December 31, 2021

No Epps, No Peace

It’s funny how much trust and faith the FBI had in Trump and his supporters.

I mean, in 2015 and 2016 I thought Trump would implode on his own and that there would be some incident that would ruin him.  But the FBI didn’t see it that way, they wanted to destroy him before he could destroy himself. And thus the desperate Russian collusion gambit that made Trump a martyr. 

Similarly, the FBI knew a huge crowd was coming to D.C. on 1/6 and they could’ve assumed there would be violence and it could’ve been blamed solely on Trump. But instead of trusting that violence would happen organically they needed to incite and lead it. They stepped on their own message and muddied the waters again. 

The fortunate part is they are inept enough to unwittingly reveal what we know.  I’m not sure how they thought, if they were thinking at all, that in an age of smart phones that the non-arrest of Ray Epps wasn’t going to be a big deal given the video footage. 

Now Epps is an international story, getting front page treatment at the UK Daily Mail. (Nothing much in U.S. of course, although the Wall Street Journal did run an excellent op-ed today saying, "Abolish the FBI".)  

So Epps was approached by two Daily Mail reporters told them no comment when asked if he was linked to the FBI.  Last week a couple local citizen journalists stopped by his farm and asked a similar question and received a similar response but then were visited by the FBI the next day. (I trust the Daily Mail will receive no visits.)

And there's the ongoing disaster of the FBI trying to gin up someone to kidnap Gov Whitmer which was both corrupt and incompetent but effective towards its goal inasmuch as the timing, right before the election, might've swung enough votes to Biden, especially in Michigan.  The money quote in the article linked is about how post-9/11 entrapment was the new modus operandi used on numerous Muslim defendants  but that "in general the public did not object".  We're all Muslims now. 

Psalm 93 seems appropriate:

"Amid all the thronging cares that fill my heart, my soul finds comfort in thy consolation. What part have these unjust judges with thee, that make mischief in the name of law? Let them harry the just as they will...in my God I shall find a rock-fastness still.”

 


December 26, 2021

Support the 1/6 Prisoners

One of the cliches of those who have rose from straitened circumstances is to say “we didn’t know we were poor.” 

And I think there’s an element of that for the spiritually poor of today - they don’t know that our society was far wealthier in the past. For those of us of a certain age, our youths certainly weren’t formed in a spiritually rich society but compared to today it was better off.  

I mean, at least we knew the difference between males and females and two of the same sex couldn’t marry. Pretty basic stuff. 

So one of the difficulties is mentally adjusting to the constantly decreasing spiritual wealth of this age.  We certainly see it in politics where a generation or two ago the ACLU would support the right of the KKK to march in the streets.  At the time I found that touching and noble and it affected me. Who was this leftwing organization speaking on behalf of the reprehensible? And what appealed to me at the time was not so much mercy towards reprobates but the idea that there were ideals, that there were principles that transcended whether a person’s views were “good” or “bad”. It was called the “rule of law”.  May it R.I.P..

The ACLU now, of course, doesn't care a fig about the far more serious issue of people charged with crimes like trespassing and sitting in jail for over a year, often in inhumane conditions. The process is the punishment. Who needs a trial when you can hold someone in solitary confinement for a long period of time? All of the ACLU’s bravado melted before the heat of the next illiberal generation. 

Ol’ bloggers Zippy Catholic and Mark Shea pointed out the wrongness of the abuses of the terror suspects held in Guantanamo in the early 2000s. They were understandably concerned about that rule of law, even when applied to non-citizens.  Well, now we know for whom the bell tolled when it came to those Taliban suspects: it tolled for future white Americans involved in the patriot movement. The tells were there for those with ears to listen (though I missed it and hence am catching up).  Note the October 2020 announcement by Homeland Security that white nationalism was the primo domestic terrorist threat, simultaneous to the FBI trying desperately to incite people to kidnap  MI Gov Whitmer. (With one FBI for every woebegotten "plotter”.) Then of course came 1/6 and Ray Epps is free and is working on his wedding rental outfit in Arizona.  There will be no healing on 1/6 until we get an explanation. By all means, hold Trump culpable for not making statements sooner, but trade that for the FBI coming clean. I’ll not hold my breath. 


One could say that justice was always this bad -- just not for whites.  And for sure Native Americans had treaties worth little and Blacks had slavery followed by Jim Crow. In a way, MAGA is learning what Blacks have known for eons: that there’s little justice in the “justice system”. 

So perhaps in that sense my sympathy for the benighted political prisoners is misplaced. Or maybe not, since they - poor rural whites - are the last acceptable prejudice. All’s fair against white trash while Blacks are, as a fully owned subsidiary of the Democrat party, obviously now in a protected class.  These blue collar whites are the true margins that Pope Francis often talks about - even when their own behavior is repulsive or cringeworthy.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer ran into some “German trash” early in his career as pastor. He wrote:

“Every day I am getting to know people, at any rate their circumstances...I meet people with passions, criminal types, small people with small aims, small wages and small sins - all in all they are people who feel homeless in both senses...And I can only say that I have gained the impression that it is just these people who are much more under grace than under wrath, and that it is the Christian world which is more under wrath than grace.” 

By definition, those on the margins will be harder to help given the lack of concern in broader society. Lawfare for GOP (let alone MAGA types) will always be an uphill battle given the Democratic party is the party of elites (academia, woke corporations), and attorneys/ABA are main constituent of Dem power base/funding. 

Which means we need more crowdfunding of lawyers from the right - or should I say from the margins. Pope Francis, the pope of mercy and margins, would surely approve.

Aid can be given here or here. And Julie Kelly has been good on the issue

December 24, 2021

Jesus as the Sign of Contradiction

The first reading from Malachi just before Christmas is fire and brimstone:

"Who will be able to resist the day of his coming? Who will remain standing when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire and the fullers’ alkali. He will take his seat as refiner and purifier; he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and then they will make the offering to the Lord as it should be made.” 

One of the complaints about the Bible is contradiction. In the Old Testament, God is depicted both as a a vengeful, ominous God and other times a merciful, intimate God. Sometimes He is too holy to touch without dying, and other times we are “the apple of His eye” as the psalmist says. 

So I imagine Jesus reading and studying the Bible as a child, understanding He would have to fulfill the Old Testament.  Not an easy task.  He would have to somehow combine all these visions of God into his single person. 

And yet he succeeded. One could hardly pigeonhole Jesus as completely the vengeful God or completely merciful one. He certainly gave no quarter to the Pharisees and Sadducees, calling them white-washed tombs and saying that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will get into Heaven. In 70 AD the Jews and the Temple would be utterly destroyed. So that’s very strong stuff. But at the same time he was surreally merciful given the constant healings, the unparalleled situation of a rabbi speaking to Samaritan woman with five husbands (she was wrong on three counts: Samaritan, a woman - whom Jewish rabbi’s were supposed to talk to alone, and a serial adulterer), the Prodigal son story, the woman caught in adultery, Zaccheus, Matthew, and on and on etc... 

Malachi’s prophecy was certainly lived out in that Jesus was like a refiner’s fire to the Pharisees and the Jewish Temple... and he did “purify the sons of Levi and make them like gold and silver” given that all the apostles save Judas were martyrs and/or saints. 

And so was the Old Testament passages about him being a suffering servant, and a lover of all of mankind. 

Jesus literally embodied the contradictions of the Old Testament. He was both ominous and scary, and intimate and merciful. 

December 23, 2021

Researching 1/6: Why Feds Obsessed with Proud Boys?

It’s sort of bewildering to me that the Feds were so desperate to get the Proud Boys that they apparently orchestrated an elaborate trap for them on 1/6 (of course with unintended consequences ensued like Capitol windows getting busted - Ray Epps later said that window breakage "was not supposed to happen!" - and the counting of electoral college getting delayed.) 

