Archive for March, 2016
31 Mar 2016

Zack Snyder Killed Superman

, ,

Superman2016

Devin Faraci really really does not like the direction taken by the latest Superman films.

Warner Bros, custodian of the Superman legacy, has handed the keys of the character over to Zack Snyder, a filmmaker who has shown he feels nothing but contempt for the character. In doing so they have opened the character to an ugly new interpretation, one that devalues the simple heroism of Superman and turns the decent, graceful character into a mean, nasty force of brutish strength.

Where Superman was originally intended as a hopeful view of strength wielded with responsibility, Snyder presents him as a view of strength as constant destructive force; where Christopher Reeve’s Superman would often float and flit away, Snyder’s version explodes like a rocket at all times, creating sonic booms above city centers in fits of pique, such as after his scene of moping on Lois Lane’s Washington DC hotel balcony. He is a constant weapon of destruction, often smashing concrete when he comes to earth. There are no soft landings for this Superman.

Grace is a word that I have used a number of times here, and I have meant that in multiple ways, both as a description of physical movement and as a way of behaving. Superman can be firm, but is always polite, and he does not hold his powers as a cudgel above others… unless it’s Zack Snyder’s Superman. Here is a character who threatens first and asks questions later, who resorts to physical violence against Batman at the slightest provocation, who has no words of comfort or wisdom for anyone, who even flies away after a terrible disaster at the US Senate. …

After two films I do not believe this is an accident. I believe that Zack Snyder is systematically destroying Superman not because he doesn’t understand the character but because he profoundly dislikes the character. One of the larger themes of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the idea that every act of heroism is a catalyst for something terrible in the world, a point of view that is not only a) insane but b) inherently anti-Superman. And in case you think I’m reading too much into the film (where Pa Kent’s ghost gives a bizarre horse-drowning speech that makes this explicit) here’s Snyder on the press tour for the film:

    When we find him, he’s been dealing with the everyday world of being a superhero, but there’s a paradigm shift happening in that the unintended consequences of some of those rescues are starting to come into fruition.

    Like, if you’re just taking a cat out of a tree, you can’t touch anything or the arborists will say, ‘he damaged the tree branch when he got the cat down.’ Or, ‘the cat wasn’t neutered, so now there’s thousands of cats.’ There’s no winning anymore for Superman.

Somebody tell Zack Snyder how cat reproduction works.

What Snyder is talking about, and what his movie ends up being about, is the concept of staying in your own lane – don’t get involved in the affairs of others because it’s always going to create unintended consequences, and usually bad ones. That’s an intrinsically nihilistic point of view, and it’s absolutely bizarre to me that it’s a point of view that Warner Bros allowed to be attached to Superman. It’s like making a Strawberry Shortcake movie that is all about diabetes. …

For generations there have been depictions of Superman that get the basic qualities – Truth, Justice, the American Way (an idealized version of it, at least), decency, kindness, happiness, love – correct. Whether you think Superman Returns is any good or whether you think the animated Superman show or Justice League Unlimited is the best ever, they all contain depictions of the character a someone a young person can look at as a model for action. What would Superman do? Be a good guy, be polite, be kind. Every time.

Every time until 2016.

Just like 1938 and just like 1978 it’s a tough world out there. We’re in a sluggish economic recovery and we’re stumbling out of two terrible, costly wars of aggression. We are in the middle of an election cycle that is actually insane, one where a guy with openly fascistic and racist tendencies is a lock to win the GOP nomination. We wake up to news reports of suicide bombings in Brussels and in a park full of women and children in Pakistan. … The ideals of America seem distant today, and hope seems even more distant. Just as in 1938 and 1978 we need a bright, hopeful figure to fly in and remind us of what we can be, of who we are when we’re not weighted down by the hate and the problems. We need a Superman.

Zack Snyder killed him.

When I was four years old I sat in a movie theater and I believed a man could fly. I sat in a movie theater and I saw a guy doing the right thing because it was the right thing, and he never hemmed or hawed, he never held himself above the people he helped. His strength wasn’t just physical, it was moral, and it was inspirational to me. While I identified with other characters who struggled – characters like Spider-Man – I always looked to Superman’s inherent rightness as true north for my moral compass.

Of course you can’t even bring a four year old to see Batman v Superman, but even if you did – and if they didn’t run screaming from the film’s excessive violence and darkness – what kind of a Superman would they find waiting for them? Not a hero. Not a decent guy. They would find a guy filled with anger, a guy who is haughty and disdainful of regular humans. They would find a guy who, in many ways, represents the worst of us, a guy who struggles against his urge to do the right thing. And there are no current cartoons to fill in the gap, no explicitly kid-friendly comics. (There is, thankfully, Supergirl on CBS, a show forced to pick up the torch of Superman that Warner Bros and Zack Snyder have tried to douse)

Every generation has had a Superman to look to, to learn from. I feel terrible for the youngest generation who has this cruel, selfish Superman.

31 Mar 2016

Donald Trump’s Gettysburg Address

, , , ,

LincolnTrump

If Trump, instead of Lincoln, had given the Gettysburg Address (via Kevin M. Levin):

It was a long time ago – I don’t think anyone can even remember, but I can remember, I have a great memory, I’ve got the best memory ever. These guys, they made the most special thing, really, really special. Where everyone was free and everything was great, just the way I’ve made America, I really, really mean that.

