Sunday, December 8, 2019


     Hey, you got a Rumination – and a pretty meaty one, at that – a whole day early. So allow me a “tab clearing” morning. The links have been piling up!

1. Democrat Privileges.

     It seems that if you’re an elected Democrat, the position comes with privileges Republicans don’t get:

     Law scholar and George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley, who testified yesterday at the House Judiciary Committee, is being threatened for not parroting the leftist mantra. His testimony yesterday called for civility and open dialogue between the different factions. He spoke of the rule of law and explained the constitutional problems that would arise from this impeachment — without evidence of a crime.

     His reward is to have lunatics demand his firing from George Washington.

     My call for greater civility and dialogue may have been the least successful argument I made to the committee. Before I finished my testimony, my home and office were inundated with threatening messages and demands that I be fired from GW.

     — Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) December 5, 2019

     Professor Turley talked about the “rancor and rage” and the need to dial it down. He took a lot of abuse during the hearings for merely laying out the problems of impeaching for a non-impeachable offense.

     Nancy Pelosi then opined:

     “In America, no one is above the law,” Speaker Pelosi said.

     “The facts are uncontested.” “The president abused his power.”

     [Uh, no they’re not uncontested.]

     “The president’s actions have severely undermined the Constitution,” she said as she subverts the Constitution to impeach the President without a crime.

     “Our democracy is at stake. He wants to corrupt the election for his own benefit. His actions are in defiance of the founders and the oath of office that he takes to preserve and protect the Constitution,” she continued.

     And so we have these Democrat privileges on display:

  • You get to threaten people who don’t agree with your legal assessments.
  • You get to lie – and be outraged about being called on it.
  • You get to defame any Republican you like.

     Now, some of those privileges are usually effectuated by cat’s-paws. But that doesn’t change the overall situation. Nothing will happen to Pelosi and her co-criminals. Neither will anyone demand that they condemn those who threatened Professor Turley.

2. Alliances.

     Mark “Mad Dog” Sherman is explicit:

     We need to reform our international institutions from the World Bank and the IMF to the UN and NATO (and many if not all of our other mutual defense treaties).

     The new order needs to be based in the Anglosphere, and what we know works politically to maximize human thriving, free markets, individual liberty, personal responsibility, property rights, republicanism, and reformed religions.

     Time to stop pretending and act.

     The question that must be put to any international alliance is a simple one: “All alliances are formed to counterpoise a threat, whether actual or perceived. What threat does NATO counterpoise?”

     During the years of the Iron Curtain, NATO was justifiable on the basis of Soviet expansionism. It was a perceptible threat for which there was hard evidence. But the USSR is gone. Does Russia pose a threat to Europe? Of any magnitude whatsoever? And if not, then why should American taxpayers continue to fund the “defense” of Europe?

3. Big Brother Really Wants To Watch!

     We might not yet be surrounded by Orwell’s telescreens – emphasis on might — but there are Democrats out there with ambitions:

     Illinois state Rep. Daniel Didech has proposed a law that would require police to screen the social media accounts of potential gun buyers.

     If passed, this bill would allow police to disqualify an individual from purchasing a gun and even revoke a currently valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card if any information on the social media accounts was found alarming.

     I want to see this man indicted, tried, and convicted for violation of his oath of office, and then hanged from a lamppost in whatever district he claims to represent. Moreover, I want the whole thing televised nationally. Pour encourager les autres, don’t y’know.

4. The Democrats’ Media Handmaidens.

     It’s been plain from the start that concerning the entirely fact-free “impeachment inquiry” hearings, the media have been cheerleaders for the Democrats’ drive to unseat President Trump. Ace of Spades deposeth and sayeth:

     Does the media think there's any coming back from this?

     I think they don't think there's any coming back from this -- I think they realize that they made it all too obvious three or four years ago.

     No one believes them any longer -- not even their progressive customer base actually believes them; their progressive customer base merely supports their lying to others for shared goals -- and they're now just an all-but-admitted propaganda industry, and the only way out is through.

     As evidence, Ace presents some “thoughts” from the Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan:

     How should journalists respond to the stalemate, other than to keep doing exactly what they’ve been doing?

     The hint of a possible solution appears in the tracking of public opinion on impeachment at Nate Silver’s, under the headline, "Plenty Of People Are Persuadable On Impeachment."

