August 26, 2015

Unconnected Tidbits Connected by Asterisks

Dental appointment yesterday was a pain in the ass, or more accurately a pain in the tooth. The new dental hygienist was slow and it took a good long while just to get through the cleaning.

Then I flunked the x-rays, having a cavity. Twice a day brushing with electric toothbrush, daily flossing, and this is the thanks my teeth give me?

Doc wanted to fix it on the spot and I thought and said aloud, “why not!” Why not indeed. Get it over with.

Predictably he under-numbed my gum and I had splitting pain the first drill go-around, so he had to inject more and wait more for a second try. Glad I complained because no pain followed thereafter. But I feel like my teeth and gums have been through a seriously unnatural action.

Ideas why dentists tend to under-Novocaine me:

1. They want to err on the side of too little so that I won't be so numb so long after.
2. They think I look lighter weight-wise than I actually am (my preferred answer!)
3. I have a low threshold for pain.
4. They make mistakes.


Listened to a couple episodes of political talk show With All Due Respect and the squirming by Clinton spokesmen Jennifer Palmieri concerning the email scandal was almost perfectly satisfying, the only thing being better if it was Hillary herself getting all flustered and bewildered.

You just can't make it up how difficult it is for these political operatives to defend indefensible stories. It comes down to no one being able to overrule Hillary's lies and obfuscations. Makes for perfectly awesome TV though.


Too funny, excerpts from novel "Dear American Airlines":
Back in my very early twenties I actually wrote a thank-you note to the Swisher Cigar Co. of Jacksonville, Fla., to express my gratitude for the sublime if stinky cheer its flagship brand then provided me. I spent an inordinate amount of time crafting that letter and went so far as to cite for particular praise the Swisher Sweet’s “cognac-and-campfire aroma.” That I’d never caught so much as a whiff of cognac by that time mattered little; it was alliterative, and alliteration bewitched me to such an extent that in my undergraduate years I romanced, in succession, a Mary Mattingly, a Karen Carpenter (not the singer), a Patricia Powell, and a Laura Lockwood, as if culling my dates straight from the pages of a comic book.


She’s engaged to a woman named Sylvana, meaning my future daughter-in-law is one letter away from being kin to my television set. I don’t know if Stella—that’s my daughter, named after her mother—will be the bride or the groom and I suspect it’s poor form for me to inquire. And how does a father assess his daughter’s choice of spouse when it’s another girl? I generally know a beer-guzzling, wife-beating, underbathed, unemployable lout when I see one, unless she’s wearing a dress in which case it’s damnably hard to tell. Sylvana is a lawyer which should be a comfort—oh goody, my daughter’s marrying a lawyer!—but that’s about as much as I know about her.


We translators must be realistic. To translate a literary work is to make love to a woman who will always be in love with someone else. You can ravish her, worship her, even ruin her; but she’ll never be yours to possess. Less romantically, I’ve sometimes thought of translation as being akin to cooking. At your disposal is the meat of an animal, and it’s up to you to create dishes from it, to make it digestible. But the novelist or poet has the more Godly job. He gets to create the animal.


I read this morn about how it took a pilot line, a kite string, strung across the Niagara in order to start construction of an eventual bridge.

As a kid I had vivid, if fatally flawed, explanations for wonders: a stereo had little people playing music in it. Babies happened when a man and a woman married and slept in the same bed presumably via the sharing of breathed air. And bridges were built across spans not using “pilot lines”, whatever they were, but by starting on one side and just building a little bit more bridge every day till you reached the other side.

One mystery I could never explain was how a ship got in a small-neck'd bottle, or how if you just added water, sentient seahorses would appear.

The pilot line story shows how you often have to do something that doesn't seem productive in the short run: what does a kite string across the Niagara buy you? It seems like it's wasting time that could be spent building the actual bridge. Preliminary work, including preliminary work in fostering a more fertile ground for, say, the gospel, ought not be underestimated.


I miss our dog Buddy, his winsome presence. Maybe presence is everything? Or maybe it's nothing? I can never make up my mind on that because it depends on what you mean by presence: God is present, and Buddy is with God, so therefore Buddy is present.

