Friday, October 21, 2016

NeverTrump Agonistes: Trump is the Only Pro-Life Choice

Supporting the GOP nominee is the only hope of saving innocent life

October 20, 2016
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Now that we are done with the presidential debates, with just a few weeks until Election Day, the choice for the country could not be more stark. Hillary Clinton promises to continue the economic and foreign policy path of Barack Obama, which has weakened our country and emboldened our enemies. By expanding government spending, forgiving student loan debt, granting amnesty to millions of illegals, raising taxes, continuing with Obamacare, Madam President would massively pile on debt to a nation already leveraged to the hilt.
As for Donald Trump, he will streamline government, cut taxes, incentivize businesses to bring assets back to the U.S., retire Obamacare, renegotiate bad trade deals, shut off illegal immigration, and begin a new, more pragmatic approach to foreign affairs. On those factors alone, he should be the obvious choice for anyone who thinks America is heading in the wrong direction.
Yet there are still some Republicans — including prominent figures such as Jeb Bush and John Kasich — who can still not bring themselves to live up to their pledge to support their party’s nominee. They cite not only his temperament but his “failure to show any capacity to learn about conservatism.”
They should have taken notice, however, that Trump, on stage in Las Vegas Wednesday, clearly demonstrated that he has really learned something significant about the issue of abortion. Killing babies, especially those in the latter stages of pregnancy — no matter how Mrs. Clinton tried to justify it — is evil.
For any Republican or independent who believes late-term abortion is a moral evil, these are the facts:
1.) Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is going to be the next president of the United States
2.) If Hillary Clinton wins, she will support policies and judges that are absolutely horrific from a pro-life perspective
3.) The vast majority of Republicans — including pro-life Republicans — believe that Hillary Clinton must be kept out of office, and therefore they are working together as a coalition to block her and elect Donald Trump instead.
4.) A tiny minority of pundits claim to oppose Mrs. Clinton, but devote almost all their time and energy to attacking Donald Trump and his supporters
5.) By attacking Trump and his supporters, they make it more likely that Mrs. Clinton will win the White House
6.) By making it more likely that Mrs. Clinton will win the White House, they are making it more likely that Mrs. Clinton’s abortion regime will become U.S. law
Based on these facts, it seems logical to conclude that by constantly attacking Trump and his supporters, the NeverTrumpers are effectively advancing Mrs. Clinton’s abortion regime.


By Ann Coulter
October 19, 2016

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Say, does anyone remember when Trump was the lightweight with no "policy specifics"? I have an entire chapter in my book, In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!, quoting media savants complaining about Trump's lack of "policy specifics," interspersed, by date, with his major policy speeches and papers.

At this point, the only "policy specific" Trump hasn't given us is which company will supply rebar for the wall.

But now, the media's entire campaign against Trump is to prevent him from talking about policy. They would rather talk about fat-shaming than trade, immigration and jobs.

Sometimes, it seems like Trump is cheating by taking the vastly more popular side of every issue.

The official GOP used to send its candidates out with ankle weights, a 75-pound backpack and blinders. But Trump didn't agree to take any staggeringly unpopular positions, however much the Business Roundtable loved them.

He's against amnesty, for building a wall, against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, for Social Security, against the Iraq War and for extreme vetting of Muslim immigrants.

That's why the media have to change the subject to something flashy that will capture the attention of the most down-market, easily fooled voters. Trump is a groper!

The media's interest in sex scandals goes back and forth, depending on their needs at the moment. When the last name of the perp is "Kennedy" or "Clinton," they're not interested. When it's "the Duke lacrosse team": Guilty.

The fact that a lacrosse team at an elite college had hired a couple of strippers, who -- THANK GOD ALMIGHTY -- turned out to be black, was all the evidence our media needed to conclude that the athletes had committed a gang-rape, based on centuries of entitlement.

By contrast, when former U.S. senator John Edwards was cheating on his dying wife -- while he was running for president, paying his mistress with campaign funds and lying to the American people about it, between lecturing us about morality with the unctuous sanctimony that passes for policy in the Democratic Party -- the media primly refused to cover it.

