Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Dorothea of Courland

From History of Royal Women:

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Prince of Benevento, had focussed all his attention on his nephew Count Edmond de Talleyrand-Périgord as his heir. And his heir needed a wife – preferably a rich one. It was probably Count Aleksander Batowski was hinted at Charles that Dorothea might be the woman for his nephew. Charles turned to Tsar Alexander, who was friendly with Dorothea’s mother, to ask her to give her daughter as wife to his nephew.

The Tsar and Dorothea’s mother talked for over two hours as she was most unhappy with the match. She placed her daughter’s preference for Prince Adam Czartoryski on the forefront and how she had no valid reason for stopping the match. The Tsar waved the Duchess’ concerns away. He told her, “At the age of fifteen, Dorothea is too young to have any fixed opinions of her own.”1 But apparently 15 wasn’t too young to be married! Eventually, the Duchess promised to do all she could to persuade Dorothea to agree to the match.

After much persuasion and intent on getting Dorothea to forget Prince Adam, Dorothea finally caught on to the plan to have her marry Edmond. Dorothea returned home for her mother’s birthday in November 1808 and was finally presented to him. She apparently barely slept that night. The following day, her mother officially told her of her promise to the Tsar and how Dorothea should consider “all the benefits which will accrue to your family from the match.”2 Dorothea snubbed her mother with the words, “But happily your situation is not so very bad that I must feel myself obliged to sacrifice what I have so long believed to represent my hopes of a happy future.”3 Dorothea had been ignored and neglected by her mother all her life, and she saw no need to help her now. The Duchess was incensed, but eventually, the two settled on Dorothea being polite to Edmond for the duration of the festivities so “it will at least appear that you are giving the proposal some serious thought.”4 In yet another betrayal of trust, Dorothea was then convinced that Prince Adam did not consider himself engaged to her and was, in fact, engaged to another.

A grieving Dorothea then announced to her mother that she was ready to marry anyone thought to be desirable – even Count Edmond. She then locked herself in her room and stayed there for the rest of the day – crying her eyes out. The following day – with her eyes still red from crying – she was left alone with Edmond. She told him, “I hope, sir, that you will be happy in this marriage which has been arranged for us. I must tell you, however, what you probably know already, that I am giving way to my mother’s wishes, not with actual repugnance it is true, but at least with the most complete indifference towards you. Perhaps I will be happy – I like to think so anyway – but I am sure you will understand my regrets at leaving my country and my friends and won’t resent the sorrow which I will feel, at first at any rate.” To which Edmond replied, “My God! I find that perfectly natural. For that matter, I am only marrying myself as to please my uncle. At my age, you know, it’s much more fun being a bachelor.”5 A promising start to a marriage, indeed. (Read more.)


The End of the American Order

 From The Federalist:

The breakdown of law and order was crafted in the offices of politicians, and its results are as immediate as they are sickening: A beautiful port city is now a frequent host to pitched battles between masked and helmeted left- and right-wing mobs spanning across city blocks; paintballs, pepper spray, fireworks, and beatings in broad daylight; and while innocent civilians flee the violence under a cloudy gray sky, the only sounds audible are of rioting — with nary a police siren in the distance.

It’s long not been safe to be a reporter in Portland: Just Sunday, Antifa targeted independent journalist and photographer Maranie Staab. “You f-cking endangered people by flying to f-cking Colombia and endangering everyone by opening them up to COVID, you little slut,” one masked and armored man screamed at Staab, referring to her June reporting on violence in South America.

Minutes later, Antifa members pepper-sprayed her, knocked her to the ground, and reportedly broke her phone and damaged her camera, yelling, “How many times do we have to f-cking tell you?”

After other reporters moved her away from the mob and helped her wash out her eyes and mouth, an Antifa member sprayed them (and their cameras) with more paint. Once again, police were nowhere to be seen or even heard. (Read more.)


Statue With Rock Crystal Eyes

 From My Modern Met:

One of the most arresting features of the sculpture is its rock-crystal and copper eyes, which add stunning realism to the piece. Carved from sycamore wood, it is remarkable that the statue survived so well. One element that appears to have disintegrated is its originally plastered and painted outermost layer. Even so, the statue's level of preservation is quite impressive. And in a funny twist of fate upon its discovery, the figure had a striking resemblance to the mayor of the excavators' town. That is how the statue got one of its names—Sheikh el-Balad, meaning mayor or town leader in Arabic. Alongside this figure in the mastaba was a statue of a woman, also carved in wood. She is thought to be Ka'aper's wife. Today, the famous statue of Ka'aper is held at The Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt. Many other gorgeous examples of Egyptian art can be found at the world-famous institution. (Read more.)


Monday, August 30, 2021

Woman in White

 From Bonhams:

A portrait of Henrietta Maria of France by British artist John Hoskins (circa 1590-1664) is sure to be a highlight at Bonhams Fine Portrait Miniatures sale in London's Knightsbridge on November 21st. This oval watercolor on vellum is encased in a silver fausse-montre frame with foliate decoration that measures 72mm (2 13/16in) in height. It is expected to attract £20,000-30,000.

Henrietta Maria was the youngest daughter of the assassinated Henri IV (1553-1610) and his second wife, Marie de' Medici (1575-1642). On 13th June 1625, she married the ill-fated Charles I and moved to England with a collection of expensive gowns, fine furnishings, and jewels such as the pearls pictured in Hoskins' portrait. She was Queen Consort of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1625 until 1649.

In this portrait miniature, Henrietta Maria (1609-1669) wears a white figured dress with a white lace collar; her curled hair is swept back and held in place with a white ribbon bow, revealing a large pendant earring that matches the teardrop pearl dangling from her pearl necklace.

In its presentation of Henrietta Maria's form, hair and jewelry, Hoskins' work is reminiscent of Anthony Van Dyck's 1632 double portrait of the Queen holding an olive branch in one hand and extending a laurel wreath in the other to her husband, Charles I (1600-1649). Van Dyck's portrait was commissioned to reside above the fireplace in the drawing room at Somerset House, which Charles I granted to Henrietta Maria in 1626. Hoskins was subsequently commissioned to paint a number of portrait miniature copies of the Queen's bust.

Henrietta Maria was unpopular in England: She was denied an Anglican coronation and frequently attacked as a sinister, foreign, Catholic influence on the King. In France, by contrast, she was praised for her piety, heroism and the courage with which she faced the tragedy of her husband's execution in 1649. The letters exchanged between Charles I and Henrietta Maria during the final decade of the King's life reveal a strong, assertive, and politically-minded Queen. Recently, her biographers have balanced her reputation for being reckless and frivolous with her courage and tenacity. (Read more.)


Trump-Churchill Comparison

 From Jeffrey Lord:

Trump’s spokeswoman ridiculed for calling him ‘the new Churchill’ in tweet of magazine article: ‘Those two words should not even be in the same sentence’

What followed, predictably, was tweet after tweet that exhibited nothing but blissful ignorance of Churchill, all prompted by the all-too-predictable loathing of Trump haters.