I miss his large shepherd head with perfectly symmetrical coloration: black above the eyes and along the nose and snout-line, gold-leaf in between. God he was a beauty.


Lightning round time!

Marco Rubio unlikely to earn GOP new Hispanic fans.

Ramos made even Trump look good.

Hillary likes government schools and government servers - except for her and her family.

"How do Dems feel that the party allegedly in touch w young is choosing 73 y/o Bernie Sanders, 67 y/o Hillary, 72 y/o Biden, 66 y/o Warren?" - seen on NR

It's funny that a pro-government liberal like Hillary would privatize her email server.

It seems like what passes for "foreign policy credentials" is hawkishness. #sad

Hillary: "I did not have classified relations with my email."

August 24, 2015

Saint of the Day

Majestic first reading from Revelation today about how Bartholomew - of whom we know so little as to almost consider him a no-namer, a second tier apostle when even first-tier apostles seem wan compared to the light of Christ in the gospels - is in reality robed in splendor and glory, which shows the glory available to all men should we accept and live it: 

[The New Jerusalem] had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed…And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

I also relished this small detail from a Scott Hahn's Bible dictionary:

The historian Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. 5.10) wrote that when the philosopher Pantaenus reached India (ca. a.d. 150–200), he found there a copy of the Gospel of Matthew written in Hebrew, which had been left behind by Bartholomew.

August 19, 2015

Corporate Speak v. Trump Speak: The Face-off

So I read a corporate note personally emailed from a corporate leader and I could scarcely read it, so devoid of content it 'twas.  I had to read it a couple times in order to make my eyes not skip consecutive sentences.

And I had a sudden thought - oh no!  Am I beginning to demand entertainment, a song and dance routine, from leadership? Would I (et tu me!) rather hear Donald Trump than boring ol' Jeb Bush? Say it ain't so!

The original note, for illustrative purposes:
As many of you know, we met with the Board earlier this month to review our strategic plans and what we’re doing long term to position the company for success. I wanted to share a few thoughts from the discussion that will be good for us to be thinking about as we move forward with these efforts.

First, I want to thank everyone who was involved in the work leading up to this meeting. I think almost every team is involved in some way to support the business in the development of the plans and ensure alignment of our priorities and financial goals.

We had a great meeting with the Board. They were excited and engaged in the discussions around our first half results and our plans for the future. We have a lot of good momentum going into the second half of the year and everyone is feeling good about where we’re at and where we’re headed.

We talked about the fact that our core strategy isn’t changing, but it’s evolving and accelerating in important ways. We’re continuing to build on the great work going on across the company. This work, and the progress we’ve made together, positions us to raise the bar and extend our efforts in specific areas.You’ll hear more specifics on our strategy in communications coming out soon.

I also want to remind everyone that the United Way campaign begins soon. We have been a tremendous supporter of United Way over the years and we achieved record levels in 2014--both in terms of the percentage of associates who gave and the total amount pledged. I’d like to see us break that record again this year. When you get the email, please take time to complete the ePledge process and consider giving to this great cause.

Lastly, I plan to send out emails like this periodically to share a few thoughts on what’s top of mind, as well as other updates that are important for you to know about. I encourage you to take time to read them and feel free to reach out to me with any questions or comments you may have.

Thank you.

So I decided to re-write the note in Trumpese and will send to our leader to help him out:

From the Desk of Donald J. Trump:

As many of you know, I am wealthy beyond belief.  Incredibly wealthy.  I met with the Board earlier this month to review our plans and what we’re doing to obliterate the competition (losers!). I want to share a few thoughts from that discussion because many of the board members are women, and you know how much I honor and respect the women.

First, I shared with the team our goal, namely to have our competitor build us a state-of-the-art payroll system because they have been stealing from us, sending us bad business.  You think they insure deadbeats and car wreckers?  No, their leaders are smart and ours, in the past, have been stupid.

We had a great meeting.  I really enjoyed it.  One board member was unbelievably rude and unfair but I can handle it.  It was like she had blood coming out of her eyes or whatever!  I told another board member that I've changed company goals and priorities many times and was proud of it.  Told him Ronald Reagan did the same.  Did you know Reagan worked for our competitor before he came here?

