Catching Up

‘She reports, we decide she’s hot’

Well, we’ve been a bit British heavy this week, no apologies, for two reasons, it has been an important week there, and you all kept reading. But some other stuff has been going on, so let’s play a bit of catch-up. First and least important Meghan Kelly had her debut on NBC, I didn’t watch but it sounds like her interview with Putin didn’t go well. Imagine that! Why is it here, I needed a picture for the post, most of the rest don’t lend themselves to that. Too bad, back in Obama’s first term, when she was working hard on being a reporter, she was a good one.

Qatar got itself isolated from its neighbors for its support of Iran, Russia, and terrorism. Ace had the best write up I saw.

First of all, though there’s some recent news which seems to be sparking this — leaked documents showing cooperation between the UAE and Israel, leaked documents showing Qatar cozying up to Russia — in fact, those are just shots being fired in an information operation war that has been going on for years. Those are not the cause of the tensions, just the recent signs that the Gulf States are no longer willing to paper over its problems with Qatar.

Although states like Saudi Arabia are frequently charged with inciting terrorism or permitting their citizens to fund terrorism, they are, at least officially, anti-terrorist-uprising/anti-Islamist-takeover, if only for reasons of self-preservation. States that align against destablilization by Islamists are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait.

And Egypt, which was briefly given to the Islamists, gift-wrapped by Barack Obama.

Also Jordan, a fairly friendly country, and also, kind of secretly, Israel. The Gulf States do not openly brag about their cooperation with Israel, and Israel keeps it quiet so as not to embarrass them, but Israel is a quiet secret partner against the Islamists.

Meanwhile, there’s a pro-Islamist slate of powers in the region: the once secular, now Islamist Turkey, the Mohammad Brotherhood (not an official power, but can’t say Obama didn’t try), and… Qatar, which openly supports Islamist movements itself, and propagandizes for them through its Al Jazeera network.

Meanwhile, not only is Qatar funding and fueling Sunni Islamist movements, but they’re also cozying up to Obama’s favorite country Iran, against which most of the Sunni Muslim world is allied.

You can expect to hear more pro-Qatar propaganda from the usual sources, Anti- Saudi too, of course.


Connected maybe, or maybe not, there was a terrorist attack in Tehran this week. At the shrine to Khomeini, and at the the parliament. You remember Khomeini, of course, he was the terrorist that with Carter’s help toppled the Shah, leading to the hostage crisis, that destroyed Carter’s presidency and helped give us Reagan. From Powerline.

What seems surprising is that ISIS (or some other terrorist group) was able to carry out successful attacks in the heart of the ayatollahs’ police state. As the Post notes, security forces are deployed at prominent sites, and Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps maintains a vast network of informants and allies around the country.

The security forces apparently weren’t up to the job. The attackers reportedly entered the parliament building through the main entrance. Their siege lasted more than an hour. Moreover, according to the New York Times, one attacker left the building an hour into the siege, “ran around shooting on Tehran’s streets,” and then returned.

Perhaps the regime has become complacent given its success in taming the population. Perhaps it’s just extremely difficult to prevent these kinds of attacks even in a police state.

The regime, which must be hugely embarrassed, has responded, predictably, by blaming the U.S. and the Saudis. The Revolutionary Guard stated:

The public opinion of the world, especially Iran, recognizes this terrorist attack — which took place a week after a joint meeting of the U.S. president and the head of one of the region’s backward governments, which constantly supports fundamentalist terrorists — as very significant.

Taking a rather different line, and displaying characteristic indifference to human life, Ayatollah Khamenei characterized the attack as the setting off “firecrackers.”

Best part of the response was President Trump’s statement:

We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.

Perfect.


Former director (and current weasel) James Comey testified before the Senate this week. Seems like he might have told something resembling the truth (for a change). In any case, he more or less confirmed what Trump has been saying, and destroyed any number of fake news stories. I tried to watch, but got bored, and went back to British election news. Which is still continuing to rumble about, where it’ll come out, I doubt anybody really knows. Maybe we’ll find out next week, the Brexit negotiations start soon, so they have to get a move on. [Added] I just heard (on Sky) that her joint chiefs of staff, a couple of young American style advisors have resigned. If I got it right, these are the two fools who wrote that insane manifesto.

