May 30, 2022

Freedom as Teleos Kills Freedom

It’s been surprising to find out after all these years that what made America special during its first 150 years was not freedom or democracy or capitalism or the Constitution but virtue and godliness.  The orientation from 1750-1950 was towards the goal of God with virtue as the path.  Education for a trade or profession took a back seat in favor of making good Christians and citizens, not good earners. 

Englishman G.K. Chesterton said America was a “nation with the soul of a church”. Schooling was heavy with Scripture, Greek and Roman classics that had a morality angle, and prayer and chapel.  It influenced what men and women wore and what they could do or buy on Sundays. It gave discernment that lying under oath had eternal repercussions. It radically asserted that our rights come not from the state but from God.  Even our money reminded us that “in God (not money) we trust”. I’m amazed to see in my own lifetime how throughly discredited the post-1960s vision of American freedom and liberalism has become.  

In a way, just as Jesus had to die on the cross to show us the truth about ourselves, our libertarian society had to show itself corrupt to reveal the truth about political systems. 

An emphasis on freedom ironically undermines freedom. We can see prioritizing freedom over virtue has literally made our democracy no longer a democracy - the government bends not to the people's voice but to the press, the D.C. swamp, and the election riggers. 

We also had a good test case in trade with China. The conventional wisdom said that would make them like us, the implication being that China would be too interested in money to make war (notwithstanding the irony that we are more warlike than any country these days in terms of military spending and number of wars, i.e. NATO expansion, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc....)

Similarly, the freedom that had been mistakenly guarded as our national treasure has become profane and used in the service of calling cross-dressing men “women” and referring to same sex coupling as “marriage”. 

In Yoram Hazony’s recent book on the history of conservatism he writes: 

An important principle of Anglo-American conservative thought is this: When faced with the disastrous consequences of a particular course of action, we must retrace our steps and restore, as much as possible, the conditions that existed prior to setting out on this course. This is what happened in 1660, when Matthew Hale proposed the restoration of the English monarchy. It is what happened in 1787, when George Washington proposed the restoration of the forms of the traditional English constitution in America. It is what happened in 1863, when Abraham Lincoln proposed that the evil of slavery, that unspeakable digression from the course of English constitutional history, would be abolished. America and Britain have arrived at another such juncture, and they will have to retrace their steps and return to their historic path. If such a repentance, and such a return to the right path, has taken place time and again in history, why should it not be attempted again? There is nothing to be lost in making the attempt—and everything to be gained by it.

We are neither happier than previous generations nor are we closer to Heaven. That sounds like a lose-lose proposition. But how fortunate for us to find (or re-find) this wisdom and knowledge in our time! How cool is it that we've been given the gift of sight before (hopefully) it's not too late? 

The 17th century philosopher Gottfried Leibniz said that the complementary nature of evil and goodness allows us to better appreciate God and why he lets evil exist.  He adds that God allows evil so that we will become better by fighting it.  This is along the lines of how some say that God allows evil because it creates the special conditions in which virtue can flourish. A recent piece by a man had his legs shattered in an accident said it, “taught me the value of fragility of the human body and has given me a newfound respect toward the physically handicapped.” 

Similarly, the evil of our political elites gives us a new regard for God's astonishing contrast. We suddenly feel sympathy for the imprisoned, especially the 1/6r's in D.C. jails. We feel the same for Americans suffering under the beneficiary of a stolen election, and for our countrymen whose jobs have been outsourced to China over the past few decades towards the goal of "free" trade. 

May 29, 2022

"This is RICO Stuff": On the Election-Stealing NGOs

Interesting Eric Metaxas interview with Catherine Engelbrecht of “True the Vote” on naming the NGOs involved in election theft. She says: 

“We don’t want to get ahead of the investigations...Governments can sweep in a way that has the benefit of timing. We want to take down the whole house of cards and to do that requires a lot of strategy. This is a syndicate that is nationwide and even international. These organizations are a web across our country that have, in part, an aspect of them that requires an element of election control. They’re all part of a piece. This is RICO stuff. This is huge. The movie was enormously helpful in opening people’s eyes but I assure you this is the tip of the iceberg.” 

May 27, 2022

My Unrequited Bromance with Bishop Flores & Regulatory Capture Comes to Journalism

I’ve long had a (one-sided) bromance with Bishop Daniel Flores of Texas. He’s the intellectual heavyweight among the American bishops and I always feel a bit wistful that his politics are mostly left-wing. He seems too intellectually honest for that and feel it's sort of an opportunity lost. Of course his mission of saving souls is infinitely more important than his politics. 

