Potpourri 5/26/17

  1. Diversity
  2. Robert E. Lee
  3. EPA’s Scientific Orthodoxy Enforcer
  4. What I suffer for my readers
  5. Trump 1
  6. Trump 2
  7. Trump 3


“Diversity training” is one of those “distinctives” by which every college, in an attempt to stand out, manages to make itself look like every other college—and in so doing exemplifies the kind of conformity you see only in sororities and other precision-parts factories.

[T]he work of an academic is fundamentally different from the work of other people. Autonomy is essential to the integrity of academic pursuits, and this autonomy is threatened whenever anyone decides for the many what the many will be required to think, know, and pay attention to.

[I]n the interest of diversity, there ought to be faculty members who do not undergo the training, otherwise the faculty they’re a part of obviously forfeits some of its diversity.

I might note that “diversity” doesn’t really mean “diversity”; it’s a shibboleth that means “lots of people who look and dress differently and who come from different places but who think the same acceptable thoughts and vote for the same candidates.”

(Jason Peters) Read the whole thing. I deleted many delectable quotes out of a sense of fairness to the author.


I’m not losing sleep over the removal of any of these statues, though I do wish they had kept the Lee statue because he was a great, deeply (and tragically) flawed American. Gen. Sherman fought for the right side of that war, but he did not have Lee’s character. To me, the national tragedy of the Civil War is exemplified not by Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, but by Lincoln and Robert E. Lee. To remember him as nothing other than a man who commanded an army that defended slavery is a mistake.

(Rod Dreher, in just one worthy thought in a worthy essay)


In March the Sierra Club demanded that the EPA’s inspector general investigate whether the agency’s newly installed administrator, Scott Pruitt, had violated policy by suggesting carbon dioxide might not be the prime driver of global warming. The inspector general referred the matter to . . . the Scientific Integrity Official. So now an unelected, unappointed activist could pass judgment on whether the Senate-confirmed EPA chief is too unscientific to run his own agency. So much for elections.

There’s also that “scientific integrity” event planned for June. Of the 45 invitations, only one went to an organization ostensibly representing industry, the American Chemistry Council. A couple of academics got one. The rest? Earthjustice. Public Citizen. The Natural Resources Defense Council. Center for Progressive Reform. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Environmental Defense Fund. Three invites alone for the Union of Concerned Scientists. Anyone want to guess how the meeting will go?

(Kimberly A. Strassel)


Oh, what I suffer for my readers!

I commented the other day about my propensity for dystopias, including hyperlinks to what I’ve read. Amazon took note and emailed me some recommended reading, including (without further links):

    • Animal Farm
    • Slaughterhouse Five (I really should read this, now that they mention it)
    • Lord of the Flies
    • Clockwork Orange


Trump supporter John Zmirak explains his guys fecklessness:

Given the profound evils that Trump has promised to confront, from Islamic terrorism to Planned Parenthood, from the persecution of Christians to the chaos on our country’s borders, we should not be surprised that he is being assaulted. No, I don’t mean by liberals, misguided people whose policies are poorly reasoned or based in raw emotion.

I mean by principalities and powers. By the spirits who (in the words of the prayer to St. Michael the archangel) “roam the earth, seeking the ruin of souls.” If you think (and you’d better) that your soul matters enough to Satan that he will bother to send you a tempter, just imagine the horde he dispatches to batter the president. They goad him to say foolish things, make rash decisions, and most of all to cave on his core principles — then fight like a tiger over trivialities.

Yup. That’s right. Demon possession as a defense.

Ross Douthat’s not exactly buying it as an excuse:

I have been reading Zmirak for years, and it’s striking to me that a writer who has been so cold-eyed and unsentimental about so many institutions that others drape in piety – including his own conservative Catholic subculture — could be so trusting about Trump’s stated commitments and in his celebrity businessman’s capacities. But Catholic to Catholic, I would just ask him to consider the following counterpoint.

In my  understanding of demonology, it seems that people most afflicted by hordes of tempters fall into two categories. On the one hand there are saints-in-the-making, people so close to God or so potentially holy that they are exposed to extreme temptations and oppressions commensurate to their extraordinary virtues. On the other there are people whose lives and choices fall, shall we say, at the opposite end of the spectrum of holiness from a Saint Anthony, whose appetitive excesses and prideful self-worship open themselves in a very different and much more destructive way to  Luciferian activity.