Kudos to The Revolver for doing the remarkable reportage that journalists won’t do. This impressive stuff - along with this gal’s tweet thread - is the sort of citizen-journalism I aspired to with a certain Colorado and GA Sec of State but never got too far. 

As we know, previous Trump rallies had been peaceful so all you needed on 1/6 for it to be a success from the Fed’s point of view was for someone to take down some temporary barriers with wire clippers, equip a couple undercover with bullhorns, escort the Proud Boys onto the Capitol grounds and then - voila! - you have them all trespassing and whatever else you feel like charging them with. Shows over. Seems an extraordinary length to go in order to get these guys.  So what’s the backstory? Are they the evil empire within? 

Well, I was surprised to learn that a few months before 1/6, even after the Antifa riots, white supremacist groups were deemed the biggest threat to national security. From NPR in Oct 2020:

In its first-ever “Homeland Threat Assessment” released on Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security named white supremacist groups as the single most dangerous domestic extremist threat to the nation.

Since 2018, white supremacist groups have been responsible for more deaths than any other domestic extremist group, the report adds.

The report does mention protests that broke out in cities like Portland, Kenosha, and New York City over the summer – but attributes this violence to “anti-government/anti-authority violent extremism” as opposed to specific white nationalist groups.

Wow. Big if true! So I tried to dig into the deaths they’d been responsible for and eventually found this:

From Newsweek:

[2019] was the deadliest on record for domestic extremist violence since the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. White supremacists were responsible for most of that bloodshed – 39 out of 48 deaths, including 23 people who died at the hands of an anti-Hispanic racist in El Paso, Texas, and a Jewish worshipper murdered at Poway Synagogue in California.

Turns out he El Paso shooting was indeed perpetrated by a white racist just as a black racist recently killed people in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Both are heinous crimes but seem to lack any status as a “trend”.  

In the Jewish worshipper murdered (according to Wikipedia): "Officials said he had no previous criminal record or contacts with police, and no known connection to any white supremacist group.” 

So that accounts for about 2/3rds of the 48 deaths and I’m not sure where the other fifteen white supremacist deaths are coming from nor am I confident the government would give us accurate statistics on crimes assigning the correct motivation anyway. As Clear Talk Media host Monica Matthews recently tweeted, “This year taught me one thing. Trust no one.” But you try to use data even from soiled sources (like the MSM and feds). 

So back to the Proud Boys who have exercised such a remarkable hold on the FBI’s imagination (and Biden’s, who singled them out in a speech albeit calling them “the Poor Boys”).  You can’t attack them for their thoughts alone, can you? There has to be violence, supposedly, so I googled for Proud Boy violence and came up with the quote below via NPR: 

To reach the fourth degree, [Proud Boys founder] McInnes said, "you get arrested or in a serious violent fight for the cause." (During the interview, Rogan responded, "So you're promoting violence?" and told McInnes, "You should erase that part." McInnes has, at times, claimed the fourth degree should be reached only in self-defense.) 
 
Officially, the group rejects racism and touts the multiracial backgrounds of some members. But they also describe themselves as proponents of "Western chauvinism" — the belief that Western European culture is superior to all others.

He also wrote in an email that violence is not core to the group's identity. "The violence you see from Proud Boys is a reaction to the unmitigated violence from antifa that the media ignores," he said, and that "I have encouraged FIGHTING BACK."

He also said that he discouraged the group from any involvement in the pro-Trump rallies on Jan. 6. "I made it very clear the whole thing was a bad idea and implored Proud Boys not to go," McInnes wrote.

So the Poor/Proud Boys are certainly not without sin but to create a 1/6 sting op seems just crazy given the risks to, er, the Democratic process and counting of electoral votes.  But hey enjoy the show - it was your tax dollars at work! :-) 

UPDATE: Ah, some light shed by Jack Posobiec’s recent book on Antifa:

What the intelligence community understood was that many in Washington D.C. on both sides of the aisle had begun to outsource their personal responsibility to the assessments and reporting of so-called experts. Rather than taking the time to dig in and understand an issue, a report is placed on a congressman’s desk, or a briefing is conducted, generally with staff, and their decisions are essentially made for them.

**

One active member of U.S. SOCOM told me “the Beltway intel community is one big circle [expletive]. They read the Washington Post every morning, watch CNN all day, and consider themselves informed. They never consider the fact that they might be getting information from bad sources.” He continued, “Look at 2020. You had looters and Antifa tearing up American cities every night of the summer, biggest riots since LA, but FBI barely even mentioned them. All these kids come in with criminal justice or poli sci degrees and think that counts as real-world experience, but they wouldn’t even know how to clear a corner.” I asked what sorts of reports were coming in during 2020. He said, “Well all the analysts were working from home because of COVID so they really only had access to unclassified. So they’re sitting home using Google and CNN to write OSINT (open source intelligence) and everyone wants to write about the same Q Anon or white supremacist nut so we end up with 15 reports about one event and the SES thinks it’s some kind of crisis. Then they brief the director about it, and then he goes to congress and tells them it’s the biggest threat in the country.” The intelligence community has fallen for the trap of circular reporting in the past, when the CIA falsely reported to the Bush Administration that Iraq had active weapons of mass destruction program. 

One can often assign laziness to nearly everything: laziness of Congress members to do research, laziness of the intelligence community to do anything but read the news, laziness and herd-thinking on the part of reporters and laziness of American voters to acquire alternative sources of information given the media is one large cauldron of misinformation. 

Update 2: Ah, it's a continuing education course.  I didn't deep dive into Charlottesville back in 2017, seeing it too much in Trump terms due to the media falsely putting him at the forefront of it.  But in this case the joke had a deadlier impact by setting up the country for the summer of '20 riots with the media's approval and acceptance of Antifa. (This may also have misled rioters on the Right in the lead-up to 1/6 thinking the playing field was level, that violence was acceptable.) 

As much as I think the dominant media had and has been thoroughly discredited, they have great influence where it most matters (the elites in law and government bureaus). 

Turned out, Charlottesville was in some ways a defining event for the country and surely part of the reason for the "white supremacy is the greatest domestic threat" that popped up a couple years later. 

From Posobiec’s book discussing it: 

..Yet by every account, as violence broke out between white supremacists and opposing anarchists, the police stood by as it escalated into a deadly brawl...

Charlottesville was an unmitigated disaster, resulting in the tragic deaths of three people – including the murder of demonstrator Heather Heyer, horrifically mowed down by a neo-Nazi. The left continued to bring up this event almost daily for years throughout the Trump presidency, and Joe Biden made it central to his election campaign in 2020. Through endlessly repeated lies and misrepresentations, in the minds of millions, Donald Trump remains branded as a racist, while Antifa was all but absolved of its role in the violence...

In short, Charlottesville was among the first of the great false narratives of Trump’s aptly named “fake news” era.

By “whitewashing” the role played by Antifa’s thugs in the violence – and also keeping the klieg lights far from the local Democrat officials who conspicuously failed in their sworn duty to uphold order – the national media more dramatically than ever before exposed itself as terminally corrupt.

They went to great lengths to legitimize Antifa’s role in the mayhem. CNN host Chris Cuomo infamously compared their actions in Charlottesville to those of the soldiers who landed on the Normandy beaches in 1944. Thus began the legitimization of Antifa in the eyes of the media...This book could be entirely comprised of nothing but major media praise for Antifa in the wake of Charlottesville.

Update 3:  Maybe the risk to the Capitol wasn't as great as thought because looks like there was a contingency plan. 

From Newsweek:

The presence of these extraordinary forces under the control of the Attorney General—and mostly operating under contingency plans that Congress and the U.S. Capitol Police were not privy to—added an additional layer of highly armed responders. The role that the military played in this highly classified operation is still unknown, though FBI sources tell Newsweek that military operators seconded to the FBI, and those on alert as part of the National Mission Force, were present in the metropolitan area. The lingering question is: What was it that the Justice Department saw that provoked it to see January 6 as an extraordinary event, something that the other agencies evidently missed.

