Saturday, October 06, 2018

‘But, Kavanaugh!’ NeverTrump’s Awakening

October 5, 2018
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Bret Stephens (Real Time)
The headline was a stunner: “For Once, I’m Grateful For Trump.”
Even more shocking was the column’s author: New York Times columnist Bret Stephens.
At great risk of alienating his Trump-hating readership at theTimes, Stephens carefully explained why he is relieved a man he detests now sits in the Oval Office. From evidence-free accusations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh to grandstanding, hypocritical senators, Stephens admitted he was reluctant to make such a heretical confession in the pages of a newspaper committed to destroying the Supreme Court nominee:
I’m grateful because Trump has not backed down in the face of the slipperiness, hypocrisy and dangerous standard-setting deployed by opponents of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. I’m grateful because ferocious and even crass obstinacy has its uses in life, and never more so than in the face of sly moral bullying. I’m grateful because he’s a big fat hammer fending off a razor-sharp dagger.
The piece was not well-received by Times readers. As of Friday morning, there were more than 3,500 comments, mostly tantrums by progressives about Stephens’s viewpoint.
The attempted political assassination of Brett Kavanaugh has triggered an epiphany for NeverTrump “conservatives” such as Stephens. Some of Trump’s most vicious and vocal critics on the Right are shockedthat the Left has orchestrated such a craven crusade against a decent man, alarmed that their progressive compatriots are so desperate for power that they would seek the destruction of an innocent man’s career, his reputation and his family while bulldozing long-cherished standards of decorum and law to prevail where they failed at the ballot box.
They now realize—just as millions of Americans did back in November 2016 and have appreciated in the months since—that Trump is the only bulwark between us and a leftist junta intent on annihilating everything we value and anyone who gets in their way. It has been, to rephrase a famous taunt, their “But, Kavanaugh!” moment.
Writing at Townhall this week, Erick Erickson—who called himself one of the “original NeverTrump conservatives”—said he is for the first time is considering voting for Trump in 2020. Seth Mandel, an editor at the New York Postadmitted that the Kavanaugh allegations were rallying his fellow Trump foes behind the president. “In the days leading up to the hearing, I started noticing something: Mild-mannered anti-Trump conservatives would, in private conversations, fume at Kavanaugh’s treatment and insist Democrats had crossed a line and could not be appeased.”
National Review’s Jonah Goldberg turned on the elite media for how they’ve fueled the Kavanaugh travesty. Goldberg first explained that he abhors when the president calls the media the “enemy of the people” because it sounds authoritarian—but then proceeded to produce a litany of examples why the media is indeed the enemy of the people. Then this advice to his journo-pals: “You might also consider why millions of people love it when Trump says you are the enemy of the people: It’s because of how you are behaving right now,” Goldberg warned. “You’re letting the mask slip. You’re burning credibility at such a rate, you won’t have enough to get back to base when this is all over.”
Where Have They Been?
Those of us who have been subjected to NeverTrump’s scorn; who have defended the president in his darkest days while being mocked by Trump foes; who have been called every name in the book from racist to homophobes to stupid are tempted to say, “better late than never.” But not without first turning a mirror toward these antagonists and apologists for the Left so they own up to the dystopia they have helped create.
For two years, NeverTrump has united with the Left to sabotage Trump’s presidency, smear congressional Republicans who support him, and ridicule Trump voters. Led by Bill Kristol, the editor-at-large-and-getting-larger of the Weekly Standard, this group is as culpable as the news media and Democratic politicians for the smoldering hellscape that now is American politics.
NeverTrump has bolstered the sham special counsel probe into phony claims of election collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin; they have joined the Left on several occasions to demand that the president be removed from office—in late August, Stephens insisted the president’s actions met the “high crimes and misdemeanors” standard for impeachment. They mock Trump supporters with the childish, “But, Gorsuch!” mantra at every presidential misstep, an insult aimed at Americans who voted for Trump singularly out of concern about the future composition of the Supreme Court.
Many NeverTrumpers including National Review’s Goldberg and David French have helped legitimizeMichael Avenatti, the creepy porn lawyer also trying to take down Kavanaugh. The president has been compared to Adolf Hitler and Mussolini by this crowd, while they compare themselves to courageous dissidents who fought communism. “Expert” Tom Nichols claimed Trump voters are ruining the country, and the Washington Post’s reprehensible Jennifer Rubin condoned violence against Trump aides, including Sarah Sanders, the first mother to serve as White House press secretary.
As part of #TheResistance, NeverTrumpers landed sweet gigs on CNN and MSNBC—not because they are intelligent or even photogenic—but because they are quick with an inflammatory remark about Trumpworld. It has been a profitable endeavor as they sell books and earn speaking fees for their Trump-hating views.
So now some NeverTrumpers have grown a conscience when it comes to the mistreatment of Trump appointees and allies? The Kavanaugh hit job is the result of a steady and successful trajectory of attacks on other Trump associates.
Where were they when the Left ruthlessly and relentlessly harassed EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and his family? Oh yes, they were chiming in alongside the New York Times: some finally capitulated to the environmental bullies and demanded Pruitt’s resignation.
Collusion of the Worst Sort
What did NeverTrump say when the Left came for Dr. Ronny Jackson? Or Gen. Michael Flynn? Or Reps.Devin Nunes and James Jordan? Or even Trump’s wife and family? They can’t even speak up when MSNBC pundits claim Trump wants to round up people and kill them, or when the media mock the murder of a college girl in Iowa.
Where was NeverTrump’s defense of Carter Page, a former naval officer who was targeted by his own government, spied on for a year, and vilified in the news media? According to some NeverTrumpers, Page deserved what he got. They have aided the obstruction of a full investigation into widespread corruption at the Justice Department, warning Republicans that any questioning of the FBI is an attack on law enforcement. Many have shielded from scrutiny folks such as former FBI Director James Comey and his henchmen Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok.
On every issue, big and small, NeverTrump worked in lockstep with the media, Hollywood and the Democratic Party to undermine Trump’s presidency and damage anyone aligned with him.
There are still NeverTrump holdouts. Kristol, Nichols, Rubin and Boot are not just opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination but urging people to vote for Democrats this fall, which would empower the very thugs who are leading this assault on our political system and our democracy. Nichols argued that Kavanaugh’s conduct is worse than the Democrats, and accused him of buying into conspiracy theories. So NeverTrumper nutters still abound.
But their numbers are shrinking, and it’s only a matter of time before they turn on each other. That will be a gratifying scene to watch unfold. Sadly, the pile of post-2016 political wreckage lies all around us, with Brett Kavanaugh now in the center of the debris. And NeverTrump, even those now seeking atonement, is as responsible for this as anyone.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Is ‘Christian Humanism’ Gone Forever?

