JOY ON TAMPA WATERS

Tom Brady just wrapped up a joyous SuperBowl victory boat parade down the interlocking waterways of Tampa’s core. The celebration continues. Time was when wheeled Duck Boats carried Tom and fellow champions through the frozen gray heart of old Boston. The sun must be agreeing with Tom as he pilots his own boat, surrounded by family, Rob Gronkowski on somebody’s aft deck cavorting joyously and drunkenly, naked to the waist. Tampa and Tampa Bay are “new” in ways old New England isn’t. The Bay has won the hockey’s Stanley Cup and baseball’s American League Pennant.

Now that St. Petersburg has come into its own, I hope this sprawl of water and real estate and core cities can congeal into one cooperative urban base. People are fleeing the expense, weather and politics to the far north.

I guess I’m glad, though an unreconstructed Cod, to be here for this. And I’m glad Tom Brady actually grasped my hand once with that legendary right hand of his when I greeted him and he said, “Hi, Greg.” He didn’t and doesn’t know me, but I trotted behind him up and down the stairs of the Mass State House the day he, Drew Bledsoe and Troy Brown took a victory lap among legislative offices getting their “attaboys” for their combined win that began the Brady years. He was just a lanky unknown then. He belongs to sports history now.

And all this in plague times. (There were masks in evidence over in Tampa. I think it’s a city ordinance for the time being. But I saw no masks, lots of bare skin and plenty of booze onboard those boats.)

Through all this, there is that abiding reality about all our lives and our moments in the sun being brief — but it seems nothing is more evanescent than the career of an athlete. I just mentioned Drew Bledsoe and Troy Brown. Where are they now? Injuries, bodily limitations under the best of circumstances and the cold business realities of professional athletics necessarily mean that pro careers will, in most cases, be very brief. Small wonder they demand high salaries while the glory last and while they earn millions of dollars for their franchise overlords.

In this respect, Tom Brady has been blessed with an unusual long and brilliant career. It’s no accident. He works hard. He is not, from all accounts, the best at any one aspect of what he does — doesn’t throw the hardest, can’t really scramble, etc..But he is great in the combination of all he does. And he seems to be a master strategist, mentally tough, very competitive. I guess I’d like to take a leaf out of his golden playbook.

Enjoy the interval, Tom. I know you’re dying to get back to work.

TRUMPOCALYPSE

It was ugly. Our nation’s Capitol under assault as historians tell us it has not been under seige since 1812….but this time by our fellow citizens.

Things like this happen in banana republic civil wars. But, softly, as comity and unity have eluded us, we have long been descending into a “soft” civil war in our nation.

Why, to mention just one point of vexation, must the president who thoroughly, unyieldingly, even if perhaps disingenuously, defended conscience rights for medical workers, merchants and religious citizens and the rights of the unborn and who also boldly addressed the conundrum of illegal immigration (though taking harsh measures that backfired and affronted millions) and who seemed prepared to address what Republican neo-cons have tragically fudged — namely, the national dissipation caused by foreign wars and unbalanced foreign trade and other engagements– why didn’t we see the apocalypse coming in which this rude beast revealed himself — and not for the first time — to be, among many other dark and terrible things, a philosophically unmoored narcissist? A man so absurdly and disturbingly self-deluded as to believe he won a national election “by a landslide” when, in fact, as the whole world knows and any sane person can see (despite some obvious, serious but ultimately minor polling irregularities or fraud) that he had lost soundly — and if not by a landslide, certainly by an indisputable margin. Surely his repudiation would have been overwhelmingly obvious to any human in their right mind; to any mortal with a particle of humility or the temperament of a statesman. Richard Nixon, after all — way back in 1960 — plainly realized his narrow defeat by John F. Kennedy might have been achieved through voter irregularities in Lyndon Johnson’s Texas and Richard Daley’s Chicago. But he went away quietly to fight another day.

Other politicians — maybe even many, if not most in our time — have displayed a measure of narcissism, egoism, self-delusion — Nixon among them. But here it was so nakedly obvious from the outset and so markedly extreme… but, what choice did we have if we were worried about the aforementioned issues? Republican primary voters winnowed the field of candidates and chose Donald J. Trump, leaving only two dubious choices, if, like me, you regarded Hillary Rodham Clinton to fairly drip with dubiety.

Yes, we knew Trump was all those bad things and none of those good things, didn’t we? And we knew he was woefully inarticulate and, therefore, unable to make a strong, coherent case even for the best things he championed. He exaggerated everything, too often invoked the adjective “incredible”, therefore rendering all that he said UN-credible.