As Darren Beattie said: 

 And yet, despite this mysterious revelation, the Capitol enjoyed uniquely poor security on 1/6...Makes sense...

And came an anonymous reply to him on Twitter: 

It was a delicate situation. They had to make sure their school play didn't devolve into an actual sacking. The bigger question is, was Babbitt's shooter operating under these orders?


December 13, 2021

An Open Letter to David French

My obligatory David French response wherein I tilt at windmill of his hatred of the politics of his fellow evangelicals, saying that either these come from theology (which case the politics are acceptable) or culture (which case the politics are unacceptable):

**

I feel like there’s an additional component outside just the binary choice of theological conviction versus culture, namely "the truth”.  I understand that THAT greatly depends on the media, which is why we’re where we are. The truth is extremely hard to discern in an environment where the press is utterly untrustworthy.

Reaching for alternative media services is the most rational thing evangelicals can do. In fact, they are derelict as citizens if they don’t. Their choices seem not so much predicated on cultural predisposition or theological predisposition but a search for the truth which is the natural recoil from constantly being lied to.

It’s rational to see the exemption to covid distancing policies for riots in the summer of ’20 and wonder, so, social distancing is not required if the cause is righteous?

It’s rational not to trust Fauci and the medical establishment given their own inconsistencies and the change of goals from "flattening the curve" to whatever we’re doing now (I guess the goal is vaccinating the unvaccinated to protect the already vaccinated.)

It’s rational to distrust the ‘20 election results given the concerns of U.S. senators and HBO documentarists in 2018 concerning the potential for fraud.

It’s rational to see BLM as an inversion of the Civil Rights moment.

If self-defense is valid in the individual sphere, I’m not sure why it shouldn't be in the social sense.

December 12, 2021

Our Lady of Guadalupe Situated in History

Today would be, if it wasn’t a Sunday, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It’s interesting to flesh out what was going on in the world at the time of the apparition (Dec 1531). 

It was just thirty-nine years after Christopher Columbus and thirty-four years after John Cabot landed in Newfoundland, which began the British colonial presence in Continental North America. Just seven years prior Giovanni da Verrazzano, working for France, explored coastline from present-day Maine to North Carolina.  Around that same time Juan Diego is baptized by Franciscan missionaries. 

Mexico City’s Bishop Zumárraga was appointed the year before the apparition: “having only the title of bishop-elect and Protector of the Indians, he left Spain with the first civil officials, magistrates (oidores), towards the end of August 1528.” 

Martin Luther was near his zenith, asserting that Catholic clergy and monks were sodomites.  German Protestants form a league to defend against the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, and the Roman Catholic states.

Michelangelo had fled Florence and goes into hiding. The Pope promises him immunity if he continues to work on the Medici Chapel figures. He finishes two of them (NIGHT and DAWN) by 1531. He would work on his “Last Judgement” in the Sistine Chapel four years later.  

John Calvin is 21, studying in Paris, his Protestant father having just died; Calvin is two years into his religious conversion. 

In 1530 King Henry VIII made his proclamation ordering the clergy to acknowledge Henry as ‘Supreme Head’ of the Church and St. Thomas More “speedily lost the royal favour, and in May, 1532, resigned his post of Lord Chancellor.” 

St. Terese of Avila was 16 years old and four years from entering the convent. 

St Ignatius of Loyola was 39 and studying theology at a French university and was already planning the start of the Jesuits; he met fellow students who would become, four years later, the first members of that order including St. Francis Xavier. 

St. Pope Pius XV had been ordained a priest in three years prior and was lecturing on papal support. 

St. Philip Neri was 16 and two years later, in 1533, would experience his religious conversion. 

The Battle is Not With Flesh and Blood...

From a Catholic lawyer Eudamonia esq on Twitter: 

Can’t believe I’m tweeting this, but I figured I should share it. Last night between 3:40 am and 4:00 am I had the first demonic experience of my life. As a former atheist and someone who is still dispassionate about this side of the faith, I know how that may sound. But this is something that must be shared. I awoke from a dream at about 3:40 am last night and was turning in bed. I was awake—I know this because I checked my phone and opened this app. After about 2 minutes of laying in bed, I felt mounting pressure in my temple and on the crown of my head, as if my head was being grabbed. It wasn’t painful, but it was strong like a grip. Seconds later, I “heard” a voice—I didn’t “hear” it like one hears things with their ears. Rather, I heard it like one hears their own thoughts: in their head. 

The voice was deep and graveled—almost with vocal fry, too. It was not speaking English, but I understood what it was saying. The voice was telling me to renounce Jesus Christ.

Yeah, yeah I know. I know! It sounds absolutely bonkers and I am gonna be dragged. Anyways this voice was telling me to renounce Christ as I was frozen in bed with this pressure on my skull. I uttered the words “I love Jesus Christ, my lord and savior” but it was very tough to say. It took about 3 seconds to say each word—as if I was being constrained.

The MOMENT I said the last word, however, the pressure stopped and I was in my bed as if all was normal. I was shaken. I’m shaken still. I am not the kind of person to believe this stuff happens—when I hear it happens to other people, I don’t believe them.

I’m a skeptical guy who converged to Catholicism due to academic study. I’ve always struggled with the spiritual, or metaphysical, aspect of faith. I’m an educated, intelligent, sober guy. And I’m telling everyone this happened. I need to tell everyone this happened.


December 08, 2021

Mea Culpa

I write too much about politics, which is to say about the trivial, and now feel appropriately guilty and small.  I can’t say I wasn’t warned; Amy Welborn seems to strike a much better balance between curiosity and spirituality. 

My stepson sent a rather remarkable letter (snail mail no less) to his widowed aunt after talking to her at a birthday party on Sunday. 

He’s been reading the Victorian novel Middlemarch and wrote it in that style, having been blown away by learning of his aunt's rescue operation of her grandson-by-marriage, Richard.  He’s been bullied and doing poorly in his school district so he’s come to live with her during the week and go to school locally where he is thriving and has friends. 

Aaron quotes Eliot’s novel, saying that it reminded him of her: 

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

He closes with:

“Be blessed in the knowledge that you and the company of saints are encouraged that you live a faithful life and let these blessings be compounded knowing your faithful life is not hidden from, nor will be forgotten by, the rest of us.” 

Not that one should be envious of your brother or sister’s excellence but...

Despite the absence of virtue on the political stage there are regular reminders of OPE (other people’s excellence) closer to home.  I heard today that Mrs. Darwin, 43, is pregnant with her 8th child. Her killer line is, in some ways, so reflective of the divine imperative: “I find that I'm still fruitful, just not in the ways that I choose.”

**

Tom Wolfe Talk in ‘96

Heard a Youtube lecture of the late author Tom Wolfe, given to Brown University audience in the late 1990s. Some notes:

“The philosopher Nietzsche was prophetic. He said in 1888 that the death of God [as seen by educated people] was unprecedented.  We don’t think of Plato and Aristotle believing in God but they always posited the existence of God. Even the 18th century philosopher David Hume said there must be a God to make the whole system work.”

Nietzche made three predictions in 1888:

1. In the collapse of belief in God, there will be wars such as never been waged on earth before, wars catastrophic beyond all imagining. You have killed God, but you have not killed guilt. And guilt is implanted in human beings very early in life, long before the age of reason. So you will be like the headless body of a religion: there will be guilt everywhere but no way to absolve it. You’ll have no where to turn to expiate your sins. As a result you will loathe not only one another but yourselves. 

2. You’ll be seized with an implacable ever mounting skepticism. Things you accepted just as a matter of course as truth, beauty and eternal verities you will now see as cheap lies and hypocrisies that have been contrived to cover up cynical strategies of power. 

3. And that will be the easy century. Wait till the 21st. You will see horrors beyond your wildest imagination. 

The sociologist Max Weber, contemporary of Nietzche, said the philosopher was right and added: “Art will replace religion in the 20th century. Aesthetics will replace ethics as the standard by which educated people judge one another.” 

