Tuesday 2/7/17

  1. So much for retrenchment
  2. How to become an overnight progressive folk hero
  3. Today’s burden on children
  4. The comprehensiveness of secular dogma
  5. Coming to church like everyone else


So much for retrenchment. If you let yourself be convinced that the United States would pursue a less activist foreign policy under President Trump, you should start worrying.

Maybe it’s news to you that some were hoping for a more peaceful foreign policy from Trump. When he campaigned for president, Donald Trump put out two contradictory messages. At times he positioned himself as the peace candidate, proclaiming his devotion to “America First” principles, and running against the Washington establishment and their dumb, expensive wars. Sometimes, in the very next breath, he would convey that he was tougher and more bloody-minded than that same establishment. He would bring back things worse than waterboarding, he would take the oil, and he would rescind the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

And now it seems that the problem is already at hand. He seems to be pursuing all the elements of his contradictory foreign policy views at the same time. He is a president without a grand strategy. And if these contradictions remain unresolved, they will generate more confusion among allies and our enemies, along with increasing hostility to U.S. interests around the world.

Last week, Trump announced his plan for increased sanctions on Iran. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whose hostility to Iran verges on the fanatical, falsely attributed to Iran an attack on a Saudi vessel that was launched by the Yemeni Houthis who are in a pitched battle with Saudi Arabia. Flynn’s statements on the conflict ignore the agency of Yemeni forces on the ground, simply attributing Houthi actions to Iran. There is something oddly familiar about advisers to a Republican president going on the lookout for any pretext to attack a nation they’ve long had in their sights.

(Michael Brendan Dougherty) I was one who hoped that should Donald Trump be elected, we might at least get a less activist foreign policy, though his bullshitting (I called it “word salads” back then; he earlier called it “bravado” and “truthful hyperbole”) made it unclear whether he really meant it.

He didn’t. He didn’t mean anything. Typical Trump.


Mr. Trump’s rants against the judiciary are offensive to the rule of law, and perhaps also to his own case. Anyone who defies Mr. Trump these days becomes an overnight progressive folk hero—think Sally Yates—and the judicial liberals of the Ninth Circuit may rally around a bad ruling if they feel they have to defend the judiciary from presidential attack.

Even if the law is on his side, Mr. Trump and aides Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller created this mess with an executive order that was conceived in secret, sloppily written and overbroad, and sprung on a confused public. Breitbartian methods may work online but in the Oval Office they run up against political reality. When Mr. Trump indulges his worst impulses, he makes enemies out of potential friends and debacles out of should-be victories.

(Wall Street Journal on the “Trump Restraining Order“) The Journal suggests that the lower court lacked standing:

The first step for any judge is to determine if he has jurisdiction—that is, the plaintiffs have suffered concrete injuries that are grounds for a lawsuit. Speculative claims about state budgets and colleges don’t qualify. Thus Judge Robart’s TRO exceeds the limits on judicial power.

Stay tuned.


Imagine trying to see one thing closely with lights strobing and flashbulbs popping in every square inch of the visual field.

Imagine trying to hear one thing clearly with a brass band, a symphony orchestra, a gong, an industrial metal crusher, a pack of barking dogs, and half dozen dueling drum soloists all making sound at one time.

Imagine trying to take a clean breath in a mudslide.

God help them, it’s like that for them all the time.

(J Budziszewski on the burden of children knowing more things because of new media)

I was very pleased to learn that my third-grade grandson will play Poseidon in his classical school’s Spring Greek mythology play, and was wracking his brain over Sunday dinner, trying to remember the name and details on Poseidon’s brother. He also wondered what grandma knew about Sisyphus.

I consider this a sign that they’re not getting TMI as Budziszewski descibes it.


I am a Roman Catholic. The essence of what I am to believe is contained in the Nicene Creed, which I can recite at a reflective pace in one minute. Our world today is far more demanding than the bishops at Nicaea were. I am to believe a vast array of outlandish lies, and woe unto me if I do not bend the knee and kiss the liar’s sandal! “Family structure doesn’t matter.’” “Sex is biological, but gender is social.” “The feminist movement is about equal opportunities for women.” “The Indians were peace-loving people, close to nature, and benevolent to everyone.” “The world is now warmer than it has ever been, and we are all going to fry like eggs on a skillet unless we cede control over all actions that use up energy”—which is to say, all human actions whatsoever—”to a centralized world bureaucracy.” “Religion is the cause of almost all wars.” “A million people were burnt at the stake in the Middle Ages.”

(Anthony Esolen, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, quoted here)


We want gays and lesbians to come to our churches. I’ve publicly in my town asked every gay and lesbian person to come to my church. I want them in my church. But they have to come like everyone else: broken sinners, trying to love God. You can’t come and say your sin is from God. If that happened, every adulterer in my church would say “God made me this way.” … I don’t know a grown man in my church who isn’t tempted by lust for other women. Just because you have a desire doesn’t mean it’s right. Doesn’t mean it’s from God. Doesn’t mean you’re authentic if you obey it.

(Fr. Josiah Trenham, preaching at Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Church in Indianapolis, January 21, 2017)

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“The truth is that the thing most present to the mind of man is not the economic machinery necessary to his existence; but rather that existence itself; the world which he sees when he wakes every morning and the nature of his general position in it. There is something that is nearer to him than livelihood, and that is life.” (G.K. Chesterton)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.