Now we’ve got these people – I don’t like these people, let me tell you, they’re really awful, they said, “Hey Trump, you’ve got small hands,” and so I went after them, I really did, I sued them, and what did they do? They decided they wanted a fight and I said, “Okay, we’ll see who’s still here in a few years,” and see, we’re still here, on this battlefield. It’s a yuge battlefield, and it’s really, really, great, it’s so special. See, we’ve built this cemetery, so how big it is? It’s so special. And these guys – we’ve got the best guys – they tell me, “Hey Donald, give us someone who can lead us and we’ll beat these rebels,” and so I made things happen – it’s what I do – and boom, look, we’ve got this big, big win. These guys died winning, and I’m sure that makes their families just so, so happy, all this winning. It’s really great that we can be here to make this place special because of all the winning they did.

But really, we can’t make this place any more special than they did by winning so hard, unless it’s to build a brand new Trump Towers – Gettysburg – that’s right ladies and gentlemen, that’s right, right here, right where you’re standing, we’re going to build this yuge tower, and oh my goodness, it will be so special, so big. You’ll just get sick from how big it is. You say to yourself, “Hey, I wonder if anyone will remember this place.” And now you don’t have to wonder anymore because you’ll be able to see it from miles and miles away, that’s how yuge it will be. We’ll make those rebels remember this place where they lost, where they became losers. I really hate losers. I hate them so much that we’re going to keep on winning, just to show them how much of losers they really are, that’s what we’re going to do. What these guys did – and they’re just the best, so special – well, we’re going to make sure that what they won for is going to be kept alive forever. Know what I’m going to do? I’m going to build a wall, a yuge wall, really, really yuge, all along the Mason-Dixon Line, and know what? I’m gonna make Jeff Davis pay for it, I really am. That guy’s such a loser, it’s why I hate him so much, and I think it’s what the guys that won here would really want. I’m just going to keep this great country really great, and yuge, just like me. We’re going to keep winning until we’re so tired of winning that you’ll have to thank me for making everything so great. My government is going to be around for a while, so get used to that winning.

Oh hey, look, we’ve got someone yelling about issues over there. What’s that? Slavery? Throw that guy outta here, get him out, this is about winning, and he’s a loser.

31 Mar 2016

Jim Geraghty: “Trumpkins Should Be Handcuffed to the Titanic They Volunteered to Crew on”

,

TrumpTitanic

Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos recently discovered that their political idol is “mental”. Stephanie Cegielski worked for his nomination, but concluded that the truth of the matter is: “Trump only cares about Trump.”

Jim Geraghty has some unkind words for them and all the other little Trumpkins out there.

Trump supporters, no one should let you off of that bandwagon now. You should be handcuffed to that Titanic you volunteered to crew.

Donald Trump didn’t suddenly change in the past few days, weeks or months. He’s the same guy he always was, the same guy that most of us in the conservative movement and GOP have been staunchly opposing for the past year. He didn’t abruptly become reckless, obnoxious, ill-informed, erratic, hot-tempered, pathologically dishonest, narcissistic, crude and catastrophically unqualified for the presidency overnight. He’s always been that guy, and you denied it and ignored it and hand-waved it away and made excuses every step of the way because you were convinced that you were so much smarter than the rest of us. You were so certain that you had received some superior wavelength giving you special insight into the Donald; only you could tell that it was all an act. Only you could grasp that his constant courting of controversy was just to get attention from the media. Only you could instinctively sense that his style would play brilliantly in the general election and win over working-class Democrats. (SPOILER ALERT: It isn’t.) You insisted that you could “coach him.”

You came to those conclusions not because you’re smarter than the rest of us, but because you’re actually more foolish than the rest of us. You insisted Occam’s Razor couldn’t possibly be true– that Trump acts the way he does because this is who he is, this is the way he is all the time, and he will always be like this. You fooled yourself into believing that Trump was playing this nine-level chess that only you and a few others could perceive and understand. Only you could see the long game.

There is no long game. He’s winging it. There is no grand strategy. There is no master plan. Trump doesn’t look ahead to the next sentence, much less the next step in getting elected.

“Our candidate is mental?” No Shinola, Sherlock, some conservatives said this from day one and all we got for it was the alt-Right vomiting forth endless vitriol and profanity and threats.

Oh, what’s that? Trump’s Twitter behavior is “utterly stupid”, Newt? Thanks for noticing; six days ago you were telling the media there was absolutely nothing about Trump that worries you. Maybe your previous comparison of Trump to Reagan was frankly, fundamentally, profoundly wrong from A to Z.

“Trump only cares about Trump”? Gee, thank you, turncoat former insider, for this shocking bit of secret intelligence. News flash, some of us didn’t need to work for Trump for several months to figure that out. We saw it, we said it, and you called us liars for saying it.

