Monday, October 8, 2018

Monday roundup

From the I'm-so-clueless-about-what's-going-on-in-my-nation-that-I-reflexively-submit-to-the-identity-politics-jackboots file:

Scott Kelly, a retired U.S. Navy Captain, NASA engineer, and veteran of four spaceflights, was brought low on Sunday by those possessed of neither his accomplishments nor talents for the crime of advocating Churchillian generosity of spirit. “Did not mean to offend by quoting Churchill. My apologies,” the astronaut wrote after what must have been a withering assault on social media. “I will go and educate myself further on his atrocities, racist views which I do not support.”
The bottom line on the notion that Kavanaugh will be "damaged goods" as a SCOTUS justice, based on how Clarence Thomas's stint on the bench has played out:

. . . let’s pause for a moment and consider what that “asterisk” next to Thomas’ name actually means. I can sum it up for you in one word: nothing. Zip, zero, nada. Are Thomas’ votes in Supreme Court decisions measured as counting for less than one each? (Dare I say… two thirds?) No, they are not. Are decisions where he’s taken part in a 5-4 split somehow less final in the nation’s system of laws? Nope. He’s been on the bench and voting for just shy of 27 years, and each and every one of those votes was recorded just the same as those cast by every other member of the court.
Barring a complete breakdown of our political ecosystem or some shocking new revelation involving provable illegal conduct, Brett Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court to stay. And at the age of 53, barring any tragic health issues and with the grace of God, he’ll likely be there for the next quarter of a century or more. Those camping out on the steps of the Supreme Court and rending their garments in grief should probably come to terms with the idea.
American Thinker piece by Thomas Lifson entitled "Liberal Pope Francis Has Lost the Most Liberal Weekly in Europe":
You might think that the enthusiastic support Pope Francis has offered for environmentalism, open borders, and the normalization of homosexual behavior would buy him support from liberal media. But Der Spiegel, the most important weekly magazine in Europe, has turned against the Roman Catholic Prelate with a cover story that proclaims (auf Deutsch) the Ninth Commandment: “Thou shalt not lie,” with a subhead: “The Pope and the Catholic Church in their greatest crisis.”
Facebook is censoring ads for the new movie about Kermit Gosnell.

Great piece by Daniel Gelernter at NRO on a San Francisco Symphony performance at Carnegie Hall that included pieces by Gershwin and how it offers an opportunity to revisit the question of whether a pop tunesmith can also be a serious composer:

Gershwin is rarely performed by today’s leading orchestras. Howard Hirsch hit the nail on the head in his program notes for the evening: He observed that the musical establishment was profoundly irritated that “a more or less self-taught Broadway tunesmith presumed to write ambitious concert works” and that these works were “boisterously successful.”

Gershwin’s music is at once beautiful, exhilarating, and totally original. He captured the essence of a young, enthusiastic, but thoughtful America better than any other artist. He deserves to be considered one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. One could make a compelling case that he is the greatest composer of the 20th century, but music buffs and scholars tend to laugh: Gershwin, they say, is not “serious” music.
When did popularity become a strike against seriousness? Schubert performed his lieder at parties, and Bach played the harpsichord at Zimmermann’s Coffee House. How did we reach a point where music, to win scholarly approval, must be unpleasant and, to an untrained ear, unlistenable? It is funny to think that the same music buffs who praise contemporary composers for their iconoclastic rule-breaking also mock Gershwin for his supposed ignorance of classical symphonic structure. Even Leonard Bernstein once wrote, in an embarrassing screed, that Gershwin’s “nice” tunes were not “real composition” — but that they were so enjoyable he loved them anyway. Very generous.
The problem with Gershwin is that nobody else could do it: No one could write like Gershwin without being a grade-A, 100 percent, non-certified natural musical genius. So the academic music world hated Gershwin, and instead chose Schoenberg and Webern and, later, Cage and Glass as their role models: When music is based on a theoretical concept, rather than how it sounds, suddenly anyone can do it. This was the appeal of rule-based composition “systems” like Schoenberg’s terrible twelve-tones. This is why the only thing you’ll learn about Gershwin in a university music program is that he was Schoenberg’s occasional tennis partner.
Almost everyone who attends an academic composition program really wants, more than anything on earth, to be a composer. When these students discover that they’re simply not composers — that they haven’t got what 100 years ago would have been the obvious requisites of talent and imagination and a capacity for melody and harmony — there are two possible courses: They can admit defeat gracefully and move on to a different career. Or they can spend the rest of their lives pretending to be what they wish they were. Ever since the invention of conceptual music, the vast majority of failed composers have chosen the second and less honorable course, hiding their lack of talent behind a rulebook that proclaims talent no longer matters.