Of course, the tweeters showed absolutely no realization that in the day Winston Churchill, like Donald Trump today, was a figure of immense controversy. He had been tossed out as First Lord of the Admiralty for his role in the Dardanelles disaster, in which the Allies of World War I had sought to take out Turkey. In fact, Churchill’s strategy was spot on – but the execution of the plan by a British admiral was the problem and it turned into a route with tens of thousands of British casualties. Churchill was blamed -wrongly –  and thought his career over.

Over time he began to come back, but now with a permanent reputation as brilliant but erratic, unreliable and more. His stance in opposing India’s independence hurt him even more. Thus when he began, in laser-like fashion, to zero in on the threat from Germany and Adolph Hitler he was completely ignored. Even when it became crystal clear that his sharp criticism of Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler was correct, there were still members of his Conservative party who opposed his becoming prime minister. They were the British version of the “RINO’s” (Republicans In Name Only) that Trump regularly attacks.

What all of these tweeters miss is that it is precisely that willingness to “never give up” (as Churchill put it) that made Churchill a great leader. Nobody has understood the massive problems that a Biden presidency would produce better than Donald Trump. Nobody. Biden has as predicted turned out to be the Neville Chamberlain of our day- and Trump spotted this early on and has repeatedly, in Churchillian style, said so. (Read more.)


Can People Change?

 From Brainpickings:

While the death of a loved one can make the notion of moving on unfathomable at first, it also makes it, by definition, inevitable — there is no other recourse, for such loss is unambiguous and irreversible. But there is a species of grief, spawned of a type of loss that is more ambiguous and elastic, that muddles the notion of moving on into an impassable and disorienting swamp: the cyclical grief of loving someone on the grounds of their highest nature and watching them fall short of it over and over, in damaging and hurtful ways, which you excuse over and over, because of their impassioned apologies and vows of reform, or because of the partly noble, partly naïve notion that a truly magnanimous person is one who always has the breadth of spirit to forgive — a notion rooted in a basic misapprehension of what forgiveness really means. (Read more.)

From Crisis:

A thing is right or virtuous because it is in balance, which is to say that it is properly ordered to what it ought to be. A thing is mistaken or corrupt or even evil because of its inadequacy or its excess. The soldier who refuses legitimate duty because of personal fear is cowardly; the soldier who needlessly exposes himself to enemy fire is foolhardy. The virtue of courage, then, lies between inadequacy and excess.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told the crowds—and us: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7), and St. Paul counseled us to “be kind to one another [and] tenderhearted” (Ephesians 4:32). “Charity,” Pope Emeritus Benedict told us, “is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine” (Caritas in Veritate, #2).

Then why would Mother Angelica, the founder of EWTN, call such compassion the reigning sin of our times? She didn’t. In fact, it was misguided compassion or false mercy—a perversion of charity, of magnanimity—about which she warned us. Misguided compassion is “mistaken mercy”; it is condolence without direction, without limit, without justice. It is “out of order” and improperly balanced. Walker Percy and Flannery O’Connor also warned us against the dangers of false mercy and misdirected tenderness. See here.

The great old movie The Bells of Saint Mary’s tells the story of a conflict at a school between a priest who wants to pass everyone and a nun (the school principal) who insists upon certain academic standards. Passing everyone (or giving high grades without real student achievement) is not charity; it is false mercy—and a violation of the standards of justice, fairness, and integrity. (Read more.)


Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Complexity and Humanity of Floria Tosca

From In the Wings:

Flung into a world of revolutionary conviction and maddening corruption, horrifying violence and passionate devotion, the title character of Tosca finds herself ensnared in a tightening web of tragic events. The opera, taut and melodramatic, unfolds over the course of a single day in Rome, in June of 1800. Throughout, the celebrated diva Floria Tosca is at the center of the action. She flirts with her beloved, the painter Mario Cavaradossi, prays, and sings; then, after crisis strikes, she resists the advances of the villainous Scarpia, kills him, escapes, rushes to save Mario, fails to do so, and, finally, seizes her own destiny from the parapets of the Castel Sant’Angelo. As she endures these trials, Tosca emerges as a deeply complex character. Her complexity flows from many sources: the artistic vision of the opera’s creators, the perspectives of her fellow characters, and the interpretive choices of the singer performing the role.

Tosca has rich historical roots. Puccini based his work on La Tosca, an 1887 play by the prolific French dramatist Victorien Sardou. La Tosca, like many of his 70-plus plays, features a sensational plot, meticulous attention to historical detail, and overtly political themes. Puccini and Sardou worked together on the adaptation, meeting several times in Paris to discuss the project. The collaborative process was largely harmonious, but on one vital point, Sardou’s wishes overrode Puccini’s: while Puccini initially envisioned a drawn-out final scene, Sardou insisted upon the abrupt, explosive conclusion  that now stands as a hallmark of the opera. Puccini also embraced Sardou’s commitment to historical accuracy as he composed, even climbing to the ramparts of the Castel Sant’Angelo at sunrise so that he could listen to the church bells resounding across the landscape.

Sardou created the part of Tosca with a particular performer in mind, the illustrious French actress Sarah Bernhardt. Among the most famous women of her day, Bernhardt was an internationally-known celebrity, acclaimed for her emotionally charged acting as well as her gossip-column-worthy offstage life. Her fans flocked to her performances not just to see her play a role, but also simply to witness the fabulous spectacle of Bernhardt herself. (Puccini saw her perform the role of Tosca twice, in 1890 and 1895.)

In Sardou’s play, the character of Tosca is equipped with a substantial backstory. Born to modest circumstances as a goatherd, she spent her teenage years in a convent, where her extraordinary voice was discovered, catalyzing her rise to fame. In contrast, Puccini’s Tosca is more of an unknown quantity. She appears onstage in Act I of the opera in the prime of her life, a gloriously successful singer and a woman in love. Audiences learn nothing of her past, of what she was like before this fateful day. What they do learn is that that she does not fit easily into any single archetype, but rather seems to evoke several. At various moments throughout the opera, she embodies the innocent victim and the jealous lover and the transcendent artist and the angry murderess and the pious believer—all of which converge to make her a multifaceted, potentially ambiguous character. (Read more.)


Who Lost Afghanistan?

 From Charles Coulombe at The European Conservative:

The horrific scenes from the fall of Kabul to the Taliban could not help but rekindle memories of the fall of Saigon in 1975 (which this writer remembers) and that of Mainland China to the Communists in 1949 (which he does not). After both catastrophes there were endless bouts of accusations as to on whom in the American political establishment responsibility for the given debacle could be pinned. In the second case, we had in several ways pulled the rug out from under Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalists; in the first, it might well be argued that the stage had been set for final defeat over a decade earlier when President Kennedy green-lighted the overthrow and murder of President Diem. His own murder later in the same month did little to alter the situation: subsequent South Vietnamese leaders would be hard-pressed to present themselves as more than American puppets—especially to potential Viet Cong recruits.

So it is and shall be with Afghanistan, whose mishandling alongside Iraq by four successive presidential administrations was highlighted by the tragic sacrifice of thousands of American and allied—including Afghan and Iraqi—troops in the “Forever War.” This sea of blood was accompanied by enormous expenditures that cannot be recouped. One may blame Biden for the idiotic way in which the last few months were handled. His supporters might poke the finger at Trump, who began the drawdown—forgetting that for the most part, it was the children of Trump’s supporters who were providing the combat personnel doing the dying (as a rule, the children of politicians, media-folk, and academics no longer go into the all-volunteer forces). Trump’s partisans might in turn accuse Barack Obama of simply letting the pot boil pointlessly during his eight years in America’s most prominent government job. There is no doubt some justice in all of the charges that shall be made—and some injustice. But in this writer’s opinion, the War had been ultimately lost in 2002, by none other than the second George Bush who initiated the mess.