Technically we’re supposed to welcome previous Trump fans-turned-foes with open arms. But barring some miraculous comeback by Ted Cruz, the Trump campaign will have cost the Republican Party the presidency after eight years of Obama, and perhaps the Senate and even the House – and Scalia’s replacement on the Court as well. Years of effort spent attempting to dispel the accusations of inherent Republican misogyny, xenophobia, hypocrisy, ignorance and blind rage have been undone by Trump’s campaign. And every Trump advocate in front of a camera had a hand in this.

We’re not just gonna hug it out.

30 Mar 2016

We’re Screwed

, , ,

nevertrump

Jonathan V. Last, of the the Weekly Standard, (via email) observes that we are in a no-win situation here. Whatever happens, Donald Trump is going to split the GOP vote.

With Easter break behind us and a pause before the vote in Wisconsin next week, let’s have a deep breath and take stock of where we stand now in the GOP primary.

It’s now abundantly clear that the Republican party is broken. There’s no putting Humpty Dumpty back together again this cycle-whether the nominee is Trump, Cruz, or [insert White Knight]. The idea that Republicans could rally to Trump in a meaningful way-even if party elites cave in-has basically been invalidated by the exit polling coming out of Florida, Ohio, Utah, and pretty much everywhere else. A giant chunk of Republican voters isn’t going to come to him.

Now maybe it’s not the 40 percent or so who tell pollsters they won’t vote Trump if he’s the nominee. I’m sure some of those people feel that way because they’re in the heat of a primary fight and will reconsider when facing the prospect of a Clinton administration. But some won’t, because Trump isn’t just distasteful. You could argue that the potential downside of Trump (expansive authoritarianism unmoored from ideological commitments) is worse than the potential of downside of Clinton (lawless progressivism run amok) [Good summations –JDZ]. For some GOP voters, Clinton could be the lesser of two evils.

But even if half the Republicans who now say they won’t vote for Trump stay that way, there are a bunch of knife’s-edge states that come off the board. So long Florida. So long Ohio. So long North Carolina and Colorado. My colleague Jay Cost thinks that in a Trump vs. Clinton matchup, Clinton starts with a floor of 400 Electoral votes. He may be right. (By the by, Trump supporters generally place a great deal of faith in poll numbers when they show their guy doing well against Bush, Rubio, Cruz, et al. Yet somehow they totally discount the mountain of polls showing Trump being the weakest Republican-by far- against Clinton. Weird.)

On the other hand, Trump can honestly claim to have brought a bunch of new voters into the primary process. And where are these people going to go if Trump isn’t the nominee? Who knows. But it probably won’t be pretty. Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, so they clearly needed a revamped coalition. Last summer, it looked like Trumpism might be an answer to this problem. Now that Trumpism has devolved from being a semi-coherent nationalist worldview into an ad hoc series of contradictory positions held together by an authoritarian cult of personality … not so much.

Which leaves us where, exactly?

Either Trump gets to 1,237 delegates and wins the nomination outright, or he doesn’t and someone else gets nominated after a floor fight at the Republican national convention.

But let’s be clear: Neither or these options is ‘good’ and neither is likely to result in a Republican victory in November. So when someone says, Yeah, but if you don’t do X, you’re giving aid and comfort to Hillary Clinton, just remember: There’s a good chance that ship has already sailed. The priorities for picking the Republican nominee are a lot more near-term right now.”

30 Mar 2016

Trump Too Flakey For Even Ann Coulter

, ,

anncoulter
Ann Coulter on the back porch of a certain house in Woodstock

Nobody can possibly maintain that Ann Coulter is anything less than keen, but even Ann (who flung herself happily in true berserker fashion into the Trump camp) is apparently having second thoughts, watching The Donald act up.

Washington Examiner:

Defending billionaire businessman Donald Trump is like constantly having to bail a teenage son from prison, author and political commentator Ann Coulter groused in a recent radio interview.

“I’m a little testy with our man right now. Our candidate is mental! Do you realize our candidate is mental?” Coulter said jokingly during a taping of an episode of the “Milo Yiannopoulos Show,” which is scheduled to air in full this weekend. “It’s like constantly having to bail out your 16-year-old son from prison.”

Yiannopoulos and Coulter have spent most of the 2016 GOP primary enthusiastically defending Trump, and making the case for why he is the most qualified candidate to take on the Democratic front-runner in the fall.

However, Coulter is now unhappy with Trump over his late-night Twitter shenanigans, which have included attacks on journalists, businesses, television networks, heads of state and Heidi Cruz, the wife of Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Sigh. And I’d been hoping that, were Trump to be elected, at least, he would make Ann Coulter Secretary of State.

30 Mar 2016

Is Anyone Surprised?

, ,

TrumpMicrophone

Politico reports that Donald Trump, recognizing that he may well fail to win a majority in the first ballot at the GOP Convention, is welshing on his pledge to support the eventual nominee.

Donald Trump has rescinded his pledge to support the Republican nominee for president.

Asked during a CNN town hall whether he stood by the earlier pledge — which he signed in September after meeting with party chairman Reince Priebus — Trump said: “No, I don’t.”

“We’ll see who it is,” he told moderator Anderson Cooper.

Trump said he had been treated “unfairly” by the Republican National Committee and the GOP establishment. He said he was unsure whether the Republican establishment was plotting to take the nomination away from him during the convention in Cleveland.

