January 20, 2022

The Quaint Recording of Modern Presidencies

I recall learning about the presidents in school and being awed by the office and its history but I think something fundamentally changed in 1992 with Bill Clinton. If it wasn’t quite the end of history it was somehow the end of the presidency as we know it; even bothering to record the history now seems sort of quaint, as if we’re assigning more importance to them than is due. They are more or less just random people plucked out of obscurity, like American Idol singers.  It doesn’t help, perhaps, that their supporting cast of Congressmen and women have been like bad contestants on “The Gong Show”. 

Now the office looks small, the grandeur non-existent.  Clinton was smart of course, but also a sexual predator who seemed more interested in himself than America.  Then we had a lightweight George W. Bush who got high on his own supply of utopianism, followed by “an elite dude found randomly on the street” in Obama (his claim to fame having been not swallowing the Bush drug of utopianism on Iraq), followed by the ever cartoonish Trump, and now finally (appropriately?) the Weekend at Bernie’s president.  


Perhaps for everyone this is true, that you grow up esteeming leaders until you find they have feet of clay.  Certainly the reverence for JFK and respect for LBJ fell off a cliff by the ‘70s.  LBJ seemed like something of a vulgarian and JFK had his appetites.  

January 19, 2022

Ray Epps and the Life of Reilly

Kind of humorous how the “Where’s Ray Epps?” meme has gotten the attention of the bad guys (FBI and 1/6 committee).   The committee said, “oh, don’t worry about him, we talked to him back in November. Nothing to see here.”. Then with amazing speed a week later they reversed course and now Friday they’ll be speaking with him on the record.  As if that would happen without the rightwing laughter at their inattention. 

Epps is said to have called the FBI on his own on 1/8/2020 and the FBI was satisfied he was a good guy and they’d merely “forgotten” to take him off the Most Wanted list for six months -- that is until a week the Revolver story on Epps. 

You get the impression they’re all just winging it, just throwing a ton of lies out and seeing what will stick and what they’ll have to “massage”.  

The DOJ  also felt called upon to charge someone, anyone, with a crime higher than the small charges they’ve come up with so they went with “sedition” on an Oath Keeper after letting him run free for a year.  Quite the delayed reaction, especially given the enormous resources being expended on 1/6. 

I’m sure the government wants to make an example of the 1/6rs, a shown of power.  But it really shows weakness, just the pathetic actions of a bully against folks without money or decent legal representation.  

We’re also getting a window on part of why they’ve dragged their feet for so long - -they don’t want all the video evidence coming out to show the Feds were involved. An Ashli Babbitt video surfaced showing her chatting with police and trying to calm other protestors. 

As journalist (former National Review'r) Julie Kelly wrote today:

"As more people slowly accept the idea that January 6 was an inside job, they want Republicans to investigate the truth when they take the House this year. None thinks this Republican leadership will do it. That’s a huge problem.”

**

Civil wars rarely happen in aging societies so I suppose we’re all going to be together like it or not.  But the hope is what Joe Oltmann said the other day: 

“They said we are headed to a civil war. I would argue we are headed to a great reckoning of recognizing our leadership is the enemy, not fellow Americans.”

January 18, 2022

The Sharing Miracle at Cana

The gospel about the wedding at Cana must be especially mysterious given how many homilists have missed the whole point of it.  As a priest on Twitter wrote:

It’s one thing to say that Yahweh is Lord, the God who will free us from our enemies and lead us to the promised land. But it’s really something else to read the most mystical and erotic of books in the Old Testament, the Song of Songs, a long poem of romantic discourse between a groom and his bride, and believe it is rally to be about God’s love for Israel.

Not a book for children, this one. But a book for lovers, which is why it is in the Bible. Which is why saints and mystics over the years have judged it to be full of some of the greatest words in all of Scripture. 

The Miracle of the Wedding of Cana is not so much about thirst or party planning, but about the faithfulness of the bridegroom... We begin to realize: there is another wedding being alluded to here... when Jesus’ hour arrives and he offers his body and blood for his bride. 

**

Hmm.... so the miracle at Cana wasn’t just a lot of folks sharing from the wine flasks they had in their cloaks?  Asking for a friend. 

January 14, 2022

The Great Winnowing

I must be extremely naive because here is a list of people I've trusted in the past: 

---Dr Fauci in 2020, our likable trustworthy uncle. 

---Joe Biden, in 2020, whom I’d trusted to be a sane, moderate president.  

---Dr Francis Collins at NIH, a professing Christian. 

          ---George W. Bush on WMDs in 2003 and to not call Republicans terrorists in 2020. 

          ---Dick Cheney in 2000, who I thought was a wise and experienced leader. (Ha!) 

          ---The modern FBI - after Hoover left. 

