Thursday 10/27/16

  1. Nothing but appetite
  2. Faith in the age of total information
  3. If you’re going to lie …
  4. Bayh #Fail
  5. Paris on my mind
  6. How angry?
  7. Fox, Drudge & Breitbart
  8. She had me at blah blah blah
  9. Orwell Does Montana
  10. Rights talk
  11. Discrimination talk
  12. The Unraveling

First Things


In Dante’s Inferno, all of the damned are two-dimensional men and women. There is nothing there but the facsimile of a person. They loved their sins so much that they became them. They have no free will anymore; that is what it means to be damned. They are nothing but appetite, and have lost forever communion with God.

(Rod Dreher) This stands on its own. In context, I could have made it “tertiary.”

Secondary Things


[A] decade on after losing my Catholic faith, I recognize that I had done something that many of my Catholic friends who were as angry at the institutional church as I was had not done: expected more from the Church than it could deliver. The problem with this is that it is far, far too easy for people to grow cynical and tolerant of things that ought not be tolerated. On the other hand, my idealism laid the groundwork for the unraveling of my Catholicism. When I entered the Orthodox Church, I made a deliberate decision to have not one jot more trust in the institution than I had to for the maintenance of my faith (e.g., trusting in the validity of the sacraments). This was instinctive, but also wise. I find myself much less shaken by clerical scandals now.

That move may have kept me from having unrealistic expectations of the institutional church, but it did nothing to restore much faith in the institution as a political entity. I’m not talking about electoral politics. I’m talking about politics in the more basic sense of the way any group of people governs itself. In the past, I would have given the church (Catholic, Orthodox, whatever) the presumption of trust. Now, my reflexive stance is one of suspicion and skepticism. An Orthodox priest who had seen how the sausage is made near the top once said to me that the further away one is from the upper levels of the hierarchy, the easier it is to be steadfast in one’s faith. I have heard similar statements from Christians in other churches. It is no doubt true of all institutions, because institutions are administered by humans.

Thing is, though, every society needs institutions to function, and moreover, it needs to have basic confidence in its institutions to function. It’s not that people have to believe that the institutions are perfect. They do have to believe that the institutions can be trusted to be sound, to be governed by just and competent people. When institutions lose that basic level of credibility, it’s very, very hard to earn back. It is also very, very hard for people within the leadership class of institutions to grasp when trust in their leadership is eroding. This is the story of the Republican Party this year. If Gurri is correct, it is, or eventually will be, the story of all institutions in the age of total information.

(Rod Dreher, Trump, Clinton, and Twilight America, hyperlink added)

Tertiary Things


Trump did a greater disservice all-in-all to the faction he supposedly represented. Their grievances about a grift-maximized political economy were genuine, and Trump managed to make them look like a claque of sinister clowns …

I’m more comfortable about Hillary — though I won’t vote for her — because it will be salutary for the ruling establishment to unravel with her in charge of it. That way, the right people will be blamed for the mismanagement of our national affairs. This gang of elites needs to be circulated out of power the hard way …

The “tell” in these late stages of the campaign has been the demonization of Russia — a way more idiotic exercise than the McCarthyite Cold War hysteria of the early 1950s, since there is no longer any ideological conflict between us and all the evidence indicates that the current state of bad relations is America’s fault, in particular our sponsorship of the state failure in Ukraine and our avid deployment of NATO forces in war games on Russia’s border. Hillary has had the full force of the foreign affairs establishment behind her in this war-drum-banging effort, yet they have not been able to produce any evidence, for instance, in their claim that Russia is behind the Wikileaks hack of Hillary’s email. They apparently subscribe to the Joseph Goebbels theory of propaganda: if you’re going to lie, make sure it’s a whopper, and then repeat it incessantly.

(James Howard Kunstler)


Congressman Young is soooo Washington.

(Anonymous Regular Guy in Evan Bayh ad) If my reaction was typical, Evan Bayh’s organization calling his opponent “soooo Washington” is audacious to a fault. Bayh’s comparative Washingtonness exceeds Young’s by several orders of magnitude, and the ad reminds any sentient voter of that. #Fail


Paris on my mind for reasons I’ll not go into.

When the masked thugs of ISIS swing their sledgehammers through Iraq’s museums and dynamite Palmyra, the world gasps and screams. But what if the vandal is a chic Parisian woman wearing high-heeled boots and talking like a visionary? What if her target is the world’s most beloved and most-visited city? Does the world gasp, or does it not even hear what she is saying? “We’ll always have Paris,” Rick tells Elsa in “Casablanca.” Yet now, Mayor Anne Hidalgo says she will “reinvent” Paris. Without putting it to a vote, she will replace the uniquely harmonious city we know with something “modern” and “contemporary.” She will pierce the low horizon with a dozen skyscrapers, replace classic stone facades with rivers of glass, and bury the famous zinc and slate rooftops under new construction. Mon Dieu! Doesn’t anyone get what Paris is doing to itself?

(David Brussat, Architecture Here & There)


The story kept staring at me on the Washington Post Opinion page. Day after day. It seemed to glorify crime.

I finally decided I needed to read How angry does Donald Trump make me? Angry enough to steal 40 Trump signs.