The last of the brave thinkers and authors in this tradition are long gone. Can anyone replace them?

October 5, 2018

Though the term is rarely employed in our time, “Christian humanism” is one of the noblest movements of the last century. It’s a concept much older than the 20th century, of course, dating back to St. Paul’s visit to Mars Hill in Athens. There, Paul had challenged the Greek Stoics to discover and embrace their “unknown god.” A few decades later, St. John the Beloved sanctified the 600-year-old Heraclitean concept, logos (meaning fire, imagination, word), at the beginning of his Christian gospel.

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Russell Kirk
Following this ancient tradition, many of the greatest of Western thinkers—from St.Augustine to Petrarch to Sir Thomas More to Edmund Burke—had inherited and breathed new life into Christian humanism during their own respective ages. In the 20th century, two men—T.E. Hulme in the United Kingdom and Irving Babbitt in the United States—reclaimed the 1,900-year-old concept, believing it the only possible serious challenge to modernity, the exaggeration of the particular, and the rise of ideologies and other inhumane terrors. From the grand efforts of Hulme and Babbitt a whole cast of fascinating characters arose, embracing Christian humanism to one degree or another: T.S. Eliot, Paul Elmer More, Frank Sheed and Maisie Ward, Willa Cather, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, J.R.R. Tolkien, Nicholas Berdyaev, Etienne Gilson, Jacques Maritain, Theodor Haecker, Aurel Kolnai, Bernard Wall, Sigrid Undset, Thomas Merton, Flannery O’Connor, and Russell Kirk.
After the latter’s immense success with the 1953 publication of The Conservative Mind, the young author worried that conservatism could serve only as a critique of the previous age, not as blueprint for a way forward. Conservatism, after all, was the “negation of ideology,” challenging more than answering. If one considered himself a conservative, Kirk believed, he must prudently understand what needs conserving. To this, Kirk argued, only human dignity and a well-ordered society—rooted in eternal virtues and principles—were worth preserving. Such vital things, he determined in 1954, could only happen with a revival of “Christian humanism” and not merely through conservatism. Christian humanism alone was timeless, while conservatism was a momentary response to the immediate past. Though Kirk returned once again to “conservatism” as the central focus of his writings in the late 1950s, his books, essays, lectures, and periodicals (Modern Age and The University Bookman) never strayed far from his own understanding of Christian humanism.
It must also be noted that “Christian humanism” could almost as easily and appropriately—at least by its advocates and allies in the 20th-century—be called “Judeo-Christian humanism.” It’s primary American founder, Irving Babbitt, for example, certainly did not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and he wanted thinkers such as Aristotle, Cicero, and the Buddha to have equal standing with the Nazarene. Other essential Christian humanist allies, such as Eric Voegelin, held heterodox views, believing, for example, that St. Paul was a Gnostic and a Manichean, too quick to dismiss the physical side of life. Still others, such as Leo Strauss, were somewhat Jewish and utterly Zionist. A proper Christian humanism could, most of its advocates believed, not only incorporate any who believed in the dignity of the human person, but also transcend whatever differences existed in the name of dignity.
Admittedly, I was absolutely thrilled when I first learned that Baylor University scholar Alan Jacobs would be writing on the subject—and taking it seriously. Indeed, Jacobs is not only serious about Christian humanism, he repeatedly identifies himself personally with the idea. The book becomes so personal at times—with language employed such as “I suspect” and “I think”—that the reader has the feeling he is sitting in an intimate seminar room with Jacobs as the scholar meditatively pontificates on works he has lovingly read and absorbed over years of careful scholarship. As it is, then, The Year of Our Lord 1943 is as much about Jacobs’s own ideas as it is about 1943. Jacobs even writes parts of the book in the present tense, making it even more personal and immediate.
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Relying almost entirely on primary source material but filtered through the rather personal thought, intellect, and soul of the present author, Jacobs considers the fears and desires of five major but seemingly disparate figures in 1943 as they envision a post-war world after an Allied victory: W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, Jacques Maritain, and Simone Weil. These are not the only figures who make an appearance, though they are the central five in Jacobs’s study.
Tellingly, perhaps, each of Jacobs’s five was a writer of significance, though their modes differed dramatically, from prose and philosophy to plays and poetry. They were also not uniform in their faith. Maritain is the only Catholic, while Auden, Eliot, and Lewis were faithful members of the Church of England, and Weil, though raised in a secular Jewish family, embraced what might be called a liturgical form of evangelical Christianity. Nor did they all get along. Lewis, famously, despised Maritain and Eliot, though he and Eliot reconciled in the late 1950s while revising the Book of Common Prayer.
Others who appear in the book include Christopher Dawson, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mortimer Adler, Reinhold Niebuhr, Hannah Arendt, Karl Barth, Henri De Lubac, Robert Maynard Hutchins, Thomas Merton, J.H. Oldham, and even Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd). The main five, therefore, are all English (Eliot being an American expatriate and Auden being the reverse Eliot) or continental European, though many of Jacobs’s supporting characters are American.
From the beginning of the book, Jacobs admits that one might readily regard his choice of these five—Maritain, Weil, Lewis, Auden, and Eliot—as unusual ones. They often disagreed with each other, as noted above, and sometimes they did not even like each other. Yet they each believed that the Western civilization of the late 19th and early 20th centuries had paved the way for the ideologies of National Socialism and communism to arise. Each, after all, had developed not only under the shelter of Western civilization, but around westerners working to undermine Western civilization itself. Simultaneously, no one in the West was providing a counter to these ideologies, but rather other forces were moving civilization toward despair, nihilism, and meaninglessness; the Western tradition seemed impotent to answer the threats posed by national and international socialism.
