Friday 9/23/16

  1. Trump’s diverticulated tumor
  2. Wells Fargo: The Rest of the Story
  3. Why some are voting for Trump
  4. NYT editorial screwup
  5. How to subvert your credibility
  6. The Gay Distortion Factor
  7. It seemed like he knew me
  8. Naked Emperor

1

I know, it seems outrageous,
But it’s getting a lot of attention
On some very respectable Web pages —
Which mainstream media won’t mention:

Donald Trump was not born in Queens,
He was born in the Philippines,
In a hotel in downtown Manila.
Where his hair turned bright vanilla
Due to vitamin deficiencies.
His mom and dad were Celanese
And left him with Franciscan nuns
At the age of 14 months.

Adopted on the third of June
By a real estate tycoon
Who took the little boy away
To a mansion in the USA
Bestowing on him great largesse
And naturalized him more or less.

The record of his nativity
Is kept under lock and key
With his tax returns, the MRIs
Showing what’s behind his eyes
Including, according to rumor,
A diverticulated tumor.
I hope it isn’t true, although
It comes from folks who ought to know.

(Garrison Keillor)

2

What did federal regulators have to do with spotting or eliminating the problems at Wells [Fargo]? Nothing, but they did swoop in to get their cut of a $185 million fine.

Senate Democrats like Chuck Schumer spent much of Tuesday lauding the gumshoes at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as if they had cracked the case. But Los Angeles City Attorney Michael Feuer says it was a Los Angeles Times story about the unauthorized accounts in December 2013 that triggered his investigation—years after the bank started firing people for misconduct. Mr. Feuer’s deputy told Senators the city was already discussing a settlement with the bank when the feds joined the negotiations.

Wells Fargo has been among the most respected financial firms and it focuses on businesses that regulators say they like—retail banking rather than capital markets … Now we see that even bread-and-butter retail can lead to political retaliation as Senators call for Mr. Stumpf to resign and demand a criminal investigation.

(Wall Street Journal) Elizabeth Warren’s ranting against Wells Fargo was particularly jarring.

3

But the real problem with the way [Zack] Beauchamp and so many others on the center-left talk about those on the nationalist right is that it displays outright contempt for particularistic instincts that are not and should not be considered morally and politically beyond the pale. On the contrary, a very good case can be made that these instincts are natural to human beings and even coeval with political life as such — and that it is the universalistic cosmopolitanism of humanitarian liberalism (or progressivism) that, as much as anything, has provoked the right-wing backlash in the first place.

Underlying liberal denigration of the new nationalism — the tendency of progressives to describe it as nothing but “racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia” — is the desire to delegitimize any particularistic attachment or form of solidarity, be it national, linguistic, religious, territorial, or ethnic …

Concerned about immigrants disregarding the nation’s borders, defying its laws, and changing its ethnic and linguistic character? Racist!

Worried that the historically Christian and (more recently) secular character of European civilization will be altered for the worse, not to mention that its citizens will be forced to endure increasing numbers of theologically motivated acts of terrorism, if millions of refugees from Muslim regions of the world are permitted to settle in the European Union? Islamophobe!

Fed up with the way EU bureaucracies disregard and override British sovereignty on a range of issues, including migration within the Eurozone? Xenophobe!

Earlier forms of liberalism were politically wiser than this … It simply never occurred to liberals prior to the mid-20th century that human beings might one day overcome particularistic forms of solidarity and attachment. They took it entirely for granted that individual rights and civic duties needed to be instantiated in particulars — by this people, in this place, with this distinctive history and these specific norms, habits, and traditions.

(Damon Linker)

[F]ar too many liberals have fallen into the lazy habit of refusing to grant any moral standing to their opponents, and deciding that they don’t have to take them seriously, because these people are nothing but haters — and the power of the state (or the university) should be marshaled to silence them. You want to know why some people are voting for Trump? Because they perfectly well understand that a Hillary Clinton administration would be filled with people like this.

(Rod Dreher)

4

Someone at the New York Times screwed up and let a sane person write a particularly prominent “Contributing Opinion Writer” slot:

It was the awkward comment heard round the world. At a fund-raiser earlier this month, the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, divided the supporters of her Republican opponent Donald J. Trump into two even groups. One consisted of good, if alienated and dispossessed, people. But the other half goes into a “basket of deplorables,” she said. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it.”

It’s difficult in the abstract to appreciate that those with morally objectionable viewpoints can still be good people. This perhaps explains why Mrs. Clinton showed considerably less charity than did Mr. Obama as a candidate in a widely praised 2008 speech on race. In one particularly personal passage, he spoke about his white grandmother — an imperfect, but fundamentally good, woman, “a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.”

… In a recent poll, about 40 percent of Democratic voters supported temporarily barring Muslims from entering the country. Large shares of black voters express some uneasiness with homosexual behavior, an opinion common among religious people of all races but undoubtedly unwelcome in cosmopolitan elite circles of the Democratic Party. The same poll that found that 40 percent of Mr. Trump’s supporters viewed blacks as lazier revealed that 25 percent of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters believed the same thing. Perhaps these people should also join Mrs. Clinton’s deplorable basket.