That is, until Edwards was out of the race, at which point the media refused to cover it because he wasn't a candidate. (You guys are the best! I love the media.)

For more than a year, the National Enquirer had the entire Edwards story to itself. Finally, its reporters chased Edwards into a hotel bathroom at 2:40 in the morning, after having caught him spending the evening with his mistress and their love-child at the Beverly Hilton.

At that moment, when the affair was plastered in photos all over the Enquirer, Los Angeles Times editor Tony Pierce emailed his bloggers, instructing them not to mention the "alleged affair," explaining, "We have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations," since "the only source has been the National Enquirer" -- he might have added, "a vastly more interesting and accurate publication than the L.A. Times.”

A few years passed, and suddenly we were back to Duke lacrosse standards of proof. As a rule of thumb, the only sex stories our media believe are the false ones.

Emma Sulkowicz, or "Mattress Girl," claimed she had been raped by a fellow student at Columbia University and that college administrators refused to take action against her rapist.

Columbia, to refresh your memory, is the institution that invited Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak. University administrators are constantly changing mascot names and canceling traditional celebrations because some feminist yelps.

But, somehow, Mattress Girl's claim that administrators at Columbia turned a deaf ear to her brutal rape was completely believable to our media and political class. You could see the corporate recruiters lining up!

Among the many, many articles in The New York Times about brave Mattress Girl, art and culture writer Roberta Smith said her art project -- carrying a mattress around campus to symbolize the weight carried by rape victims -- raised "analogies" to Christ's Stations of the Cross (especially to writers at the Times, where not a minute goes by without their thinking about the Passion).

Mattress Girl made the Times' "Quotation of the Day" for this humdinger: "I've never felt more shoved under the rug in my life.”

Even as the charges were unraveling, easily fooled U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand brought Mattress Girl as her special guest to President Obama's State of the Union address. (If only Clinton had known it was possible to invite girls with mattresses to the State of the Union!)

After Mattress Girl had spent a couple of years accepting awards, her alleged rapist finally released her texts to him, both before and after the alleged rape.

Here are a few from before the alleged rape:

"f**k me in the butt”

"I love youuuu”

And here are a few after:

"I wanna see yoyououoyou”

"I love you Paul. Where are you?!?!?!?!”

Unlike Trump's secretly recorded hot-mic conversation 11 years ago, the Times never thought it worthwhile to quote any of Sulkowicz's messages to Paul -- much less on its front page, sans asterisks. The closest the Times came to acknowledging these texts was to delicately note that the two had "traded mutually affectionate messages.”

Continuing the media's winning streak, about the same time as Mattress Girl was sitting for her Smithsonian portrait, Rolling Stone's Sabrina Rubin Erdely was all over the news, reaping accolades for a story about a gang-rape at the University of Virginia even more preposterous than the Duke lacrosse case.

Sadly for the media, the victim wasn't black. But, on the other hand, the alleged perps were "frat boys." (As far as our media are concerned, the lowest circle of hell is reserved for "frat boys.”)

Erdely was the toast of the town ... until a few weeks later, when her story completely fell apart. Rolling Stone retracted the article, the Columbia Journalism Review investigated, and there are currently three defamation lawsuits proceeding against the magazine.

Now, the same people who brought us the Duke lacrosse case, Mattress Girl and the Rolling Stone abomination -- but who discreetly left John Edwards' sex scandal to the National Enquirer; Bill Clinton's serial sexual assaults to private litigant Paula Jones; and the Kennedy family's whoring to investigative journalists Seymour Hersh (30 years later) and Leo Damore (20 years later) -- these are the people who tell us they're pretty sure Donald Trump is a groper.

Three weeks before a major presidential election.

Trump has been a rich celebrity for 40 years, employing thousands of women, but this is the first time he has been seriously accused of any sexual impropriety. You will recall that, just this May, The New York Times conducted a major investigation into Trump's treatment of women -- and came up empty-handed.

Trump denies the allegations, but don't expect a "Correction" like this one from the Chicago Tribune, dated Sept. 5, 1996: "In her Wednesday Commentary page column, Linda Bowles stated that President Clinton and the former campaign adviser Dick Morris both were 'guilty of callous unfaithfulness to their wives and children.' Neither man has admitted to being or been proven to have been unfaithful. The Tribune regrets the error.”

