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01/30/2017

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I started to read All the Light... but I have a hard time with fiction written in the present tense, so I didn't get very far. Is About Grace written that way, Janet? I hope not, because it sounds really good!

Re: Bentley and snow, I got this for Christmas:

https://www.littletoller.co.uk/shop/books/little-toller/snow/

Very lovely little book from my favorite independent publisher.

When I was a youth minister in the 1980s in a diocese in the upper Midwest, there was a diocesan youth rally. One of my fellow youth ministers wrote the "theme" song for the rally. It was called, "Make It Happen." Among the memorable lines was, "It's up to you; its up to you!"

There was absolutely no religious content to the song. Pure, undirected Pelagianism.

It matched the ethos of the diocese perfectly.

I only lasted a year.

[grim chuckle] I managed to miss "Make It Happen." Lucky me. I taught high school religion class for a year at the end of the '80s. The textbook was fairly horrible. One thing I remember is a little poem-like artifact (i.e. it was broken up into lines) deploring the idea that the Eucharist is something that only happens at Mass--every time we smile at someone, we "make Eucharist" (or "do Eucharist", or something). Never mind the theology, the smarminess of it was slightly disgusting.

The snowflake book does look very appealing.

Funny, I have a bit of a problem with fiction in the present tense, too, and just a day or two ago I was reading a short story written that way and thinking it would be better in the past tense. It's not an insurmountable barrier for me but it seems contrived.

Rob,

Amazing Grace isn't written in present tense. I hope you like it.

What a coincidence about the snow book.

The Running Hare looks really good, too. I love the cover.

AMDG

Maclin, Thanks for the link.

I tried to watch Red for the second time last month and just couldn't do it.

AMDG

I can handle present tense in a short story if it's done well, but that's about all. I'd never make it through a novel written that way.

I may have more time to check out Doerr's short stories before I give About Grace a go.

The cover of The Running Hare is even more striking than it appears, as the pictures and lettering are embossed.

What's wrong with Red, Janet? I've seen it but I don't remember it at all. Or any of the three. I mainly just remember that I liked Blue best.

The first thing that popped into my head when I read what you wrote about the Leonard Cohen book was that it sounded like something inspired by the American writer Paul Bowles and his wife Jane. I know nothing about them, really, other than bits and pieces I’ve read, like they lived a comfortable ex-pat life in Morocco, and both wrote books and dabbled in drugs and sexual "experimentation". There was a movie made of one his books, The Sheltering Sky; I think I watched some of it once and found it confusing.

Anyway, thanks to the wondrous Web, I found this in a book by Paul Bowles, titled Conversations with Paul Bowles:

Interviewers: Are there any Canadian writers who have particularly come to your attention?
Bowles: Years ago someone named Leonard Cohen began sending me his books, you know, "with appreciation..."
Interviewers: As one expatriate to another.
Bowles: Mmmhmm. And I thought, "Oh, he's a madman." But I don't know him. He probably isn't.

"I still can't read the words "President Trump" without laughing a little."

Heh!

I'm afraid it's rapidly turning into no laughing matter at all. Trump is making serious mistakes and the anti-Trumpers are completely beside themselves. I keep telling myself it's only been a week and things will settle down, but I'm starting to wonder if the American crack-up will come in my lifetime after all.

Marianne, that's interesting, because I seem to recall that Bowles was associated with William S. Burroughs. Naked Lunch was another book I read around the same time as Beautiful Losers (not sure if it was for that course or not), but at least in my 45-year-old memory it was crazy in a somewhat similar way, though I think sicker and with fewer redeeming qualities.

but I'm starting to wonder if the American crack-up will come in my lifetime after all.

Now don't go all Dreher on us. It's been serial tempests in a teapot.

Believe me, I don't enjoy this worry, and will happily be talked out of it. Objectively, yes, it's tempests in a teapot. But the state of hysteria, the "we have to do something to stop Trump" frenzy, is real and seems fairly widespread, with of course most of the media trying to keep it whipped up. Apparently protesters are thronging some airports. People I know personally have really convinced themselves that this is Nazism. How long before we get riots?

There were 700 riots in this country during the period running from 1964 to 1971. I doubt these okupiers are inclined to do that kind of damage. A more disquieting phenomenon has been otiose police response at select times (one assumes at the insistence of the Democratic mayor).