This might be considered a bold accusation, since he did after all preside successfully over both invasions that began the seemingly-endless conflicts now concluding. But the tragic truth is that in pursuing his “global democratic revolution,” he ensured not only the fall of Kabul, but the earlier rise of first an Al Qaeda-offshoot and then Islamic State (IS) in Iraq with their concurrent atrocities. When, in 2002, the Loya Jirga—Afghanistan’s traditional “estates general” so-to-speak—was poised to restore the country’s deposed King, Mohammed Zahir Shah, the move was very publicly vetoed by Bush’s envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad.

The tragedy here is not only that the King was popular among all the nation’s diverse ethnic groups, and so could have served as a powerful centre of unity (even the Nuristanis, whose ancestors were forcibly converted to Islam as late as 1898 and have little fondness for other Afghans, were loyal to him). It is that any regime that emerged out of this action would be seen by the majority of the population as a puppet of the United States, doomed to fold as soon as American support faltered—and so it has proved. Without a doubt, had we allowed the King to be restored, we could have then bidden the country a fond but quick farewell and left them to their own devices—with the renascent Monarchy to stand or fall on its own. But the urge to reconstruct the country in our own image was too powerful for President Bush to resist. (Read more.)


From PJB:

Hundreds of Americans are going to be left behind, along with scores of thousands of Afghan allies who worked with our military or contributed to the cause of crushing the Taliban. And many of those Afghans are going to pay the price of having cast their lot with the Americans.nAfter Aug. 31, the fate of those left behind will be determined by the Taliban, and we will be made witness to the fate the Taliban imposes. This generation is about to learn what it means to lose a war.

When the war for Algerian independence ended in 1962, and the French pulled their troops out, scores of thousands of "Harkis," Arab and Muslim Algerians who fought alongside the French, were left behind. The atrocities against the Harkis ran into the tens of thousands. Such may be the fate of scores of thousands of Afghans who fought beside us.

Biden's diplomats may be negotiating with the Taliban to prevent the war crime of using U.S. citizens left behind as hostages. But we are not going to be able to save all of our friends and allies who cast their lot with us and fought alongside us. Yet, while the promises of the Taliban are not credible and ought not to be believed, we are not without leverage.

As The New York Times writes, the Afghan economy is "in free fall." "Cash is growing scarce, and food prices are rising. Fuel is becoming harder to find. Government services have stalled as civil servants avoid work, fearing retribution." The Taliban's desperate need is for people to run the economy and for money from the international community to pay for imports of food and vital necessities of life. What will also be needed from us, soon after the fall of Afghanistan, is a reappraisal of America's commitments across the Middle East. We have 900 U.S. troops in Syria who control the oil reserves of that country and serve as a shield for the Syrian Kurds. How long should we keep them there? (Read more.)


From The Western Journal:

Kash Patel, Trump’s chief of staff at the Pentagon, detailed the former president’s plan in an Op-Ed for the New York Post last week. As the man responsible for bringing “the forever war in Afghanistan” to an end, Patel was “intimately familiar” with Trump’s plan. In his words, it was “a conditions-based, methodical exit plan that would preserve the national interest.”

Whereas Biden’s military appears to be scrambling to respond to terror attacks, Trump’s forces would have been prepared for that eventuality. And while the Biden administration essentially rolled over as the Taliban took control of the country, the Trump administration would have threatened the terrorist group with “the full force of the US military if they caused any harm to Americans or American interests in Afghanistan.” (Read more.)


From The American Thinker:

Is the Biden administration's messy withdrawal from Afghanistan incompetence, or is it exactly as planned?  Is there a hidden globalist plan aimed at empowering Islamic governments in the Mideast?  If yes, how would empowering the Taliban fit in the larger plan of globalists and believers in the New World Order?

Socialists and globalists, whose home today is in the Democrat party, have been speaking about their lofty plans for decades, constantly testing the waters of public opinion and speaking from both sides of their mouths.  They insert insane ideas in the American psyche, then quickly deny they really said what they said.  After speaking about her dream of an open border, Hillary Clinton denied her comments by saying she meant only to call for reforms but not open borders.  But if we dare take their comments seriously, we are branded conspiracy theorists. 

After decades of listening to the far left, by now we, the people of America, should more or less know where the modern-day Democrat party intends to take America and how these people envision the world.  Now it's up to us to put two and two together and start uncovering what the deceptive left is really telling us.  Those who reject globalism and the New World Order should start analyzing and exposing globalist policies.  We should stop accusing the left of being incompetent because it is not. 

All we need to do is listen to globalists — their plans, lies, hidden agendas — and expose them even when they give us double messages aimed at throwing us off if we take their words seriously.  We can't be intimidated when they accuse us of being conspiracy theorists.  It's time to put the socialist-globalist agenda into perspective and connect it with their policies and behavior, instead of just calling them incompetent or accuse them of not caring about the unintended consequences.  This is because the consequences are actually intended.  

Western globalists aim at eliminating borders between nations, and they have no problem starting themselves, in America and Western Europe.  Such an agenda, if fully understood, should explain why modern-day Democrats have no fear of China while fearing and hating their own patriotic citizens who oppose globalism and love American sovereignty.  It's unimaginable that Democrats defended China over their own President Trump, calling him "racist" after he referred to COVID as the "China Virus." (Read more.)


Ordered Virtue

 From Catholicism:

Revolutionaries love chaos. It’s not that they love disorder for its own sake; they don’t. Disorder is a tool in their toolkit. They want to bring about their own “ordo ab chao” as the Freemasonic motto goes, that is, “order out of chaos.” When they foment the chaos, they can utilize it to subject people to the diabolical order they want. So, too, all revolutionaries. Sexual revolution is a supreme example of this principle, for when people’s venereal appetite has been unleashed from the moral law, they become “chaotic” and therefore highly manipulable, as an excellent book by Dr. E. Michael Jones shows us atgreat historical length.

We do not live in Christendom, but former Christendom. The forces of organized naturalism have been creating a chaos all over former Christendom for centuries. Now, of course, they have established themselves in very high places in the spiritual and temporal spheres of Church and State. We must resist their revolution even if the revolutionaries wear the insignia of high office in either sphere. But in resisting them, we are not ourselves revolutionaries, but counterrevolutionaries, which means that we live within self-imposed (and grace-imposed) parameters of behavior. We are, therefore, to conform our lives to the demands of virtue, even imposing concrete rules upon ourselves that will help us the better to keep the natural and supernatural Divine Law. (Read more.)


