Sunday 2/5/17

  1. Political Sadists
  2. Extreme Vetting and the “Muslim Ban”
  3. Flirting with anarchy/autocracy
  4. Dubya’s Missionaries
  5. I’m gonna live forever …
  6. … if I can keep from spewing my coffee
  7. For wags with long Memories we give thanks


The Left has become a kind of pagan religion of sacred victims and victimhood, collecting sacred injuries and martyrs. Its dark secret, though, is that these sacred things are only straw-dogs and wicker-men. The real animating motive for the Left these days is simply the pleasure of coercion, of exercising the power to punish their adversaries and watch them suffer.

The Trump Right also enjoys the writhings and sufferings of its adversaries, squashed bug style, as it goes forth in the quixotic battle to bring back 1962 at all costs. Both the Left and the right show not a little sadism in their methods.

(James Howard Kunstler)


In my opinion, the EO was not necessary and therefore should not have been issued. Angela explains why. A significant part of the reason is that we already have “extreme vetting” of refugees. In this important respect, we are quite unlike many European nations. Of course, most Americans don’t know this. So they fear that what has happened in some places in Europe could happen here. I myself only learned about the stringency of our refugee vetting procedures as a result of extensive briefing when I was chairing the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). There are many things in our government that are “broken,” but our refugee vetting system isn’t one of them. We needn’t, and therefore we shouldn’t, shut out refugees who are fleeing terrorism in places such as Syria and Iraq, even temporarily. Because it isn’t necessary to do it, it is, in my opinion, necessary not to do it.

When I was chairing USCIRF, I called for an increase in the refugee quota. I continue to favor that. Many of my conservative friends disagree, but I believe that justice as well as compassion requires it. The U.S. is not without responsibility for creating the refugee crisis (or the conditions for it)—though we can debate just which presidents and others bear just what portion of that responsibility.

(Robert P. George, emphasis added)

The words “Muslim” and “Islam” do not appear anywhere in the EO text. But on the campaign trail, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Over time, this language evolved into implementation of “extreme vetting.” Recently, Rudy Giuliani has stated that Trump told him he wanted a “Muslim ban” and asked how to do it legally. The best reading of this is that “Muslim ban” was a lazy shorthand for referring to terrorist threats originating from the Muslim-majority world. In the end, Giuliani says, “we focused on, instead of religion, danger—the areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis.” The worst reading is, well, Trump wants a Muslim ban and cover to do it. Even under the most generous reading, the administration is responsible for the fact that the phrase “Muslim ban” is now being used to describe the EO. Perception and rhetoric matter, and mastering them is part of good leadership.

(Angela Wu Howard (emphasis added), who does a masterful review of the immigration Executive Order in other respects as well)


* * * * *

If the court has authority, then the parties are legally required to follow its judgment: even if it is wrong; even if it is very wrong; even if the President does not like it. But if the court does not have authority, then perhaps it can be defied. So the charge of a lack of authority is a much more serious one. It is the possible set-up to a decision to defy the courts — a decision that is unconstitutional if the court does indeed have authority to decide the case.

In general, I do not think we should read too much into the President’s tweets (and indeed, I think our political discourse might be healthier if we did not read them at all!). But this distinction is why the epithet “so-called” in “so-called judge” raises such a red flag. Judge Robart was appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate in 2004, and I bet there is a commission on the wall of his chambers that proves that he has been vested with the judicial power. But to call him a “so-called” judge is to hint that he is not really a judge, that he lacks judicial power. It is just a hint, but it flirts with a deadly serious issue.

(Will Baude, Volokh Conspiracy)


In his second Inaugural Address, President George W. Bush said:

We have seen our vulnerability – and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny – prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder – violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security, and the calling of our time.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

In other words, America as an armed missionary force for Utopia. This is not national greatness, at least not one that I can support. Nor can I fully support what liberal democracy has come to mean today.

(Rod Dreher) Dreher here is quoting the passage that was the last straw for me and the GOP, and concurs unwares with what I said: that the U.S. has “as its missionaries, troops, bombers and drones to advance its ‘way of life’ and ‘democratic model.'”

Dreher puts it in context of much else — if you think the U.S. is corrupt, does that make you a Putinist? for instance — and although his came out before my Saturday blog, I didn’t read it until afterward.


So: People who drink coffee live longer because caffeine suppresses chronic inflammation.

Like all catch medical stories, take this with a grain of salt, even though it’s almost axiomatically true and it means I’m going to live forever.


A twofer on the Washington Post Opinion page Saturday (online):

  1. If you’re reading this, Justice Kennedy, please don’t retire
  2. Dear Ruth Bader Ginsburg: If you need anything — blood, organs — take mine

I almost spewed my morning coffee.


In homage to @UnvirtuousAbbey, “For wags with long memories, let us give thanks to the Lord.”

* * * * *

“The truth is that the thing most present to the mind of man is not the economic machinery necessary to his existence; but rather that existence itself; the world which he sees when he wakes every morning and the nature of his general position in it. There is something that is nearer to him than livelihood, and that is life.” (G.K. Chesterton)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.