At Least The French Like Cheese

|
It's been a while since either ninme or I chanted "Die, Boomers, Die," but if the Sec. of State sending a mix tape to France to make amends for not showing up for the anti-terror rally in Paris doesn't convince you, you probably ARE a Boomer.

Kevin Williamson with more on that. 

A word of advice: Next time, send Slayer.
Seriously: If you’re going to send a past-its-prime musical act to an ally in distress — instead of showing up to join the rest of the heads of state in a show of solidarity — then send in the wild boys from Huntington Park, Calif., who are, like the last effective foreign policy maintained by this country, born of the 1980s. James Taylor tells France, “You’ve got a friend.” Slayer tells the world, “You’ve got a problem.” And there’s something in the Slayer catalog for everybody: “Jihad” for the most literal-minded; “Evil Has No Boundaries,” a sentiment that social conservatives could surely endorse; “War Ensemble” for the neocons; and President John Bolton’s agenda for his first 100 days in office: “Raining Blood.” (“Endless war?” President Bolton scoffs. “Try three weeks.”) If you find yourself in a fight, you want to know that you’ve got a friend. But do you really want that friend to be James Taylor?

Hoist By Their Own Petard

|
It's only January but we may have the feel-good headline of the year:

Vagina Monologues cancelled because it Excludes Women Without Vaginas.

It seems trans-gender persons feel excluded, so no more of this talk will be tolerated.
In a school-wide email from Mount Holyoke's student-theater board, relayed by Campus Reform, student Erin Murphy explained that "at its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman ... Gender is a wide and varied experience, one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions, and many of us who have participated in the show have grown increasingly uncomfortable presenting material that is inherently reductionist and exclusive." 
Elizabeth Scalia says all that need be said on the topic, quite humorously, if you can bear to read the word "vagina" that many times.

And you know what? For once I am the one who just doesn't give a damn.

It's only womyn.

In Which I Best the Inimitable ninme

|
The best Oscar post ever written was this one.

Topping her record, if not the humor of her actual post, I not only haven't seen a one of this year's Best Picture nominees, but until Michael Keaton's Golden Globe acceptance speech went viral, I hadn't even heard of any of them.

Threepublic

|
Since Mr. W. & I each studied political philosophy, our library has a load of duplicate volumes because each of us stubbornly refuses to part with the version with his own notes and marginalia. (And Mr. W. highlights. The horror! And possible grounds for annulment.)

Don't tell Pope Francis, who certainly would not approve and is equally certainly right, but Eldest Weed is taking an independent study on the Republic this semester -- and so the Weed household now has its 3rd volume of The Republic, Bloom translation.

I gamely offered to let Eldest Weed use my copy, but he wants to take his own notes.  I'm ashamed of our excess. But proud of our son.

Update: Eldest Weed: "In the movie version of our lives, the solution to the mystery requires possession of all three copies of Bloom's Republic."

Meanwhile, in Egypt & Turkey

|
Turkey allows a new Christian church to be built.

And the President of Egypt has a Regensburg moment with the Mullahs.

"I am referring here to the religious clerics. … It's inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma (Islamic world) to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!
"That thinking — I am not saying 'religion' but 'thinking' — that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It's antagonizing the entire world! ... All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.
"I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move … because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost — and it is being lost by our own hands."

  And goes to Coptic Mass

"Subtle Humor"

|
"Subtle Humor," from The Ryskind Sketchbook
originally in response to the Danish cartoon incident in 2006

Seems like the moment to reprise this post. The demonstrations in Paris & Lyon are quite moving. 
The media on the whole are not covering themselves in glory. AP deletes its Mohammed photos. USA TODAY apparently loses its mind.  Ezra Klein recommends civilizational suicide ("pay no attention to the ideology behind these murders.")

New Rule

|
Before you get to make any comparison between BXVI and Francis, you have to pass this quiz.

Benedict XVI or Francis? Can You Tell The Difference?

In Support of Boehner

|
The vote for Speaker of the House is today, so I'm too late to have any affect on anything and am just relieving my feelings of frustration, but as my assorted social media feeds have been shouting at me to "dump the Speaker" for months, I have to say I think the anti-Boehner campaign is extremely misguided and highlights the misgivings I have about the so-called "Tea Party," even though I basically share its policy aims.

