Sataurday 1/21/17

  1. The Class Clown Repents
  2. “Leading from behind”
  3. Tribalism on Parade
  4. What I did at the Inauguration
  5. The scholarly reading audience
  6. My Man Mitch


1

In social media, the temptation to share the latest — a literally unbelievable New York Times hit piece, for instance — is great. But I’m convinced that’s the equivalent of ADD, not just gazing at trees and missing the forest, but lurching around futilely from “Look! A squirrel!” to “Look! Another squirrel!”

To such have we been conditioned, and not just by social media:

We will need new archetypes of these basic human realities. Language will have to be purged, education reformed. A concerted effort at stupefaction must be undertaken to ensure that reality does not impinge on thought. Thankfully we have modern education and global media, each rigorously committed to not thinking seriously about the nature of things …

(Michael Hanby)

I’m going to try to do better than that here. Really I am. I just deleted a flippant little blog item that doesn’t fit my new resolution. I changed an insulting nickname back to “Donald Trump” in another item. See?

I’ve even removed some blogs from Feedly, including some personal favorites (farewell, Spiked; au revoir, McMansion Hellafter I commend this one more time), precisely because they distract me from important matters, and distraction is just too tempting.

But insofar as I manage to focus on the forest, it’s likely to be slim pickings, since backing up for perspective, and then taking it in, takes time.

Moreover, my “Tipsy Teetotaler” blog name, adopted early on, self-mockingly evokes a Chesterton line:

Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are least dangerous is the man of ideas.  He is acquainted with ideas, and moves among them like a lion-tamer.  Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most dangerous is the man of no ideas.  The man of no ideas will find the first idea fly to his head like wine to the head of a teetotaler.

That was cute for a while, but even without external deadlines or any need for ad revenue, it’s getting old even to me. “Har-dee-har-har-har! What rogues and rubes pretend to govern and tutor us!” is low-hanging fruit. Our problems are (to echo a standard leftish trope but from well to the Right) systemic, not merely personal. I may need to rename the blog, perhaps echoing the URL.

But can the class clown become a scholar? The forecast calls for mild compliance with pop-up relapses as I fail to separate what I’m reading for frivolous reasons from what feeds serious thought.

2

I consistently disagree with Volokh Conspirators who support same-sex marriage — which, I believe, is 100% of the Conspirators who are on record (not all are). Since it came on like a juggernaut, I assume that the precedents from abortion and gay rights are what carried the day, because it certainly wasn’t the constitution simpliciter that required Obergefell.

But Ilya Somin has an interesting and candid assessment of Obergefell as part of Obama’s “constitutional legacy.”

Obama’s term in office coincided with the dramatic final victory the struggle for [same-sex marriage], which culminated in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision striking state down laws banning same-sex marriage. Obama’s role in this battle was somewhat equivocal, but nonetheless crucial.

For a long time, Obama led the fight for [same-sex marriage] from behind, to adapt a notorious phrase from the Libya conflict. He spent years pretending to be opposed to same-sex marriage even though he was actually in favor of it. But when he did finally reveal his true position in 2012, it helped coalesce public and elite opinion in favor of same-sex marriage, ultimately leading to the Supreme Court decision in its favor. Given the Supreme Court justices’ sensitivity to public opinion such a high-profile issue(which may have caused them to duck it when it first came to the court in 2013), it seems unlikely that the Court would have struck down all state laws banning same-sex marriage if the nation’s popular liberal Democratic president were still officially against it. Moreover, Obama appointed two of the five justices who voted with the majority in Obergefell.

Obama-the-Prevaricator said something like “as a Christian, I believe marriage is between one man and one woman” (italics added), the unspoken pseudo-corollary being “but as President of all the people, I cannot impose my Christian views.” I noted the equivocation in Obama’s supposed opposition to same-sex marriage, and never for a moment believed he was truly opposed.

It ought, I think, to trouble people of goodwill, on both sides of the issue, that President Obama pretended to be opposed to same-sex marriage even though he was actually in favor of it (and working behind the scenes to advance it).

Can I get an “Amen!”?

3

Despite my visceral reaction at times, the enemy (i.e. Donald Trump) of my enemy adversary (roughly, everyone who voted for Hillary, but that’s just a very fallible litmus test for an alien worldview) is not my friend.

I’m astonished really disappointed at how much ink has been spilled and how many digital essays have been written to defend Trump just to poke his critics in the eye, so it seems. I can’t believe that many people were or are really taken in by him. Surely he won because (a) he wasn’t Hillary or (b) he embodied bloodless, nihilistic revolution against both parties.

So why are people now pretending that he’s actually a good fit for the Oval Office instead of “least bad”? Have they no shame?

