to care more about Ukraine than Indiana. 

I would be fine if the GOP lost ten "winnable" elections just for the chance to get one America-first candidate in.  This establishment GOP helped enable a Biden presidency by turning a blind eye to voter fraud, and if you can't have a secure election then you don't have a democracy.  Richard Nixon's worst sin was not Watergate but the failure to fight the stolen 1960 election, which might've forced some future guardrails up and not given us the feckless Biden today.

May 02, 2022

Remembering the Great Thomas J. Jackson

It's always a tonic to read of those made of sterner stuff, and just as I was led to Roberton's biography of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson back during the Clinton administration so again another dose of methadone for the political junky. 

I picked up the biography“Rebel Yell” and it's healing to read about politics/war without the raw rancor of the contemporary, and even more so the 19th century spiritual fecundity.  Jackson is sort of the epitome of a Christian warrior even though the cause he was fighting for was spiritually bankrupt. He was ahead of the game in seeing “the Little Way” of St. Therese, of how God must be found in the daily. From “Rebel Yell”: 

[Jackson] chatted with Lacy, Smith, and McGuire on a range of religious topics that included discussion of how every aspect of a man’s religious life should be a self-conscious religious act. While washing oneself, one might imagine the cleansing blood of Christ; while dressing, one might pray to be cloaked in the Savior’s righteousness; while eating, to be feeding on the bread of heaven. Jackson had long lived this way, consecrating even his most trivial actions to God.

He died on a Sunday, just after 3pm, not long after declining an offer of brandy and water from a close friend because he “wanted to preserve my mind, if possible, till the end.”  Finally a capitulation: “Let us cross over rate river and rest...” You get the feeling of how it rhymed with the Savior’s death.  

The South knew instantly how much it had lost. One of Jackson’s great friends said, “The grief in this community is intense...The people made an idol of him, and God has rebuked them.”  More than twenty thousand came to honor him, which is how many came to Benjamin Franklin’s funeral in Philadelphia. 

It’s one of the keen mysteries of life to see someone so holy fighting for so unholy a cause but it's also interesting that he could garner such "bipartisan" praise despite it: 

But in the North there was widespread admiration for Jackson, for both his Christian piety and his warrior prowess. Harper’s Weekly described him as “an honorable and conscientious man” who had hesitated to take sides until secession forced his hand. British author and America watcher Catherine Cooper Hopley wrote that Northerners “pride themselves that he was a fellow citizen of the republic, an American, independent of northern or southern birth.” There were signs everywhere of the immense respect people of the North had for Jackson’s bravery and skill as a soldier. “I rejoice at Stonewall Jackson’s death as a gain to our cause,” wrote Union brigadier general Gouverneur K. Warren, soon to be a hero of the Battle of Gettysburg, “and yet in my soldier’s heart I cannot but see him as the best soldier of all this war, and grieve at his untimely end.”

Northern feelings about Jackson were perhaps best summarized by John W. Forney, the prominent editor of the Washington Chronicle. “Stonewall Jackson was a great general, a brave soldier, a noble Christian, and a pure man. May God throw these great virtues against the sins of the secessionist, the advocate of a great national crime.” (Lincoln wrote Forney immediately to compliment him on the “excellent and manly” article in the Chronicle on “Stonewall” Jackson.) Jackson’s beloved, estranged father-in-law George Junkin, who had embraced the Union cause and moved north, voiced some of the same feelings. “I was completely unmanned,” he wrote, of hearing the news of Jackson’s death. I sought my state-room, to weep there. Is it wrong, is it treason, to mourn for a good and great, though clearly mistaken man? I cannot feel it to be so. I loved him dearly—but now—he is with dear, dear Ellie and the rest! Oh, God! Oh give us grace to acquiesce in these terrible mysteries of Thy providence.  It is curious that, though many Northerners could not forgive him for fighting, as they perceived it, to protect the institution of slavery, the Northern newspaper the Independent, edited by archabolitionist clergyman Henry Ward Beecher, voiced no such qualms. It said simply that Jackson was “Quiet, modest, brave, noble, honorable, and pure. He fought neither for reputation now, nor for future personal advancement.”

