What is American conservatism (cynical view)?

I have long believed that the word conservative is sullied beyond reclamation, so my immediate answer to the question What is American conservatism?” is a Beltway-based racket exploiting the healthy instincts of decent Americans on behalf of the military-industrial complex, Wall Street, and the Republican Party.”

Bill Kauffman, If Conservatism Doesn’t Stand for Home Then it Stands for Nothing (The American Conservative)

August 9, 2020

The White House feels empty

There’s something I’ve been trying to write for a few weeks but can’t get my hands around—but it’s as if there’s no president, it’s an empty White House, nobody’s really there, it’s not an administration but an eccentric event that causes clamor. I’ve never had that feeling before, that a White House is empty and weightless ….

Peggy Noonan, America Is a Coalition of the Worried

August 7, 2020

Mansplaining Russia

Russia doesn’t want to have anything to do with Afghanistan. Let me just tell you about Russia. Russia used to be a thing called the Soviet Union.” Because of Afghanistan, they went bankrupt. They became Russia, just so you do understand, okay? The last thing that Russia wants to do is get too much involved with Afghanistan.

Donald Trump, beginning at 19:52.

August 7, 2020

Never trust a CEO who smokes joints as big as cigars

Last quarter the company lost $100 million on electric cars and reported a profit thanks to $400 million in mandated government gifts from other car makers who get their profits from trucks and SUVs. Mr. Musk has stridently complained about regulators encouraging others to build their own electric cars rather than buy fuel-economy credits from Tesla. He urged Detroit to farm out its production of compliance vehicles to Tesla. He renewed the proposal again this week. Essentially, he wants Tesla to help itself to a big share of the profits these companies are obliged, under green mandates, to shift to EVs.

Tesla’s market capitalization is now greater than GM, Ford, Daimler, VW and Fiat Chrysler’s combined. Tesla is worth more than most of the industry that it relies on for the subsidies that are the only reason it was able to report three consecutive quarters of profit.

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., The Tesla Secret (paywall)

August 5, 2020

Stop improving” things, please

The darkest moments of the modern world have come as a result of various plans to improve” things … The Modern state found its first great champion in the efficiencies of 19th century Prussia (later Germany). Rationality was elevated to new heights, not just on the philosophical level, but across the board. The result was an efficient state, an effective army, and a policy of improvement for the world that created two world wars, genocide and a legacy of darkness that has yet to be dissipated. Other visions of a better world sought to remove the irrationality of religion and any number of other messy” human pursuits. And although it is popular among the new atheists to blame religion for human conflict, religion is purely amateur when compared to the ruthless efficiencies of the rationalized state.

The sad drama of contemporary Christianity is marked by the improvements” of productivity” and effectiveness.” Better” Church has given us increasingly silly and ill-invented forms of the Christian faith.

Messiness in the Modern World - Glory to God for All Things

August 4, 2020

Mike Pompeo is a blowhard and a fabulist

Mike Pompeo testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the first time in a year yesterday. Many of the senators challenged him over the recently announced withdrawal of approximately 12,000 troops from Germany, and Pompeo defended the decision with his characteristic dishonesty.

The Guardian reported on one of Pompeo’s exchanges:

When pressed by Shaheen on the impact of the withdrawal on the relationship with Berlin, Pompeo did not directly respond, but said: This is personal for me. I fought on the border of East Germany when I was a young soldier. I was stationed there.”

There was no fighting along the border with East Germany at any point. Since WWIII didn’t erupt in the late 80s, one would think this would be hard to miss. Pompeo’s service in the Army in Germany never once involved anything that could be described as fighting. It is obvious that Pompeo just made this up to embellish his service record and to deflect criticism, but as with so many blatant lies that Pompeo tells he wasn’t called out for it.

Daniel Larison, Pompeo’s East German War (Eunomia)

August 3, 2020


Apocalypse means unveiling, revealing.

Formerly sober conservative pundits fawning over Trump is an apocalypse. It reveals party hacks who only feigned sobriety. They were never truth-seekers.

August 2, 2020

Is Trumpism” even a thing?

