Spiking the ball

 

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(I have not yet reached “broken glass” phase, but this débâcle has made me likelier to vote for candidates of my former party. Both parties deserve to lose, but the Republicans don’t affirmatively hate people like me and mine. That’s not nothing.)

 

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You might want to click the link to see what she was trolling.

 

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If there is one thin, bright light in all this, it is that the Kavanaugh vote will be bipartisan. Only in the narrowest possible sense, with one Republican senator — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — likely to vote no, and a lone Democrat voting to confirm. But a straight party-line vote would have been even worse and, these days, we have to count the smallest blessings.

Megan McArdle

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What kind of crummy miracle is this!?

Jesus answered and said to [John the Baptist’s disciples], ‘Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of me.” (Lk 7: 20-23)

… wait a minute … The poor were not “made prosperous,” or at least given a steady income? Wouldn’t that be the “cure” for them? But no, the poor “had the gospel preached to them.”

The point I’m making is that material poverty is not an “affliction” our Lord promises to “heal” materially.

Sr. Vassa Larin, The Gospel and Prosperity (emphasis added).

Sr. Vassa’s quick observation that “material poverty is not an ‘affliction’ our Lord promises to ‘heal’ materially” left me wanting more, and before the day was over, I got more.

Father Steven Freeman in a podcast (I think it was an older one I hadn’t yet heard) noted that Christ made the lame walk, not fly. Christ restored the truth of things, mended brokenness. He didn’t lower himself to cheap parlor tricks.

This brought to mind some of the things C.S. Lewis wrote about Christ’s miracles as well. For instance, I believe he commented on the miraculous change of water into wine at the wedding at Cana (I can’t find the Lewis passage) as being what God always does — though He usually uses sunlight, soil and time — so that there’s a fitness to Christ’s miracles in a way missing in some miraculous stories from other religious traditions.

Is there anything broken about poverty? Is a rich man whole in a sense that the poor man lacks? Apparently neither our Lord nor His Apostle James thought so. (The scriptures make clear, though, that relief of poverty is a Christian duty.)

So in what sense does preaching the gospel to the poor restore the truth of things or mend brokenness? I’m not sure there’s any deficit unique to the poor that the preaching of the gospel addresses, but there’s a deficit in us all. Our truth is that we were made for union with God. Our brokenness is that we are alienated instead. And that’s where the preaching of the Gospel is exact what the poor need — as do all of us.

 

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Ready to move on?

1

We seem to be at the end of a process that is legitimately important but has been hyped, manipulated and sullied to even greater prominence. I have no doubt that Brett Kavanaugh will forever carry the metaphorical “asterisk next to his name” in the minds of many until the day he leaves the court.

But I’m sure ready to move on now.

2

Adam Gopnik displays some world-class non-sequitur and false confidence:

[Brett Kavanaugh] became disqualified for the Supreme Court the moment that he accepted the offer from Donald Trump. At this stage in his Presidency, Trump, already described in reports from his own aides as unfit for the office, implicated by his former lawyer as an unindicted co-conspirator in a felony, and now alleged, according to the Times, to have benefitted from tax schemes that in some instances amounted to “outright fraud”—not to mention being a liar and a con artist—should not be allowed to appoint Justices for lifetime appointments.

Whatever the effect of this truth on vote-counting congressional Realpolitik, it is the moral ground upon which all subsequent argument has to begin. Trump’s purpose in appointing Kavanaugh to the Court was clearly to provide himself with a protective vote for whenever one issue or another arising from his misbehavior makes its way there ….

I don’t particularly disagree with anything Gopnik said about Trump, but his conclusions do not remotely follow, and to my mind they are the deranged fury of a liberal who thinks conservative justices are as outcome-oriented as progressive justices.

Be it noted, however, that not all spittle-flecked un-thought come from the left.

Most of us are relatively naïve, ready to believe what our news outlets put forth. We have open minds and were ready and willing to listen to Ford’s testimony and consider for ourselves if it was believable. It was not. Her testimony was obviously scripted, practiced, massaged, and fabricated out of whole cloth.

Patricial McCarthy at The American Thinker (which consistently fails to live up to its name).

I think a case could be made that McCarthy’s article actually gets worse from there.

