Tuesday 11/15/16

  1. Strangest endorsement ever?
  2. “Common Good” not on the POTUS ballot
  3. Anti-War no more?
  4. The Golden Rule of Politics
  5. Oppressive Multiculturalism
  6. What Now?

1

Another voter, upset that I had written that I could not support either candidate, wrote to tell me that he did not want to “limit God” by supposing that the Almighty could not use an evil man.  This was hardly an endorsement.

(J Budziszewski) Budziszewski rarely gets much wrong, but I’m afraid that his place in the “ivory tower” insulated him from the bit of reality that  “don’t limit God by supposing that He cannot use an evil man” was precisely (and preposterously) a very common apologia/endorsement among Evangelicals in particular. I read it (or unmistakable variants of it) repeatedly.

The mind boggles.

2

2016 was a year “the common good” was not on the Presidential ballot:

The election of 2016 was a radically zero-sum affair with religious conservatives, rural white people, and the old white working class behind one candidate and minorities, urbanites, and the cultural elites behind the other. In both cases, the candidate’s platform is practically intended to promote the good of their base and significant harm to their opponent’s base. This, incidentally, is the greatest tragedy of the 2016 election and the most ominous aspect of it as it concerns the future of our commonwealth: Can you maintain any kind of nation when it has two factions so sharply divided, let alone a republic? I fear the answer is no.

It has become a commonplace on both the right and left to joke about moving to another country if political happening x occurs. That attitude is precisely why our republic has become so diseased. Beautiful places are made such by the loyal love of their members. Love withheld or love given only on condition that the place conform to our standards is not love at all and it will certainly not make anything beautiful that wasn’t already.

Third, we must recognize that the call to work for the common good may well require civil disobedience under Trump in ways similar to what might have been required under a Clinton administration, even if we ourselves are no longer the ones in the president’s crosshairs …White evangelical Christians, who are likely to live in a relatively safe, secure position under President Trump, will need to pay special attention to the president’s treatment of immigrants, toward his Justice Department’s handling of reports of police brutality toward African-Americans, and toward the safety of women in a country that just decided being a self-described sexual predator does not disqualify one from holding the most powerful political position in the world. Should he fail to uphold justice in these domains particularly, it is essential that we call him to repentance on this point and do what we can to support and protect those who are being targeted by his administration.

(Jake Meador) Have a good writing sabbatical, Jake. I’ll miss you.

3

People are freaking out about Steve Bannon becoming a Trump advisor. That’s not nothing, but I’m much more worried about John Bolton possibly becoming Secretary of State.

Jon Basil Utley and Daniel Larison inform me on this.  Utley:

I have written about the neocons for many years. Their originators were former leftists who later became anti-communists. After the collapse of communism, they provided the intellectual firepower for hawks and imperialists who wanted an aggressive American foreign policy. Having lived and done business for many years in the Third World, I thought they would only bring about disasters for America. What especially interested me was their almost total lack of experience in and knowledge about the outside world, particularly Asia and Latin America. I even set up a web page called War Party Neoconservative Biographies as I researched their education and experience.

Brilliant academics as many of them were, their “foreign” experience was at best a semester or two in London or, for the more daring, some studies in Paris or, for the Jewish ones, a summer on a kibbutz in Israel. They are above all Washington insiders. John Bolton is very typical. A summa cum laude graduate of Yale, then Yale Law School, time with a top Washington law firm, and then various academic and political appointments, but no foreign living or work experience.

Larison:

John Bolton is already agitating for Trump to repudiate the nuclear deal:

One key step would be to abrogate the Iran nuclear deal in his first days in office. There will be considerable diplomacy required to explain this courageous but necessary decision, but the unambiguous signal it would send worldwide cannot be underestimated [bold mine-DL].

Bolton is right that this would send an “unambiguous signal” around the world, but it isn’t the one he imagines it will be. It would confirm to Trump’s domestic supporters that his foreign policy is being run by the sort of people they thought they were getting rid of when they elected him, and it would tell our allies and adversaries that negotiated agreements we make with them can’t be trusted to last from one president to the next. It would announce to the world that the U.S. is being run by a president with no interest in diplomatic solutions, and convince all pariah states that they shouldn’t bother making concessions when the U.S. will just renege on its side of the bargain anyway. In short, it would quickly prove Trump’s critics that they were right about his lack of judgment and knowledge, and it would start his presidency off with a major blunder.

Trump would be wise to ignore everything Bolton says, but Bolton is presumably being talked about as a possible Secretary of State nominee because Trump or others close to Trump believe he is a good choice for that role ….

This wasn’t what I had in mind when I feared Trump blowing up the world, but I should have seen it coming: his appointees may not be on the relatively non-interventionist page I thought he was reading from at moments during the campaign. The GOP is so teeming with foreign policy hawks — including my Governor and Vice-President-elect Mike Pence — that it will require conscious effort to avoid them, and conscious effort would require that Trump be aware of what he doesn’t know about foreign policy, the possible players, and the people who are ready to play him like a violin on foreign policy.

