Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Delusions

 Seen on social media, from a college friend who runs a successful public relations agency:

We are in a very bad place right now. It feels like much of what makes Chicago so great is slipping away, at least for awhile.

There are a lot of people I respect making statements on all sides of the issue. I am having a difficult time disagreeing with any of them. There is too much to comprehend right now.

I will just add this point-of-view. While the officer-involved shooting was the impetus for the vandalism and looting downtown, the people protesting the shooting are not the people conducting the vandalism and rioting. These are two different groups of people with different motivations. Social justice and criminal behavior live in different worlds. While it's easy to combine the two, it's a trap that emboldens criminals and hinders social justice.

Also, this is not an organized Antifa movement, because Antifa doesn't exist. Buying into the Antifa myth has really dire consequences for all of us.

Antifa doesn't exist? Seriously? And, more importantly, the idea that social justice and criminal behavior live in different worlds is even a larger delusion. We have seen it repeatedly; organizations that purport to fight for social justice are, in the main, rackets. 

Of all the disheartening things I've seen or read in this year of unrelenting awfulness, these statements are the most disheartening. We're never going to get better if we celebrate lies.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Love Lies Bleeding

Since the official start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been to one funeral. The person who died was Mrs. D's cousin, who died of advanced Alzheimer's at the remarkably young age of 55. She did not have COVID-19.

The funeral was small and surreal; maybe 20 people at most. Everyone had to wear a mask and outward displays of affection were not in evidence -- no hugs for the survivors, muffled conversations throughout. The minister who presided noted that this was the first funeral she had done in months.

At least there was a funeral. Many people who have died in the last six months have not had a funeral at all, or much support as they approached the end of their lives.

It wasn't that way for John Lewis, the civil rights leader turned congressman who died last month. Lewis was an important figure in our recent history and no one disputes that he deserved the honors he received, but still, it rankled. Writing for the Spectator USA, Amber Athey noticed:
Funerals are important: they acknowledge the sanctity of life and allow friends and family to come together to grieve their loss. This reality doesn’t change based on how famous or revered an individual was to the general public: it doesn’t hurt any less to say goodbye to someone who was just a dad or just someone’s child or just a dear friend. Their lives aren’t any less significant. Yet politicians have decided that celebrity affords them the right to override the onerous restrictions on funerals that so many average Americans have been forced to accept.

Yes, Georgia is unique in that it allows anyone to have a funeral. However, the governor’s executive order prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people if social distancing cannot be maintained. Photos of Lewis’s funeral in Atlanta showed that many more than 50 people attended and that social distancing was not maintained in parts of the church, nor during the burial outside.
Emphasis in original. Beyond that, other rules don't seem to apply:
At the same. time, a significant number of attendees traveled from out of state to attend the funeral. 50 members of Congress, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attended. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone who travels to Washington, DC from a coronavirus ‘hotspot’. Georgia was one of the states designated as a ‘hotspot’ on a list released by the DC government on Monday. Nevertheless, Pelosi (an essential worker) flitted around the Capitol all day Friday, almost gloating about her freedom from the rules. 
This is a dangerous game. People are noticing. Back to Athey:
How could any person who has lost a loved one during the pandemic see this blatant hypocrisy and not be incensed? You had to decide which family member could enter the hospital and be the last to see their father alive. You had to have last rites read over the phone. You could not touch the casket before it’s lowered into the ground. You could not embrace each other as the dirt was shoveled. All the while, the same politicians who lectured you about making sacrifices to stop the spread traveled with impunity, attended large funerals without proper social distancing and avoided quarantines upon their return.
We are told, incessantly, that this crisis will not end unless people mask up and get with the program. We are sitting on a powder keg. Many of us have reasons to grieve, but those reasons don't seem to matter unless you are a politician with the proper credentials, or some other A-lister or grandee. Meanwhile, the march of restrictions rolls on. You and I have to wear masks. It would seem masks are not necessary where the air is rarefied. Know your place and breathe deeply.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

This Masquerade

Our benevolent governor finally pulled the trigger on his latest power grab:
Gov. Tim Walz has issued an executive order mandating mask use for indoor public spaces.