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Charles I and Henrietta Maria Departing for the Chase

 From The Royal Collection Trust:

 In this ambitious large scale double portrait by Daniel Mytens the King and Queen are depicted on a terrace as they prepare to depart on a hunting excursion. Surrounded by lively dogs, they are attended by the court dwarf, Jeffrey Hudson and an African servant who brings their horses. The unusual composition, in which the two main figures are set off to the left hand side serves to emphasise the informality of the image. The couple are depicted in fashionable dress rather than court regalia and the strength of their loving relationship is commemorated through their intimate pose - they are shown holding hands - while a winged cherub showers flowers upon them. (Read more.)


Motu Proprio Fatigue

 From Dr. Esolen at The Catholic Thing:

Pope Francis, in an effort to unite the liturgical camps of the Catholic Church, has accused those who attend the Latin rite of a variety of sins, including one that grieves the Holy Spirit most deeply, that of not believing in the doctrines that came from the Second Vatican Council. The Holy Father says that we must be one in our worship as we are one in our belief. Hence the motu proprio, “Guardians of Tradition” (Traditionis Custodes).

I attend Mass in the new order. On the very rare occasions when I have attended the Latin Mass, I knew what I was getting. I might be from the other side of the world, and I would feel at home. Unity in creed is reflected by unity in worship. But with the Novus Ordo, it is another matter. I shall illustrate, from experience, changing the names, lest I seem to be glancing at anyone in particular. (Read more.)


Origins of Shadowfax

 From GameRant:

This is Shadowfax's introduction, but it is not the first time Gandalf rode the horse. When Saruman imprisoned Gandalf on top of Orthanc in Isengard, Gandalf was able to hypnotize a moth with an incantation so it would send word to the Eagles for help. Gandalf made his way to Rohan, where King Théoden offered Gandalf a horse so long as he left afterward (since he was suspicious of him). This was when Gandalf met Shadowfax, as he is the horse Gandalf chose. He then tamed the horse, rode to The Shire, and then made his way to Rivendell at a much greater speed than a normal horse. Gandalf and Shadowfax parted ways, and Shadowfax went back to Rohan. 

The next time Gandalf and Shadowfax met was when the Three Hunters and he needed transportation, and Gandalf called out for Shadowfax's return. Viewers can hear Legolas briefly explain a bit about what type of horse Shadowfax is and why he is able to run so quickly and carry so much weight. Legolas says, "that is one of the Mearas, unless my eyes are cheated by some spell." Legolas' awe lets the viewers know that this is no ordinary horse. When Gandalf and Shadowfax reunite in The Two Towers, they accompany one another for the remainder of the trilogy. (Read more.)


Friday, August 27, 2021

Uncovered Cupid


Art lovers get ready to be struck by Cupid’s arrow, as the first image of the completed restoration of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (around 1657-59) has been released today by Dresden’s Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, fully revealing a hidden image of Cupid. The change to the composition in one of Vermeer’s most famous paintings is so great that the German museum is dubbing it a “new” Vermeer in publicity materials.
The painting has been in the museum’s collection for more than 250 years and the hidden Cupid had been known about since an x-ray in 1979 and infrared reflectography in 2009. It had been assumed that the artist himself had altered the composition by covering over the painting of Cupid. (Read more.)

The Bitter Fruits of Interventionism

 From PJB:

As President Lyndon Johnson and the best and brightest of the 1960s were broken on the wheel of Vietnam, the Biden presidency may well be broken on the wheel of the Taliban’s triumph in Afghanistan.

Less than a week into the chaotic U.S. withdrawal at Hamid Karzai International Airport, a CBS poll found that Americans, while still approving of President Joe Biden’s decision to get us out of this “forever war,” were stunned by how badly botched the withdrawal was being executed. By 75-25, Americans believe the withdrawal is going badly. And those who believe it has gone “very badly” outnumber by 9-1 those who believe it has gone “very well.”

Biden’s own approval rating has plummeted to 50%, the lowest of his presidency. Yet, the disastrous debacle at Kabul airport is by no means played out. It may yet become worse, far worse. For it is difficult to believe the United States can get all its citizens out by Biden’s deadline of Aug. 31, and impossible to believe we can withdraw all of our imperiled Afghan allies from that 20-year war who today live in terror for themselves and their families.

And there is a certainty — indeed, it is already happening — that some of those left behind will be subjected to atrocities by rogue elements of the Taliban, if not its leadership. Those atrocities will make for film and footage in the Western press, underscoring the failure of the United States to rescue allies it left behind. And, with reports already emanating from Afghanistan about food shortages, the country could become a human rights hellhole by fall.

Consider. The Taliban may have been able to overrun 15 provincial capitals and Kabul in a week. But the government officials running those cities cannot readily be replaced by Taliban fighters whose vocation for the last two decades has been fighting a terrorist-guerrilla war. (Read more.)

From Crisis, HERE.


Complex Trauma Linked to Cognitive Impairments and Mental Health Disorders

 From Neuroscience:

New research from King’s has explored whether different types of trauma confer the same risk of future mental illness, in the first study of its kind. The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, investigated the theory that traumas occurring at an early age, that involve interpersonal violence, and are repeated could represent a particularly detrimental type of trauma named complex trauma.

Participants were from the E-Risk Study, which tracks the development of 2,232 children born England and Wales in 1994-1995. They were assessed for complex trauma exposure (such as repeated child abuse), exposure to other non-complex traumas (such as car accidents), as well as mental health problems and cognitive function at age 18.

The researchers found that young people who had been exposed to complex trauma had more severe mental health problems and cognitive impairments, compared not only to trauma-unexposed peers, but also to those exposed to non-complex traumas. These difficulties were seen across several mental health disorders and cognitive domains.

The researchers also found that several early childhood vulnerabilities, measured at age 5, predicted later exposure to complex trauma, but not non-complex trauma. These vulnerabilities also largely explained the associations between complex trauma exposure and cognitive impairments. (Read more.)

Thursday, August 26, 2021



An old house in Maryland. From The Chestertown Spy:

This magnificent house was built for the ages with its walls of thick brick and has been a residence, B&B and currently is the corporate offices of a national firm. The office furnishings are unobtrusive so the original interior architecture and finishes can be admired. Beautiful wood floors, high ceilings, moldings, ceiling medallions in the living and dining rooms and interior transoms above doors all attest to the beauty of the house when it was a private residence. The unusual jib-way doors in the adjacent sitting and dining rooms access the porch for pre-dinner cocktails and post-dinner coffee. I admired how the current owners’ relocated kitchen incorporated the long original windows and the fireplace into the layout and their high-end design would be the envy of any cook.

My favorite room was the main floor study for its exposed brick chimney with corbeled sides and a front 20/2 double hung window with the upper panes of random colored glass. The recessed alcove for a pre-cell rotary phone is a wry anachronism for the current office use. When one has writer’s block, time out in the adjacent porch overlooking the grounds would get the creative juices flowing again.

The second and third floors contain the bedroom suites currently furnished as offices and the third floor oriel window enhances what was once the schoolroom for young children.

My wish for “Lauretum” is that it once again becomes a residence for new owners to appreciate a wonderful opportunity to continue the stewardship of this house that is so significant to Chestertown’s architectural history. (Read more.)


Biden Should Be Court-Martialed

From The Western Journal:

The former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan argued that President Joe Biden should not be impeached, but rather court-martialed for “essentially” surrendering to the Taliban and “betraying the United States of America.”