I also want to remind everyone that the United Way campaign begins soon, which I understand helps the women and other minorities. Did you know I have thousands of highly talented Latinos working for me and on my properties, doing great landscaping?  If even just my own employees vote for me, I'll win the Latino vote!

Lastly, I plan to send out emails like this and I know you'll read them and enjoy them, and I'm available on Twitter 24/7 or by cellphone, which you all have.  By the way, did you know Sen. Lindsey Graham's phone number is 202-482-8911?

Thank you,

The Donald ($10 billion and counting.)

PS: Don't forget to vote in the primaries and make America great like me!

August 14, 2015


Back story from Mark Halperin's Double Down concerning Cdl Dolan and Obama and the issue of government-mandated contraception:
Dozens of Catholic groups cried foul. Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, who had invited Obama to give the commencement address at the school in 2009 over the objections of many Catholic bishops, wrote the president a letter contending that the rule would violate religious freedom. As the initial uproar made its way into the press, some of the administration’s prominent Catholics began to fret. “Now we’re fighting the Catholics?” defense secretary Leon Panetta complained to Daley by phone. “What’s going on here?”

Dolan was a towering figure in the church, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and a cagey political operator. Biden knew him well. In early November, with Dolan planning to be in town ahead of the conference’s annual plenary, the VP slipped the archbishop’s name onto Obama’s schedule—without alerting the White House staff. Obama walked into the meeting with little preparation, believing it would be about a range of issues—then found himself cornered on contraception. He hadn’t analyzed the arguments surrounding the exemption in detail, let alone reached a conclusion. On top of that, he was sympathetic to the church’s position. Now on the spot, feeling ambushed, Obama edged out over the tips of his skis, telling Dolan he would seek a solution agreeable to both sides. That was all the pink-cheeked prelate needed to box Obama in.
On November 14, Dolan told reporters at the plenary about the meeting, describing it as “extraordinarily friendly” and adding that Obama had been “very sensitive” to church concerns over the contraceptive mandate. “He was very ardent in his desire to assure me that this is something he will look long and hard at. And I left there feeling a bit more at peace about this issue than when I entered.” The signal that the White House was considering widening the exemption touched off a tizzy. With Obama having left on a trip to Asia, congressional Democrats burned up the phone lines on conference calls with Rouse and Jarrett, telling them it was crazy for a pro-choice president to be wavering this way. In a tense meeting with Daley, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards threatened that the group would run ads against Obama if he abandoned Sebelius’s original plan.

Daley, Biden, and Biden’s staff pushed back hard. We’ll lose Ohio, Pennsylvania, the Catholic vote, and the election, they blustered. Axelrod, Messina, and Plouffe thought that the old-timers were out of their minds. Biden and Daley had no data to back up the scare talk—just instinct, pure gut. And in their obsession with the Catholic vote, they were ignoring the constituency that really mattered to Obama’s prospects: unmarried women, of whom the vast majority, including Catholics, favored the idea of contraceptives being included in health care plans. Obama discerned a lot of Beau in Obama. They’re cool, they’re cerebral, they keep their passions in check—they’re the modern politician, he thought. And while Biden père was none of those things,

On the issue of contraception, however, they remained in different places. In mid-January, after weeks of internal deliberations, Obama was preparing to make a final decision on the religious exemption; he was sticking with the narrow rule Sebelius had put forward. Biden still thought it a terrible mistake, and told Obama so. The president had avoided culture wars in 2008, much to his advantage. Now he was on the brink of engulfing himself in one, not just due to the ruling itself but by going back on his word to Dolan. Biden knew the archbishop well enough to predict that it would not be pretty. Under a headline accusing Obama of a “breach of faith,” Washington Post columnist and reliable White House defender E. J. Dionne blistered the president for “utterly botch[ing]” the decision and hit him squarely in the solar plexus of his political vanity. “This might not be so surprising if Obama had presented himself as a conventional secular liberal,” Dionne wrote. “But he has always held himself to a more inclusive standard.”