Jackson is, of course, the direct opposite of our current leadership and culture. 

** 

He and his sister Laura grew up in western Virginia and were very close - until the war divided them. Both seemed to have that strong, unbending devotion to the truth as they saw it. Laura was as fervently pro-Union as he was pro-Confederate, and it helped lead to the breakup of not just that relationship but to a divorce with her husband (he having Southern sympathies).

An impressive family line both before and after Jackson, as one would expect given the familial intelligence combined with a strong religious devotion. And the hard Presbyterianism of Stonewall and Laura was passed down with only one “renegade” Methodist. (Wasn't it Belloc said the Presbyterianism is the only intellectually defensible version of the denominations of Christianity besides Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy? Wonder if that backbone helped their backbones.)

May 01, 2022

Mark Halperin's Ponderable

Mark Halperin recently quoted a friend in his substack about whether social media is compatible with democracy because it amplifies voices like AOC, Cawthorne, MTG, etc..

I’m always puzzled by those who think Cawthorne, AOC, MTG are a big deal. Sure, their voices are amplified by social media but they have zero real power. Think about how many of AOC’s policies have been enacted.They are gadflies who occasionally speak truth to power (think Gaetz drilling FBI on laptop) and so can perform a useful if limited function.

Aren’t they distractions from what is really tearing down the country: our justice system (the immune system of a functioning democracy)?

Under the umbrella of justice we have FBI, DOJ, NSA, CIA who have worked to destroy us (think fake WMD, Russia collusion, Comey’s Hillary email announcement, Whitmer & 1/6 cases, the absence of law and order in summer 2020 riots, and destabilizing Ukraine in 2014 which encouraged the Russian bear.)

The combined failure of our "immune system” is really shocking and yet we focus on trivial actors like MTG and AOC. It’s like the patient’s lungs aren’t working but we are worried about the paper cut.

With social media so few Americans are on Twitter, maybe 10%, but it does seem to be a huge player. I guess Twitter is the way for the journalistic elites to immediately become a “swarm” and then influence the public with a unified, single voice. I suspect David Ignatius or Andrea Mitchell tweets something out and it becomes the conventional wisdom instantly. But seems like the old email chain lists would work as well.

I’m for building, not destroying, but how can we save the building if we can't even identify where the rot is, since our media is so determined not to show it to the public? 

April 28, 2022

Solving the OH Senate Race Endorsement Puzzle

The Senate race is shaping up to be a really interesting exercise in line-drawing. 

Personally, I don’t see the appeal of Josh Mandel. He seems business as usual despite the rhetoric. He’s been in politics for 15 years and has profited. In 2020 he “earned” $400k serving on corporate boards. That’s the way politics works: serve your time then get rewarded (or, as in Joe Biden’s case, get rewarded all along the way).  I don’t find it particularly appealing. 

JD Vance comes along and he’s already rich so he has zero interest in that. Perhaps less than zero arguably since he’s burning every bridge to anything resembling a payday from corporate America. He’s gone the path of MTG and Josh Hawley, much to his credit. 

Vance and Mandel are outwardly very MAGA. Not a dime’s worth of difference in their rhetoric - or is there? The one “tell” was the Russia/Ukraine war in which Mandel has revealed himself as the typical reflexive war hawk.  Looks like he’s been in politics long enough to think NATO is the another name for the holy, Roman Empire. Sacred and inviolable. 

Why would a guy like David McIntosh of Club for Growth -  an ostensible fellow traveler like Vance in that he was against Trump in ’16 and then found his way to conversion (forced or not) -  be resistant to Vance as the candidate?  Rather, he’s declared jihad on him and Trump. My suspicion is that Mandel and McIntosh have similarly favorable views of our dysfunctional national security apparatus. Or that someone has something over on both of them, as alluded to by Tucker Carlson. 

But the endorsements reveal all. It comes down to warmongers, or the military industrial complex types. Of course: 

Vance: Trump, Peter Thiel, Charlie Kirk of “Turning Point”, Gaetz, MTG, OH Sec of State LaRose, Sen. Hawley

Mandel: Gen Flynn, Ted Cruz, Mark Levin

Gibbons: Sen Rand Paul

Mark Levin has apoplectic that we haven’t started bombing Moscow. He thinks Biden has not done nearly enough and says: “We have been incredibly passive in the face of what Putin is doing.”  I think Biden’s been over-the-top in working to get us as close to a nuclear war as he can.