Today, if you want to show your spiritual worthiness among the corporate elite, you want to be on the museum board!  Being on the board of the art museum!  

Recently there was a Vatican art exhibit that came to New York. Naturally it was a major NY city art world event.  All the major players were invited but since this was the Vatican’s collection it was also necessary to invite leading Roman Catholics, starting with the cardinal on down to laymen.  They arranged the tables such that there was one art world luminary, one Roman Catholic, etc... This was the most silent public dinner I’ve ever heard in my life. All you could hear was the ping of hotel silver off the plates. I happened to be out in the lobby and overheard two well-known gallery owners and one of them said to the other, “Who in the name of God are these unbelievable people?”  The idea is “what are these pagans, these heathens, doing at a major New York art world event?” This is how far this idea of art as spiritual worthiness has come. 


December 07, 2021

Hunter Biden’s Laptop & a View Inside the Machine

The interesting thing about Hunter Biden’s laptop is the rare opportunity to see inside the highest levels of American business and government. The videos and prostitutes and crack pictures are nothing burgers, but the calls and texts are insider gold.

For example, seeing that Tucker Carlson was best buddies with Biden as late as a half-dozen years ago is just a fact of beltway life and lends additional credibility to Carlson swearing that things are so bad. Who but the uber-connected would know? 

We also see where Biden taped a call he had with Walmart’s chairman Greg Penner in 2018 about the possibility of his father running for president.  Walmart, by the way, lives the truth of O’Sullivan’s Law that states that any organization or enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time.  I’m old enough to recall when Walmart wasn’t “woke”. 

Penner managed Madrone Capital Partners, an investment firm with “a $1 billion investment in the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, a $33 million investment in the failed search engine Cuil, and a stake the bankrupt solar energy company Solyndra, which was raided by the FBI in September 2011.”

Penner was also on the board of the Chinese company Baidu for 14 years until 2017. Walmart does a lot of business with China, and allegedly a Walmart heiress is one of the biggest funders of the Lincoln Project. 

So big money meets big government and shake hands. 




December 04, 2021

In Money and Voting the Currency is Trust

 Interesting to read the following excerpt from Jacob Goldstein in his book on the history of money:

It would be catastrophic if the CEO of a bank was delusional, or the chairman of the Federal Reserve was inclined to commit fraud. Those institutions depend on the choices made by the people in charge. The point of bitcoin is that no one is in charge. (You could also say that everyone is in charge, but that amounts to the same thing.) In classic cypherpunk style, Satoshi (“Satoshi”) owns no patents on bitcoin. The full codebase was published online for everyone to see and use and tweak however they want. Money is always and everywhere based on trust.

 One might propose an analogy:

It would be catastrophic if the CEO of a voting system was delusional, or the security chief of Dominion was inclined to commit fraud. Those institutions depend on the choices made by the people in charge. The point of open-sourced code is...that no one owns no patents on open-sourced code. The full codebase is published online for everyone to see. Voting is always and everywhere based on trust.

But the problem is to think that there can only be a single problem with our crapulent voting system when, of course, life is more complicated.  Heard this summary of the voting “irregularities” of 2020 from Matt McGwire:

“It all stems to mail-in ballots. Obviously there are different parts of the electronics which we have a better picture of how it went down but still as long as they’re hiding behind the ‘it’s proprietary’ nonsense and until we can get through that firewall we can’t truly know how we did it. Every time we do an audit we see little pieces... 

But without the mail-in ballots, ballot-harvesting and drop boxes they don’t have the votes to switch. Those are the three parts: you send everyone a ballot, you have someone pick up a ballot, and then you have them drop off the ballot in a place that isn’t monitored. If you do that you don’t even need the electronics at that point. If you can flood it with illegal ballots you don’t even need the program to do anything but 1 + 1 + 1 = 3.  And we know that happened.” 


December 01, 2021

Trivial Mysteries

I have a lot more respect nowadays for how easily I can be bamboozled.  Ideally that would lead to humility but, ach, you know, I think of it like St. Augustine said of chastity: “let me be humble Lord... tomorrow.” 

Pre-Trump I used to think of myself as a decent discerner but he inadvertently blew that wide open by turning out to be the white ha, at least compared to the establishment black hats.  I was anti-Trump in ‘15 before my eyes were opened to worse forces at work.  

**

I’m still wonderstruck by the number of conservatives arrayed against the Richard Jewell/Nick Sandmann defamation lawyer Lin Wood: Charlie Kirk, Dan Bongino, Kyle Rittenhouse, MTG, Pat Byrne, Jovann P....  How to win friends and influence people right? Someone who draws so much fire must be way off base or way on base?  On the defense side, just Joe Oltmann, Prof. David Clements, and Lin’s dogs, ha. (Wood lives in God’s country by the way,  on a plantation in Beaufort SC not far from the isle of Hilton Head.)

I’m trying to put together a unified field theory for the Wood hatred from the Right, and I suspect it’s because he had a huge falling out with MTG for reasons unclear and Kirk and Bongino need to be friendly with MTG for professional reasons. Rittenhouse is the more problematic. 


I think if Wood is a bad guy here, he’s the most persuasive bad guy I’ve listened to in eons, maybe ever. See first line in this post though. I didn’t think it was possible for someone to be so persuasive and so evil, at least if he’s guilty of the opprobrium. 

I really have no idea why I care, or anyone should, about who is telling the truth other than the sheer cussed unknowingness is fascinating. (The irony is we don’t even know ourselves, as St. Paul wrote, so there’s plenty of fascination to be had without searching far and wide for it.) But mysteries, man, they just really suck you in.  They suck you in because you think if you read just one more link you’ll understand and get closure and feel like you’ll get some vast panoramic view from that small mystery revealed -- or at the very least that you can move on. Trivial knowledge is not wisdom, I get that. Intellectually at least. 

There are few people more bizarre, for good or ill, than the actors in the 2020 election integrity drama, like Mike Flynn channeling a dead cult leader.  Or Mike Lindell’s tireless all-in approach. Or Patrick Byrne. The truth of human beings is stranger than fiction. 

**

On Telegram, Lin Wood the other day comments on Johnnie Cochran: 

I miss Johnnie Cochran.

Johnnie was a friend of mine and I was a guest on his television show a couple of times.

It would be great to hear Johnnie’s legal commentary on the Rittenhouse and Maxwell criminal trials.

On January 1, 2004, I made a televised appearance on the Today show with Katie Couric as her guest in a panel discussion along with Johnnie.

We were discussing which case we thought would be “THE high profile”case in the news in 2004.

I predicted it would be the Kobe Bryant rape case. Johnnie predicted it would be the Michael Jackson criminal case.

I was subsequently retained to represent the female victim in the Kobe Bryant rape case in a civil lawsuit against Bryant. The case was successfully resolved in favor of my client by means of a confidential settlement agreement.

I recall in the January 1 Today show interview, Katie asked me the question of whether I would represent Saddam Hussein if he sought my legal services.

I have never been a criminal defense lawyer. However, I did reply to Katie that I would not represent Saddam Hussein because I tried to focus my law practice on representing innocent clients.

I told her that I would “refer Saddam to Johnnie Cochran.” Johnnie almost fell out of his chair laughing out loud.

Johnnie Cochran was a great guy and a great trial lawyer.

Johnnie won cases no one could or should have been able to win.

RIP Johnnie Cochran.

November 27, 2021

The Soap Opera and the Welbornian Corrective

So the best television is the social media platform Telegram. Man, the Wild West of election integrity is the soap opera to end all soap operas. 

So the characters are “characters”: eccentric, wild, undisciplined, unpredictable, truthful, deceitful.

Some of the reputable fighters are kind of boring, truth to tell, but perhaps that’s what makes them reputable. People like Matt DePerno, who fought in Antrim case against Dominion and Matt Braynard, who did great work around showing fraud unrelated to the machines and who is now defending the Jan 6th political prisoners. 