London, Again

NBC News

Well, 30 + injured about 6 dead, it’s been done again, in London, this time. Well, we’ll pray for them all, the dead, the injured, and yes, our British cousins, in general. It’s what one does when one can’t do much else. This may be the saddest Tweet I’ve ever read, One should never see such a warning about one of the most civilized cities in the world, but we know it could easily have been New York, or Omaha, or a thousand others both here and there.

Thursday the British will vote in the General Election, they will be voting for their Member of Parliament, who will choose the next (or the same) Prime Minister. It’s considerably different from our system, but like ours, it has defended freedom for a long time.

Terrorism raises major and fundamental problems for a free society. How much of our freedom should we give up to our intelligence agencies who may well need that information to defeat this type of threat, but it is still none of the government’s business what you do and say, within very broad guidelines. All solutions are imperfect, I don’t have the answer if there is one, neither does President Trump, or Prime Minister May, or anybody else. The solution rests, I suspect, on the other half of our rights of freedom, our duty to defend it. Pay attention, and act as a responsible person would. That is your duty. And duty is a much-underused word, and yes, concept, in our countries these days.

That also lends point to why we, and Britain, all countries who are, or aspire to be, free must control their borders. There are very strict limits to the constraints we can impose on our citizenry, and very rightly so. But we can control who enters the country, and we must. This is a most insidious form of supporting terrorism, but support it is.

And I was quite impressed with the Metropolitan Police last night, both in the way they flooded the zone, and in the fact that within eight minutes of the attack kicking off, the perpetrators were assuming room temperature, and that in a country where the average cop is not armed. Heck, it would be good in any of the heavily armed US cities. Well done, guys and girls. They have also been doing a pretty good job of letting people know what is going on.

Donald Trump Tweeted this last night:

That’s nearly all any of us can do, at this point, but we are here, as always.

Soon, it will be time for free people to find a way to remove this scourge, and we will be there then, as well. For truly, as Burke wrote…

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one,

an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

That was the Week that Was

It’s been an interesting week, hasn’t it? The horror of the attack at Manchester, the reactions following, the reactions to the Trump tour of Europe, and yes, the irresponsible and potentially criminal handling of intelligence by American officials. How do we make sense of all this information?

I’ve been fairly quiet this week, listening, and thinking, and have drawn some conclusions.

First Trump. He just might turn into one of the best Presidents we’ve had in a long while, especially in foreign affairs. His speech in Riyadh bears more attention than it got. So does his response to Manchester. Beyond the conventional and necessary expression of sympathy to our friends and allies, he made an excellent point, which we should adopt, when he said, as Scott Adams reports.

President Trump just gave ISIS its new name: Losers. (Short for Evil Losers).

If you think that’s no big deal, you’re wrong. It’s a big deal. This is – literally – weapons-grade persuasion from the most powerful Master Persuader of our time.

As I have taught you in this blog, President Trump’s clever nicknames for people are not random. They are deeply engineered for visual impact and future confirmation bias.

In this case, the visuals will be provided by future terror attacks. That reinforces the “evil” part, obviously. But more importantly, the Losers will be doing nothing but losing on the battlefield from now until “annihilation.” They are surrounded, and the clock is ticking. Oh, and the press isn’t allowed to watch the final battles. In other words, we won’t need to build new holding cells on Guantanamo Bay this time. No press means no prisoners, if you know what I mean. (American soldiers won’t be shooting the prisoners. We have allies for that sort of thing.)

As you know, “annihilation” of the Losers in Loserdom won’t stop the loser’s ideas from spreading. You still have to kill the ideas. And that takes persuasion, not bullets. President Trump just mapped out the persuasion solution: Evil Losers.

Think about that for a while. Do it while you cry into your Kleenex™, taking your Excedrin™ for your headache, and seeing the USA in your Chevrolet, send me a Xerox™ me of your results, and don’t forget the Kodachromes™ of your trip. Marketing: it’s what we do, it’s what Trump does, his name has always been his brand, and he’s done it again. ISIS now equals Evil Losers™. It’ll stick because it’s true, and it’ll stick because they’ll demonstrate that it continues to be true. A genius move.

