9/11/15

  1. George Will: libertarian ideologue
  2. Apple’s bitter taste
  3. Fool or deceiver?
  4. How extrapolation works

1

Carson Holloway at Public Discourse asks “What political diseases has Trump fever brought to light?” He answers first that Republican voters believe that their own leaders are indifferent or hostile to their interests and convictions, crediting Machiavelli for that diagnosis. (Bernie Sanders’ popularity bespeaks something similar about Democrat disgust, although Sanders is markedly more credible in politics than Trump, and supporting him thus is less certifiably insane.)

Second, he says that it “has brought to light another very important phenomenon, one perhaps related to the first: the moral bankruptcy of a certain kind of contemporary intellectual conservatism,” that it “it sheds light on the inadequacies of not only conservatism’s men of action but also its men of reflection.”

Holloway takes as his example George Will, as revealed by one particular paragraph within a recent Will tirade against The Donald and his acolytes:

Republicans are the party of growth, or they are superfluous. The other party relishes allocating scarcities — full employment for the administrative state.

Holloway responds:

In Will’s view, apparently, the Republican Party should have no domestic policy agenda beyond an economic one, and that agenda should involve nothing beyond promoting economic growth … This in turn is as much as to say that the only real political issues are economic issues.

Will’s vision is utterly unworthy of a great political party and wholly inadequate to the politics of America or any other nation …

Democrats’ calls for redistribution of wealth may be misguided. They may in some cases even be cynical—mere means of appealing to the self-interest of voters under a moralistic guise. Such calls do, however, require the Democrats to make appeals to essential public principles such as justice, and the obligations of the citizen to the community and the community to the citizen. Will’s approach, on the other hand, eschews such principles entirely. This is a strange approach for a conservative, since questions about these principles—and the moral vision of politics on the basis of which such questions can arise—have been characteristic of the politics of all civilized communities.

… Will, once the most traditionalist of all conservative commentators, is now simply a libertarian ideologue. This is a remarkable transformation for the popularizer of Burke who once wrote a book to instruct conservatives that “statecraft” is and must be “soulcraft.”

Maybe Holloway is taking too seriously a paragraph I could find only by searching for “superfluous,” or maybe (indeed, likelier) he was reading Will as a serious political scientist engaging a once-serious thinker and giving him credit for meaning what he wrote — every last word of it.

But I can only hope that a message being sent by the unwashed hoards of my former party is indeed that reductionist libertarian economics is dead in politics.

2

Apple’s Big Fall Rollout was Wednesday. By some accounts it was a relative flop, while others demur.

For now, I cannot hear “Apple” without a bitter aftertaste from the Battle of Indianapolis, when Apple’s Tim Cook weighed in loudly and dishonestly for the idiotic principle that religious liberty must never, ever, be allowed to come within a country mile of interfering with Antidiscrimination Mania, and that if Indiana wouldn’t put up a fence around religious liberty, Apple and the other big boys would punish us economically.

Indiana’s GOP, having no principles higher than those of George Will, caved in. “Oh no, Massah Tim! We’d never let nobody ‘scriminate!” It cobbled onto the RFRA it had passed an unseemly appendage: that in no case can religious freedom be used as a defense against an allegation of discrimination. No case. Never. Full stop. Religious freedom doesn’t even get its day in court to challenge the novel proposition that stopping discrimination by private parties is a compelling government interest that trumps the 1st Amendment. Heck, preventing violent crime isn’t sufficient to restrict free speech. How did we ever get the crazy idea that preventing hurt feelings or making someone (gasp!) go to a different baker or florist or photographer is surpassingly important?

My message to Indiana’s GOP in 2016 is this:  If you take up hate crimes laws, or adding sexual orientation to our anti-discrimination laws, without restoring Indiana RFRA to the form that angered Tim Cook, or otherwise putting religious freedom back on one side of the scale, you are worthless trash.

My message to Tim Cook is that if you threaten Indiana with reprisals if we don’t erode civil liberties in the name of non-discrimination, then you and your company and your billions can go to the Devil.

3

The New York Times mustn’t care about logic when it comes to defense of abortion.

In an Op-Ed, a Jill Filipovic writes as if the Pope’s offer of confession and absolution for women who have procured abortions is something new. It’s not, but never mind since she has bigger fish to fry.

Then she says that the apparent mercy is insidious: “it’s actually the latest example of the modern anti-abortion strategy,” as if the Pope is really concerned with pushing the law in an anti-abortion direction rather than with the salvation of Roman Catholic women who are bearing a burden of sin.

Implication: Before SCOTUS legalized abortion, there was no penance and absolution for abortion because the hope of forgiveness wasn’t needed to drive a political agenda.

Then she suggests that the Pope’s wrong about abortion being a sin because “research shows that a vast majority of women who terminate pregnancies in the United States don’t actually feel bad about it.” I can tell you a lot of sins that people don’t feel bad about. Feeling bad about it sin is appropriate, and can be the beginning of repentance, but feeling bad is not the sina qua non of having sinned, and Filipovic is either an idiot or a deceiver for conflating the two. I have no idea which she is.

But it gets worse:

The threat of excommunication, at the very least, makes the church’s views on women’s rights clear. Offering forgiveness is a softer version of the same judgment: that the millions of women around the world who have abortions every year are sinners. Inviting women to feel shame and guilt for their abortions isn’t a mercy; it’s cruelty.

Well, duh, yeah. That’s the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching: abortion’s a sin, and women who procure abortion are, in one degree or another, sinners. And inviting women to “feel shame and guilt” is exactly what’s needed by those women who “don’t actually feel bad about” abortion. From the perspective of The Shoes of the Fisherman, it would be eternal cruelty not to challenge any sinner, guilty of any sin, to recognize the sin and then repent. Abortion’s no exception.

But to Filipovic, “millions of women around the world” can’t be wrong.

I’ve probably fulminated enough at this modern version of “how many things can you find wrong in this picture?” At bottom, it’s probably just another example of how the press thinks religion is politics in disguise — because most of them think politics is all there really is.

4

extrapolating xkcd

(Example Number 4,987,334,201 of Bad Statistics)

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“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.