Strangely, the allegations against Trump don't even tell a larger story about the (apocryphal) "campus rape culture." Trump's not a member of the Duke lacrosse team. He isn't a "frat boy.”

The only reason for these 11th-hour claims is that the ruling class doesn't want voters thinking about the immigration policies, trade deals and wars that are destroying their way of life. Ever since Trump started raising the issues that no one else would, the media and the political class have done everything in their power to try to stop our movement.

They're so close! Just four more years of importing the Third World at breakneck speed, and America will be O-ver

Maybe it will work. And then six months after the election, Americans will realize they've been scammed by the media into giving away their country. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

N. T. Wright: The Church Continues the Revolution Jesus Started

By Mike Bird
October 13, 2016
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A foundational Christian belief is that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins. For many, the most important result of this is that believers go to heaven when they die. Bestselling author, scholar and bishop, N. T. Wright, thinks we’re missing a critical aspect of what Jesus accomplished on the Cross if we limit our understanding just to this explanation. His latest book, The Day the Revolution Began, explores the Crucifixion and argues that the Protestant Reformation did not go far enough in tranforming our understanding of this event. Mike Bird, author of What Christians Ought To Believe, interviewed Wright about how Christians should view the Crucifixion.
Tom, you describe Jesus' death as the beginning of a "revolution." What was that revolution and why does it still matter today?
Most Western Christians have been taught that Jesus died so that they could escape the results of sin and go to heaven after they die. The New Testament, however, regularly speaks of Jesus’ death as the defeat of the powers of evil that have kept the world in captivity, with the implication that the world is actually going to change as a result—through the life and work and witness of those who believe this good news. Think of Revelation 5:9–10. Humans are rescued from their sin so that they can be “a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.” That began at Easter and, in the power of the Spirit, has continued ever since. Of course, the “reign” of Jesus’ people, like that of Jesus himself, is the reign of suffering love . . . but that’s a whole other story. Suffice it to say that the vocation of God’s people today is to continue to implement that revolution.
Even as Western cultures grow more secular, we still find the Crucifixion presented in art and echoed in music. Plus the notion of sacrifice for others is still very much a Christian theme that novels like Harry Potter seem to borrow from. Why do you think the cross, its image and message, is so captivating?
It seems as though the world knows in its bones that the cross of Jesus was the ultimate revelation of true power and true love. Most people for some of their lives, and some people for most of their lives, nurse sorrows and wounds whether secret or open; and the thought or sight of Jesus on the cross, perhaps particularly when it’s painted beautifully or set to wonderful and appropriate music, speaks of the true God not as a distant, faceless bureaucrat, nor as a bullying boss, but as the one who has strangely come into the middle of the pains and sorrows of the world and taken their full force on himself. In a sense, all of Christian theology, certainly theology of the cross, is the attempt to explain, to give a wise and scriptural account of, that very immediate, personal, visceral impact.
We tend to think of the cross as a very churchy or religious symbol, like the Apple logo or the McDonald’s sign, but what did the Crucifixion mean for people in the first century?
Crucifixions were common in the first century. It was a fairly standard punishment for slaves or for rebel subjects. It was a way for the Roman Empire to say “We are in power, and this is what we do to people who get in our way.” Crucifixion was unspeakably horrible, with victims often left on crosses for several days, pecked at by birds and gnawed at by vermin. It was deliberately a very public execution, to warn others: When the Spartacus rebellion was put down, roughly 100 years before Jesus’ day, 6,000 of his followers were crucified all along the Appian Way between Rome and Capua, making it more or less one cross every 40 yards for 130 miles. Anybody, and especially any slave, walking anywhere on that road would get the point. But it wasn’t just (what we would call) a “political” point. In Jesus’ day Rome was “deifying” its emperors, at least after their deaths, making the present emperor “son of god.” Rebelling against Caesar’s empire was therefore a kind of blasphemy, and crucifixion a restatement of the theological “fact” that Caesar was “Lord.” That is the context for Mark’s statement that the centurion (a Roman army commander) at the foot of the cross looked at Jesus and said, “Truly, this man was the Son of God.’”
Click on the link below to read the full article:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Quiet Grace of Ronald Wilson Reagan

Recalling the Gipper’s basic decency—during the least inspiring election in generations.