3

I’ve faulted Rod Dreher’s recent preoccupations, mildly because I like him, but here he could be said to read my mind on the omens for Kavanaugh’s confirmation:

Of course I am relieved by this outcome — not so much that Brett Kavanaugh is going to the Supreme Court, but that a nominee was not brought down by unsubstantiated, last-minute accusations, and media bullying, and that logic, evidence, and due process won the day. Even so, I don’t feel triumphalistic …

I don’t think our country is going to be better off because of any of this, though. We will only be less worse off than we would have been had the Left won this clash by using these malicious tactics.

(“Here” in my lead-in excludes the matters I elided. That’s why I elided them.)

4

The U.S. Chamber is running political ads against Joe Donnelly’s re-election.

Oh! No! How could I have been so wrong!? They’re running educational ads asking us to call him and tell him to stop siding with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren by voting against middle-class tax cuts for Indiana’s “hard-working employers and families” and to support the the Permanent Tax Cuts for Americans Act (break out the band for a chorus of God Bless America).

I’m so ashamed of my mistake.

(Yes. That’s how the game is played. A lot of advocacy groups have decided that tendentious “education” is less hassle and more lucrative than maintaining a PAC, a Political Action Committee, for the purpose of explicit endorsements and financial support of candidates.)

5

Trump supporters who imagine that they’ve found a straight-talking champion who will drain the swamp while using his business acumen to make America great again have been suckered, bigly.

Paul Krugman, who I rarely quote (or even read, but who accurately summarizes the major New Yok Times exposé here, executive summary of sorts here, and podcast discussion here).

The Times does not, so far as I’ve seen or heard, dispute Trump’s boast of $10 billion net worth, but I frankly doubt that. To paraphrase Mary McCarthy’s characterization of Lillian Hellman, “Every word he utters is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.”

Were Trump not the boss of the boss of the IRS, he and his siblings might soon be paying tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and penalties on wealth swelled by tax fraud.

Grant me to accept with serenity the things I can’t change, Lord.

 

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[I]f you apologize to a manipulator for something they will never, ever let you forget it and will bring it up any time you step out of line. For normal, empathetic people, apologies are a way to improve relations with each other and avoid hurting one another in the future; they’re a way of saying “I understand that I did a thing that hurt you, and I’ll try really hard not to do it again in the future.” Narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths and other chronic manipulators don’t see them that way, since they don’t care if they hurt other people and only care about getting what they want. For a manipulator, an apology is a weapon to use against the person making it, which is why you never see them making apologies of their own.

Caitlin Johnstone.

 

7

I cannot recall the last time I so thoroughly agreed with Peter Leithart (it’s probably more than 22 years ago):

God has given the United States over to divisive blindness and stupidity.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a soap opera.

As my friend Mike Bull said, the Spirit has departed, and we’re back to Babel, where no one can speak to his neighbor. God has delivered us to divisive blindness and stupidity, to the force René Girard identified as “Satan.”

It’s not as if he didn’t warn us. Paul writes that ungrateful idolaters become “futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Isaiah saw it happening in Judah: Idolaters “do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend” (Isa 44).

This doesn’t mean we’re helpless. Or, better, our helplessness can drive us to seek justice in a higher court. We can shatter the idols that bind and blind us, and turn to God in prayer ….

Deride it as “thoughts’n’prayers in its Sunday best” if you like, but I think you’re deluded if you fancy that only one of the major parties is at fault and we need only vote them out.

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Post-Truth

1

Rod Dreher has some smart readers who fill his moderated comments with wisdom. Sometimes he just gets out of their way and lets them speak. Lately, that’s been some of “his” best work (said the guy who’s tired of Catholic scandal stories even though I know they’re important).

I’m discerning “post-truth” a lot in my reading lately, and start what I hope is a catalytic collection of “post-truth” anecdotes with one of Dreher’s readers:

When my wife was a 7 year old girl in the USSR, she once blurted something out in public that was forbidden, to the horror of her parents, who (once they were alone at home) gave her one of the most important lectures for any Soviet child – that there is the truth we have at home by ourselves, the things we can say in front of a very few trusted friends, and then the “truth” that we say everywhere else, where you will constantly say things you know are untrue because that is how we survive here.

A reader of Rod Dreher’s blog. I’m father-in-law to a Russian immigrant, so this one hits me particularly.


Here’s an item, from a website that our commissars hate, with an example of reasonable (I’m tempted to say “irrefutable”) observations on the transgender social contagion that the observer only dare voice pseudonymously.

I’m guessing she’s at Oberlin but, heaven help us, Oberlin may have been cloned.


