Once migration is considered a nonnegotiable right …

The extraordinarily disruptive mass movement of labor and humanity from Africa to Europe, should it come, will bring Europe no meaningful benefits. Narratives of Europe’s enrichment by migration are post facto rationalizations for something that Europe is undergoing, not choosing. Europe does not need an influx of youthful African labor, Smith writes, because both robotization and rising retirement ages are shrinking the demand for it. Migrant laborers cannot fund the European welfare state. In fact, they will undermine it, because the cost of schools, health, and other government services that philoprogenitive newcomers draw on exceeds their tax payments. Nor will the mass exodus help Africa. It will sap the rising middle class in precisely the countries — Senegal, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Kenya — with the best chances for economic success.

In our time the scholarly virtues — detachment, erudition, logic, graceful writing — strike certain partisans as unhelpful, even offensive. European political issues, like American ones, are increasingly matters of values” and rights” — whatever you call them, they are not up for negotiation. Immigration may be the most difficult of these issues because it is also an argument over whether or not one side of the debate should be authorized to bring in political reinforcements, in the form of the immigrants themselves. We can now see that those who desire more open borders enjoy an intellectual advantage, too: the ability to block discussion. For, once migration is considered a nonnegotiable right, what end can it serve to start talking about costs and benefits, or simple facts? What innocent explanation can there be for desiring an open debate in the first place?

Christopher Caldwell

August 20, 2019

Immigration opinion pincer

It’s normal for the public to drift away from the incumbent’s views somewhat; Americans naturally seem to polarize away from views that seem overly empowered. But the opinion pincer is closing in on Donald Trump on immigration. He has failed to deliver signature promises to restrictionists, and his choices have arguably contributed to an increase in illegal crossings. He’s polarized opinion against restrictionism at the same time that crime and disorder have become more associated with nativism and white nationalism, and less associated with Islamic extremism and uncontrolled migration.

The simultaneous disappointment for border hawks and inflammation of pro-amnesty sentiment are turning the immigration issue from one of Trump’s chief assets in 2016 to his chief liability going into reelection.

Michael Brendan Dougherty

August 20, 2019

Disfavoring religion

Can a government civic center

allow[] some groups to engage in singing, teaching, social interaction, and similar expressive activities” at the center while denying access to those groups that engage in those same activities from a religious viewpoint”?

To ask it is to answer it, I hope, but once again a government decided to operate a place for people to have a good time while disallowing religious worship services.”

August 20, 2019

Wokeness is …

Whatever else it is, wokeness is a competitive status game played in the institutions that serve as gatekeepers of the meritocracy. The flanking maneuvers of institutional actors against one another, and the competition among victim groups for relative standing on the intersectional to­tem pole, make the bounds of acceptable opinion highly unstable. This very unsettledness, quite apart from the specific content of the norm of the month, makes for pliable subjects of power: one is not allowed to develop confidence in the rightness of one’s own judg­ments.

Matthew B. Crawford, Algorithmic Governance and Political Legitimacy, American Affairs Journal, Volume III, Number 2 (Summer 2019)

Read that carefully, and mark the whole article for reading. In think it may be a breakthrough insight.

August 18, 2019

Marianne Williamson’s religion

Since Marianne Williamson is so tight with Oprah, I figured her spirituality was non-Christian.

Boy, was I right about that.

Don’t be fooled by some Bible terms including Christ.” A Course in Miracles is more a modern Gnosticism than even a Christian heresy — I’m pretty sure that’s in the right ballpark anyway — and it appears that its pretext to be Christian is somewhat thinner than Joseph Smith’s.

I’ve never been a fan of generic religion” but Christians of a remotely orthodox variety seem to be getting rarer in politics, and vanishingly rare in the Democratic party, so this is a big meh” to me.

August 16, 2019

It’s worse than I thought

The thuggishness and recklessness of the supposed grown-ups at Oberlin College is even worse than I had read earlier.

The student behavior falls far below the minimum one ought to expect even from excitable adolescents.

What a blot! What a stain!

(Abraham Socher , O Oberlin, My Oberlin)

August 16, 2019

Evangelical but not Christian?

The age of spiritual but not religious” is now joined by evangelical but not (very) Christian”:

Massive budget cuts to hunger-relief programs in Africa, refusing to take in desperate Syrian refugees and separating crying children from their parents at the border are tolerable, but using the Lord’s name in vain is a bridge too far? Pathological lying, spreading conspiracy theories, misogyny, making racist comments and dehumanizing others are permissible, but swearing somehow crosses the line?

How we order our outrage says much about us. Do we feel the violation of a religious rule more intensely than the violation of human dignity? Do we prioritize our religiosity above our anthropology — above our theory of human beings and their rights?

Michael Gerson, Some white evangelicals are difficult to recognize as Christians at all

August 16, 2019

Fighting over freedom

We sense deeply the chasm between the church and the secular world when those secularists who speak idealistically of freedom reveal that they have in mind not just the renunciation of dictatorships and other repressive agencies, but also the rejection of bonds and obligations such as those constituted by marriage, the family, and all social hierarchies.

Harry Blamires, quoted by A.J. Conyers in Pierre Bayle and the Modern Sancity of the Individual, which I believe was a chapter in The Long Truce: How Toleration Made the World Safe for Power and Profit.

church; state; family; marriage; secularists; freedom; dictatorships; repression; hierarchies;

August 14, 2019

With the stroke of a pen

What we had prior to Roe v. Wade was an unregulated, illegal business, which with the stroke of a pen became an unregulated, legal business.

Vicky Conroy, Co-Founder of LAW (Legal Action for Women)

August 14, 2019

Dangerous People, Gestapo Tactics

There was a lawsuit to overturn the famous Hyde Amendment. Plaintiffs submitted an affidavit about shadowing Henry Hyde, observing him going to Mass every morning, acting piously in church, and such, thus attempting to prove that Hyde couldn’t separate religion from politics. Apparently, they thought that sufficient to strike down the law. The affidavit was thrown out by the judge, but Hyde was furious:

The anger I felt when they tried to disenfranchise me because of my religion stayed with me. These are dangerous people who make dangerous arguments. Some powerful members of the cultural elite in our country are so paralyzed by the fear that theistic notions might reassert themselves into the official activities of government that they will go to Gestapo lengths to inhibit such expression.

Chuck Colson, Kingdoms in Conflict, 1987, p. 219

August 14, 2019

Dynamic tension

I need to hold two thoughts in my mind simultaneously: that I detest Donald Trump and most of his administration policies; and that the press is unnecessarily making things even worse.

I can stomach the attitude that Trump is manifestly unfit because that seems pretty obvious to me and I don’t think the press must ignore the obvious. But what I’m seeing goes further.

The latest example was NPRs 24 hour news coverage. (I’m convinced that 24-hour news makes us stupider and more divided, even when it’s NPR.) Tuesday, they threw a gotcha” question to Ken Cucinelli of the Trump administration: How does the new immigration policy square with Emma Lazarus?

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, …

Cucinelli is apparently not practiced in the art of diversion.

Yes. Your tired, your poor, who can stand on their own two feet and not become dependent …

This provoked the predictable shitstorm on Twitter, some of which probably was pretty witty. But on Wednesday, NPR interviewed some Tweetstormer who apparently is incoherent off Twitter: Immigrants use welfare less than natives so there’s no problem to start with and this policy will vastly reduce immigration.

Presumably this was riveting stuff for many listeners, as NPR intended, but I shut it off then before I, too, became stupid.

I feel sorry for people who set out to suppress their gag reflex and work for the Trump administration for the good of the country. They deserve better than bear-baiting.

August 14, 2019

Notes from Brother to a Dragonfly

Brother to a Dragonfly was written by Will Campbell, a good-ole-boy Southern Lefty who became kind of a one-hit wonder in the 70s. I found a few digital notes I made upon reading his hit book:

Will D. Campbell, Brother to a Dragonfly, 1977.

I’m a bit surprised that I didn’t capture one more, though perhaps it came from an article in Sojourners or something instead of from Brother to a Dragonfly.

Someone — I think it was his Daddy Preacher” — somehow was able to minister to, and command the respect of, both poor blacks and Klansmen.

Someone asked How do you manage that, Preacher?”, and he shot back By emptying the bedpans of their sick!”

August 13, 2019

Dear NPR

I know that news selection is inevitable (and that what you consider newsworthy is part of your liberal bias). I tend to be impatient with people who say they should have covered Y instead of X.”

But this got me:

Five years after Michael Brown’s shooting death, residents say while there are some positive political signs, but (sic) much more needs to be done. His death ignited protests and a nationwide resurgence in civil rights efforts, and focused on how police treat African Americans. But critics say state and local lawmakers aren’t focusing enough on areas that need further reform.

(Your email today)

Wouldn’t it be more helpful if you would set the record straight on the Michael Brown shooting instead of focusing on the effects of the myth and the calculated, incorrigible lying, by people including Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris?

Thanks for listening.

August 12, 2019

Auden on the Moon

It has long been obvious that there are popular unpopular opinions” as well as unpopular unpopular opinions.” W.H. Auden’s opinion of the Appollo 7 moon landing was of the latter sort, I suspect, as presumably will be my endorsement thereof, especially so near Purdue, which I nevertheless hereby give.

(H/T Alan Jacobs)

August 12, 2019


Today, RT, formerly Russia Today, came off my bookmarks. If they’re capable of sheer, baffling, seemingly-pointless fabrications, and not just counter-spin to the Prevailing American Narrative, I might as well be reading Infowars.

Dreher’s getting ready to travel to Russia for book preparation. His solicitation of advice on how to fight such crap elecited this gem:

Paraphrase Mark Twain: Rumors of my conversion to anti-Semitism have been greatly exaggerated.’ Outraged denials simply make them laugh.

(Siarlys Jenkins)

August 12, 2019

Helluva choice

There’s a non-trivial chance that America in 2020 will be presented a choice between a narcissist, uncontrollable, reflexive-and-serial orange race-baiter and a cynical, calculating race-huckster.

August 12, 2019

Pizzagate rides again

Mr. Epstein’s apparent suicide is, in many ways, the post-truth nightmare scenario. The sordid story contains almost all the hallmarks of stereotypical conspiratorial fodder: child sex-trafficking, powerful global political leaders, shadowy private jet flights, billionaires whose wealth cannot be explained. As a tale of corruption, it is so deeply intertwined with our current cultural and political rot that it feels, at times, almost too on-the-nose. The Epstein saga provides ammunition for everyone, leading one researcher to refer to Saturday’s news as the Disinformation World Cup.”

Charlie Warzel, Epstein Suicide Conspiracies Show How Our Information System Is Poisoned

That they are conspiracy theories does not mean that they’re false, either.

August 12, 2019

The asshats at ABA

The resolution … says that the law should define consent in sexual assault cases as the assent of a person who is competent to give consent to engage in a specific act of sexual penetration, oral sex, or sexual contact” and provide that consent is expressed by words or action in the context of all the circumstances.”

This is an American Bar Association Resolution, discussed more here (paywall). If state legislatures follow the advice, their sexual assault statutes will be held unconstitutional. The ABA has every reason to know this, just as it has reason to know that its proposed Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(g) unconstitutionally chills free speech. (Many state Supreme Courts are ignoring proposed Rule 8.4(g) for just that reason.)

I quit the ABA when it endorsed abortion 35 years ago or so. I’ve never regretted it.

August 12, 2019

Bork on the living constitution

I have no difficulty with the idea of a Constitution that lives, only with the notion that it keeps sprouting new heads in accordance with current intellectual and moral fashions.

Robert Bork, The Tempting of America, 1990

August 12, 2019

If God is love …

The notion that God is love and the specious corollary that any act which gives immediate satisfaction to another person at any given moment must therefore have God’s blessing are not perhaps easily distinguishable by simple minds ….

Blamires, Recovering the Christian Mind, 1988

August 11, 2019

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