Other reputable fighters are NOT boring but haven’t done anything suspect. Like Joe Oltmann and Eric Metaxas. 

But then you have lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, the latter is the guy who saved Richard Jewell’s reputation after being unfairly accused of the Atlanta Olympics bombing. Wood was also the lawyer representing the Covington Catholic kid. 

And you have Patrick Byrne, author of the “Deep Rig” book and movie. 

Finally you have Gen. Michael Flynn. 

So a recent dust-up started when Rittenhouse accused Wood of letting him rot in jail for 87 days and not raising the $2m bail fast enough. (Wood’s response is that it’s tough to raise that much in that time frame and if not for him Rittenhouse would’ve served over a year in jail due to trial not starting for 14 months after the shooting.) 

Byrne put out a video saying Wood was a kook. Wood said that Byrne had called him, three days ago.  

Wood then proceeds to post the entire hour and a half “private” telephone call on social media!  The otherwise savvy Byrne got played big time. Along the way, Byrne threw Sidney Powell under the bus, saying she wanted to have sex with Byrne during a couple drunken episodes and now she’s turned all “woman scorned”. Additionally she’s a major grifter, taking in millions for election fraud that is being used only for her personal expenses and defense lawsuits. 

Wood is upset that Flynn charges $25k+ for speeches, and that didn’t come more strongly to Wood’s defense over things in the past despite promising to do so, and he was also troubled by a prayer that Flynn said recently at a public event. 

Flynn invoked an odd phrase:  

“We are your instrument of those sevenfold rays and all your archangels, all of them...We will be the instrument of your will, whatever it is. In your name, and in the name of your legions, we are freeborn, and we shall remain freeborn, and we shall not be enslaved by any foe.”

It’s said that: 

Flynn’s prayer bears a striking resemblance to a prayer by Elizabeth Clare Prophet, the now-deceased leader of an anticommunist doomsday cult obsessed with nuclear war. Prophet’s group, the Church Universal and Triumphant, reached its peak in 1990, the year she predicted much of the world would be destroyed in a fiery nuclear exchange between the Soviet Union and the United States. Prophet’s followers flocked to her Montana ranch, building fallout shelters for an apocalypse that never arrived.

...Both prayers mention “legions” and “seven-fold rays,” and are nearly identical in their phrasing.

Weirder and weirder. 

Meanwhile the ol’ possum Wood does a victory lap:

I love to see the enemy engage in deflection. Check out Mike Flynn’s Telegram channel. He has turned off his replies. He is trying to talk about issues confronting our nation while totally avoiding an honest discussion of the issues facing him - the occult prayer, the money he charges for speeches, Vernon Jones, Pegasus, and several other troubling issues raised by facts about him.

I admit Mike and Sidney played me for a few months. I had no experience in military psychological operations.

But I am a quick study and I got up to speed as quickly as Jesus intended for me to do so.

I was deceived. Now I am not.


**


And the impossibility of telling white hats from black hats from gray hats leads ... ideally.. to Advent peace! 

Amy Welborn, as if in response to my thoughts, posted the necessary corrective

Charm with your stainlessness these nights in Advent, holy spheres,
While minds, as meek as beasts,
Stay close at home in the sweet hay;
And intellects are quieter than the flocks that feed by starlight.

–“Advent” by Thomas Merton

Amid the general dis-ease, uneasiness, division and frustration that seems to mark so many of our lives now, it seems to me there’s a singular constant: the suspicion, if not outright conviction, that we’re enveloped by narratives, most of them false and many maliciously so, by tales we’re being told from all sides, and that it’s all coming so relentlessly, we don’t have the time or the expertise to tease out fact from fiction, to fight through the narratives to figure out, and most importantly, live in what’s just…real.

Can Advent help?

Thomas Merton wrote a lot of poetry. A stanza from his poem “Advent” is at the top of this post. You can read the entire poem here. Perhaps sit with it for a minute – even just the verse up at the top there. What the necessary stance for an Advent that’s more than just “preparation?”

…minds, as meek as beasts…

….close at home….

…intellects…quieter than the flocks…

Instead of pride, meekness. Instead of endless activity of the spirit, staying still, at home. Instead of noisy striving, quiet.

And perhaps in that quiet, away from the narratives, we can hear the truth. Not a truth of later, or someday or the end of time, but the truth of now.


November 22, 2021

Counterfactual’ing the Coming Civil War

What one actor - or half-dozen people at most - whose behavior over the past decade might’ve altered our current course towards civil war? 

It wouldn’t be the Democrats on the Judiciary panel during the Kavanaugh hearing, bad as they were, or anything Fauci did, or Hillary’s Benghazi, or media elites. 

Some would say Trump himself, which is fair enough except he wasn’t given the time to take that honorific. 

The answer is if Comey and McCabe had acted with self-restraint and honor, and to have accepted Trump as the president. That could’ve been THE game-changer. 

The politicization of the FBI and DOJ is incredibly destructive because it undermined the semi-illusion that voters have the final say.  It didn’t feel like voters had the final say with Trump, at least not in 2016.  Perhaps that’s the way it’s always been, at least going back to the bad ol’ days of J. Edgar Hoover.

Certainly plenty of bad stuff that happened subsequently can’t be blamed on the FBI's war on Trump. But the bad blood it engendered was so fierce that it could only fuel skepticism around the election results, which led to Jan 6th, which led to the overreaction, which has led to further radicalization - in the typical endless cycle. 

But imagine the counterfactual if Trump was not made a martyr in ’16 and ’17. Imagine if the biggest issue he had to complain about was the media lying about his inaugural crowd size or them saying he was a racist, and that the Democrat’s lack of willingness to negotiate on infrastructure was horrible. 

Instead, the FBI “made” Trump. They made him seem much bigger by their willingness to throw out their training and virtue. Trump needed to be the guardrails on the FBI rather than the other way around. Who could’ve predicted? 

November 21, 2021

St Gallen Mafia & Politics

I was listening to the “Holy Smoke” podcast/interview with author of book on the St. Gallen Mafia. It was interesting to learn that the “arch-conservative” (bad label but the public perception) Ratzinger had a close enough relationship with his number one “arch-liberal", Cardinal Martini, who was supposedly the mastermind behind the St. Gallen mafia meetings, organized around the goal of stopping Ratzinger. 

And yet these two foes, Martini and Ratzinger, esteemed each other and wrote prefaces or blurbs for each others’ books and in general seemed to be able to be very fraternal while being at opposite ends of the spectrum theologically.  There are even reports that Martini influenced Benedict’s resignation. 

What can one say of this both in regard to the Church and in American politics? Did Benedict, wittingly or unwittingly, play into the hands of the liberal faction? Was Benedict naive or simply faithful to his own view of the Church - which might have been one more “trusting in the process”, both of Martini in particular and the conclave after his resignation in general and in God to look after His church ultimately?

Jesus, after all, trusted the process and chose Judas to be his friend. Is it the role of the “good guy” (understanding we’re all flawed save Christ) to always be on defensive and reactive to evil and thus at the natural disadvantage? Like how the Allies almost fell to Hitler due to being slow on the uptake? 

I see faint parallels in how the GOP generally seems too trusting of the good will and standards of the elite Democrats, especially with regard to integrity of voting and mail-in ballots. Similarly, Trump was hit by the Deep State immediately and hardly left a dent in them.  

Some of this naivety and soft glove usage has ebbed over the past decade or so in part due to the things like the Zuckerberg drop boxes, Kavanaugh hearing, and the politicization of the intel agencies. 

The Church, regardless, is on firmer ground given the gates of Hell could easily prevail against the U.S.. But it’s hard to believe the next conclave won’t be a bit different and involve a bit more due diligence.

November 18, 2021

How a Smear Becomes a Law: Non-Schoolhouse Rock Version

The recent news about John Durham’s indictment led me back to reading about the plot against the president. 