The mandate will take effect early Saturday morning, and requires Minnesotans to wear masks in public indoor gathering areas like stores and restaurants, as well as while using public transportation.

Exemptions are in place for people with medical or mental health conditions that make it "unreasonable for the individual to maintain a face covering."

Children under the age of five are also exempt from the order, though masks are still encouraged for children between the ages of two and five. The order states that "those who are under two years old should never wear a face covering due to the risk of suffocation."
A few thoughts:

  • The whole thing is unreasonable. But you knew that.
  • We hear incessantly that the "science" says wearing a mask works. But we don't know, really. We're still in the middle of this experience and most of what's proffered as evidence are really assertions. I suspect there are scientists galore who are actually studying these mandates and we'll eventually get the truth about mask efficacy. But we don't have it yet. 
  • I don't believe mask mandates are about thought control or whatnot, but I do know the news media are still awfully good at thought control. People are scared to death of COVID and while certain populations have reason to be cautious, most people who actually encounter the virus will not be at serious risk. Wearing a mask will make no real difference either way.
  • I struggle with wearing a mask myself, but I doubt my discomfort would constitute a condition that would exempt me from the order. In my mask-wearing experience thus far, my glasses are constantly fogged and I become quite conscious of my breathing, which causes me a significant amount of anxiety. I don't know how my discomfort benefits others, but my social media feed is full of people who believe it does. And you cannot convince them otherwise. And, for that matter, complaining reveals your selfishness.
  • You will note, as with all Walz depredations, there is no end date or sunset provision. Walz will require you to modify your behavior for as long as he chooses, whether his requirements are necessary or proper, and he does not need to provide you with a rationale. While I don't imagine he will mandate all Minnesotans wear a ball gag by October, you can't necessarily rule that out.
  • I have mentioned it before, but it's worth saying again. When we finally get past all this, the real damage will be to our ability to be neighbors. Fear is corrosive as hell and the notion that your fear justifies the use of force against your neighbors to assuage your fear is poison, flat out. And any mandate is force.
By the way, if the masks don't work, this may be next:

Cleveland judge orders inmate's mouth taped shut in courtroom ...
It's for your own good, and we've heard quite enough from you anyway


Friday, July 17, 2020

Tommies Go to D1

So the Tommies are going to the big-time, at least in athletics:

The University of St. Thomas is heading to Division I.

The university announced the NCAA's Division I Council approved a motion on Wednesday to allow St. Thomas to make the jump from Division III to Division I -- the first program in the NCAA's modern era to make the direct leap.

“Our St. Thomas community is excited to embark on this journey of building Minnesota’s first private D-I collegiate athletics program and the second D-I program in the state,” said University of St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan in a news release. “St. Thomas has a long history of academic and athletic excellence and embracing change with an entrepreneurial spirit. This move continues that trajectory.”

According to the release, the Tommies have officially accepted invitations to join the Summit League, the Pioneer Football League and the Women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). A conference decision for men's hockey is still pending.
Yes, the Tommies have been dominant in sports at the D3 level. As a practical matter, they outgrew the MIAC a number of years ago. They didn't necessarily dominate in football, but in all the other sports they were crushing the other conference schools on a regular basis. This particular event probably the signal it was time to move on:

Image

You have to understand -- St. Olaf is not a doormat. They haven't contended for the top spot in the MIAC, but they are usually respectable. From the linked recap in the Sporting News:

You would think that in such a mismatched game, St. Thomas would acknowledge how much better it was and take things a bit easy. Nope. St. Thomas went for a two-point conversion three times, and was 5-of-5 on fourth down. St. Thomas knew it was better, and wanted to prove it.
And that, at bottom, is the real point. St. Thomas is an ambitious school and St. Thomas has something to prove. With an undergraduate enrollment over 6000 and a variety of graduate programs, they aren't really competing for students with Hamline and Gustavus. Their actual competitors are other midwestern metropolitan Catholic universities -- think Marquette, or Loyola-Chicago, or Creighton, or SLU. Being a D1 school will guarantee St. Thomas gets its name on the newscasts more often, even if they lose games initially. The games on the field or the courts are more about alumni pride and marketing. You can go anywhere in the country and find people who have heard of Marquette. Most people outside of the Midwest have no idea about St. Thomas. If the Tommies make the leap to D1 successfully, people will.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Suggested new nicknames for the NFL team in Washington