It does rather have the feel of a Walker Percy novel. Knotheads and Leftpapas.

I am as everyone knows pretty Whiggish for a person named Grumpy. But I fear there will be rioting. There will be endless marches, and some of these will lead to clashes.

These marches and protests will surely block some of the Trump agenda. And some of the things he has done, such as the EO temporarily banning immigration from Muslim countries, is caring out his campaign promises. So Trump voters are going to be very angry when they see their will thwarted, when Trump is not able to do the things he promised to do.

It is hard to believe the irrationality of the liberal response to Trump. My sister shared a piece today which showed that between 2009 and 2014 Obama deported 2.4 million illegal aliens. The idea that Trump is doing something radically new is just fantasy.

Of course one cannot just blame the liberals. The weekend's EO seems to have been extraordinarily badly drafted, leading to genuine unfairness.

For the first time since I started reading this blog and hearing Maclin prognosticating gloomily about a civil war [ :) ], what he says is making sense to me. I can see the conditions for it now.

Not that I think there will be a civil war but there will soon be violent armed clashes if this level of incivility is retained.

The scenario you describe, of escalating conflict, is pretty much exactly what I am worried may happen sooner rather than later. The combination of leftist frenzy and Trumpian clumsiness and incompetence looks at the moment more volatile than I had thought.

It's definitely Knotheads and Leftpapas, Art.

To be specific about my gloomy prognostication, it's always been based on the fact that I just can't see traditional American and progressive America ever coming to a stable compromise. It's a clash of religions. Devolution of power to the states is the constitutional safety valve for this sort of thing, but now we're in a situation where both sides feel like they have to control the central government or be suppressed by the other. The benign outcome of that is some kind of separation, the less benign civil war. But I always thought nothing of that sort would really come about before say 2050 or so.

You always spoke of there being no stable compromise between trad America and the progressives. But I could not envisage the conditions of a civil war. But I now can, because of these huge marches, not just the 'Women's march' but the demonstrations today at airports.

I am so irritated with NPR I can't stand it. It especially irritates me that they make me want to defend Trump. ;-) They seem to have no purpose anymore but to discredit Trump and his cabinet, and to paint everything as black as they can.

There was an interview today of a former immigration judge and the interviewer read a tweet by Trump that said, "Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage,....." So, I don't know if that is true or not, but the interviewer never addressed whether it was true or not--he didn't say or ask whether Delta had outages, or if those numbers were correct. He just asked the former judge, "What's your opinion of that?" I don't care about her opinion. I want to know the facts.

All Things Considered has turned into All Things About Trump Considered Bad. And, of course, it may not be far from wrong, but there's absolutely no objectivity or any desire to report two sides of anything.

AMDG

Grumpy, I couldn't really envision the specific conditions, either, I just couldn't see how the intensity of the conflict could end in anything other than war or separation.

Janet, I'm getting that sense from most of the media. It's just an all-out assault. And that's another scary factor. Those on the right have their facts, and those on the left have their facts, but the middle ends up accepting what's sort of in the air, and right now that's "Trump bans Muslims".

And where does it say that?

AMDG

At this moment I'm seeing "immigration ban," "refugee ban," "Muslim ban", and "travel ban" in various headlines on Google News. Fortune magazine seems to be the only one at the moment saying "Muslim ban.":

"The 5 Biggest Tech Companies Lost $32 Billion In Value Over Donald Trump's Muslim Ban"

Facebook has informed me several times over the course of the day that "#MuslimBan" is a "trending" topic. I looked just now and it still is.

I've certainly become anti-Anti Trump. That's partly driven by his support for Brexit and partly motivated by disguist with liberal hypocrisy and pharisaism. I still love the great anti-Trump journalists like Kevin Williamson and Jonah Goldberg and John Podhoretz. And certainly Trump is not going about things well. These new laws are not well put together. But I also agree with Neo-Neo-Con that there's no way, for the liberal media, that he could do things well. There's nothing he could do that would be OK for them.

Well one swallow does not make a summer, as Aristotle says. But on Saturday at the dog park a guy with an USPS SHIRT says to me, 'I'm a Democrat but I think they should give Trump a chance and they are not giving him a chance.' My guess is that if there was a poll tomorrow, are you more tired of the media or more tired of Trump, about 55 percent would say 'more tired of the media'.

Our responsibility now is not to say anything in public that could lead to violence.

