This morning, a Muslim murdered three people at morning Mass, in Nice, in France. One of the worshippers, a 70 year old woman, was apparently beheaded.
These people were killed for one reason alone: they were Catholics.
Such a thing is beyond my comprehension.
Also beyond my comprehension is this: the lack of anger among so many of my fellow Catholics, including among our bishops.
What happened in Nice wasn’t a “tragedy.” It was an atrocity. What happened in Nice doesn’t call for “dialogue.” It calls for condemnation. The murderer wasn’t someone who failed to understand his Islamic faith. He was someone who understood it all too well. The murderer also wasn’t a Frenchman, whatever his citizenship may have been. He was an alien, who never should have been allowed to be in France.
The old desperado is gone. Jerry Jeff Walker, suffering from throat cancer, passed away on October 23 at age 78. We won’t see his like again.
Walker, or just plain “Jerry Jeff” to his many fans, was a folk singer who honed his craft in Greenwich Village in the 60s and wrote perhaps his best known song, Mr. Bojangles, after spending a night in a New Orleans drunk tank. The song was covered by a number of performers, including Bob Dylan, and helped launch Jerry Jeff’s career.
That song also displayed some characteristics that marked a number of other tunes he recorded during a career that lasted more than 50 years—a poignant sense of the transitory nature of our lives mixed with a joy for living that was second to none.
Nobody could say Jerry Jeff didn’t like to have a good time. That winsome grin of his told stories of its own.
He made his big personal and professional move when he came to Austin in 1971. He was certainly the only New York import I can think of that Texans of the time actually approved of.
It was a time of musical ferment. Willie Nelson left Nashville to make music his way in Austin, and the wave of musicians who landed on the banks of the Colorado in the Texas state capital created something new, something that came to be called “outlaw country.” It was raw and fresh, a sound created far from the corporate board rooms of the music business, distant from the heavy orchestration of what had been called “the Nashville sound.”
People like Jerry Jeff, Waylon Jennings, Nelson, and many others revitalized country music. Call it “outlaw” music or “progressive country,” or “Texas music,” or what have you, it was authentic, and it was American.
No less an authority than Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson, who was very much a part of the 70’s Austin music scene, has said that Jerry Jeff was, apart from Willie Nelson, “the most important musician” in town at the time. He not only wrote his own songs, he popularized the work of other important songwriters like Ray Wylie Hubbard, Rodney Crowell, Townes Van Zandt, Michael Martin Murphey, and Guy Clark.
Jerry Jeff’s smoky, boozy voice belted out rollicking favorites like Ray Wiley Hubbard’s Up against the Wall, Redneck Mother, cracked during soaring runs in his great good time anthem Sangria Wine, and whispered to us of the fleeting nature of our lives in songs like Guy Clark’s Desperados Waiting for a Train and his own powerful composition, Wheel, inspired by the scene of an accident that killed Jerry Jeff’s grandfather when he was a boy of 15. Gary P. Nunn’s London Homesick Blues became the tune all of us young Texans in that era had running in our heads when we were far from home:
I wanna go home with the armadillo
Good country music from Amarillo and Abilene
The friendliest people and the prettiest women
You’ve ever seen …
Backed up by his Lost Gonzo Band, of which Nunn was a member, Jerry Jeff’s signature album was 1973’s ¡Viva Terlingua! (All of the songs mentioned in the previous paragraph are on that album.)Recorded live in Luckenbach, Texas, the album covered everything that Jerry Jeff and his band had to offer. Light-hearted, whimsical joy, lamentations, and wistful memories. All of it was on that record (You can listen to the album here).One minute, you might think Walker and his band were too loaded to go on, and the next Jerry Jeff spoke softly to us like a Hill Country bard.
A particular favorite of mine is Jerry Jeff’s rendition of Desperados Waiting for a Train. The song begins with a fiddle playing Red River Valley. As is so often the case in country music, Desperados is a story song, the story of boy and his relationship with an old man, a man the boy sees as “one of the heroes of this country,” a man who teaches the boy about life and death.
The man ages and fades as the boy grows up, the two of them waiting for the train they know must come someday for the old man and for us all:
A day before he died, I went to see him I was grown and he was almost gone So we just closed our eyes and dreamed us up a kitchen And sang another verse to that old song “Yeah, Jack, you know that son of a bitch is comin’ “
Like desperados waitin’ for a train Like desperados waitin’ for a train
There is so much more I could say about Jerry Jeff, so many more songs worth mentioning. They are all out there, waiting for a new audience.
