By Charlie Johnston
When I was a young man, I was an environmentalist. Actually, I still am – but hold “movement” environmentalists in utter contempt. I was in my early 20’s when I realized that movement environmentalists had no clue what they were talking about. It was all about showing how clever and noble they were – and how ignorant and venial everyone else was. I was still in my early 20’s when I realized that the environmentalist’s cant was not just relatively harmless idiocy, but actually very damaging to the environment.
It was a quarter of a century ago, while doing radio in Chicago, that I publicly stated (repeatedly) that California’s insane new rules prohibiting controlled burns and the clearing of brush were eventually going to lead to genuinely catastrophic wildfires. Here we are. And while the state tries to pass blame onto Pacific Gas and Electric (PG & E) or climate change or (of course) Donald Trump, did you know that state law made it a crime for PG & E to remove brush that was actually touching transmission lines or transformers?
Come to find out the same sort of policies are largely responsible for the catastrophic wildfires in Australia, as well. As Edward Ring notes in the linked article, over 150 occasions of arson have contributed to the wildfires in Australia. BUT…the fuel-loading of brush and deadwood that makes these fires catastrophic is entirely on governments in thrall to “movement environmentalists.” They know little to nothing about actual sound environmental policy. Rather, they use environmentalism as a nice sounding means to bully others into acquiescing in their will to power. It is obviously bad for freedom but is also bad for the environment – all living things, as the pseudo-environmentalists like to say.
We now have a generation (maybe two) of senior leadership that is made up of experts too lazy to develop any actual expertise, prognosticators who get EVERYTHING wrong and then never refer back to their errors. This is the year it comes to an end. The folksies have figured out that the experts do not know better than them but are just more willful and determined to dominate.
The left thinks to reduce violent crime by disarming victims – and are very aggressive in their efforts to impose gun control on the innocent. The right proposes to reduce violent crime by disarming criminals and putting them in jail – but are very timid about it while the left is adamant that criminals must be tolerated.
The right supports capitalism, sort of. It is a long time since we have actually had free-market capitalism. The fundamental principle behind it is that a person is entitled to the bread he has earned by the sweat of his own brow. Now the left is hepped up on socialism – the principle of which is that we must have a parasite class which will decide to whom the bread gained by the sweat of others will go. Not only that, but socialists murdered over 100 million of their own citizens during the 20th Century for disagreeing with them.
The right believes in free speech for all, kind of. The left believes people should only be free to say what the left thinks – otherwise they must be cancelled, banned, fired, persecuted or sent to gulags.
Don’t get me wrong. Every society needs a genuine elite class to function at top potential. Genuine elites must make the sacrifice and live the discipline to develop actual expertise and take actual responsibility for producing good results. In America, no matter who they think they are, they must be accountable to the people – or it ceases to be America. An elite class must involve more than a good haircut and a belligerent attitude. Much of the rumbling you now hear is the sound of a phony elite class fighting for survival as ordinary Americans take back control of their own lives. Any new applicants for elitism will have to earn people’s trust rather than bully them into submission. A light is dawning in darkness.
Quite the kerfuffle has broken out over Pope-emeritus Benedict’s request to have his name removed as co-author of a book defending the tradition of Priestly celibacy that he collaborated with Cardinal Robert Sarah on. Significantly, Benedict did NOT repudiate any of the substance of the book or the essay he contributed directly. Ignatius Press, American publisher of the book, From the Depths of Our Hearts, announced yesterday that, though specific authorship of various sections will be updated, the content of the book remains unchanged.
I spoke with a friend who is familiar with both men and whose judgment I respect in analyzing such matters. He thinks that Benedict was genuinely caught off guard at the force of those parts of the book he did not directly contribute to – and so this is a legitimate misunderstanding between Benedict and Sarah. My friend did, however, recognize the profound significance that Benedict did not repudiate any part of the book.