They have the wrong guy heading the Republican National Committee. If it were I, instead of Reince Priebus, I’d be holding a press conference this morning, announcing that Donald Trump, having repudiated his own affiliation to the Republican Party, is now ineligible to compete in any subsequent GOP primaries. And I would then just sit back and watch how Trump would like that!

30 Mar 2016

Folk Architectural Detail

,

HandDoorknob

30 Mar 2016

Tiger

TigerHeart

28 Mar 2016

Great Bronze Age Battle Fought in Northern Germany

, , ,

BronzeAgeBones

Around the time that the Greeks were fighting the Trojans because Menelaos’ wife Helen had run off with Paris, evidence has been found proving that a great battle involving thousands of men was fought over a nearly 2 mile (3 kilometer) front along the Tollense River in Northern Germany.

The conventional perspective is that Northern Europe, in the Bronze Age, was a sparsely-populated wilderness containing only scattered individual farmsteads, no cities, no advanced cultures, no major population centers, just a few pitiful, fur-clad barbarians.

So, how on earth, could there possibly have been two leaders and two societies stretching across such large territories and featuring such potent forms of political organization as to be able to field such large armies prepared to fight to the death?

These questions are absolutely fascinating, but since literacy and written records simply did not exist, we will never know the answers. All this does seem to demonstrate, though, that Barbarous, Prehistoric Europe was a lot more culturally-developed and complex than can be readily imagined.

Science:

In 1996, an amateur archaeologist found a single upper arm bone sticking out of the steep riverbank—the first clue that the Tollense Valley, about 120 kilometers north of Berlin, concealed a gruesome secret. A flint arrowhead was firmly embedded in one end of the bone, prompting archaeologists to dig a small test excavation that yielded more bones, a bashed-in skull, and a 73-centimeter club resembling a baseball bat. The artifacts all were radiocarbon-dated to about 1250 B.C.E., suggesting they stemmed from a single episode during Europe’s Bronze Age.

Now, after a series of excavations between 2009 and 2015, researchers have begun to understand the battle and its startling implications for Bronze Age society. Along a 3-kilometer stretch of the Tollense River, archaeologists from the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Department of Historic Preservation (MVDHP) and the University of Greifswald (UG) have unearthed wooden clubs, bronze spearheads, and flint and bronze arrowheads. They have also found bones in extraordinary numbers: the remains of at least five horses and more than 100 men. Bones from hundreds more may remain unexcavated, and thousands of others may have fought but survived.

“If our hypothesis is correct that all of the finds belong to the same event, we’re dealing with a conflict of a scale hitherto completely unknown north of the Alps,” says dig co-director Thomas Terberger, an archaeologist at the Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage in Hannover. “There’s nothing to compare it to.” It may even be the earliest direct evidence—with weapons and warriors together—of a battle this size anywhere in the ancient world.

Northern Europe in the Bronze Age was long dismissed as a backwater, overshadowed by more sophisticated civilizations in the Near East and Greece. Bronze itself, created in the Near East around 3200 B.C.E., took 1000 years to arrive here. But Tollense’s scale suggests more organization—and more violence—than once thought. “We had considered scenarios of raids, with small groups of young men killing and stealing food, but to imagine such a big battle with thousands of people is very surprising,” says Svend Hansen, head of the German Archaeological Institute’s (DAI’s) Eurasia Department in Berlin. The well-preserved bones and artifacts add detail to this picture of Bronze Age sophistication, pointing to the existence of a trained warrior class and suggesting that people from across Europe joined the bloody fray.

FlintArrowHeadinBone

28 Mar 2016

Trump Clueless on Easter

, , ,

TrumpEaster

Daily Caller reports that Donald Trump is just a little shaky on the meaning and significance of the Easter holiday.

Donald Trump says Easter “represents family and get-together and — and something.”

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” on Easter Sunday, Trump was asked what Easter means to him and if he had an Easter tradition. The real estate mogul replied, “Well, it really means something very special. I’m going to church in an hour from now and it’s going to be — it’s a beautiful church. I’m in Florida.”

“And it’s just a very special time for me. And it really represents family and get-together and — and something, you know, if you’re a — a Christian, it’s just a very important day,” Trump said.

28 Mar 2016

Jim Harrison (1937-2016)

, ,

Jim-Harrison
Harrison looked like one of those European mastiffs, so ugly that he was beautiful.

Jim Harrison, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 78, was for my money the best living American writer of fiction. Jim Harrison wrote simply, elegantly, and perceptively about real Americans, the out-of-doors, and what the Japanese refer to as “the immortal questions.” He was prolific: 21 books of fiction and 14 of poetry, and, with the help of a loan of $15,000 from Jack Nicholson early in his writing career that gave him time to complete the break-through collection of novellas which sold some screenplays, successful enough to support a life-style which included flying to Paris to have lunch, extreme oenophilia with an emphasis on Burgundies, and a kitchen larder loaded with caviar and pâté.

Jim Harrison could step gracefully from writing violent escapist fantasies to serious, meditative novels focused on love, guilt, aging, and la condition humaine. He did not like being compared to Ernest Hemingway, but the comparison was an obvious one. Like Hemingway, Jim Harrison was a masculine writer, sophisticated and intellectual, but fundamentally and always an outdoorsman. Like Hemingway, Harrison was a romantic and a stoic, whose fiction was preoccupied with acute and intelligent observation in the course of living up to a demanding and aristocratic code.