Today’s GOP and much of rightwing media is a vast Rube Goldberg (no relation) machine powered by a hyperactive hamster with improbable fur, spinning a wheel as it runs after its own reflection in a mirror. That hamster is Donald Trump’s id.

If Trumpism were an ideology, there would be a consistency to the Trump presidency that could be explained by a coherent ideological program. On a few issues, like trade and immigration, that’s possible. But even these ideological commitments have little explanatory or predictive power when compared to what comes with understanding Trump’s irritable mental gestures, intellectual laziness, cavernous appetite for attention and praise, and the manifest incompetence they all produce.

Jonah Goldberg, Burn, Baby, Burn (possible paywall).

August 1, 2020

Joseph, the Prophet

Note to self: When offering a hostage to Fate, never bet on things not getting dumber than they already are.

Joe Biden, based only on the voices of the choir of goblins in his head, charges that Donald Trump is going to try to use the coronavirus epidemic as an excuse to try to delay the election — or even to cancel it.

Mark my words,” Biden said, I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held.” Your words have been marked, Mr. Biden.

… I should have known better.

Kevin D. Williamson, Things about Which I Have Been Wrong.

July 30, 2020

Incubus, Succubus, Covid-19

Dr. Stella Immanuel got her 15 minutes of fame yesterday. The Trump clan was busily retweeting her white-smock flaky medical ideas as front person for some rump political group in medical drag. People I didn’t trust dug up her weekend job as a pentecostal preacher, describing beliefs almost too lurid to be true.

But she has an official YouTube channel for her religious deliverance” ministry. There you can hear from her own mouth and judge as needed. This video (part 1 of ???) deals with the current most lurid accusation: that demons screw people in their dreams and thus make them sick.

Because you may be as transfixed by train wrecks as I am, I thought you might want to know.

July 29, 2020

Albert Mohler explains in First Things why he is a Baptist, except for the part where he doesn’t explain it at all, but does pugnaciously dare anyone to try to change him (see the paragraphs that begin Why am I a Baptist?)

Mohler says a great many things that should shock himself into repentance, or so it seems to me. He’s not a stupid man, so I’m left assuming that he’s just willful, which is at the core of heresy.”

July 26, 2020

Why I’m leery of hate crime” laws

Last month, Libby Schaaf, the white mayor of Oakland, California, announced that ropes had been found hanging from trees around a local lake. These incidents will be investigated as a hate crime,” she said at a press conference. I want to be clear, regardless of the intentions of whoever put those nooses in our public trees, in our sacred public space here in Oakland, intentions don’t matter.”

An investigation revealed that the five ropes had nothing to do with lynching: They were homemade exercise equipment, used by adults and children, put up months earlier by a black resident, Victor Sengbe. He explained his intent at a press conference: It was really a fun addition to the park.”

But this happy conclusion was of no interest to Schaaf. The actual purpose of the ropes did not remove nor excuse their torturous and terrorizing effects,” she said in a statement, and the incident would continue to be investigated as a hate crime …

Emily Yoffe, A Taxonomy of Fear (Persuasion)

July 26, 2020

Weird Kool-Aid

Is this weird anecdote an example of confirmation bias? What weird Kool-Aid do they drink at Harvard?

July 23, 2020

Real Corruption

Trump directed the U.S. ambassador to Britain to ask the British government to steer the British Open to his golf resort in Scotland.

Now that’s corruption.

Opinion | The Lincoln Project understands that Trump’s enablers must pay a price - The Washington Post

July 23, 2020


Like fundamentalist preachers who called Playboy hard-core pornography” and then were left speechless by Hustler, Democrat insult-slingers used up all their epithets on the center-right and have nothing left for Trumpism.

July 23, 2020

Wagging the Dog in Portland (and Chicago, and …)

Some presidents, when they get into trouble before an election, try to wag the dog” by starting a war abroad. Donald Trump seems ready to wag the dog by starting a war at home. Be afraid — he just might get his wish.

How did we get here? Well, when historians summarize the Trump team’s approach to dealing with the coronavirus, it will take only a few paragraphs:

They talked as if they were locking down like China. They acted as if they were going for herd immunity like Sweden. They prepared for neither. And they claimed to be superior to both. In the end, they got the worst of all worlds — uncontrolled viral spread and an unemployment catastrophe.