Ted Cruz is likewise full cry of the war party, like his buddies Tom Cotton and Lindsey Graham.  Birds of a feather...flock to Mandel.

April 20, 2022

The Big Lie about the Big Lie

Re: Trump and "the Big Lie". An analogy: mortgages were collateralized and leveraged by slicing all kinds of “good debt” and “bad debt” into financial instruments and sold widely as good and true and holy. Which led to the financial crisis. 

Similarly, we see how the media packages all kinds of truths and lies into one big statement (“the big lie”) that is sold and labeled as “the truth”. Which leads to further collapse of confidence in journalism.

So let’s all break out what is meant by the large leveraged statement of Trump's “big lie”:

Possible Trumpian lies:

1. "I won by a landslide”.  Judgement: Appears to be a lie or at best gross exaggeration. Even the good predictor Trafalagar poll done right before election showed only a narrow Trump electoral win. 

2. "The machines were rigged."Judgement: Could be true since machines can’t be audited except by Dominion and Dominion has shown itself unworthy of trust. Media likewise, so you have no check on them.

3. “The Election was rigged." Judgement: Yes, if by ‘rigged’ you mean takeover of key election counties by Zuckerberg. (This is the Hemingway distinction of “rigged” but not "stolen”.)

Basically by wrapping all 2020 election skeptisms into one “big lie” it effectively allows the media to sell a funhouse mirror version (if not overly successfully).  

One honest journalist (not conservative!), Christoper Leonard, funded by Schmidt Foundation through U of Missouri, had this to say on Brian Lamb’s podcast about the Hunter Biden laptop:

“I think the Hunter Biden story, to be honest, is a real black eye for my business. I’m not one to glibly second-guess print journalism editors who have such a hard job, but at the end of the day we have to own it as a big black eye. I’ll just go a little further, and maybe get myself in trouble here, but there’s a reporter named Peter Schweitzer, who is a conservative guy funded by conservative people. But he’s a heckuva reporter. And I’m looking at his book “Secret Empires” from 2018, which really unspooled in pretty solid detail a lot of Hunter Biden’s deeply problematic business relationships in China and Ukraine. And it was not picked up! The news is the news and the evidence is the evidence and we have to report things that make us uncomfortable or cut against our political preferences.” 

Imagine a dominant media who didn’t leave these topics to the amateurs: election vulnerabilities, the government’s role in Jan 6th vis-a-vis the Whitmer case, Hunter's laptop? (An exaggeration but funny line heard: "a nobody laptop repairman named Jon Paul Issac accomplished more than all journalism and intel community combined”.) 

But that is pie in sky. We’re back to where we were in 1800s with faction newspapers. I think it would be good to know how to navigate in this new environment, i.e. best practices for finding truth in an environment where every journalist is an activist, perhaps a scholarly look at 1800s journalism. (Did faction newspapers help lead to the Civil War?). 

One thing I’m hugely impressed by is the power of the media not so much in its ability to persuade as it is it’s potent ability to set the agenda, to decide what to suppress or talk about. All roads lead to journalism. I learned the hard way not to judge a news outfit by its (prestigious) cover or a college in the same way. Not too many go out of their way to seek out substacks and non-traditional places. In other words, you have to be your own journalist. 

April 19, 2022

Watching Rome Fall in Real-time

There are few things as fascinating as living during the fall of an empire. The long time questions: “how could Rome have possibly let it happen?” now are answered in real-time. 

In some ways it’s more explicable now simply because our leaders have a level of stupidity that the ancient Romans couldn't have had. Imagine one of their judges not to be able to answer the question, “how do you define a woman?”. And as bad as their military judgements were, our incomprehensibly bad pullout in Afghanistan has to be in the running. 

In the end the decline is likely as easy to understand as the quote I saw on Twitter: “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. Weak men create hard times.”  And so it goes, round and round and round. 