     A paradox arises herein, and a weird one, at that. There’s a group the trackers call "less-certain Republicans"-- about 12 percent of the sample, not huge but given the even split in support for impeachment, mighty important.

     Appalling. “Facts? We don’t need no stinking facts! We need an impeachment and trial!”

     These “organs of democracy” are headed for the scrap bucket.

5. Annnnddd, It’s Muslims.

     The Islamic terrorist attack in Pensacola, Florida came but an eyeblink after one on the London Bridge. But what do we hear from our “protectors?” Once again, it’s: “We cannot be sure of the motive...we may never know what it was.”

     On this score, have a little Mark Steyn:

     The attack on London Bridge - no, not the 2017 attack, the new one - broke just as I was heading off to guest-host Tucker's show at Fox News. There is a small and rather sad "Christmas market" of pop-up stalls at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 44th Street - surrounded, of course, by large concrete blocks placed there in case any radicalized SUV or extremist mid-size rental car were minded to drive up on the sidewalk and mow down shoppers.

     In more sophisticated societies such as Angela Merkel's Germany, the so-called "Merkel Lego" barricading Christmas fairs is painted to look like giant, ill-proportioned candy canes or huge misshapen holly leaves, to add a festive gaiety to security measures. But in New York the concrete blocks are unadorned except for the stark blue lettering of "NYPD". I passed them almost every day in the last week, and reflected each time on how we've agreed to let everything get so bloody ugly in order to avoid addressing what we once used to fret over as the "root causes". Mid-town Manhattan traditionally looks beautiful and magical at Yuletide, but that was before it was agreed that, as a young German lady put it to me three years ago, "Christmas will be a target."

     It has fallen to us – private citizens – to defend ourselves. No one else can be counted on to do so. Perhaps that was always the case. So be prepared, and be damned to any law that forbids you carrying whatever weapon makes you feel safer.

6. “Natural” Noise.

     A little more from Ace of Spades, this time on two fads popular among persons who simply must get exercised about something but haven’t the intelligence or erudition to choose wisely:

     The American media and our popular culture both celebrate a fear of safe, nutritious food if it is not labeled “organic.” To be consistent then, why don’t we also celebrate anti-vaxxers’ fear of safe vaccines, which are also not “organic?” To be clear, I am not an anti-vaxxer. I am strongly pro-vaccine. Everyone in my house is vaccinated, and I am appalled at the outbreaks of contagious diseases due to anti-vaxxers. But let’s be clear, a Venn diagram of those who obsess about organic food and anti-vaxxers will reveal a major overlap. If you know an anti-vaxxer, he is most likely committed to an organic diet.

     Our culture accepts as a scientific fact that organic food is healthier than non-organic food. You can watch TV, read popular magazines, or listen to healthy-living gurus, and overwhelmingly you will be told that organic food is healthier than non-organic food. Recipes tend to call for organic produce and ingredients. And it goes beyond organic foods. Genetically-modified foods are slandered as “frankenfoods” concocted by mad scientists in a laboratory. Further, we are admonished to avoid anything that is not “natural.”

     Slam that last little word: natural. It’s the root of the psychosis. As Man is a part of Nature – he is, you know, unless you’re one of the Scientologist loonies who believe that we were designed and put here by an alien species – nothing Man does can be legitimately called “unnatural.” Yes, we’re engineers and technologists. That means We study and work with the laws of Nature. So leave off with the “natural” BS and look plainly at verifiable sources of measurable harm.

     But that would deprive a whole bunch of Cause People of their sacred, life-fulfilling Causes! Can we really do that? Sure! Think of it as a “full employment for psychiatrists” measure. Anyway, they can still get on the “global warming” bandwagon.

7. The Immaculate Conception.

     Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, when Catholics commemorate and honor the conception of Mary of Nazareth, chosen by God the Father to be the Mother of Jesus Christ. Its theological significance is considerable, but its importance doesn’t end there: it’s also one of the two subjects that has moved a pope to invoke papal infallibility:

     Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church that states that, in virtue of the promise of Jesus to Peter, the Pope is preserved from the possibility of error "When, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church."

     This doctrine was defined dogmatically in the First Vatican Council of 1869–1870, but had been defended before that, existing already in medieval theology and being the majority opinion at the time of the Counter-Reformation.