August 11, 2015

(Mostly) Inspirational Aspirations


Nice meditation on Gospel the other day:
This quotation from Isaiah comes in today’s reading, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Its context is the personal relationship of each believer to the Lord. The Lord will sow in our hearts individually the knowledge of himself, so that each of us has a personal, secret link, to be cultivated by prayer. If we listen to the Father and learn from him, we come to Jesus, who has seen the Father.

I also liked this concerning local artist Elijah Pierce and his work “Obey God and Live”:
Pierce often referred to “Obey God and Live", which recalled his boyhood neglect of the bible one night and how he was punished by the Almighty for his transgression. In what curator Hall calls “his most moving polemic on authority and disobedience…“

I like the Knox version of John 6: “Nobody can come to me without being attracted towards me by the Father who sent me, so that I can raise him up on the last day.”

On the Sunday reading from Ephesians he has it: “…your business is to give thanks to God.

Also love the Brazos commentary on the first reading from Deuteronomy:
Can love be commanded? Modern emotivism treats moral authenticity as outward expression of independent inner consciousness. Commanded love seems to violate the “inside out” direction of true love. But in fact love is fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22; →30:6–10). It is brought into the human heart. The commandment to love is then a promise to receive in faith, and with it our full identity as moral agents in God’s image. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts..“.
And elsewhere a catch-22:

    'If Israel fails to keep the Torah it will lose its capacity to love, identify with, and obey the Torah. “


Oh my but the world and it's people are stranger than I know. I came across a couple books about Eric Gill on the Chesterton Society site. Who is Eric Gill? (Say like, "Who is John Galt?”).

I'd never heard of him before but could quickly see the attraction for Chestertonians: Catholic artist of the 1930s-era who warned of the excesses of technology and who saw the value of small handiwork and makers of things not mass produced. Flirted with socialism, sculpted beautiful works of art for churches and such, even created his own typeface (Perpetua).

Also created a lot of erotic art. Hmmm… very interesting. I'm always impressed by artists who can celebrate the beauty of the nude without lust. But then, er, something happened along the way to his canonization. Turns out he was a serial adulterer. And engaged in incestuous relationships with sisters and daughters. Even experimented with bestiality. Oh. my.

As a biographer put it, “There remains the mystery of how the avowed man of religion, Tertiary of the Third Order of St Dominic, habitual wearer of the girdle of chastity, could be by conventional standards so unchaste.” Uh, ya think? I guess the noble desire to embrace the body as not shameful but “very dear” and “redeemed by Christ” as Gill put it, ran into a snag somewhere along the way to redemption. No matter how much we might imagine Original Sin has been cured, it still exists and it trips us.

But in his autobiography he writes truly:
It is thus: we human beings are all in the same difficulty. We are all torn asunder, all of us, by this disintegration of our flesh and spirit. And so if in this book I am appearing more spiritual than credible to some of those I have loved, let them examine their own consciences. I think they will discover, as I have done, that they also are torn asunder and that they also have desired to be made whole.

Electric to read the following gospel yesterday after reading how Jesus died in order to marry us (in Brad Pitre's book):

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. ”

Emphasis mine….Which Jesus proved in his own death, after which he was no longer alone but was furnished a bride by God from his pierced side, the Church, via the sacrament of his blood and water.


Oh how much fun to read a lyrical book set right where I'm sitting, specifically Pat Conroy's book on a “South Carolina sea island” ("The Prince of Tides"):
“…Have them open you an oyster with a pocketknife and feed it to you from the shell and say, “There. That taste. That’s the taste of my childhood.” I would say, “Breathe deeply,” and you would breathe and remember that smell for the rest of your life, the bold, fecund aroma of the tidal marsh, exquisite and sensual, the smell of the South in heat, a smell like new milk, semen, and spilled wine, all perfumed with seawater. My soul grazes like a lamb on the beauty of indrawn tides.”
“…their ages and size and beauty always startled me; I could measure my own diminishment with their sunny ripening. You could believe in the birth of goddesses by watching the wind catch their hair and their small brown hands make sweet simultaneous gestures to brush the hair out of their eyes…”
Unfortunately that kind of Conroy-writing tails off into crap dialogue, characters verbally sniping at each other. It's like two different books.