How desperate was nearly half the nation that voted for him to avoid the fate of Hillary Clinton? Yet Trumps’s behavior in office has convinced half the nation to risk the fate that awaits us under a hollow-out, borderline senescent Democratic shill who will likely stumble his way through only one term, if that, leaving us thereafter to the vicious machinations of the jackals of the far Left and their allies, the wolves of the liberal media.

Yes, we will continue at war.

We could not help but see at every turn that Trump was a reality show star, a creature of the oversized malignant mass media his most fervid supporters disdain and resist and that he was likely to confuse reality with fantasy?

But then, the intersection of the electronic media and reality in every aspect of our lives might be on display at its purest in the NFL, where the camera-eye view determines so many outcomes. (Okay, not a good example. But, I submit, a good entry-level point of inquiry into just how the rules of every game, including the political game, and all that we call “reality” have been penetrated by the dragon-eyed media. In the case of professional football, at least, it helps us make hair-splitting distinctions between, for instance, a fumble and a non-fumble. Millions in wagers and attendant legitimate financial outcomes ride on the interpretation of multiple camera angles. I guess that’s progress for you. )

Oh, how very dangerous seems this moment in our history! Oh, how the political polarities have widened and, it seems, “the center cannot hold”– and the ghost of William Butler Yeats looms over us, reminding us of another ravaged time in history — European history in that case — when, as Yeats sang at that moment in 1920, ” the best lack all conviction while the worse are full of passionate intensity.”

But some of the best citizens I know are full of “passionate intensity” and voted for Trump. Those of us — the legions of us — who were witnessing the radicalization of the political party our families had embraced in our childhood and that we ourselves embraced when we were old enough to vote — we long ago felt forced into the arms of that other so-called Grand Old Party that had so long been demonized by our working class, blue-collar, immigrant parents and forebears. And how many of us periodically longed to be joined to a Third Way; to follow a Third Path, wishing such a path would be opened up for us — perhaps a third political party. Trump seemed a third alternative and precipitated a phenomenal third wave of enthusiasm among earnest, hard-working Americans. Now they hear masses of their opposite-minded fellow citizens — souls arguably in the grip of an extant and daemonic cultural and political Third Way — a decadent, superficial, desacralized miasma — insisting, not entirely without some good reason, that what millions of us opted for amounts to some semblance of The Third Reich?

And, let’s face it: Donald Trump is a product of that very same unmoored, secular-decadent, utterly superficial, desacralized culture so many of us have reviled — and rejected.

Another fact played into our choices. Congress was in deadlock and much of the nation was weary of traditional politicians and their slippery, disingenuous ways. They longed for a fixer, a manager — a non-politician. One good by-product of this debacle may be to restore us to a sense of what temporizing qualities come with the professional politician, as opposed to the CEO jump-when-I-say-jump manager. Perhaps we should learn to like politicians again.

But, in trying to come to terms with how we got here, I recall what Ben Domenech, publisher of the Federalist, said in February of 2016 — He said, “Trump’s rise bespeaks the utter failure of (the Left’s) program”, i.e., Barrack Obama’s and the Left’s likely faith that “once working and middle class voters received the government’s redistributive largesse, they would be invested in maintaining the Left in power.”

Uh-uh. No, they wouldn’t. Not that time around, anyway.

Hillary was beaten, however narrowly, by Trump — and Trump voters — not the insurrectionists or bedazzled cultic Trumpets leavening the center of the pie, but those millions at the edges –souls Domenech characterizes as “moderate, disaffected (and) with patriotic instincts” who ” feel disconnected from the GOP and other broken public institutions (and) left behind by a national political elite that no longer believes (they) matter.”

Hillary Clinton called the “a basket of deplorable.” The Left will call them racists. And race-hustling frauds with wide influence now abound.

As for those fervid Trump voters, I’ve seen such souls at huge park rallies and miles-long boat rallies here in Florida. They are middle class, mostly but not all white and full of a passion I have not heretofore witnessed during an American political campaign.

Meanwhile, the likely damage to their cause and every cause I and others hold dear may be lasting. Or — maybe not. The “average” person knows that the Capitol insurrection was an aberration, albeit a serious one, not the whole story of this new and probably unstoppable national resistance movement — resisting the Left. After all, the Left has repeatedly insisted that last summer’s massively destructive MLP riots were not the whole story of their movement. We currently, it seems, have many cases in the media of selective indignation.

But before, during and now after Trump’s reign, yes, collateral damage has mounted for those of a certain conservative mind. Traditional conservatives warned us against Trump for this very reason.

Michael Medved, conservative film critic and commentator said ( again, way back in 2016), “Trump’s brawling, blustery, mean-spirited public persona serves to associate conservatives with all the negative stereotypes that liberals have for decades attached to their opponents on the right.”

