Daily Potpourri 7/19/12

  1. Mitt’s Crypto-PAC.
  2. Islamism.
  3. Whiteboarding a water project.
  4. Julia didn’t build that.
  5. Just a Catholic Issue?
  6. Pox vobiscum.
  7. “Heel, boy!”
  8. Is the U.N. Antisemitic?


It looks as if Mitt’s crypto-PAC, the Wall Street Journal, is going to be writing a lot about Staples until election day. E.g., “Can a President who sank taxpayer dollars into green-energy failures now succeed by attacking an opponent who funded winning start-ups with his own money?”


I’m encouraged that someone else – someone with serious knowledge of Islamdom (HT Bernard Lewis for that term) – sees Islamdom as diverse, precisely for the reasons that Protestantism is diverse:

I think any idea that Islamism is a monolithic ideology is defeated by the data. And of course the bottom line on that is the lack of a central authority and institutions in Islam. You haven’t got a pope – no one takes what [the historical centre of Sunni Muslim scholarship in Egypt] Al-Azhar says seriously any more. What you have are lots of competing hierarchies. So when we talk of Islam, it’s very far from monolithic and that also applies to the political versions of it too. This tendency for diffusion and decentralisation has been accelerated by the rise to literacy – particularly in the Arab world – of postcolonial, educated individuals who feel they can have equal access to the religious texts. In the past – rather like in pre-Reformation Europe – access to texts was confined to a trained elite of scholars. So the traditional authority of scholarship had been progressively eroded and what you have had over the last 100 years or so is the rather chaotic situation with self-appointed autodidacts like Abul Ala Maududi in Pakistan and Sayyid Qutb and Hasan al-Banna in Egypt rising to prominence on the basis of writings and teachings which do not have the formal discipline that the old ulama [Islamic scholars] had in the past.

The interview is chock full of analogies between Islamdom and Christendom (rendered fractious by the Reformation’s inadvertent unleashing of private interpretation). That’s not, per se, praise of Islamdom or critique of Protestantism, though it’s evocative.

My main point is that blanket condemnations or fatuous praise of Islamdom, as if it were monolithic, are serious mistakes and impede gaining the useful insight that I have only glimpsed. The usefulness of generalizations about Islam’s core theological beliefs, as opposed to its political realizations, varies with the context.

But if you like your villains drawn with no nuance, the Family Research Council has hired your man. I hate (if you’ll pardon the expression) to be on the same side as the Southern Poverty Law Center on anything, but even a blind pig finds a truffle now and again.


I’ve been dabbling in thought about our built environment. In addition to the rather opaque and bureaucratic CNU (Congress for the New Urbanism), and actual membership organizations, there are outfits like Strong Towns.

Currently, Strong Town’s Chuck Marohn white boards a hypothetical new water system, proposed to promote growth, not just in its first life cycle (the seductive one), but down the line, when it needs maintenance and there will be no ribbon-cuttings or limelight for the politicos who backed it.


[R]emember Julia, Barack Obama’s composite girlfriend? At 42, she starts a Web business. Under President Obama, she didn’t build that.


My sorta kinda almost Alma Mater,* Wheaton College, filed suit against the HHS contraception and abortifacient mandate, giving the lie to “it’s just a Catholic issue” and, to those who have been observant at all, “they’re just attacking Obama for political purposes.”

While “conservative” after a fashion last I looked, Wheaton has been reticent about the culture war issues and notably (to me at least) sued via the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom, not ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom, f/k/a Alliance Defense Fund), a broader (in terms of agenda; narrower in the sense that it’s less likely to enthuse about non-Christians’ religious freedom) and more strident group.

* It’s a long story.


Jason Peters from Front Porch Republic assays the state of morality Left and Right, declares them both bankrupt, and closes with a one-finger salute and a pox on both houses. I mention it because (a) his manner of expression is utterly different than my own but (b) his conclusion is substantively the same as mine.

Indiana Libertarian Candidate for Governor, Andrew Hornung, put it in his own bumper-stickeresque fashion: “The government today is the direct result of your choosing the lesser of two evils for generations.”

The least of three evils would be a nice change, or at least the voting would be cathartic.


If Scott Galupo’s insinuation is correct, Grover Norquist not only has the power to bring Republicans to heel in elections, but gets to redefine terms like “tax increase” after the election for purposes of enforcing the promises he extorted.


I’m about 100% in favor of these ads. I guess that makes me anti-Semitic, a charge that’s almost as toxic as Grover Norquist saying that some Republican lap dog has bit him.

Take a look for yourself:

Is this anti-Semitic, or is it merely a call to open our eyes to the plight of Palestinians, including Palestinian Christians? Do any of the critics even begin (as reported, at least) to say what is anti-Semitic?

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(Say “Good Night,” Gracie.)

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Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

About readerjohn

I am a retired lawyer and an Orthodox Christian, living in a collapsing civilization, the modern West. There are things I'll miss when it's gone. There are others I won't. That it is collapsing is partly due to calculated subversion, summarized by the moniker "deathworks." This blog is now dedicated to exposing and warring against those deathwork - without ceasing to spread a little light.
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