He was a hard living, wild and wooly original. Ray Wiley Hubbard once told his friend, “I never thought I’d live long enough to see you live this long.” But now, the old desperado is leavin’ Texas for the last time.
We’ll miss you, Jerry Jeff. The train has come and gone.
Yesterday, President Trump spoke at rallies in several states, including Ohio. At the Ohio rally, three young nuns, all wearing habits, were standing in the area behind the President. Given their placement behind Trump and their distinctive dress, they could not be missed.
The sight proved more than at least one denizen of the Beltway could bear. Peter Vroom, a former Republican congressional staffer, current Beltway consultant, and part of the Swamp’s resistance to Trump, took to Twitter to publish pictures of the nuns and identify the location of their convent, while unctuously pointing out that he wasn’t including their names. The effect, of course, was the same: anyone angered by these nuns’ attendance at the Trump rally now knew who they were and how to reach them.
In giving vent to his malice, Vroom was simply following the lead of his new party. One of the many groups to have benefited from the Trump Administration has been the Little Sisters of the Poor, who have opposed the Obama Administration’s requirement that employers pay for employee access to contraception, including abortifacients. The Trump Administration granted religious employers, including the Little Sisters of the Poor, an exemption from this requirement. And the Sisters have successfully defended this exemption in court, winning a Supreme Court victory against three Democratic state attorneys general who sued the nuns in an effort to require them to pay for drugs that could be used to kill an unborn child shortly after fertilization. Democratic nominee and self-professed Catholic Joe Biden agrees that nuns should be forced to pay for abortions, and has vowed to rescind the Trump Administration’s exemption for religious employers.
But, then again, Biden wants all of us to pay for abortion. He has vowed to end the Hyde Amendment, which has prevented taxpayer funds from paying for abortions since the 1970s. The Hyde Amendment used to be regarded as a sensible compromise: Americans who regard abortion as the equivalent of murder weren’t being coerced to subsidize it and Americans who didn’t share that conviction remained free to procure abortions. Indeed, Biden regularly voted to renew the Hyde Amendment when he was in Congress.
Today, though, Biden and the party he leads believe no unborn child should ever be given legal protection from abortion and no American should ever be excused from paying for abortion. Biden even bragged to the New York Times‘ editorial board that, by helping to block Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court, he had secured the right to abortion for a generation. A strange boast for a man who says he’s Catholic to make, since the Catholic Church teaches unequivocally “that abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. . . .No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.”
So profound is the Democrats’ commitment to abortion that Biden has refused to rule out packing the Supreme Court, if that is what it takes to prevent Roe v. Wade from being overturned.
Those young nuns no doubt knew all this. They also had the good sense to know that a principled and unwavering commitment to guaranteeing legal protection and financial support to the mass killing of unborn children is a far graver matter than a politician’s coarse demeanor, much less his unwillingness to endorse the Swamp Creatures’ elevated view of themselves and avaricious sense of entitlement. May Christ bless those brave followers of His, and may He hear their many prayers on behalf of innocent unborn children.
The sprawl of the DFW “Metroplex” sometimes takes on the aspect of a vast concrete hive, the intricate, winding curves of interlocking freeways like tunnels channeling the inhabitants of that supersized apiary to their various destinations. Gray office buildings seem to fly by, their long rows of standardized window panes signifying the locus of cells for drones who sit in cubicles staring at screens, wondering where their lives have gone.
A society that truly has atomized. The normless state of anomie.
Is this all there is? Is this what we wanted?
The things one thinks of when driving to a funeral.
The deceased, we’ll call her “Mrs. B,” had attended our church regularly until her condition deteriorated to the point that she became what used to be called a “shut in.” Then came the corona virus scare. And the elderly Mrs. B was left alone in terrible isolation, buried in a tiny “assisted living” apartment by a cruel “lockdown.”
Mrs. A, a kind-hearted woman who had taken it upon herself to aid the old people of our congregation, would sometimes stand outside the widowed Mrs. B’s window. She would tap on it, attempting to speak through the glass while Mrs. B, confined to wheelchair, strained to hear her voice.
I couldn’t help but think that there had to be some better way to manage the wellbeing of such as Mrs. B, the dangers the corona virus presented to people like her notwithstanding.