Then there is the trip, Riadayh, Jerusalem, Rome, to start. Think there might be a theme there? Sure there is: the home of the three so-called Abrahamic faiths. Truth to power in Saudi Arabia, reinforcing something that the King believes, that his people must modernize, but he, like England, for instance, is awash in Wahabi fanatics. It ain’t going to be easy, and at least he’s trying, and the direct flight to Israel demonstrates that the Saudis recognize that Israel is part of the solution, and that one cannot separate the US from Israel, Great Satan will always stand with Little Satan, not only the government but the people.

Then on to Rome, where all of us Christians have a stake, Catholic or not, this is the last, and foremost of the Patriarchates formed by the Apostles themselves, and arguably, even for Orthodox and Protestants, the one formed by the man that Jesus himself said about, “Upon this Rock.” The current incumbent is in some ways disappointing. In the exchange of gifts, Trump gave him a first edition collection of the works of the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, a highly appropriate gift, I think. In return, he received copies of Amoris Laetitia, Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si’. Am I the only one the who finds it a bit reminiscent of Obama giving Queen Elizabeth an I-pod with his speeches? That’s what I thought.

But writing in the aftermath of Manchester, our friend, Francis Phillips wrote in The Catholic Herald about Dietrich von Hildebrand.

In response to the Islamist terrorist atrocity on Monday night in Manchester, in which 22 innocent people died and 59 have been injured, some severely, so many questions arise: why wasn’t the suicide bomber apprehended earlier (there had been several complaints to the police about his behaviour)? Are sporadic acts of Islamist terrorism now a fact of life in Europe in the future? Is the misplaced ideology of multiculturalism to blame for this act of outrage and others like it? Can we confidently make a distinction between Islam that is peaceful and Islamism that isn’t?

These are natural human questions. But as Christians we have to ask other, deeper and more personal ones. I have been reading the chapter “Blessed are the peacemakers” in Dietrich von Hildebrand’s book Transformation Christ as a way of moving beyond the highly disquieting news in the media with all the anxious questions that flow from it.

As the author says, to imitate Christ necessarily involves a love of peace and “a horror of all forms of discord, disunion and dissension”. But that in itself is not enough: to love peace is to act in a way that will help to bring it about. “Ignoring objective evils does not establish true peace”; nor does a “passive tolerance of evil”, through moral cowardice or sloth. At an individual level this means that we have” to draw [our enemy’s] attention to the wrong he has done us.” It also means engaging with the wider society and for the same purpose.

As von Hildebrand points out, “Cowardly acquiescence is not the love of peace”. True peace can only be found in close communion with Christ. This relationship alone will give us the strength to “possess, irradiate and spread peace.” We cannot always avoid suffering in this world but we can at least show others what the peace of Christ means in our lives. It calls for courage as well; in particular the courage to point out that what society calls “tolerance” is often the opposite. Christian values are not always the same as “British values” – as Christians have learned to their cost.

Indeed so, Christianity, and its allied secular powers have not built the modern world by ignoring evil, nor will we maintain it by doing so.

Then there are the inexcusable leaks to the New York Time of evidentiary material from Manchester. The British (and American) people deserve far better from our bureaucracy, as does our President. Hopefully, dismissals and prosecutions will follow. Something else bears here, as well. The Senate would be well advised to get off its ample rear (or head, it’s hard to tell) and confirm Trump’s people, a lot of this, I’d bet has to do with unreconciled Obama appointees.

On the other hand, it might have had a bit to do with waking up a few British folk about how much HMG covers up, to the point that I am hearing the word Londonistan again. And amongst my friends, I sense a resolve to solve this problem, one that I (and they) fear that their government does not share. And that is a most charitable way of putting it.

If I were asked (I won’t be!) my advice to Mrs. May would be three words from Britain’s heroic past…

Who Dares Wins

The Feast of Bede the Venerable

The first great English historian, patron of writers and historians, writer of what is still the standard history of Anglo-Saxon England in his Historia Ecclesiastica, the only English-born Doctor of the Church, and the first to translate the Bible into English. He was born about 672 and died on 26 May 735, which, as it is this year, was the feast of the Ascension.