But Medved also predicted at the time that, “if Trump won the nomination, the GOP is sure to lose the election.”(February 15, 2016).

No. To the astonishment of millions, he won, first, the nomination and then the general election.

But the Grand Old Party DID lose at that moment — not the election, but so much more in the way of multiple political and cultural imponderables. You can imagine them — trust, credibility, a clear future, etc.. The same sort of stuff the Democrats began jettisoning in the minds of much of the nation when it started its trek leftward.

So — we are divided. And a house divided cannot stand. (Where have I heard that?) This big old Republic will keep plowing forward through troubled waters.. The fate of uncomprehending and hapless Captain Trump will become manifest and should include temporary or permanent political exile, if not — as so many wish — consignment to the brig. Perhaps he’ll come to his senses and belatedly acknowledge his sins. Perhaps he’ll repent and reform in a rare instance of a leopard changing its spots. One can only hope so, because so many are disappointed in him and how he trashed any semblance of a legacy. Jokes about what will constitute his Presidential Library will be making the rounds. (I hear the Smithsonian has been collecting rubble from the trashed Capitol building.)

The fact that, for the first time in our history, a defeated Presidential candidate will not attend the inauguration will set a dark precedent. But that’s alright. I don’t intend to attend (or watch) the inauguration, either. (I know; that’s different. Who cares if I watch? )

Finally….

David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth — as market-oriented a lobbying entity as one could imagine and not really my cup of tea — displayed a great deal of insight (again way back in February 2016) when he wrote, “both parties have failed to lead. Obama and congressional Democrats manipulate the levers of power to push America farther toward European socialism; Republicans promise free-market alternatives but end up caving in to pressure or carrying water for the GOP’s own big-government special interests.”

And so, here we are. Which way now, America?

ELECTION DAY, STILL COUNTING……………….

CLOSE? OF COURSE. WE KNEW IT WOULD BE CLOSE.

Latest word: The President’s team is calling for a recount in Wisconsin.

The pollsters were wrong — again. There is going to have to be a reckoning; indeed, multiple reckonings, whoever wins.

And the country has to come together. Donald Trump’s rhetoric and attitude are, as ever, not helpful. Not to mention his tweets. Democrats, despite Joe Biden’s irenic mumblings, are rarely in a mood to de-escalate the tension or cease to look down their collective noses at Trump supporters whose numbers and passion they plainly continue to underestimate and misinterpret — though the current vote tallies work against such obdurate ignorance. People support Trump for a multitude of reasons. Hillary’s “deplorables” cry out for justice and recognition for their issues which are not, as so many commentators would have you believe, tainted with racism and xenophobia.

We are a divided nation, stating the obvious. There is so much to be said about this, and, it seems, there will be a great deal of time to say it, because this is a long way from being over.

More, much more, later. I’m just one American among millions, wondering and watching…..and counting.

ALL SOULS NIGHT MEMORIES

We are on the Eve of that painfully consequential 2020 event called Election Day.

But on this November 2nd evening, we are also edging slowly beyond the tri-part All Hallows observances on the Christian calendar. Secular time, like flowing water, has winnowed it away to just one day — the spook-fest of Halloween, greatly diminished this year by the continuing pandemic. Yesterday was All Saints Day and today we are in the waning hours of All Souls, the day on which Christians remember their faithful departed. Indeed, the whole month of November (in which I was born) is dedicated on that same Christian calendar to remembering the Faithful Departed. Each year, the list grows.

My college classmate Frederick Highland had suggested I might explicate the All Hallows observances and contrast them with the devolved manner in which the world now marks the occasion. I should have done that. I did it in a letter to him. Perhaps I’ll append it here. Because….

Near midnight last night I sat down to dash off a brief Halloween (All Hallows)/All Saints/All Souls greeting to another of my college chums, Linda Frawley in Belmont (I believe) New Hampshire. Somehow, it turned into this protracted meditation on a time I spent in 1996-97 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. And so I wrote:

Doubt you had any little ghouls or goblins or little superheroes up there on Cotton Hill in these plague times.   Memories. Memories….    Little Dorothy, The Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man came unexpectedly to the door of the triple-wide trailer that was radio station WECR-AM ( “We Care About the High Country”) on a lonely mountain road on Halloween night, 1996 at dusk and therefore very nearly the very end of the broadcast day for that Blue Ridge Mountain day-timer. I worked there only for an odd but unforgettable little interregnum before coming all the way home to Boston  again, and TV. 

What to do!! About these poor kids with their smilies and their sacks open for candy, chorusing, “Trick or treat.”

