Fabulous satire (and more)

  1. The Lord is My Shepherd. Big time.
  2. The realignment continues apace
  3. Teaching Wester Civ
  4. The root of our maladies?
  5. Where can we find facts?
  6. A positive spin on Trump
  7. Conservatism? Get over it

1

So He was saying to me, Blessed are the dealmakers, for theirs is the kingdom. Big time. Blessed are they who scorn, for they shall be comfortable. Blessed is machismo, for it wins again and again. Blessed are they who are persecuted by the dishonest press, for they shall continue down the paths of righteousness, and that’s what is going on here. We are bringing righteousness to Washington for the first time and making incredible progress. I’ve done more in the past month than most presidents do in a year. Washington was without form and void and I issued an executive order, “Let there be light,” and did I get credit for it? No, the dishonest press said, “It hurts our eyes.” So I divided the light from the darkness. Day and night. Night and day. I did all this in two nights and a day. Under deadline, under budget. Next week we’re going to do the firmament, the waters, the dry land, start naming beasts, all the rest of it.

(Garrison Keillor, Blessed are the winners. Big league.) As Mrs. Tipsy said “Is that Keillor? Wow, has he got it!”

Read the whole thing. Even Trump supporters should get a kick out of it — I think (though I don’t really understand y’all).

2

Someone predicted, and I parroted (because it seemed more than plausible), that a major party realignment is under way.

Ilya Somin and Bret Stevens, without referring to it as such, provide some corroboration of that prediction. Each has come under attack by former friends (Stevens from conservatives, Somin from libertarians) because staying faithful to principle has brought them to criticize Trump.

Meanwhile, the featured Op-Ed in the New York Times urges the Democrats to pick a leader who won’t work to get back white working-class voters but will take the party in a more progressive direction:

The Democratic National Committee will choose its next leader on Saturday, and when it does it should choose a leader who will resist the pressure to pursue the wrong white people. Hundreds of articles have been written about the imperative of attracting more support from white working-class voters who supported Barack Obama in 2012 but then bolted to back Donald J. Trump.

The far more important — and largely untold — story of the election is that more Obama voters defected to third- and fourth-party candidates than the number who supported Mr. Trump. That is the white flight that should most concern the next D.N.C. chairman, because those voters make up a more promising way to reclaim the White House. The way to win them back is by being more progressive, not less.

To be clear, all white voters matter. But Democrats must make tough, data-driven decisions about how to prioritize their work. Right now, too many are using bad math and faulty logic to push the party to chase the wrong segment of white voters.

(Steve Phillips) He’s pretty persuasive, and the Democrats long ago lost many white working class to the GOP anyway.

3

There was a time when the West knew what it was about. It did so because it thought about itself—often in freshman Western Civ classes. It understood that its moral foundations had been laid in Jerusalem; its philosophical ones in Athens; its legal ones in Rome. It treated with reverence concepts of reason and revelation, freedom and responsibility, whose contradictions it learned to harmonize and harness over time. It believed in the excellence of its music and literature, and in the superiority of its political ideals. It was not ashamed of its prosperity. If it was arrogant and sinful, as all civilizations are, it also had a tradition of remorse and doubt to temper its edges and broaden its horizons. It cultivated the virtue of skepticism while avoiding the temptation of cynicism.

And it believed all of this was worth defending—in classrooms and newspapers and statehouses and battlefields.

We’ve since raised generations to believe none of this, only to be shocked by the rise of anti-Western politics. If you want children to learn the values of a civilization that can immunize them from a Trump, a Le Pen or a Lavrov, you can start by teaching it.

(Bret Stephens)

4

The number of articles I note that echo Benedict Option themes without using the term is increasing and heartening. Tuesday, it was Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, who thinks loneliness is the root of much malaise:

The Trump presidency could only blow over a society weakened by a deep and advanced stage of rot. The reason we find the idea that he might set up an authoritarian regime in the U.S. even remotely plausible is because we’ve all been aware, at least at a dim background level, of the unprecedented accretion of power in the federal government and the executive branch. Meanwhile, social media, hyper-polarization, and a sputtering press corps help feed the most problematic dynamics of his chaotic presidency.

