Saturday 9/17/16

  1. A More Perfect Absolutism
  2. Why nobody trusts Hillary
  3. Elitist fat-cat inversion
  4. Trump’s smartest unconstitutional proposal
  5. No tar, feathers, or quality control

1

It is part of the absurdity of American life that we decide questions of truth under the guise of settling contests of rights. Which means that we decide questions of truth without thinking deeply or even very honestly about them. Thus, while it is obvious to many that we are living through a profound cultural revolution, it is less than clear just what sort of revolution it is … The sexual revolution is not simply an overturning of sexual morality or family law, but a revolution in our fundamental view of human nature that promises to reshape who we are as human beings. What previous generations took for granted—for example, that man, woman, mother, and father name natural realities as well as social roles, that children issue naturally from their union, that the marriage of man and woman is the foundation of human society—all this is now increasingly regarded as obsolete and even hopelessly bigoted.

The most stunning thing about the rapid put-down of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) legislation and the spotlighting of the proprietors of Memories Pizza is not the sudden shift in public opinion or the new alliance between big business and progressive politics, arguably the historical norm rather than the exception. Rather, it is the bare fact that it is now possible to amass and project such force almost instantaneously prior to and independent of any decision of the law. Who needs a Stasi when you have a neighbor armed with an iPhone and a Twitter account ready to ruin your life in real time? It is not clear that any actions of the courts or any amount of live-and-let-live tolerance would have sufficed to tame the furies once they were unleashed. The forces of this revolution, once they are set in motion, cannot easily be recalled or contained within the scope of law.

We are unlikely to withstand a revolution that we do not understand, and yet I worry that our American habits of mind leave us unequipped to comprehend this one …

In a perfectly absolute society, whose rule was indeed total, no one would ever know he was being coerced. There would simply be truths that could no longer be perceived, ideas that could no longer be thought, experiences that could no longer be had, and no one would ever know what he was missing.

(Michael Hanby, A More Perfect Absolutism)

2

Seventeen years ago, when word first came that Mrs. Clinton might come to New York, a state where she’d never lived, and seek its open U.S. Senate seat, I wrote a book called “The Case Against Hillary Clinton.” It asserted that she would win and use the Senate to run for president, likely in 2008. That, I argued, was a bad thing. In the previous eight years she’d done little to elevate our politics and much to lower it. So I laid out the case as best I could, starting with the first significant scandal of Bill Clinton’s presidency.

It is worth revisiting to make a point about why her poll numbers on trustworthiness are so bad …

So—that was the Clintons’ first big Washington scandal. It showed what has now become the Clinton Scandal Ritual: lie, deny, revise, claim not to remember specifics, stall for time. When it passes, call the story “old news” full of questions that have already been answered. “As I’ve repeatedly said . . .”

More scandals would follow. They all showed poor judgment on the part of the president, and usually Mrs. Clinton. They all included a startling willingness—and ability—to dissemble.

People watched and got a poor impression.

The point is it didn’t start the past few years, it started almost a quarter-century ago. You have to wonder, what are the chances it will change?

(Peggy Noonan) You really should read what the ellipsis elides.

Hillary may be as bad as Trump for brutalizing people who are in her way. I call that “sociopathic” when Trump does it, and it’s no better when she does.

3

For years, Democrats have steadfastly portrayed Republicans as elitist fat cats who buy elections, as backroom bosses who rig the laws in their favor, as brass-knuckle lobbyists and operators who get special access. It turns out that this is the precise description of the Democratic Party. They know of what they speak …

Keep in mind what an earlier leak revealed: a May 18, 2016, email from an outside lawyer to DNC staffers in which the attorney suggests a call to “go over our process for handling donations from donors who have given us pay to play letters.” Add this to what the Clinton and Abedin emails have shown to be a massive pay-to-play operation at the Clinton Foundation, in which megadonors like the crown prince of Bahrain got special access to the secretary of state.

And there are also all those Clinton speeches, for which they were paid millions. News comes this week that despite the Clintons’ promises to distance themselves from their foundation, they will first be holding what sounds like one last fire sale on future presidential access: a belated birthday bash for Bill Clinton, with a glitzy party at the Rainbow Room in Manhattan. A donation of $250,000 gets you listed as “chair” of the party, while “co-chair” costs $100,000. Foundation officials are refusing to say who has donated, or how much.

So which political party is all about money, influence and special access? The Republican Party held a true, democratic primary. Seventeen candidates battled it out, and the voters choose a nominee that much of the party establishment disliked.

Leaked emails show that the Democratic Party hierarchy retreated to a backroom to anoint Hillary Clinton and then exercised its considerable power to subvert the primary process and kill off theBernie Sanders campaign ….

(Kimberly Strassel)

4

Regarding Trump’s proposed federally-paid maternity leave:

Perhaps the biggest surprise he’s pulled since throwing his hat into the ring for the office of president of the United States is his recent speech outlining his ambitious pro-family policies. The two biggest planks of this proposal are mandatory paid maternity leave, to be paid for by the government, and the deductibility of childcare expenses from income taxes.

This is the smartest thing Donald Trump has done so far in his campaign, both in terms of politics and policy.

Women, particularly moms, are obviously one of the most important constituencies in any election. Women swing presidential elections. On top of that, giving women concrete benefits for motherhood, even though it has historically been against some version of conservative movement orthodoxy, is actually deeply consonant with the “family values” the GOP is supposed to stand for.

Now, of course, there is some score-settling to be done here. I’m part of a group of conservative writers known as “reform conservatives” who have argued for making pro-family policy the center of the GOP’s domestic platform for many years. And for many years, we were sneered at in places like The Wall Street Journal editorial page for being sellouts, and warned that if the GOP’s working-class base didn’t get meaningful policies from the Republican elite, it would either run away or revolt. To which I say: Congratulations, guys. Enjoy Donald Trump.

… One of the questions surrounding the aftermath of the Trump campaign is whether the party will switch back to [the GOP orthodoxies he’s shattered] and pretend nothing happened, or become the party of Trump, or achieve some kind of new synthesis.

(Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry)

Ilya Somin, however, is convinced the maternity leave law would be unconstitutional — which may reflect as badly on current constitutional dogma as on Trump’s idea.

5

The thing about the “in” crowd of conservative evangelicalism is that as long as you assent to the “right” doctrines about the Bible, God, and Jesus Christ, you can never really be kicked out no matter how embarrassing you become.

(Jacob Lupfer, Jerry Fallwell Jr. Needs an Intervention)

* * * * *

“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.