The novelist Thomas McGuane was Harrison’s classmate at Michigan State, and Jim Harrison was himself the most distinguished representative of a group of rural, huntin’, fishin’, and shootin’ writers, basically at odds with the contemporary urban community of fashion culture, which included McGuane, Russell Chatham, Guy de la Valdène, and Steve Bodio.

The New York Times obit has some great anecdotes:

His food writing, much of which first appeared in Esquire, was collected in his 2001 book, “The Raw and the Cooked,” whose title invokes the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss’s volume of that name. Mr. Lévi-Strauss’s book is about myth and ritual. Mr. Harrison’s is about rituals that include his flying to France for the sole purpose of having lunch — a lunch that spanned 11 hours, 37 courses and 19 wines. …

At bottom, Mr. Harrison was not so much like Hemingway as he was like something out of Hemingway. Or, more accurately, something out of Rabelais — a mustachioed, barrel-chested bear of a man whose unapologetic immoderation encompassed a dazzling repertory:

There was the eating. Mr. Harrison once faced down 144 oysters, just to see if he could finish them. (He could.)

There was the drinking. One fine summer, he personally tested 38 varieties of Côtes du Rhône. (“It was like a small wine festival. Just me, really,” he told The Washington Post afterward.) …

All these ingredients were titanically encapsulated in a dinner Mr. Harrison once shared with Orson Welles, which involved, he wrote, “a half-pound of beluga with a bottle of Stolichnaya, a salmon in sorrel sauce, sweetbreads en croûte, a miniature leg of lamb (the whole thing) with five wines, desserts, cheeses, ports” and a chaser of cocaine.

He will be missed.

27 Mar 2016

Constitutionalism, Not Post-Constitutional Candidates

, , , , , , , , ,

TrumpThrone

Gerard van der Leun of American Digest (who is normally our most kindred spirit blogger) disagrees with NYM on Trump. Yesterday, he responded indignantly in a comment to our quoting John Hawkins‘s negative opinion of Trump:

The enemy of my enemy is always my friend until he helps me to destroy my enemy. After that he becomes my enemy again.

That or adios supreme court for one or two generations.

I think myself that Mr. van der Leun is not looking properly at the big picture. He ought to consider the historical perspective proposed by National Review’s Avi Snyder, to begin with.

With the GOP looking at the possibility of an open convention — complete with floor fights, riots, and the threat that the party will tear itself in two — the best historical analogue seems clear: Donald Trump is Teddy Roosevelt, and this is 1912 all over again.

The 1912 Republican National Convention was a battle for the soul of the party.

Though President William Howard Taft had been Theodore Roosevelt’s chosen successor in 1908, by 1912, the increasingly radical Roosevelt was dissatisfied with Taft’s relative conservatism in office. In violation of an earlier pledge not to run for a second full term, Roosevelt chose to challenge the president for the Republican nomination.

Much like Donald Trump, the progressive Roosevelt was a post-constitutional candidate. There are parallels between Trump’s defense of eminent domain abuse and Roosevelt’s contempt for property rights, and Trump’s strongman tendencies have antecedents in TR’s impatience with the machinery of constitutional government.

In the early 20th century, only a handful of states held popular primaries to choose presidential nominees, and the results weren’t even binding. But Roosevelt was a popular figure, and he took advantage of these contests, carrying nine out of twelve primaries. President Taft, however, still controlled the machinery of the party, and in states where convention delegates were chosen by party regulars, Taft’s forces dominated.

This didn’t stop Roosevelt from crying foul. “I believe in pure democracy,” he had proclaimed at the Ohio Constitutional Convention in February of that year. As the forces of his era’s Republican establishment stood arrayed against him, Roosevelt, in the words of historian Lewis Gould, remained “firm in his conviction that the nomination was being stolen from him.” One can almost imagine the outrage of Trump boosters, such as Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich and others, at the notion that the “will of the people” could be so successfully thwarted by the party apparatus. Unlike Trump, Roosevelt didn’t promise riots if he failed to secure the nomination, but the convention organizers were prepared for them. A thousand policemen patrolled the aisles of the convention, and barbed wire was hidden beneath the bunting of the speaker’s platform in order to prevent assaults. For Roosevelt had cast his battle for the nomination in apocalyptic language, proclaiming to his followers that: “We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord.”

None of these protests stopped the conservative forces of President Taft from denying Roosevelt the nomination. Taft’s ally Elihu Root defeated Roosevelt’s chosen candidate for convention chairman. Roosevelt’s forces lost important votes on the floor, and the convention awarded contested delegates to Taft. Roosevelt had won more primaries and had entered the convention with a plurality of delegates, but Taft easily wrapped up the nomination on the first ballot.

Taft and Root knew that denying Roosevelt the nomination would likely lead him and his supporters to bolt the convention and run on a third-party ticket, splitting the GOP vote and virtually guaranteeing a Democratic victory in November. Of course, this is precisely what happened. Combined, Roosevelt and Taft won over 50 percent of the popular vote, but Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the election with just over 40 percent.