First of all, on the matter which sparked today's move against the Speaker: "CRomnibus," and the so-called "cave" to the President's illicit executive order on immigration. There was no cave. There was a fight set up, but a fight wisely deferred until it could be won. The Continuing Resolution funds most of the government for a year, but the Department of Homeland Security only through February. Which means: Boehner's going to fight on immigration policy, but he wisely waited to start the battle when the Cavalry (the new Senate) arrives. 

I have no idea what people who wanted to have that fight in December think they could have accomplished while Harry Reid still ran the Senate -- other than utterly squander the political capital gained during the mid-term elections by shutting down the government. Do you want to actually change the policy or do you just want to pontificate?

CRomnibus isn't a great bill. There's no love lost between any real Conservative and a multi-trillion dollar government spending plan under any circumstances. But in politics you work incrementally, and there were a lot of Conservative "wins." 

Blaming Boehner for Cromnibus is like blaming Pius XII for not helping Jews or calling Lincoln a racist: people want their rhetoric loud and their demonstrations showy, but pay little attention to actual actions and results. 

I often have the impression that no one understands any longer how our system works. The Speaker of the House, while he naturally has some influence over party positions, has limits on his power. He can't go much beyond what the members of his party are willing to do. Denouncing Boehner as a "RINO" strikes me as grossly unfair. He's a reliable Conservative, good at pushing his members in the right direction, and with a good sense of how far his people are willing to go. He's also (like McConnell in the Senate) a highly effective parliamentarian (which -update!- is how he forced the sequester on Obama, resulting in the ONLY actual federal deficit reduction in absolute terms in my lifetime), which is all the more needed when you have a crop of newbies who don't understand the House rules yet. 

He could be a trifle bolder, perhaps. Perhaps. What I mostly wish is that he and the GOP generally had a better communications operation to educate GOP voters and the American people on the reasoning behind what they do. I wish the absurd criticism about not fighting on immigration didn't go un-answered. And I especially wish that Tea Party figures chose their battles and their villains more wisely. I wish they lived the Catholic virtue of solidarity, understanding that when you come to office, you have to govern from where the country actually is. You don't get tabula rasa, and no matter how much you hate your predecessors' policies and consider yourself mandated to undo them, you are responsible for those very policies and responsible to the people relying on them, because you are part of the American people who put them in place. 

I don't fear for Boehner (has he been re-elected yet)? He is well-loved by most of his colleagues because he works like a dog for them in their campaigns, in and out of everyone's districts. If others want Boehner's position, they could learn from him how to serve others and not just rant at them.

Epiphany (International)

|
Adoration of the Kings by Gerard de Laresse


Along the way, the wise men encountered many difficulties. Once they reached Jerusalem, they went to the palace of the king, for they thought it obvious that the new king would be born in the royal palace. There they lost sight of the star. How often sight of the star is lost! And, having lost sight of the star, they met with a temptation, placed there by the devil: it was the deception of Herod. King Herod was interested in the child, not to worship him but to eliminate him. Herod is the powerful man who sees others only as rivals. Deep down, he also considers God a rival, indeed the most dangerous rival of all. In the palace the wise men experience a moment of obscurity, of desolation, which they manage to overcome thanks to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, who speaks through the prophecies of sacred Scripture. These indicate that the Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem, the city of David.  
At that point they resume their journey, and once more they see the star; the evangelist says that they “rejoiced exceedingly” (Mt 2:10). Coming to Bethlehem, they found “the child with Mary his mother” (Mt 2:11). After that of Jerusalem, this was their second great temptation: to reject this smallness. But instead, “they fell down and worshiped him”, offering him their precious symbolic gifts. Again, it is the grace of the Holy Spirit which assists them. That grace, which through the star had called them and led them along the way, now lets them enter into the mystery. The star which led them on the journey allows them to enter into the mystery. Led by the Spirit, they come to realize that God’s criteria are quite different from those of men, that God does not manifest himself in the power of this world, but speaks to us in the humbleness of his love. God’s love is great. God’s love is powerful. But the love of God is humble, yes, very humble. The wise men are thus models of conversion to the true faith, since they believed more in the goodness of God than in the apparent splendour of power.
...

The wise men entered into the mystery. They passed from human calculations to the mystery: this was their conversion. And our own? Let us ask the Lord to let us undergo that same journey of conversion experienced by the wise men. Let us ask him to protect us and to set us free from the temptations which hide the star. To let us always feel the troubling question: “Where is the star?”, whenever – amid the deceptions of this world – we lose sight of it. To let us know ever anew God’s mystery, and not to be scandalized by the “sign”, that sign spoken of by the angels, which points to “a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger...” 

~ Pope Francis, Homily for Epiphany