The Deep State can work fast: the Steele dossier was planted in the media two weeks before Trump sworn in, FBI tries to entrap Flynn four days after inauguration and he’s tossed two weeks later, Sessions recuses himself two weeks after that, FBI investigation opened eight weeks after that, and then special counsel Mueller is appointed a week later. 

So the deep state was able to take out Flynn and effectively Sessions in just a month, and helped clip Trump’s approval rating from 45% on 1/20 to 39% on 3/20. 

It took Trump almost four months to take out Comey.  Trump was playing defense and the offense has the advantage of the element of surprise. (We saw it in the 2020 election where Trump was very late to the game of concern over voter fraud.)

**

The spy agencies worked fast but the ground was prepared back in 2015. The first glimmers of rogue actions begin in October of 2015 when a CIA contractor is hired by Fusion GPS to find dirt on alleged Trump ties to Russian organized crime figures. 


The backdrop is that on September 10th, CNN reported that Trump’s support had “surged to 32%” in a poll and that “most Republican voters (51%) think Trump is most likely to emerge as the GOP winner.” 

In January of ’16, Christopher Steele begins talking to Obama’s DOJ about Trump and Russia. 

In February, Trump wins most of the delegates of the early primaries. 

In March, a smear campaign begins in press about Trump team’s ties to Russia. Only three candidates are left in GOP race. 

In May, Trump becomes the presumptive GOP nominee. 

In July, the FBI opens an umbrella investigation into pretty much everyone associated with Trump. 

In mid-August FBI’s Peter Strzok sends the “insurance policy” text to FBI lawyer Lisa Page. 

October 30, 2021

The Douthat Book

I'm halfway through the new Ross Douthat book, "The Deep Places", and it's riveting. Can’t put it down. It’s a memoir about his illness, Lyme disease and now I’m borderline obsessed with his life. A killer quote:

In my state, I felt like I had grasped a crucial secret: that good health is basically a superpower, which I had wasted once but never again, and any amount of money lost on treatment could be earned back, with interest, if only I had those superhuman powers back. 

He also writes sharply of the radical dichotomy between the medical establishment’s blasé attitude towards the disease and the Connecticut community who know someone who have it and know how real it is.  (We've all seen that now with the media, where they live in an entirely different mental landscape.)  He found the official line from doctors versus the lived experience of even wealthy, very stable types  “consistently startling”.  I thought about how another’s health or happiness is so impervious to our ability to really influence... Often, how little even doctors can do.  

Douthat writes, 

“For the young, intense physical suffering was a lightning strike; for older people it generally became the weather...There was comfort there, sort of: I was just living in a storm that had rolled in a little early. But there was also betrayal, because so little of my education prepared me for this part of life.”

It’s an interesting juxtaposition to be reading this with the Eric Metaxas book ("Is Atheism Dead?") on the amazing series of “fortunate accidents” that God used to have life on our planet. There's a gentleness there. As the Psalm goes, “When I see the work of your hands, the moon and the stars which you arranged, what is man that you should keep in mind?”

This “arrangement” of the moon and the stars takes on a new lustre with the science backdrop, how crucial Jupiter be as big as it is, how crucial the moon be where it is, etc.. There’s nothing haphazard about it. 

This translation from Romans 11 (the colloquial Message bible) kind of hits at the heart of things, that ties together the Douthat and the Metaxas: 

"Make sure you stay alert to these qualities of gentle kindness and ruthless severity that exist side by side in God - ruthless with deadwood, gentle with the grafted shoot. But don’t presume on this gentleness. The moment you become deadwood, you’re out of there."

That severity and gentleness is certainly exhibited in our physical earth, which can be at turns charmingly gentle and ferociously ruthless.

October 28, 2021

Dreams and a Book on Aquinas

Dreams perish under conditions of light like bog bodies suddenly exposed to oxygen.  And yet somehow it feels important to try to recapture what my subconscious was obsessing about just seconds before, as if I can rationally explain the irrational.  

It's a kind of metaphor for our supernatural God whom we try to fit into our natural brains.  Often our understanding lapses into superstition (?), like how Ross Douthat wrote against the health and wealth gospel and then... Or a middle-aged couple who liked to watch “Six Feet Under” and then...  Tragedies demand a "rationally irrational" explanation.  Or an irrationally rational. 

So in the dream I have wheelbarrows of nickels to pay the mortgage payment. Darwin Catholic - the last truly competent individual on earth I think is my subtext -  handles it, but is increasingly dyspeptic to the arbitrage and its elements of the menial. I worry he will move on to greener pastures and I’ll be left with this dumpster of antiquated money. 

The dream morphs to my dog somehow, now lost to wakefulness, perhaps in his performing services no one else will do.  Max licks fresh cuts on hands, crumbs off shirts, replaces old germs with new ones...

Understanding dreams remind me of the audio book I’m listening titled “Aquinas and Prayer” in that understanding everything is futile.

Sometimes it’s not about me, or even us as His patrimony. Like Jesus in the Temple or St. Thomas’s last gift of silence to God. Not finishing the Summa seems a great loss to us and our understanding of the Lord -- except it’s really not.

For one thing, it’s between him and God, a private moment, like the scholars had with the 12-year old Jesus in the Temple. 

For another, it's a last best statement on the inscrutability of God. Maybe the inscrutability was also a gift for Mary and Joseph.  And for the scholars a mountaintop moment to last a lifetime and beyond.  

A killer insight of the Aquinas book is to see that St. Thomas’s late silence was not so much a result of thinking that all of what he said was straw (only comparably so to his mystical experience) but because silence was in itself a tribute to God and therefore somehow a fitting way to end his life. 

For years it was years prior the great saint had written about the Trinity: “God is honored by silence. Not because we may say or know nothing about Him, but because we know we are unable to comprehend him.”

October 27, 2021

We're All Journalists Now

We’re all journalists now because the pros are all on strike.  And so it falls to the amateurs to be truth tellers.  From Dr. Francis Collins to Merrick Garland, it's a sea of disinformation and low information out there. I mean no disrespect to a fringe outfit like The Revolver, but it's a crazy world where they should win reportorial prizes. 

Maybe it’s always been this way and we on the conservative side are just slow on the uptake and not particularly keen at politics.  We saw an example of this in the Trump administration where the babes in the woods came into office in ’16 and brought plastic cutlery to a gun fight. 

Take Trump advisor General Keith Kellogg, who was also Pence’s National Security Advisor. He admitted this on a podcast: 

“You make an assumption going in there, based on my military time, that people are basically good. Well, that is not necessarily true at all. The one lesson I took out of this...if I had to do it again, I’d walk in the door [on day one] and say ‘everybody out. Today’.” 

I was no different at the time and was likewise blindsided; I had no idea it was a gun fight either. It's a painful lesson to have to learn "on the fly" but it's pretty much in the Republican DNA to be reactive, assume good will, be patriotic, and never anticipate domestic evil. (Witness the fubar of the '20 election.)

Part of it is that the Right is out of its league with Antifa, Democrats, and the Feds, all of whom have been doing politics for far longer, are familiar with psyops, and target vulnerable individuals with impunity.  It’s funny/sad that so many on the right thought maybe 1/6 was made worse by Antifa infiltrators but not their own government.  The party of law and order is afoul of law and order! (If we had law and order...). 

I’m not sure how this can come out as a win.  As long as only the media was against us then there was hope. But when you add government, courts, corporations, the IRS, and perhaps eventually even financial institutions it’s hard to see a good path forward; best we can do is punish on the margins those we can by boycotting/voting against corporations/politicians.  I’m not sure how we can even do protests without getting infiltrated by either Antifa or the Feds and then getting blamed for violence. 