Why was the Republican establishment of the day so intent on denying Roosevelt the nomination? Didn’t they know that their dirty tricks would “hand the election to the Democrats?” Didn’t they know it was time to “come together as a party?” What Taft, Root, and their allies understood was that, as Root would later put it, “worse things can happen to a party than to be defeated.” In fact, as Root understood the situation before the party, “the result of the convention was more important than the question of the election.”

In 1912, America’s very system of constitutional government was under attack. Woodrow Wilson, the man who would become the Democratic candidate, had spent his prior academic career attacking the Constitution as outdated and dismissing the eternal truths of the Declaration of Independence as passé. Roosevelt’s progressivism led him to support a variety of radical measures — such as popular recall elections for judges and judicial decisions — that also threatened America’s constitutional order. Had Roosevelt captured the party in 1912, America would have been without a constitutionalist, conservative party.

Root and Taft insisted that the party of Lincoln should be maintained as “a nucleus about which the conservative people who are in favor of maintaining constitutional government can gather.” And even though they lost the election, ushering in Wilson’s disastrous presidency, history has proven their wisdom. It is hard to imagine a President Coolidge, a candidate Goldwater, or a “Reagan Revolution” had the Republican party become the vehicle for promoting Roosevelt’s proto-welfare state. In the face of defeat, the losers of the election of 1912 could rest in the knowledge that they had ensured constitutionalism would continue to find a home in one of America’s major parties.

The relevance of 1912 to the 2016 GOP primary race should be obvious.

———————-

Of course, apart from such grand issues as preserving the alternative of a constitutionalist party, one needs to bear in mind that it likely to be better for the future of the country, and of the conservative cause, to see one’s adversaries elect a failed and disastrous presidency than to elect one of those supposedly representing your own party and your own principles.

I do not believe that Donald Trump shows any reasonable probability at all of winning, making America great, or making good decisions or appointments. I can easily picture Donald nominating his liberal sister and a few random poker buddies to the Supreme Court. I can picture Donald Trump taking a shot at reviving tariffs and Protectionism and instigating a world-wide trade war, dramatically deepening the economic bad times, and shaking the foundations of the world economic order.

I can picture Donald Trump bullying corporations, initiating his own series of New-Deal-style make-work federal programs, and adding some next larger entitlement to the Welfare State.

I think that four years of Donald Trump at the helm will produce results similar to Trump University’s or Trump steaks’, and that electing Donald Trump as a Republican will inevitably result in giving the radical democrat party a “One-Free-Presidency” coupon to be cashed for absolutely anyone.

Beyond these practical considerations, I think that we have a duty as citizens to respect our country and our institutions and to support for the chief magistracy only, in the words of John Adams’ prayer, “wise and honest men.”

It may be, this year, as in 2008 and other disastrous years, that Fate is against us. There is nothing we can do to win. We may not be able to command success, but we can, at least, conduct ourselves, and choose, in such a way as to deserve it.

27 Mar 2016

Easter

, ,

Rubensthe-resurrection
Peter Paul Rubens, The Resurrection of Christ, 1611-1612, Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

From Robert Chambers, The Book of Days, 1869:

Easter

Easter, the anniversary of our Lord’s resurrection from the dead, is one of the three great festivals of the Christian year,—the other two being Christmas and Whitsuntide. From the earliest period of Christianity down to the present day, it has always been celebrated by believers with the greatest joy, and accounted the Queen of Festivals. In primitive times it was usual for Christians to salute each other on the morning of this day by exclaiming, ‘Christ is risen;’ to which the person saluted replied, ‘Christ is risen indeed,’ or else, ‘And hath appeared unto Simon;’—a custom still retained in the Greek Church.

The common name of this festival in the East was the Paschal Feast, because kept at the same time as the Pascha, or Jewish passover, and in some measure succeeding to it. In the sixth of the Ancyran Canons it is called the Great Day. Our own name Easter is derived, as some suppose, from Eostre, the name of a Saxon deity, whose feast was celebrated every year in the spring, about the same time as the Christian festival—the name being retained when the character of the feast was changed; or, as others suppose, from Oster, which signifies rising. If the latter supposition be correct, Easter is in name, as well as reality, the feast of the resurrection.

Though there has never been any difference of opinion in the Christian church as to why Easter is kept, there has been a good deal as to when it ought to be kept. It is one of the moveable feasts; that is, it is not fixed to one particular day—like Christmas Day, e. g., which is always kept on the 25th of December—but moves backwards or forwards according as the full moon next after the vernal equinox falls nearer or further from the equinox. The rule given at the beginning of the Prayer-book to find Easter is this: ‘Easter-day is always the first Sunday after the full moon which happens upon or next after the twenty-first day of March; and if the full moon happens upon a Sunday, Easter-day is the Sunday after.’