And then the story turned really dark.

As the virus spread, and businesses had to shut down again and schools and universities were paralyzed as to whether to open or stay closed in the fall, Trump’s poll numbers nose-dived. Joe Biden opened up a 15-point lead in a national head-to-head survey.

So, in a desperate effort to salvage his campaign, Trump turned to the Middle East Dictator’s Official Handbook and found just what he was looking for, the chapter titled, What to Do When Your People Turn Against You?’

Answer: Turn them against each other and then present yourself as the only source of law and order.

Thomas L. Friedman, Trump’s Wag-the-Dog War (The New York Times)

As [acting Homeland Security chief Chad] Wolf said on Fox News on Monday, I don’t need invitations by the state, state mayors, or state governors to do our job. We’re going to do that, whether they like us there or not.”

Those words — spoken by an unelected official who, like so many members of the Trump administration, has been appointed by the president in an acting” capacity in order to circumvent the process of Senate confirmation — should send chills down the spines of every American. But they should also be seen as cover for the true intent of the policy.

One possibility is that the Trump campaign has decided that the president’s base will be thrilled by the sight of federal officers dressed in combat fatigues messing with dirty hippies in deep-blue cities like Portland (now a right-wing boogeyman”) and Chicago. But there’s another possibility as well — that Trump and his advisers think that provoking protesters to more radical acts of disorder will make the left look more dangerous and thereby enhance the president’s re-election prospects.

Which would mean that recent actions by federal agents are intended to provoke the very unrest they’ve supposedly been deployed to quash.

Trump declares war on America

See also David Graham, America’s Interior Ministry (The Atlantic), James Comey, In Portland, is televised conflict Trump’s goal? (The Washington Post).

(Yeah, I’m not a Comey fan either, but he’s describing what’s right in front of our eyes.)

July 22, 2020

Chris Wallace’s interview of President Trump, which aired on Sunday, is well worth watching if you’ve got a strong stomach.

The parts about the pandemic are as terrifying as you’ve heard—a veritable catalog of unfitness, incompetence, and willful ignorance that will leave you grateful for America’s system of federalism.

… Whether it’s in 2021 or 2025, the blinding power of self-pity and resentment may well end up being what stands out most when we regard Donald Trump’s years as President of the United States.

Yuval Levin, A Study in Self-Pity.

My stomach gave out after about ten minutes. We. Are. So. Screwed.

  1. Has your Governor been worse on coronavirus than the President has been? Few have.
  2. Levin refers to the blinding power of self-pity and resentment,” but that’s just a slice off the blinding power of malignant narcissism, That his narcissism would blind him every day, let alone in a crisis, is why I could not vote for him, and I’m feeling conclusively vindicated in 2020.
July 22, 2020

Josh Hawley continues to strike me as a posturing populist prick, which positions him to be a top Republican contender in 2024.

July 22, 2020

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity
Through belief in the threeness
Through confession of the Oneness
Towards the creator.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension
Through the strength of his descent for the Judgement of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim
In obedience to the Angels,
In the service of the Archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of Holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun
Brilliance of moon
Splendor of fire
Speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind
Depth of sea
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s host to secure me
against snares of devils
against temptations of vices
against inclinations of nature
against everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and anear,
alone and in a crowd.

I summon today all these powers between me and these evils
Against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and my soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of heathenry,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that endangers man’s body and soul.

Christ to protect me today
against poison, against burning,
against drowning, against wounding,
so that there may come abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Thrones,
Through confession of the Oneness
Towards the Creator.

Salvation is of the Lord
Salvation is of the Lord
Salvation is of Christ
May thy salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

(Via Fr. Stephen Freeman, Praying God Within Us)

July 20, 2020

Alternate cancel culture definition

Here’s my proposed definition of cancel culture: 1) forming a mob, to 2) seek to get someone fired (or disproportionately punished), for 3) statements within Overton window. Extra points if mob” willfully misinterprets original statement or narrows window behind all recognition.

Nicholas A. Christakis

July 15, 2020

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