4

At the hour we were getting a new President sworn in, I asked a young attorney down the hall about the apparent reconfiguration of a nearby Chinese and Sushi Restaurant, from which she sometimes carries out sushi for lunch. On a lark, we headed over together and talked about her career development, some technology she didn’t know the firm had, some technology she had used elsewhere but that I hadn’t (though I knew of it), and so forth — with not one word of politics.

Although part of it might be avoidance on my part, it was not conscious avoidance. I was in that moment subjectively unaware that this was the moment power was passing from one regime to the next.

I’ll not belabor how unsatisfactory I found the major party choices for President, or how apprehensive I am about what could go wrong under Trump. It’s beyond my control or yours. The die is cast.

But as significant as this historic moment might be, from a future remote enough  to give sufficient perspective (which also means “when I’ll probably be pushing up daisies at Springvale Cemetery”), the details yesterday were too numerous to digest, and they don’t, I think, change the overall bad trajectory of the country.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn cut to the heart of our malaise in his Templeton Prize address:

Imperceptibly, through decades of gradual erosion, the meaning of life in the West has ceased to be seen as anything more lofty than the “pursuit of happiness, “a goal that has even been solemnly guaranteed by constitutions. The concepts of good and evil have been ridiculed for several centuries; banished from common use, they have been replaced by political or class considerations of short lived value. It has become embarrassing to state that evil makes its home in the individual human heart before it enters a political system. Yet it is not considered shameful to make dally concessions to an integral evil. Judging by the continuing landslide of concessions made before the eyes of our very own generation, the West is ineluctably slipping toward the abyss …

Amid all the vituperation we forget that the defects of capitalism represent the basic flaws of human nature, allowed unlimited freedom together with the various human rights … This eager fanning of the flames of hatred is becoming the mark of today’s free world. Indeed, the broader the personal freedoms are, the higher the level of prosperity or even of abundance–the more vehement, paradoxically, does this blind hatred become. The contemporary developed West thus demonstrates by its own example that human salvation can be found neither in the profusion of material goods nor in merely making money.

Here again we witness the single outcome of a worldwide process, with East and West yielding the same results, and once again for the same reason: Men have forgotten God.

Only a fool could think that the ascent of Donald John Trump to the Presidency signals remembrance of God — not even the pseudo-gods of the “prosperity gospel” heretics he trots out when his advisors tell him to “look a little religious.”

So at this level, which is more fundamental that “R” or “D” or “I,” nothing really changed Friday. And as between (a) watching nothing really change or (b) enjoying a spicy roll combo over conversation with a smart young lawyer, I think I chose the better part.

5

No, dear technocrat, we don’t just need more scholarly analysis:

Most Western academics today are using their intellectual capital to answer questions that nobody’s asking on pages that nobody’s reading…

Details here. I’m glad my son went to a college that emphasizes good teachers over peer-reviewed wankers.

6

A bit of local news seems to me to merit mention despite my desire not to get tangled in trivia.

I am unspeakably proud of Purdue University President Mitch Daniels for not capitulating to the caterwauling crybullies on campus Purdue Social Justice Coalition.

Here’s the basic demand, unchanged from November 30:

A group of angered faculty, staff and students are calling on Purdue University leaders to condemn posters promoting white supremacy that were plastered across campus.

I’m pleased to note that the Journal & Courier, unlike WLFI, has not yet adopted the tacit position that the posters weren’t a hoax or drunken hijinks. It continues to report of the posters, in passive voice, that “they were placed.” I confirmed at the time that the posters were available online from the white supremacist group and could have been downloaded and printed by anyone, including me (had I chosen to do so) or someone with a really bad case of Selma Envy.

But WLFI reports that “In November 2016, posters were hung on Purdue’s campus from a group called American Vanguard.” Note the different gist than this version that it could and should have used: “In November 2016, posters from a group called American Vanguard were hung around Purdue’s campus.”

Yes, American Vanguard (or some Tweeter purporting to be it) claimed credit. What better way for a loser to stoke his ego than to claim credit for giving palpitations  to a couple of dozen precious snowflakes?

Anyway, as the SJWs indictment of Mitch (emphasis added),

Purdue University is the only one [I believe the reference is to Big 10 Universities] that has not met these demands. We think that this is something important for him to show up and do something about. Because right now he is going out of line with everybody else, and he is also setting a tone of tacit compliance and tacit support for the American Vanguard.

“Tacit compliance and support”? That’s bullshit, and I’m proud of Mitch for not credulously crediting American Vanguard for anything other than crappy poster design and for not allowing a theatrical hysterics to bully him into renouncing the Great White Threat:

Some attendees covered their faces during the rally fearing retaliation from American Vanguard.

Yeah. Right. They’re so, so afraid.

* * * * *

“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.