The paschal controversy, which for a time divided Christendom, grew out of a diversity of custom. The churches of Asia Minor, among whom were many Judaizing Christians, kept their paschal feast on the same day as the Jews kept their passover; i. e., on the 14th of Nisan, the Jewish month corresponding to our March or April. But the churches of the West, remembering that our Lord’s resurrection took place on the Sunday, kept their festival on the Sunday following the 14th of Nisan. By this means they hoped not only to commemorate the resurrection on the day on which it actually occurred, but also to distinguish themselves more effectually from the Jews. For a time this difference was borne with mutual forbearance and charity. And when disputes began to arise, we find that Polycarp, the venerable bishop of Smyrna, when on a visit to Rome, took the opportunity of conferring with Anicetas, bishop of that city, upon the question. Polycarp pleaded the practice of St. Philip and St. John, with the latter of whom he had lived, conversed, and joined in its celebration; while Anicetas adduced the practice of St. Peter and St. Paul. Concession came from neither side, and so the matter dropped; but the two bishops continued in Christian friendship and concord. This was about A.D. 158.

Towards the end of the century, however, Victor, bishop of Rome, resolved on compelling the Eastern churches to conform to the Western practice, and wrote an imperious letter to the prelates of Asia, commanding them to keep the festival of Easter at the time observed by the Western churches. They very naturally resented such an interference, and declared their resolution to keep Easter at the time they had been accustomed to do. The dispute hence-forward gathered strength, and was the source of much bitterness during the next century. The East was divided from the West, and all who, after the example of the Asiatics, kept Easter-day on the 14th, whether that day were Sunday or not, were styled Qiccertodecimans by those who adopted the Roman custom.

One cause of this strife was the imperfection of the Jewish calendar. The ordinary year of the Jews consisted of 12 lunar months of 292 days each, or of 29 and 30 days alternately; that is, of 354 days. To make up the 11 days’ deficiency, they intercalated a thirteenth month of 30 days every third year. But even then they would be in advance of the true time without other intercalations; so that they often kept their passover before the vernal equinox. But the Western Christians considered the vernal equinox the commencement of the natural year, and objected to a mode of reckoning which might sometimes cause them to hold their paschal feast twice in one year and omit it altogether the next. To obviate this, the fifth of the apostolic canons decreed that, ’ If any bishop, priest, or deacon, celebrated the Holy Feast of Easter before the vernal equinox, as the Jews do, let him be deposed.’

At the beginning of the fourth century, matters had gone to such a length, that the Emperor Constantine thought it his duty to take steps to allay the controversy, and to insure uniformity of practice for the future. For this purpose, he got a canon passed in the great Ecumenical Council of Nice (A.D. 325), that everywhere the great feast of Easter should be observed upon one and the same day; and that not the day of the Jewish passover, but, as had been generally observed, upon the Sunday afterwards. And to prevent all future disputes as to the time, the following rules were also laid down:

    ‘That the twenty-first day of March shall be accounted the vernal equinox.’

    ‘That the full moon happening upon or next after the twenty-first of March, shall be taken for the full moon of Nisan.’

    ‘That the Lord’s-day next following that full moon be Easter-day.’

    ‘But if the full moon happen upon a Sunday, Easter-day shall be the Sunday after.’

As the Egyptians at that time excelled in astronomy, the Bishop of Alexandria was appointed to give notice of Easter-day to the Pope and other patriarchs. But it was evident that this arrangement could not last long; it was too inconvenient and liable to interruptions. The fathers of the next age began, therefore, to adopt the golden numbers of the Metonic cycle, and to place them in the calendar against those days in each month on which the new moons should fall during that year of the cycle. The Metonie cycle was a period of nineteen years. It had been observed by Meton, an Athenian philosopher, that the moon returns to have her changes on the same month and day of the month in the solar year after a lapse of nineteen years, and so, as it were, to run in a circle. He published his discovery at the Olympic Games, B.C. 433, and the cycle has ever since borne his name. The fathers hoped by this cycle to be able always to know the moon’s age; and as the vernal equinox was now fixed to the 21st of March, to find Easter for ever. But though the new moon really happened on the same day of the year after a space of nineteen years as it did before, it fell an hour earlier on that day, which, in the course of time, created a serious error in their calculations.

A cycle was then framed at Rome for 84 years, and generally received by the Western church, for it was then thought that in this space of time the moon’s changes would return not only to the same day of the month, but of the week also. Wheatley tells us that, ‘During the time that Easter was kept according to this cycle, Britain was separated from the Roman empire, and the British churches for some time after that separation continued to keep Easter according to this table of 84 years. But soon after that separation, the Church of Rome and several others discovered great deficiencies in this account, and therefore left it for another which was more perfect.’—Book on the Common Prayer, p. 40. This was the Victorian period of 532 years. But he is clearly in error here. The Victorian period was only drawn up about the year 457, and was not adopted by the Church till the Fourth Council of Orleans, A.D. 541.

Now from the time the Romans finally left Britain (A.D. 426), when he supposes both churches to be using the cycle of 84 years, till the arrival of St. Augustine (A.D. 596), the error can hardly have amounted to a difference worth disputing about. And yet the time the Britons kept Easter must have varied considerably from that of the Roman missionaries to have given rise to the statement that they were Quartodecimans, which they certainly were not; for it is a well-known fact that British bishops were at the Council of Nice, and doubtless adopted and brought home with them the rule laid down by that assembly. Dr. Hooke’s account is far more probable, that the British and Irish churches adhered to the Alexandrian rule, according to which the Easter festival could not begin before the 8th of March; while according to the rule adopted at Rome and generally in the West, it began as early as the fifth. ‘They (the Celts) were manifestly in error,’ he says; ‘but owing to the haughtiness with which the Italians had demanded an alteration in their calendar, they doggedly determined not to change.’—Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, vol. i. p. 14.

