Orange Really Is the New Black

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Coming soon to #10 Downing/ 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? 

BREXIT!

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I didn't really believe they'd do it, so didn't think much about the implications, but to the extent that this represents a sovereign people re-asserting its sovereignty over detached and imperious bureaucrats, Hurrah! Still...

And then again, here's a very sound counter-argument:

 

Trump Among the Weeds

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Eldest Weed is an emphatic #NeverTrumper (thinks Trump is a Mussolini) while Mr. Weed, originally moderately anti-Trump, has become doggedly pro-Trump simply because of the insulting things his erstwhile friends say about Trump supporters. He's so ticked off, he's dug in and sounds more pro-Trump than he actually is.

I'm not a #nevertrumper, but I'm on the fence. If the election were held today, I'd probably vote for him. I'm hopeful he might not be that bad and that his inarticulate patriotism would be better than the Progressive anti-Americanism under which we now labor. As an internet friend put it:
In a choice between crap and a crapshoot, take the crapshoot. Duh. 
But his character (or lack thereof) concerns me and I don't have the heart to make an emphatic argument for him. Plus, I am watching to see how things develop before making a firm commitment.

Since Eldest Weed is home for the summer, our dinner conversations have become nightly debates between him and Mr. Weed over Trump in which no one else gets a word in edgewise (or, frankly, tries to, since there is nothing new to say). Therefore, out of curiosity, I asked the other folks in the household what they would do if they could vote and why.

Plus...I have this bee in my bonnet lately about how out of touch people who make natural law arguments are these days with actual natural law. I've decided that most conservatives --whether in the field of politics or the field of faith-- can't recognize an argument from nature if it smacks them upside the head. This applies to what they say about Trump and also, curiously, to their response to Pope Francis. Someday soon I'll explain what I mean but meanwhile I've become interested in what folks who are not yet spoiled by saturation in politics think. So I asked my kids.


  • Girl Weed (17): Honestly don't know. He might not be that bad, but there's potential for him to be horrible. I think it's pointless to vote third party and I believe there's a moral obligation to vote for and support the person you think will do less harm. But I am waiting to see which one that is. 
  • Middle Weed (15): Trump.  They're both pretty liberal and you don't really know what they'll do in foreign policy. But Hillary is so pro-abortion and Trump, whatever he actually believes, at least is publicly on the right side on the most telling issue. That's important. 
  • Youngest Weed (12): Trump, for two reasons. 1) Hillary's Supreme Court picks will be so horrible that his will have to be better;  2) If he wants to get re-elected, he will have to make Republicans happy, so it is likely that he will keep at least some of his promises, even if he doesn't really care about them so much.
Make of it what you will, but it's of interest to me for my purposes that the more unspoiled (by "news") they are, the more they support Trump. 


Muhammad Ali

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I hadn't thought much about Muhammad Ali in decades, but at his passing someone I love wrote a remembrance of him that brought childhood memories flooding back. Washington, DC in the '70s was a "fight city" -- where boxing was huge and everyone followed it.  When an important fight was about to take place, there would be buzz all over the city for weeks. My dad was a great fan of Ali as an athlete and taught us kids to enjoy his verbal hijinks and overlook some of his politics. 

I think this is lovely: touching and funny, and giving a nice window into what seems to have been a genuine friendship. It's interesting to me that Crystal here says something my family member did in her reflection as well --about being glad to have lived in Ali's time. 


You Will Be OUR President

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Serious question. Is it possible to imagine any present-day Liberal luminary penning such a letter to a political opponent? I can't think of one, though I can imagine something similar coming from the pens of quite a few people in the GOP or Conservative movement.  Would be interested if you can think of a liberal/progressive who's evidenced parallel good will.

Vain, But Not Supercilious 2016!

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Two months ago I had a blog-post exchange with the Journal of American Greatness that I promised to get back to when time permitted, which it never did until now, when the point of dispute between us in that particular post has mostly faded.