“I don’t say this lightly and I’ve never said it about anybody else — any other leader in this position. People have been talking about impeaching President Biden,” Col. (Ret.) Richard Kemp told Fox News host Mark Levin on his program “Life, Liberty & Levin,” which aired over the weekend. “I don’t believe President Biden should be impeached. He’s the commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces who’s just essentially surrendered to the Taliban.”

“He shouldn’t be impeached,” he said. “He should be court-martialed for betraying the United States of America and the United States Armed Forces. (Read more.)


The Cave of the Sibyl

 From Heritage Daily:

The cave has been associated with the Cumaean Sibyl, a priestess presiding over the Apollonian oracle, who according to legend, prophesied from the depths of the earth beneath the temple to Apollo, where she wrote her prophecies on leaves that were then displayed at the cave’s entrance.

In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the Sibyl is described as a mortal who attained longevity when Apollo offered to grant her a wish in exchange for her virginity. She took a handful of sand and asked for as many years as the grains lasted, but later refused the god’s love and withered away.

The Cumaen Sibyl is also mentioned in Virgil’s Aeneid, where Aeneas, the Tojan hero from Greco-Roman mythology visits the Sibyl for guidance in reaching the underworld, as Cumae is situated near Lake Avernus, a volcanic crater lake where an entrance to the underworld was located.

The Cave of the Sibyl was discovered in 1932 by the Italian archaeologist, Amedeo Maiuri (famous for his archaeological investigations of the Roman city of Pompeii), who drew upon parallels with the description by Virgil in the 6th book of the Aeneid to suggest the Cumaean Sibyl association. (Read more.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Lecture on Blessed Charles of Austria with Charles A. Coulombe

From Sir Charles' recent U.S. tour.


Narrative Shattered

 From Mike Huckabee:

According to officials quoted in the Reuters report, the FBI “at this point believes the violence was not centrally coordinated by far-right groups or prominent supporters of then-President Donald Trump." It has also “so far found no evidence that [Trump] or people directly around him were involved in organizing the violence.” Up to 95% of the cases are “one-offs” (i.e., someone saw the door open and wandered in.) Maybe five percent involved organized groups like Oath Keepers or Proud Boys who allegedly had planned to break in, but “they found no evidence that the groups had serious plans about what to do if they made it inside.”

This is why most of the charges have been things like “conspiracy” instead of really serious counts like racketeering or insurrection: because there’s no evidence of any broader plot than that they talked in advance about their plans to trespass.

It kind of throws a monkey wrench into all the Democrat histrionics about it being the biggest threat to the federal government since the Civil War. Say what you will about the over-matched and out-gunned Confederates, but at least they didn’t show up at Gettysburg unarmed, wearing T-shirts and Viking helmets and shooting nothing but selfies. (Read more.)


The Importance of Doctrine

 From Crisis:

The Lord Jesus commanded us: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Greek: dianoia)” (Matthew 22:37). One of the ways the Church heeds the Lord’s command is by formulating doctrine. Doctrine is the result of the Church turning her mind in loving, thoughtful contemplation of the Lord’s Revealed Word (Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition). Yet today not a few Catholics (clerics and lay people alike) are suspicious of doctrine. Some think that an intellectually serious faith is a sign of traditionalism. Others hold that doctrine is far from reality and hampers the Church’s pastoral response to today’s culture.

We cannot pretend that the cultural revolutions of modernity and postmodernity have not diminished the Church’s pursuit of a doctrinal synthesis of truth. The ancient era had produced its intellectual synthesis (e.g., Greek philosophy, Roman law). The medieval authors produced new and improved summae of all knowledge available to them. Even many modern scholars did the same: just recall the Encyclopédie of the Enlightenment movement. Yet modernity’s emphasis on specialization has given way to intellectual fragmentation and relativism and, thus, to a widespread subjectivism and emotionalism. (Read more.)


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The Queen, the Dwarf, and the Orange Tree

 I had a small print of this painting in my room at home. From The National Gallery of Art:

Henrietta Maria, daughter of King Henri IV of France and sister of King Louis XIII, exerted a strong influence on court fashion and protocol, and introduced continental fashions and Italianate gardens to England. Van Dyck portrayed her dressed for the hunt in a brilliant blue satin riding costume with a delicate lace collar instead of the stiff and formal Elizabethan ruff still widely in use. Whereas the queen's graceful pose and demure expression are at once regal and endearing, her stylish wide-brim feathered black hat and shimmering dress create a sense of vibrancy and vitality.

The queen's love of entertainment is symbolized by the presence of 14-year-old Sir Jeffrey Hudson and Pug the monkey, both royal favorites. Hudson's services had been offered to the queen when he was a young boy. He possessed a ready wit and became one of the queen's trusted advisors, even joining her in exile in France in the early years of the English Civil Wars (1642–1651).

This portrait superbly demonstrates Van Dyck's working methods and the reasons for his phenomenal success. Even though the portrait shows a tall woman with an oval face, pointed chin, and long nose, the queen was reportedly petite, with a round head and delicate features. Van Dyck greatly idealized her in the portrait—and this artistic flattery must have pleased her. To further accentuate her status Van Dyck revisited a compositional idea he first developed in Genoa during the early 1620s with his portrait of Marchesa Elena Grimaldi Cattaneo: he has portrayed the queen standing just beyond the portico of an imposing architectural structure. The fluted column emphasizes her already exaggerated height, and the crown and cloth of gold emphasize her royalty. In preparation for the portrait, Van Dyck must have done a careful study of Henrietta Maria's head, but as she probably posed only briefly for a sketch of the overall composition, he likely painted the actual portrait from a model or mannequin dressed in the queen's costume.

The orange tree behind Henrietta Maria, who was named after both her father, Henri IV of France, and her mother, Maria de' Medici, pays visual homage to her powerful Florentine ancestors. The Medici crest contains five gold balls, thought to represent oranges from the family's renowned citrus tree collection. A symbol of purity, chastity, and generosity, the orange tree was also associated with the Virgin Mary, Henrietta Maria's patron saint. (Read more.)


Cowardice and Incompetence

 From Gregg Jarrett:

Only an incompetent president would remove our military from a war zone before first evacuating trapped Americans. Only a coward would blame everyone else for his own stupidity, then run and hide.

Joe Biden is guilty of both incompetence and cowardice. As such, he is unfit to serve as President. By abandoning thousands of Americans to the potential onslaught of the Taliban, he committed a gross dereliction of duty as commander in chief. Instead of protecting our citizens, he is endangering them.

In his short tenure, Biden has presided over a witless menagerie of policy failures. But Afghanistan is his most spectacular blunder. Biden’s conceit is now America’s humiliation. Our enemies are the winners.

The sad and uncomfortable truth is that Biden is morally destitute and intellectually dishonest. As president, he has proven himself utterly incapable. The stunning collapse of Afghanistan to the Taliban and Biden’s bungling of the evacuation of thousands of Americans has left the world with searing images of chaos and catastrophe at the airport in Kabul. No one will ever forget Afghans clinging desperately to a U.S. military plane and falling from the sky to their deaths.