Brazil shifts abruptly to a populist-right political footing:

Far-right Congressman and former Army captain Jair Bolsonaro won nearly half the votes in Brazil's first-round presidential election on Sunday, as voters' anger at corruption drove a major shift to the right in Latin America's largest nation.
In what is likely to be a deeply polarizing runoff, Bolsonaro, an outspoken apologist for Brazil's 1964-1985 military dictatorship, will now face leftist Fernando Haddad, the former mayor of Sao Paulo, in a second round of voting on Oct. 28.
Dubbed a "Tropical Trump" by some pundits because of his nationalist agenda and anti-establishment tirades, Bolsonaro was swept from the political margins this year by a wave of antipathy toward scandal-plagued traditional parties.
His promise of a brutal crackdown on graft and crime have resonated with voters in the world's fifth most populous country, which registered a record 63,880 violent deaths in 2017. Bolsonaro has pledged to roll back gun controls and make it easier for police to kill.
With just three weeks until the runoff, Bolsonaro holds a commanding lead. He won 46.3 percent of valid ballots, far ahead of Haddad's 29 percent but short of the outright majority needed to avoid a second round, electoral authorities said.
In a seismic shift in Brazilian politics, Bolsonaro's once-tiny Social Liberal Party (PSL) was poised to become the second-largest force in Congress after legislative elections also held on Sunday, giving a boost to his agenda of slashing taxes and state involvement in the economy.
With no backing from major parties and little funding, Bolsonaro relied on his skilful use of social media during the campaign. He gained momentum after a near-fatal stabbing at a rally one month ago that kept him from campaigning.
"This was a great victory, considering we had no television time, a party that is still very small with no campaign money and I was in hospital for 30 days," he said in video streamed live over social media. "We have to believe in our Brazil. We have to remain mobilized."

I think repealing the 17th Amendment is a good idea, but I think Steve Berman's argument at The Resurgent merits consideration:

I think it would merely take the circus and $10 million (average) cost of Senate campaigns and move them to the individual state legislatures. It could, in theory, make your local state legislative races as nasty as some Congressional races have become. It could pour money (like the $50 million that went into the Handel/Ossoff special election in my home district) into local races in a way we have never seen.
In short, I think it's too late to even consider taking the new political landscape and trying to roll it back into a more pastoral time where state legislatures operated in relative calm (press-wise). A new crop of Wendy "Abortion Barbie" Davises and other demagogues and issue hogs would then dominate the race to get the coveted Senate seat. I think it would be a disaster, but YMMV.
Maybe in 1946, under Harry Truman, this idea could have worked. Not in 2018 under Donald Trump. And likely, never afterward. Some things have have their window of opportunity close, and the idea of states once again appointing Senators is one of them.
I'm not completely convinced, though. You know us conservatives. We're not too big on arguments of the it's-too-late-to-go-back variety.


  1. A lot of interesting items to follow!! Especially Brazil.

    Poor Scott Kelly. The latest victim of the mobbed up left eating their own.

  2. As Ross Douthit reports in yesterdays New York Times, despair, bafflement and impotence reign among the anti Francis churchman. They can secede, reform or turn on, tune in and/or drop out because Francis has the blessing of Benedict and the support of the Vatican Archbishops and is not going anywhere soon.

  3. Replies
    1. So where does the Holy Spirit reside, with Vigano and Burke or the church as governed by the Pope who practice and tradition say is elected by the Holy Spirit? This ain't no US party politics here.

  4. Tough question, but this is far from the first time the Church has elected a Pope who got mired in worldly concerns or exhibited the taint of corruption. One is tempted here to say, "That's what the Protestant Reformation was all about," but I think the more meaningful response is that every last one of us is depraved and in need of grace.

  5. Mired in worldly concerns? Francis? And the corruption preceded him. Look, do you allow divorced and remarried people in your church to receive communion?

  6. I don't have a church at this point in my journey. By that I mean I don't claim fealty to any denomination.

  7. I cant think of a Protestant denomination that does. Most are traditionally relatively accepting of both divorce and birth control. Wyolebthere is no movement towards desinallization of BC, there is towards allowing the divorces and remarried to partake if the Eyxharust. That alone sticks in the craw of Catholic conservatives as much as anything and stuck first from his encyclical the filed their dubia in response to. Ecumenism was stalled by the conservatives for half a century following Vatican II. There is nothing wrong with compassionate reform from within without a Reformation.

  8. Steve Bannon is behind the US prelates' opposition which supports Trump. They think they can manage the church like a country, deposing leaders they dont like. Francis has aligned them with the Great Accuser, imagine that?

  9. I've seen references to the Trumpist Religious Media Complex.

  10. Let's pray to see less divorce and less attention paid to preventing conception.

  11. The much maligned Millennials are causing the US divorce rate to plummet while their church attendance falls precipitously too. And I'd say contraception is vastly preferable to abortion and may prevent disease too. Pray away, some things are working.

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