By Craig Shirley and Frank Donatelli
October 18, 2016
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In 1987, when he was informed that Democratic presidential aspirant Gary Hart was accused of extramarital activities, President Ronald Reagan reportedly quipped, “Boys will be boys. But boys will not be president.” In all matters, Reagan was wise.
For years, we have looked with skepticism at political operatives who claim to know what Ronald Reagan would have done in any given situation. The truth is, nobody can know. All we can do is study him. But what we do know is that Reagan was full of grace and charm and kindness, and it’s good to recall that as this sad campaign season winds down.
America’s 40th president was an essentially decent man. When Nancy Reynolds, a Sacramento press aide and close friend, began working for Reagan when he was governor of California, he had a heck of a time getting used to the idea of going through the doorway in front of a woman. When Ms. Reynolds, holding the door for the governor, questioned why, Reagan replied, “My mother told me ladies go through the door first.”
When writing in his private diary, Reagan could not even bring himself to write “hell.” Instead, he wrote “h--l.”
In 1983, two years after John Hinckley Jr. shot the president in the chest, Reagan quietly tried to reach out to the would-be assassin, not with a presidential pardon but an act of private Christian forgiveness. He was only dissuaded when doctors said the mentally disturbed young man would misunderstand Reagan’s gesture. Still, Reagan prayed for him.Reagan was once caught on a hot microphone, although what he said seems quaint, almost genteel, by today’s standards. When he was asked for a sound check during the taping of a 1984 radio commentary, the president joshed, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” The technicians all laughed, but soon after, liberal elites came down with manufactured vapors.Reagan was once caught on a hot microphone, although what he said seems quaint, almost genteel, by today’s standards. When he was asked for a sound check during the taping of a 1984 radio commentary, the president joshed, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” The technicians all laughed, but soon after, liberal elites came down with manufactured vapors.
Over the course of his life, the Gipper sent thousands of letters to fans, friends and even opponents, many of whom remember his personal grace. During his stay in the hospital, recovering from the assassination attempt, nurses were astonished to find Reagan one day on his hands and knees, cleaning up some water he had spilled. The leader of the free world was wiping the floor so no one else would have to do it.

Reagan was insulted plenty of times over the course of his career, burned in effigy, sworn against, cursed and more—but in each instance, he turned away the invective with a smile and a quip. He was tough on issues, but rarely people, and certainly not personally. He wasn’t mean and didn’t engage in ad hominem attacks.

Reagan did call out extremists in the conservative ranks. He supported William F. Buckley Jr., who led the purge of the conspiracy-minded John Birch Society and spoke out against anti-Semitic elements in the conservative moment. He opposed the Briggs Initiative, a 1978 California ballot measure aimed at banning homosexuals and gay-rights supporters from working at public schools.

Reagan believed in the politics of addition, not subtraction. He looked for ways to add to his support by exuding optimism and preaching growth policies. He wanted to unify, not divide. At the Detroit Republican Convention in 1980, he made an open appeal to Democrats and Independents to join his “community of shared values.” That night, he also cited Franklin Roosevelt—to a hall full of Republicans.

This wasn’t some campaign facade that Reagan had acquired for political reasons. He had always had it. In his famous 1964 speech, “A Time for Choosing,” Reagan paraphrased the admonition that Barry Goldwater had given to his own son: “There is no foundation like the rock of honesty and fairness, and when you begin to build your life on that rock, with the cement of the faith in God that you have, then you have a real start.”

In one of his final public speeches, at the 1992 Republican convention, Reagan said that he hoped history “will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears. To your confidence rather than your doubts.” He undoubtedly did.