That's probably a good guess.

Yeah, I'd call myself anti-anti-Trump now. During the campaign it was more anti-Trump but pro-Trump-supporters. The way they were demonized really irritated me. Still does, of course. But the same people now are making me want to defend Trump himself, as Janet says.

You seen that National Review headline, 'Trump is wrong but his critics are Crazy'. There's a group of Episcopalians who are protesting against Trump's giving priority to Christian refugees out of Syria.

I'm having trouble being anti-anti-Trump right now. What’s just happened -- the dramatic immigration ban, the White House's weird statement on the Holocaust that failed to note the death of six million Jews, and the appointment of Steve Bannon to a high spot on the National Security Council -- all seems way too Breitbart/alt-right to me.

Marianne, I agree about the latter two - the Holocaust Day without mention of the Jews and the appointment of Bannon. Its very sad and may become tragic that Obama was not beaten by a 'normal' conservative (like, say, even Pence), but by a populist demoagogue who enjoys riling up the left and the liberals. From the primaries, it seems that Republican/conservative voters did not want a normal conservative candidate. They wanted someone who would rile up the liberals and the left. That's what they got.

Maclin, no, I meant in the EO, I know it's all over the place. The word Muslim isn't in the EO.

AMDG

Marianne, You've read the Executive Order, right?

AMDG

"Delta Outage" makes me a bet nervous since I just booked a flight on Delta.

AMDG

Marianne: on the anti-Semitism question in general, I think the Trump administration is seen in two ways. On the one hand, there are Jewish (and non-Jewish) journalists like Bill Kristol, Jonah Goldberg and David French who have been the recipients of hideous anti-Semitism from Trump supporters. It is largely because of such anti-Semitism that I was an unmoveable never-Trumper. (I agree with Goldberg that never-Trump was a stance with regard to the election which is now over, but that's another discussion).

But from the time that Trump became the GOP candidate there was another view. It was expressed to me by 'Spengler' (David Goldman): he said he thought Trump would be good for Israel 'because he hates Muslims'. I'm not endorsing this opinion, I'm just telling you what he said to me. So far, Trump has in fact been staunchly pro-Israel, and the Israeli Prime Minister, whose name I would not dare to attempt to spell in public, is one of Trump's few public admirers amongst the political class. I have at least one Jewish friend who shares this view of things.

Its not really for me to say, not being a practising Jew, but one could conceivably turn a blind eye to the anti-Semitism of the alt-right if the Trump administration remains reliably pro-Israel. Its a hard trade, and not one I'd like to have to make. But Jews have been making hard trades for a very long time.

To repeat, I'm not endorsing Spengler's view, just saying that Jews do actually go two ways on Trump. You remember the joke in Lost in the Cosmos where there are five Jews left after the end of civilization, all arguing with each other.

Janet, I heard about the Delta outage this morning, after picking someone up at South Bend airport yesterday evening, who had flown in from Atlanta and whose plane arrived on time, to the minute despite heavy snow (and the outage)

The Holocaust statement and Bannon on the Security Council are the two things that bother me the most. I wonder if there is any kind of precedent or justification for the Bannon thing. On the face of it, it seems bizarre. Obama had that Rhodes guy apparently making policy and somewhat dishonestly selling it to the media, but at least his official job was something in communications.

Yes, "NeverTrump" was only about the campaign. It wouldn't make sense now that he's in. Anti-anti-Trump is still not exactly pro-Trump, though.

Right, I knew that about the EO, Janet, I misapplied your "it".

Janet, it's not that I'm against having more stringent vetting of immigrants, it was the high drama of the way Trump went about it. I think that greatly aggravated the situation.

Grumpy, the thing that's bothered me about Trump with regard to Jews is that he never during the campaign made a clear disavowal of those of his supporters who are, in fact, anti-Semitic. And, of course, Bannon was right there in the middle of it, with the whole alt-right thing going on at Breitbart.

