Posted by: readerjohn | October 21, 2016

Friday evening, 10/21/16

  1. Which God don’t you believe in?
  2. Shoring up The Imperium
  3. Lumpy. That’s what we are.
  4. An unexpectedly Safe (Internet) Space
  5. Realism versus Ideology
  6. Never say die
  7. Sane Donald
  8. Judicial Confirmation Question #1

Read More…

Posted by: readerjohn | October 21, 2016

Friday Supplement

Another Tertiary Thing:

Trump is now actively promoting the conspiracy theory that Clinton was given last night’s debate questions in advance

Guess what?

He’s right.

It was obvious Clinton knew all the questions in advance.


Leaving aside the utterly ludicrous idea Fox News would (even without the clammy groping right wing hand of Roger Ailes) help out HILLARY G*DD*MN*D CLINTON in any way, only somebody so appallingly ignorant of reality as Donald Trump could possibly NOT know what questions were going to come up in last night’s debate.

Let’s review, shall we?

First Question: Supreme Court.

Wow. What a surprise. There is no way Clinton could have seen that one coming and been prepared for it without cheating. No way. I mean when’s the last time you heard anybody talk about the Supreme Court in reference to this election? Amiright? Poor Trump was totally blindsided. Sad!

A subset of the SCOTUS question was the Second Amendment. It’s like that one just came out of the blue. There’s hardly been any discussion of guns or gun violence or crazy people with guns at all in America. No headlines. No NRA statements. The president, congress, crazy enraged Jade-Helm-smoking American Patriots of Patriotic American Patriotism sure haven’t mentioned it. So how would Hillary Clinton be prepared to talk about it? Without cheating, I mean?

A subset of the SCOTUS question was … Abortion? Seriously? Abortion? Roe V Wade? That’s so 1973. It was settled long ago, right? I mean you never hear anybody talking about abortion. Why would the moderator even bring that up? That’s like hoop skirts and Conestoga wagons, who even cares about that stuff anymore? Abortion. Please.

Second Question: Immigration.

Total shocker. Never saw that one coming. Why would a candidate even have any opinion on immigration? Borders? Refugees? Where to they get these crazy questions? Why don’t they ask things Americans care about? You know, stuff that’s in the headlines and like that?

A subtext of this question was Wikileaks and Russian spying. Again, how would a candidate possibly know to prepare for such topics? I mean, come ON, Russian hacking of emails? It might as well have been “Obscure 18th Century Hungarian Beekeepers who Collected Stamps.” I mean who knows that shit? Other than Jeopardy contestants who’ve never even grabbed a … okay, that’s a bad example but I think I’ve made my point here, Clinton MUST have had advance notice. Obviously. So sad.

Another subtopic: Nuclear weapons. And we’re back to Hungarian beekeepers. Nuclear weapons? What is this? A Cold War debate? Sure if you drink enough and squint your eyes Trump does sort of resemble Margaret Thatcher, but goddamn, folks, nuclear weapons? Who cares? What kind of presidential candidate is prepared to talk about nuclear weapons off the cuff? She had to have cheated, Folks. Had to.

Third Question: Jobs

Jobs. Economy. NAFTA. Taxes. Trade. Obamacare. What the hell does ANY of that have to do with anything? It’s all Hungarian beekeeping! When has ANY of that come up during this election? What kind of crazy old lady would bone up on that stuff if she didn’t know in advance liberal Fox News was going to pull a gotcha on Donald Trump?

Sexual shenanigans? Groping and grabbing? Nasty women? Good grief, Folks, I was totally surprised by that. No idea that was going to come up. Crazy! I mean name one election in American history where sex was even mentioned like at all. See? Nobody talks about that kind of thing, it’s like abortion or gay marriage. I mean how would Crooked Hillary be ready for that? Cheater!

I …


OK, I’ll stop.

As I said last night, Trump is that kid who studied for his first period algebra exam by glancing at his scribbled incomplete notes from English class for a frantic ten minutes on the bus on the way to school.

OF COURSE Hillary Clinton knew the questions in advance.

Fox News didn’t have to give Clinton the questions.

Clinton didn’t have to cheat.

EVERYBODY in America who’s been paying even marginal attention knew the questions in advance.