Mr. Shirley is a Reagan biographer and the visiting Reagan scholar at Eureka College. His newest book, “Reagan Rising,” is due out in March 2017 from HarperCollins. Mr. Donatelli worked on all of Reagan’s presidential campaigns and was the political director in the Reagan White House.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Trump's Misdemeanors vs. Hillary's Felonies

October 16, 2016

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(Getty Images)

Early in November 2015,  when the 2016 election was still an over-populated free-for-all, I had lunch with a friend who is a member of an endangered species: the conservative, "Scoop Jackson" Democrats. They are very thin on the ground these days, and are vanishingly rare in public life. But once upon a time these patriotic, unashamedly pro-American Democrats provided a life-giving current of realism and sanity to their party. They were strong on defense, pro-labor but also pro-prosperity, and they tended to regard their Republican counterparts not as enemies but as colleagues with whom they had differences of opinion or strategy.

As I say, such Democrats are all but extinct today, especially in the corridors of power. My well-connected friend is almost as aghast as I am at the Democrats' lurch to the hard, identity-politics Left. He could not muster any enthusiasm for my candidate — Ted Cruz — but he was not flattering about the two Democratic contenders, either. Bernie Sanders he regarded as insane and Hillary Clinton — whom he knows well — he regarded with that visceral distaste that only close personal acquaintance can impart.

At the time, Ted Cruz seemed to be doing well — my how appearances can be deceiving! — and already there were troubling stories about Hillary Clinton's health.  I said that I doubted she would be up to the rigors of the campaign,  but he replied: she won't need to campaign.  She will win the primary and then the election by acclamation.

"Er, ah," I said, or words to that effect.  I didn't believe a word of it. Now I am not so sure.

A year ago, I thought that a growing, cross-party impatience with the self-serving Washington establishment would usher in a candidate of change. I favored Ted Cruz, but I understood those making the case for Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and even, on the other side, those making the case for Bernie Sanders. Yes, he wasinsane and his policies were (in my view) preposterous, but he was the understandable mouthpiece for a certain species of populist revulsion. Why, just to take one issue, should the presidency of the United States be a prize that rotated among the Bushes and the Clintons?

That said, I wasn't surprised that Hillary won the nomination. The Clinton machine is a formidable thing, and of course she commanded a bottomless supply of money.

Still, I have been surprised at the evolution of this campaign.  I made my peace with Donald Trump at the Republican convention. Trump's continuing erratic behavior (the business about Ted Cruz's father and Lee Harvey Oswald was especially bizarre) caused me intermittent pangs of regret.  But as the weeks passed I found my position on Trump changing.

At first, I supported him chiefly because he was not Hillary Clinton, whom I regard as a thoroughly corrupt candidate. But as Trump's campaign evolved, I found myself supporting more and more of his announced policies — not everything: that silly wall, for example, or his plan to make me pay for other people's child care.

But I like his list of candidates for the Supreme Court. I like his tax plan. I like his energy policy. I like his pro-growth orientation. I like his plans to rebuild the U.S. military. I like his plans to reduce onerous regulation. I like his recognition that the inner cities are petri dishes of civic pathology. I like his determination to enforce our immigration laws. I like his realism about the threat of Islamic terrorism. I've laid out my thoughts about all this a few times, here, for example, and here.

At the end of the day, however, I like Trump not just because I support many of his of his announced  policies. No, its something more general that undergirds my support. It's his unvarnished pro-American stance. "Make America Great Again" may sound corny. But we have had nearly eight years of a president who hates this country and has done everything in his power to make us poorer, less secure, and to expose us everywhere to the contempt of the international community. It is a breath of fresh air to behold a candidate who is unapologetically pro-American, who wants this country to be richer, freer, more secure. I like that.

But back to the idea that Hillary's coronation will essentially be a matter of acclamation by the powers that be.

I scoffed, silently, at that idea when my Democratic friend laid it before me a year ago. Now I am not so sure.

Here we are just a few weeks away from election day. What is everyone talking about?  Two things: A secretly recorded video of Donald Trump saying louche things about women a decade ago and unsubstantiated allegations by a few women that Donald Trump made unwanted sexual advances towards them years ago.