It was certainly healthy to be anti-Nazi and anti-communist for the vast majority of westerners, but what exactly did a good member of Western civilization believe? That is, what positive thing motivated him to defend the work of his ancestors? Would Americans of the 1930s still rally to the cry of Leonidas or even Davy Crockett? Decades of liberal progressivism, pragmatism, and positivism had neutered the citizens of the West, rendering them incapable of clear and objective thought.
As legendary University of Chicago president and Great Books editor Robert Maynard Hutchins so poignantly asked in 1940, as the country was on the brink of war, “What Shall We Defend?” Hutchins never doubted science or scientific progress. What he doubted was the capability of mid-20th century citizens of Western civilization to engage in moral reasoning. Only in the ability to seek and find truth in the moral sphere, Hutchins argued, could true human flourishing occur. Thus Jacobs muses after his summation of Hutchins, “only a clearly articulated and rationally defended account of true justice can resist totalitarianism.”
In one of the best chapters of The Year of Our Lord 1943, “The Humanist Inheritance,” Jacobs writes penetratingly about the concept and lineage of Christian humanism. Though “humanist” was coined, originally, as a term of 16th century student slang, it was a course of liberal academic study that placed its greatest hopes in literature rather than philosophy, and “on the wisdom to be gained from pagan classical writers and thinkers.”
Echoing much of the work done by Christopher Dawson as well as that, more recently, by James Hitchcock, Jacobs clearly analyzes the tension between the more literary and Augustinian humanism and the more rational and Thomistic humanism, noting that each has much to offer and each is equally Christian, whatever its particular adherents might have claimed. Rather than beginning his story of modern humanism with Babbitt’s and Hulme’s works of the 1890s and 1900s, however, Jacobs starts with the profoundly influential 1920 work, Art and Scholasticism, by Jacques Maritain. As Jacobs sees it, Maritain properly called for “not a rejection of humanism but a reclamation of it.” In this sense, it would follow closely in the line of the humanism of St. Paul’s day, not by destroying the pagan inheritance of the liberal arts, but by sanctifying it.
While each of the other four central figures of 1943 might ignore or despise Maritain, Art and Scholasticism began a series of questions that would dominate the efforts and ideas not only of Maritain himself, but also those of Eliot, Weil, Lewis, and Auden. As World War II demonstrated a crisis of humanity, so only a “restoration of the specifically Christian understanding of the human being” could solve it, Jacobs notes. Additionally, “this restoration will not be accomplished only, or even primarily through theology as such, but also and more effectively through philosophy, literature, and the arts.”
Though Jacobs does not make the following claim explicit in his book, one might readily add “politics” to the list of things that will not restore the world to sanity and order.
The second-best chapter in 1943 is “Demons,” in which—at least somewhat surprisingly to this reviewer—Jacobs makes a convincing case that the five major figures of his book feared demonic influence and intrusion into the world of the 20th century as not just symbolic, but possibly as quite real. With such an assertion, one immediately is reminded of the story of Pope Leo XIII’s 1884 vision of demons wandering and ravaging the face of the earth. Whether tangible or corporeal or not, the concept of the “demonic” certainly offers the perfect descriptive for the end of a humanism not rooted in the good, true, and beautiful—whether Platonic, Stoic, Mosaic, or Christian.
At times, some of Jacobs’s views are simply shocking, if not somewhat scandalous. Without any hesitation or qualification, Jacobs calls T.S. Eliot’s 1939 book, The Idea of a Christian Society, “a masterpiece of vagueness and evasion.” Or again, on Eliot’s famous lecture to the Virgil Society, “What is a Classic?,” in which the Anglo-American poet elaborated on works of Virgil—The AeneidThe Eclogues, and The Georgics—as the touchstone of all post-Roman literature. Jacobs believes that it is “Eliot’s prose at its worst; and that means that it is very bad prose indeed.” One can only imagine what the generally unrufflable Russell Kirk—or the equally gentle souls of Flannery O’Connor or Thomas Merton—might write in response to such pronouncements.
Jacobs’s very short conclusion—simply the final paragraph of the book—makes it clear that he believes the last moment for Christian humanism in the West existed just prior to and just after 1943. Courageously, Maritain, Eliot, Lewis, Auden, and Weil “put forth every effort to redeem the time,” Jacobs writes in Pauline fashion. “If ever again there arises a body of thinkers eager to renew Christian humanism, they should take great pains to learn from those we have studied here.”
It is unfortunate that Jacobs leaves his fine—if not extraordinary book—on such a dour note. For a counterpoint, one might turn to Pope John Paul II, who called for an open and full revival of Christian humanism in a late 1996 address:
The mystery of the Incarnation has given a tremendous impetus to man’s thought and artistic genius. Precisely by reflecting on the union of the two natures, human and divine, in the person of the Incarnate Word, Christian thinkers have come to explain the concept of person as the unique and unrepeatable center of freedom and responsibility, whose inalienable dignity must be recognized. This concept of the person has proved to be the cornerstone of any genuinely human civilization.
A massive number of websites and works of scholarship have since emerged on Christian humanism, all taking inspiration from John Paul II. Though Jacobs does not state it explicitly, perhaps he is attempting to renew the same call, 22 years later.
Bradley J. Birzer is The American Conservative’s scholar-at-large. He also holds the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in History at Hillsdale College and is the author, most recently, of Russell Kirk: American Conservative.