There are naked tribesmen living in the remote stone-age jungles of Mindanao Island who wear those giant dick-spear-sheaths and speak only the Click-Click language who knew what the questions were going to be.

Any halfwit could have predicted the questions last night with a high degree of accuracy. Certainly any competent political campaign debate prep team could have gotten 100% — Clinton’s sure as shit did.

The ONLY person in the room who wasn’t prepared for last night’s debate was Donald Trump.

So of course it looked like magic to him.

I am now officially in awe of Jim Wright (via Richard Barrett on Facebook).

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Posted by: readerjohn | October 21, 2016

Friday 10/21/16

  1. Sunk costs and new facts
  2. American Folk Religion tries to grok Christianity
  3. Saying two important things
  4. Monistic “diversity”
  5. PEG on the judiciary
  6. Dreher 9 = Trump 70
  7. The Five Stages of Evangelical Grief
  8. Trump worse than Clinton for abortion?
  9. An audaciously bad poll
  10. Wayne Grudem’s at it again

Read More…

Posted by: readerjohn | October 16, 2016


I’m not a misogynist. I don’t judge women on their looks. You can trust me that I didn’t sexually assault any of these women because they’re all ugly. (Donald Trump)

Thanks for clearing that up, man.

Of course, I made up that exact quote. You can tell because it strings together three complete sentences, even though they’re internally inconsistent. There’s no “word salad.” There’s so self-aggrandizing asides.

Trump couldn’t read it if it was put in front of him on a teleprompter.

Hillary’s not as easy to mock because she does not manifest (n.) manifest (adj.) concurrent severe personality disorders.

The best diagnosis of Hillary I’ve heard is that sometime between the mid-70s and now, someone flipped off the idealism switch and flipped on the corruption and self-enrichment switch.

* * * * *

Face it, Republican Trump supporters (i.e., excluding newcomers supporting Trump’s independent campaign under the Republican umbrella) and rueful Hillary supporters: if 2016 isn’t enough to get you looking at third parties, you never will. You’re a slave. You’ll continue, in saecula saeculorum, eating whichever party’s Shit Sandwich looks less shitty, and it’s relatively easy because you’ve limited the choice to two.

A Facebook friend couldn’t believe I won’t support Trump, because (when you stripped away all my friend’s bombast) unlike Hillary, Trump truly does not care about people like us beyond securing our votes (and therefore won’t persecute us).

I agree with that. I will be a direct target for Clinton, collateral damage for Trump.

However, Trump is so unstable and so eerily demagogic that for the sake of the world, I’ll risk a direct Hillary hit over a Trump holocaust by voting #NeverTrump, #NeverClinton.

I’m moving beyond 2016 toward a more realistic, human-scaled vision of America’s future than either party is pushing or willing to push.

* * * * *

The debasing tone and meager substance of this campaign, aside, I’m rejecting both parties because on a very important issue, they’re both (or all) out of touch with reality.

  • The Democrats and establishment Republicans are selling substantially the same economic Ponzi Scheme.
  • Trump and his followers, insofar as they have a coherent economic message instead of a bundle of understandable grievances, are dealing in nostalgia for post-war America (the beginning of the Ponzi scheme).

None of that is going to work any more. The fuel of the ever-growing economy is literally fuel: petroleum. We’ve used up the economically viable petroleum sources. Only a zero-interest, hyper-financialized economy, funding unprofitable shale-oil shell games, has let us ignore that reality thus far. The alternate energy sources are not yet in place and when they come along (if they do), they will not allow our present physical configurations, dependent on carefree automobile trips, to survive.

Contrary to the American religion of endless progress, the techno-industrial age is a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, and we are closer to the end of that chapter in human history than to the middle of it. By the 1970s, the USA began to feel the bite of competition from other parts of the world that had rebuilt their industrial capacity following the debacle of World War II. Our factories, which had not been bombed during the war, were old and worn out. Environmental consciousness produced stringent new regulation of dirty industries. Third World nations with rising populations offered ultra-cheap labor and lax regulation. So, we “off-shored” US industry, which for a century had been the major source of our economic wealth.