That seems to be the provender on offer by the media. There wasn't any "locker-room talk" in the locker room of my local gym yesterday. As I was getting ready for my workout, the commentary on the always-on television was devoted entirely to the Trump "scandals." Clip of Trump. Female talking head tut-tutting to male talking head, who also tutted. The entire eight or ten minutes it took me to change into the running shorts and gym shoes were given over to rehearsing Trump's alleged torts and their likely effect on women voters.  As I left the locker room, the talking heads were shaking their heads and retailing Trump's poll numbers, which looked bad, bad.

Forty-five minutes later, I returned to the locker room sweaty and aglow, and guess what? They were still at it. Different talking heads — two females and a male — but the same show: Donald Trump said lewd things about women a decade ago! And not only that, a couple of women had come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment at some point in the dim and distant past. That took us through my shower and three-quarters of the way through my changing back into my street clothes. The talking heads then devoted  twenty or thirty seconds to the latest WikiLeaks email dump before getting back to Donald and the dames. What was that WikiLeaks thing about? Oh, right, that was the cache of emails that revealed Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta emailing Clinton confidante Cheryl Mills about secret emails exchanged over Clinton's homebrew server with President Obama  when she was secretary of State.

Think about that. The president, using an alias, communicated over a private, non-secure server with his secretary of State.

But wait!  Didn't Obama say he first learned about Hillary's private server from the news? So he lied to the American people and to Congress. Get over it.

But what about that big FBI investigation into Clinton's use of a private, non-secure email server while she was secretary of State?  Remember that? And do you remember Bill Clinton's cozy tête-à-tête with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on her plane in Arizona this summer?  You weren't supposed to hear about that at all. The FBI tried to keep the crowds way. No photos. No cell phones. But an enterprising local reporter got the story and broke it. Fortunately, Bill and Loretta spent their time together talking about his grandchildren, not about the ongoing FBI investigation of Bill's wife. Whew! That's a relief. Because it really would not have been right for the spouse of someone under investigation by the DOJ to meet privately with the attorney general and discuss the case.

Back in July when tarmac-gate broke, I wondered in this space whether that might, just possibly, be the scandal that finally broke the camel's  back and brought the Clintons' entire corrupt enterprise down. Everywhere, I noted, the saga of the Clinton Crime Family was in the news.  There was the film of Clinton Cash, which detailed the Clintons' international shakedown schemes in which political favors were exchanged for hefty cash payments in the form of ludicrously large speaking fees and/or donations to the Clinton Foundation, a tax-exempt money-laundering operation devoted to benefitting the Clintons. There were the Benghazi hearings. There was the email scandal.  Could even the Clintons survive this growing mountain of scandal?

I wondered.  But Rush Limbaugh was right.  It turns out the Clintons were merely playing us. There was an enormous flurry of activity, a cathartic purging of punditry, and then . . . nothing.
Andy McCarthy made a similar point in July. Noting how various tactics can be deployed to delay or derail criminal investigations, he outlined how tarmac-gate might well have been a deliberate strategy to "create appearance of thorough investigation, but assure no-charges outcome."

And so it was. Loretta Lynch said she would accept the recommendation of the FBI. Remember how people sat up at that?  But then, surprise, surprise, James Comey, despite a mountain of evidence (which he acknowledged) of felonious behavior on Clinton's part, recommended that nothing be done ("No reasonable prosecutor," etc. etc.). And that is just what Loretta Lynch did, nothing.

So Rush was right. Once again, the public was played by the Clintons.

And the ongoing WikiLeaks dumps show that it was always a foregone conclusion that we would be played by the Clintons. The whole FBI investigation was a travesty, an expensive fraud on the public. Hillary was never going to be charged, for the very good reason that the president of the United States was complicit in her flouting of security protocols and mishandling of classified materials. As Andy McCarthy noted yesterday,
the principal reason why Mrs. Clinton was not prosecuted, despite a mountain of evidence that she committed felony mishandling of classified information, is the fact that Obama engaged in the same kind of misconduct. . . [T]he fact that the president was e-mailing Clinton means he not only participated in her misconduct but also that the Obama-Clinton e-mails would have been admissible evidence in any criminal trial of Clinton. 
For the parties to prove such culpable conduct on the president’s part in a high-profile criminal trial would have been profoundly embarrassing to him, to say the least. Therefore, it was never going to happen.
But don't you go trying that with national secrets. All animals are equal, Comrade, but some are more equal than others. There's one law (or, to be more accurate, there's no law) for folks like Barack Obama and the Clintons, another for proles like you and me.