My own elderly father has simply ignored the virus, saying he’d take his chances and see his grandchildren and great grandchildren as often as he could. What would his life be without their tender presence? A little ray of light since my mother passed on over five years ago.
But I digress.
Before the lockdown, Mrs. B, a reader of Chronicles magazine, a publication that I have been associated with for nearly thirty years, had enjoyed my weekly visits. Our discussions concerned what had appeared in the magazine, the writers, society and culture, religion, and history, personal and otherwise, subjects that appealed to a literate and thoughtful person.
I had enjoyed our time together, and for just a little while, before Mrs. B tired, she would seem to light up, to become animated and lively.
Now I have a box of books to remember her by. The books seem like a collective talisman, something connecting the possessor to a wonderous world that is fading quickly in a post-literate age.
Sifting through the volumes, I find Dostoevsky’s The Possessed (I think I see them all around nowadays), Jean Raspail’s prophetic The Camp of the Saints, Robert Nisbet’sseminal The Quest for Community, and, to my mind, a most poignant volume entitled “Image of America: Early Photography: 1836-1900.”
In that volume, I see the images of our ancestors, unsmiling and serious, jubilant, and weary, but so alive. Gold seekers on the Yukon trail in Alaska. A group of survivors of an Indian massacre. A Virginia county fair. Scenes from the Colorado River.
It seems to me that is not only an inordinate fear of death that has drained the vitality of secularized post-modern people, but a terror of living. A terror fed by the utopian notion that we must seek to stamp out every bit of perceived risk around us, making a complete, fulfilling life impossible.
I see the flags ahead.
Mrs. B’s mortal remains are to be interred at the DFW National Cemetery, alongside those of her husband.
The cemetery is rows and rows of simple markers for ordinary Americans. I stop and look down at a marker for a navy veteran, a marker that matches all the others, telling of a branch of service, the conflict that particular veteran had served in, the dates of birth and death. Perhaps a brief sentiment. The marker I focus on reads “Loving Son.”
The day is overcast, the crowd quite small.
The group quietly arranges itself around the pavilion. Our Pastor reads a brief graveside service, and somewhere during our transition from the Lord’s Prayer to the warm, effecting lyrics of Abide in Me, the sun breaks through the clouds and I feel its heat on my black coat.
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Driving home, the clouds clear off entirely, and the gray drabness of the concrete landscape dissipates. On an overpass ahead, I see a banner hanging from the rail.
David Frum recently retweeted someone quoting him as saying, “It’s like ‘Seven Days in May,’ except this time the generals are the good guys.”
“Seven Days in May,” of course, concerns a military coup against the President of the United States.
Earlier, Frum rejected the argument advanced by Ted Cruz that Amy Coney Barrett should be confirmed so that the Supreme Court would have a full complement of nine justices to resolve any disputes arising from the presidential election. Frum’s reason for rejecting Cruz’s argument? In order to resolve any such disputes, the Supreme Court would need “legitimacy,” and a Court which had Amy Coney Barrett as an Associate Justice would lack the requisite “legitimacy.”
Of course, in the American political system, legitimacy is conferred by the Constitution of the United States. And the Constitution provides that “The President] shall … nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law.”
President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. If the Senate votes to confirm, she will be a fully legitimate member of the Supreme Court.
David Frum is so consumed with hatred for the President of the United States that he is fantasizing about military coups and rejecting the authority of the Constitution. It is past time for David Frum to pack his bags and go home.
Frum can hardly complain: he retained his Canadian citizenship after he somehow became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Let the Canadians have him again.
Harry and Bess Truman drove back to Independence, Missouri and middle class life after Truman’s time in elective politics ended. The Obamas and Bidens went to mansions, millions richer than they had been. Tells you all you need to know about “the most ethical Administration in history.”
One more thing: Margaret Truman didn’t go to Sidwell Friends, either.
The Soviet State Committee on the State of Emergency, August, 1991
The period directly following election day in November may be a moment of truth for all of us. As our own country seems headed for a political crisis, with the enemies of deplorable America making noises suggesting they are planning a post-election move against Trump, the failed Soviet coup of 1991, and the collapse that it spurred on, might be instructive.
The key point in the events of August of that year in Moscow came when Soviet military and security units refused to move against Boris Yeltsin and the defenders of the Russian “White House.” Could something like that happen here, with Trump playing the Yeltsin role?