It's All Gone: The Democrats' Dead Ideals

October 3, 2018

Political Cartoons by Steve Kelley

As the spurious case against Brett Kavanaugh disintegrates, splinters, and re-forms into a cacophony of whiny, irrelevant expostulations, it is instructive to step back and survey the field upon which this battle took place.

The ground is littered with dead and wounded ideals: civility, dead; basic decency, dead; the presumption of innocence, gravely wounded, ditto for the idea of due process. And this disgusting carnage is all on you, O ancient one, Dianne Feinstein, and your self-important, preposterous colleagues. You were desperate to keep Brett Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court so you abandoned any semblance of decency and respect. You travestied the processes of the United States Senate for the sake of a cynical grab at power. I’d say that you should be ashamed of yourselves, but, like the thugs that you are, you have no shame. You believe the acquisition of power is a magical antidote to shame. You are wrong about that, and one can only hope that you will one day reap some portion of the obloquy you have sowed.

It is not yet clear what the snarling, incontinent attacks on Brett Kavanaugh will mean for him and his family. Early indications are not encouraging.

For many years, Judge Kavanaugh has taught a course at Harvard Law School. A couple of days ago, that Cambridge-based plutocratic bastion of privilege, smugness, and political correctness announced that Judge Kavanaugh was no longer welcome to teach there. Later,  a coven of lonely and unappealing Harvard feminists filed a battery of groundless Title IX claims against him.

Hundreds of alumni, students, and faculty of Yale Law School have signed an open letter denouncing the school’s implicit support of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Among other things, the signatories of this malodorous missive say that Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination represents  “an emergency -- for democratic life, for our safety and freedom, for the future of our country. ... Without a doubt, Judge Kavanaugh is a threat to the most vulnerable. He is a threat to many of us, despite the privilege bestowed by our education, simply because of who we are.”

What are these people talking about? But it is not insanity that moves them. It is malice and the desire for power.

Judge Kavanaugh mentioned in his testimony that one of his delights was coaching girls basketball. Will he be allowed to do that in the future? It is unclear. A putrid column in USA Today by Erik Brady -- silently redacted after a cataract of outrage -- said that “he should stay off basketball courts for now when kids are around.”

Who knows what toll the mob hysteria against him has taken on his wife and two young daughters. One of the most moving moments of his testimony last week came when he mentioned that one of his daughters suggested during evening prayers that they ought to pray for Christine Ford, the hysteric who first accused Judge Kavanaugh of committing an impropriety 36 years ago at a high school party. A wretched cartoonist for a large national newspaper -- I won’t say which one, and I will forbear to link to that piece of filth -- depicted the judge’s daughter on her knees praying that God forgive “my angry, lying, alcoholic father for assaulting Dr. Ford.”

There are not words sufficiently contemptuous to describe this repulsive display. Several commentators have drawn parallels between the unfounded attacks on Judge Kavanaugh and the tirades of Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s. A better parallel, perhaps, is the case of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who was ritually humiliated, drummed out of the French army, and given a sentence of life imprisonment on trumped up charges of espionage. He was eventually cleared, years later, but his career had been shattered and his life ruined. “Where do I go to get my reputation back?

The real crime of Captain Dreyfus was that he was Jewish. The crime of Brett Kavanaugh is that he is Donald Trump’s nominee.

Here are some facts of the matter. Until he was nominated by President Trump in July, Brett Kavanaugh was not just widely admired, he was universally commended for his intelligence, his judiciousness, and his impartiality. Everyone who worked for him, he worked for, and everyone he worked with sang his praises. In the aftermath of Christine Ford’s accusation, scores of women from Judge Kavanaugh’s past -- girls he had been friends with and dated in high school, college friends, professional colleagues -- attested to his integrity and decency.