The following, from Jim Geraghty, seems a bit too psychoanalyzing, but interesting.  I wonder if Trump is the candidate that best reflects the incivility of the online world and is being rewarded for it: 
So who are Trump’s supporters? Matt Continetti, among others, explains their lack of concern about Trump’s distinctly un-conservative stances and moments -- from “Single payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland” to the donations to Democrats to his enthusiasm for eminent domain -- by concluding they’re the “radical American middle”:
Formerly known as the Silent Majority, then the Reagan Democrats, these voters had supported Ross Perot in 1992, and were hoping the Texas billionaire would run again. Voters in the radical middle, Newsweek wrote, “see the traditional political system itself as the country’s chief problem.”
The radical middle is attracted to populists, outsiders, businessmen such as Perot and Lee Iacocca who have never held office, and to anyone, according to Newsweek, who is the “tribune of anti-insider discontent.”
Discussions on and offline about the Trump phenomenon have focused whether the Trump fanbase is what Sam Francis described as “Middle American Radicals”:
Middle American Radicals are essentially middle-income, white, often ethnic voters who see themselves as an exploited and dispossessed group, excluded from meaningful political participation, threatened by the tax and trade policies of the government, victimized by its tolerance of crime, immigration and social deviance, and ignored or ridiculed by the major cultural institutions of the media and education.
You hear a lot of commentary that “even if the Republican party can’t stand Trump, it needs a way to win over his fan base.” I’m not so sure that’s possible, and even if it is, it isn’t sustainable.
For starters, Middle-American Radicals appear to awaken every ten years or so, shout loudly, and then go back to muttering about something else. You probably remember John Derbyshire; back in 2010, he, pointed out that Middle-American Radicals can be intensely passionate, but that passion rarely lasts:
[They] may grumble picturesquely about the state of public affairs. If his job or property values are threatened, you may get him out to a rally. Eventually, though, his heart will return to where it belongs: his family, his TV, his job, his skeet club. He is, after all, middle-aged (to judge from the Tea Party gatherings) and cannot easily acquire new habits.
There’s one clear policy preference for the Middle-American Radical: serious border security and a deportation of those in the country illegally. After that, it gets fuzzier.
The Middle-American Radical/Trump fan feels wronged and victimized. He’s convinced that he’s not doing as well as he feels he should because of malevolent outside forces -- illegal immigration (but there’s probably some disapproval of current levels of legal immigration, too) and affirmative action. It’s fair to wonder how many find the increasing ethnic diversity of America a good thing.
You don’t have to be a Middle-American Radical to look around and feel like you’re losing something – in particular, the America you grew up in. Notice Trump’s perfectly simple, hopeful rallying cry, “Make America Great Again.” It is hopeful, but driven by a sense of loss. Interestingly, even though these people feel like losers in the economic game, they’re convinced that the people running America are the ones who deserve to be called “losers.” Trump’s fans love when he calls somebody a “loser.”
What many of us see as name-calling, a lot of Trump’s fan base sees as very effective arguments -- “You’re an idiot! You’re a moron! You’re a loser!” 
“Things were better when I was younger” is a common sentiment, and in some cases may be true. But the United States government is not a time machine; it is hard to imagine a set of policies that would mimic the nostalgic vision of America in the minds of the MARs.

August 07, 2015

Yesterday's Feast

Interesting meditation from Universalis on the Feast of the Transfiguration:
"The Transfiguration of the Lord can sound embarrassingly magical. Jesus goes up onto a mountain and his clothes become dazzlingly white. Prophets appear and talk to him. And then it is all over and Jesus tells his disciples to say nothing.
We should hold on to the absurdity of the incident. There is simply no reason for all this to have happened. In particular, there is no reason to put it into a gospel – the evangelist makes no capital out of it, it is simply there.
And this is the strength of the Transfiguration as an historical incident. There is no reason for anyone to have invented it. It is not central to the Christian case. It is not used to win arguments. There is only one reason to put it into the Gospel, and that is because it happened. It is one of those cases of the evangelists writing things down without knowing why they were important, and their very puzzlement is what makes the story so convincing.
Why, then, did it happen? Surely so that we could see and understand that Jesus is at once one of the prophets and the one that was prophesied by them; and that he is God, and lives for all eternity in a blaze of dazzling and unapproachable light.
The true miracle of the Transfiguration is not the shining face or the white garments, but the fact that for the rest of the time Jesus hid his glory so well."