The veteran afternoon jock Arnold Buchanan from Bakersville, NC and I, the Yankee news guy, had no candy. There had been some Hershey Kisses in a little tray in one of the little offices — but I, an insatiable sweet tooth, had eaten them days before.   So, I went down to the car and invited the waiting parents into the little studio with their costumed kiddos and put them on the radio for all who might have been listening out there in the Blue Ridge Mountain town of Newland, North Carolina in Avery County where everybody grows Frazier Fir Christmas trees, skis at Sugar Mountain or Hawks Nest or hangs around Appalachia State in Boone or in country music bars. Who was listening, I wondered, as we let each little tyke on their candy quest up the Yellow Brick Road to Oz? It was oh, so sweet and wonderful and so cute and it was now so long ago — and I’m not sure parents and kids didn’t know they were being unsatisfyingly conned out of their candy, for they must have asked neighbors and relatives…did you hear the kids, did you? I so hope somebody did. 

That was a time, alright, when I told station manager and former Miami anchorman Steve Rondinaro the next day that I needed just an hour or so to go to Mass for All Saints Day and he, a renegade Italo-American Catholic from Watkin Glens, NY briefly re-connected with his Catholic boyhood, an indifferent convert at that time to his wife’s liberal Presbyterianism who looked, perhaps unintentionally a tiny bit askance at all the earnest Pentacostal Christians in that region — all of them (bible) “thumpers” in her estimate.    And so I was off to St. Bernadette’s Church looking out at Grandfather Mountain in the little town of Linville, ever so near to a mountainside gated community of Linville Ridge where NFL legend Don Shula (deceased this year) and other millionaires escaped the heat of Miami Lakes, the Florida enclave Don practically built as I understand it. I did, indeed, see him coming back from Communion one Sunday, did a double-take and decided, yup, that’s him. 

And it was in that little church that I, a thoroughgoing hater of the superfluous touchy-feeling ritual of the so-called “kiss of peace” (forgive me, those of you who like it) that, mercifully, does not entail a kiss but only the meaningless gesture of cranking your pew neighbor’s hand and uttering “peace be with you”.”…yes, it was in this church that I made another meaningful NFL encounter, for Don Shula must have persuaded an important former player to follow him to the mountains. Yes, indeed….and my attitude toward that Great Happy Howdy Neighbor hand-shake altered only once and it was in that church when Bob Griese came in and sat down in front of me with his wife — Bob Griese, Hall of Fame quarterback of Don Shula’s undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins. I COULDN’T WAIT to shake that hand — and, sure enough, when the moment came, Bob glanced side to side and seeing no one other than his wife within reach, swung around and grasped lowly Greg Wayland’s hand with that magic hand that threw, with astounding accuracy, dozens of touchdown passes during that championship unbeaten season. Bob Griese said, “God Bless You.” 
 

Blessed by Bob Griese! My Sunday was made. 

Yes that was quite a time up there in the mountains, brief, chaotic, expensive but memorable. How I wound up there is a long story. And its culmination was not, as it happened, the grasp of Bob Griese — but an event the following New Year’s Eve when my companion Diane and her daughter and son-in-law and every living soul then living with me on a hillside just outside the village of Banner Elk went off someplace and I, desiring to otherwise occupy myself, went off to the little hospital where, each whatever-day-of-the-week that was there was a meeting of volunteers where people could help other people who might be having a serious substance abuse or related issue. What better night for that than bibulous, delirious New Year’s Eve!

But apparently I was the only one who thought so among those who on previous nights had rendered this support to fellow townspeople in the little Banner Elk and vicinity — because I sat alone, waiting for anyone else to show up. I set out the literature reserved for the occasion, kept in a little footlocker. But…Nobody. So at about five, maybe ten, maybe fifteen past the eight o’clock scheduled start time, still alone, I decided it was obvious I needed to put everything away, turn out the lights, shut the door, go back to the A-frame that briefly passed for home, alone, read a book, whatever — when suddenly there appeared at the door to the room a hospital attendant with an attractive  young woman who said to the attendant, “See? I told you there was a support meeting.” 

The attendant seemed to acknowledge that fact (but was doubtless thinking, one person does not a meeting make). He asked me, when our “meeting” was over to kindly escort the young woman to the elevator down the corridor and take her back up to the fifth floor psychiatric ward. 

I get emotional when I think of that moment — because, suppose I’d left and this young woman, so eager for help, found only a darkened room, a closed door, confirming the attendant’s insistence that there was NO MEETING.    