But I still have this insatiable desire to learn how to see this new completely foreign world we’re in.  Humans are meaning-seeking animals and I’d like to clue in to the big picture. 


Enter information warfare expert John Robb who has a rather unique view of things: 


“It was always kind of funny to see Trump and all these other folks during the 2020 election focus on election returns and saying they were manipulated, but the reality is the networks controlled the information flow and changed the outcome in 2020. What you saw with Trump - who had to have that direct contact with voters - was that he was heavily censored and muted and de-amplified. The outcome was largely determined by that. There was intervention on a grand scale, everyone was being controlled and the outcome achieved. 

What we’ve seen in the U.S. we see these big corporate networks have taken control of the stabilization of the U.S. Willingly the government has given them that authority and they are controlling the debate on the larger social issues, determining what is valid to talk about and what’s not, controlling election outcomes... Disconnecting the most powerful person in the world, President Trump, shows they were above everything. There’s the classic line where they say ‘the Constitution has been superseded by terms of service.’ Terms of service are now much more important to our future speech rights and everything else than our constitutional protections. And corporations can control whether we’re modern or not, or viable on a global scale or even personal scale.”

Why We Don't Make Things

Listened to podcast on a dog walk called “KunstlerCast” and a fellow named Tom Luongo lays it all out. 

“To continually grow global GDP we need to grow the supply of dollars in order to keep them both in reserve (in everybody’s central banks) and enough of them out there to flow to liquify global trade.  The dollar is three things: a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value. Where I think we went wrong with dollar reserve system is say that the dollar needs to be all three of those things at the same time concurrently. This leads to the issuing country of the world’s reserve currency has to run a constant trade deficit to liquify the world with enough dollars to keep global trade from collapsing. That’s where we are. That keeps the currency of account stronger than it should be because we’re exporting the inflation we should be experiencing because the dollars are all going overseas and it distorts terribly our economy and gives us the false sense that we don’t have to produce anything, all we have to do is produce money and then we get goods. We don’t have to make the goods themselves. Eventually the dollar should collapse but I don’t see it happening soon or rapidly.” 

April 18, 2022

Finally Making Sense of the Ukraine Invasion

Heard very interesting interview with John Robb, author of a book on modern network warfare. He talked about how the decline of the effectiveness of the nation state has left a vacuum that "networks" like corporations and social media groups have exploited. It's why the Russia/Ukraine war, which should've been a local skirmish, has become a worldwide existential threat.

He says that networks reveal the decline of religion in that since everyone now has a different conception of the good or what's right. Networks can then only solidify, be effective and have a purpose in common is to be against a common target. This happened Mubarak in Egypt, Occupy Wallstreet, Tea Party, and the anti-Trump Resistance folks. Whether it be Trump or Putin or Wall Street, the key is to have a common enemy that unites a disparate group.  This swarm/"hive mind" takes over and ends up leading the leaders. Which is why the hive keeps pushing Biden to further escalate with respect to Ukraine. 

Here's a key part of interview provides a simple explanation for why Ukraine has been a figure of obsession (hint: and it's not because they're white unlike the Yemenis!): 

Doug Casey: "This Russia/Ukraine conflict is basically a border war, the type of thing that has been going on in that part of the world for a thousand years.. a border war between two shithole countries that really shouldn't affect anybody. And in recent history in Europe I would've compared it to the succession of Kosovo from Serbia because this was a secessionist movement of Donbass from Ukraine for reasons that seem to me just as good as those of Kosovo breaking away from Serbia. And of course with Serbia the U.S. comes in and bombs the hell out of Serbia and that's fine, but the Russians try to protect the Donbass people and that's not fine. Is this just that the U.S. controls the world media rather than the Russians?”

Robb: "Yeah you could see it as a Slavic civil war between two relatively corrupt countries. It should've been just a subregional war. We could've sent arms into Ukraine to make it more expensive for Russia. Keep Russia connected to the world but at the same time help Ukraine. And that's the way it started out for a few days but we're in this world of networks and we had a large network of people, the Resistance, the anti-Trumpers who had been working on Russiagate. They put Trump and Putin together as a kind of existential threat to the West, the rise of authoritarianism around the world, so for the past five years they'd been working on creating this vision of evil such that when Russia invaded Ukraine it triggered them. All those years of casting Russia as the reason Trump was in office, that he'd already pretty much declared war on the U.S. by intervening in the 2016 election -- though if you looked at the stuff and the numbers it's not even a rounding error in the kind of propaganda we self-propagate. This network took it and amplified the war." 