So last night was the Great Debate.  Ten minutes before, FOX News cringed us with "amateur hour", the anchors apparently never having had to kill airtime in their life before. But once the bell rang at 9, things moved smoothly.  (I missed the 5pm undercard one -- sadly, since one of my new favorite candidates (Carly) did so well according to reviews.)

Trumpmania is fascinating in part because I think it's human psychology in action. Maybe part of it is simply that when people tentatively attach themselves to a person or idea and that person or idea is attacked they end up doubling-down, attaching to themselves to that person or idea with much more intensely.  Sort of like how abolitionists may've made Southerners more pro-slavery than they might've been had they been allowed to come to the conclusion slavery was wrong more naturally (no doubt that might've taken forever however, given that giving up wealth/privilege is a universal human moral-warp). 

The thing about Trump is that people who liked his anti-illegal immigration stance but maybe didn't know quite know the extent of his sordid position-swapping and buffoonery doubled down in allegiance when he was almost immediately attacked by "the establishment". 

I think most of the candidates in the 9pm debate did pretty good.  I've ruled out one of my early favs, Gov. Walker. I just don't think he comes across well enough.  Christie's hair was distracting - I'd like to reward him for his bravery on entitlements but just can't get enthused. Huckabee had some admittedly killer lines. I can't quite get past Cruz's snake oil televangelist style.  Rubio stronger than expected and showed gravitas.  Jeb did decent job, given the obstacle of holding unpopular positions.  Kasich did better than I expected, although I did cringe at his defense of traditional marriage as a case of him being old-fashioned, as if there's no intellecutal case for it.   Trump not bad given the obstacle of what he had to defend (himself).  Ben Carson did well. Somebody said, "Rand Paul was a suicide bomber taking out Trump, Christie and himself." 

August 06, 2015

Trump This

I'm hypnotized by the strength of Donald Trump in the polls. He sells competence but went into bankruptcy numerous times and inherited a fortune from his father.  He seems a man of weak character given the serial marriages, flip-flopping positions, and constant verbal scrapes. 

Why would so many Republican voters, supposedly the party of “character counts” be head over heels for him?

I think it's because another characteristic of Republicans is a strong desire for order and strength. Witness how Repubs want a strong foreign policy and a controlled border. 

Maybe it's like how Nixon was favored by many. He was of weak character but that was overlooked in a time of war and in opposition to someone of similar weak character (LBJ). Having lost in 1960 and '64, to two different Democrats, the party overlooked the “Tricky” part of Tricky Dick in hopes of winning back the White House and the Vietnam War. (We all know how that turned out.)

Both Nixon and Trump had or have difficulty with truth-telling. Both tough negotiators and deal-makers. But Nixon was smart, sophisticated, experienced. Trump is like a drunk uncle (not to impugn drunk uncles).

Maybe Trump and a Bernie Sanders or Dennis Kucinich are similar in how they all dream of impossibilities, pie in the sky naivety, Kucinich with his pacifism and Trump with his hawkishness on trade, China, the Democrats in Congress. People in both parties are certainly susceptible to dreamers, and I suppose we're far removed enough from the election to intoxicate ourselves with dreams. 

July 28, 2015

Art Balms

Among the magic treasures spotted at the Columbus Museum of Art this past Sunday:

Who doesn't love a ship? From the 1830s, New of York.

Christ holds a goldfinch, which has potentially multiple meanings: 

Love the tiny lamb at the foot of this painting and the symbolized gentleness.

Created by a local black folk artist back in the 1970s; depicts Crucifixion going
all the way back to the blacksmiths who created the nails. 


