Cokie Roberts

Cokie Roberts died today. That’s a bigger deal to me than any of the recent Rock’n’Roll deaths.

NPR did a long feature on it, of course. One bit of it  (her remark on how hugely politics has changed) prompted this thought: maybe today’s news is so stultifying because events themselves, especially in government, keep getting stupider and stupider. Just how does one cover Donald Trump intelligently?

Combined with the theory that we get the government we deserve, that’s a bit depressing, no?

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I sought to understand, but it was too hard for me, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

(Psalm 72:15-17, Adapted from the Miles Coverdale Translation, from A Psalter for Prayer)

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Posted in deathworks, Journalism, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Unqualified, irresistible punditry

I’m inspired to write by Peggy Noonan’s column/blog this week —

I close with a last thing everyone knows, if they only think a minute. When we talk about politics we all obsess on alt-right and progressive left, those peas in a sick pod, and no one speaks of the center, which is vast and has something neither way-left nor way-right has, and that is a motivating love for America itself, and not for abstractions and ideologies and theories of the case. As a group they are virtually ignored, and yet they are the center of everything. They include those of the left who are no longer comfortable in a new progressive party. And rightists not comfortable with Mr. Trump, or with the decisions and approaches of the Bush era. It includes those experiencing ongoing EID—extreme ideological discomfort.

In this cycle they continue to be the great ignored. And everyone knows.

— but it’s not as if I hadn’t been thinking it already.

That block-quote comes after truth-telling about the TV-slick Democrat personas (70% of the Democrats supporting candidates to Biden’s left while his flip-flopping puts him to the left of Hillary2016) and the unhinged humanoid in the White House (whose supporters are getting worn out and whose allies are standing down).

Various leftists are salivating at the thought of single-party rule after the Republican Party collapses in 2020. At least two have written longingly about it in the New York Times.

Actually, they almost always hedge that with “as we know it” — “the Republican Party as we know it ….”

Well, if you put it that way, the Republican Party “as we know it” and the Democrat Party “as we know it” have both collapsed, or are collapsing — becoming their adversaries’ caricatures of themselves.

While we’re talking (with Noonan) about what everybody knows, let’s include “nobody who still hasn’t figured out how Donald Trump mustered so many votes in 2016 should pretend to understand the American electorate.”

I’m one of those, so everything I say about America and its politics is suspect. But I have said more than once that Trump’s nomination and election portends a massive political realignment, and I’m going to stand by that. It looks like a safer bet every passing day.

The Left — not liberals — is now the Democrat base. Some people I cannot understand are now the Republican base, and it has become brain-dead convention to call them some kind of “Right” just because that simplifies punditry. Republicans I think I do understand are never-Trumpers, vocally or at heart, and those of them who are elected national officials are tending to decide it’s time to stand down, as I said, to “spend more time with the family.”

The eventual Democrat nominee is going to have a lot of baggage, be it ideological leftism or signs of senility. As Noonan says, “Everyone knows Donald Trump can be taken in 2020, but everyone doubts the ability of the current Democratic field to do it.”

I would not rule out the emergence of a new major party, though not before next year’s election. If the current parties cannot be rescued for the center-left and center-right from the present extremes, then to hell with them and bring on that rough, slouching beast.

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You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

I highly recommend blot.im as a crazy-easy alternative to Twitter (if you’re just looking to get your stuff “out there” and not pick fights).

Posted in Political Matters, The best lack all conviction, the worst are full of passionate intensity, Transvaluation of Values | Leave a comment

Meritocracy & Sanity

When parents on the fortunate ledge of this chasm gaze down, vertigo stuns them. Far below they see a dim world of processed food, obesity, divorce, addiction, online-education scams, stagnant wages, outsourcing, rising morbidity rates—and they pledge to do whatever they can to keep their children from falling. They’ll stay married, cook organic family meals, read aloud at bedtime every night, take out a crushing mortgage on a house in a highly rated school district, pay for music teachers and test-prep tutors, and donate repeatedly to overendowed alumni funds. The battle to get their children a place near the front of the line begins before conception and continues well into their kids’ adult lives. At the root of all this is inequality—and inequality produces a host of morbid symptoms, including a frantic scramble for status among members of a professional class whose most prized acquisition is not a Mercedes plug-in hybrid SUV or a family safari to Maasai Mara but an acceptance letter from a university with a top‑10 U.S. News & World Report ranking.