I dont doubt that Marianne. I agree. But other Jewish people think its more important that te administration is proIsrael

Did I ever post this here--a transcript of a talk by Bannon? Quite interesting.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/this-is-how-steve-bannon-sees-the-entire-world

Marianne I agree that Bannon is creepy and who likes the alt right? I read in ghe Telegraph that there is legislation coming to defend government employees and others from being required by law to participate in gay events. Eg like the baker case

It goes without saying I do not think this of you, but I think the reason some professional Catholic bloggers have become so shrill, talking about Kristallnacht etc., is that they MUST have been right not to vote for him. Having defied extreme pressure to vote for Trump 'for the sake of the Supreme Court' they feel they must go on snd on defending their decision by shrilly proclaiming Trump a Nazi

"I think the reason some professional Catholic bloggers have become so shrill, talking about Kristallnacht etc., is that they MUST have been right not to vote for him. Having defied extreme pressure to vote for Trump 'for the sake of the Supreme Court' they feel they must go on and on defending their decision by shrilly proclaiming Trump a Nazi"

In my group of friends, which is mostly made up of Catholics, the former never-Trumpers outnumber the pro-Trumpers about 2-1, while a couple or three of us are anti-anti-Trump.

It's a small sample size, but among these quite knowledgeable fellows I've noticed an interesting breakdown. Those guys who are the strongest either anti-Trump or pro-Trump are those who tend to see the problems in the U.S. as more political in nature, while those in the "middle" are the ones who generally see the major issues as matters of culture more than of politics.

Not sure how far one can extrapolate this out to the conservative Catholic demographic at large, but it's an interesting observation.

Im sure that's the case Rob G. Only the very politically minded will be passionately pro or anti Trump.

I don't think our deepest problems are at root political, though I do think we have some political problems which could be solved politically. Of the problems which can be solved politically, I think Trump will make a hash of solving some and might succeed in solving others.

Some people may say that of course our problems are spiritual, and that results in some craziness in the general population. They may add that Trump may in some cases prevent the crazies from putting the rest of his out of business. Not if all his legislation is badly put together, but even if some of it is reasonably well designed, it may protect us from some of the craziness resulting from a spiritually sick population.

I know at least two of the people who signed that 'Scholars for Trump' thing back in August. One of them told me that what Trump would achieve is to get the progressives to 'leave us alone'. Even if for instance the presidents of Catholic Universities are not being sued because contraception isn't included in their health care packages, that would be a step forward. Just a few marginal improvements that allow us to get on with our lives would be great. There are of course people like those Christian bakers for whom this is no joke at all.

I would say that in my case being anti-Anti Trump isn't being pro-Trump at all, just, being fair to Trump and hoping that he succeeds in some good ways.

The fact that Trump might "leave us alone" and hopefully make other people leave us alone is to my way of thinking major.

AMDG

I think "maybe they'll leave us alone" is a fair capsule summation of what a lot of anti-Trump-but-even-more-anti-Hillary voters thought, and still think. As I know I've said here before, even though I was appalled by Trump, if I'd been living in a swing state I might well have voted for him.

I don't think I've ever in my life, even as a fairly wigged-out leftist-hippie, believed in a "political solution" as I hear some people use the term.

Liberalism has taken a strong turn toward coercion in recent years, mostly based on all the gay-trans-etc movement's demands. I think they truly do not understand how significant the onset of state coercion of conscience is for religious people.

As I know I've said here before, even though I was appalled by Trump, if I'd been living in a swing state I might well have voted for him.

This is why I think the claim that Hillary would have won if it weren't for the electoral college. I think that there may be a couple of million people that were of that mindset.

AMDG

ike Bill Kristol, Jonah Goldberg and David French who have been the recipients of hideous anti-Semitism from Trump supporters

David French is gentile and Jonah Goldberg is not halakhically Jewish.

I said Jewish and non Jewish a few words before -

On the one hand, there are Jewish (and non-Jewish) journalists like Bill Kristol, Jonah Goldberg and David French who have been the recipients of hideous anti-Semitism from Trump supporters. I

Art Deco: What exactly would you call sending David French pictures of his daughter in a gas chamber?

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/441319/donald-trump-alt-right-internet-abuse-never-trump-movement

Goldberg has also received multiple holocaust themed threats. They do not care if he is halakhically Jewish or not.

Geez. I wrote a long reply and then it didn't post, which means I messed up. The gist of it is that I do hope good things come from trump. I do think that he and bannon are pretty horrible, but I am not marching or rioting.

More importantly, I wanted to tell Marianne that I recently read The Sheltering Sky and loved it. I had seen the movie back when it originally came out and did not think much other than the scenery was great. In rewatching the movie after reading the book my initial response is that the final 45 minutes of the movie would make little sense without reading the novel.

