- Badass Christians
- Moths to the flame
- Whence Bannonism?
- Joseph Nicolosi, RIP
- A Conservative is a Liberal who got mugged
- Ben Shapiro, Ho! Ho! Ho!
Death to the World started out as a zine of disaffected young people who became Orthodox. If I wasn’t a Certified Geezer, I’d sure want to get me some of that there swag. The Arabic Paternoster and the Schema Cross Bag are especially fetching.
“Reach Across the Aisle, Mr. President: For health-care reform to succeed, it requires buy-in and compromise from both parties.” I’d only read an opinion column with a title like that if I had way too much time on my hands or if a conservative of stature wrote it.
Well, Peggy Noonan wrote it, so I waded in. Her opening was terrific:
All the emphasis seems to be on cutting. We will cut CPB, NPR, NEA.
Why aren’t we talking about growing and building and knocking down barriers? Why aren’t we talking about jobs and a boom and reforming regulation and taxes so people can build and invest?
Is cutting the absolute No. 1 priority right now? In a country that is, in Pope Francis’ famous characterization of the modern world, “a field hospital after battle”? Is that what the Republican party wants to lead with? Why isn’t the priority unleashing, getting past limits, pushing toward dynamism and expansion?
All these old arguments—we have to have them now? Why? Because it’s important for a party to prove it doesn’t know what time it is?
How about a little prudence and patience? The priorities should be jobs, growth, social cohesion and an atmosphere, in Washington, of constructiveness. We don’t need any new culture wars—we’ve got enough, thanks! Is the worst thing that could happen in the world right now that a kid from New Jersey can come into Manhattan and see an off-Broadway show seeded with a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts? No, that’s not the worst thing that could happen!
The worst that could happen is that Congress is so exhausted as an institution, everyone’s ideologies so played out, that they’re all just playing a part, going through the motions, mindlessly replicating past battles in hope of some new reward.
Really, this week, that’s how it looks to me.
I am among those who think it absurd that Republicans on Capitol Hill decided to throw their initial attention on a hopelessly complex and convoluted health-care bill, and for procedural reasons so obscure they sound like Stockholm syndrome: “We must pay for the cuts or we blow up in reconciliation.” How can you expect people to follow you when they can’t even understand the marching orders, or why they should take the hill? And focusing on the replacement only highlighted party fissures.
The party leadership appears to have lost control of events. They view politics as the art of the possible, which it is, but they have a highly constricted sense of the possibilities. They put me in mind of the observation that a great leader has more in common with an artist than an economist. Economists drill deep in narrow fields, but the artist’s view is more expansive; he’s more able to grasp the big picture, and see how it is changing. The GOP leadership needs a greater artistic sense. Maybe they can put in for a grant from the NEA before it’s too late.
David Brooks had a more intriguing headline: “Let Bannon be Bannon.”
Bannon had the opportunity to realign American politics around the social, cultural and economic concerns of the working class. Erect barriers to keep out aliens from abroad, and shift money from the rich to the working class to create economic security at home.
It was easy to see the Trump agenda that would flow from this philosophy: Close off trade and immigration. Fund a jobs-creating infrastructure program. Reverse the Republican desire to reform and reduce entitlements. Increase funding on all sorts of programs that benefit working-class voters in places like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Many of us wouldn’t have liked that agenda — the trade and immigration parts — but at least it would have helped the people who are being pummeled by this economy.
But Bannonesque populism is being abandoned. The infrastructure and jobs plan is being put off until next year (which is to say never). Meanwhile, the Trump administration has agreed with Paul Ryan’s crazy plan to do health care first.
Moths show greater resistance to flame than American politicians do to health care reform. And sure enough it’s become a poisonous morass for the entire party, and a complete distraction from the populist project.
On Medicare due to my age, I’m kind of insulated from the problems of ACA, but CBO estimates of 24 million losing coverage if the Republicans screw with it as they’re threatening/promising to gets my attention.
David Brooks continues:
Why is Bannonism being abandoned? One possibility is that there just aren’t enough Trumpians in the world to staff an administration, so Trump and Bannon have filled their apparatus with old guard Republicans who continue to go about their jobs in old guard pseudo-libertarian ways.