I consider my point basically to have carried, since my view there and here was that Trump is not much of a vehicle for the Greatness agenda of those bloggers, and in multiple posts since, they've conceded this-- to the point of repeatedly disavowing him in many respects, to wit in the latest post

TRUMP HAS BEEN CONSISTENTLY BOORISH on the secondary matters of personal interaction and campaign style—using insult widely, indulging the temptations of vanity, and eschewing usual requirements of media politesse. This Journal holds no brief for those aspects of the Trump campaign, nor for anything other than the Agenda of American Greatness as we have outlined it.
Or in this one:
[Jonah Goldberg's] overarching argument is that many of the weak spots in official conservatism that Trump, or Trumpism, or supporters of either, have identified do not lead in a clear line back to Donald Trump.  We agree with that, for the most part, and thought or hoped we’d been sufficiently clear on that point.  We began by separating Trumpism from Trump.  As our enterprise progressed, we replaced Trumpism with the Greatness Agenda.  

Fine. As long as we're agreed that Trump isn't "the Declaration candidate"  or the new Lincoln, and are just talking about where we go from here, I don't have much to fight about -- although I still dispute one of JAG's core premises about Trump. They repeatedly argue Trump's the one who made it "safe" to talk about immigration policy. I say the real heavy lifting on that issue was all accomplished long beforehand by the American people themselves before Trump arrived on the scene. Do we not recall that Bush's comprehensive immigration reform act of 2007 never made it to the Senate floor for a vote? That Obama hasn't been able to do anything on the matter, either -- at least not legally-- because it's impossible to get the approval of the people on these questions?  The "elites" supposedly all favor open borders, but few dare cast a vote for them -- and those that do, pay. Have we forgotten that supporting immigration reform stalled out Marco Rubio's political career? Perhaps you scorn Rubio, but long before anyone had declared for the presidency, I heard him say repeatedly in interviews that what he'd learned from the immigration reform debates is that the American people want border security, and they will be unwilling to talk about immigration policy until they get it, because they are tired of being lied to by politicians about it.  I think that's exactly right and voters managed to send that message loud and clear repeatedly without Trump. I don't see Trump as the champion of that cause, but as a salesman riding a wave. The only thing I do see in Trump, as I've said before, is a certain inchoate patriotism-- I think he really does want America to do better and thinks he can help in trade policy.

I'm not sure why it's so hard to understand that Trump is what he presents himself to be: a businessman who knows the "art of the deal." That means everything he says is a bid in a negotiation -- including the wall, we must understand.  Have you ever been in negotiations with a salesman over a car or replacement windows or some relatively hefty purchase and got to talking about some point of politics or religion or culture? And the salesman leads with the safe, popular, majority position, but then picks up that you don't agree, so switches sides immediately? He's not willing to risk the sale -- his true object-- over the tangential matter of policy, which is in the moment just talk.  That's Trump. 

So, with due respect to JAG and its latest post on Trump's rhetoric  (which is really about elite corruption), I think Byron York's take is simpler and more compelling: we're in the middle of a negotiation. And just so we're clear, there is likely never going to be a wall. The wall is an opening bid to get the kind of border security that would make Marco Rubio happy. 
"Let me just tell you, the word compromise is not a bad word to me," Trump replied. "I like the word compromise. We need compromise, there is nothing wrong with compromise, but it's always good to compromise and win. Meaning, let's compromise and win."Then Trump got to the heart of the matter. "The word compromise is absolutely fine. But if you are going to compromise, ask for about three times more than you want. You understand? So when you compromise, you get what you want."
JAG notices rightly that for Trump everything is negotiable except two core issues: immigration and trade, which he pursues seriously.  I think that's probably fair, although, as I say, I think he's following, not leading, on the immigration issue. 

This is a wonderful and insightful line, though, regarding why middle America hears Trump differently than the media elites. This one line could have stood in for the entire post: 

Trump may be vain, but he is not supercilious.
What I wish JAG would consider (and maybe they have, I should go scrolling through posts because I'm behind), is whether the low personal character of a President has any effect on the Republic that we ought to consider.

