Someone Taped The Inquisition

A Progressive grad student in Canada had the presence of mind to tape her Inquisition at the hands of people who agree with her about everything, but don't think she agrees enough.

Universities are all run by herds of Dolores Umbridges now, apparently.

New Rule: You Must Be Old Enough To Date A Republican Candidate To Receive Free Contraceptives in Schools

From The Ryskind Sketchbook, back in the day 

Re: Judge Moore.  Dating teenagers as a 30-year-old is creepy, but I don't believe the accusation that he went after a 14-year-old (UPDATED to say this was originally written prior to the latest round of accusation and I've slightly modified accordingly: Blech).  I'm sick of sick men AND I'm sick to death of a political culture that uses sexual morality for the sole purpose of manipulating Christian voters. I've never been a fan of Moore and wouldn't have voted for him in the primary for other reasons, but for heavens' sake, as Ann Althouse points out, The New Yorker has a piece asking for Anita Hill's take on all the sexual harassment swirling around us these days, and it mentions Trump 10 times and Clinton not once.

Moore can go and I won't shed a tear, but only if he takes Bill Clinton (no more Davos trips for him) and Joe Biden with him.  

And no more warm and fuzzy references to Ted Kennedy, either.  

No one in the media gave a damn when Planned Parenthood was caught in multiple sting videos coaching under-age girls how to get around age reporting requirements, and many of our schools distribute birth control as young as 11 -- which, as I've written here before, strikes me as a pedophile get-out-of-jail free policy.

So how about a new regulation?  If it's a behavior you would use as an October Surprise against a GOP candidate, you may not teach it in public school sex-ed or enable it in public school clinics? Or: you must be old enough to date Judge Moore to receive free contraceptives in public schools.

Or: If you're too young to consent to a Republican candidate, you're too young to consent at all. Let that be the instruction to and in all clinics and schools.

Call it the Moore rule.  

We're Sexualizing EVERYTHING These Days


Happy Feast of All Saints


Hours of Louis de Laval, France ca. 1480 (BnF, Latin 920, fols. 180r, 181r, 182r)
Shamelessly Pinched from the Discarding Images FB page (which is awesome, BTW)

You should click over and see all the pictures. I love this because it's not turtles, but halos, all the way down.  Good reminder that holiness is for everyone -- and meant to be ordinary. 

Updated: The Mooch: More of a Front-Stabber

Update: Well.  Wish this had happened before I had the urge to put these thoughts to virtual paper.  And he was off to such a nice start. Sheesh.  --ed.

I'm not under the illusion that Anthony Scaramucci is anything but a conventional thinker on most issues, but so far I really enjoy him in his new White House Communications Director role. He's funny, and he seems candid in that when he doesn't want to answer a question he'll just tell you that and not stonewall.

More importantly, he seems to bring to the job a couple of things the President desperately needs: a guy who understands him and and a guy who will defend him, wholeheartedly, and not with the sense of doing so against better judgment or perhaps holding his nose.

Without defending every tweet President Trump has ever sent, his tweeting doesn't trouble me. It's his way of going over the media's head, which needs to be done, and it's his way of taking their smug superiority down a peg, which equally needs to be done when we have a press that thinks it, and not the sovereign people, rules. ("When you mock the student government president, you undo him," as the late Tony Snow said.)

What I criticize the President for, communications-wise, is that, like President Bush, he hasn't bothered much to defend himself (apart from tweets) --hasn't even seemed to try to coordinate messaging with his own team; and, like President Obama, he seems to have an oversized sense of the power of his own rhetoric -- as if saying stuff makes it so. (To wit, yesterday's tweet about banning trans-gender people from the military. Wake me when you find an actual policy and not just a tweet.)

Understanding the President.  In one of his first tv appearances in his new role, responding to Chris Wallace's question about his past criticism of Trump, I loved "the Mooch's" answer both because it was funny and because I think it was an effective translation of Trump for people who find him too abrasive. Watch for two minutes beginning at about 13:20 to 16, including the part about how the President teases him all the time about his past criticism. It's amusing, but it's also revealing of the difference between political insiders and the outsider who currently holds the presidency.