But was what we had — that young lady and I — a meeting? I was fifty, she was maybe twenty-six, maybe older. She had slash marks on both wrists. She’d been suicidal; had, in fact, tried to kill herself ( and I don’t think I ever asked the circumsances). And so we sat there and talked about our “experience, strength and hope.”  I recall not a word of it — and felt she really needed a woman to open up to. Did I do her any good? Was she just saying what she thought I wanted to hear? And, for my part, what I felt she wanted to hear?    

We talked — and talked. I was praying — and pray now — that that was enough. Perhaps she was manic-depressive, for at that moment, she seemed in all respects, normal.

After the requisite hour, we stood and actually grasped hands — better, more important hands than even Bob Griese’s — and we said the Our Father together, something they do at AA and other support group meetings. Then, as requested, I escorted her to the elevator and we rode up to the fifth floor of this little hospital ( since, I understand, converted to condominiums) and she got off into what seemed in my memory like utter darkness.

Thinking about it now — why didn’t I stop on the way to the elevator and say, “Mary ( or Jane or Lucy or Patricia or whatever her name was), Did I help you? Is there any more you NEED to say? And PLEASE DON’T HURT YOURSELF! DON’T TRY TO KILL YOURSELF!

Oh, I pray I helped! I so want to know if she’s alive and well and maybe married and in love — and what was the problem, the REAL problem anyway that led her to want to die? I don’t recall having heard anything that deep from her, for she would have — cried. Probably NEEDED to cry.    Yet — is was, despite this towering feeling of inadequacy, one of the best hours of my life.

Needless to say, after moving back north, I thought of that New Year’s Eve the following New Year’s Eve when I found myself in York, Maine as a dinner guest with strangers who were friends of one of my friends now distantly former girlfriends. There was (forgive me) useless, awkward conversation. We didn’t even turn on the Time Square Ball Drop. We just sat around the table at midnight and, believe it or not, put on silly little hats. Up until then, I recall we talked about dogs. Their dogs. My dogs.

And I’m sure I was thinking — is my Banner Elk girl still alive? I could not then or can I now recall her name. (Somehow — I don[‘t kn0w how — I’d heard she was the daughter of the mayor of a nearby small city. Someday, just maybe, I’ll inquire — but, then again….do I really have any chance of finding her?

But that will remain my most memorable New Year’s Eve, despite the sorrow and unanswered questions. Alone with a broken soul, until that moment very much wrapped up in my 50-year-old self, trying to help. Hoping and praying I did. That somehow I made a difference and that lost young woman went into 1997 thinking, “I’m glad that guy was there for me.”

I hope so.

Have a good night.

Sincerely, Greg

So, on we go to this painfully divisive election day in the fraught, tortured year of 2020.

MY QUIRKY SHEPHERD HAS WANDERED OFF AGAIN

My nephew Christopher in Arizona was musing on Facebook about Pope Francis’s latest off-hand comment approving of the idea of gay civil unions. (Note: multiple sources indicate that the Pope’s remarks were made to a filmmaker who then proceeded to heavily edit them.).

My nephew was — being something of a wag — wondered what impact this would have on the U.S. Supreme Court. He wasn’t serious, of course — at least I hope he wasn’t — but he implied that a court now “packed” with Catholics — and another one on the way — would make it awkward for justices to overturn gay marriage.

I chose to respond to Christopher’s antic surmise.

First of all, I note the assumption — dead since the days of JFK — that Catholic public officials take orders from the pope. As for this latest “Francis Flash” — most Popes issue encyclicals. Francis issues Confuse-o-Grams. Thank God, like Donald Trump, he doesn’t have a Twitter account ( Or does he?)

No denying, Francis continues to be a problem for faithful, meaning orthodox, practicing, or “conservative” Catholics, if you will (though Catholicism, rightly conceived of, is by its nature, conservative.)

Under this pontiff, Vatican foreign policy, among other things, has taken a historically tragic turn. He and his Secretary of State have inexplicably cut the legs out from under the long-suffering Chinese underground Church which has stayed loyal to Rome through persecution, torture and murder, since the Communists took over. This has caused enormous suffering of both underground priests and the faithful, leaving them naked to their powerful enemies. And, needless to say, it’s caused tremendous confusion, which seems to be Francis’s special pastoral style. And — again, inexplicably – he has renewed this secret — yes, secret — deal with the Chinese regime. I like to think he’s just susceptible to bad advice. The Vatican refuses to release details.