     Papal infallibility has been a millstone around the neck of the Church ever since it was explicitly proclaimed. It was first used to make the Immaculate Conception a dogma. Its next explicit use was in 1950, when Pope Pius XII declared the Assumption of Mary a dogma.

     But the assertion of infallibility, whether or not one accepts it, is plainly a dangerous doctrine. It amounts to a statement that “I cannot be wrong, because I say so.” Popes have been wrong on many occasions; history is riddled with them. They must remain free to admit to error on all but the most vital aspects of the Faith. Infallible proclamations deprive them of that freedom. In recognition of the danger to the authority and prestige of the Church, no pope since Pius XII has dared to employ it.

     In a way, this speaks well of the popes of our time. It’s a measure of the humility of the men raised to the Throne of Saint Peter. But that characteristic is irregularly distributed; it is not guaranteed to be present in every Supreme Pontiff. As witness we have the caperings of Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina, who at the resignation of the brilliant, greatly missed Pope Benedict XVI was unwisely raised to the papacy as Pope Francis.

8. A Bit More On The Immaculate Conception.

     I was once asked whether Mary of Nazareth had the freedom to decline the honor of being the Mother of Jesus Christ. I replied in the affirmative, for God does not coerce. The person who asked was curious for a particular reason. He wanted to know whether God had a “back-up plan:” i.e., another young woman who had been immaculately conceived, and so would be qualified to be Jesus’s mother should Mary opt out.

     I had to think about it for a while. After some time, I decided that no, God would not have had an alternative ready. He knew that Mary would accept. But that, my questioner riposted, blows a hole into the concept of free will!

     It’s a typical predestinationist argument. I’ve found only one escape from the trap. Hearken to Father Raymond Altomare, the pastor to the Catholics of Onteora County:

     “What makes it hard for most people,” Ray said, “is that we tend to think of God as just a very powerful temporal entity, like some sort of super-magician. But He’s not. He created time. He looks down on it from above, the way you or I would read a map. He knows the path we follow because He knows all the paths we might follow, and what might flow from every one of them.” He sat back and reflected for a moment. “So our time-dependent language about ‘choosing’ and ‘knowing’ gets us into trouble when we try to apply it to God.”

     Father Ray is, of course, a fictional character...but is there any other possible way divine omniscience can be harmonized with human free will?

     I look forward to your thoughts.

     That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. I have a novel to complete and one hell of a lot of home maintenance to get through. Enjoy your Sunday.



1. I contend, and have stated for a while, that the Left consists of MISSIONARIES who are True Believers in the idea that with absolute power, and the chaos and societal breakdown they foment, the inevitable Socialist Utopia will arise. It's clearly stated as the heart of the Cloward-Piven theory, is IMHO the reason for the Great Replacement (which, unless we just roll over, WILL result in bloody civil war), and is behind the in-your-face double-standard which not just protects them, but makes most Normals want to give up.

2. The only reason Western Europe, etc., have the luxury of such welfare programs is the American taxpayer paying for NATO.

Now, as I tell the wife often and the kids now too - one makes decisions based on what is known and understood at the time. Part of NATO was, IMHO, to make sure the Western European countries knew who was buttering their bread so as to retain influence. We can argue now, with hindsight, this was not the correct course of action.

Now, IMHO Russia is still a threat, but Putin - for all the bloodstained hands he has - loves Russia, and sees the threat of Islam. This is, BTW, why I think the Dems constantly circle back to attack Russia (for whom they couldn't bend over for fast enough during the cold war) as a Russia / USA / Eastern Europe alliance (not necessarily friendship) would roll back the Eurabia project the Globalists want (see 1 above).

3. Have a raffle to pull the lever.

4. An anecdote about the enemedia. My late mother was far-Left. But I remember, one day visiting her after my father died, hearing some monstrosity of a 30 minute segment on National Progressive Radio, where even she had her gorge up her throat. "Who does this kind of drek?" she asked. I told her "They do these programs for their friends, so that their friends can write letters to the NPR stations praising these things and they can bask in the adulation."

5. Haven't seen any such barriers around here yet. However, in a completely non-scientific poll, I am seeing an increase in Hijabs. I expect the former will, inevitably, be installed. And that's one reason I don't like going to the local malls.