From A Clerk of Oxford:

[…]This is a lovely coincidence (or occasional mercy, rather) because the feast of the Ascension and the words of its liturgy were in Bede’s mind, and on his lips, as he lay dying. We know this because a moving account of Bede’s death was recorded by a monk named Cuthbert, a former pupil of Bede’s and later abbot of Wearmouth-Jarrow. Cuthbert was present at Bede’s deathbed, and this is how he describes his death.

For nearly a fortnight before the Feast of our Lord’s Resurrection he was troubled by weakness and breathed with great difficulty, although he suffered little pain. Thenceforward until Ascension Day he remained cheerful and happy, giving thanks to God each hour day and night. He gave daily lessons to us his students, and spent the rest of the day in singing the psalms so far as his strength allowed. He passed the whole night in joyful prayer and thanksgiving to God, except when slumber overcame him; but directly he awoke, he continued to meditate on spiritual themes, and never failed to thank God with hands outstretched. I can truthfully affirm that I have never seen or heard of anyone who gave thanks so unceasingly to the living God as he.

O truly blessed man! He used to repeat the saying of the holy Apostle Paul, ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’, and many other sayings from holy scripture, and in this manner he used to arouse our souls by the consideration of our last hour. Being well-versed in our native songs, he described to us the dread departure of the soul from the body by a verse in our own tongue, which translated means: ‘Before setting forth on that inevitable journey, none is wiser than the man who considers – before his soul departs hence – what good or evil he has done, and what judgement his soul will receive after its passing’.

The English translation of John’s Gospel which Bede was working on at his death has not survived, and nor have any of Bede’s other English writings (it’s not clear whether his ‘Death Song’ was of his own composition, or if he is quoting a poem he knew). But a century or so after Bede’s death, an Anglo-Saxon poet composed a poem on the Ascension which must be one of the greatest poems ever written on that subject. I quoted it at length here, but this is my favourite part:

Swa se fæla fugel flyges cunnode;
hwilum engla eard up gesohte,
modig meahtum strang, þone maran ham,
hwilum he to eorþan eft gestylde,
þurh gæstes giefe grundsceat sohte,
wende to worulde. Bi þon se witga song:
‘He wæs upp hafen engla fæðmum
in his þa miclan meahta spede,
heah ond halig, ofer heofona þrym.’
…Wæs se siexta hlyp,
haliges hyhtplega, þa he to heofonum astag
on his ealdcyððe. þa wæs engla þreat
on þa halgan tid hleahtre bliþe
wynnum geworden. Gesawan wuldres þrym,
æþelinga ord, eðles neosan,
beorhtra bolda. þa wearð burgwarum
eadgum ece gefea æþelinges plega.

So the beautiful bird ventured into flight.
Now he sought the home of the angels,
that glorious country, bold and strong in might;
now he swung back to earth again,
sought the ground by grace of the Spirit,
returned to the world. Of this the prophet sang:
‘He was lifted up in the arms of angels
in the great abundance of his powers,
high and holy, above the glory of the heavens.’
…The sixth leap,
the Holy One’s hope-play, was when he ascended to heaven
into his former home. Then the throng of angels
in that holy tide was made merry with laughter,
rapt with joy. They saw the glory of majesty,
first of princes, seek out his homeland,
the bright mansions. After that the blessed city-dwellers
endlessly delighted in the Prince’s play.

Here is where English, British, and American written history begins, where it ends depends, in large part in our diligence in studying what has come before.

Also: Bede’s death — NEWMAN LECTURES.

Manchester

So, it has happened again, this time in Manchester, England. We talked about this after the Boston bombing, and it’s just as true for our cousins, except this was arguably worse, targeting kids, many of them girls. I simply have no words, not even unprintable ones, for the scum that do such things. But I do have words for the way Manchester and England reacted, but Cranmer put it better.

Bodies and blood.

Carnage, terror and tears.

“There are children among the deceased,” confirmed Greater Manchester Police. “This has been the most horrific incident we have had to face,” said Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.

Nuts and bolts and nails.

Smoke and burning.

“This is horrific, this is criminal,” said Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain. “May the perpetrators face the full weight of justice both in this life and the next.”

Emergency services praised.

Cobra committee convened.

