Saturday 1/28/17

  1. Principalities and Powers
  2. First-class, primo political pocket-picking
  3. Publish in haste, repent, repent, repent, repent at leisure
  4. Pat Buchanan #Fail
  5. 1 in 4, give or take several orders of magnitude
  6. Just listen, jerkheads
  7. Dead, not vulgar, shoddy and debased
  8. A little lifting of the veil

1

Trump proclaimed Jan. 20, the day of his inauguration, a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion.” Patriotic devotion? Christians are devoted to God, not to any nation. Trump defended his call for a day of patriotic devotion by drawing attention to his other claim — taken on faith — that there are no greater people than American citizens …

There is nothing, in Trump’s view, the American people cannot accomplish as long as we believe in ourselves and our country. But Christians do not believe in ourselves or our country …

Trump’s inauguration address counts as a stunning example of idolatry. His statement — “At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and through our loyalty to our country we will recover loyalty to each other” — is clearly a theological claim that offers a kind of salvation …

Consider Trump’s use of the phrase “the people” in his inaugural address. “The people” have borne the cost. “The people” now own, rule and control the government. “The people” have not shared in the wealth of the country but now they will. “The people” will have their jobs restored.

To which one can only wonder: Who are these people? The answer must be that they are Trump’s people who now wait for his call to action, that is, to make America great again. Trump, in his mind, is not just the president of the United States. He is the savior.

(Stanley Hauerwas)

We cannot be too alert to the fact that the realm of politics is inhabited by principalities and powers that would command our worship in place of Christ.

(Oliver O’Donavan)

2

Peggy Noonan seems to be expanding beyond one column each Friday in these early days of Trump’s regime. And she’s on a roll:

Substantively, what we’ve seen the past week was daring and bold. The administration is taking shape before our eyes, with unusual speed …

What happened from day one was a dramatic, almost daily barrage of executive orders …

But in case you missed his point, he told Maggie Haberman of the New York Times that yes, he’s chosen a presidential portrait to put in the Oval Office. It is fiery Andrew Jackson, tormentor of elites, champion of the 19th century’s deplorables.

The significance and velocity of the orders unnerved and upset Mr. Trump’s critics and took aback some of his friends. But those orders—even though their use makes the presidency more imperial, even though it’s no way to govern, even though Mr. Obama did it, too—will likely not be unpopular in the country. It actually looked as if someone was doing something.

More important still—the most important moment of the first week—was the meeting with union leaders. Mr. Trump gave them almost an hour and a half. “The president treated us with respect, not only our organization but our members,” said Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, by telephone …

The lengthy, public and early meeting with the union leaders was, among other things, first-class, primo political pocket-picking. The Trump White House was showing the Democratic Party that one of its traditional constituent groups is up for grabs and happy to do business with a new friend. It was also telling those Republicans too stupid to twig onto it yet that the GOP is going to be something it’s actually been within living memory: the party of working men and women, a friend of those who feel besieged.

Remember who Noonan is, too: she was Reagan’s speechwriter. She is easily one of the most perceptive, ear-to-the-ground observers of what one might call meta-politics, capturers of the elusive Mood of Things.

3

Scandalously bad reporting and editing:

The Atlantic was so eager to rush Moira Weigel’s pro-abortion article to print that it misstated scientific fact. The piece was originally titled “How The Ultrasound Pushed The Idea That The Fetus Is A Person,” but was changed later to something more neutral. Alexandra DeSanctis is all over the Weigel essay like a mongoose on a snake. So far, here are the four corrections The Atlantic has run on the essay.

* This article originally stated that there is “no heart to speak of” in a six-week-old fetus. By that point in a pregnancy, a heart has already begun to form. We regret the error.

** This article originally stated that the fetus was already suffering from a genetic disorder. We regret the error.

*** This article originally stated that Bernard Nathanson headed the National Right-to-Life Committee and became a born-again Christian. Nathanson was active in but did not head the committee, and he converted to Roman Catholicism after The Silent Scream was produced. We regret the error.

**** This article originally stated that the doctors claimed fetuses had no reflexive responses to medical instruments at 12 weeks. We regret the error.

I suspect this is an example of editors feeling so strongly about the abortion issue that they didn’t check facts or edit too closely an essay that supports their own biases.

(Rod Dreher)

4

In 1960, we were a Western Christian country. Ninety percent of our people traced their roots to Europe. Ninety percent bore some connection to the Christian faith. To the tens of millions for whom Trump appeals, what the wall represents is our last chance to preserve that nation and people.

(Pat Buchanan)

So let me see if I’ve got this right, Pat: We need to build a wall between us and an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nation to preserve our Christian heritage. Have I got that right?