Janet, I think there's a word or two missing from your comment, but I think I get the idea anyway--that Trump might actually have won the popular vote if people like me had felt obliged to vote against Hillary. Yes, could be.

If I had my way the people who think Trump's victory was somehow illicit because Hillary won the popular vote would not be allowed to vote, because they have a fundamentally wrong understanding of how our system works.

I read that David French piece when it came out and always think of it when I find myself inclined to wave away the existence of those people. It's an open question how many they are, but they exist and they were fanatical Trump supporters.

My mental association of Paul Bowles and William Burroughs has caused me to assume Bowles wasn't worth bothering with.

I'm a little tempted to look into Naked Lunch again, to see if it's as deranged as I remember, but I remember the experience of reading it as being so unpleasant that I don't want to try it again. Too much else to read.

Having a name like Goldberg is more than enough to set off the anti-Semites.

That doesn't surprise me in the least.

AMDG

Grumpy, I understand the hope among some conservatives that Trump will be able to get the progressives to "leave us alone". That was my first reaction once he'd won the nomination. But watching what's happening now, I'm very worried that he'll put his, and Bannon's, "brand" on everything he touches, which will end up not only strengthening the opposition, but discrediting conservatism in the eyes of many even further.

Stu, what a coincidence that you've recently read The Sheltering Sky. Got a feeling it's not my cup of tea, but I'll find out if my local library has a copy, so I can at least take a peek at it.

Marianne, it may not be, and it is weird. Casting Malkovich was a great choice because he inhabits weirdness so well. So then I thought I would read The Plague by Camus just because it is also in Algeria, and I absolutely loathed it. Mainly because Camus is about "ideas" with cardboard characters, while Bowles is about the characters (non-cardboard). Mac, I think Burroughs is very far removed from Bowles, but I very well could be wrong since I've never felt the urge to read him.

"...end up not only strengthening the opposition, but discrediting conservatism in the eyes of many even further."

That's one of my concerns, too. It seems very possible and maybe probable. Actual conservatives have been pointing out for the last year that Trump is not particularly conservative, but the left is not going to accept those distinctions.

I thought The Plague was boring when I read it in college. Don't remember anything at all about it.

I have two main requests of Donald Trump: pick constitutionalist judges, and don't start a nuclear war. So far so good.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444437/neil-gorsuch-antonin-scalia-supreme-court-textualist-originalist-heir

Saw Fences last night. Excellent all the way around. And very moving.

I have been really wanting to see that. I would have chose it over Rogue One, but every once in a while I have to let my husband have what he wants. ;-)

AMDG

The Trump Derangement Syndrome is far more worrying to me than anything else. Haven't there already been bad riots. Maclin?

I am definitely Anti-Anti-Trump. The hysteria is just insane.

No seriously bad ones. I mean, nothing like the riots of the '60s. As Art was saying earlier, it doesn't really bear comparison. But one has to add: yet.

There was one last night at Berkeley, in reaction to a planned speech by Milo Yannopoulis (probably spelled that wrong).

That pro-life movement has hitched its wagon to Trump. That is not a good thing. The March for Life looked like a Trump rally. Then Trump pulls this clumsey refugee policy stunt. And Bannon and all that.

You're right, Robert.

AMDG

I agree that's not a good thing, but I'm not so sure it matters as far as changing anyone's mind is concerned. Various Catholics who are anti-abortion but not politically conservative (or at least not Republicans) have already been vilifying the pro-life movement for years. And most pro-choicers are immovable, and have been saying pro-lifers are racistsexistblahblah for forty years, and their rhetoric would not be any different for any Republican. I guess there may be some small number of people who might have been supportive but now won't be.

No, the problem is not with the pro-choice people, the problem is with the pro-life people who have, as Robert said, "hitched their wagons." It's an unhealthy thing, but I guess it's the natural result of years of putting their hopes in the Republican party.

AMDG

Art Deco: What exactly would you call sending David French pictures of his daughter in a gas chamber?

Viciously rude.


Goldberg has also received multiple holocaust themed threats. They do not care if he is halakhically Jewish or not.

It's not abnormal for people who write for publication on a regular basis to receive vicious crank mail. I doubt it's anything terribly novel for Goldberg, but I'm not his secretary.