April 16, 2022

A Poem and a Quote

The sun gesticulates

Cast-glances from the western window

Just before seven on a Saturday holy

Why so rare these late-day glints? 

Like the stones of Newgrange at equinox

Let it be writ in Columbus April sixteenth

The sun crouches low at seven

To bend to the sunroom’s dimensions. 

**

On why I like my suburban backyard even if it's a non-tropical savannah equivalent. From James Kunstler's "Living in the Long Emergency": 

“The savanna biomes around the world are the home of the majority of the world’s mammals. There are fewer mammals in a forest than there are in a grassland. There are more animals in the savanna than either. ‘And the human being basically loves the savanna,’ he continued. ‘That’s our homeland. It’s the Garden of Eden. It’s where we came from, the Olduvai Gorge, if you’re into the whole out-of-Africa genesis thing. And if you want proof that the savanna form is appealing to human beings, look at the golf course, you know, the lawn with the trees. It’s open underneath. We’ve got grass. We can see any predators come. We can climb trees for safety if we have to. There’s food on all the trees and shrubs, bushes, and vines. And there’s animals around. If we eat animals or use animal products, it’s all there. It’s a complete habitat for humans.’”

April 05, 2022

Politics and Poetry

My liberal brother-in-law recently wanted to “talk politics” but warned me not to use Fox News or any conservative outlet as my source. It's like we're speaking different languages.  I ruled out his sources of course so there’s not a lot to say.  I could tell him that all news is propaganda nowadays so we’ll have to wait till there’s journalism again. 

The difference between now and say, 2015, is that back then I was willing to give some credence to CBS, NY Times, etc... I felt like his networks were more established and credible and mine were more amateur and fly-by-night. It’d be like comparing Prudential Insurance to a small, iffy insurance company that only recently started.  But I’ve been greatly disabused of that notion in the interim. Don't judge by appearances.  It’s freeing, for sure, to no longer need to give any more credence to his sources than he gives to mine. 

I’ve heard that we’re merely going back to the 19th century in our history when newspapers were either Democrat or Republican and there was no pretense of objectivity.  So apparently it’s been done before although it would be nice to see a scholarly article based on our 19th century history on effects (beyond  polarization) of the bifurcation of media. (Well, there was a Civil War...hmm..)

**

Reading a book on the history of England and the author Joseph Pearce makes the point that I often forget, and one that applies also to America and Ireland as well as England since all are secular shadows of their former selves.  We think of history as “what was”, but it is all one moment to God. There is no past or future with God; all is simultaneous.  We ascribe firm categories of what was and what will be but those are fake distinctions.  True America is as much her Founding Fathers now as true Ireland is her saints and martyrs.  George Washington is as present to God now as Joe Biden so America is still as much Washington as Biden. 

Joseph Pearce writes of England: 


"We know that true England can never die, not because it lingers like a fading coal in the memory of mortal men, but because it exists as a beautiful flower in the gardens of eternity....England is not dependent on the awareness of those walking around in the geographical location of England today who have no clue what real England is."

I was glad to see the author of the hymn “Faith of Our Fathers” mention my own basis for my longterm hope in America (short-term despair of course):


Faith of our fathers,

Mary’s prayers,

Shall win our country back to thee;

And through the truth that comes from God,

England shall then indeed be free. 

In another Pearce book he makes the case for "wasting" time with poetry:

It might be prudent in a preface to a book entitled Poems Every Catholic Should Know to address the question of whether Catholics should bother to know poetry at all. We all live busy lives and we might feel that we don’t have time for anything but the most important things. Can we really claim that poetry is all that important? Don’t we have better things to do with our time?