Not that Hillary would be better, be it noted. Hawkish by long habit, Hillary wouldn’t need to be “played” to war, and probably would have had multiple opportunities to wag the dog by bombing some rowdy Christians in un-places like Serbia.

4

There’s a sort of political “Golden Rule:” don’t grab for more power for your office/institution than you’d be comfortable with your political enemies weilding. Nobody seems to pay any attention to that.

“I really do believe that I have set the Senate so when I leave, we’re going to be able to get judges done with a majority. It takes only a simple majority anymore. And, it’s clear to me that if the Republicans try to filibuster another circuit court judge, but especially a Supreme Court justice, I’ve told ’em how and I’ve done it, not just talking about it. I did it in changing the rules of the Senate. It’ll have to be done again,” Reid told TPM in a wide-ranging interview about his time in the Senate and his legacy.

“They mess with the Supreme Court, it’ll be changed just like that in my opinion,” Reid said, snapping his fingers together. “So I’ve set that up. I feel very comfortable with that.”

Talking Points Memo, interviewing Harry Reid. (H/T Jonathan Adler)

5

The multiculturalist/secularist worldview emphasizes tolerance and respect towards foreign cultures, while at the same time aggressively demanding that those same cultures accept the central tenets of the globalized, secular paradigm. On the one hand, the West’s meritocratic elite have a certain obsession with the exotic, unknown qualities of foreign culture, commonly expressed through appreciation for music, clothing, and food. However, they simultaneously censure those cultural traits at odds with the secularist definition of man and the world, particularly as it relates to gender and sexual ethics.

The message from the technocratic, progressive elite to Islam becomes increasingly clear: You can keep your exotic clothing, but please ditch repressive garb like the burqa or hijab. You can keep the call to prayer in Arabic five times a day, since that represents a sexy unknown, but you need to stop believing any of the Quran’s absolutist, intolerant content regarding sexuality. In effect, Islam is only allowed to be Islam on the West’s progressive, secularist terms, conditions that are likewise increasingly forced upon Christianity. The “freedom” of multiculturalism amounts to a noose pulled tighter and tighter around dissenting opinions.

Progressives love shwarma, music with a Middle Eastern vibe, henna on the hands, etc. It makes them feel “of the world.” It makes them believe that they are participating in a global era defined by tolerance and acceptance. They don’t want to be viewed as provincial or parochial … Yet these various elements of culture are not really the most essential or fundamental parts of culture.

Religion, in contrast, leaves a far more indelible stamp on a culture’s philosophy, morals, and social norms. These are the aspects of culture most difficult to uproot, most stubbornly resistant to change. Look at Australia, where a largely areligious society is in the midst of a bitter debate over legalizing gay marriage. The Christian religion, considerably weakened and distantly removed from the majority of Aussies’ lives, is a significant reason for this strange circumstance. Moreover, recent US and UN efforts to promote LGBT causes in Indonesia and Uganda have met stiff resistance, driven largely by Muslim and Christian leaders.

The secularist/multiculturalist project has been hard at work in the West, reducing Christian holidays to meaningless exercises in materialism, often with increasingly blatant sexual overtones … It has done this by affirming the most unimportant accidents of religious custom—candy, costumes, and the like—while censuring the beliefs and ideology that fostered those practices. Yet not satisfied with subverting only its own culture’s religious faith, it must now conquer every other culture, including that of Islam.

Yes, it’s almost certainly true that progressives do not present the kind of immediate, tangible threat to individual Muslims that some Trump supporters have evinced. I doubt we will see political liberals defacing mosques or intimidating Muslims any time soon. Counterintuitively, however, this may be because such those who perpetrate such irresponsible acts, in a certain respect, bear more regard for Islam than those of the progressivist camp. This is because many progressivists view religion, be it Islam, Christianity, or anything else, as a political tool to be appropriated to serve their ideological agenda—a fact demonstrated  palpably in the recent Wikileaks revelations about anti-Catholicism among the leaders of the Democratic Party.

In contrast, conservatism respects religion as maintaining certain non-negotiable beliefs that if excised would undermine, and perhaps destroy, a particular belief system ….

(Casey Chalk, Trump or the Left: Who Presents the Greater Threat to Islam?)

6

The big “tell” for me came at a moment in last week’s Slate Political Gabfest, a leftish-oriented podcast, when moderator David Plotz asked his sidekicks John Dickerson (of CBS News) and Emily Bazelon (of The NY Times) what the Democratic Party might do to regain legitimacy after this electoral disaster. Dead silence on the air. Nothing came to mind.

Something came to my mind as a long-time disaffected (registered) Democrat: jettison the stupid identity politics and get back to reality. Alas, that may be too much to ask. For now, the party lies in ruins without a single figure of stature to represent a coherent set of ideas other than boosting the self-esteem of its favor-seeking constituent groups.

(James Howard Kunstler, What Now?)

* * * * *

“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.