I more or less uncharitably/lazily attributed his pro-immigration stance to his Mexican heritage but of late he added his voice on gun control in the Pillar

I think the nub of the issue is where the bishop says, “there is a legitimate right of the state to exercise a vigilant and reasonable stewardship and control over the access to weapons or things which could potentially cause great damage to the good of the whole.” 

What if the state is (or becomes in the future) the threat to the good of the whole? What if the exercise of second amendment rights is not about the idolatry of individualism but taken in the context of militias mentioned in the Constitution? Violent defense against government state tyranny is either legitimate or not in the Catholic view — if it is not he should say so plainly. Ambiguity doesn’t work in this case because you can’t have it both ways.

The general snark, of course, is you can't defeat the mighty U.S. government with your little toy guns, even AK-47s. 

True, you're not going to "defeat" the state any more than Jews armed in the 1930s Germany would've been able to "defeat" the Germans. But would it have been better had they not been disarmed? No one thinks there will be tyranny in their own state (see Germany in 1930s). It's always considered a conspiracy because people don't read history, let alone that it might become applicable to the present.

I think maybe the subtext is the Catholic debate on guns is between folks who think we have solved the problem of Catholicism and the state and those who know better.  Catholicism has always wanted to see the unity of the Body of Christ lived out on the ground…i.e no nation states, hence the appeal of the Roman empire and later the Holy Roman one. The universal nature of Catholicism innately pictures a kingdom of Catholics irrespective of nationality, hence the reason the bishops across the world are so supportive of the EU & UN. ..and why Bishop Flores is on team State? 

Origen said that the kingdom of Heaven should be mirrored on earth as well as possible. Catholics didn't even evangelize outside the Roman empire in the early centuries, equating Christendom with an earthly empire in which Christianity can be lived out more seamlessly, while the Arians evangelized "beyond the pale" to Germanic tribes and thus therein lies much of their success. Bottom line: nobody knows the proper relationship between Catholicism and state and to talk about gun control is to indirectly talk about the right to defend against the state, and that is to talk about Catholicism and state, which seems a dead end.  

Bishop Flores also thinks the fact many are so against even discussing gun control is that guns are considered “sacral”. 

But I think the shutting down by the right-wing of any discussion of gun control is because that path of that discussion is unfruitful. It’s unfruitful because for Catholics gun ownership is tied to that thorny problem of Catholicism and the state, unsolved now for 2000 years. 

In other words, gun control has nothing to do with hunting animals and neither does the Second Amendment. 

**

The recent tragedy in Texas gives another reason to support the banning of banning guns. Apparently there was a long gap of time before the police finally shot the guy in Texas. So outsourcing our self-defense to the police seems a tad foolish. 

From American Spectator: 

“When the cops cannot control the criminals, then the idea of allowing the cop’s employer to control your access to firearms strikes as insane. The same people urging everyone to lay down their weapons just two years ago urged everyone to defund the police.”

I wonder how much the root issue is Thomas Sowell's "conflict of visions", whether we believe society will always get better with additional education and wealth, or whether human nature is unchanging and every society and government will eventually fall/become corrupt.

If every government will eventually become tyrannical then it’s not great to disarm citizenry in the long run. If we're all heading towards Utopia then definitely a stop along that route is disarming everyone. 

**

Our killer problem now is that journalism became credentialed with college degree and elite money. 

The great journalists of the 1940s had no formal training and came from working class backgrounds.

I honestly think Trump wouldn't have won '16 if journalism represented non-elites as they had in the past because Trump's pet issues would not have been able to rise to the level they did with a healthy press corps.

Trump gave voice to the voiceless and the reason the Deplorables were voiceless is because journalism lost its way, lost its ability to speak truth to power.  They got captured by the elite. Regulatory capture, ha.  It's hard to see how politicians would’ve had free rein on trade and immigration the last two decades if working class journalists held them to account. 

Editorial from American Spectator

Yep, from the publisher of American Spectator

After the 2020 vote manipulating debacle, when people pressed me about whether I thought the election was stolen, my response was, "I don't know and that bothers me." 

I don't like not knowing if I can trust America's government simply because the voting system is so open to manipulation and theft. That's a problem.