Election day chaos ahead
What yours truly has dubbed the globalist Blob has been signaling for some time that it has no intention of yielding to Trump come election day. Hillary Clinton, in her guise as the post-American Madam Defarge of the present cultural revolution, has even stated publicly that Joe Biden should not concede the election to Trump “under any circumstances.”
Meanwhile, the Democrats, with help from the Never Trumpers, have been “wargaming” scenarios for preventing Trump from taking office should he win in November, developing a plan for what Trump has correctly described as “an insurrection.” The plan is to claim that Trump has stolen, or attempted to steal, the election. “As far as our enemies are concerned,” as I wrote here last month, “they are on the right side of history, and neither election law nor the Constitution or any antiquated notions about fair play will stop them.”
The mail-in balloting plan plays into the Blob’s wargaming. If the Democrats can’t swing the election their way by hook or crook, then the lengthy process of accounting for all the mail-in ballots could be used as a means to sow confusion and chaos, giving them room to maneuver in the aftermath of election day.
The Blob’s minions have been signaling their intention to drag out the vote count. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, for example, declared on “Face the Nation” that her state would not be held to any “artificial deadlines” for reporting election results. In an example of psychological projection that has become typical for the Democrats, Whitmer further claimed that those who might want to expedite the vote count had “political agendas.”
Meanwhile, the Blob’s militant wing has been circulating a plan for post-election disruption. A leftist group calling itself ShutDownDC plans to prevent a Trump “coup”—more projection there—by shutting down the country and forcing Trump out if the vote is too close to call. The plan calls for “sustained disruptive movements all over the country.” The militants also state that they intend to demand that “no winner be announced until every vote is counted.”
ShutDownDC further proclaims that it has no intention of allowing the country to return to normal. The goal is to “dismantle” what it calls “interlocking systems of oppression.” This isn’t just about an election—it’s a blueprint for completing the left’s anti-American cultural revolution.
In the chaos that appears increasingly likely after election day, we may not even have a clear idea of what happened and, indeed, that may be part of the Blob’s design.
Could the military be used against Trump?
In a recent segment on “critical race theory” gaining traction at the Pentagon, Tucker Carlson wondered just why the left was so intent on capturing the military. Our answer to that was that the Blob was contemplating the possibility of using the military as part of an attempt to block a second Trump term.
It’s quite clear that the top military brass has been subject to “the Great Awokening” and Trump derangement syndrome as much as the rest of the federal bureaucracy. The military bureaucracy has steadfastly resisted Trump’s inclination to disengage from foreign interventions. Moreover, the Pentagon has also resisted Trump’s order to stop indoctrinating its personnel in “critical race theory.”
In his book Rage, Bob Woodward reports that former Defense Secretary and retired Marine General James Mattis once commented to then Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats that “There may come a time when we have to take collective action” against Trump, since Mattis deemed the president “dangerous” and “unfit.” It’s likely that General Mattis’s view of Trump is widely shared among top level military officers.
So how might the military figure into the Blob’s wargaming plans? Peter van Buren has contemplated a post-election scenario in which a “temporary” military government might be pitched as the only way to break an electoral deadlock and end post-election disorder. Van Buren reminded us that Trump’s opponents have never accepted his legitimacy, that “Russiagate” was good practice for them—good practice for a coup, that is—and that they are gearing up for an all-out effort to dislodge him from the White House.
Van Buren further noted that Joe Biden, who has claimed that it is Trump who “is going to try and steal this election,” has also stated quite plainly that if Trump refuses to leave the White House, he is “absolutely convinced” that the military would “escort him from the White House with great dispatch.”
It’s worth mentioning that Mr. van Buren is not a Trump supporter, was a career foreign service officer, and is an honest man, an Iraq war whistle blower who wrote an excellent book on his experiences in that country. He does not believe that a Pentagon-backed coup is merely “paperback thriller material.” It’s a plausible scenario. Van Buren, noting the media Narrative that is laying the groundwork for a post-election move against Trump, commented “They’re setting it up, aren’t they?”
Many Republicans might even welcome “our military” riding to the rescue as the country enters a period of political crisis—but just whose rescue would a “woke” military brass have in mind?
Nevertheless, an attempt to use the military to block Trump’s re-election could result in the coup plotters stepping into a trap of their own making.
The failed Soviet coup and its aftermath
A review of the failed 1991 coup attempt in the Soviet Union raises some questions that could be applied here as well.