Now: Is the second kind of person – and I don’t think Zmirak would have had any trouble recognizing the Trump of, say, the Howard Stern show interviews as the second kind – really the sort of man you would expect to make a good job of the presidency? On the contrary: Supposing that Trump is battered by a legion of devils who prey upon his pride, who exacerbate his mood swings, who encourage rash decision-making and pointless fights – wouldn’t that be a pretty good reason to look to the 25th Amendment (which clearly has a penumbra or an emanation relating to demonic infestation) and vest the presidency’s powers in the boring evangelical staidness of Mike Pence instead?


Consider the statement Trump gave Tuesday after the bombing in Manchester:

So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won’t call them monsters, because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them, from now on, losers. They’re losers. And we’ll have more of them. But they’re losers. Just remember that.

Trump was reading a prepared statement that he appeared to veer from at times, but White House aides said it was his idea to use the term “losers” to describe ISIS terrorists. Which happens to be the same term he applies to Cher or Rosie O’Donnell. One almost expected him to add, “If ISIS were on The Celebrity Apprentice, I would fire them. That’s what losers they are.”

It’s not just his limited vocabulary that restrains Trump’s ability to communicate, though that plays a part. It’s also his limited emotional capacity. At times of fear and danger, citizens look to the president for reassurance and explanation, and he can’t muster up the words that would provide it. Going on about what losers terrorists are, Trump never looked so weak and pathetic, a man utterly unable to offer anything the moment demanded — no condolence, no resolve, no hope of triumph, nothing.

(Paul Waldman)

Following Trump’s short and dire speech, Bush departed the scene and never offered public comment on the ceremony.

But, according to three people who were present, Bush gave a brief assessment of Trump’s inaugural after leaving the dais: “That was some weird shit.” All three heard him say it.

A spokesman for Bush declined to comment.

(Yashar Ali, regarding Dubya’s reaction to Trump’s Inaugural Address)


Don’t say you weren’t warned:

He loves the exercise of domination, where Christianity practices subservience. He thrills to the use of force, while Jesus preached nonviolence, even in the face of overwhelming coercion. He is tribal, where Jesus was resolutely universal. He is a serial fantasist, whereas Jesus came to reveal the Truth. He is proud, where Jesus was humble. He lives off the attention of the crowd, whereas Jesus fled the throngs that followed him. He is unimaginably wealthy, while Jesus preached the virtue of extreme poverty. He despises the weak, whom Jesus always sided with. He lies to gain an advantage, while Jesus told the truth and was executed for it. He loathes the “other,” when Jesus’ radical embrace of the outsider lay at the heart of his teaching. He campaigns on fear, which Jesus repeatedly told us to abandon. He clings to his privileged bubble, while Jesus walked the streets, with nothing to his name. His only true loyalty is to his family, while Jesus abandoned his. He believes in torture, while Jesus endured it silently. He sees women as objects of possession and abuse, while Jesus — at odds with his time and place — saw women as fully equal, indeed as the first witnesses to the Resurrection. He is in love with power, while Jesus — possessed of greater power, his followers believe, than any other human being — chose to surrender all of it. If Trump were to issue his own set of beatitudes, they would have to be something like this:

Blessed are the winners: for theirs is the kingdom of Earth.

Blessed are the healthy: for they will pay lower premiums.

Blessed are the rich: for they will inherit what’s left of the earth, tax-free.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for oil and coal: for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciless: for they are so, so strong.

Blessed are the liars: for they will get away with it.

Blessed are the war-makers: for they will be called very, very smart.

Blessed are those who support you regardless: for theirs is the Electoral College.

Blessed are you when others revile you and investigate you and utter all kinds of fake news about you. Rejoice and be glad, for the failing press is dying.

(Andrew Sullivan, Trump Is the Antithesis of Christian Values (renamed The Pope and the Pagan)

* * * * *

Men are men before they are lawyers or physicians or manufacturers; and if you make them capable and sensible men they will make themselves capable and sensible lawyers and physicians. (John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address at St. Andrew’s, 1867)

“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)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.