As a credible and competent leader, Biden is finished. His ill-conceived and impulsive withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is a case study in recklessness driven by hubris. He was warned by his top military officials that his withdrawal plan was foolhardy and would never work. They cautioned him that events would unfold precisely as they did. But the insufferably arrogant Biden thought he knew better. The man who fancied himself an expert on foreign policy demonstrated that he’s an embarrassing dunce.

Robert Gates, who served as defense secretary in the Obama-Biden administration, was right when he observed in his memoir that Biden has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” Frankly, that is a generous description.

Barack Obama was even more critical when he confided to a colleague, “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f*** things up.” Obama knew that his VP would be an unmitigated disaster –the kind of guy who can screw up a free lunch. The former president well remembered how Biden urged him not to attack Osama bin

Laden’s compound despite solid evidence that the mastermind of 9-11 was there. Good call, Joe.

Infamous for his chronic verbal gaffes, Biden has now exceeded it with a level of ineptness that is unparalleled in our nation’s history. No one should ever trust Joe Biden again. His mistakes in Afghanistan have cemented his legacy as a feckless and boneheaded president. He humiliated America, alienated allies, and emboldened our enemies. Russia and China are popping champagne corks and toasting Clueless Joe. They can’t believe their good fortune. They will now do as they please, knowing there are no consequences from the feeble American president.

In his haste to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan, Biden had no viable plan. He swiftly pulled out U.S. forces and closed down our military fortress known as Bagram Air Base, and left thousands of Americans isolated, alone, and unprotected. Translators and interpreters who aided our military mission were also forced to fend for themselves as the enemy closed in. They ran for their lives. What kind of idiot orders the military to leave a war zone before civilians are safely evacuated? The answer is simple: Joe Biden. (Read more.)


Modesty and God

 From TFP Student Action:

This subtle erosion is often manifested by a loss of sensitivity regarding the fundamental points of one’s mentality. One example would be the respect one must have for the sacred.

In some way, concessions to the principle that comfort must be the only rule of dress have ended up by giving a casual note to more serious and holy activities. How can one explain, for example, that persons who have true faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and who make admirable sacrifices to frequent perpetual adoration, nevertheless see no contradiction in presenting themselves before the Blessed Sacrament wearing shorts as if they were on a picnic?

The same person who shows up thus dressed for perpetual adoration would never don those clothes for an audience, say, with Queen Elizabeth II. This contradiction shows how, though the person has maintained his faith, to a certain degree the notion of the majesty of the Sacrament of the Altar -- the Real Presence -- has vanished from his soul.

There is a general tendency in our times to establish a most radical egalitarianism at all levels of culture and social relations between the sexes, and even, in the tendency of egalitarianianism, between men and animals.

In dress, this egalitarianism is manifested by the growing proletarianization, the establishment of unisex fashions and the abolition of differences between generations. The same garb can be worn by anybody no matter his position, age or circumstance (e.g. in a trip, a religious or civil ceremony).

Chaos reigns in the domains of fashion today. It is often difficult to distinguish, by their clothes, men from women, parents from children, a religious ceremony from a picnic. Haircuts and hairstyles follow the same tendency to confound age and sex and to break down standards of elegance and good taste. (Read more.)


Monday, August 23, 2021

The Death of Jacques de Molay

I just finished listening to a fabulous book on the Templars by historian Barbara Frale, who spent years researching in the Vatican secret archives. Templars were not ordained to the priesthood but professed vows like monks. They were accused of heresy by King Philip IV of France. The Templars were absolved of the accusations of heresy by the Pope, only to be executed by King Philip. Philip wanted the wealth of the Templars and would stop at nothing to get it. The execution of the Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay and his brethren was in violation of Church law, rather like the execution of St. Joan of Arc. When Jacques de Molay was bound to the stake on an island in the Seine near Notre Dame de Paris, he asked that his arms remain free. While burning, the Grand Master lifted his arms towards the spire of Notre Dame, offering his life to Our Lady, as once his order had been completely consecrated to her. From Dominic Selwood:

In Paris, King Philip immediately saw that the tide was turning against him, and that he needed to do something decisive. He therefore summoned the bishop of Sens and forced him to re-examine the Templars in his diocese. When 54 Templars insisted on their innocence, the bishop dutifully denounced them as relapsed heretics.

As Philip had known all along, a heretic who confessed was welcomed as a lost sheep, given penance, and reconciled to the Church. But if the penitent then slipped back into the heresy, he had rejected all grace, spurned salvation, and was a direct threat to Christian society.

On the 12th of May 1310, as Philip knew he would, the bishop of Sens burned the 54 Templars alive. This appalling cruelty gave Philip the shot in the arm he needed. The remaining Templar resistance petered out.

The sorry tale was drawing to a close. In October 1311, the long-awaited Council of Vienne opened to give final judgement. The evidence did not amount to much. The only Templars who had comprehensively confessed to Philip’s 127 charges were the ones tortured in his dungeons or those in territories loyal to him. There were virtually no confessions from abroad.

True to form, Philip showed up to threaten Clement with physical violence unless he shut down the Templars. There were protests from the other church delegates, who felt the Templars had not been given an opportunity to defend themselves. They also pointed to the suspicious similarity of the charges with those Philip had recently brought against the dead Pope Boniface VIII. None of this helped Clement, who threatened anyone who spoke further with excommunication.

Finally clear to impose Philip’s will, in March 1312, with Philip and his son flanking him, Clement issued the bull Vox in excelso. Citing the irreparable damage done to the Templars’ reputation, he pronounced judgement with a formula that completely sidestepped the question of innocence or guilt:

We suppress, with the approval of the sacred council, the order of Templars, and its rule, habit and name, by an inviolable and perpetual decree, and we entirely forbid that anyone from now on enter the order, or receive or wear its habit, or presume to behave as a Templar. (Vox in excelso)

It was over. All that remained was to tie up the loose ends. Templars who had confessed crimes were sentenced to imprisonment. Those who had remained silent were sent to other religious Orders.

To draw down the final curtain, on the 18th of March 1314 the four most senior living Templars were hauled to Paris. On a rostrum erected on the parvis before the great cathedral of Notre-Dame, they were publicly condemned to perpetual imprisonment. Hugues de Pairaud and Geoffroi de Gonneville accepted the sentences in silence. But Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney stunned the crowd by talking over the cardinals and professing their innocence and that of the Temple.

The electrifying news was rushed across the city to King Philip at the Louvre. Desperate to crush this dangerous new defiance, he abandoned all legal procedures and ordered the two old Templars to be burned without delay.

So as dusk fell and the canons of Notre-Dame lit the candles and incense for the lucernare before Vespers, the provost of Paris’s men torched two nearby pyres and sent de Molay and de Pairaud up in smoke alongside the canons’ prayers.

A royal chaplain eyewitness described de Molay’s last words (in verse):

“God knows who is in the wrong and has sinned. Misfortune will soon befall those who have wrongly condemned us; God will avenge our deaths. Make no mistake, all who are against us will suffer because of us. I beseech you to turn my face towards the Virgin Mary, of whom our Lord Christ was born.” His request was granted, and so gently was he taken by death that everyone marvelled. (Geoffroi de Paris)

Rumours began to circulate that, at the end, de Molay had also shouted out, summoning Philip and Clement to meet him within a year and a day before God, where they would be judged for their crimes. (Read more.)