Like so many American women, I have my own story about a powerful man using his position of wealth and influence to demean my integrity and put my job at risk. My version of Trump was a board member of a nonprofit where I worked more than a decade ago. Over a period of many months, he called to talk about personal and board-related matters. He was married, so I never believed he had serious ulterior motives. Then, one day, he called to proposition me to enter an illicit “relationship” with him where he would fly me around the world to exclusive resorts. For sex.

“You’re not the marrying type of woman,” he told me. “I never see you having a family of your own, so I have an offer for you.” He described how good he was in bed. I wouldn’t regret it, he said. It would be “our little secret” and “worth my while.”

I was afraid that declining this man’s offer would insult one of my organization’s largest donors. So I told him I needed “to think about it.” A few days later, he told me he’d made a mistake.

I should have told him to go to hell. Instead, I told my boyfriend (now husband) about it and buried the secret. I was silenced, until now.

This kind of silence appears to be a concept that a lot of Trump supporters can’t understand. But these are the kinds of compromises women are put into by men who abuse power. This is the source of my rage against Donald Trump. It’s why I committed a crime. Yes, I was acting out, and I will face, with some humility, my day in court. But at the time, my act felt strangely liberating. I wanted to punish Trump and anyone who could support him. Especially now, knowing what we know about his treatment of women.

This campaign has certainly brought a lot of women’s abuse stories out into the open. Some of them are horrifying.

This wasn’t one of those. An explicit proposition, seeking explicit consent, without threat of any sort, seems to be the new standard for consent to creepy sexual relationships on campus, for instance. Her Board Member sounds like he was ahead of his time.


What the intellectuals did not see clearly enough was that Fox News and talk radio and the internet had made right-wing populism more powerful, relative to conservatism’s small elite, than it had been during the Nixon or Reagan eras, without necessarily making it more serious or sober than its Bircher-era antecedents.

Some conservatives told themselves that Fox and Drudge and Breitbart were just the evolving right-of-center alternative to the liberal mainstream media, when in reality they were more fact-averse and irresponsible.

History does not stand still; crises do not last forever. Eventually a path for conservative intellectuals will open.

But for now we find ourselves in a dark wood, with the straight way lost.

(Ross Douthat, What the Right’s Intellectuals Did Wrong)


She had me at “Mike Pence’s discriminatory so-called ‘religious freedom’ law ….”

It was front and center in the first of this newcomer’s campaign ads.

It certainly told me what I needed to know to vote for her opponent for this open seat in the State House. #Fail


It is important to elect justices who respect all of our fundamental rights, including the free exercise of religion, and who have not pre-determined that one right should outweigh another.

Thus said Kristen Juras, a candidate for the Montana Supreme Court.

That was too much for Cara Wilder, who knows full well which rights should outweigh others:

Juras uses “religious freedom” as a dog whistle in attempts to deny civil rights to the LGBTQ community. Juras’ bias and lack of experience make her unfit for the Supreme Court.

(H/T Howard Friedman’s Religion Clause blog, which misstakes the letter to the editor for a newspaper endorsement of Juras’ opponent)

The Missoulian also endorsed Juras’ opponent, less stridently, but with a pretty bizarre deprecation of Juras’ religion:

“What I covet is prayer. Please pray that during my campaign I would always act in a way that honors God, for His favor, for opportunities, for wisdom in my campaign strategies,” Juras wrote in her email to a colleague.

Unfortunately, she left one important group off this list: Montanans.

Huh?! Where would they put “Montanans” in that little “prayer list”?


“Rights talk” continues to plague our political discourse:

Progressives say “health care is a right.” But what do they mean by that? If they mean that in a wealthy society, the moral thing to do is to come up with a system that ensures that no one is bankrupted by medical emergencies and as many people as possible have access to excellent health care, I certainly agree with them. And sometimes, it seems to be what they say. But other times, they seem to mean something different: Namely, that everyone should have the right to as many health care services as deemed necessary — at no cost.

The “right to health care” has been the animating fight of the progressive movement since before the New Deal, and it’s understandable that they feel very strongly about it. But at some point, they will need to ask themselves: Do they want a system that does 90 percent of what they want, and makes everybody happy, or a system that does 100 percent of what they want, and makes everybody miserable?

(Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry)


The ACLU announced yesterday that it has filed an Administrative Complaint (full text) with the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights against Ascension Health challenging its reliance on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. Specifically the complaint contends that the refusal by a Michigan hospital to perform sterilization (tubal ligation) during childbirth amounts to pregnancy-related discrimination. The Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any health care program or activity receiving federal funds. An ACLU press release announced the filing of the complaint.

(Howard Friedman’s Religion Clause blog) Got that? Refusal to perform an elective bodily mutilation is pregnancy-related discrimination.

Do you wonder why I detest “discrimination talk” almost as much as “rights talk”? It’s carte blanche for anti-democratic revolution.


The election next month will resolve only one question: who will sit in the White House for the next four years. The unraveling will continue. Christian or not, right, left, and otherwise, you had better be ready for it.

(Rod Dreher, Trump, Clinton, and Twilight America)

* * * * *

“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.