George Packer, New York City Public Schools Have Embraced the New Left

Whether it’s the resort town you vacation in or the private school you send your kids to, exclusivity is the pervasive ethos. The more the exclusivity, the thicker will be the coating of P.C. progressivism to show that we’re all good people.

David Brooks, The Meritocracy Is Ripping America Apart

I sought to understand, but it was too hard for me, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

(Psalm 72:15-17, Adapted from the Miles Coverdale Translation, from A Psalter for Prayer)

Be an ordinary person.

Maxim 18, 55 Maxims by Fr. Thomas Hopko

That is all.

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You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

I highly recommend blot.im as a crazy-easy alternative to Twitter (if you’re just looking to get your stuff “out there” and not pick fights).

Posted in deathworks, Plutocracy, the worst are full of passionate intensity | Tagged | Leave a comment

Taking the easy way out

Soren Kierkegaard … [in]n a series of essays compiled as an Attack on Christendom, … makes a characteristically striking claim. He observes that the greatest danger to Christianity is, in fact, Christendom. This is the state-mandated and organized form of belief that parrots the spiritual dimensions of Christian teaching but is thoroughly dependent on the application of legal and social force to demand compliance. In this context, many people came to regard Christianity in thoroughly human terms …

… In many ways, it was far better to see Christendom shrunk down to a few genuine believers than to see it ballooned and enforced into a parody of itself. It was designed, in his famous phrase, to “make the way [to Christianity] easier” when, in fact, the genuinely faithful must always make the way harder. And this is where I think French demonstrates far more understanding than Ahmari. Despite the latter’s ridicule, French’s efforts to change people’s mind by appealing to the individual’s need for spiritual fulfillment is hard. It involves understanding each person as a unique being whose relationship to what is of “highest concern” is mediated by a huge number of complex factors. Ahmari embracing a post-modern conservative like Trump as an answer to Christian decline is actually quite easy. It involves abandoning what makes Christianity challenging, namely the demand to always approach any conflict with love and patience. It instead looks to state authority to resolve the problem of secularism. Abandoning what makes Christianity challenging in order to win the culture war and enjoy “the spoils” means abandoning Christianity.

My purpose in writing this was to defend French against the claim that he is somehow adopting a softer or easier position than those of his rivals.

Matt McManus, Why Christians Should Oppose Sohrab Ahmari (emphasis added)

McManus, by the way, is an apostate who at least hasn’t forgotten selected parts of the faith he now substantially rejects.

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I sought to understand, but it was too hard for me, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

(Psalm 72/73:15-17, Adapted from the Miles Coverdale Translation, from A Psalter for Prayer)

You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

I highly recommend blot.im as a crazy-easy alternative to Twitter (if you’re just looking to get your stuff “out there” and not pick fights).

Posted in Christendom, Christianity generally, Civil Religion, irony, lifeworks, Political Matters, the worst are full of passionate intensity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Banana Republicans

When the National Weather Service’s office in Birmingham tweeted on September 1 that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian,” it was correct. Alabama did not see any impacts from Hurricane Dorian.

Yet that accurate weather forecast has sent an ever-growing part of the federal government into convulsions. On Friday, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross threatened to fire senior officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration if that (correct) forecast was not adjusted to match President Donald Trump’s claim that Dorian was on track to hit Alabama, according to The New York Times.

Neil Jacobs, who directs NOAA, initially resisted Ross’s demand, according to the Times. But then he gave in. Late on Friday, NOAA published an unprecedented, unsigned statement that took Trump’s side and chided the Birmingham office for speaking “in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.” The statement did not bear Jacobs’s name.

In other words, NOAA’s leadership—under threat from a Cabinet official—discredited its professional employees for correctly forecasting that Hurricane Dorian would not hit Alabama.

Robinson Meyer, A Fight for the Soul of NOAA

I don’t believe I’ve had a single occasion, since January 20, 2017, to use the category “Zombie Reaganism” for one of my blogs. I never thought I’d miss it.

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You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

I highly recommend blot.im as a crazy-easy alternative to Twitter (if you’re just looking to get your stuff “out there” and not pick fights).

Posted in 9th Commandment Watch, deathworks, Declinism, Political correctness, Political Matters | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Trade-offs of pluralism

Sohrab Ahmari and David French finally faced off live at Catholic University of America Thursday evening, moderated by Ross Douthat.

In debating terms, it was no contest: French cleaned up. In fairness to Ahmari, his wife had a child on Wednesday, so he had things on his mind more important than a mere livestreamed national debate of sorts.