Both establishment Republicans and Democrats and the media that supports them, demanded people say, "Joe Biden is the legitimate president of the United States and won the election (while he was in his basement) with 82 million votes." It wasn't enough to say it. You had better be damned enthusiastic about it, too.

This strange obsession with what the "losers" believe is a mind infection and an important one. The mind infection is not on the part of voters. The mind infection is on the part of those who are so insecure about the election outcome that everyone else must, like a robot, conform to their worldview and state it publicly like some loyalty oath. 

It has real world consequences. January 6 protestors, ushered into the Capitol, touching nothing, are being harangued into confessing to thought crimes and disavowing previous views in order to get lighter sentences. It's evil.

Worse, it's likely that the protesters are right. The election, if not stolen, was surely distorted with voting irregularities. Why should a J6 protestor have to confess to something that may not be true? Why confess anything? 

Years ago, when talking to a friend, I said, "Find a Democrat, find voter fraud." It's an axiom that is as immutable as gravity.

Democrats do not have the courage of their convictions because their convictions are nuts and few people agree with them.

How do they get elected? Well, they lie about what they believe. They lie about what their opponents believe. And, most of all, they commit voter fraud just to cover their bases. 

Why, for example, was Hillary so convinced that she'd win and didn't work hard? She knew there'd be fraud. She just didn't think she'd have to overcome so many votes.

Why, on election night, when Trump was easily ahead, did Biden say and this is a paraphrase, By the end of the night we'll have this? Because he knew he would -- one way or another. 

Some states are shoring up their voting systems. Pennsylvania is not one of them. For the ones who have, it's not enough. There are vast paid operations to vote harvest. Criminals get more creative. The GOP, once again, will be caught flat-footed – if they're not actively involved with the scam.

There are some crazy outcomes in Georgia. How did thousands of first time voters come out and then vote for the....incumbents? That's weird. Usually, a change election bring in new blood not keep old blood.

Some are saying that Democrats voted in the GOP primary. Maybe. Then why was voting depressed on the Dem side? 

I personally hate open primaries. They should be abolished. But even that doesn't fully explain what happened in Georgia. 

All this to say expect shenanigans. Expect illegal votes. Expect Republicans to act doe-eyed and helpless. Expect Democrats to lie to your face. Expect the media to demand that you ignore evidence. 

May 24, 2022

Answering Jonah Goldberg

Kind of amusing Jonah Goldberg G-file on Friday in which his makes the argument that Trump's character is poor and that he's distressed that neither political side ever admits they are wrong.  

Trump is of poor character, just as every president since Reagan or Papa Bush. Some just hide it better. If character is destiny then no wonder the country is where it is (and not the work of one orange man! To paraphrase Willa Cather, that soup is the work of a thousand years). 

And of course neither side admits being wrong. Did Sherman admit some piddling thing to a southern belle on his March to the sea? Did Jeff Davis apologize for passing gas in a letter to Lincoln?

Goldberg should read the great Norman Podhoretz who recognizes the season accurately: a cold civil war.

There will be no reckoning or accountability for Trump until there is also for FBI (see Whitmer case and 1/6). No Epps, no peace. 

May 23, 2022

Every Hundred Years a Civil War?

"What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?" - Thomas Jefferson 1787

I wonder if every hundred years or so America will have a civil war or near civil war:

1770s: Revolutionary (civil war)

1860s: Civil War

1960s: near civil war or start of internal cold war

2060s: civil war II?

The cause of wars appear to revolve around a lack of representation or having insufficient say in government:

1770s: lack of representation, particularly on taxes

1860s: debatable, but lack of representation for slaves from Northern perspective; lack of representation in new America territories (west and southwest) from Southern perspective.  Northern perspective could also just be the secession of Southern states. 

1960s: lack of representation for blacks in South and lack of representation for 18-yr old draftees to Vietnam

2060s: ? 

The abortion debate is particularly high-pitched not only given the human life at stake but because the child in the womb does not have representation in Roe v Wade decision. 

Some of the current day controversies are the result of a feeling of lack of representation since both political parties are for open borders (in practice if not rhetoric), both pro-trade with China and outsourcing of manufacturing there, and both war hawks (since 2008) on foreign policy.  


The 2020 election also literally represents the taking away of representation since every fraudulent vote cancels a legal one.  Merely questioning or auditing the election results is seen as illegitimate, so we lack even representation to investigate if we have proper representation.