Industrial production was replaced mainly by two activities. First, after being constrained by the oil crises of 1973 and 1979, the suburban sprawl build-out resumed with vengeance in the 1980s. Secondly, and connected with sprawl via the mortgage racket, was the expansion of the financial sector of the economy from five percent to over 40 percent. The suburban sprawl part was easy to understand. It was the preferred template for property development, an emergent process over the decades. The local zoning and building codes had evolved to mandate that outcome by law. The separation of uses became more extreme: housing tracts here, office parks there, shopping somewhere else, connected solely by cars. You couldn’t build a popsicle stand anywhere in the USA without supplying fifteen parking spaces. The new laws for handicapped access had the unintended consequence of heavily discouraging buildings over one story. The tragic part was that suburban sprawl was a living arrangement with no future. The oil crises of the 70s had portended that, but both the zoning codes and the cultural conditioning over-rode that warning. Anyway, Americans simply couldn’t conceive of living any other way.

Back when finance was a mere five percent of the economy, banking was boring and didn’t even pay so well. It was based on the 3-6-3 formula: borrow money at 3 percent, lend it out at 6 percent, and be on the golf course at 3 o’clock. In the 1960s, bank presidents and stock brokers might have a color TV instead of a black-and-white, and they might drive a Cadillac instead of a Chevrolet, but they didn’t live on another planet of ultra-wealth. The role of banking in the economy was straightforward: to manage society’s accumulated wealth (capital), and re-deploy it for productive purposes that would produce yet more wealth.

The computer revolution of the 1990s helped take finance to a whole other level of hyper-complexity with astonishing speed and, because the diminishing returns of technology always bite, this venture produced some ferocious blowback — namely, that many of the new “innovative” financial instruments created by computer magic enabled swindling and fraud on a scale never seen before. This was especially true in the securitization of mortgage debt into fantastically complex mutant bonds, many of which were notoriously designed to blow up and reward their issuers with bond “insurance” payouts. That bit of mischief led to the crash of 2008. The systemic damage of that event was never resolved but simply papered over by taxpayer bailouts and massive Federal Reserve “interventions” that continue to the present.

(James Howard Kunstler, The Future of the City) Even Mark Levinson’s Weekend Essay in the Wall Street Journal admits that “the economy doesn’t roar any more.”

The U.S. presidential candidates have made the usual pile of promises, none more predictable than their pledge to make the U.S. economy grow faster. With the economy struggling to expand at 2% a year, they would have us believe that 3%, 4% or even 5% growth is within reach.

But of all the promises uttered by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton over the course of this disheartening campaign, none will be tougher to keep. Whoever sits in the Oval Office next year will swiftly find that faster productivity growth—the key to faster economic growth—isn’t something a president can decree. It might be wiser to accept the truth: The U.S. economy isn’t behaving badly. It is just being ordinary.

Historically, boom times are the exception, not the norm ….

It’s no fun to think about that. The era of happy motoring, our half-acre mini-estates (on formerly-tilled land), and the dream of endless progress are much funner.

We Boomers were much closer to the truth when we were all reading E.F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful — but then our switches flipped like Hillary’s did. She was just better at ferreting out the possibilities of personal enrichment by racketeering.

It’s no accident that the Clintonistas were trash-talking thus according to last week’s Wikileak:

They can throw around ‘Thomistic’ thought and ‘subsidiarity’ and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they’re talking about.”

Subsidiarity is soooo “Small is Beautiful.”

The day is coming when we’ll have a choice between (a) the war of all against all over the bits of real wealth that remain or (b) cooperation on far more localized and pedestrian (literally and metaphorically) scale. Kunstler’s declinist essay and most of his corpus for several decades now go into greater detail.

It’s heartening, though I too rarely pay heed to it, to note that people are starting to vote with their feet, motivated by market forces if not conscious conviction. It’s too little, too slowly, I fear, but I could be wrong about how long the combined efforts of our plutocrats can keep the bubble from bursting.

I’ve aligned with a party  that believes in things the Democrats despise, as do the Republicans, though their emails haven’t been leaked, and though they’ll despise some parts the Democrats like (and vice-versa). But I’m aware that we’ll lose this year, that our candidate has the thinnest of political credentials and that there are limits to politics fixing all ills.