The Politics of Fiasco

 From Mark Steyn:

With the exception of the British Parliament, Washington's uniformly furious allies are remaining circumspect, mostly because of the delicacy of the situation on the ground. If you're a compatriot of Rosette in Khost or Kunduz, you'll be rescued either by a very well thought out commando mission from a friendly nation (ie, not Washington) ...or not at all.

This all began when the Potemtagon abandoned Bagram air base without notifying either the Afghans or their Nato partners. I'm told there is unprecedentedly minimal contact between the British and US troops at Kabul Airport right now, and the former are quite open about their certainty that they'll get no advance warning when Washington pulls out.

~As to the impending influx of Afghan "translators" into Europe and America, we've already brought 50,000 "interpreters" into the United States - which, as Daniel Greenfield points out, is one translator for every two soldiers. So it's just another sleazy racket, like everything else.

As for the Continent, M Macron has subtly drawn attention to the fact that young Afghan chappies (as is traditional, almost all the women and children are staying back home) are not the most assimilable immigrants.

I'll say. Almost exactly five years ago I spent a most agreeable day in Stavenger, Norway, with an utterly delightful lady who was training the Afghan refugees how to be Cary Grant. Since the lads from the Hindu Kush had shown up there had been a sudden uptick in sexual assaults because of misunderstood cultural signals: the nice multiculti Nordic blonde would flash a welcoming smile at the exotic youth from Mazar-i-Sharif and he would respond by dragging her into the undergrowth and ripping her knickers off.

My friend was instructing the young gentlemen in the finer points of the more circuitous approach: "Would you like to come back to my pad and listen to my Lionel Richie CD?", etc. At the end of the afternoon, she asked me, "Well, do you think this is working?"

She was a charming companion, and I was doing my best Cary Grant myself. But I was not unsympathetic to the young Mohammedans. You leave a society where it is forbidden to look upon a woman from outside your family unless she's wearing the mandatory body bag. And you land in a country where the women are perambulating down the sidewalk in cut-off shorts and halter tops: it's legs, arms, cleavage everywhere you look.

And you're expected to suppress every inclination because the people who dropped you on that street from the other side of the world are so impenetrably stupid that the core tenet of their state religion of "multiculturalism" is that all cultures are basically the same. (Read more.)


From The National:

It is true that women come from all kinds of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, and as a result they will have been shaped as individuals by various experiences over the course of their lives. Women differ in our beliefs, political values, personalities and ethics.

Yet, looking at events unfolding in Afghanistan in recent days, many women around the world feel a shared sense of dread and heartache for the women trapped in such intolerable circumstances. The sickening, sinking feeling is an instinctive one that bypasses all pseudo-intellectualism. Strip away the relatively superficial differences between women and that sickening, sinking feeling is an instinctive one precisely because there are some experiences that only female humans can be subjected to. For better or worse, there is a common reality that no convoluted, nonsensical definition can erase. (Read more.)


The Lost City of Thinis

 From Ancient Origins:

The written sources indicate that Thinis was still a city of great wealth, even long after it ceased to be the capital of Egypt. During the reign of Thutmose III, the 6 th pharaoh of the 18 th Dynasty, the yearly tax imposed on Thinis is recorded to have included six debens of gold, half a deben of silver, as well as produce such as grain, cattle, and honey. The wealth of Thinis is evident when compared to nearby Abydos, which was taxed more lightly. For instance, Abydos was required to pay three debens of gold each year, which is half of that paid by Thinis. As another example, whilst Abydos was taxed three sacks of grain per year, 62 sacks were required of Thinis. It may be added that the city was not only prosperous, but was also a regional powerhouse. It is recorded, for example, that the ruler of the Thinite province, a man named Antef, controlled the entire oasis region of the Western Desert, the produce of which would have increased the wealth of Thinis. (Read more.)


Sunday, August 22, 2021

The 'Errors of Russia'

 From Catholicism:

But, what, then, are the “errors of Russia” as they were developing at the time of the Bolshevik-Russian Revolution shortly after the Fatima apparitions? It would seem that they include, among other things, the following list of characteristics:

  1. A reductively atheistic materialist world-view which aims at undermining anything Christian in society;
  2. An ideology that is disconnected from Truth and reality;
  3. A cultural Marxism that later permeated also the West with the help of the Frankfurt School and Antonio Gramsci’s ideas;
  4. A revolutionary socialistic spirit that undermines especially major aspects of family life – especially with the help of feminism, divorce and abortion;
  5. A Hegelian dialectic philosophy, along with dialectic materialism, which claims that strife and ongoing contention in society are necessary in order to bring about higher and unfolding forms of life; such an approach essentially denies and purportedly transcends the principle or law of non-contradiction.
  6. A form of governing “revolutionary socialism” that is also constitutionally called “Democratic Centralism,” the latter formulation meaning that things have the appearance of being openly democratic, yet they are all centrally organized and managed in the background (Dr. Robert Hickson recently applied this principle to the current situation in the Church – especially with regard to the Family Synods – here);
  7. A disregard for tradition and for the traditional institutions of society (or now of the Church, such as the Curia?) as “counter-revolutionary forces”;
  8. A deceitful misuse of language with the intent to manipulate the public;
  9. A method of branding one’s own opponents with sweeping and demeaning epithets that abstractly categorize them as “right-wing” or “counter-revolutionary” [and what about the most-common term in use among the left: “fascist”?];
  10. An approach to ongoing revolutionary changes where there is both “a slow path” and “a fast path” of the Revolution; such is “the Dialectic” and the “dialectical process”;
  11. Toward more moderate and compromising opponents, one first tries to incorporate them into the professed new system so as to use them as Lenin’s “useful idiots” in the sense that they help give to the world the illusory idea that nothing has really changed;
  12. As a last element – but of course a very important and painful one for those who lived under Communism – there is a constant sense of distrust and fear, unto the imprisonment and killing of one’s intransigent opponents. (Read more.)

The Meaning of Viktor Orbán

 From Crisis:

For nearly half a century, Hungarians suffered under communism. Catholicism, the national religion since the time of St. Stephen, Hungary’s first king, was brutally subjected to a hostile secular authority. The family, too, was subordinated to the state, as were most other aspects of public (and, consequently, private) life. Through force, a millennium of history and tradition was dismantled. Thousands were killed and countless more fled, never to return to their ancestral homeland.

The story of Hungary in the 20th century is a microcosm of the collapse of the Christian West. But it does not end there.

Communism, because it was unnatural, could not endure. By the end of the 1980s, as other communist states in Europe likewise began to founder, Hungary’s communist experiment stumbled to its end. Having had already adopted a slightly less brutal “goulash communism” after an anti-Soviet uprising in 1956, Hungary’s regime-change was less calamitous than some. Free elections were held in 1990, followed by NATO membership in 1999 and entry to the E.U. in 2004.

But the story of Hungary after communism is not, as certain Republican partisans might hope. It’s not a simple story of liberalization and integration into the prevailing international order. On the contrary: the first few years of post-communism saw oscillations between center-right and hard-left domination in each election cycle. Then, after widespread protests over a rigged election, voters delivered a supermajority to the right-wing party Fidesz in a 2010 sweep.