On the other side, what do we have? We have Christine Ford and in her toxic wake increasingly preposterous accusations by unhappy hysterics like Deborah Ramirez, whom The New Yorker spent six days helping to “assess” her memories, and various lowlifes dredged up by Creepy Porn Lawyer™ Michael Avenatti. Stepping back, we can see that the spectacle forms a sort of bell curve:
  1. Rumors of a letter in Senator Dianne Feinstein’s possession are leaked to the jackals of the press.
  2. After the Senate hearings conclude, the letter itself is leaked. It accuses a drunken 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh of pushing Christine Ford on a bed and fumbling with her bathing suit. (That, by the way, was the alleged “assault.”)
  3. With Deborah Ramirez, the volume increases in this Wagnerian drama. Now an 18-year-old Brett Kavanaugh is accused (no witnesses, though) of exposing himself to Ramirez at drunken party at Yale.
  4. Volume now at full blast, Creepy Porn Lawyer™ Michael Avenatti pushes Julie Swetnick into the jackals’ klieg lights. She says (but offers no proof or witnesses) that she had been at 10 parties -- 10! I guess she liked those soirées --  at which Brett Kavanaugh participated in drugging and gang-raping women.
  5. Another chap, now under criminal investigation for offering false information to the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Brett Kavanaugh participated in assaulting a woman on a boat in Newport.
  6. Diminuendo now. The Newport story falls apart. The Ramirez story falls apart. The Julie Swetnick story falls apart.
  7. The music is very soft now. Almost every particular of Christine Ford’s story disintegrates. Remember the second front door she wanted installed in her house as an emergency escape route in case the boogeyman came back and assaulted her? She said it was in an argument with her husband over that that she first mentioned Brett Kavanaugh. But that was in 2012, when she was in couples therapy. (It would be nice to know more about Christine Ford’s psychiatric history.) In fact, the Fords got a permit for the front door in 2008, years before. Over the years, the front door was used by renters and then for Ford’s psychology practice (though I can see how her patients might have regarded it as an escape hatch).Remember her supposed fear of flying? It turns out that she flies all the time. The real question is, who gets her frequent flier miles? Rachel Mitchell, the sex-crimes prosecutor that the GOP senators employed to question Christine Ford at the hearings because she was too delicate to be questioned by men, has released a memo detailing the many contradictions in Ford’s testimony.
  8. Back on the ground floor now, the New York Times, in one last, pathetic effort to smear Brett Kavanaugh, runs a piece titled “Kavanaugh was Questioned by Police After Bar Fight in 1985.” The story, written by an anti-Trump, anti-Kavanaugh Times opinion writer, reveals the astounding fact that Brett Kavanaugh might have thrown ice at someone in a bar. It’s so quiet now that you can hear the titters in the background. From drugging and gang raping women to throwing ice at someone in a bar in one week. Swift work!

At a rally last night, President Trump, speaking about Judge Kavanaugh, said: “A man's life is in tatters. His wife is shattered.” Musing on the attempted public execution the country just witnessed, the president continued, “They destroy people. They want to destroy people. These are really evil people.”

Yes, they are. But here’s the saving grace. The president, like Brett Kavanaugh, is a fighter. The president’s support has been as unwavering as Judge Kavanaugh’s determination to stay the course. Senator Spartacus (neé Cory Booker, and the accent is not a mistake) says that whether Judge Kavanaugh is “innocent or guilty”the Senate should “move on to another candidate.” Why? Because he’s tainted.

So: Democratic jackals on the Senate Judiciary Committee, aided and abetted by their loyal public relations firms -- the mainstream media -- and hectoring unpleasant people funded by George Soros, heap mud on Brett Kavanaugh for weeks and then step back and say: “He’s got mud all over him! Let’s move on to a more pristine victim.”

This is of a piece with the spurious claim that Judge Kavanaugh’s impassioned testimony last week shows that he lack the requisite judicial temperament to be a Supreme Court Justice. Andy McCarthy dispensed with that ridiculous meme with some portion of the contempt it deserves. But since some of the squealers in the press have castigated Judge Kavanaugh for the condign anger he displayed in answering the scurrilous attacks on his character, let’s give the last word to Aristotle on the just deployment of anger. “We praise a man,” says Aristotle, “who feels anger on the right grounds and against the right persons, and also in the right manner and at the right moment and for the right length of time.” Indeed, those who do not get angry at things it is right to be angry at “are considered foolish.” After having been groundlessly accused of drunkenness, belligerence, and rape, Judge Kavanaugh was right to display anger towards those who had slandered him. He did so in a fitting manner, in an eloquent, heartfelt address. And he did so at the right moment, the Senate hearings, and for the right amount of time.

The travesty that was the smear campaign against Brett Kavanaugh is disintegrating. He will be confirmed, but the mephitic stench of the attack against him and the rule of law will linger. I wonder if the Democrats will remember it when the tallies come in on November 6 and their vaunted blue wave turns out to be a moist, impotent trickle.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Remaking the Hurricanes in Rod Brind’Amour’s image, or how ‘Rod the Bod’ became Rod: The Brand

By Luke DeCock
October 4, 2018

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When Rod Brind’Amour needs a reminder about what comes next in practice, he lifts his hat. He keeps his notes tucked into the sweatband, on the inside, a coaching hack he picked up from former coworker John MacLean.
When the Carolina Hurricanes need a reminder of who they are supposed to be – as players, as a franchise – they need only lift their eyes to their coach.
A team desperately in search of an identity found one where it had been hiding all along, in the last place the new owner ever thought he would look, in the person who set the tone for the franchise’s greatest success.
“Roddy has, in essence, been a one-man rebranding,” new Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon said. “What it means to be a Hurricane means something different to him than it does to everyone else.”
Brind’Amour is a beacon for a franchise looking to find its way, one that has cried wolf so many times selling the promise of the future that it can’t now, even with a promising future to sell.
What is left to market? What is there to build around? Only Brind’Amour, who personifies everything that once was right with the Hurricanes. And could be again.
Even those too young to have played against him – and only Justin Williams and Jordan Staal have – knew him by his reputation as a player and his musclebound nickname.
“Everybody knows how Roddy was as a player,” Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce said. “ ‘Rod the Bod,’ the hardest-working guy out there.”
Brind’Amour may or may not be a good hockey coach, and the book will remain open on that for a while. But there’s no doubt about this: the Hurricanes are being remade in his image, not only as a coach but what he represented as a player, not only on the ice but off of it.
This has suddenly become Brind’Amour’s team, in more ways than one.
Rod the Bod has become Rod: The Brand.