---The crew at National Review, where I’d been a subscriber for two decades but no more. Particularly Rich Lowry, under whose editorship there was not a debunking of election fraud (which would’ve been helpful to sort the wheat from chaff) but utter indifference. Similarly a lack of outrage over the criminals in our government with 1/6 and the rioters. (Same with Jonah Goldberg & David French.)

Some serious egg on my face.  

Other shocks: 

---James Comey and Robert Mueller who, without a smidgeon of shame tried to ruin Trump’s presidency.  

---The FBI who now has entered the game of enticing and entrapping rioters for fun and profit and spies on its citizens including journalists like Tucker Carlson.  

---Dominion Voting, a company responsible for nearly a third of our voting, cared so little about democracy and vetting their security chief that they hired a psychopath and antifa member. 

---The stunning refusal of Maricopa county to comply with subpoenas which directed them to provide routers to ascertain vote fraud. Similarly, ballot images, election related databases, result files, and log files were deleted just before being handed over. 

          ---The January 6th committee: you'd need an electron microscope to find any credibility therein.  

---Pope Francis, overseeing a church that is falling apart, goes out of his way to crush the Latin Mass. 

But there be heroes: 

---The heroism of folks like Eric Metaxas, Mike Lindell, Joe Oltmann and Lin Wood who gave up their professional reputations and much of their current earning potential in order to exercise their first amendment rights. 

---The stellar investigative reporting from Julie Kelly and others on 1/6. 

---The inspiring concern of Matt Braynard towards the political prisoners held in D.C.

---The courage of President Trump in not meekly accepting the double-standard that applies to all conservatives, up to and including not accepting election results, something Gore, Clinton, Abrahms and many others on the left have done in the past. 

---The many parents who have run for school board or gone to school board meetings to speak.  

          ---Priests who held masses and heard confessions during covid lockdowns. 

---The countless hours spent by so many volunteers in attempting to do a forensic audit in Arizona.  

January 12, 2022

The Bubbling Up of Truth

Kind of heartening to see that truth, like water, manages to make its way despite the obstacles and dams our elites put up.  Interesting to see the chain of information work its magic even without the help of conservative or mainstream media.  At least now we have a U.S. Senator (Ted Cruz) grilling the head of the FBI about who Ray Epps is and how many FBI people were aiding and inciting violence on 1/6. Theatre, for sure, but it's got to start there. 

To watch how the info bubbled up is interesting. No conservative magazine let alone liberal outfit would touch the Ray Epps story or how there were FBI inciting rioters to crimes.  It all fell to a rinky-dink website called “The Revolver”. But that unknown site caught fire.  It slowly made its way up Trump-friendly media. It got picked up by American Greatness. It got picked up by the fearless Tucker Carlson, who mentioned Ray Epps to Ted Cruz.  And Cruz, whether playing simply for the crowd or not had some words for the FBI head. Likely nothing will come further since the FBI is impervious to discipline. I mean, if they used a dossier they knew was fake to try to bring down a president, then what would they fear from a congressman?  

But the lesson is that without fringe, alternative news sources there would be no questions from Cruz on it. National Review is an example of respectable but useless publication since if they can’t feign interest in civil liberties and protection of citizens from the state then what good are they? 

The money quote is from Julie Kelly on the Eric Metaxas show: 

"There’s no condemnation from National Review of this abusive, punitive, prosecution of hundreds of Americans in a political prison in the shadows of the U.S. Capitol...I think a lot of it is laziness. I think these people are just in their safe little sinecures, they get paid by big donors, they don’t have to do the detailed investigative work. I don’t think anyone at National Review has listened to one court hearing about January 6th. Their reporting on this is very thin and to the extent any is involved it condemns Donald Trump and Republicans.” 

Seems a reasonable deduction. I came to a similar conclusion during the post-election when they had zero interest in the subject of election fraud despite at least 70% of Republicans being very interested in it.  If they weren’t lazy, they’d serve their readership. Or perhaps they did serve whom they were interested in serving: their big donors. 

National Review went from being anti-Trump in ’15 and then coming around during the Trump years in defending him to some extent. They turned on him the minute he left office. Less about truth than politics.  But that’s a defining characteristic of our time - it’s extremely difficult to treat corruption used in service of defeating an enemy as anything less than good.  It's shame on all of us. 

This has certainly broken my own partisanship. I would vote for Tulsi Gabbard or Andrew Yang or Bernie Sanders before Bush, French or Kasich.  That is certainly a new attitude for me.  I've finally come around to the view the great Tom of Disputations had many years ago: vote for the person with the best character regardless of party. And there are few tests of character more obvious than how you view the least of our brothers being stripped of due process.

It's likewise a test of character to take the concerns of the "deplorables" about election fraud seriously. It's a test of character when you promote trade policy that kowtows to China and makes millionaires into billionaires while stripping thousands of blue collar jobs. 