The second possibility, raised by Rich Lowry in Politico, is that the Republican sweep of 2016 was won on separate tracks. Trump won on populism, but congressional Republicans won on the standard cut-government script. The congressional Republicans are better prepared, and so their plans are crowding out anything Bannon might have contemplated.
The third possibility is that Donald Trump doesn’t really care about domestic policy; he mostly cares about testosterone.
He wants to cut any part of government that may seem soft and nurturing, like poverty programs. He wants to cut any program that might seem emotional and airy-fairy, like the National Endowment for the Arts. He wants to cut any program that might seem smart and nerdy, like the National Institutes of Health.
But he wants to increase funding for every program that seems manly, hard, muscular and ripped, like the military and armed antiterrorism programs.
Indeed, the Trump budget looks less like a political philosophy and more like a sexual fantasy. It lavishes attention on every aspect of hard power and slashes away at anything that isn’t.
Michael Gerson notes the same personality trait manifested in a different way:
When Donald Trump recently laid a wreath at the tomb of Andrew Jackson, the 45th president was sending a message by choosing a hero.
It is difficult to imagine that this selection was the result of vast reading in presidential history. Rather, it was the appropriation of Jackson as depicted on the $20 bill — the long-haired, steely-eyed, bad-assed disrupter. The end of the effete, philosophical founding generation. The embodiment of a populism that venerated and served “the people.” The avatar of American nationalism.
This was, in fact, the way Jackson was viewed by many contemporaries, both supporters and detractors. He was the original, and prototypical, testostero-president. He took on the British, the national bank, the Congress, the early secessionists with a determined application of will and power. He consistently pressed the boundaries of executive authority.
George Washington had viewed swagger as a moral failure. Jackson made it an American political virtue. His movement, quite literally, broke china at the White House. It essentially created the idea of congressional party loyalty. It devalued civility. In all these ways, we still live in Jackson’s America.
Gerson chronicles the many failings of Jackson (“Trump has picked a deeply disturbing hero“). We can only hope that Trump will not be so consequential that our descendants shake their heads at our damnable folly in doubly-inexplicably enduring him after barely explicably electing him.
Joseph Nicolosi has died at age 70. Considering its ideological commitments to the gay rights cause and all its putative corollaries, his New York Times obituary is gratifyingly fair.
I published my most complete statement of my own views on the topic that brought Dr. Nicolosi notoriety about 16 months ago, and those views remain unchanged.
And let me be clear, my problem wasn’t JUST that there was a man in the restroom. Its (sic) that he wasn’t even peeing, washing his hands or doing anything else that you’d do in a restroom. He was just standing off to the side looking smug…untouchable… doing absolutely nothing. He had to of (sic) noticed that every woman in the long line was staring at him. He didn’t care. He then did a lap around the restroom walking by all the stalls. You know, the stalls that have 1 inch gaps by all the doors hinges so you can most definitely see everyone…
So yes… there were women and small children using the restroom and this man was walking around knowing no one would say anything. So here I am…writing this blog, because honestly I need answers. We can’t leave this situation ambiguous any more. The gender debate needs to be addressed… and quickly. There have to be guidelines. It can’t just be a feeling… this notion that we’re shamed into silence b/c we might offend someone, has gone too far.
I had no idea that Ben Shapiro, a very bright guy who knows better than this, had sunk this low.
Of course, this is disseminated by a medium, the Daily Wire, an features a guy who is a media figure. And to add insult to injury, the only choice they gave you was to “Like Page” (which 1,471,492 people had done — unless that was just a media lie; they’re the enemy, you know).
Yup: I had to steal the choice of copying the image and reaming them out on my blog. I’d have preferred to frown an angry Facebook frown and comment adversely right there.
By all means, fight back against lies and the far commoner bias — left or right. Including the lie that the media are the enemy rather than a friend with some pretty big flaws.
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“Liberal education is concerned with the souls of men, and therefore has little or no use for machines … [it] consists in learning to listen to still and small voices and therefore in becoming deaf to loudspeakers.” (Leo Strauss)