To make the point more succinctly, this morning we read this:
“What I don’t like about Washington is people do not let you know how they feel,” he said. “They’re very nice to your face and then they take a shiv or a machete and they stab it in your back. I don’t like it. I’m a Wall Street guy, and I’m more of a front-stabbing person, and I’d rather tell people directly how I feel about them than this sort of nonsense.”

More of a front-stabber. I can hear him saying it and find it hilarious. I also think it's a brilliant assessment of the difference between Trump and official Washington. 

Getting back to the tweets that make us all roll our eyes about what a goob this guy is. I don't think it's seemly for a President, or anyone, to be coarse. I cringe at "bleeding from her facelift," and wish he'd chosen a more gentlemanly way to mock in that instance. But the smug elites do have to be mocked to break the power of political correctness and show that they can be stood up to.  And if you ask me which is worse: to be called ugly or fat or stupid or to be called a bigot, a warrior against women, and a killer of the elderly and the sick (people will die!), I find Trump's style of insult more honest, and more in the spirit of a fair fight than the vicious, character-maligning rhetoric of the Left I have endured all my life and has only gotten more and more shrill.  The former just tells you the guy is annoyed with you at the moment; the latter is an effort to ruin you utterly, driving you from polite society. Which is more corrosive of civic life? 

(It does, however, remind me of this:)

Is "America First" UnChristian?

Peter Leithart has a piece in First Things, On Trump & Trumpism, that's probably a pretty good summary of what many practicing Christians, or at least practicing Catholics, think about Trump. It's an open-minded and fair-ish read of the President's virtues and vices, and why Leithart is wary of him, but maybe cautiously optimistic about his presidency.

There are things he says I both concur with, dissent and partially dissent from, but I want to object strenuously to this assertion:
even in the best of circumstances “America First” is not a Christian slogan or outlook. Whoever occupies the White House, it's “kingdom first.”
I'd guess that many if not most pious Catholics I know would agree wholeheartedly with those two sentences, and I think therein lies the reason pious Catholics are often abjectly stupid in politics, a field where they are called to be wise as serpents in addition to harmless as doves. I think it's also a principal reason why our American bishops, even though I admire many of them for their courage and orthodoxy and personal virtue, on the whole have a deleterious effect on American politics.

Properly understood, "America First" is the only attitude a President qua president can have. If you are not capable of defending the good of American citizens and America as a whole first and foremost, you ought not to run for office, as that is the precise job description.

Properly understood: "America First" does not mean my country right or wrong; it does not mean my country in contradiction of the moral and natural law; it does not mean my country without due respect for the just claims of other nations and individuals. It does not mean jingoist inability to appreciate the gifts and goods of other nations or cultures, or inability to learn from them. Observing the demands of justice, morality, the common good and constitutional order are in America's (or any nation's) long-term best interest.

Of course, qua human individual with a soul that will spend eternity in heaven or hell, any given President would be foolish and wicked to lose his soul for Wales. So yes, qua individual, he must govern "for the kingdom" -- meaning, he must follow the dictates of an upright conscience when the thorny decisions arise.

However, the instant a President (or his followers) thinks his political acts are "for the Kingdom," he has moved beyond the political order and is asking politics to do what it by nature cannot do. Politics by itself cannot make men moral, nor can it immanentize the eschaton. It can only provide the tranquility of order and the conditions of liberty that leave us free to use our freedom for moral ends. We must observe a space of "legitimate secularity" as BXVI used to remind us.

Such a president would also be guilty of colossal hubris. As Lincoln said when someone prayed that God would be on our side, "Let us pray rather that we are on God's side."

Nor can any President try to govern with the generic interests of the entire world in mind. We would rightly criticize a father who fed the neighborhood at large before feeding his own children (the moreso in time of famine). Not because his own children have more value in the eyes of God than anyone else's, but because his precise job is to love and look out for his own children -- the presumption being that if he takes care of his family, they will not be burdensome to the rest of the community and the community can concentrate its charity and its emergency measures on the truly needy (to cite the reason most relevant to the common good, and leaving aside a discussion of concentric circles of relationship and duty and what parents owe their children).