No, the problem is not with the pro-choice people, the problem is with the pro-life people who have, as Robert said, "hitched their wagons." It's an unhealthy thing, but I guess it's the natural result of years of putting their hopes in the Republican party.

If you want to policy result, you have to work through politicians. Who belong to parties. You don't have an alternative to Republican politicians because the Democratic members of Congress who might be sympathetic to your cause don't number more than a dozen or so and it's the same deal in state legislatures (bar, perhaps, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island). Your complaint is pluperfect nonsense.

Various Catholics who are anti-abortion but not politically conservative (or at least not Republicans) have already been vilifying the pro-life movement for years.

They're not anti-abortion. They're poseurs. Todd Flowerday and the editors of Commonweal are on the payroll, and have to keep up appearances.

The hysteria is just insane.

A hypothesis: the emotional upset is caused by Trump disrupting the usual fan dance of political discussion. The media have had a talent for humiliating Republican politicians and they generally co-operate by issuing canned apologies when reporters and editors in cahoots with their rolodex try to stir up trouble. Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich are among the few Republican pols who have been adept at thrust and parry, and they tended to be much subtler. Trump survives as a politician even though he's not afraid to be egregious. They are quite rattled by that. They might lose control of the narrative and they're being challenged in ways they are not accustomed to being challenged.

No, that's not really true across the board. I know some personally. And among public ones I don't really doubt Mark Shea's sincerity in opposing abortion, though he's grown fairly unhinged about the pro-life movement and about political conservatism in general.

Janet, yes, that's not really different from what I meant. It's unhealthy for the people doing it. It doesn't have to be--as Art says, you can only do politics through political parties in this country. But in fact for a lot of people it turns into tribalism, where they accept and even applaud things done and said by Republicans that they should not.

As for Goldberg and French and their hate mail, both have described appalling stuff said and done to them and their families by people who identify themselves as Trump supporters. I don't think "rude", even emphasized with "viciously," really does justice to some of it. See Grumpy's link to French's account if you haven't already read it. Loathsome, despicable, evil--those are better words.

The link between gas chambers and the murder of Jews is so strong in most people's minds that to create a montage of someone's daughter in a gas chamber is to create a connotation such as 'what happened to the Jews should happen to your daughter' or 'your daughter is a Jew and she deserves what the Jews deserved - the gas chamber' or 'this is what should happen to your Jewish daughter.' Connotations are not logical but that does not make them any the less real.

Goldberg didn't get a few cranky emails. He gets tons of vicious anti-Semitic communications from members of the alt-right (with the Pepe frog on, forinstance, as the identifying characteristic of alt-right tweets).

He describes his experience here

http://conversationswithbillkristol.org/video/jonah-goldberg/

I guess one could argue that the people who sent the gas chamber picture to French are not anti-Semitic, but just like the idea of killing children in general. :-/

What is the Pepe frog?

the Pepe frog is the icon of the alt right

http://www.adl.org/combating-hate/hate-on-display/c/pepe-the-frog.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/#.WJOeEVMrKM8">https://www.google.com/#.WJOeEVMrKM8">http://www.adl.org/combating-hate/hate-on-display/c/pepe-the-frog.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/#.WJOeEVMrKM8


The connotional relation of Jews and gas chambers is such that I don't think one can send a picture of a guy's daughter in a gash chamber without an antiSemitic implication.

It's disturbing that Donald Trump Jr. made a comment, about “warming up the gas chamber” during the presidential campaign. And apparently the late Andrew Breitbart, "with sincere admiration", once called Steve Bannon the Tea Party’s Leni Riefenstahl. What kind of person thinks such remarks are okay? Not to mention where their minds are.

There's a contextually tiny corps of people who harass others online.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/10/19/new-report-2-6-million-anti-semitic-tweets-in-one-year.html


I'm sorry they've got David French in their gunsights. I'm not sure I believe the story about the phone call, but that sort of thing is at least a misdemeanor and merits a police report.


The Riefenstahl comment could be taken as a bad taste joke. There are a lot of decent people who knew Breitbart and thought highly of him. I don't know whether there's other evidence to make him suspect of anti-semitism. The gas chamber remark on the face of it sounded awful but the whole sentence is rather different: he's accusing other people of wanting to warm up the gas chamber. "I mean, if Republicans were doing that, they'd be warming up the gas chamber right now. It's a very different system -- there's nothing fair about it," Trump Jr. added."