* * * * *

With that, I begin a brief (at least) blogging sabbatical. I’m going after dinner to a place where I fully expect to be off-grid for a while.

Prayer and worship and maybe some (offline) reading will be my likely routine, though I’ll be happy if I meet someone in a black robe who credibly says “I think I know how to cure what ails you” and takes me some different direction.

Yes, I’ve been ailing (dare I suggest we all are?), even if the ailment is only frenzy over how few people sense the truly perilous position we’re in. In fact, it’s probably much worse than that, and if I’m going only to “pray away the gay frenzy,”  I’m unlikely to accomplish even that. They don’t really know how to do partial soul-cures, after all.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Posted by: readerjohn | October 15, 2016


I’m going to take a blogging Sabbatical very soon. Didn’t want to wait until my return for these.


I’m old enough to remember when “That one will screw anything that moves” was an insult to either the man or the woman to whom it was applied. Today, that quality is a virtue, and its gets you fawning notice in USA Today …

I am not interested in hearing cultural liberals get high and mighty about how vile Donald Trump is (and he is!) for his gross sexual behavior, but then have them turn around and cheer for every new manifestation of polymorphous perversity that flops across the transom. I know, I know: consent. Legally it’s an important concept, but it’s not a moral disinfectant. I find it impossible to believe that most liberal parents would be fine with their sons or daughters coming out a “pansexual,” which is a five-dollar word for something infinitely cheaper.

(Rod Dreher, on Miley Cyrus coming out as “pansexual.”)


I was prevented from “sharing” this, but there are work-arounds:


* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Posted by: readerjohn | October 15, 2016

Saturday 10/15/16

  1. No Pro-Life Case for Trump
  2. Clinton accusers good; Trump accusers bad
  3. What’s with the Cigar?
  4. Lyin’ Samson’s non-sexual “positions”
  5. “Catholic Spring”
  6. The news Trump’s Loutishness drowned out

Read More…

Posted by: readerjohn | October 14, 2016

Hillary: The Rod of God’s Anger

He doesn’t drink wine, he has a tendency to lie, he has a weakness for women and his hair is sort of a big deal. No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump.

I’m referring to Samson, God’s appointed judge over Israel.

Chosen by God: The Man Who Ate Honey, but Pulled Down Pillars.

That does it. I’m finished. Yes, she (or he) is talking about The Donald. Follow the hyperlinks.

Evangelical Trump support isn’t honest. It isn’t a rational conviction. It’s not even a reasoned step of faith.

It’s a sickness, a twisting of the soul, a darkening of the mind. It’s impervious to news of perversions that normally would be giving Evangelicals a mass case of the vapors.

Read that Chosen by God garbage — yet another nasty bit of “God used flawed men to do His Will” eisegesis — if you doubt my characterization.

Here’s the deal, folks. Yes, God used flawed men to do His Will. Yes, He still uses flawed men (and women) to do His Will. That’s perfectly true. In fact, it is a great comfort to remember that when “things really head south.”

(One of the early Christian Martyrs was Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who wouldn’t renounce Christ and was martyred at age 86+. After recounting the details of the martyrdom, the author places it in precise chronology, with a cast of three flawed martyr-makers:

Now, the blessed Polycarp suffered martyrdom on the second day of the month Xanthicus just begun, the seventh day before the Kalends of May, on the great Sabbath, at the eighth hour. He was taken by Herod, Philip the Trallian being high priest, Statius Quadratus being proconsul, but Jesus Christ being King for ever, to whom be glory, honour, majesty, and an everlasting throne, from generation to generation. Amen.

Now that is real and costly, not cheap and celebrity-smitten, conviction that God is in control!)

But I digress. Back to that Chosen by God garbage: It is utterly useless in making a decision on who to vote for.

It appears to be an elaboration of this flawed syllogism:

  1. God uses flawed men to do His Will.
  2. Boy, is The Donald ever flawed! Wowsers! What a perv!
  3. Therefore, God is going to use Donald Trump to do His Will.

The perversity of this kind of typology is “the higher the pile of merde, the more conclusive the proof that Trump is God’s man” (“a sickness, a twisting of the soul, a darkening of the mind,” I tell you!).