So the entire investigation was just for show. How does the public feel about that? It's hard to say, for they don't know about it, not really.  Sure, the whole sordid, cynical operation has been detailed by independent journalists like McCarthy. But the phalanx of the MSM has been unbroken in downplaying the story. Twenty seconds to WikiLeaks — during which time the Clinton campaign is quoted dismissing the allegations as a plot by Trump — an hour to Trump's alleged sexual peccadillos.

Ever since her collapse on September 11, Hillary has barely campaigned. She has gone to a few fundraisers, a rally or two, and has shown up with a brightly polished smile for  the two debates. Last week, it was announced that she would be making no appearances until the next and last debate this coming Wednesday, October 19.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is criss-crossing the country, holding multiple rallies a day.  Will it make any difference?  I don't know. Some months ago, I wrotethat "there is no reason to believe that the supreme oddity that has characterized this primary season has run its course." I continue to believe that.  Who knows what twists and turns await us in these final weeks.  Will there be further October surprises?  Will Donald Trump be revealed to have once driven with Hillary Clinton in a cage on the roof of his car?  Will it be revealed that he was once mean to a fellow student in high school?

Who can say?  Donald Trump has recovered somewhat in the polls but he faces an implacable and united front in the allied forces of the Clinton machine, GOP defectors,  and Clinton's compliant media enablers (just how compliant, and how complicit, WikiLeaks has begun to show us).

I would not be at all surprised to see Hillary Clinton win by acclamation. Like the late Roman Republic, America has more and more come to be an aristocratic oligarchy  that is a republic in name only. We plebs exist only to be milked and to provide affirmation for decisions taken by the elites who govern us.

But as I say, there is no reason to think that the oddities of this election are over. Donald Trump is riding a powerful, broad-based, and nationwide current of revulsion with the status quo. The media and hostile precincts of the punditocracy assure each other and us sheep that Hillary is a shoo-in.  Just look at the polls. Just consider Trump's boorish sexism. Contemplate the magnificence of having our first woman president!

And yet, and yet. Perhaps the odds favor Hillary.  The fancy money certainly thinks so. But were I a betting man I would recommend a strategic hedge. There are plenty of things that distinguish this election from the Brexit referendum in June.  But there is at least one glaring similarity: Here, as in Britain, the smug, inbred uniformity of elite opinion obscures the depth and determination of competing forces.  It was enough to shock all establishment opinion when the vote came through for Brexit. Whether it will be enough to propel Donald Trump over the victory line is yet to be determined.  It would be a rash man, however, who declared it to be impossible.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Biblical Weight of Suffering in Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize Winning Songwriting

October 13, 2016
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Bob Dylan is one of my earliest theological influences, therefore it gladdens me to see him awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature this year.
His interest in the great religious theme of suffering, as it is presented in the Judeo-Christian tradition, go back to his earliest albums, not only his brief Evangelical period. This has been convincingly argued by Stephen H. Webb–how I wish he were still around to see Bob get the Nobel–in Dylan Redeemed.
I first “got” Bob Dylan during an extended 2001 study abroad in Rome while reading through all the theology I could get my hands and dealing with a death in the family.
The echoes of Psalm 23 in Time Out of Mind’s “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven” were what I needed to redeem the time:
The air is getting hotter
There’s a rumbling in the skies
I’ve been wading through the high muddy water
With the heat rising in my eyes
Every day your memory grows dimmer
It doesn’t haunt me like it did before
I’ve been walking through the middle of nowhere
Trying to get to heaven before they close the door
When I was in Missouri
They would not let me be
I had to leave there in a hurry
I only saw what they let me see
You broke a heart that loved you
Now you can seal up the book and not write anymore
I’ve been walking that lonesome valley
Trying to get to heaven before they close the door.