In essence, St. Thomas shows us that humility is the beginning of wisdom because it is the necessary prerequisite for our eyes being opened to reality. One who has humility will have a sense of gratitude for his own existence and for the existence of all that he sees. This gratitude enables him to see with the eyes of wonder. The eyes that see with wonder will be moved to contemplation on the goodness, truth and beauty of the reality they see. Such contemplation leads to the greatest fruit of perception, which is what St. Thomas calls dilatatio, the dilation of the mind. It is this dilation, this opening of the mind to the depths of reality, which enables a person to live in communion with the fullness of goodness, truth and beauty. 

Let’s summarize: Humility leads to gratitude which sees with wonder, prompting the contemplation that leads to the dilation of the mind. 

Our modern obsession with social media might be seen as an infernal inversion of this true order of perception. If humility opens our eyes to reality, pride shuts them, blinding and binding us with the arrogance of our own ignorance. Pride, or narcissism, sees only itself or, more correctly, it sees everything in the light or darkness of its own self-centredness. 

It is myopic. It cannot see beyond its own self-centre of gravity. It lacks gratitude. Such ingratitude leads to the cynicism which cannot experience wonder nor see the beauty inherent in reality. This lack of wonder makes contemplation on the goodness, truth and beauty of reality impossible and therefore makes dilatatio unattainable. 

Once again, let’s summarize: Pride leads to ingratitude which lacks wonder, preventing contemplation and therefore closing instead of opening the mind. 

Another way of saying the same thing is to say that humility takes time while pride merely wastes it. 

Truly humble souls, filled with gratitude and wonder, take the time to stop in the midst of a busy day to sit in the presence of beauty. They open their eyes to the glories of God’s Creation and to the reflected and refracted glories of man’s sub-creation in art and literature, or else they close their eyes from all distraction so that they can listen to the singing of birds or the singing of choirs. Such time taken is the most joyful part of the day, a time when the mind communes with the reality of which it is a part. 

Prideful souls, lacking both gratitude and wonder, waste their time with mindless distraction after mindless distraction, filling the vacuum that their mindlessness.

If we wish to have minds open to the presence of God we need to take time and not waste it. We need to take time in the silence of prayer or the silence of poetry. We need more time with trees and less time with trash and trivia. A tree, or a flower, or a sunset are priceless gifts for which a lack of gratitude is a sin of omission. We cannot ever be wasting time when we’re taking it in wonder-filled contemplation. To be or not to be. That is the question. To be alive to the goodness, truth and beauty which surrounds us, or not to be alive to it. To delight in the presence of Creation so that we might dilate into the presence of the Creator or to distract ourselves to death.

March 30, 2022

Algorithm to Determine Congressional Passion on a Given Issue

Working on an algo to determine extent of Congressional passion on a given issue. So far I have three inputs: 

1. Does it affect them or their legacy? 

2. Does it affect how other kids in class see them, i.e. other global ruling elites? 

3. Can it be used against the other party to gain more power for themselves? 

Scoring:

0-10: Congress could not care a fig. 

10-20: Congress mildly interested.

20-30: Congress much interested.  

** 

These criteria totally explicate why Jan 6th so excites Congress. It's sort of the off-the-richter scale event for Congress (scale 1-10): 

1. They were physically in the building, so 10. 

2. It was gigantic worldwide news and embarrassment so 10.

3. Can be used against Trump and any other political enemies so 10. This works both for Democrats and Republicans because most GOP officeholders want to Trump gone from scene. 

That score of 30 is the highest in U.S. recorded history! 

**

FBI/deep state against Trump, Russia hoax, etc... (Score 28)

1. Yes, politicians co-opted by Chinese money were hurt by Trump’s anti-China actions as well as their partners in military industrial complex due to Trump view of NATO and wars.  So 8. 

2. Yes, Trump hugely embarrassing to other kids in class, i.e. European rulers.  So a 10. 

3. Yes, to dethrone Trump this is definitionally true. So a 10. 

This is a 28, second highest. 

**

Kavanaugh hearing (Score: 20) 

1. Voting on SCOTUS candidates contributes hugely to their legacy. Everyone is watching: 9
2. Again, not much. Let's go 1 since Europeans don't care who is on court: 1
3. Yes, ding-ding-ding:  10

So that would be a score of 20. 