I'm afraid far too many Christians mistake the small-c catholic "neither gentile nor Jew" demands of charity with the corrupt and cynical cosmopolitanism of progressivism and the huge, trans-national corporate behemoths that have no allegiance to anyone, only to their bottom lines. But you can't be a good citizen of your own country if you fancy yourself a citizen of the world. The fact that a Christian knows this world is not his ultimate home doesn't relieve him of the duty to be fully engaged as a citizen any more than the fact that his children are destined for eternity entitles him to be cavalier about their physical well-being.

Without saying more about it, in this regard I like to think about how Polish St. John Paul II was, and whether that strengthened or limited his ability to love universally. And similarly I think of the example of Benedict XVI, who could not have been more German, or more specifically, Bavarian.  It does not detract from the wholesome diversity of the world for Americans to be fully and whole-heartedly American. On the contrary, it helps others rise and find their own wholesome identities.

I think this is what President Trump had in mind in his excellent speech in Warsaw in the moving passage about Polish heroism that was really a call to every decent person in the world to quit apologizing for existing, and learn to be who you are:
Together, with Pope John Paul II, the Poles reasserted their identity as a nation devoted to God.  And with that powerful declaration of who you are, you came to understand what to do and how to live. 
Democracy requires a demos, as Sir Roger Scruton has said. And the role of the American president is to serve and protect the American demos*.

*For the benefit of Peter Beinart and the similarly obtuse, this includes American citizens of any color and creed, natural born or naturalized. 


A few items at random, just to feel like a blogger again for a few minutes.

  • We had to read Night for a theology class, so as to confront the strongest argument for the death  of God. I've always thought of Elie Wiesel as an atheist therefore. I somehow missed the fact that Night was part of a trilogy: Night, Dawn, Light, and that Wiesel was a devout Jew. Does everyone know this but me?  Discovered this because of an article from Wiesel's son about what kind of father he was
  • As Instapundit would say, "Faster, please." Apparently a doctor in Cambridge is on the verge of a cure for MS.  But what is this throw-away line in the story about loads of people with MS in the UK going without treatment? I thought single-payer medicine was the bees knees? 
  • Why did no one tell me about Wallace Stegner? Someone chose his Crossing to Safety for book club and the writing is exquisite. Crossing was his last novel, written in old age. I'm now reading his first novel, Angle of Repose. Both are an exploration of the dynamics of marriage and friendship quite unlike anything I've ever read, and beautifully expressed. He can capture a tone of voice or the look on someone's face just so.  Stegner taught at U. Wisconsin and Harvard before settling at Stanford, where he founded its creative writing program and taught a number of prominent writers. I liked this from when he was doing his book tour for Crossing: 
Mr. Stegner said he finds himself rereading the work of his former students Wendell Berry, Robert Stone, Larry McMurtry and Ernest Gaines - ''old writing fellows who have become effective writers. I had a sense as they were coming through my class that I was seeing American literature before it was in print.''

Tomatoes in Ground, 2017

For the second year in a row May was rainy and strangely cool. Just looking at the jungle that is my back yard after a month of rain has been making me think, eh, maybe I'll just let the vines take over and not plant this year.

But then yesterday, sunny and strangely cool -- a mere 68F in June-- I said to myself, only a Sith deals in absolutes and only a total loser fails to plant tomatoes. So I did. Went out in the dwindling sunlight after dinner and double dug the garden plot and put in marigolds, three varieties of tomato, and a little basil just for caprese salads later on.  (Oregano, thyme and mint are perennial in my little plot of earth and I never have to plant them; I have to do battle w/ them). 

Couldn't find any yellow varieties in tomatoes this year (I think yellow fools the squirrels), so I'm trying black/purple varieties with cool names like Cherokee Purple and Black Prince in addition to Early Girl (because: "early"). 

I was thinking this was the latest and lamest summer planting ever, but turns out I planted on June 9th last year, too. So we're holding steady.