But again and again, French, in good Evangelical style, spoke of the freedom to preach the Gospel in a content-neutral public square, to lead drag queens to Jesus, and such. That’s pretty consistent with the forward-facing values of ADF, the Evangelical-leaning public-interest law firm for or with whom he formerly worked.

It started to sound as obsessive as Ahmari’s concern over Drag Queen Story Hour. So I was glad to see Jake Meador at Mere Orthodoxy argue for something a bit thicker than mere neutrality:

For most of the … campus ministries at Nebraska, …universities were convenient social institutions because they rounded up a large number of demographically similar young people into a single place where they would have broadly identical routines, all of which made it very easy to evangelize them. Many of these groups did not think anything of taking their students away from campus regularly on retreats, heavily programming their weeks (thereby cutting into their time to give to their studies), and even sometimes suggesting that their academic work was of mostly incidental importance. The real life happened in Bible studies and when you prayed and over coffee with your discipler or disciplee. College, much like one’s eventual career, was mostly a necessary evil that simply secured material goods for you.

While watching the French-Ahmari debate last night it occurred to me that French seems to have a fairly similar vision of the nation—it’s an incidental good that is useful for advancing certain strictly material goods but it pales in significance when set next to the work of the church …

The point is not necessarily that French should endorse some species of integralism, although it is worth noting that in his handling of rights and the nature of religious doctrine as it relates to public life French is far closer to the Baptists than he is the traditional views of the reformed tradition to which he belongs. But that point aside, French could preserve many of the rights he cares about preserving while anchoring his account of the political in something more real than the pragmatic adjudication of disputes within a pluralistic society.

… That the government could be something more than a mere arbiter who threatens to hit you in the head with a brick if you don’t play nicely with your neighbor seems to be unimaginable ….

There’s much more Jake wrote, but you can go read it yourself readily enough.

By lifelong habit and inititating into the solemn mysteries of “thinking like a lawyer,” I don’t suppose I’ll ever be able to leave the camp of classical procedural liberalism, but the Ahmaris and Meadors of the world at least drive home that there are trade-offs in our pluralistic experiment.

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[O]nce you say you are ashamed,
reading the page they hold out to you,
then such light as you have made
in your history will leave you.
They will no longer need to pursue you.
You will pursue them, begging forgiveness,
And they will not forgive you.
There is no power against them.
It is only candor that is aloof from them,
only an inward clarity, unashamed,
that they cannot reach ….

Wendell Berry, Do Not Be Ashamed

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You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

I highly recommend blot.im as a crazy-easy alternative to Twitter (if you’re just looking to get your stuff “out there” and not pick fights).

Posted in conservatism, Evangelicalism, free speech, liberalism, lifeworks, Pluralism, Religious freedom, Rights Talk, Roman Catholicism | Leave a comment

Genocidal White Nationalist Democrats of the 80’s

We’re hearing more and more that abortion is necessary to keep blacks, immigrants, etc. from outnumbering or overrunning us.

Some like abortionist Edward Allred put it crudely, offering to set up an abortuary in Mexico for free if he could.

Some put it nicely, like Geraldine Ferraro bewailing that Welfare mothers beget welfare mothers, and that it is awfully expensive to break that cycle.

So, Nat Henthoff observes, it’s not just a matter of individual rights. Abortion is a public service responsibility to keep the population down. Especially the ghetto population. 43% of those aborted are black.

The charge of genocide is sounding less like hyperbole, even as Jesse Jackson drops it to run for President. Congressman Steny Hoyer (D, Md.) asks what about a woman impregnated by Willie Horton? An anti-abortion Republican, cornered in private by a pro-abortion colleague, is asked ‘What if your daughter were raped by some black?’

The issue is not just whether women have the right to abort at will. It’s also whether abortion is being used as a method of controlling the minority population.

Josoph Sobran, October 26, 1989

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You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

I highly recommend blot.im as a crazy-easy alternative to Twitter (if you’re just looking to get your stuff “out there” and not pick fights).

Posted in Abortion distortion factor, antipluralism, deathworks, the worst are full of passionate intensity | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Search-and-question mode

God does not always have us in a search-and-question mode. Rather, He gives us times, sometimes long periods of settled contentment right where we are. From my late twenties I confess to have been settled and content in Reformed Calvinism

… I also picked up a few stray Orthodox FB-friends liking or challenging their posts, who came from my own Reformed background. After gigging them playfully every now and then for months, they finally said, “Okay Rockett, you need to read some good Orthodox stuff, or shut up!” Seriously, I agreed only to learn their quirks & errors. I was a very happy, well-read confident Reformed Calvinist, twice elected as a Ruling Elder. I was content, assured…even a tad cocky!