On August 18, 1991, with Mikhail Gorbachev preparing to sign a treaty that would have de-centralized the Soviet Union, his political opponents in the Soviet leadership arrested the father of perestroika reforms at his Crimea dacha, proclaiming that the Soviet State Committee on the State of Emergency was in charge.
The conspiracy against Gorbachev had been organized by KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov, Defense Minister Dmitry Yazov and six other top level political and security officials who were alarmed by Gorbachev’s reforms, reforms which had already loosed centrifugal forces in the USSR that threatened the power of the Communist party and the Soviet apparatus.
Within three days, the coup attempt collapsed.
Boris Yeltsin at the Russian White House, August 19, 1991
The coup failed because of resistance by then Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin and his supporters, and the refusal of elite military and security units to move against them.
On August 19, Muscovites gathered at the Russian “White House,” the seat of Russia’s parliament in central Moscow, and erected barriers around it. Boris Yeltsin climbed atop a tank to address the crowd. Yeltsin condemned the State Emergency Committee as an unlawful gang of coup plotters and called for military and security forces not to support the “gang of eight.”
Major Sergey Yevdokimov, a battalion commander in the Tamanskaya Division, had already declared his loyalty to Yeltsin (hence the tank on which Yeltsin made his historic stand). Yevdokimov later said that early on he had decided that he would not fire on any Russian citizens. As his battalion approached the White House, one of Yeltsin’s supporters climbed on Yevdokimov’s tank and asked him to come over to their side. The major made his historically significant choice, setting in motion events that would help thwart the coup.
KGB special forces units never appeared at the scene. When the planned assault on the White House (“Operation Thunder”) failed to materialize after a brief skirmish, it was clear that the coup had failed. The end result was the collapse of the Communist party and the Soviet administrative apparatus and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
That was a surprise to the majority of Kremlinologists at the time.
Of course, the situation in the US military and with Trump is not exactly analogous to that of Yeltsin and the Soviet officers and men who sabotaged the “gang of eight’s” coup plan.
For starters, Trump is operating in a hostile environment (“the Swamp”) dominated and controlled by his enemies. The generals are not on his side. It seems unlikely that a large group of citizens from the DC area would quickly materialize to support Trump if some sort of military-backed coup plan unfolded. It’s possible, however, that Trump may not even be in Washington when a coup plan is set in motion, leaving him an opportunity to do what he does best—hold mass rallies to fire up his support base, most likely in “deplorable” areas of the country.
The deplorables could be galvanized into action if the Blob oversteps after the election. Both “red” and “blue” areas across the country are effectively separating, threatening secession from the United States, and practicing nullification. The as yet inchoate Middle American resistance has shown it is capable of fighting back.
We don’t know exactly how the military might be used, but its plausible, as noted above, that general disorder and a deadlock over the elections might act as a cover to deploy military units, then use them as part of a plan to force Trump out. And that raises the same question Soviet officers and men were faced with in August, 1991: Would the “boots on the ground” obey orders?
Trump may be despised by top level officers, but my sense is that he is popular with the rank-and-file. What if a significant number of them refused to obey a clearly illegal order? It may take only one Major Yevdokimov refusing unlawful orders for the whole plot to unravel.
Neither side appears to be ready to accept the results of the election if it goes against them—the deplorables have good reason to think the Blob will rig or otherwise steal or reverse the election results. The past four years have already taught them that. And the Blob’s media arm has been hard at it selling the Narrative of Trump stealing the election. The Democrats’ base appears to be ready and willing to accept drastic measures against Trump and the Middle Americans they loath.
The potential for a seismic political crisis is clear.
The end of politics and the fate of the American remnant
With perhaps the most pivotal election in American history upon us, the Soviet example shows what can happen. The best-laid plans of coup plotters — in our case, the Democrats, Never Trumpers, and military bureaucrats who suggest they won’t accept a Trump re-election victory — could easily fail without support.
Middle American deplorables and troops in the ranks might not support what the anti-Trump coup contingent is planning.
What we are witnessing is what I’ve called “the end of politics” coming to fruition, as American elections become more like the zero-sum games they are in the undeveloped world. It seems likely that a post-election crisis, especially a force majeure situation precipitated by military intervention, would accelerate the centrifugal forces already at work in the United States.
The failure of a coup attempt could do to the Democrats’ “coalition of the fringes” what the failure of the August coup did to the Communists in the USSR, opening up room to maneuver for the American remnant.
Given the circumstances, with the demographic ring closing in on Middle America, that may be a providential outcome for the deplorables.