May 17, 2022

Reaction to the John Brown Raid and 1/6rs

I'm reading a book on the pre-Civil War period and how one of the defining moments was the John Brown raid and how the South was gobsmacked by the Northern reaction and that their brethren could wish upon them the fate Brown had planned for them. Brown was held up as noble and righteous and courageous. It was a “red-pill” moment for the South and I don’t doubt they thought, “they hate us. They really hate us.” 

There’s a rhyme in that today in how many MAGA folks were gobsmacked that Dems and our government could treat those who committed no violence on 1/6 as if they were the scum of the earth. (They hate MAGA, they really do.) They wished upon them a pitilessness that has resulted in a murder (Ashli Babbitt), at least one suicide, a lack of due process, solitary confinement, delayed trials, etc... 

The analogy is imperfect since John Brown was intending an actual insurrection and to kill people, while the MAGA folks wanted to walk around "their" Capitol at a supremely inopportune time, egged on by a few Feds.  

(I'm guessing there were no Southern undercover agents involved in helping and encouraging Brown's hapless plan so as to make the South look sympathetic and the North violent to help sway the 1860 election.)

But where it is similar is after the raid and after 1/6 and how the narrative shocked those who heretofore had assumed some basic level of good will from the other side. 

The deep state went after Trump early, even before he was sworn in, but I suppose the first hard sign that this wasn’t so much about Trump but about his voters was the Whitmer kidnapping (sponsored by the FBI), followed by the orchestration of a couple dozen undercovers on 1/6 with professional film crew and likely professional facilitators who made sure the Capitol grounds were open to trespass by cutting down fencing and using a bullhorn to move people in. (See the great Revolver News investigative piece.). 

None of this excuses the broken windows at the Capitol or any of the violence.  But the violence done to them during and after was far worse than anything they did - these folks mostly brought fists to an “insurrection” - like bringing snowballs to a gunfight.  It seems in retrospect the FBI engaged in an extremely high-risk op to put Trump and his followers in their place.  Perhaps they felt it warranted given how could the stakes be any higher than when the most important office of the world was occupied by someone not on the same page with respect to trade with China, borders or NATO? And had a legit vendetta against the same FBI who had tried to frame him with respect to Russia? 

Latinos and Blacks Will Save the Country

Gobsmacked by news that Biden admin sent a ton of baby formula to border during a shortage. And we’re also printing $40b to give to Ukraine. I’m starting to sense a pattern here. I always thought it was hyperbole when Trump said that the GOP doesn’t like their voters.

Wrote up a couple Babylon Bee satirical headlines: “Local Man Hopes Mexico And Ukraine Will Reciprocate in Sending U.S. Baby Formula And Money When We're Out Of Both” and “Congressman Defends $40b To Ukraine: 'In American Money, That's Like $10!’”. Maybe I should’ve said, “In Government Money, that’s like $10!"

But there is great cause for hope: the irony of ironies is that our country will be saved, if it is to be saved, by Blacks and Hispanics who are the ones who are beginning to resist the Left. 

Hispanics are moving from 65% Democrat to closer to 55% and a commentator said that if Hispanics go just to 50-50, it’s an “extinction-level event for the Democrat party”. The amazing thing is that a recent proposition against Affirmative Action in California (of all places) was opposed more by Democrat blacks and hispanics than Democrat whites! In other words, white Democrats are more in favor of racial preferences for minorities than blacks or hispanics. We’ve come a long way baby. But that is the trend: rich whites are becoming more and more liberal which turns off working class blacks and hispanics. 

It would also be ironic if the illegal immigration that the Left desperately wants leads to their own demise by importing a more socially conservative resident (usually Catholic) and one who, being unafraid of hard work, is naturally dubious toward reparations for Blacks or Affirmative Action. The say the arc of history bends towards justice, and there would be a rough justice if the Democrats’ cynical minorities gambit fails.

May 13, 2022

Shea & Zmirak, Brothers From a Nudder Mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 11, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

Max McGwire's post:

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

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

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

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

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

Could deport 3.8 million illegal aliens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


May 10, 2022

The "Uber Drivers" Who Stole an Election

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

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


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

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

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

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

**

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

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

May 02, 2022

Remembering the Great Thomas J. Jackson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

** 

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

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

May 01, 2022

Mark Halperin's Ponderable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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