I could not help but think back to an old political play I would use on rare occasions. If my candidate and I foresaw a major and potentially destructive conflict coming, we would sometimes seek to head it off in this manner: I would make a provocative and very tough public statement on the matter. My candidate would then publicly – and gently – rebuke me for going too far or stating it in such provocative terms. Primly chastened, I would express my regrets and note that we would see what happens.
The value in this was that it showed the opponent what was arrayed against him before a particularly destructive and unnecessary conflict developed, allowing him to recalibrate his plans without great cost. It cast me as unpredictably aggressive and my candidate as the soul of restraint. Again, it was used very rarely – and only to head off a very serious situation. It worked in every case but one.
Pope Francis has not yet issued a formal document in the aftermath of the Amazon Synod. Yet there is rife speculation that he intends to abandon Priestly celibacy for the whole Church. This whole kerfuffle lets him know that if he does, he will almost certainly get significant blowback from many, including the Pope-emeritus. Cardinal Sarah is seen as the active force behind the objection and Benedict the soul of restraint. Sometimes, the best way to avoid having to use a gun is to display it. Mission accomplished.
Two Popes are involved in the kerfuffle over this book. In the end, I suspect it may well be three Popes.
Over the last weekend, the cold I have struggled with came roaring back for what I hope is its last gasp. It was actually fairly good timing, for I was able to just kick back and sleep a lot, only interrupted by feeding the animals. I feel much better today and think I will be
able to head out tomorrow in a normal routine with nearly full robustness.
Ironic that, after having taken so much pride in going through my western tour last fall without getting sick at all, I should spend a good half of my first month and a half back home battling with a vicious cold.
Actually, while out west, I was recipient of a small miracle. It was while I was visiting Sr. Bear in Camp Sherman, Oregon. Actually, her name is Sr. Marie Ursula and she leads the Sisters of the Metolius in this remote town in central Oregon. It is incredibly scenic – and Sr. Bear was eager to show me some of the more notable sites. We were with a group who all agreed she should take me to see the “Cinder
Pit,” because it had one of the greatest views of all. Kind of like Smuckers, I figured with a name like that, it had to be good. Still, while letting Sr. Bear know I trusted her judgment, I avowed that I would draw the line if she later pressed to take me to the “dungeon of a thousand tortures.” Turned out everyone was right. The view from the cinder pit is gorgeous and panoramic. The cinders are volcanic rocks and ashes from long-ago eruptions.
The small miracle came when Sr. Bear was taking me on a comprehensive tour of the area. At one point, she wanted me to take a pathway to see the headwaters of the Metolius River. It is not a long path – maybe half a
mile and, probably, only a third. Over the last year, though, I have developed arthritis in my right hip and my left shoulder. It is extraordinarily painful for me to walk more than about two blocks. I had not told anyone, lest they get nervous about my ability to walk if it became necessary. I have always been perfectly confident that God will give me whatever capacity I need whenever I need it. I looked at the pathway and groaned inwardly, determined to keep my arthritis a secret. To my astonishment, while I tired easily (because I haven’t walked much more than two blocks at a time in the last year) there was no pain. Later on in the trip, I walked all over central San Francisco by myself and with David Daleiden. Again, my stamina was nothing to write home about, but the pain was not there. The pain has also vanished from my left shoulder.
Obviously, I was pleased that the pain was gone and I can walk normally again. Knowing that God can be a very tricky Fellow sometimes, I couldn’t help but wonder if this meant I am going to have to take a long walk again sometime soon. If so, I will go, but I can’t help but think maybe the arthritis wasn’t all that bad.
Meantime, telling this story, Sr. Bear may find pilgrims wanting to come to the headwaters of the Metolius in hopes of sharing in its healing properties. Alas, you will have to be a pilgrim, though, for I did not drink any of the water. It was on the walk where I was astonished to discover the arthritis gone.
May we all find joy and healing this year while setting our jaws and forging ahead in what we see as the next right step.