Ron Francis’ decision to sign as a free agent changed the image and mood of a team struggling through a difficult and in some ways mismanaged move to North Carolina; Brind’Amour’s decision to re-sign in the fall of 2001, a change of heart that would represent a massive change of fortunes for the franchise going forward, changed the Hurricanes’ hockey DNA.
His reputation preceded him, the workout fanatic who had muscles on his feet other professional athletes couldn’t identify, but it wasn’t until his promotion to captain before the 2005-06 season that his leadership qualities truly came to the fore. Even before that, there was no room for other players to cut corners, not with Brind’Amour and Martin Gelinas pounding out miles on treadmills inclined at dangerous angles immediately after games. Given the keys to the room, Brind’Amour had new license to drag his teammates along with him.
After he was forced to relinquish the captaincy to Eric Staal in January 2010, the Hurricanes muddled along for a few years. (They should have made the playoffs in 2011, their first full season without Brind’Amour on the ice.) But the long, dark winter of their mediocrity soon descended upon the franchise, a team that was neither young nor old, talented nor gritty. A team without a future and without, increasingly, a past. A team with no identity, no personality. A team that would see backup goalies and get half-efforts from other teams, condescended to and overlooked. A team that was kind of just … there. Year after year.
Brind’Amour was a part of those years, as an assistant coach, but not willingly at first. He had to be talked into coaching by then-general manager Jim Rutherford. (He once missed an NHL game to coach his son’s team, part of the deal he cut with Rutherford.) He was a supplementary part, a foot soldier, under Kirk Muller and Bill Peters, the strongest aspects of his personality subsumed in these complimentary roles.
And this was what Dundon thought he was getting in Brind’Amour when he bought the team; a drone, a former player living on past glories, part of the problem and not part of the solution, let alone the solution itself.
Dundon has since cut ties with a healthy chunk of the men in power when he bought the franchise, most notably Francis as general manager, but a few survivors have risen quickly up the food chain. Don Waddell found favor as Dundon’s consigliere. Darren Yorke went from video scout to director of player personnel. And Brind’Amour rose higher in Dundon’s esteem than any of them.
The more Dundon observed Brind’Amour, the more he respected his work ethic and intelligence. The more he got to know him, the more he came to appreciate Brind’Amour’s innate understanding of the dynamics of leadership.
Even before the decision was made to move on from Peters – who, seeing the writing on the wall, jumped to the Calgary Flames when allowed to exit his contract – Dundon assumed and expected the team’s next coach would have to come from outside the organization to change the culture in the ways it needed to be changed.
Until he realized that the right man to do that was there all along.
“There’s a culture now, here,” Dundon said. “It changed really quickly and I give Roddy all the credit.”


That all sounds good: Oh, we have a new identity, and it’s Rod Brind’Amour. He works hard. He accepts no excuses. He holds people accountable.
It’s also meaningless in the absence of results, which imbued this training camp and this preseason with significance that far exceeded the usual. Brind’Amour set the tone early – this would be no “low-intensity training camp,” to relive one of Paul Maurice’s great miscues – and got the on-ice performance to back it up. While other teams were dancing through the preseason, which is not a criticism of them in the slightest, the Hurricanes were sliding all over the ice, blocking shots and generally playing as if it was November and not September.
There was a sense, in some of those early games, that the opposition was collectively shaking its head a bit in disbelief at how seriously the Hurricanes were taking things. And even if the goal totals were inflated by a red-hot power-play going up against cobbled-together penalty-kills, the intensity the Hurricanes displayed was unusual for preseason standards.
“That’s a feeling that you have,” said Williams, Brind’Amour’s former Hurricanes linemate and hand-picked captain. “It’s not anything that you say. It’s a feeling. And I feel it. I think if you ask the majority of the guys, they probably feel it, too. There’s a change in atmosphere and a change in competitiveness. In saying that, you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself. We haven’t played games yet and we haven’t created our identity yet. We have to sustain that.”
Already, though, it’s the best marketing the Hurricanes have. The final preseason game,with former Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette pushing his Nashville Predators to make a statement and Brind’Amour demanding his team dig deep to answer, was fiery and spiteful, and the nearly full crowd loved it.
This franchise needs to win to be successful here, but that may be too much to ask of this team right away. How many games the Hurricanes win is an open question. Certainly, they have given themselves a better chance to be good than they did last season. There are fewer uncertainties, or at the least their uncertainties have higher upside potential.
It’s too much to ask of fans to believe, without evidence, that the time has arrived. There have been too many false dawns. Fans believe, though, in Brind’Amour. He has earned their trust and respect, to the point where some didn’t want him named coach because they couldn’t stand even the possibility of his legacy being tarnished.
If you can’t sell the future, if you can’t sell the present, you can at least sell the legend and everything for which he stands.
“I get it,” Brind’Amour said. “We’re looking around for something, so it’s easy to say. But we’re going to morph into, we’ve got some great players in here and people are going to take notice. That’s kind of what I’m hoping.”


There have been echoes, in these recent weeks, of the early fall of 2005, when the Hurricanes tore through the preseason and carried that momentum all the way into January. Making any kind of comparison to that season is, rhetorically, fraught with peril for obvious reasons. And this is not one, in any way. But Laviolette, in his first full season with a substantially reworked roster, made absolutely certain that his new players knew what would be expected of them. And Brind’Amour, in similar circumstances, did the same.
Messages were sent along the way, subtle but impossible not to perceive among those sensitive to the rhythms of training camp. Aleksi Saarela, a slick-shooting favorite of the previous regime, was cut early after failing to improve his all-around game. In a relative sense, so was Jake Bean, a former first-round pick who faced a stacked lineup on defense but failed to press the issue in any way. Both, in years past, would likely have been kept around based on reputation if nothing else.
Meanwhile, Warren Foegele went from the fringes of the roster to an opening-night spot with Williams and Jordan Staal. Andrei Svechnikov, despite being the No. 2 overall pick, will start the season on what is essentially the fourth line, even if that’s only transitional housing. Valentin Zykov, despite having an uncertain role five-on-five, made a successful argument to stick as a power-play specialist.
This was a training camp, and preseason, in Brind’Amour’s image. The challenge now is extending that into the regular season, when there will be no half-speed opponents, no veterans rounding their games into shape in due time, no training wheels.
The challenge will be to take a few good weeks and make it a few good months, to take what the Hurricanes did in the short term and extend it into the long term, to take this mood and make it an identity.
“That’s going to be a work in progress, but we’re going to hammer it home until they can’t think about anything but what we’re trying to get across,” Brind’Amour said. “I think they took some good strides in the six preseason games as a whole in trying to identify what we want to do. We’ve just got to hammer it home every day.”
The success or failure of that endeavor is up to the Hurricanes, but they won’t be the ones to judge. When they see the opposition’s No. 1 goalie, when they get the opposition’s best effort, when teams match their effort instead of the other way around, only then will they know they have truly adopted not only their coach’s words but his attitude.
That may take a while. No one in the NHL takes this team seriously at the moment. Insiders mock the hands-on owner, fantasy experts scoff at the potential point-producers and there isn’t a soul on the planet who knows what to expect from the goaltending, including either goalie.
The Hurricanes think they have a chance to do something special, or at the least take a genuine step forward after so many years mired in place. As much as is possible, the preseason has cultivated belief that they can, for what that’s worth, which isn’t much.
They believe they have a coach who will lead them where they need to go, even if no one else does.
“Let the people do the talking for themselves,” Williams said. “Let’s just go out and play. And earn it.”
For now, they’ll keep that belief to themselves, under their hats.
Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947,, @LukeDeCock
Brind'Amour prefers motivation over analytics-

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Once the Flyers’ by-example leader, Rod Brind’Amour set to begin head-coaching career

by Ben Pope
October 2, 2018

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Soon after Chris Therien arrived in Philadelphia as a rookie in early 1995, he walked into a gym.

"And there was Rod Brind'Amour," he said. "Where I saw him that day is where he was every day."

That's hardly hyperbole. The legendary Flyers center, a key factor in the Flyers' 1990s ascendance, had already long since developed his reputation as a workout fiend by the time that lockout-shortened season — the first in which he led Flyers to the playoffs — came around.

It was a reputation that would last throughout his 20-year NHL career, an epic tale of fitness and dedication that featured one Stanley Cup and two Selke Trophies with Carolina and almost 1,200 total points across his tenures with the St. Louis Blues, Flyers, and Hurricanes.

And it endures even now, going on two decades since his last appearance in the Orange and Black and entering the first months of his time as an NHL head coach, having taken over for Bill Peters in Raleigh this offseason.

There was, of course, more to Rod "The Bod"  Brind'Amour than just, well, his bod — even if his ultra-serious public persona never displayed much of it. Keith Jones, who played alongside Brind'Amour in his last two seasons in Philly, remembers him as the guy who dressed up with him as Kiss rockers for Halloween, not just as the stoic leader he was on the ice.

Few realized he would find a second career in coaching after his playing days ended, if only because that's not something one really considers during the daily grind and Brind'Amour's playing days seemed somewhat endless anyway. As Ron Hextall, a teammate for seven years, put it, "When you're a young guy yourself and you're looking at your teammates, you're not thinking of guys as coaches."

But now as Brind'Amour begins his first season — his first game, his first introduction, his first shift as the behind-the-bench caller of shots rather than on-the-ice shot-taker — as the boss in Carolina, the fact that the now-48-year-old's hockey career has led him to this new challenge surprises no one in the Flyers organization.

"He's got a lot of the intangibles that give you instant respect from your players," Hextall said. "I think he's going to do a good job — I really do."

The mentality: No down days

The big numbers and big profiles — and big controversies — of the likes of Eric Lindros, Mark Recchi, and John LeClair throughout the 1990s kept Brind'Amour consistently relegated to a second-tier (and second-line) role.

He didn't mind, and he churned out big numbers anyway. Six years of 74 or more points; a career-high 97-point campaign in 1993-94; 21 points in 19 games during the 1997 playoff run to the Stanley Cup Finals. That Finals run, Brind'Amour's first long drink of the postseason water he would thrive on later in his career, was the undeniable high point of his nine-year Flyers tenure.

"We basically blew through everybody," Brind'Amour told the Inquirer recently. "It's fun to go into a game or a season where you know if you play well, you're going to win — it doesn't matter what the other team does. That was the feeling we had that year."

As respected as Brind'Amour was for his offensive output, though, he was more respected for his play as a forward in the defensive and neutral zones, and respected most of all for his durability. His ironman streak of 484 consecutive games played, including six full seasons in a row, remains the Flyers' all-time record.

That was possible only because of his steadfast commitment to training, a commitment that dated back to his college hockey days at Michigan State. The story of the Spartans coaching staff padlocking the arena doors to make sure Brind'Amour couldn't work out on off-days has been told and retold so many times that it's become the centerpiece of all-time Brind'Amour lore.

His behavior in Philadelphia wasn't much different.

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"His work ethic every day, quite frankly, was mind-boggling," Hextall said. "Everybody would occasionally, just like on the ice, have a down day in the gym. Rod Brind'Amour just didn't have the mentality of having a down day."

Brind'Amour himself concedes he was a bit ahead of his time in his workout routines, the equivalent of a LaVar Ball boast for a man so humble.

His daily cycle of weightlifting, skating, and everything in between was not so much overwhelming in a single instance, but rather was in its regularity: With the exception of a "couple days" at the end of each season, he did it for 20 straight years. He claims he recorded his best physical testing numbers of his career in his very last season, at age 39.