Many of those words could have been mine, but they are David E. Rockett‘s (with emphasis added).

I, too, entered Reformed Calvinism in my late twenties, and abode there, content, for roughly 20 years (he lasted a bit longer). And I, too, started reading about and in Orthtodoxy with the intent of figuring out how it was wrong — in my case, not on a taunt from Orthodox friends, and pretty clearly to figure out how Orthodox-Wrong (of which I knew little) differed from Catholic-Wrong (which I thought I had figured out).

It proved Rockett’s undoing as a Calvinist, as it did mine.

How well do you know Orthodox Christianity? Do you wonder why so many are leaving Protestant traditions for it? Isn’t it time to find out?

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You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

I highly recommend blot.im as a crazy-easy alternative to Twitter (if you’re just looking to get your stuff “out there” and not pick fights).

Posted in lifeworks, Orthodoxy | Leave a comment

Mission Creeps

I got a thickish mailing today from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. The envelope trumpeted that “You won’t believe what younger Americans think about socialism.”

To my surprise and delight, the return envelope was postage prepaid. I just live for moments like that!

But before giving them an eyeful/earful, I went online. To my surprise, this Foundation was “authorized by a unanimous Congressional Act (not created with dark money from [rhymes with Broke Mothers]) , which was signed as Public Law 103-199 by President William J. Clinton on December 17, 1993.” (Hyperlink added)

I was incredulous that Congress had unanimously authorized, and President Clinton signed, authorization for a group to “educate” against the risk of some 2020 Democrat Presidential hopefuls. I was right.

Here appears to be the “authorization” Congress gave:

The National Captive Nations Committee, Inc., Is encouraged to create an independent entity for the purpose of constructing, maintaining, and operating the memorial [to honor victims of communism].

Public Law 103-199 Section 905(b)(1)(B). That’s it. You can read it yourself at the link above.

My late, honorable father objected strenuously when an “ad hoc” group he had joined continued operating for purposes beyond it’s original ad hoc purpose, and he was right to do so. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation should:

  1. be ashamed of itself; and
  2. be censured (or something) by the U.S. House (you know the Senate won’t do it).

The Foundation’s propaganda will be returned to them, at their expense, in their kind envelope.

I’ll bet lefties get equivalent missives, but mine come from the right. I brought that on myself. The blatant trafficking on a good name and a Congressional mandate that has been stretched beyond the breaking point was just too much for me.

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You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

I highly recommend blot.im as a crazy-easy alternative to Twitter (if you’re just looking to get your stuff “out there” and not pick fights).

Posted in Damn rackets | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Advantage Becket

Hair’s the thing. When Cesar Gonzales was an infant, he was seriously ill—so ill that his parents made a religious promise to God that, if their son recovered, they would keep a strand of hair on his head uncut as a sign of their faith and gratitude. Cesar got better, and he and his brother Diego both continue to keep their hair uncut and have adopted the promise to God as their own. Their Texas elementary school accommodated their faith, but that changed in seventh grade. Now, the Gonzales brothers are banned from participating in school activities like band performance, robotics team, and athletics⁠—just because of their hair. Becket has stepped in to ask the school to accommodate the Gonzales brothers’ religious exercise.

(Becket Fund email)

This is a very odd case, but I don’t question the Gonzales’ sincerity or religious motivation.

I doubt that ADF would take this case because — well, let’s just say ADF’s cases look relatively homogeneous, with few “very odd cases” — which is why I give roughly double to Becket over ADF for religious freedom support.

On the other hand, and in defense of ADF, it is the more proactive of the two, opposing (for instance) LGBT causes that are still a step or two away from religious freedom’s door. I generally can see the uncomfortable logic of these proactive positions, though it sometimes feel like “borrowing trouble” and is hard for me to defend against facile charges of phobia or mean-spiritedness; there’s just no facile counter to that.

Both are worthy of support. The breadth and consistency of Becket’s approach is why I prefer it. Your mileage may vary, especially if you’re inclined to “take the battle to ‘them’.”

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You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

I highly recommend blot.im as a crazy-easy alternative to Twitter (if you’re just looking to get your stuff “out there” and not pick fights).

Posted in Legalia, lifeworks, Religious freedom | Tagged , | Leave a comment