As The Revolver comments

“The case of ‘mere’ Federal foreknowledge of the so-called ‘siege on the Capitol’ is bad enough, and amounts to a national scandal in its own right. Indeed, if elements of the federal government knew in advance of conspiracies to ‘siege the Capitol’ or otherwise disrupt the Senate proceeding on 1/6, the natural question arises as to why they did nothing to stop it. Given that the government and their allies in the Regime media have framed 1/6 as a 9/11-caliber domestic terror event, the possibility that elements of the federal government knew about it in advance, and yet sat back and let it happen for political purposes, is incredibly damning. This would amount to nothing less than the government conspiring, for the most malicious of political reasons, to falsely cast tens of millions of law-abiding patriotic Americans as domestic terrorists.

Given the magnitude of its implications, it is well worth repeating that federal foreknowledge is a virtual certainty. Just weeks ago the New York Times itself begrudgingly acknowledged the presence of a Proud Boys militia member and informant who was texting his FBI handler thought the entire day on 1/6, as well as several days in advance. The Times notes that the presence of this informant, and likely many more, suggests that ‘federal law enforcement had a far greater visibility into the assault on the Capitol, even as it was taking place, than was previously known.’”

October 20, 2021

Hilton Head: A Love Story (aka Triplog)

 

So Sunday, a day later than scheduled, we began our sixth annual trip with the dogs to Hilton Head and we stopped along the way for a brief visit to a West Virginia state park. 

Camp Creek was fresh as an Irish spring with a quiet unreproducible in my home town. And visually astonishing with that carpet of living water over the striated rocks.  Very Zoder’s Inn-ish of Gatlinburg, the creek bed laden with dark gray rocks and fringed by rhododendron. 

So three senses were simultaneously affected: sight, smell and hearing. A tonic.

The needful event was Harris Teeter groceries followed by a jog in the sun-filled heat and it always makes me smile when people think they’re funny with an obvious line. Old gentleman says, “you need to go a little faster!” That’s a familiar bit and I replied, “I wish I could!” Similarly, everyone gets a kick out of saying, after hearing my common name, “oh, is that the name you’re using today?” 

Jogged past a enclave supposedly open only to guests and saw the magnificent swimming pool with a huge water fountain frothing water up 20 feet. Who doesn’t like a fountain? 

Also something I can’t recall seeing before - a real, live ruin in Hilton Head! An old hotel closed up and going to seed. Called “Beachwalk”, it’s less than a half-mile from our place. 

From an Island Packet piece:

Hilton Head's abandoned real estate buildings attract  vagrants Apr 21, 2018 — Beachwalk Hotel is one of at least a dozen commercial buildings that are vacant eyesores, say Hilton Head residents. These unkempt buildings not ...

Turns out there was a fire there back in ’17 and they’ve never been able to reopen.

**

I retired to the small but comfy front porch. Quiet and serene there and nice temperature. Stayed till after 6p reading some of new book “Travels with George” which is a travelogue by a guy who followed the trip of the country that Washington took shortly after inauguration trying to unite a country that wasn’t fond of the idea of a strong central government. 

Snippets:

In addition to the political divide separating the American people, there were long-standing regional differences. When the governor of Virginia said “my country,” he didn’t mean the United States, he meant Virginia.

Shades of how we think of “my country” as patriotic red staters or woke blue ones?  

More: 

By the time he returned to New York, a new sense of nationhood had begun to infuse the American people. As a newspaper in Salem, Massachusetts, reported, the appearance of the president had “unite[d] all hearts and all voices in his favor.”

Sounds like we need a leader like Washington again. 

** 

Via Jim Curley’s recommendation I’m reading the book by Philip Lawler “Courageous Faith” about what the author sees as the overreaction to Covid (lockdowns and church closings). It dovetails perfectly with what Thomas Sowell said was a weak link of contemporary society: the failure to even consider the consider costs of a given economic or other strategy, let alone do any kind of cost/benefit analysis.  It’s the mindset of our liberal leaders that actions don't have consequences and don’t result in reactions.

You can see it everywhere now once you see it - Covid, economic policies that have helped choke the supply line, service industries. You can even see it with the election of Bush in 2000 when because of “hanging chads” in a county in Florida, our whole voting system was completely upended, which introduced great distrust beginning with Bush in ‘04 with Diebold machines and continuing to this day in part due to foreseeable consequences to switching to opaque voting systems outsourced to 2-3 large companies with unclear ownership and under indifferent security. 

We just lurch from problem to solution without any intervening thought. 

Another example of how the system wouldn’t work without a people of virtue:
"Though Sacco and Vanzetti are no longer house­hold names, their fate de­serves to be re­mem­bered. “Every­thing should be done to keep alive the tragic af­fair of Sacco and Vanzetti in the con­science of mankind,” Al­bert Ein­stein wrote in 1947. “They re­mind us of the fact that even the most per­fectly planned de­mo­c­ra­tic in­sti­tu­tions are no bet­ter than the peo­ple whose in­stru­ments they are.”

**

Interesting lines from latest Chesterton magazine:

The promising young scholar deftly illustrated how Chesterton’s optimism is not mere ‘positive thinking’ or a Pollyanna determination to maintain a sunny disposition. Rather, it is founded upon the sense of freeing resignation that comes with the acceptance that this world is not our final home, and a living out of the virtues of faith, hope, and love. Echoing Dale Alquist’s quotation about society being ‘on the wrong road,’ Lydia quoted to great effect a marvelous passage from Chesterton’s ‘The Ballade of a Strange Town,’ in *Tremendous Trifles*: 

“That is what makes life at once so splendid and so strange. We are in the wrong world. When I thought that was the right town, it bored me; when I knew it was wrong, I was happy. So the false optimism, the modern happiness, tires us because it tells us that we fit into this world. The true happiness is that we don’t fit. We come from somewhere else. We have lost our way.” 

**

Enjoyed a soporific period on the sands of Iwo Hilton Head before going back and collecting the dogs for their afternoon beach romp.  Ended up doing an additional mile jog down past the pretty tree-lined street of Aveco. There’s an area completely undeveloped, a wild jungle that eyes can penetrate maybe only the first dozen feet. Maybe that’s Hilton Head was like in, say, 1600. 

**

Pondered  how another way to view the story of the finding of Jesus in the Temple is that Jesus was re-enacting the book of Genesis after the creation of Eve: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” 

He had left his earthly mother and father to hold fast to his wife, that is the Church, represented by these scholars of the law. And I couldn’t help but smile at an artwork depicting the scene, because you see these befuddled old men disarmed by this child -- and then you remember he was trading Mary and Joseph (!), for these far more earthbound sinners. As always, Jesus doesn’t get the best end of the deal...

Wednesday:

Randomly I thought about how teachers like my mother and friend Nina have a keen awareness of the difference between first graders and third graders. To me they’re all “little kids”.   

But even my own experience should tell me that there’s a difference in that I can remember third grade and I can barely remember first at all.  That suggests a kind of self-forgetfulness in first grade versus a self-awareness in third. 

My outsider’s view that first graders and third are the same is true from the perspective of both being “little kids” but that’s also how we get heresies in the Church. 

St. Thomas Aquinas had an adage: “Seldom affirm, never deny, always distinguish.” The mind is made for truth, it can’t believe pure falsehood. Every false idea has some foundation in truth – otherwise, the mind would find it laughable.  All heresies are half-truths with a kernel of truth in them. 

Thursday:

Surprisingly crowded 11am beach for an overcast day in October.  Very Hilton-Head-in-August feel.  It may not be high season but around near Coligny square it’s a totally different look and feel from October Seapines beaches. Didn’t anticipate that for sure. 

**

Kind of wish I hadn’t learned about the large number of copperhead snakes in Hilton Head because now I’m paranoid when I take the dogs a walk they snout in the surrounding vegetation which now I’ve got to try and prevent.  We saw one in the brush just a dozen or two steps from our condo and the condo people next to us report they saw a black snake swim past our door last night. 

**

St Jane Frances de Chantal:

"Our Lord doesn’t take the trouble to make martyrs of feeble hearts and people who have little love and not much constancy; he just lets them jog along in their own little way in case they give up and slip from his hands altogether; he never forces our free will.”