Did I miss some news about your conversion to Protestantism?

Read Buchanan’s whole column. I really do think it’s that incoherent.

5

Using unsound survey methods, they ask students about a range of behaviors (from a surprise kiss to penetration without consent) that they then classify as “non-consensual sexual behavior” or simply “sexual assault.” Such slippery techniques are the basis of the widespread claim that one in four women are sexually assaulted during their four years in college. The authors, citing the Justice Department, say that the number is closer to one in 40.

At the same time that activists are expanding the definition of sexual assault, university disciplinary committees are systematically depriving accused students of basic due process protections. At the directive of the Department of Education, many campus tribunals today assign blame if there is a 51% chance that the accuser is telling the truth (the “preponderance of the evidence” standard). Many schools do not allow the accused to cross-examine their accusers. Some refuse to allow accused students legal representation and deny them the opportunity to present exculpatory evidence or witnesses in their defense.

All of this is even more concerning when one considers that, on many campuses, procedures require hearing officers to refer to the accuser as the “victim” or “survivor” even before any determination has been made that an assault has occurred—a clear signal that the burden of proof has shifted to the accused and the presumption of innocence removed.

How do colleges defend such wildly unfair proceedings? They say they are not determining whether someone will spend time in prison and that they are not adjudicating “guilt” of “rape” but rather “responsibility” for “non-consensual sexual conduct.” …

(Jennifer Braceras, reviewing The Campus Rape Frenzy, in the Wall Street Journal) Aptly did Braceras open with an allusion to the Salem Witch trials and classify this as “a moral panic.” It’s one reason I’m glad the Democrats are out of power at DOE for now — and presumably for at least four years, even if Trump personally gets himself impeached and convicted.

6

“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Mr. Bannon said in an interview on Wednesday.

“I want you to quote this,” Mr. Bannon added. “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

(“Donald Trump’s bluster-maestro Stephen K. Bannon” — H/T GetReligion for that characterization.)

The New York Times, ever tone-deaf to the national mood, shortens this to “Trump Strategist Stephen Bannon Says Media Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’.” That is such a dishonest, out-of-context, Chicken Little spin that I predict it sending more people into support of Trump or hardening soft Trump supporters.

Ironically, the press couldn’t “just listen” even for one more second once it heard “shut up.”

[I]f you’re going to react to Bannon on the media, give the quote! And learn which part of the quote is meaningful. The important part of the quote wasn’t about shutting up, but listening.

“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.

Just listen for a while!

Yes, we know the media are defensive. But how could you miss the actual point of the quote? If you don’t know why Trump won, if you have made no effort to understand the moment, maybe stop telling people what they should think and just listen. Like reporters are supposed to. It’s actually unbelievably helpful advice that, were the media to take it, would render them much more able to hold the Trump administration accountable.

(Mollie Hemingway)

7

What [Classicist Anthony] Esolen is arguing is not that our culture is vulgar, shoddy or debased—plenty of others have argued this. Rather, Esolen is saying that culture, as such, no longer exists. We don’t celebrate the same feasts any more—or if we do, they are depleted of meaning, just excuses to enjoy a day off from work and have a barbecue. We don’t know the same poems, stories and songs. Our lives are no longer built around enlightened leisure, the basis of all true culture, but instead around busyness, as manifested in our addiction to work. We have less meaningful social interaction and more virtual interaction. The vast fund of common cultural knowledge that the people of the West used to carry around with them has been replaced with what Esolen calls “anti-culture,” a conglomeration of “mass media, mass technology and mass education.”

… If there is any unifying spirit in society today, it consists of a commitment to pluralism and “diversity.” But this does not in itself constitute a culture.

What Esolen has to say about these matters is of particular interest to me, as I have become fascinated by the subject of cultural decay. Being a natural pessimist about such things, I am inclined to believe that Western civilization has reached its inevitable dissolution. The causes are too complex to go into here, but perhaps the chief culprits are philosophical relativism and the fact that Western culture has simply run its course.

(Michael De Sapio, Our Culture is Dead)

8

We bless you, who have spelt your blessings out,

And set this lovely lantern on a hill

Lightening darkness and dispelling doubt

By lifting for a little while the veil.

For longing is the veil of satisfaction

And grief the veil of future happiness

We glimpse beneath the veil of persecution

The coming kingdom’s overflowing bliss

 

Oh make us pure of heart and help us see

Amongst the shadows and amidst the mourning

The promised Comforter, alive and free,

The kingdom coming and the Son returning,

That even in this pre-dawn dark we might

At once reveal and revel in your light.

(Malcolm Guite, sonnet reproduced in his blog entry The Beatitudes: a little lifting of the veil)

* * * * *

“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.