But there is absolutely no question about the sort of stuff that's been sent to Goldberg and French.

Grumpy: "I don't think one can send a picture of a guy's daughter in a gash chamber without an antiSemitic implication." Agreed, I wasn't seriously suggesting otherwise--just pointing out how far someone would have to stretch to explain it away.

It's disturbing that Donald Trump Jr. made a comment, about “warming up the gas chamber” during the presidential campaign. And apparently the late Andrew Breitbart, "with sincere admiration", once called Steve Bannon the Tea Party’s Leni Riefenstahl. What kind of person thinks such remarks are okay? Not to mention where their minds are.

This is the remark:

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/donald-trump-jr-gas-chamber-gop-228217


Marianne, your complaint is simply contrived.

Mac I didn't think you were. Art Deco seemed to be doing so.

So the Trump campaign person said "Don Jr. was clearly referring to capital punishment." I could be wrong, but I find it hard to believe that many people think of capital punishment these days when they hear a gas chamber comment.

No, that's not really true across the board. I know some personally. And among public ones I don't really doubt Mark Shea's sincerity in opposing abortion, though he's grown fairly unhinged about the pro-life movement and about political conservatism in general.

I wasn't referring to Shea. My take on Shea is that he's a man with problems in living partly expressed in discourse about politics. We're confused about that because he was a published author on the subject of religion and on the staff of Catholic Answers, so we think 'Catholic writer'. (I think Karl Keating has finally cut him loose. His last piece for Crisis was posted about five years ago and there have been occasional brickbats exchanged between the two). Your friend Daniel is a postman, but he never had an audience to discourse on Pitney Bowes or commemorative stamps, so people do not confuse that social role with his political commentary. My guess about Shea is that his problem is senescence and there's nothing to be done about that. You can attribute a political perspective to him, but I think that's to misunderstand him. Just a surmise.

For family reasons, I'm steeped in the company of partisan Democrats. The notion of voting Republican is an affront to their sense of who they are, and their self-concept is derived from a caricature of who you are (or who I am). The older and more tranquil ones are a bit taken aback by some of the remarks of the younger (such as the co-worker who appeared on our Facebook wall to tell anyone she knew who cast a ballot for Trump to 'get the f*** out of my life'). This phenomenon is not symmetrical, because the Republican Party is an omnibus of people irritated by the official idea manifest in various venues, an idea which has the Democratic Party as its electoral vehicle. To the extent that a question of identity is involved it's the sort who prattle on about the 'free s*** coalition' and such (some of whom also have it in for blacks).


Which brings us to the staff of Commonweal or Mr. Catholic Sensibility. There's a reason they devote a great many pixels to banal shortcomings of orthodox Catholics and not at all to the gruesomeness of Planned Parenthood. A concern regarding the latter is status-lowering in certain subcultures and criticism of the former is status-enhancing. Fr. Neuhaus put it more concisely, "If you're forever concerned about not being associated with them, sooner or later you will abandon them. Their self-concept is at stake.

I don't know much about those people so I don't have any specific opinion about them. About Shea, though, I was under the impression that he makes his living writing on Catholic subjects.

I think we are all familiar with the phenomenon of liberals who have some significant degree of difficulty, up to and including "get out of my life," in accepting the existence of conservatives. I've seen that from some on the right, too, though not as frequently. For me that reaffirms the oft-made point (made by me and others) that for many liberalism is a religion, and its god is a jealous god.

http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2017/01/the-politics-of-the-pro-life-movement/

No idea who Sauter is, but it's an interesting little piece.

Excellent piece, in both style and substance. Most people who try that Chestertonian kind of thing do it very clumsily. That first comment is a doozy! Your reply is good.

I should go back to reading FPR more often.

About Shea, though, I was under the impression that he makes his living writing on Catholic subjects.

Oh yes. He was employed by Catholic Answers, who have a history of overpaying their employees. He's published a string of books and articles, but you do not get much of a living from that. (Amy Welborn once admitted she gets about $14,000 a year from royalty checks on books of hers still in print; that was about 12 years ago). He never discusses his day job, or his wife's. Students of Shea's conduct online (and at book fairs and the like) surmise he's like Rosie O'Donnell in mundane life and cannot keep an ordinary job.