**

Election Security (score 14): 

1. Not so much. They successfully entered office under current voting system and see no reason to mess with it:  3
2. Europeans don't care about our voting system: 1
3. Yes can be used as weapon. 10

**

Decline of Manufacturing in U.S. (score 8): 

1. Not at all. Can still buy their BMW: 1
2. Europeans don't care what we build: 1
3. Both parties are globalist so hard to pin it on one: 6 

**

Balancing Federal Budget (score 5): 

1. No, doesn't affect them unless a default on debt:  2
2. No, doesn't embarrass them to run huge deficit as many other countries do too:  1 
3. Not so much because neither GOP nor Dems care about debt nowadays: 2

March 29, 2022

I Love Words

I think of how Eric Metaxas loves words, especially slightly unfamiliar ones, and I feel similarly. It seems an odd thing, to like words!  You can’t touch them and you can’t eat or drink them. You can’t store them in a vault and hope they appreciate in value. But I take comfort that it’s part of the ever quirky human condition.  

People have loved words since before they were written down; Homer spoke poetically some 5,000 years ago. God made us this way, or at least some of us.  The philosopher Rene Girard would say that all loves are give to us from others - if everyone valued ankles, ankles would become the body part most associated with sexual desire - so essentially it was probably a few authors in a few books in youth who transfused this affection in me.  

Partially though I think it’s a particular brand of writing that appeals - depictions of nature and of the senses.  Words are thus a conduit to relive actual experiences. The description of the beauty of trees or ocean merely triggers the feelings that I have in an actual forest or sea and so is derivative. Nearly everyone is in love with some form of nature, be it the sea or sun or moon or mountain. This is surely bred in us as well. Only humans create art and the cave dwellers 20,000 years ago drew - what else? - God’s creation.  It’s a way of extending the pleasure of scenery even when you aren’t in front of it. 

A couple examples from the Charlie Smith novel I’m reading:

She lay down on the yellowed sisal rug in the living room and listened to the little house geckos chirping like docents...Arise, she said silently, the Redeemer has come, and stopped in the kitchen—that still held its faded bundle of afternoon light like a sheaf of yellow seagrass in its arms...             

Stars everywhere like bristly bits tossed aside, crumbs.


March 28, 2022

Livin' in a Stupid Age

I think a decade or two ago Mark Shea or someone said, "we live in a stupid age." 

The last few years have been: "hold my beer". 

The asininity has reached stratospheric levels.  To borrow from Lino Rulli, it's not assi-nine it's ass-i-ten. 

How much longer till we see headline: "Local Obstetrician Tells Husband 'Don’t Bring Politics Into This' When Asked Sex of Newborn"?

Prayer is the main solution of course but I'm always under the semi-illusion of thinking money will solve problems. My longtime disdain for lawyers has abated; before I saw them as parasites but now see them as the only tool left in a insane society. 

Perhaps I’m naive but I think the last best hope for working through the system is being able to grassroots-fund lawyers who will fight for conservatives. Not that my pittance will make much difference anyway but but... it's like voting, you want your vote to count and not cancelled out by a fake one.  

Lawyers are like policemen in that the more amoral a country and its government becomes the more you need them. Obviously we need them desperately now, at least the ones willing to defend the likes of the Jan 6 protestors or to fight the courts to release documents and uncover corruption. The number of worthy charities explodes as injustice and oppression explodes.

How long till a Babylon Bee type headline: "DOJ Spokesman says "Jan 6 Trespassers Lucky to Get a Trial at All, Let Alone a Fair One”? 

Persuasion seems a joke at this point except for perhaps the small controlled experiment of a jury. The public at large is drunk off the media narrative. 

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum... the Left declared war on us. We were out there, mostly minding our own business, and suddenly all hell broke loose. Mostly because Americans committed the mortal sin of electing Donald Trump to the presidency. 

I'm amused by those who say that Trump is too divisive for '24.  It's like Britains saying in 1943 "Churchill is too divisive...let's put Neville Chamberlain in".  President DeSantis would become President Satan within two weeks of his inaugural.  At some point we've got to wake up to the reality that there's not going to be a "uniter" president because there's no way to unite fundamentally equal and opposite mindsets. Square, meet circle.