Trump’s rise was enabled by deep social maladies. And even if Trump is impeached tomorrow, these social maladies will persist and leave our society vulnerable to other “black swan” social-political fiascoes. The best way to get rid of Trump, or at least those parts of his political persona that are most troubling with regard to republican governance, is to cure those maladies.

What are they? Over time, I’ve grown to believe that the root cause of all these maladies lies in a simple word: loneliness.

For decades, loneliness has quietly been on the rise in America. Traditionally, America was known as a society of “joiners”: not only churches, but lodges and fraternal organizations, civic society groups, PTAs, kids’ baseball teams, Boy Scouts, fraternities and sororities, you name it. This was a uniquely American thing …

Americans are more divorced than ever, and less churched than ever …

The problem of loneliness is something that’s much harder to fix than an immigration executive order. If I had an easy fix (other than urging you to go to church this Sunday), I would tell you ….

I would add to the easy fix “go to church this Sunday and stay for coffee hour, talking to people.”

Bonus: if Gobry’s right, friendship and community will not only lessen anger and fear of outsiders, but will restore the kind of political environment where the feds don’t dictate hostile progressive policies to unwilling subjects — a political environment where the tactical withdrawal of the Benedict Option is absent or at least less urgent.

5

A relatively positive spin on Trump from the Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins. First, the title and subtitle: “Missing the Meaning of Trump – Liberals desperately pretend his rise is a message from Russia, not voters.” But there’s more:

Donald Trump comes to the presidency, it’s safe to say, with a steeper learning curve than just about anyone who has ever held the position. He’s working hard at a job he likely didn’t believe he’d have until late in the campaign. Give him credit. At least he appears upbeat and game for the challenge, abating one realistic fear. Calling him a failure at this point is ridiculously premature.

What of the innuendo of Russian influence? Mr. Trump ran an unorthodox, idiosyncratic campaign. He also ran, unavoidably, an uneducated one—uneducated about whom not to take a call from, whom not to meet with, whom not to retweet. In this context, talk of “contacts” between his campaign and Russian intelligence probably means very little …

The idea of Mr. Trump as Russian agent is one more failure of imagination by the media—a striving to believe that some hidden, sinister logic explains his rise …

The saddest part, though, is how quickly Democrats, following their loudest, ninniest voters, have decided to turn Mr. Trump into the Antichrist. One example: In 17 years of Howard Stern interviews, Mr. Trump appears never to have uttered a sentiment unfriendly to gays. He is a lifelong New Yorker. He was a regular at Studio 54. His mentor was a powerful gay attorney. In his convention speech, Mr. Trump offered himself as the defender of “LGBTQ citizens.” Yet many gay activists now join a parade of those pronouncing themselves oppressed by a Trump presidency …

… The election represents serious data from the world. Sixty-three million Americans were trying to get Washington’s attention. We still hope for real achievements.

6

[T]he New York Times has become nothing less than a second-rate college paper, with every title mirroring something to the effect of “How Donald Trump Created the Ultimate Evil in [insert person, place, date, event, planet, solar system].”

Indeed, the headlines of the New York Times are only slightly better than the clickbait that litters our poor internet …

Then, think about Facebook and other forms of social media. These might be the worst, for the news that’s retweeted, trolled, and vomited across social media is a mix of clickbait headlines, gut-wrenching reaction, and zero substance …

Still, the vital question lingers. Where today can we turn not for opinion, but for actual facts and events, names, and dates—unburdened by emotion and vitriol? As far as I know, no such site exists. We’ve been going on at least two decades now of opinion overload, opinion permeation of all aspects of social interaction, and nothing but the brazen raving of personal, subjective viewpoints.

(Brad Birzer)

My answer to that last paragraph is “the Wall Street Journal.” I try to remember that its focus is not mine and do a little color correction as I read, but it seems to me better by far than the Times, though my vexed relationship with the Times continues as it has its good moments (“in this day and age especially, the currency of celebrity isn’t demeaned by the outrageousness and offensiveness through which a person achieves it” — Frank Bruni on Donald and Milo) and is a barometer of what our still-powerful recent establishment obsesses about.

7

At CPAC, conservatism betrayed: Remember when conservatism meant deep thinkers and big ideas? Get over it.” (Kathleen Parker)

* * * * *

“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.