Spotted online, some of Herman Melville's poems.  It doesn't float my boat too much, but I'm riveted by how riveted he was by a figure of fascination to us both: Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson:

Mortally Wounded at Chancellorsville

The Man who fiercest charged in fight,
Whose sword and prayer were long -
Even him who stoutly stood for Wrong,
How can we praise? Yet coming days
Shall not forget him with this song.

Dead is the Man whose Cause is dead,
Vainly he died and set his seal -
Earnest in error, as we feel;
True to the thing he deemed was due,
True as John Brown or steel.

Relentlessly he routed us;
But we relent, for he is low -
Justly his fame we outlaw; so
We drop a tear on the bold Virginian's bier,
Because no wreath we owe.

And another poem about the Jack man:

One man we claim of wrought reknown
Which not the North shall care to slur;
A Modern lived who sleeps in death,
Calm as the marble Ancients are:
'Tis he whose life, though a vapor's wreath,
Was charged with the lightning's burning breath -
Stonewall, stormer of the war.

But who shall hymn the Roman heart?
A stoic he, but even more:
The iron will and lion thew
Were strong to inflict as to endure:
Who like him could stand, or pursue?
His fate the fatalist followed through;
In all his great soul found to do
Stonewall followed his star.

He followed his star on the Romney march
Through the sleet to the wintry war;
And he followed it on when he bowed the grain -
The Wind of the Shenandoah;
At Gaines's Mill in the giants' strain -
On the fierce forced stride to Manassas-plain,
Where his sword with thunder was clothed again,
Stonewall followed his star.

His star he followed athwart the flood
To Potomac's Northern shore,
When midway wading, his host of braves
'My Maryland!' loud did roar -
To red Antietam's field of graves,
Through mountain-passes, woods, and waves,
They followed their pagod with hymns and glaives,
For Stonewall followed a star.

Back it led him to Marye's slope,
Where the shock and the fame he bore;
And to green Moss-Neck it guided him -
Brief respite from throes of war:
To the laurel glade by the Wilderness grim,
Through climxed victory naught shall dim,
Even unto death it piloted him -
Stonewall followed his star.

Its lead he followed in gentle ways
Which never the valiant mar;
A cap we sent him. bestarred, to replace
The sun-scorched helm of war:
A fillet he made of the shining lace
Childhood's laughing brow to grace -
Not his was a goldsmith's star.

O, much of doubt in after days
Shall cling, as now, to the war;
Of the right and the wrong they'll still debate,
Puzzled by Stonewall's star:
'Fortune went with the North elate,'
'Ay, but the South had Stonewall's weight,
And he fell in the South's great war.'

Herman Melville

What the Huck?

So I hear some outraged media types all atwitter and hot and bothered over something Mike Huckabee said, so I googled the comment and am underwhelmed and not feeling outraged. I feel shortchanged.

My take is that only the Israelis can say if Huckabee's oven comment was over the line, not Democrat operatives (aka the media).  Lord knows Iran getting a nuclear bomb and potentially using it on Israel is equivalent to the ovens.

What I'm not getting about the whole Iran deal is how it matters, ultimately.  Because won't Israel bomb Iraq with or without our permission should Iran be close to going nuclear?

I also see that the Administration's mantra: "Anytime, anywhere" with respect to inspections actually means "it depends on what you mean by 'anytime'.  Obama's chaneling Bill Clinton's "depends on what the meaning of "is" is.


Elsewhere spotted: Nice zinger-tweet from Alan Jacobs: "New book by Jen Gunter: 'What To Expect When You Have Products of Conception'"

July 24, 2015

Excerpt of a Poem Found in Anthology

[This sounds "theology of the body"-ish, what with this point about bodies saying truths. Excuse the my lack of formatting the lines of her poem due to lack of Kindle highlight formatting.]

The Wedding Vow

Sharon Olds

We stood beside each other, crying slightly with fear and awe. In truth, we had married that first night, in bed, we had been married by our bodies, but now we stood in history—what our bodies had said, mouth to mouth, we now said publicly, gathered together, death...