Then you have the very deep scandals and intrigues besetting Vatican finances. Francis also scandalously reinstated arch sex abuser and fraud Theodore McCarrick, now defrocked, once powerful former D.C. Cardinal, who proceeded to do enormous mischief. All very unamusing. As for Church teaching on marriage, it hasn’t and won’t change, under him or any Pope. This is just Francis being Francis. He’s capable of clearly, compassionately setting out the Church’s reasoning across a range of vexed issues. But he prefers to open closed issues, create false hopes among some critics and Church enemies, and confusion and alarm among the faithful, all, apparently in some wrongheaded effort at “dialogue”. Then he’ll reverse himself and slam the door shut again; a door he never should have opened in the first place. Quirky, Kooky Frankie The First. What a piece of work! God help us! (And, of course, I man no disrespect to my shepherd. The next time I make a pilgrimage to Rome, I’d be humbled to have him hear my confession.

THE SOFT TOTALITARIANS

America’s politically correct intelligentsia is, day by day, posing a deepening threat to the rest of us. It is growing into a “soft totalitarianism.” You may be familiar with the phrase and the notion. It may be the sum of many of your fears as well. Orwell warned us that this “soft totalitarianism” or cultural imperialism would inevitably extend into the realm of language. We are already far down that road in our boardrooms and classrooms, but there are always new lingual barriers going up to divide us or test our allegiance to a “woke” understanding of the world.

In this regard, I was struck by the exchange between Hawaiian Democrat Senator Mazie Horono and Judge Amy Coney Barrett during the latter’s confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court. “Not once, but twice,” Horono scolded Judge Barrett, “you used the term ‘sexual preference.'”

Having no transcript in front of me, I recall the rest of the exchange consisting of an official upbraiding of Barrett and instructions on how such a phrase is outdated and offensive to the LGBTQ community. Judge Barrett, perhaps a tiny bit flummoxed by the objection, nonetheless dutifully apologized and insisted she meant no harm.

Let me give you the politically correct lowdown on this:

The phrase “sexual preference” in place of “sexual orientation” suggests that same sex attraction is not immutable from birth. That’s a no-no. The intelligentsia currently overseeing our culture and all that is strictly in and strictly out has settled the matter. It must include some behavior scientists or geneticists. At least I hope so. I’d hate to think this injunction against the word “preference” in this context comes from a bunch of English or Philosophy professors.

At any rate, they have stamped the word IMMUTABLE on this package.

But allow me, a non-scientist and ordinary bloke, to venture into deeply controversial waters where the intimidation factor is currently equal to the presence of a circling school of bull sharks. It seems to me, based only on lifelong experience and fellowship with many fellow mortals — many of whom identify as gay — that immutability is still very much an open question outside certain closed culturally totalitarian circles. It seems rather soon to affirm scientifically what the political and cultural cogoscenti has ordained to be the truth, i.e., that homosexuality, or homosexual “inclinations” or same-sex “attractions” or “orientations” are, in fact, immutable from birth. I hope no one who thus identifies will cease to be my friend if I speculate or divagate on this tender subject. My research consists of listening and reading on the matter, and it continues. But I don’t like being dragooned into acquiescence or silence.

Make no mistake about it. If you choose to explore the subject or suggest a contrary view, as I am here, the weight of an enormous media/academic/ scientific/Hollywood juggernaut is poised to come down on your head, after which you’ll be put on the train to society’s gulag for the culturally insensitive.

Judge Barrett plainly heard the threat in Senator Mazie’s schoolmarm’s voice. (I have read — but have no idea if it’s true — that the senator herself was unaware that the phrase was unacceptable until she received angry emails from gay constituents, handing her, in the process, yet another charge to lodge publicly against President Trump’s high court nominee. It seemed yet another way to suggest that Judge Barrett might harbor retrograde attitudes toward a favored and powerful special interest of the Democrats– and one whose issues, such as the right to marry, have come before the court, and may come there again.

I have an associate and friend who commented on the Horono/ Barrett exchange recently. His name is David Carlin, a retired professor of philosophy and sociology at Rhode Island Community College. (He is very active on Facebook where this observation appeared in bold print, leading me to assume he won’t mind my sharing it.) He wrote: “Even if we don’t choose our sexual orientations (a doubtful proposition), we choose whether to act in accordance with our orientations and whether to publicly define ‘who we are’ in terms of that orientation and those actions.”

Makes sense to me. But I fear the consequence of saying so. ( And no, I have not missed the irony of my affirming, albeit tentatively, the opinion of a Philosophy and Sociology professor on this subject where I’d prefer to be hearing from scientists –and psychiatrists. But, on the other hand, I think this critical battle in the culture wars may be entirely philosophical, even spiritual, in nature.)