In the ensuing decade of Fidesz dominance under the leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Hungary has been a lightning-rod for international controversy. To critics, the briefly democratic state seems to be backsliding into illiberal authoritarianism. To supporters, Fidesz’s nationalism, with its strong emphasis on the Christian character of the Hungarian nation, demonstrates the viability of non-liberal alternatives after the “end of history.”

Now, certain Americans are beginning to take note of the Orbán government—and option is starkly divided. (Read more.)

Conformed to the Blessed Cross

 From Crisis:

On the 14th of May in 1940, following a massive invasion four days earlier by the German High Command, Holland was forced to surrender, along with Luxembourg and Belgium, each fated to spend the next five years in a state of brutal subjugation under the heel of the Third Reich.  Wholesale deportations soon began, especially of Jews, who were routinely rounded up and sent to Concentration Camps where most of them perished in gas ovens. By the summer of 1942, the bishops of Holland were ready to mobilize. They issued a sweeping public condemnation of racial barbarity that so infuriated the Nazis that they ordered the arrest and deportation of all Catholics of Jewish descent, including a Carmelite nun by the name of Edith Stein and her sister Rosa, both of whom would die at Auschwitz on the 9th of August.

She had long foretold her end, however, writing her Superior three years before for permission to become a Victim Soul in order to help atone for the sins of the world. “Dear Mother,” she began,

I beg your Reverence’s permission to offer myself to the Heart of Jesus as a sacrificial expiation for the sake of true peace…I know that I am nothing, but Jesus wills it, and he will call many more to the same sacrifice in these days. (Read more.)


Saturday, August 21, 2021

The Nine Muses

 From The Greek Reporter:

According to ancient Greek mythology, the Muses are the sources of inspiration for all of the arts and of knowledge. The daughters of Zeus and Mnemosine, they were the romantic companions of Apollo’s entourage of gods. The Muses began their lives as nymphs that manifested as whispers in the ears of those that invoked them. The ancient writer Hesiod describes how Osiris, the god of fertility, then called upon them to travel across the world as the nine muses: Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Thalia, Terpsichore and Urania. (Read more.)


The Lesson of Afghanistan

 From John Zmirak at The Stream:

We saw how utterly the invasion of Iraq failed. On the pretext of terror weapons that never existed, we shattered that fragile country. We dissolved its army and liquidated its whole structure of government. That unleashed ancient hatreds of Sunni for Shi’ite, Shi’ite for Sunni — and both brands of Muslims for Iraqi Christians, Yazidis, and other helpless minorities.

Let’s be blunt: We enabled genocide, which our soldiers were ordered not to interfere with. Three-fourths of Iraqi Christians whose ancestors welcomed the apostles were “ethnically cleansed,” either killed or made refugees. They became the scapegoats for every foolish, careless, cynical decision American neocons imposed on a faraway country. Too much like Jesus, they bore our sins.

The neocons’ promised Utopia turned out such an earthly Hell that Barack Obama was able to sweep into power, and quickly abandon the place to ISIS. That group of particularly sociopathic sharia advocates upped the genocide ante. It even created computerized databases of non-Muslim sex slaves. To this day, Iraq has not recovered from the chaos. But hey, at least Iraq is a tacit ally of our enemy, Iran.

Nor have American Christians recovered from all the corrupt decisions of the Supreme Court Obama could pack with leftist activists. Jack Philips, Baronelle Stutzman, and millions of unborn children since aborted can thank the reckless fantasies of our party’s John McCains.

Nor has Afghanistan been transformed into a peaceful, tolerant suburb. It turns out that the Taliban better represents the aspirations and faith of Afghan citizens than the unspeakably corrupt, papier-mâché regime our brave servicemen and women fought to prop up. As ugly and bloody as the process will prove — and we’ll read countless horror stories in coming weeks — no other outcome was ever possible. And the GOP leaders who sent our soldiers there, and recruited those hapless translators and other US collaborators, knew it. Or should have known.

The only way to transform a Muslim culture is to convert it to Jesus Christ. Period. And that is not a task for the United States military.

Donald Trump took over the GOP on the strength of popular revulsion at our party’s elites and their cynical lies. In office, he tried to rescue Americans from the inexorable collapse of our futile efforts in Afghanistan. Insubordinate officers still married to neoconservative fantasies frustrated him, so now Joe Biden gets credit for plucking our last few fighting men from the sinking ship. For taking Trump’s plan and finishing it.

Any Republican who today tries to blame America for pulling its last soldiers off that vast national Titanic now sinking back into the Muslim sea is making you a promise: Put him in office, and we’ll invade more Muslim countries, then try to bomb them until they magically turn into New Hampshire. Elect him, and he’ll welcome millions more Muslim immigrants, on the fantasy that eating at McDonald’s and surfing Tindr will transform them into religiously tolerant patriots.

Pay close attention in coming days. Take notes. We need to know which Republicans intend to draft our sons and daughters and ship them off to die for nothing. Or worse, for the crass caricature of American patriotism that powerful legacy neocons (Liz Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Nikki Haley, Lindsay Graham, Mitt Romney) are still trying to foist on Americans. (Read more.)

From The Federalist:

The Biden administration also reversed several extremely effective policies Trump adopted to address the border crisis, including Trump’s decision to use Title 42 authority to expel aliens to Mexico or their country of origin, given the public health crisis presented by COVID-19. Biden also ditched the former president’s “remain in Mexico” policy that prevented illegal aliens from absconding within the United States while awaiting immigration hearings. These reversals quickly led to the now record-setting crisis on the Southern border.

If Biden believed it in America’s best interest to remain in Afghanistan for the long-term, for another year, or even for another month, as commander-in-chief he could have made that call. (Read more.)

From Fox News:

Trump said the scenes from the weekend where desperate Afghans clung to the side of an Air Force cargo plane's fuselage and later fell to their deaths when the aircraft reached altitude makes the U.S. Embassy airlift evacuation in Saigon in 1975 look small.

"I looked at that big monster cargo plane yesterday with people grabbing the side and trying to get flown out of Afghanistan because of their incredible fear – and they're blowing off of the plane from 2,000 feet up in the air, nobody has ever seen anything like that," he said. "That blows the helicopters in Vietnam away. That is not even a contest. It has been the most humiliating period of time that I've ever seen."

Trump said that he warned presumed Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in discussions last year that the United States will strike back tenfold if an American was harmed or the militants encroached on unapproved areas.

That deal, he said, appears to be mooted as the Taliban raged through the country and took Kabul within a matter of days; while Americans and Westerners are trapped within. (Read more.)

 From The National Pulse:

Joe Biden’s State Department moved to cancel a critical State Department program aimed at providing swift and safe evacuations of Americans out of crisis zones just months prior to the fall of Kabul, The National Pulse can exclusively reveal.

The “Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau” – which was designed to handle medical, diplomatic, and logistical support concerning Americans overseas was paused by Antony Blinken’s State Department earlier this year. Notification was officially signed just months before the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

“SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED,” an official State Department document from the Biden State Department begins, before outlining the following move the quash the Trump-era funding for the new bureau. The document is from the desk of Deputy Secretary of State Brian P. McKeon, confirmed in March by the United States Senate. (Read more.)