Unless, that is, you want to tell me that the Angel of the Lord came to you and told you that Donald Trump “shall begin to deliver the United States out of the hand of the Democrats.” I’ll give that claim — ahem! — due weight, though I haven’t personally gotten that message.

Otherwise, I’ll see you and raise you: “Yes. That syllogism is a good reason to vote for Hillary Clinton, isn’t it? She’s so flawed. She’s so corrupt. She must be God’s choice. We might even call her ‘the rod of God’s anger.'”

Checkmate. Now I gotta take a shower. This kind of argument slimes us all.

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Posted by: readerjohn | October 13, 2016

Thursday 10/13/16

  1. Two Book Recommendations
  2. America 4.0
  3. “Complications”
  4. Religious Right lives on in Rolodexes
  5. Baptist Mensch
  6. Scary Hillary on Russia

Read More…

Posted by: readerjohn | October 12, 2016

Wednesday 10/12/16

  1. Bravo, IVCF
  2. Russian Freakout!
  3. Cause and effect
  4. A safe bet

Read More…

Posted by: readerjohn | October 11, 2016

The Big Picture: A Suggestion

In my search for a silver lining in this Presidential Campaign, I have found precisely one: it’s not boring.

Rod Dreher commends an article five months ago in Politico as “what I still think is the most insightful essay describing what’s happening, and what is going to happen, in US politics after this year.” It doesn’t immediately explain the turmoil of the election, but it’s evocative:

  • What we’re seeing is a “reassembling of new Democratic and Republican coalitions [which] is nearly finished.”
  • “Today’s Republican Party is predominantly a Midwestern, white, working-class party with its geographic epicenter in the South and interior West. Today’s Democratic Party is a coalition of relatively upscale whites with racial and ethnic minorities, concentrated in an archipelago of densely populated blue cities.”
  • “In both parties, there’s a gap between the inherited orthodoxy of a decade or two ago and the real interests of today’s electoral coalition. And in both parties, that gap between voters and policies is being closed in favor of the voters — a slight transition in the case of Hillary Clinton, but a dramatic one in the case of Donald Trump.”
  • “[C]ountry-and-western Republicans have gradually replaced country-club Republicans.” but the GOP platform and budget still reflect the priorities of the latter.
  • “Social issues spurred a partisan realignment by changing who considered themselves Democrats and Republicans. Over decades, socially conservative working-class whites migrated from the Democratic Party to join the Republican Party, especially in the South. Socially moderate Republicans, especially on the East Coast, shifted to the Democratic coalition. Now, there’s little disagreement within each party on social issues. Liberal Republicans are as rare as Reagan Democrats.”
  • “The rise of populist nationalism on the right is paralleled by the rise of multicultural globalism on the center-left.” Much of the Republican establishment is aligned with the center-left on globalism.
  • In the next two decades:
    • “The Republicans will be a party of mostly working-class whites, based in the South and West and suburbs and exurbs everywhere.”
    • “The Democrats … will be even more of an alliance of upscale, progressive whites with blacks and Latinos, based in large and diverse cities.”
  • The two parties’ coming ideologies are deeply at odds.

I believe I’ve written before that 1972 was a turning point for the Democrats: turning away from blue collar labor unions and toward teachers, intellectuals, and sexual revolutionaries.

It had not occurred to me that, the Supreme Court having decided all key social issues in the progressives’ favor, the Republican coalition would collapse because the platform social issue positions would be so clearly pandering blather.

Were I a Democrat mucky-muck, I wouldn’t be too confident about keeping blacks and latinos in coalition with yuppies. Maybe their common urbanity will suffice, maybe not.

I do know that if I were a Republican, I’d be fighting like crazy to retain the Electoral College, which, by adding Congress and Senatorial seats to determine a state’s electors, gives the numerous red flyover states a bit more say in Presidential selection, consistent with our bicameral legislative system. Direct election of the President will tilt things toward the populous blue states, mostly coastal.

This is all the law and the prophets (for today). The rest is commentary.

  1. Red State pathologies
  2. Complete disasters, all of them. Pathetic.
  3. The chief end of man
  4. Did Trump really win the last debate?

Read More…

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