Saturday 9/24/16

  1. Raise your hand if …
  2. Yahoo! NOT!
  3. The Unpollable Election
  4. Right to Try
  5. Michael “Peter Principle” Gerson

1

Oh, the horror!

[Donald Trump Jr.] recently shared a Twitter post by Kevin MacDonald, a psychologist who has written about “Jewish influence” for a website devoted to “white identity, interests and culture” and who has testified on behalf of a Holocaust denier.

Raise your hand it you had any idea who Kevin MacDonald was before reading this block quote. Me neither.

Raise your hand if you think you should run background checks on the author before retweeting something. Me neither.

Raise your hand if you clicked through to see what he wrote about “Jewish influence.” Oh. So few?

Raise your hand if you kinda wonder what his testimony was in the trial of a Holocaust denier. Me too, still, after clicking links.

On other topics covered by by media:

  • Did you become aware of who Pepe the Frog was (a) when he was a mere cartoon character, (b) when he became, reportedly, some kind of symbol of the <alt-Right>, (c) only when he became an albatross around Trump’s neck, (d) “why are you distinguishing (b) and (c), Tipsy,” or (e) what the heck am I asking about?
  • Did you think Trump’s call for Hillary’s bodyguards to disarm was (a) an incitement to assassination, (b) mockery for Hillary’s relatively strong support of “gun control,” or (c) neither?
  • Did you think Donald Jr.’s “warming up the gas chambers” remark was (a) brilliant, (b) tasteless because it trivializes the Holocaust, (c) outright anti-semitic, or (d) none of the above.
  • Did you really think, immediately and without political calculation, when and if you saw Junior’s Skittles Tweet, that human beings and Skittles were too unlike for it to be a remotely apt analogy?

“We’re truly living in remarkable times,” said Jason Miller, a spokesman for the [Trump] campaign. “The media’s run out of things to attack Mr. Trump on, and so now they scour the social media accounts of his family looking for things to blow out of proportion.”Raise your hand if you think this is remarkable? Me too.

Agree or disagree with the conclusion, but this far better responds to the Skittles Tweet than all the tin-ear observation about how people aren’t soft chewy candy. (Oh, dear! I do so hope that Eli Bosnick has never said anything disreputable!)

Exactly.

2

How long since you used the Yahoo! account you now need to fix because Yahoo! was majorly hacked? Me? At least ten years. Probably closer to 20.

I now have a new password and two-factor authentication on an account I’ll never use again unless the new owner of Yahoo! springs a truly epic surprise revival.

Welcome to the future.

3

I would gladly pay for the Wall Street Journal even if all it had was Peggy Noonan’s Friday columns during election seasons:

The most arresting sentence of the week came from a sophisticated Manhattan man friendly with all sides. I asked if he knows what he’ll do in November. “I know exactly,” he said with some spirit. “I will be one of the 40 million who will deny, the day after the election, that they voted for him. But I will.”

A high elected official, a Republican, got a faraway took when I asked what he thought was going to happen. “This is the unpollable election,” he said. People don’t want to tell you who they’re for. A lot aren’t sure. A lot don’t want to be pressed.

“I feel like this is the most controversial election ever,” said a food-court worker at La Guardia Airport. She works a full shift, 4 a.m. to noon, five days a week, then goes full-time to a nearby college. We’d been chatting a while, and when I asked the question she told me, carefully, that she hasn’t decided how she’ll vote, and neither have her family members. I said a lot of people seem nervous to say. She said: “Especially Trump people. They’re afraid you’ll think they’re stupid.”

Which is how I knew she was going to vote for Donald Trump.

When I talk to strangers—which I do a lot, and like it—I sometimes say dour, mordant things, to get them going by establishing that anything can be said. I say if Hillary Clinton is elected there will be at least one special prosecutor, maybe two, within 18 months, because her character will not be reborn on crossing the threshold of the White House; the well-worn grooves of her essential nature will kick in. If Mr. Trump is elected there will be a constitutional crisis within 18 months because he doesn’t really know what a president does, doesn’t respect traditional boundaries, doesn’t reflect on implications and effects. I always expect pushback. I am not getting it! I get nods, laughs and, in two recent cases, admissions that whoever wins they’d been wondering how soon impeachment proceedings would begin.

(The Year of the Reticent Voter, emphasis added)

4

In 2014 I met a young mother of three from Waukesha, Wis. Her name was Trickett Wendler, and she had the degenerative nerve disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Before her diagnosis, Trickett was living a normal life and looking forward to a bright future. ALS robbed her of her dreams and took away her body’s ability to function. She died on March 18, 2015.

Like their mother and grandfather, Trickett’s children are genetically predisposed to ALS. Trickett was prescribed the same medications her father was given in the 1990s. Her husband Tim prays that better treatments will be developed if, God forbid, one of his children must fight this horrible

(Ron Johnson, The Terminally Ill Deserve Right-to-Try Laws) I’m not sure what the countervailing argument is other than “doctors and drug companies could get sued,” but this seems kind of like a no-brainer to me. It’s got even less downside than “medical” marijuana (the downside is in the scare quotes).

5

The pseudonymous September 5 “Flight 93 Election” essay at Claremont Review of Books, which I caught early on, has become an enduring theme on the pro-Trump side. I’ve heard several Evangelical leaders solemnly intoning “this is a Flight 93 election” without attribution.

Ultimately, the essay left me unpersuaded, though I couldn’t completely endorse Ben Shapiro’s argument against it. More recently, Michael Gerson’s argument so underwhelmed me that I didn’t even mention it.

But Mark Bauerlein read Gerson’s argument and is less than underwhelmed.

Anyone who hasn’t seen the recent writings of one Publius Decius Mus should stop reading right now and click here and here and here. You will find a powerful indictment of the conservative political movement of the last thirty years, written by someone who adheres to conservative principles (or perhaps we should say “dispositions”).

After perusing his arguments, if you want to understand why Decius has drawn so much attention, being hailed by Peggy Noonan, Roger Kimball, and other independent commentators, you should turn your eye to one of Decius’s critics. When you read what they say about him, you can see why what he says about them has found a ready audience.

Here is one attack that came out last week in the Washington Post. It is by Michael Gerson, a member of George W. Bush’s White House and now a frequent contributor to television news shows and periodicals …

That Gerson resorts to this progressive cliche, which I have seen pulled out of people’s pockets a thousand times before at conferences, in committee meetings, and in news commentaries, shows just how empty his intellectual accounts are. And once you give in to the blandishments of accusatory sentimentality—which lets you denounce others seemingly without malice, you see, because you are only defending les miserables—it is easy to set Decius et al. in a cage of dishonor. Gerson ends his opinion by casting Decius’s work as consisting of hyperbole and insult and (inevitably, we must by now expect) racism.

(The Dishonest Capitulation of Michael Gerson) “How empty his intellectual accounts are” seem about right, though I’d never put my finger on Gerson’s usual propensity to disappoint.

If Trump were to call him “low-energy” or “low-caliber,” I’d have to agree for a change. He’s a solid speechwriter who has proven the Peter Principle by becoming a national columnist at an important newspaper.

* * * * *

“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.