It was a vow of the present and the future, and yet I felt it to have some touch on the distant past or the distant past on it, I felt the wordless, dry, crying ghost of my parents’ marriage there, somewhere in the echoing space—perhaps one of the plummeting flies, bouncing slightly as it hit forsaking all others, then was brushed away. I felt as if I had come to claim a promise—the sweetness I’d inferred from their sourness, and at the same time that I had come, congenitally unworthy, to beg. And yet, I had been working toward this hour all my life. And then it was time to speak—he was offering me, no matter what, his life. That is all I had to do, that evening, to accept the gift I had longed for—to say I had accepted it, as if being asked if I breathe. Do I take? I do.

But They Didn't Have Ellen

The early Mormons are surely spinning in their graves shocked that even religious liberty, the first clause of the first amendment to the Constitution, wasn't enough to secure polygamy, but The Ellen DeGeneres Show and public opinion are enough to legitimize gay marriage in the eyes of the law.

July 21, 2015

Obligatory Weather 'Plaint

Weather reports are now changeless as God: rain, clouds, thunderstorms. They ought to do breaking weather news for sun, not storm, since rain is the default. I can see it now: The National Weather Service has issued a severe fine weather alert for Franklin and surrounding counties. Sunshine has been spotted thirty miles west of Columbus. In the event of actual sunshine, you will be instructed to venture outdoors…

Ah that's probably wishful thinking since the best we can hope for is a sunshine watch not warning.

July 14, 2015

One Hand Gives, the Other Takes Away

It's kind of funny (if it wasn't sad) when you see one Supreme Court justice (Roberts) so desperate to apply a fig-leaf to the Court's loin, while another (Scalia) so intent on revealing the truth that the emperor hath no clothes. From the Scalia dissent:
"It is hard to come up with a clearer way to limit tax credits to state Exchanges than to use the words 'established by the State.' And it is hard to come up with a reason to include the words 'by the State.' other than the purpose of limiting credits to state Exchanges. '[T]he plain, obvious, and rational meaning of a statute is always to be preferred to any curious, narrow, hidden sense that nothing but the exigency of a hard case and the ingenuity and study of an acute and powerful intellect would discover..' Lynch v. Alworth-Stephens Co., 267 U. S. 364, 370 (1925). Under all the usual rules of interpretation, in short, the Government should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved....
"Ordinary connotation does not always prevail, but the more unnatural the proposed interpretation of a law, the more compelling the contextual evidence must be to show that it is correct. Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of. Who would ever have dreamt that 'Exchange established by the State' means 'Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government'?... It is probably piling on to add that the Congress that wrote the Affordable Care Act knew how to equate two different types of Exchanges when it wanted to do so."
 The Court’s next bit of interpretive jiggery-pokery involves other parts of the Act that purportedly presuppose the availability of tax credits on both federal and state Exchanges."
The irony is that by trying desperately to protect the reputation of the Court he ultimately undermines it.  He makes the Court look silly (when it doesn't look malicious, such as in the finding a right to an abortion). It reminds me how the Church tried so hard to protect her reputation (by allowing pedophile priests to go to other parishes) that it ended up damaging her reputation much more severely.

The case is textbook in that it also neatly explains how it is that the Bible has been so often misinterpreted or ignored.   I used to wish, naively, that Jesus had emphasized Peter as the rock more often in the gospels, or that He would've made it even clearer (how could He?) that the bread and wine becomes his Body and Blood.  But words are fragile things in the face of a powerful desire for an alternate reality.  Even miracles, we have on good authority, aren't enough.


In other news...Watched the adorable Nikki Haley on Meet the Press. She may end up being the Sarah Palin that Palin so utterly failed to be: a smart woman governor and presidential prospect. Admirably adult.

I do find it almost amusing to see how the national media thinks the removal of the confederate flag from the SC state capitol as worthy of twenty minutes of an hour weekly news show.  Shows the unbelievable power of symbol. You'd think that someone had just cured cancer, or racism, when all that happened was a flag got hid from view. People and media are certainly foolish enough to be entertaining.

I feel a bit uneasy over the continued erasure of regional differences. Soon all will have the sins and blindnesses of the north without the virtues of the south.