**

It strikes me that angels are a higher form of life than us, just as we are with animals. And so I am to Max and Maris what my guardian angel is to me.

Friday:

On an overcast morning I hit church and the ever faithful Fr. Farrell was presiding. The gospel was about Jesus overcoming the demonic and Fr. said in his homily that there was not the shadow of a doubt in his mind about the existence of demons, and relayed two acquaintances who had these sorts of experiences. 

Mother Angelica quote of the day: “We all have a totally different degree of holiness, and if the enemy suspects that your degree of holiness is high, he will do all in his power to lower it. Remember, he is satisfied with you gaining half the glory."- Mother Angelica

**

Today is weather-shot too. Torrential downfalls today till 2pm at least.  But I make the rain a companion, smoking a cigar on the second story balcony.  Max joined me until he headed in after about ten minutes, scared off by thunder. 

Saturday:

Finally a Saturday on vacation that’s not a travel day! Woohoo!  Headed to pool for morning sun. Mused that one key difference between children and adults is that children will close pool gates with as much force as is humanly possible while adults will go out with the opposite intention. 

**

Then we watched three quarters of the enjoyable Buckeye blowout of Maryland. Their offense is certainly fun to watch.  The shock of shocks was Alabama somehow lost, which is one of the signs of the Second Coming so we best all pray.  An old dude wearing Bama stuff at beach this week and another old guy, a stranger on bike, happened across him, stopped riding, to talk Georgia / Alabama football. A scene in the South that is probably recreated many times. College football knows no strangers. 

Sunday:

Fr. Farrell’s organist was out sick so absolutely no singing or music. This meant he processed up the aisle silently which you don’t see too often. Feels like we could’ve all sang a hymn a capella, or “Acapulco” as I liked to call it as a kid.  In theory, this should shorten the Mass dramatically. No psalm singing, Gloria singing, no entrance, offertory or closing hymns. But Fr. F is nothing if not an opportunist and he gave a longer homily and added a mini-homily in front of the “Our Father” and the mass ended up being a little over an hour.  

Beautiful afternoon so ‘round 2:30 we loaded up the wagon-type conveyance: water, beer, two chairs, sun-umbrellas, dog water bowl, kindle and long leashes. Four hours we were back home after some reading, running, and dog ocean time. 

It was great running down the beach barefoot and then returning into the sun and the gilt-coast. For the whole day six miles.  Enjoyed the pleasures of a pre-beach cigar on the balcony and a couple beers on the beach.  Simple-ish pleasures. 

Monday:

So today we’re breaking ground never seen before in vacational experiences. Well at least since Ireland trip (which was a different epoch).  I’ve blasted through the one-week barrier, the rock-hard cambium layer that never gets disturbed due to the sacrosanct “one week off” routine. Our normal Hilton Head week would’ve ended yesterday since we left on a Sunday. 

**

Have the pool to myself from 8am till now past 11, no small feet given the sunny 74 degree weather and that the pool is perhaps shared by 48 families if everything was rented out. 

Impressive variety of trees and shrubs in the acre courtyard: a live oak with Spanish moss and at least four other varieties of tree: fir, palm, tulip, and one I can’t identify. Also an 8ft shrub with bright red flowers attracting bright yellow butterflies...It’s always summer somewhere. 

Headed to beach, glorious beach, around noon. Hung out next to the dunes in the soft sand as it was high tide and watched the slanty water angle to shore in their big gallops. I love the smell of Coppertone in the morning.

Listened to the Davids: Cassidy and Sherman, for my 70s nostalgia fix. (“Happy Days” premiered in ‘74, so that nostalgia was only 20 yrs old...meaning that 1995-2005 is nostalgic now! I feel old.)

Don Williams refrain heard today on the radio, from “I’m Just a Country Boy”:

“I’m just a country boy /

Money have I none /

But I’ve got silver in the stars /

And gold in the morning sun.”

**

Beer o’clock at 4:30, after dog walk to sea.  “Maris” means sea so it’s appropriate for her to be here although she’s been less giddy about going in the water than Max.  So much for her being a “water dog”. Maybe if it was really hot, like 87+ degrees, she’d go in deeper.  But the waves are turning her off.  

Tuesday: 

Beautiful morning and nice to have had an “easy day” yesterday of only three miles walking yesterday with no run. 

Deep thrombosis-blue skies, sunlit from heaven.  Light paints the tree trunks and latticed balconies and stripes the sides of the stucco buildings.  Remarkably quiet here despite the nearness of Coligny square.  A bit of Spanish moss hangs in the trees, aspirational of its neighbor Savannah.

We hit the beach at noon-thirty and the sand is soft as our mattress topper.  The water is translucent with a touch of green, like those glassine envelopes stamps used to come in back when I was into stamp collecting. 

I remember the thrill of getting those in the mail after a wait of months, or so it seemed. Similarly I recall ordering paperback books through our school (via Weekly Reader) and waiting a millennium for them to arrive. 

Would be fun to find those stamps now, assuming they aren’t long gone after so many moves since I’ve lived in a dozen places and nine of them with (or without) my stamp collection.

I wonder why I always can recapture my distant past more easily when on a beach vacation? Why it comes to me unbidden? It’s like the sun and water unlocks skin memories. 

**

The morning routine is to read the “Wide World of News” newsletter from political guru Mark Halperin, who serves all your “doom and gloom” news. Cheery, in some ways, to hear of Biden’s troubles. Cheery not so much given he’s the president and I should want him to succeed, although now that we’re in this cold civil war, it’s like rooting for President Jefferson Davis to succeed. I understand now, unlike in 2008 after Obama's win, that we're at war. 

I’m not sure which is the bigger presidential surprise of the past decade: that Trump would be so good or that Biden would be so bad. Expectations don't count for much, turns out.  Like trying to predict how the Bengals will do.

*

I muse/wonder if the USSR break up because of assassination attempt on Pope JP 2, a hit man hired by the Soviets? Did God have enough? Brezhnev was the leader when the assassination attempt occurred and then in the short span of 3.5 years three Soviet leaders die and Chernobyl happens a year after that. Three years after Chernobyl comes the end of Communism in East Germany and fall of Berlin Wall. 

So in just an 8 yr span from the near death of the Pope you have four Soviet leaders, a nuclear disaster and the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

Wednesday: 

Took a pleasant 6-7 mile noon bike ride, taking lightly-traveled Dune Road as far as it would take me which was ten minutes by bike. Picturesque houses with visions of infinity in between, that is views of sandy paths to sudden sea. 

Makes me want to live on a houseboat like author John MacDonald or Sen. Joe Manchin. 

The Victorian mansions seem no more real than sea castles, as if inside were portholes and pirate warrens. This island has so many little jungles, acreages held natural, rife with life, flush with gush. 

I ride back to Coligny past oddly named stores like “Quiet Storm for Her” (apparently a surf shop with clothing line). “Jamaican Me Crazy” is the more obvious one. 

The trick, as always, is to revel in the material without forgetting from whence it came. The beauty of this earth is a symbol, not a destination in itself. There is no “there” there other than pointing at the Creator. 

It’s like sex, which is God-required to be a kinetic symbol of marital love rather that an end in itself, i.e. not pleasure as its own destination. 

From today’s reading of Wordsworth:

Sweet coverts did we cross of pastoral life, 

Enticing vallies — greeted them, and left 

Too soon, while yet the very flash and gleam 

Of salutation were not passed away. 

...

Of awful promise, when the light of sense 

Goes out in flashes that have shown to us 

The invisible world, doth greatness make abode...              

Our destiny, our nature, and our home, 

Is with infinitude — and only there;

                

Tumult and peace, the darkness and the light,  

Were all like workings of one mind, the features 

Of the same face, blossoms upon one tree, 

Characters of the great apocalypse, 

The types and symbols of eternity.