Generally, people don't like to step on their message by veering into extraneous matters. Fr. Neuhaus and Charles Colson seldom addressed political topics other than a fairly narrow range of non-negotiables. Amy Welborn has always been circumspect about these matters. Austin Ruse is a fairly astringent figure, but he's precise and controlled compared to Shea.

For me that reaffirms the oft-made point (made by me and others) that for many liberalism is a religion, and its god is a jealous god.

No, it's not a religion, unless any identity-delineating affiliation can be classed as a religion. It's remarkably free of actual contemplation of what public officials do all day, however.

I will agree with Art. I am a liberal and I spend no time at all contemplating what public official do all day. I assume that they are busy wasting taxpayers money and making government worse than it already is.

I loved Schwarzenegger's response to trump - "Let's switch jobs and then people can sleep comfortably again!"

But you're not a typical or zealous liberal.

Sometimes I qualify that by saying that liberalism (or progressivism) is functionally a religion. I have too much else to do right now to argue it at length, but I think it's pretty plainly the case. Consider, just as one exhibit, John Lennon's "Imagine"--the song itself and the place it occupies in the progressive heart.

The Schwarzenegger line is funny.

Consider, just as one exhibit, John Lennon's "Imagine"--the song itself and the place it occupies in the progressive heart.

You were born in 1948, right? Not everybody was.

I will agree with Art. I am a liberal and I spend no time at all contemplating what public official do all day. I assume that they are busy wasting taxpayers money and making government worse than it already is.

What public officials do is what government is. There is no pure energy agent called 'government' whose operations are disrupted by public officials.

It's not hard to figure out my point. Partisan Democrats maintain in their heads a series of caricatures. Their understanding of political life seldom incorporates an interest in actual policy, unless the policy can be represented in such a way (or, more commonly, misrepresented) that it can be repurposed as a meme propagated on Facebook, or a slogan, or a quip. The caricatures are the opposition: the "1%", "Bible thumpers", 'bigots', blah blah. We have three mental health professionals with doctorates among our first and second degree relatives. Two of them have very bad attitudes about the world around them. They're not personally confrontational, however, so it's not difficult to shut them up at dinner. (The third is an adorable old hippie).

Ha. Would that Lennonism were but senior citizens pining for their glory days. People in their 20s and 30s often deeply shocked when I assert that "Imagine" is a terrible vision.

~~People in their 20s and 30s are often deeply shocked when I assert that "Imagine" is a terrible vision.~~

That's true in my experience as well, including among relatives of mine that should know better.

People in their 20s and 30s often deeply shocked when I assert that "Imagine" is a terrible vision.

???? I think the last time I ever had a discussion of commercial music with a member of the younger generation was about 15 years ago, and that was to tell them to take the ghastly casette they'd bought at the mall out of the tape player in my car. Oh wait, there was that exchange about Bowie with a shirt-tail on Facebook... (he's a 39 year old school teacher with 4 children and a churchgoer).

I can't prove it, obviously, but I'm pretty sure my impression (and Rob's) is more accurate. "Imagine" has become a mainstream feel-good anthem. I remember discussing it with my then-high-school-student daughter about 10 years ago, and I think the context may have been its use in some kind of school assembly--at a Catholic high school. Granted, a lot of the people who get misty-eyed don't think very deeply about the words.

~~"Imagine" has become a mainstream feel-good anthem.~~

Very much so.

and I think the context may have been its use in some kind of school assembly--at a Catholic high school.

That's an indication of the school administration's taste, I'll wager, whose median age would make them one of my contemporaries, not your daughter's.

When Forbes published its first edition of the "Forbes 400" in 1982, one wag (I think it may have been Michael Kinsley) remarked that among the three billionaires on the list at that time was "Yoko Ono Lennon (widow of John 'Imagine No Possessions' Lennon)". My sister and I laughed uproariously at that. My contemporaries never took much of an interest in the pieties common among people half-a-generation older.

Since you mention Catholic school administrators, one thing that hits you about the church-o-cracy is what a claque of philistines they are (over and above the indifference of most of them to Catholic teachings). People have plenty of opportunity during the week to listen to the issue of mass entertainment producers. You'd think 15 or 20 minutes might be given over to plainchant and polyphony but nooooooooo.....

Art,

"15 or 20 minutes might be given over to plainchant and polyphony."

It is happening more and more even at plain vanilla Catholic Schools.

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