Then the nearly apophatic tones of “Not Dark Yet” (see below) nudged me toward going through the whole Dylan catalog–something I’m still doing, because it is so immense and great. The other thing I like about his music is that he’s not afraid to push the limits and fail. There’s usually at least one stinker on one of his albums, which makes the songs that work sound all the better.
Shadows are fallin’ and I’ve been here all day
It’s too hot to sleep and time is runnin’ away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal
There’s not even room enough to be anywhere
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.
Well, my sense of humanity has gone down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain
She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind
She put down in writin’ what was in her mind
I just don’t see why I should even care
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.

Dylan’s trek though the valley of death once pulled me out of an encounter with the deepest depression. I still remember the moment when during an expat concert in Krakow I heard these lines from the deeply biblical song (Original Sin, redemption, eschatological liberation, and so on) “I Shall be Released”:
They say ev’rything can be replaced
Yet ev’ry distance is not near
So I remember ev’ry face
Of ev’ry man who put me here
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released
They say ev’ry man needs protection
They say ev’ry man must fall
Yet I swear I see my reflection
Some place so high above this wall
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released
By the end of the song I was released.
Czeslaw Milosz once asked in his poem “Dedication,” “What is poetry which does not save/Nations or people?” I must say, I really owe Old Bob one for that balm for my soul.
I would also like to submit “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)” from the under-appreciated Street-Legal album (lodged between the great critical success of Blood on the Tracks and the generally panned first Gospel album Slow Train Coming–note the continuity in the album titles) as a remarkable example of apocalyptic writing:
Senor, senor, can you tell me where we’re headin?
Lincoln County Road or Armageddon?
Seems like I been down this way before
Is there any truth in that, senor?
Senor, senor, do you know where she is hidin’?
How long are we gonna be riding?
How long must I keep my eyes glued to the door?
Will there be any comfort there senor?…
…Senor, senor, let’s overturn these tables
Disconnect these cables
This place don’t make sense to me no more
Can you tell me what we’re waiting for, senor?

There is plenty quibbling about whether what Dylan does counts as literature, which is why I was so glad to run across the following history lesson in the first article I read about Dylan winning the Nobel:
Sara Danius, a literary scholar and the permanent secretary of the 18-member Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, called Mr. Dylan “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition” and compared him to Homer and Sappho, whose work was delivered orally. Asked if the decision to award the prize to a musician signaled a broadening in the definition of literature, Ms. Danius responded, “The times they are a-changing, perhaps,” referencing one of Mr. Dylan’s songs.
In other words, the distinction between poetry and music is untraditional; for the most comprehensive account of this see G.S. Kirk’s The Songs of Homer. This also works in reverse, some of the best contemporary poetry should be, and sometimes is, sung. Those who might disagree with this might as well claim that the Psalms are merely music.

This is also why I don’t buy the following passage from the same article:
The choice of Mr. Dylan for the world’s top literary honor came as something of a surprise and was widely viewed as an expansion of the academy’s traditional notions of art. Mr. Dylan, 75, joins a pantheon that includes T. S. Eliot, Gabriel García Márquez, Samuel Beckett and Toni Morrison — the last American to claim the award, in 1993.
“The old categories of high and low art, they’ve been collapsing for a long time,” said David Hajdu, a music critic for The Nation who has written extensively about Mr. Dylan and his contemporaries, ”but this is it being made official.”
Dylan’s music is not low art, since it borrows from an ancient religious tradition, deftly gives new life to old religious idioms, and even borrows heavily (Dylan calls it Love and Theft) from the writers mentioned above, chiefly T.S. Eliot and Samuel Beckett.
The biblical weight of suffering is what Dylan has contributed to both contemporary song and literature. It is an invaluable service, Nobel-worthy for sure.
This observation brings me back to his meeting with John Paul II who was perennially snubbed for the Peace Nobel (so much so I said he had won it in the original draft of this post). It gladdens me to know they briefly met during a Bologna Eucharistic Congress in 1997. Both of these great figures are men of sorrows in their own ways. I especially think of the words of atheist philosopher Julia Kristeva who said John Paul II was the greatest witness of our time to the reality and meaningfulness of suffering that our culture tries so hard to repress in its celebration of the inane.
I hope Bob does get to heaven before they close the door.