Among those not merely being prissy, the objection to Trump is not his insulting rhetoric per se, but  the fear that his rhetoric indicates low character. I would argue that Bill Clinton, thanks to the Gingrich Congress, ended up not being the worst president in the world, policy-wise. But he personally is responsible for a massive coarsening of culture and lowering of morals because of his sexual abuse of an intern and questioning the meaning of the word "is."  Does character not count for anything? Does virtue mean nothing? Ought Conservatives simply give up their pathetic clinging to virtue and character along with their guns and religion?

Finally Planted My Tomatoes

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Sigh. It's going to be a long wait for the first tomato of summer, I'm afraid. In 2005, I had tomatoes by June 23. In 2016, I've only just planted.

It rained every day in May, a thing unheard of -- and it was cold most days. Then I had to go to Rome for a week on some business. So: today was the day.  Only two varieties, as I'll be in and out of town all summer and can't care for everything. Plus, I haven't been super-happy with tomato crop yields the past few years. Could be weird weather (unseasonably rainy, unseasonably cold). I suspect the Black Walnut across the way is poisoning the tomato plants. But just in case it's mere soil exhaustion, I decided to leave my usual garden patch fallow and plant elsewhere this year to see what happens.

So the garden patch is small this year, almost not worth it (except that tomatoes are always worth it): a few tomato plants, a cucumber plant I somehow bought accidentally, new basil, and some transplanted thyme and mint.

Carcass, Venezuela

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It's about a decade too late to do any good, but nevertheless it is astonishing to me that this piece ran in The Guardian.  It's about the devastation of Venezuela -- and the Western morons like Oliver Stone and Sean Penn who helped. 


The show is over now. Their fantasies fulfilled, the western tourists have left a ruined country behind without a guilty glance over their shoulder. Venezuelalooks as if it has been pillaged by a hostile army, though there has been no war.
And: 

Never underestimate the power worship of those who claim to speak for the powerless, or the credulity of the supposedly wised-up critical theorist. 
And:
The thoughts of Venezuelans, who watched as westerners treated their country as an ideological playground, cannot be dismissed lightly, either. “There should be a special circle in hell for them,” Thor Halvorssen, the founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, told me. The regime shot his mother and jailed his Venezuelan father. It holds his cousin, the opposition leader, Leopoldo López, as a political prisoner because he had the nerve to oppose it. Halvorssen thinks the Chavistas would not have gone so far in debasing the constitution and looting the state if it had not been able to count on a herd of bovine leftists mooing down all who raised concerns about fundamental rights.
These are the worst leftists imaginable as they show solidarity with oppressive states rather than oppressed peoples. So they stayed silent when Chávez – in the words of the International Trades Union Confederation – engaged in persistent discrimination against organised labour. They neither knew nor cared that corruption is the most brutal of burdens on the poor because the poor cannot pay bribes to obtain the services they should receive by right. 

P.S.  Shouldn't Oliver Stone & Sean Penn and Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte and Noam Chomsky go visit Venezuela NOW and do something to feed the people?

In Which I Experiment With Hydroponics

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This evening, Vigil of Pentecost 2016, marks the 18th consecutive day of rain in Washington, DC. Perhaps the Lord feels as I do about our presidential nominees.

Just kidding on the picture. I haven't planted tomatoes yet.

Good Shepherd Sunday (a day late)

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Meant to post this for Good Shepherd Sunday, but was traveling and couldn't.  Isn't it just the sweetest?

Many wolves seek to lure Catholics away from the one true faith by preaching an easy faith: a feel-good faith. But the best feeling comes from obeying God, being in a state of grace, and having true communion with him in his Church. We must pray for our shepherds that they remain courageous in holding fast to the truth whatever wolves might try to threaten or bully them. The saints laid down their lives to follow Christ. St. Peter followed him to martyrdom. Let us pray for the shepherds of our souls that they may remain continent and chaste, steadfast and courageous, and not flee at the coming of the wolf. 

~Father Eric Andersen

Pope Francis' homily to new priests on the occasion

Now I Almost Wish We Had a Mouse

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Shamelessly pinched from a Star Wars Rocks My World FB post I can no longer find.