As I muse about last Thursday’s hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’m troubled to realize that anything, however microcosmic, that seems obvious to me might be taken as utterly wrong and incendiary by someone else on social media.

Examples could be multiplied, just in the Kavanaugh context, ranging from tendentious defenses through tendentious condemnations and crazy “Can’t we all agree that [X]” tweets.

Is there anything on which reasonable people can agree? Can we even agree that there are reasonable people?


If you serve truth, humanity and the world, you are almost certainly delightful to be around and you will almost certainly never have a career in federal politics. The system is set up to serve a ruling class of plutocrats and their lackeys, so the way to get to the top of the political ladder is in the exact opposite direction of serving the weak and defenseless and being truthful and compassionate ….

Caitlin Johnstone.


Another Rod Dreher reader, Matt in VA, spots another “death of truth” vignette:

[A] lot of today’s competitive/aggressive liberalism among academics stems not from genuine belief or even interest in such politics but from the need to cover over the philistinism, vapidity, and fraudulence of these people. “Down with dead white men!” is extremely handy and convenient for such people, who NEVER, but NEVER, replace scholarly grappling with the Greeks and Romans with any kind of serious scholarship in other traditions – it’s not like they show any real engagement and immersion in the cultures/literatures of Persia or Japan or India. They just know nothing. My boss in particular recently let slip that she does not know what decade World War I occurred in, but she never misses an opportunity to throw “intersectionality” into a sentence.

And quite frankly, unreconstructed vulgar “conservatism” deserves a LOT of blame here. These are people who, to this day, still think it’s a huge own to laugh at the liberal arts and sneer “have fun working at Starbucks for the rest of your life!” The total rot of higher education that has occurred over the past decades could not have happened without both the efforts of liberals to sever people from their roots/place themselves over the canon as superior judges of it by using the stalest conventional pieties and passing orthodoxies against it, AND the disgusting spectacle of ugly fat American conservatives with no intellectual curiosity whatsoever demanding that higher education function as a credentialing factory moving their bovine offspring along an assembly line from high school to “business” or “marketing” degree to Good Job (TM) and Suburban Tract Housing..


Of course, the occupant of the White House is the most blatantly mendacious President in my memory. (“Can’t we all agree” haunts me as I write that.)

I think he’s likely symptom rather than cause, but I have a family member who seems to have been emboldened to brazen lies concurrently with Trump’s campaign and Presidency.

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No peace I find

1

[O]ur brains did not evolve to understand the world but to survive it. Reality is software that doesn’t run well on our mental hardware, unless the display resolution is minimized. We therefore seek out stories, not because they are true, but because they reduce the incomprehensible into that which is comprehensible, giving us a counterfeit of truth whose elegant simplicity makes it seem truer than actual, authentic truth.

Gurwinder Bhogal.

 

2

I spent days laconically poking at this blog, trying to get to the bottom of Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford. But I can’t come up with a story (see item 1) that persists for more than 24 hours.

I wouldn’t call my experience “oscillating wildly,” but “oscillating around equipoise” would be fair.

Under the circumstances, it would be presumptuous and vain beyond the usual measure to confide my present conviction, as it seems likely to be swayed yet again. Because my current conviction is related to a recurring “even if” conviction I’ve had about this matter, I may have finally found a resting place, but I’m not at all sure. I’ve stripped out some quotations that now seem beside the point.

Yes, I do think that the Kavanaugh matter in some ways is “signal,” not “noise.” It involves two (or more) looming varieties of damage to one of our nation’s most important governing institutions, and that seems to matter legitimately to citizens even if I could once and for all dismiss it sub specie aeternitatis.

 

3

“Tell me again why we shouldn’t confront Republicans where they eat, where they sleep, and where they work until they stop being complicit in the destruction of our democracy,” tweeted Ian Millhiser, justice editor at ThinkProgress.

“Because it is both wrong & supremely dangerous,” replied Georgetown Law professor Randy Barnett. “When one side denies the legitimacy of good faith disagreement over policy — as well as over constitutional principle — the other side will eventually reciprocate. Neither a constitutional republic nor a democracy can survive that.”

Hugh Hewitt

4

Donald Trump doesn’t understand George H.W. Bush’s “thousand points of light,” and that may be his most telling vulgarity. Barack Obama didn’t get it, either.

There was never a time that I didn’t get it.

As has been pretty well documented, though, those points of light have been vanishing since Tocqueville commented on them and even during my own (soon) 70 years. And that may be part of our death sentence as a free people.

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