An anecdote, and instruction for my kids. A year or so we were in the food court having lunch: me and my kids. I INSIST on sitting at the edge of the thing, either near the exterior doors, or the way to the center of the mall. There was a Middle Eastern-looking guy with an uncharacteristically heavy jacket, and large backpack too, wandering around. Had he started moving towards the center of the food court we were OUT OF THERE NOW. (He didn't.) I've been trying to teach my kids situational awareness.

And skipping to 8: That's an interesting quandry that I, too, have wrestled with albeit within Judaism. Most particularly, within the context of the Shoah. As I've been asked, how can we continue to believe in Hashem given the Holocaust? It's something that has caused a number of my fellow (ethnic) Jews to be atheists.

Yet... an answer that has stuck with me is this. Q: Where was Hashem during the Shoah? A: Weeping that His creation could do this.

And, to build off that quote: As I tell my kids, Hashem is infinite in both time and space. We are neither. We are as ants (if that) attempting to understand the workings of people... it's simply beyond us. We either believe, and have faith, or we do not. And this morning, after my morning prayers, I had a line come to mind about my own mortality (though not soon, please - at least let me get the kids to adulthood)... from Job: "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."


I am sure I will say this again, but wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas... you, and your readers too.

Bob T. said...

I've learned in recent years that, when my Lord puts something upon my
heart, it's best to take whatever action springs to mind, even if that
action amounts to little more than contemplation of where I am and how
I got here. What follows is going to ramble a bit, but I'll try to tie
it all together by the end.

Today, I'll use Mike's recent admission to unexpectedly liking Bob Segar's
rendition of "The Little Drummer Boy" as a a springboard. First, the
statement of a hypothesis I've been formulating for a while, that our
musical tastes regarding Christmas music were very much set in concrete
as children. Briefly, you like what you grew up with and came to
associate with the most significant holiday in your childhood, and
everything else is sacrilege. If you grew up in a household where
Mannheim Steamroller was played frequently during Christmas, that's
your standard. My reference standards include "Christmas in Hi-Fi"
with the George Melachrino orchestra, the Stan Kenton "A Merry
Christmas" album (originally found in a Newton Walls bargain bin for
$.99 by my father), a particular Columbia Special Products offering
called "The Great Songs of Christmas" (subtitled "by great artists of
our time -- Album Three), and Handel's Messiah.

The last of those has *always* stirred great emotion in me. I participated
in the Ada Community Choir's production of Messiah annually from the time I
was mature enough to do so. Dad played string bass alongside the OKC symphony
musicians and vocal soloists that made the annual performances a staple of
Christmas in Ada during my childhood. Robert W. Kaebnick was my Dad's
department chairman at East Central State College, and the conductor for
Messiah. Bob was a humble, gentle giant of a man who inspired and informed
my Christian faith more than any other influence save my parents. By the time
I found myself in San Antonio many years later, I realized how much I missed
the annual opportunities to perform Messiah, and began participating in the
community Messiah Sing, which "held me over" until I took the plunge and
became a member of the San Antonio Symphony Mastersingers.

In later years, I came to appreciate other Christmas music besides what I
mentioned above, but significant exceptions aside, all the rest was
(1) classical; and (2) either instrumental or traditional choral. I'm a
particular fan of brass ensemble and jazz arrangements when performed by
musicians of obvious proficiency with appropriate sensitivity to the sense
of "the message". The only outlier I've encountered in my six decades to
date has been the "Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration" album, but even
that 1992 exception to what I regard as musical truth is, you will note,
based on something extremely meaningful to me. If you're looking for it,
you'll find plenty of the "self-indulgent warbling" to which many of us object,
but as has been noted elsewhere, context matters -- the gospel music style is
going to include that element. "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth" has moments of
true beauty intermixed with "warbling" that is, at times, painful to suffer
through. Al Jarreau's version of "Why Do the Nations So Furiously Rage?"
was an unexpected pleasure. The opening track, "Overture: A Partial History
of Black Music", pretty much sets the stage for what follows. Give it a try
if you're feeling adventurous this season.

I found myself contemplating the above in the context of how it has
become increasingly difficult to feel anything like the Christmas
"spirit" of my youth. Each year, the mood/attitude takes longer to
arrive. Last year, it never did. I'm determined to reverse that
trend, and I'm grateful to both our host and his many participating
readers and contributors for their ability to inspire and motivate me
in that regard.