After a good deal of disputation had taken place, with more in prospect, Oswy, King of Northumbria, determined to take the matter in hand. He summoned the leaders of the contending parties to a conference at Whitby, A.D. 664, at which he himself presided. Colman, bishop of Lindisfarne, represented the British church. The Romish party were headed by Agilbert, bishop of Dorchester, and Wilfrid, a young Saxon. Wilfrid was spokesman. The arguments were characteristic of the age; but the manner in which the king decided irresistibly provokes a smile, and makes one doubt whether he were in jest or earnest. Colman spoke first, and urged that the custom of the Celtic church ought not to be changed, because it had been inherited from their forefathers, men beloved of God, &c. Wilfrid followed:

    ‘The Easter which we observe I saw celebrated by all at Rome: there, where the blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, lived, taught, suffered, and were buried.’ And concluded a really powerful speech with these words: ‘And if, after all, that Columba of yours were, which I will not deny, a holy man, gifted with the power of working miracles, is he, I ask, to be preferred before the most blessed Prince of the Apostles, to whom our Lord said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and to thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven” ?’

The King, turning to Colman, asked him, ‘Is it true or not, Colman, that these words were spoken to Peter by our Lord?’ Colman, who seems to have been completely cowed, could not deny it. ‘It is true, 0 King.’ ‘Then,’ said the King, ‘can you shew me any such power given to your Columba? ’ Colman answered, ’ No.’ ‘You are both, then, agreed,’ continued the King, are you not, that these words were addressed principally to Peter, and that to him were given the keys of heaven by our Lord?’ Both assented. ‘Then,’ said the King, ‘I tell you plainly, I shall not stand opposed to the door-keeper of the kingdom of heaven; I desire, as far as in me lies, to adhere to his precepts and obey his commands, lest by offending him who keepeth the keys, I should, when I present myself at the gate, find no one to open to me.’

This settled the controversy, though poor honest Colman resigned his see rather than submit to such a decision.

On Easter-day depend all the moveable feasts and fasts throughout the year. The nine Sundays before, and the eight following after, are all dependent upon it, and form, as it were, a body-guard to this Queen of Festivals. The nine preceding are the six Sundays in Lent, Quinquagesima, Sexagesima, and Septuagesima; the eight following are the five Sundays after Easter, the Sunday after Ascension Day, Whit Sunday, and Trinity Sunday.

EASTER CUSTOMS

The old Easter customs which still linger among us vary considerably in form in different parts of the kingdom. The custom of distributing the ‘pace’ or ‘pasche ege,’ which was once almost universal among Christians, is still observed by children, and by the peasantry in Lancashire. Even in Scotland, where the great festivals have for centuries been suppressed, the young people still get their hard-boiled dyed eggs, which they roll about, or throw, and finally eat. In Lancashire, and in Cheshire, Staffordshire, and Warwickshire, and perhaps in other counties, the ridiculous custom of ‘lifting’ or ‘heaving’ is practised.

On Easter Monday the men lift the women, and on Easter Tuesday the women lift or heave the men. The process is performed by two lusty men or women joining their hands across each other’s wrists; then, making the person to be heaved sit down on their arms, they lift him up aloft two or three times, and often carry him several yards along a street. A grave clergyman who happened to be passing through a town in Lancashire on an Easter Tuesday, and having to stay an hour or two at an inn, was astonished by three or four lusty women rushing into his room, exclaiming they had come ‘to lift him.’ ‘To lift me!’ repeated the amazed divine; ‘what can you mean?’ ‘Why, your reverence, we’re come to lift you, ‘cause it’s Easter Tuesday.’ ‘Lift me because it’s Easter Tuesday? I don’t understand. Is there any such custom here?’ ‘Yes, to be sure; why, don’t you know? all us women was lifted yesterday; and us lifts the men today in turn. And in course it’s our rights and duties to lift ‘em.’

After a little further parley, the reverend traveller compromised with his fair visitors for half-a-crown, and thus escaped the dreaded compliment. In Durham, on Easter Monday, the men claim the privilege to take off the women’s shoes, and the next day the women retaliate. Anciently, both ecclesiastics and laics used to play at ball in the churches for tansy-cakes on Eastertide; and, though the profane part of this custom is happily everywhere discontinued, tansy-cakes and tansy-puddings are still favourite dishes at Easter in many parts. In some parishes in the counties of Dorset and Devon, the clerk carries round to every house a few white cakes as an Easter offering; these cakes, which are about the eighth of an inch thick, and of two sizes —the larger being seven or eight inches, the smaller about five in diameter— have a mingled bitter and sweet taste. In return for these cakes, which are always distributed after Divine service on Good Friday, the clerk receives a gratuity- according to the circumstances or generosity of the householder.

26 Mar 2016

Worse Than We Thought!

, , ,

CruzMistresses

Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted for March 2016.















Feeds
Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark