Political authenticity

Gilad Edelman, Authenticity Just Means Faking It Well. Provocative title, pretty darn good content which rings true to me.

April 25, 2019

No exceptions, no collateral defenses

Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently introduced the Equality” Act. Similar to state and local SOGI laws, it would add sexual orientation and gender identity language to federal law, jeopardizing religious institutions that teach or operate in accordance with their faith. Tellingly, it also contains no religious or conscience exemptions, and even prohibits lawsuits seeking relief under other federal laws. Every Democratic senator running for president has co-sponsored the bill.

Josh Holdenried, The Next America (emphasis added).

This raises in my mind a very strong presumption against voting for a Democrat for President next year. But Donald Trump raises in my mind a very strong presumption against voting for the presumptive Republican nominee for President next year.

I’m afraid that, once again, I’ll be facing my increasingly common quadrennial poll-watching, seeing if my state is in play,” and if so, voting for he, she or it that seems the lesser of the two electable evils.

April 25, 2019

Is religion a choice?

Andrew T. Walker ably defends religious liberty against one all-too-common attack — an attack that can only come from deliberate deceitfulness or from someone who has never had more than a nominal religious belief.

There’s more I could say, or would say (and probably have said) differently, but he’s absolutely in the right ballpark.

April 25, 2019

Deeply Lawless

I hold no particular brief for the NRA or for gun rights, but I’m kind of tired of ideological local government units saying screw the Constitution and our oath to uphold it, we’re gonna do something against _________ (in this case, the NRA).

WhaddaboutTrump?”, you say? Yeah. Him too.

April 25, 2019

I don’t know about that…

The Satanic Temple is now a 501(c)(3): It is reportedly the first satanic religion in the United States to be officially granted such a status.” I don’t know about that…

Micah Mattix, Prufrock.

I love that last sentence.

April 25, 2019

The Tell

In poker, a tell” is something that a player does that gives away what he has in his hand. Experienced players learn to read the body language of their opponents, looking for a tell — a twitchy brow, a quick downturn of the mouth, that sort of thing. It’s a tiny clue that lets you know what’s on the player’s mind. Well, the uniform Twitter use by three prominent Democratic politicians of the phrase Easter worshippers” for dead Sri Lankan Christians was a tell. It’s likely that none of those politicians — H. Clinton, Obama, and Julian Castro — wrote those condolence tweets; prominent politicians usually have someone else managing their Twitter accounts (Trump is a notable exception). What probably happened is that someone at Democratic messaging central sent out an advisory that the unusual phrase Easter worshippers” was the preferred word for Christian” — this, perhaps on the grounds that it would be less likely to feed Islamophobia.” The now-notorious Washington Post story about how all those dead Sri Lankan Christians so inconsiderately gave the European far-right something to gripe about is a related tell.

Rod Dreher, Saying The C-Word

April 25, 2019

To fully cooperate

I don’t listen to The Daily podcast as often as I used to, but there was a fascinating one on Monday.

I’d summarize it by saying that Trump’s then-new legal team convinced him that full cooperation was the best way to bring the Mueller investigation to an early end, but Trump didn’t seem to realize that cooperation” did not mean that staff would all go perjure themselves to the special prosecutor to protect him. His smarter advisers went and, to his astonishment, told the truth (in Trump’s narcissistic mind, lied”). That mismatch of expectations is how we got such a detailed and damning confirmation of Fire and Fury.

If Trump was consistent in his anger patterns, Jay Sekulow, Rudy and the others who so badly mis-advised him would be fired by now.

April 24, 2019

Shamelessly partisan

For Democrats, leaving Donald Trump in office is not only good politics — it is the best chance for fundamental realignment of American politics in more than a generation. Mr. Trump is three years into destroying what we know as the Republican Party. Another two years just might finish it off. Trumpism has become Republicanism, and that spells electoral doom for the party.

Republicans themselves know it, and that simple fact is a huge problem for them: By and large they don’t like him, and they know he’s a long-term problem for the party — but in the short term they know they can’t get re-elected without his voters. For Democrats, it’s the dream scenario — as long as he completes his term.

Joe Lockhart, There’s a Bigger Prize Than Impeachment.

This is shamelessly partisan rather than patriotic. A one-party Democrat America would be bad for the country, as would be a one-party Republican America.

But it may be true. I sure can’t say Lockhart’s whistling past the graveyard.

April 24, 2019

Woke Capitalism (again)

Get this: the way this particular [diversity/ally] program is set up, you don’t have to participate, but failing to do so will be noted, and it’s going to affect your pay. It’s not enough to sign up for the program in a pro forma way, and then simply be quiet about it. You are expected to be an active, vocal advocate of its principles. From what I can tell, it appears that they have the rudiments of a Chinese-style Social Credit System structure to monitor employee enthusiasm.

You might be a first-rate maker of widgets for this corporation, or a superb sales executive, manager, whatever, and you may be a diligent employee who is honest and works well with others. But if you are not 100 percent aboard the … company’s ideological campaign for cultural revolution, it will go down in your employee record, and it will affect your future at the company.

When you see these documents, and realize that this is how it is inside one of the world’s leading corporations, you know perfectly well that this is quickly going to become normative in corporations, if it isn’t already. What kind of future do any of us deplorables (or our kids) have in corporate life when workplaces become communities of coerced wokeness?

Let me put it to you like this. If this were the US Government, and it pushed patriotism” on its employees following the same platform and methods that this corporation is pushing diversity and inclusion,” people would freak out at the coerciveness and invasion of privacy. And they would be right to! Imagine that you, a US government employee, were told to monitor yourself constantly to root out a lack of patriotism. How … Soviet would that feel? Well, that’s what this corporation is doing to its employees regarding diversity and inclusion.

Rod Dreher, Woke Capitalism Is Our Enemy

American conservatives, having fought for years to enable corporations to fire people, are going to be rewarded with workforce nonperson status very soon for their troubles.

Matt in VA, responding.

April 24, 2019

Sri Lankans dying for our sins

[I]n the jihadist imagination Western Christianity and Western liberal individualism are the conjoined enemies of their longed-for religious utopia, their religious-totalitarian version of Islam. Tourists and missionaries, Coca-Cola and the Catholic Church — it’s all the same invading Christian enemy, different brand names for the same old crusade.

… [T]here is also a way in which liberal discourse in the West implicitly accepts part of the terrorists’ premise — by treating Christianity as a cultural possession of contemporary liberalism, a particularly Western religious inheritance that even those who no longer really believe have a special obligation to remake and reform.

… [A]s Ben Sixsmith noted for The Spectator, it would never cross anyone’s mind to suggest that Mecca or the Golden Temple should lose their distinctively Islamic and Sikh characters to accommodate people of different faiths.” But an ancient, famous Catholic cathedral is instinctively understood as somehow the common property of an officially post-Catholic order, especially when the opportunity suddenly arises to renovate it.

… [T]he main victims of Western liberalism’s peculiar relationship to its Christian heritage aren’t put-upon traditionalists in the West; they’re Christians like the murdered first communicants in Sri Lanka, or the jailed pastors in China, or the Coptic martyrs of North Africa, or any of the millions of non-Western Christians who live under constant threat of persecution.

… (“Sri Lanka church bombings stoke far-right anger in the West” ran the headline of a worried Washington Post analysis,” as though the most worrying consequence of dead Christians in South Asia were angry conservatives in America.)

Unfortunately the various conservative alternatives to this liberal muddle are not always more helpful to persecuted Christians. George W. Bush’s conservative-Christian naïveté helped doom Iraqi Christians. American-conservative support for Israel creates blind spots about the struggles of Arab Christians. The conservative nationalism that succeeded Bush’s idealism often treats Christianity instrumentally and forges its own alliances with persecutors ….

Ross Douthat, Are Christians Privileged or Persecuted?

Yes! This! Every word! Including the ones I didn’t excerpt. I’m astonished that nobody else who I follow” has raved about it yet.

April 24, 2019

This is not The Onion

Robert Mackey, Benjamin Netanyahu Plans to Honor Donald Trump By Putting His Name on Something Awful.

This is not The Onion. No, The Intercept is not The Onion.

April 23, 2019

The world with blinders on

Conservatives have a meme to describe the habit the mainstream media have of framing stories about liberal mistakes or misdeeds as an occasion for right-wing politicos to take advantage: Republicans Pounce”. This Post story about the Muslim mass murder is an especially ghastly version of same.

A liberal friend of mine was lamenting recently that the left has gotten so good at policing its own thoughts, and never letting itself notice things that contradict its narrative, that it is often being shocked by events in the real world. When things like the Sri Lanka attacks happen, the first thing that many American and British journalists think is, Oh dear, this is going to cause a spike in Islamophobia.” They cannot imagine sympathizing with Christians. They really can’t. Yes, these dead Sri Lankans may be Catholics living on the other side of the world, and sure, they may have roots in their country going back to the 16th century (or earlier), but deep down, when many journalists imagine these people, they see them wearing MAGA hats, and carrying around invisible knapsacks full of privilege.

If media outlets like the Washington Post make it seem like a right wing thing, or a far-right wing thing, to notice — and to get angry about the fact — that Muslim terrorists blew hundreds of Christians to bits while they were in church on the holiest day of the Christian year — then the Post is doing the work of radicalizing people to the far right.

Rod Dreher by calling out the Washington Post for its perverse-if-reflexive spin on its story, Christianity under attack? Sri Lanka church bombings stoke far-right anger in the West. (emphasis added).

Also recommended:

Mark Steyn, Taqiyya for Easter:

Let’s say a fire breaks out at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris at the start of Holy Week, and just after two of the city’s other most prominent houses of worship - St Sulpice and the Basilica of St Denis - have been attacked and vandalized.

Well, I think we can all confidently say as the first flames are beginning to lick the ceiling that it’s undoubtedly an accident. Cigarette butt. Or maybe computer glitch. Probably just an overheated smart phone. We don’t need to get in there and sift through the debris. We can just announce it.

On the other hand, when there are coordinated attacks on Easter services at several churches in Sri Lanka, it becomes a little more challenging to pass off multiple suicide-bombings killing nearly three hundred people as an electrical malfunction …


Mehdi Hasan, When Christians Are Under Attack, Muslims and the Left Need to Defend Them, notably written by a Muslim and published at the very progressive-leaning Intercept:

To call these acts of violence heartless and barbaric would be an understatement. Nevertheless, they aren’t the first such Easter-related attacks on Christians. In Egypt, on Palm Sunday 2017, Islamic State suicide bombers murdered 45 people in two Coptic churches. In Pakistan, in 2016, a suicide bomber affiliated with the Pakistani TalibantargetedChristians celebrating Easter at a public park, killing 75 people. In Nigeria, on Easter Sunday 2012, a suicide bomber believed to be a member of Boko Haramtargeted Christians outside a church, killing 38 people.

I am a Muslim, and I consider myself to be on the left, but I’m embarrassed to admit that in both Muslim and left circles, the issue of Christian persecution has been downplayed and even ignored for far too long.

… According to a recent study by Pew, Christians do indeed constitute the most persecuted faith community in the world; they are harassed and targeted in 144 countries, with Muslims harassed and targeted in 142 and Jews in 87.

The Christian nonprofit Open Doors publishes an annual World Watch List of the top 50 countries where Christians experience high levels of persecution.” Here’s what bothers me so much: While communist North Korea (1) is far and away the worst place in the world to live as a Christian, and while anti-Christian attacks are rising fast in Hindu-majority India (10), seven of the top 10 countries in the world where Christians face extreme persecution” are Muslim-majority countries …

On the other hand, the threat posed to Christians goes far beyond terrorist or militant groups. In many Muslim-majority countries, both the governments and religious establishments have much to answer for ….

April 23, 2019


Without the Resurrection, Episcopalians would be just a wonderful club of very nice people with excellent taste in music and literature, but when it hits you what you’ve actually subscribed to, it blows the top of your head off.

Garrison Keillor

Lovely, and true, but Keillor has something smaller in mind, too:

The good people of Lake Wobegon voted for Mr. Trump, just like the residents of River City bought musical instruments from Professor Harold Hill to keep their boys out of the pool hall, but if their man’s secrets are revealed, they might have to think twice. He’s a New Yorker who made his way up with mob connections, hung out with showgirls, was chintzy with charitable giving, and flaunted himself as Midwesterners were taught not to do. After 9/11, he boasted that his building at 40 Wall Street was now the tallest in Manhattan, this while smoke was still rising from the ruins of the World Trade Center.

But they are still backing him. My cousin, a good and intelligent man, texted me that the Mueller report was an attempted coup d’état by Hillary Clinton and top officials of the FBI. If the president declared a national emergency and called out troops to take over the Times and the Post and MSNBC and CNN, I imagine my cousin would go along with it.

So I stood weeping, singing, hand in the air, at the thought of being raised up. I’m 76. I simply cannot believe that this con man is the end of the story. I refuse to accept that.

April 23, 2019

Tools, vision, scapegoats

When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

When your only tool is politics, every problem looks like a political adversary.

When you’re the world’s military and cultural hegemon, and near the top of the heap economically, and things still aren’t going too well, you have to invent diabolically cunning political adversaries.

April 22, 2019

Things to do in circles

[T]he RussiaGate fiasco is only half over … Act One, the Mueller investigation, was a 22-month circle-jerk of prosecutorial misconduct and media malfeasance. Act Two will be the circular firing squad of former officials assassinating each other’s character to desperately avoid prosecution.

James Howard Kunstler

April 22, 2019

History Rhymes

Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?”

And the midwives said to Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they [e]are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.”

Therefore God dealt well with the midwives ….

Exodus 1:15-20a

The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests. Comey did not end the investigation of Flynn, which ultimately resulted in Flynn’s prosecution and conviction for lying to the FBI. McGahn did not tell the Acting Attorney General that the Special Counsel must be removed, but was instead prepared to resign over the President’s order. Lewandowski and Dearborn did not deliver the President’s message to Sessions that he should confine the Russia investigation to future election meddling only. And McGahn refused to recede from his recollections about events surrounding the President’s direction to have the Special Counsel removed, despite the President’s multiple demands that he do so.

Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election, Volume II, p. 158.

April 22, 2019

Straining at gnats

According to a sex-ed curriculum used by school districts in San Diego, Boston, Portland, and elsewhere, their teacher would show them how to remove a dam from its package and place it over genitalia by forming an O” with their hand. The instructor would inform the students that dental dams are flavored, and that they should only be used once and then thrown away. Most important, the teacher would instruct them to always use dental dams when performing oral sex on women, or they’ll be at risk of transmitting STIs. There’s just one problem: The pupils are unlikely ever to take their teachers up on the suggestion. Even the teachers, preaching about the dangers of STIs, have probably never bought one themselves.

Anna Waters, Nobody Uses Dental Dams.

This is in our school curriculum but there’s just one problem”?!

April 22, 2019

How to view the Mueller Report

One way to approach the Mueller report, if your sense of civic duty requires you to approach it, is to see it as a more rigorous, capacious version of Fire and Fury.” Mueller’s exposé was backed by subpoena power rather than just sweet talk, but ultimately it delivers the same general portrait: Donald Trump as an amoral incompetent surrounded by grifters, misfits and his own overpromoted children, who is saved from self-destruction by advisers who sometimes decline to follow orders, and saved from high crimes in part by incompetence and weakness.

… Thanks to Robert Mueller, we know that Trump is about as bad as he appeared to be while running for the presidency — but not secretly omnicompetent, not secretly treasonous. He won in 2016 despite the manifold vices chronicled by Mueller’s team. The challenge for his opposition is to make him lose in 2020 because of them.

Ross Douthat, The Mueller Exposé.

April 21, 2019

Hagios Plato?

[I]n some churches even on Mount Athos, you can find frescoes of Plato (without a nimbus, naturally) in the narthex. It’s a position of respect given to a philosopher who recognized much of Christ’s truth, even before Christ’s coming.

Nicholas Kotar

April 20, 2019

Engaging trolls online

From How to argue against Assange smears:

Never let them trick you into expending more energy than they’re expending.

This one’s important. The internet is full of genuinely trollish individuals who spend their time acting out their inner pain by trying to suck the life out of other people, and political discussion is certainly no exception to this. A common tactic is to use short phrases, half-thoughts, or word salads which contain few facts and no actual arguments, but contain just enough of a jab to suck you into wasting energy making thorough, well-sourced arguments while they just lean back and continue making weak, low-energy responses to keep you going. This enables them to waste your time and frustrate you while expending little energy themselves, while also not having to reveal the fact that they don’t know much about the subject at hand and don’t really have an argument.

Don’t let them lean back. Force them to lean in. If someone makes an unsubstantiated assertion, a brief quip, or a vague insinuation, tell them Make an actual argument using complete thoughts or go away.” If they throw an unintelligible word salad at you (a tactic that is also common in abusers with narcissistic personality disorder because it tricks the abusee into falling all over themselves guessing how to respond appropriately, thereby giving the abuser power), tell them That’s gibberish. Articulate yourself using clear arguments or go away.”

This often enrages them, partly because they’ve generally been getting away with this tactic their entire lives so they feel entitled to demand compliance with it from you, and partly because you’re forcing a very unconscious and unattractive part of themselves into attention and consciousness. But if they’re interested in having a real and intellectually honest debate they’ll do it; if they’re not they won’t. If they refuse to provide you with lucid, complete arguments that meet their burden of proof, make a show of dismissing them for their refusal to do so, and say you’re doing it because they’re too dishonest to have a real debate.

Never chase them. Make them chase you. Never let them lead the dance chasing them around trying to correct their straw man reframing of your actual words or guessing what their word salads are trying to articulate. Make them do the work they’re trying to make you do. Force them to either extend themselves into the light where their arguments can be properly scrutinized, or to disqualify themselves by refusing to.

Subtext: Social media most of the time aren’t worth the trouble.

April 20, 2019

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