As for why Professor Carlin finds doubtful the widely embraced assertion that sexual orientation is not a “choice”, you’d have to ask him. My own sense is that we are born with a multitude of inclinations, attractions, vulnerabilities or, if you will, orientations — perhaps all of them immutable. That orientation etc. can be good or bad for us and for society depending on society’s and our own view of the matter. We might find it very hard not to act on those inclinations. For my part, upon reflection, I think “preference” would be too weak a word to characterize the struggles of many self-identifying gays. The struggle ends for many, of course ( or seems to end) when they simply say, hey, this is me, take it or leave it. And the current culture even affords them civil rights protections for their choice, which is essentially a choice to elevate their sexuality to the heart of their identity.

There was a time when those with a same-sex attraction (orientation, etc.) were cruelly treated, stereotyped and marginalized in society. Those days are gone — I challenge anyone to tell me otherwise. The bottom rail is definitely on top now — at least in the United States of America.

There are strong religious prohibitions — Christian, Islamic, Orthodox Judaic — against homosexual practice as opposed to inclination, etc.. Gay rights lobbyists and activists have long rejected and reviled those who attempt to make the distinction between having an orientation and acting on it. They will say, as Professor Carlin notes, that their orientation is “who we are” — hence, immutable. Not a “lifestyle” but their “reality” and we must embrace and make civic room for their choices just as we embrace the choices of those who are heterosexual or bisexual or transsexual. And now we are well into the multifarious issues growing out of gender reassignment. And with them come a whole new lexicon of lingual dos and don’t.

There has been a cultural tsunami in this whole area. (Talk about stating the obvious.) But a mordant side note: I have seen four video clips — four! — of insistently gay-friendly Joe Biden, on four separate occasions, averring his friendship for people of different “sexual preferences”.

I guess he didn’t get the softly totalitarian, politically correct memo. Just wait until Mazie Horono gets wind of this.

DEAR DAN…..

Dan Rather — remember him? –has recourse to twitter which, on many if not most occasions, strikes me as kind of 5th Avenue tickertape torrent of streaming white lies, sometimes benign, mostly somewhere between vile and half-hearted. And, I confess, I’ve thrown out, over a few years, a modest wads of curling streamers via twitter from high above the motorcade of life. ( Enough with the metaphors, Greg!) It all winds up in a heap in the gutter, best forgotten. (Merciful END of metaphor.) That includes many of the President’s tweets. Sadly, all the stupid things he’s had to say on Twitter have come to haunt his Supreme Court nominee — all those things he’s said that show no respect for the independence of the judiciary. He throws out tweets, then throws out red meat at his rallies. (Forgive THAT metaphor.)

So, back to Dan Rather, who, with a retired newsman’s free time, freely opines. Thus he has tweeted on this October 15th, if you want to be an “originalist” in law, maybe you should go all the way. Cooking on the hearth, leeches for medicine. And old mule for transportation. Or maybe you can recognize that the world has changed.

Strange that this celebrated ex-newsman, seemingly of normal intelligence, albeit with intellectual pretentions, would fail to see the patent and careless mixing of categories here, especially since he claims to be referring to originalism IN LAW.

I tweeted back, for better or worse. I don’t know if Dan will see my tweet since this beloved ex-CBS mouthpiece has droves of adoring fans — into the thousands — and they all quickly affirmed him with little hearts in piles of tweets. Nonetheless, I tweeted, If you truly aspire to be a scholar, you’d be less disingenuous and acknowledge a distinction between eccentric backwoods “originalism “in one’s lifestyle — and THE LAW, and you’d see your error ( though, of course, we suspect you see it and are not serious or sincere here — at least we all hope not). But you’ve put on display your signature “Danish” sanctimony. Yet, even by your new lower standards for fairness, this is unworthy of you.

You know what? That’s not EXACTLY what I tweeted, but is in the ballpark. (For one thing, it’s way over the Twitter character limit.) Being a rare visitor to Twitter, I could not bring my original tweet up to the surface. It was, you’ll be comforted to know, less snarky, more to the point.

And you get — MY point. It was D.R. who was being snarky. I was, in however bitter a manner, trying to speak for truth. Truth is always original. It doesn’t matter how, as Dan puts it, the world has changed.

THE NEW WOMAN IN TOWN

I guess you call them memes, and they are all over the worldwide web mocking the new Supreme Court nominee. They are unfair and repulsive and have often been propagated by other women, e.g., a photograph showing Amy Coney Barrett in her red dress side-by-side with an image of submissive flocks of handmaids in red dresses and bonnets from the show, “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

So this is the savage snobbery of the elite and the woke against the new woman in town. Think of it as girls in the schoolyard making fun of the new girl, her looks (she’s prettier than them) and her background (she’s from New Orleans, lives in the midwest and is Catholic, etc.).

Of course, what they really don’t like — is that the new girl is also smarter than them.