“Please hold the people of #Manchester in your prayers,” tweeted David Walker, Bishop of Manchester. “We’ve faced terror attacks before and this latest won’t defeat us.”

Fear and division.

Thoughts, prayers and condemnation.

Evil descended upon Manchester Arena last night: his target was teenagers at a pop concert. He wore a vest packed with explosives and metal bits. There was a blast and then a flash of fire. And then everyone just started running, screaming and crying.

And then Jesus came.

“We are visiting for a health conference from morecambe bay trust tomorrow 3 Theatre ODPs available if needed,” tweeted Kirsty Withers, an NHS theatre clinical manager.

“If anyone needs shelter we are right on the outskirts of central Manchester in Salford, anything I can do to help DM me!!” tweeted science student Karolina Staniecka.

“Anyone in Manchester who needs to wait for their parents or needs somewhere stay or to make phone calls, etc, just DM me. We have tea!” offered the BBC’s Simon Clancy.

“Anyone needing somewhere to stay can come to our Manchester headquarters in the city centre,” tweeted Stephen Bartlett.

“The Holiday Inn nearest to Manchester Arena have taken dozens of kids who have been separated from their parents tonight,” said Samuel Carvalho.

“Taxi drivers in #Manchester offering free journeys to those stranded after the events in #ManchesterArena,” tweeted Bethan Bonsall.

Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,‘ said Jesus.

God love the cousins, “We have tea!” It’s the way of our people, care for the injured,  help the helpless, bury the dead, and carry on.

The Book of Common Prayer has it.

MERCIFUL God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the resurrection and the life; in whom whosoever believeth shall live, though he die; and whosoever liveth, and believeth in him, shall not die eternally; who also hath taught us (by his holy Apostle Saint Paul) not to be sorry, as men without hope, for them that sleep in him: We meekly beseech thee, O Father, to raise us from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness; that, when we shall depart this life, we may rest in him, as our hope is this our brother doth; and that, at the general Resurrection in the last day, we may be found acceptable in thy sight, and receive that blessing, which thy well-beloved Son shall then pronounce to all that love and fear thee, saying, Come, ye blessed children of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world: Grant this, we beseech thee, O merciful Father, through Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Redeemer. Amen.

And then there will be time to consider what must be done.

But our cousins don’t need us for that, like us, they will find the answer, likely after they have tried almost everything else. That too is the way of our people. But I suspect I speak for all Americans, that we agree with what Harry Hopkins told Churchill, long ago, in another crisis.

Well, I’m going to quote you one verse from that Book of Books … ‘Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.’” Then he added very quietly: “‘Even to the end.’”

But those who wish us ill would be wise to consider the words of another Englishman, as well.

It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late,
With long arrears to make good,
When the Saxon began to hate.

They were not easily moved,
They were icy — willing to wait
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the Saxon began to hate.

Their voices were even and low.
Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not preached to the crowd.
It was not taught by the state.
No man spoke it aloud
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not suddently bred.
It will not swiftly abate.
Through the chilled years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the Saxon began to hate.

Trump in Arabia

Remember this picture of the Swedish PM (and others) in the UAE?

Well, compare and contrast.

See a bit of difference in the attitude that Melania’s dress, and the whole scene portrays? Look, this isn’t earthshaking, there a lot of difference between Sweden and the US, as well as between the UAE and Saudi Arabia. But it does speak to attitude. The US is obviously being respectful, but so are the Saudi’s. The reception tells you, as it should, that the Saudi government has a good deal of respect for President Trump, and also that they want something. Which they do, but then again, Arabs and Americans, and especially this President are traders, and always have been, and signals are important.

It always signifies something, when the President’s daughter, Ivanka, an Orthodox Jew, looks quite comfortable in Riyadh, as here. But then again, what are the Saudi’s really going to say about it. But later today, for the first time (officially) AF 1 will be the first flight directly from Riyadh to Tel Aviv. That too is significant.

It speaks to the growing alignment of the Saudis and this Israelis against the Iranians, and it speaks of the gradual reform that is becoming evident in Saudi Arabia, not least because of America’s growing importance in the oil market, and thus still another way that the Arabs are losing their power.

And he gave a speech, worthy of an American President, here it is.

Now mind, words are not actions, but words often define actions we will take. It strikes me as a very good start.

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