… The data consistently shows that about 90 percent of us possess some implicit prejudices — and, unsurprisingly, people typically favor their own group …

There are many ways to confront the people of that nation in all its complexity. We can ignore that these biases exist, and pretend that our uniquely diverse society need never address the difficult questions posed by that diversity. This is the path chosen by far too many of my fellow conservatives.

We can deem a significant chunk of our populace unrepentant bigots, which appears to be the strategy of Mrs. Clinton and much of the left.

Or we can recognize that most of us fall into another basket altogether: One where prejudice — even implicit — coexists with incredible compassion and decency ….

(J.D. Vance)

After a couple of sane comments (there were 21 when I checked) to Vance’s sane opinion, the partisan liberals waded in to restore balance to the cosmos by saying that their biases weren’t deplorable biases like those of Trump supporters.

5

I tend to trust Snopes.com, but this by-line has me wondering:

Jeff Zarronandia is the pseudonym of J. Eff Zarronandia, an American author and journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for numismatics in 2006 and was one of four finalists for the prize in 2008. He was also the winner of the Distinguished Conflagration Award of the American Society of Muleskinners for 2005.

6

Every American, including artists, should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of unjust punishment by the government. Just because an artist creates expression that communicates one viewpoint doesn’t mean Colorado can require her to express all viewpoints. It’s unlawful to force an artist to create against her will and intimidate her into silence just because the government disagrees with her beliefs.

(Attorney for a Colorado website designer who doesn’t want to create websites for same-sex marriages)

Soon after the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, lawyers opposed to abortion began noticing what came to be known as the “abortion distortion factor.” What was meant by that phrase was that no established rule of law was exempt from ad hoc disregard if its application might overcome some argument for abortion.

I later learned that there was also a “creationism distortion factor,” whereby no established rule of law was exempt from ad hoc disregard if its application would allow, for instance, a public school chemistry teacher to stimulate student thought by asking how the theory of evolution could be squared with some law of chemistry.

You know the country is suffering another “distortion factor” when judges routinely tell the barefaced lie that the artisan being coerced to service same-sex marriages is not involved in expressive behavior, and therefore can be coerced despite the First Amendment protection against coerced “speech” ( which courts have long extended to other expressive behavior).

Even with Obama or Hillary getting to fill Scalia’s Supreme Court seat, I suspect that these coercions will be invalidated when they reach the Supreme Court, but I can’t be sure; Justice Kennedy might go off on another of his rants about how only sheer hatred and “bare desire to harm” could motivate anyone to believe, ironically, what the Church he supposedly belongs to teaches.

7

After forays into other faiths and no faith at all, I ended up right in the middle of Baptist life. I am frequently asked why I left the Protestant faith, particularly the Southern Baptist denomination in which I was trained and taught. I mean, I actually made a living teaching in a Baptist University. I did not leave because I was mad about anything. In one of those seemingly random purchases I bought a couple of books containing some really old writings and reflections by Greek and Russian Orthodox writers. It was a bad time in my life. I was no longer the man I wanted to be. It was, in the words of Kris Kristofferson, “back when failure had me locked out on the wrong side of the door.” Self-help, devotional books, pop psychology never did do anything for me.

The writings of Theophan the Recluse, a Russian monk (1815-1894), had a powerful impact on me, however. It seemed like he knew me. Then there were others. I had absolutely no contact with any actual living person who was Eastern Orthodox until after I had “met” a lot of dead ones. Scripture and Christian history for them seemed a consistent stream of divine revelation, not points to be argued about. So I then started reading some Orthodox writers who happened to be still alive, chief among them Kallistos Ware. Now, I had read a lot of theology in my seminary days. The first thing that struck me about Ware was he wasn’t arguing with anyone. He did not set forth a bunch of views, evaluate the positive and negative features of each, then qualify the terms until they died the death of a thousand qualifications. He wove together Scripture, church councils and traditions, and the teachings of the “elders” in a way that seemed seamless.

After sneaking off and attending Vespers and then Liturgies at a local Orthodox Church, I began to see worship differently. In my Protestant world, worship was focused on how good the music was or how good (or long) the sermon was. If one had an inspiring time then that meant the worship was good. This approach was corrupted by not a few who “planned” worship around what would be most liked by the most people …

Along came the “worship wars” between Protestants who preferred old hymns with an organ and piano and those who liked new songs with guitars and drums. “Old” is a relative term, however. They did not mean old in the Orthodox sense. “Old” was in the sense of what two generations ago sang. When I went to the Orthodox Church there were no instruments. What they were doing was not clear to me, but what was clear was that they weren’t doing it to please anyone or entertain anyone. There was a homily in the middle of the liturgy, but for the most part it was completely directed toward God. I felt that approach strangely attractive.

(Hal Freeman, On Becoming Eastern Orthodox)

8

Naked Emperors

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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.