Redskins is out, or likely will be. So what should replace it? Herewith, a baker's dozen suggestions:

Washington Gridlocks (per Benster)
Washington Red Tape
Washington Assistant Deputy Undersecretaries
Washington Orange Man Bads
Washington Weasels
Washington Ivy League Masturbation Society
Washington Deep States
Washington J. Edgars
Washington Swamp Thangs
Washington Strzoks
Washington Fanne Foxes
Washington Dirty Painted Whores*
Washington Fighting Hasterts

Vote for your favorite choice in the comments, or certainly suggest your own.

*per a certain former colleague of mine


Thursday, June 25, 2020

That would be a shame

Sean Spicier laments:

Faith matters
Remarkably scandal free, they'll have you know.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

You had to know it was crap

In this racially fraught moment, the notion that someone would put a noose in the vicinity of the only black driver competing in NASCAR seemed, well, dubious. There are security cameras everywhere and by all accounts the driver, Bubba Wallace, is a popular figure in the racing community. And, sure enough, the incident wasn't what it seemed:
The FBI has determined that NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime and that a pull rope fashioned like a noose had been on a garage door at Talladega Superspeedway since as early as October, NASCAR said Tuesday.

"The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall," NASCAR said in its statement. "This was obviously well before the 43 team's arrival and garage assignment.

"We appreciate the FBI's quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing."
The 43 car is iconic in the world of stock car racing, mostly because Richard Petty drove it. I've never been much of a racing fan, but everyone knew the 43 car:

43 STP Richard Petty 1979-80 Powerslide - Powerslide - Powerslide ...
King Richard
Petty hasn't been racing for decades, but he remains a major figure in the sport and his racing team has kept the number 43. Wallace drives for Petty, so having that number means something. It's always been the stereotype that because NASCAR came out of the South, it had an undercurrent of racism. Perhaps there's some truth to that, but in the main the modern racing fan doesn't care about that. You aren't likely to hear much about this story in a few more days -- the people who were riding the hobby horse would rather you pay attention to something else now. But racing fans will remember. NASCAR is pursuing a full-on social justice model these days, as are most sporting organizations. They are free to do so, but the point of spectator sports is to provide a diversion from the dreary architecture of modern life. The audience doesn't watch sports for moral instruction. There's plenty of that going around anyway.

Friday, June 19, 2020

I haven't been blogging much, as you've noticed. . .

We are living through one of the more momentous years of our lifetimes, and yet I have found it difficult to face the blank screen to write. It's not surprising, I suppose, because we are in a time of great tribalism and primitivism. Our fellow citizens cover public monuments with expletives, when they aren't topping statues from plinths. A typical conversation seems to go like this:

Or like this:


I'm a Catholic boy and I can sling the rhythmic Anglo-Saxon terms with the best of them, but it gets wearying. I have to get better, but man, it's tough to engage when the world is mad.

Just a question

So the Twins decided to take down a statue of their longtime owner, Calvin Griffith, because he apparently said racist things back in the day.

So, I'm curious -- in the greater scheme of things, who (and what) do you suppose hurt black people more. Is it Calvin Griffith and his racist musings, or is it Carl Pohlad and his lending practices?

Bonus question -- do you suppose Pohlad's offspring, who inherited and currently own the team, would be willing to take a serious look at that question?

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Today

Do the lives of blacks matter? Of course.

Does that mean the goals of Black Lives Matter are sacrosanct? Not really.

Can you affirm one notion and dispute another? At this moment, no.


Saturday, June 13, 2020

Again, just to be clear

Ahem.

Whatever you think of the George Floyd revels, and I don't think much of them because people who claim to love him have turned a human being's corpse into a prop, one thing needs to be said -- it's spectacularly dumb to say George Floyd is getting special treatment. Four cops killed him. The funerals were wretched excess, but wretched excess does not special treatment for Mr. Floyd. He's dead. He derives no benefit from what has happened after his demise.

Make smart arguments, please.