SHALL WE SOON SEE A COURT IN …..”SHAM”-BLES?

“Sham” was the most favored word the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee deployed against Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett today. Remaining for a moment on the verb “deployed” I’ll note that Rhode Island Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse compared Judge Barrett to a “torpedo” aimed by the Trump Administration at the Affordable Care Act. (Block that Metaphor!!)

The hearing is just beginning but senators on both sides gave us an earful on Monday. All we got to hear — in this hearing — from the nominee herself was her opening statement. She has a high-pitched, girlish voice and looks very much like the suburban mom she is. But her statement, at one point, contained the hard nugget of truth — at least to traditinalists — about the role of judges in every court in the land — again, at least to those, like Barrett, who profess an “originalist” or “textualist” view of the law — a view quite obviously opposed by the liberal Democrats on the Committee who seem to favor a more activist court. Not that that’s exactly a late bulletin.

Barrett said: Courts have a vital responsibility to the rule of law which is critical to a free society. But courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life. The policy decisions and value judgements of government must be made by the political branches, elected by and accountable to the people. The public should not expect courts to do so and the courts should not try.

She’ll likely be confirmed, but what will happen to a court the Democrats plainly hope to “pack” with two new members in order to gain more control over it. Not that they’re owning up to it.

What’s in progress here is an assault on the system itself. This hearing is, in a sense, just a sideshow. The real trouble is down the road.

Stay tuned.

KAMALA HARRIS: BIGOT AND PHONY. JOE BIDEN: PHONY AND FOOL. GREAT TICKET!

And so 2020 advances. President Trump in the hospital, the media scum is using the moment for recrimination. Kind of a ‘you got what was coming to you’ moment. And so — 2020, what a year! On so many troubled fronts! I’m not a Trump supporters — but….

Here’s what I know about Joe Biden: he is the guy with the “nice guy” image. But long observation of his long career reveals a now-senescent, garrulous fraud, transparently a liar and phony governed by untrammeled and long frustrated ambition for the Oval Office. He now operates without regard for any principle and has changed all his most moderate positions, including long, formerly unwavering support for the Hyde Amendment to satisfy the Left wing of his Party, which now pretty much is the whole bird. All to get the prize he’s been denied. He is a pathetic armature on which the left will shape its ideas. The Party architects are now Bernie and AOC. I challenge anyone to deny that.

Kamala Harris is simply an anti-Catholic bigot who believes membership in the 138 year-old Catholic fraternal charitable organization The Knights of Columbus disqualifies one to sit on the federal bench because, like the Catholic Church, it opposes abortion — or, as Ms Harris and her minions would put it — “a woman’s right to choose” (choose what? That’s the issue). She has been elevated far beyond her competence fairly to represent the interests of all Americans.

Donald Trump is the following: stubborn, arrogant, inarticulate, undisciplined, even unwilling in front of millions of viewers — for reasons that can only be a source of appalled speculation — to denounce White Supremacy, apparently (I’m speculating)”insulted”(as he would see it) by the assumption that he needed to make a public profession that he wasn’t a racist when Joe Biden isn’t being asked if he supports the transparently racist/ Marxist violent organization known as Black Lives Matter that has been burning and looting our cities and assaulting innocent people. He simply had to say, I absolutely denounce White Supremacy — I don’t want those people in my campaign, in the Party or in the country. I hate them. If you’re out there, stay away from me and mine.

You, Donald, were justifiably irritated that Joe Biden was not asked about his support for the destructive and duplicitous rabble now operating under the fraudulent title, Black Lives Matter; and that he got away with claiming that Antifa is just “an idea”. But you could have pivoted and asked that question yourself — if you had even a scintilla of ability as a debater of ideas. (I knew I shouldn’t have watched this thing.)

The whole thing was infuriating to anyone who hoped you’d perform well. I suspected you wouldn’t — because, again, as a candidate, you are undisciplined, fail to take direction, think the belligerent way you deal with the media is the way you conduct yourself in a debate. And yet, ironically, you’ve been the last best hope of genuine conservatives in and out ( and I’m out) of the Republican Party , and in America — and of what few conservative Democrats are left.

Get well, D.T. You apparently remain the blunt instrument we’ll have to use to pry open the door to sanity and freedom — and you’ll have to help us keep it open (and I know you’ll brag about that) for four years– until someone better comes along. But right now, I fear the fools may win and commence a four-year assault on our liberties, our economy, our morals. You name it.

“It’s a mess, ain’t it, sheriff?”

If it ain’t, it’ll do til the mess gets here,” said the West Texas sheriff in No Country for Old Men.

God help us!