(part two of two following... 4,096 character limit hit)

Bob T. said...

(part two of two)

A large part of the problem is, I have no children, therefore no
subsequent generations of family to help remind me what a truly special
time of year it can be. A tradition not passed down is no tradition.
Christmas, at the heart of it, is a time for families. The Church is
a surrogate family of sorts, and I want to explore that a bit more

First, my biases up-front... I'm a baptized and confirmed Catholic,
and have pretty much been apostate since my mother's passing in 1999.
Not that I regularly attended Mass much since going off to college in
1977. Vatican II caused me and my family much grief. The Novus Ordo
Mass was bad enough on its own, but "folk Mass" variants with strumming
guitars, tambourines, and, G-d help us, timpani in the back of the
sanctuary, pretty much drove me away. When a beautiful marble communion
rail was removed from my home town's church so that congregants would
then gather around the altar to receive communion while listening to
some no-talent ass-clown's amplified screechings of various "hymns", I
was done :-(. Consider the following example of one such "pious"
musical offering (I'm certain you can imagine the twanging guitar,
shaking tambourine, and brisk 4/4 tempo):

"Sons of G-d! Hear His holy word!
Gather 'round, the table of the Lord!
Eat His body, drink His blood,
And we'll sing a song of love!
Allelu! Allelu! Allelu! Alleluia!",

I'll pause a moment while you mop up the vomitus from your screens and

In college, I tried attending the local Catholic church, and encountered
more of the same significant distractions from contemplative worship and
adoration of my Creator. It's a failing I'll happily admit to, but if
the music at a worship service isn't "good" (*my* standards), I'd rather
there be none. Music is extremely powerful in terms of encouraging a
response, stimulating memories, etc. Witness the lead-off ramblings
about Christmas music and why you feel the way you do when you hear
someone mangle it.

(Much additional personal history omitted here as being irrelevant to
the present discussion :-).)

People can say and think as they wish about John Wesley and Methodism,
but one thing I've consistently noted in my exposure to same are the
questions asked of new members. One is particularly germane to the
current discussion: "Will you give reverent attendance upon the private
and *public* worship of G-d?". I'd speculate for the vast majority of us,
it is absolutely essential to participate in the community of believers
to bolster and sustain individual faith. Corruption and disillusionment
of the isolated individual is easy for the Prince of Lies. As one local
preacher likes to put it, if you insert a white-gloved hand into mud,
the mud never becomes "glovey". Modern social constructs amount to an
incredible amount of mud.

Parents -- raise your children. *You* are the bulwark against society's
"mud". The battle isn't lost unless/until you give up.

In the absence of like-minded relatives with descendants over whom I might
have some influence, I'll be taking advantage of my church family and
immersing myself in the anticipation and celebration of Advent. The Christmas
spirit *will* put in an appearance for me this year, and it is my fervent
prayer for everyone reading this that you'll find something in your lives
worth celebrating. If nothing else, please accept my gratitude for your
role in pulling me back from a dark place.

--Bob in San Antonio

milton f said...

..."but is there any other possible way divine omniscience can be harmonized with human free will?"

As I have come to understand these things, (humbly), the Creator lives outside time; He reigns in past, present and future simultaneously. So while affording free will to measly humans, He also "sees" what our choices were, are and will be.

So, He didn't need a backup plan for Blessed Mary, the immaculently conceived one, because He saw what she would choose.

Tracy Coyle said...

In my past, I had a devote period. No longer. But I fully grasp both the need and importance of it and it is often reflected in how people come to view the Christmas season. I very much like Bob's comment on Methodism.

I tend to 'celebrate' via the music that pervades my daily life (by choice) during Christmas. This will be the first year in decades I will NOT be at my parent's home for the holidays - and my mother was an example holding Christmas as well as any could.

During the devotion period, I'd say I was a predestinationist but didn't put any negative connotation to it. It didn't remove my freewill, only noted that God KNEW before I did my choices....kinda a characteristic of God. So I didn't, don't because I still hold those views, have any issues others seem caught up on.

I'm a reprobate - maybe God foresees that changing, but then I'd not be one in His eyes and the future changes for me. S