"You're getting paid to play, but it's a year-round job and I really took that to heart, back when it wasn't so in vogue," he said. "I felt, in my mind, like I was leaving everything I could not to chance."

That mentality and regimen soon rubbed off on the rest of the Flyers.

"When another player sees that in a teammate, their challenge is to try to match it," Therien said. "He made every other person in the locker room accountable to himself to be in as good a shape as possible. He taught them how to work."

When Jones arrived in the fall of 1998, he also felt that accountability emanate from Brind'Amour, the most intense man he ever met. Yet he also saw another side of No. 17: a leader who had grown more vocal as he developed his veteran status, an amicable motivator and friend with more angles than the single-sided workout robot he was often framed as.

Brind'Amour was not always "Mr. Serious," as Therien terms his image, but a real character with a "great hidden sense of humor," said Jones. He was certainly usually quiet — that was no mirage — but he was not always. That personality has come to the forefront more in Brind'Amour's post-retirement speeches, but it remains a relatively undiscovered aspect of the Flyer great.

Lasting Philadelphia legacy 

In the end, Brind'Amour theorizes that his iron man streak — not exactly the streak itself, but the mindset behind it — became his undoing in Philadelphia. Attempting to push through an ankle fracture to play in the 1999-00 season opener, he "ended up displacing a whole bunch of bones, and probably took a two-week injury and turned it into three, four, five months."

Sidelined for a while, he was "out of sight, out of mind," Brind'Amour said, and general manager Bobby Clarke traded him to the Hurricanes midseason for Keith Primeau.

Clarke still today says he doesn't regret the trade: "Sometimes you make deals where you don't like giving up the player you are giving up, but you have to," he said.

Brind'Amour still ranks 10th in Flyers history in goals (235), eighth in assists (366), and — less officially yet more notably — pretty close to first in popularity. For a man born in Ottawa, raised in British Columbia, and drafted by St. Louis, Brind'Amour came to symbolize Philly as much as an non-Philadelphian ever could.

"He's beloved by the fans still," Therien said. "I still see Rod Brind'Amour jerseys in the stands at every same game, you'll see them popping around, and that speaks for the blue-collarness of the city of Philadelphia. … They like to root for that hardworking type of guy that never gives up, and I think Rod Brind'Amour personified that type of player."

And not just popular with fans, either.

Former Flyers winger Bob Kelly, now a Flyers Alumni Association board member, remembers Brind'Amour as one of the few players who actively reached out to and engaged the alumni. "He really typified the meaning behind the Flyers' logo," said Kelly, echoing Therien.

Brind'Amour was also close with late Flyers owner Ed Snider, whose influence he spoke about at length during his 2015 Flyers Hall of Fame induction speech. That was a speech that even Clarke, who said he saw only the quiet side of Brind'Amour in his role, described as "very, very impressive."

"I was the one guy, back there when I was playing, that lived there year-round. And I worked out with the young kids and did everything to be a Flyer and do it right," Brind'Amour said in a rare moment of self-praise. "I loved every day that I was there."

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As head coach, a new challenge

For all of his accomplishments in Philadelphia, Brind'Amour will always be most remembered around the league for his time in Raleigh, where he finally reached the NHL's mountaintop in 2006 and has spent all of his coaching days since retiring in 2010.

In early May, culminating a spring of fast-and-furious front office and coaching staff turnover in Carolina, Brind'Amour was named the Hurricanes' new head coach. He inherits a team that has missed the playoffs for nine consecutive seasons, the last seven with Brind'Amour as an assistant under Paul Maurice, Kirk Muller, and Bill Peters.

"When you play for a long time, you think you know everything. Then you get on the other side of it, get into coaching, get behind the scenes, and you learn this is a whole different animal," Brind'Amour said. "I feel like I've taken a pretty good apprenticeship the past seven years on how to do it, and now you take that and put your own spin on everything."

With Peters resigning to take the Calgary job after the season, Brind'Amour realized he was ready to "put my name in the hat to try to do it for real." As far as what his "own spin" will be, he said he'll attempt to bridge the great stylistic gap between what he sees as the two main categories of NHL head coaches: career coaches like Peters and Maurice, and players-turned-coaches such as  him and Muller.

It understandably won't be an easy task. The turnover rate for NHL head coaches is remarkably high; Out of the 31 in the league, only one has been with his current team for more than five years. And Brind'Amour gets that.

"When you sign up for it, you know the ending," he said. "You're not taking this job for security. You're taking it for the opportunity to bring [Carolina] back to the top, where it was for a while, and that's really my goal."

For the record, though, his old friends and teammates are steadfast in their belief that if anyone can buck that trend, it's a man as knowledgeable, as hardworking, and as likeable as Brind'Amour.

"The way that he approached the game, loved the game, [coaching is] a natural fit for him," Kelly said.

"When you're looking at a guy that you know played the game at a high level, that hoisted the Stanley Cup as a captain, it's built-in respect immediately, and I think that's really what Rod's big gift for the team is," Therien said. "He can say, 'I've been here, I've done this, and I'm now going to show you guys how to do that.'"

Jones, though, perhaps put it best of all.

"There's no doubt that he was going to be, if he decided to … one of the coaches in the National Hockey League," he said. "Rod didn't have to say [things] a lot, but when he spoke, it really hit home in the way that he was able to pinpoint exactly what it was that needed to be done."

Flyers position previews: Left wing now a strength  Competitive group of centers  If Wayne Simmonds is right, so is that side of the ice  Power play looks improved, but penalty kill has questions • Defense has strength and experience, but is it enough? • Goalie injuries wreak havoc on depth chart