Wednesday, 4/27/16

  1. Paul’s Pygmalion Project
  2. Dogmas and Orthodoxies
  3. Monological Dialogue
  4. Secular Conservatives
  5. See what happens when you kick it
  6. Only the reactionary see both
  7. Redrawing the red line

1

Mr. Trump has hired a Henry Higgins to work on his comportment. Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s new campaign chief and an old-guard Republican strategist, has eclipsed the abrasive Corey Lewandowski and his nonnegotiable “Let Trump Be Trump” approach. Mr. Manafort’s ambition is to turn this Eliza Doolittle into a candidate more acceptable to decent society, in time for the general election.

Mr. Manafort rolled out his Pygmalion project with a PowerPoint presentation behind closed doors at the Republican National Committee retreat in Florida last week.

(New York Times Editorial Board) I’ve got to hand it to them for an interesting metaphor.

2

[L]et us … note the irony. Mr. Schilling’s main contention—“a man is a man no matter what they call themselves”—is supported by DNA and those pesky X and Y chromosomes. In short, in this fight between science and authority, Mr. Schilling is in the amusing position of being the Galileo, with ESPN filling in for the Holy Office.

It’s an interesting detail that has gone largely unaddressed since Mr. Schilling delivered his knuckleball. Nor is it hard to see why. For it contradicts the dominant narrative in which Democrats take their positions from a clear-eyed look at the science while Republicans are blinded by their religious, social and economic orthodoxies.

This was the trope Barack Obama invoked in his maiden inaugural address, when he promised to “restore science to its rightful place.” Well, the American people have now had almost eight years of it. Turns out that restoring-science-to-its-rightful-place comes with its own set of dogmas and orthodoxies.

(William McGurn) I’m waiting for some smart-ass conservative to say “Forget climate binary! I identify as a Climate Denier, and I’m tired of liberal hate-speech making me fell unsafe.”

3

FBI Director [James Comey] recently said at Kenyon College that the end of the San Bernardino affair was “a very good thing,” because “litigation is a terrible place to have any discussion about a complicated policy issue, especially one that touches on our values, on the things we care about most, on technology, on trade-offs, and balance.” He added that “it will be bad thing if the conversation ended.”

Yet forgive us if this “conversation” now seems more like a Jim Comey monologue. The debate might start to be productive if the FBI Director would stop trying to use the courts as an ad hoc policy tool and promised not to bring any more cases like the one in Brooklyn.

(Wall Street Journal Review & Outlook, The Encryption Farce)

4

The vast majority of leading conservative writers, just like their liberal colleagues, have a secular outlook on life. With few exceptions, the conservative political and intellectual worlds are oblivious to the consequences of secularism. They are unaware of the disaster that godlessness in the West has led to.

Most leading Republicans and most of the wealthy donors to the Republican Party — in addition to virtually all libertarian politicians and think tank scholars — are either uninterested in the death of Judeo-Christian religions and values in America and the West, or they’re OK with it. They think that America can survive the death of God and religion, that fiscal and other forms of conservatism without social conservatism can preserve America.

[W]hy do secular conservatives think so many affluent and well-educated Americans have adopted left-wing dogmas, such as feminism, socialism, environmentalism and egalitarianism as their religions? Because people want to — have to — believe in something. And if it’s not God and Christianity or Judaism, it’s going to be some form of Leftism. Why are evangelical Protestants, theologically conservative Catholics, Orthodox Jews and practicing Mormons almost all conservative? Because they already have a religion and therefore don’t need the alternate gods of leftist faiths, and also because Judeo-Christian religions have different values than leftist religions.

(Jewish Conservative Dennis Prager, italics added) I was alerted to this column by Pat Buchanan, who seems to lament the Death of the West as a result of lost faith more than the loss of Christian faith per se. He laments that moderns:

lack what Christianity gave man—a cause not only to live for, and die for, but a moral code to live by, with the promise that, at the end a life so lived, would come eternal life. Islam, too, holds out that promise. Secularism, however, has nothing on offer to match that hope.

I preferred the Prager original, as I sense in it more lament for the loss of faith than the consequences of that loss. We’ll never restore true and vital faith if we value it for its consequences as much or more than for its truth.

5

It takes a rich society to argue about transgenders in the public toilets.

(Rod Dreher) Rich, decadent and dismissive of limits, Rod.

The experts are being quoted on how the laws requiring use of the bathroom of your biological sex are unenforceable because police can’t go examining genitals.

But what was the status quo 6 month ago? If you were a “trans man” or “trans woman” and halfway convincing at it, you’d go to the bathroom of the sex for which you were passing. But some Virtue-Signaling City Councils decided they needed to put something like that in a law, and to express it along the lines of “the gender you identify with.” In practice, those new Ordinances meant anyone can use any bathroom they want for any reason they like, whether or not convincingly trans, because (turnabout is fair play) how are the police supposed to examine mental states like “the gender people identify with”? Checking genitals is a piece of cake compared to that.

So why is the onus on those trying to maintain the status quo of 6 months ago instead of on progressive city councils clumsily Virtue Signaling by passing stupid ordinances or the Obama Justice Departments saying Title IX requires that people be allowed to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with? Will the next step by a decree that Title IX requires 50 flavors of bathroom to correspond to the 50 or more gender identities people have purported to identify? If not, why not?

The pushback is because it seems that there are bureaucrats and progressive politicians sitting around thinking “how can we stick it to traditionalists again?” Yes, I don’t think even they believe this crap; they’re doing it to pander to a base and to remind the other side of Who Is In Charge Here.

It’s a shame that intelligent people can’t see who the aggressors are.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Cet animal est tres mechant; quand on l’attaque, il se defend. But I also discovered a high-level, dynamic equivalent translation:

This animal is very wicked:
Just see what happens if you kick it.

(Vladimir Nabokov) Victoria is about what happens when a critical mass of kicks is reached, and that, in turn, may explain why the kickers want to take guns away from the kicked.

6

Both liberalism and conservatism … have an optimism that blinds them to inconvenient truths. The liberal sees that conservatives were foolish to imagine Iraq remade as a democracy; the conservative sees that liberals were foolish to imagine Europe remade as a post-national utopia with its borders open to the Muslim world. But only the reactionary sees both.

(Ross Douthat)

7

You have to be fairly alienated from liberal democratic culture to find the Ben[edict] Op[tion] appealing. In fact, I think that’s why so many conservative Christians resist it. They know that things are bad, and getting worse for us, and they know that the center is not holding, and cannot hold. But if it’s true, then they would have to do things that are really difficult. It seems easier to live with the cognitive dissonance. Many of us are like the conservative Episcopalians who say, “One more thing and I’m out the door!” — but then the one more thing comes, and we redraw the red line.

(Rod Dreher)

* * * * *

“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.