Ideally election security would be of interest no matter who the candidate was.  Likewise you’d think the story of the Feds helping to trigger a riot would be interesting no matter how repulsive the political rioters. Obviously that’s not the way the real world works. But National Review showed itself as indifferent to the rule of law and there’s the rub - it used to be their brand. 

January 11, 2022

Serving Your Humor Needs

Funny cartoons (click to enlarge-ify).  I think if non-programmers could see some of the code that is holding our society together like bailing wire, well… 


And another one, that expresses the log4j bug well: 


 

Electronic voting is perfect petri dish for suspicion of fraud because it’s proprietary, un-auditable code.  The ultimate black box upon which you can project any number of crimes or fantasies. 

Whether the Dominion machines were fraudulent is in some ways beside the point. The new instrument of our democracy - voting machines - are not calculators, or tabulators, but highly sophisticated computer systems involving thousands of lines of code that no one but a few engineers understand. Even states purchasing the software can't look at the code. 

January 06, 2022

The Order of Tragedies on 1/6

I rank the Trump supporters who entered the Capitol at only number 6 of the worst aspects of the events of 1/6.:

1. That our gov’t helped foment a riot on the Capitol.

2. That those held in D.C. jail are held in inhumane conditions without speedy trials. 

3. That the process of counting electoral votes was interfered with and delayed. 

4. That the government and press is covering up Fed role in the riot. 

5. That Ashli Babbitt, although involved in a crime, was killed without even a misdemeanor charge brought against the perpetrator. 

6. That hundreds of rioters broke windows and entered the Capitol illegally. 

7. That our national reputation with elites in Europe took a hit. 

8. That someone put his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk. 

9. That AOC was fearful. 

The Wild West Days of Catholic Blogs

It's funny how back in the mid-2000s I thought the Internet couldn't be tamed.  I thought it was stable in its instability, that the "Wild West" aspect was a permanent feature.  But China has been able to do it to a great extent and in America we see control asserting through the intermediaries of Facebook and Twitter where the NY Post was banned for publishing a story on Hunter Biden's laptop. 

Even voting, once blessedly (and cursedly - see Chicago) local, has been centralized via the software of three large companies. 

Communication on the 'net seems to want to centralize and therefore monetize. There's a market for providing a curated and pre-approved experience. 

We saw it back in the day even in the tiny world of Catholic blogs where the antiquated “blogroll” list was trumped by paid platforms like Patheos and National Catholic Register. Star bloggers were hired and sometimes fired, the latter in the case of Mark Shea and Simcha Fisher who did not quite understand their new role as paid eunuchs. Twitter is now firing folks it doesn’t like as well. Bye Trump and MTG.

Fortunately fearless voices are still finding a way via Substack, Telegram, and others.  Ideally free speech on the ‘net is like water, which often finds a way through despite dams and other obstructions. The taming of the Internet is not complete despite the centralization; after all, there would be no UK Daily Mail story on Ray Epps without the water of free speech getting through to enough people to reach the Mail. 

Still, it's likely some in the regime are looking at the Ray Epps story and learning lessons or coming up with strategies on how to suppress future Eppsies. The FBI is too big to fail.  Just ask Ted Cruz

January 04, 2022

How the Internet Ruins Novel-Reading

This is how the 'net is terrible for my concentration. I read a line from a Colson Whitehead novel about a jewelry store on 47th street in Manhattan between 5th and 6th and immediately think: hey, that’s around where the Gotham Book Mart was. So of course I have to google it and sure enough it’s there on 47th between 5th and 6th, or rather was there when I went there lo these many decades ago. 

I was young with a full head of Irish-black hair. I’d foolishly believed the iconic sign “Wise Men Fish Here” out front, not realizing that wisdom is rarely found in avant-garde literature. Youth is wasted on the young. 

Naturally this reminiscing led me to look up the Wiki entry on Gotham, which led naturally to trying to find the streaming availability of a documentary of the bookstore owner’s life, which naturally led to me reading her NYT obituary, which naturally led to me considering the book I'd bought at the place, poems by Diana Der-Hovanessian (say three times fast) which, at the time, caused me to be instantly smitten by her.  So naturally I had to look her up as well, thinking almost certainly she had died and indeed she did, in 2018 at age 83. 

Things change, especially in the Big Apple. The Gotham shop eventually was sold, then eventually moved to a new building, and then eventually went out of business. 

When I think about the decline and fall of that bookshop as well as the larger arc of the decline and fall of our country, the one consolation is that it’s all in God’s plan. St. Augustine wondered at the why of it: 

Why is this, God my Master, given that you, in yourself, are eternal joy for yourself; and that certain creatures, gathered around you, always rejoice in you? 

Why is it that our part of creation swings between decay and growth, pain and reconciliation? Perhaps because this is the proper mode of being for these things and with this alone you endowed them when from highest heaven to the lowest places of the earth, from the dawn of the ages to their end, from angel to tiny worm, from the first stirring of change to the last, you assigned all classes of good things and all your righteous works to their appropriate places, and activated them at their proper times?

January 03, 2022

More Ah-ha Moments on the Feds

Have updated my post with new info related to the puzzle of why the Feds got so riled up about rightwing groups that they were willing to put the Capitol at risk. 

It's satisfying to read those who have cracked this whodunit or rather "whydunit".  (Latest is that Ray Epps is being subpoenaed! Brilliant.)

The gist of it seems to be that our discredited dominant media are *very* credible to the elites in law and government.  I'm kind of blown away by the extent of their influence.  Declining ratings and readership is far less meaningful than one might think. 

A lot can be traced back to Charlottesville in 2017.  The media narrative focused like a laser mostly on Trump, of course, and they covered themselves in the usual disgrace.  But what I missed at the time was that they omitted the real story: that of how the police let the two groups battle it out.  And then I missed how the media subsequently praised and approved Antifa, which set us up nicely for the summer of brotherly riots in 2020.  (It also may've given the impression to rightwing rioters leading up to 1/6 that political violence was acceptable.)

So now the whole picture is becoming clearer. One takeaway for me is that just because I've "moved on" from the dominant media doesn't mean those in power have - which, naturally, makes the media very influential.  They punch far above their weight. The other takeaway is the relationship between the deep state and the the dominant media is far more symbiotic and friendly than I'd imagined. 

The press also seems to know they have a powerful new tool in their tool shed: that of omitting news rather than just straight propaganda.  We saw that with Hunter Biden's laptop and now with the FBI connection to 1/6, but we also saw it back in '17 with the lack of outrage and demand for accountability over a lack of police control in Charlottesville.  That foreshadowed today's lack of media interest in police control over the 1/6 rioters. 

Here's an interesting quote from a professor in Colorado, Mark Holowchak, who noted that Thomas Jefferson was concerned about the press potentially becoming "sycophants of government":

Thomas Jefferson had an ambivalent relationship with the press. That ambivalence expressed itself in an unflagging theoretical commitment to free presses with growing practical recognition as he advanced in years that free presses seldom concerned themselves with truth. Thus, while he recognized that public papers were often put to use for political posture, in spite of the strictures of the First Amendment, he also recognized that a Jeffersonian republic—republican government consistent with Jefferson’s political philosophy—needed free presses. Without free presses, there could not be an informed citizenry, and without an informed citizenry, the likelihood of abusive governors and corrupt government would decouple. So, presses in a Jeffersonian republic had to be free. That is duly noted in the secondary literature. Yet he also came to recognize that the gazettes of nations with a commitment to free presses were vehicles of “inculpation”—not only the politics-sanctioned censors of government, but also politics-sanctioned sycophants of government. Thus, there is the intimation that their potential for public harm through political bias and libel far exceeds their potential for public good through dissemination of useful, fact-based information. That is often overlooked in the secondary literature. So too is the tension between Jefferson’s experiences with presses and his theoretical commitment to their indispensability in a Jeffersonian republic.

If the press was bad in Jefferson's day when Christianity was still regnant how could we not expect them to be worse today? 

And as our country falls apart, it falls apart in every way.  It's systemic. It was always going to be impossible to hope the press would do its job when every segment of society is in steep decline.

So at lot of this speculation about the pernicious FBI, or election fraud, or the media is, admittedly, like being offended by dinner assignments on the Titanic. 

Even if the media wasn't a punchline it couldn't save us. Only a spiritual revival, another Great Awakening, can. 

January 02, 2022

Sympathy for the David French (and me)

David French had a good piece today on respecting sources of information from "strange messengers" (although I took it not in the way he intended). 

I’ve certainly learned to be less allergic to strange messengers over the past few years and have long been disdainful of conspiracy theories - perhaps because they come from unvetted, non-expert “strange messengers” - but after the Epstein death/Hunter laptop/covid lab leak theory/dominant media not taking election fraud seriously and now 1/6…. well….it made me a consumer of sources I used to think were “icky” like Steve Bannon, the RevolverEpoch Times, and the Daily Mail.

The real problem is obvious as the nose on our faces: sources for truth are scattered in a million different publications and fringe Twitter feeds, partially because there is no publication wealthy or impartial enough to do the sort of investigative reporting needed on institutions often huge and morally bankrupt. 

The money quote from 2021 from Clear Talk Media host Monica Matthews: “This year taught me one thing. Trust no one.” 

It’s impossible to know what to believe or trust, so in that respect we all should have pity on each other since we’re all in the same boat whether we know it or not.  David French and I may *think* we know the truth, but we're both navigating the choppy seas of increasing governmental corruption combined with the rot of the traditional watchdogs, the media.