Interesting times

  1. My Comey impressions
  2. Who’s obsessed?
  3. Crap and crap detector, neighbors at WaPo
  4. Harvard can’t live up to its puffery
  5. The enduring greatness of Twitter

1

I didn’t share this yesterday because I had no basis for thinking it was true until I read the coverage of the testimony this morning:

This is getting wide play, too:

Breaking: Comey Hearing Confirms Whatever You Already Wanted To Believe

Andrew Sullivan seems to think Trump looks worst of all:

I’ve long been a skeptic of some of the darkest claims about his campaign’s alleged involvement with the Russian government – and possible evidence thereof – but I’m not skeptical at all of the idea that he has clearly committed a categorical abuse of his presidential power in his attempt to cover it up.

… Comey credibly asserted that the president asked for personal loyalty to him, and not to the Constitution; that Trump sought leverage over Comey in a highly inappropriate private dinner for two; that he cleared the Oval Office of everyone else so that he could ask Comey alone to drop the inquiry into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia; that when Comey refused to obey, the president fired him; that when asked why he fired him, the president openly cited the investigation into Russia; and that he then brazenly threatened the FBI director if he spoke the truth about their interactions in hearings or the press.

Or look at it this way: We now have a witness of long public service, clear integrity, with contemporaneous memoranda and witnesses, who just testified under oath to the president’s clear attempt to obstruct justice. Any other president of any party who had been found guilty of these things would be impeached under any other circumstances. Lying under oath about sexual misconduct is trivial in comparison. So, for that matter, is covering up a domestic crime. Watergate did not, after all, involve covering up the attempt of the Kremlin to undermine and corrode the very core of our democratic system – free and fair elections. Even conservative commentators have conceded that if this were a Democrat in power, almighty hell would already be unleashed. We wouldn’t be mulling impeachment. It would already be well underway.

What chills me even more is how Comey of all people was clearly intimidated. He didn’t threaten to resign; he didn’t immediately cry fowl; he appealed only to Sessions, who rolled his eyes. This “cowardice” – to use Comey’s own term – is from a man who stood up to a previous president under great duress in the emergency of wartime. Imagine how many other functionaries, less established and far weaker and less pliable than Comey, will acquiesce to abuse of this kind, if it is ignored, enabled, or allowed to continue ….

Sullivan and I are of one mind on this, and that last quoted paragraph is worth reflection. We’re going to go through 3½ years to strongman, banana republic rule if Trump remains. The dog that caught the car is intent on keeping his Alpha status.

2

Reportedly,

There’s an emerging narrative in progressive and mainstream-media circles that white Evangelicals — and only white Evangelicals — have uniquely betrayed their faith and their fellow believers by voting en masse for Donald Trump.

The particular victims of betrayal are “evangelicals of color” and, apparently, people who aren’t obsessed with sex.

I’m not familiar with the narrative firsthand, and hadn’t heard of it second-hand. But even if it’s a myth, David French — a very staunch Trump opponent — reminds our polarized and amnesiac country of a few things:

Lost in these pieces is any acknowledgment of the terrible choice Evangelicals of all colors faced in 2016. The election wasn’t a battle between light and darkness; it was a battle between darkness and darkness. Only the blindest progressive could fail to recognize Clinton’s own “unholy trinity” of narcissism, corruption, and deception.

While there were some Evangelical leaders who tried vainly to cast Trump in virtuous terms, the more intelligent (and ultimately persuasive) defense was simply that he was the “lesser of two evils,” a person who — despite his many flaws — at least wasn’t actively opposed to the Evangelical community. Clinton made zero effort to court white Evangelicals. In fact, she took the opposite approach, actively courting progressive communities most hostile to religious freedom, including communities that seek to financially cripple faith-based educational institutions, force people of faith to pay for abortions, and eliminate their rights of conscience.

Furthermore, it is simply laughable to claim that it is Evangelicals who are obsessed with abortion and LGBT issues. After all, with each new turn of the sexual revolution, leftist radicals declare that wholesale adaptation to the new sexual ethics must be a precondition for full inclusion and participation in government, education, media, and increasingly the economy itself.

It’s also a bit ironic to accuse Evangelicals of departing from true biblical Christianity when the evidence for their departure — the supposed obsession with abortion and homosexuality — touches specifically on issues clearly and unequivocally addressed in both the Old and New Testaments. It’s certainly true that the Bible speaks to many, many other issues, too, but if there is a case that supporting Clinton was more biblically-sound than supporting Trump, these writers don’t make it.

What’s more, it’s just not true that Evangelicals are obsessed with sexual morality above all else. With their dollars and their time, they are far, far more supportive of the poor than they are of conservative politics.

Christians are learning to navigate an increasingly post-Christian culture and an even more post-Christian politics. They’re far from blameless in either development, but this much is true: White Evangelicals have no need to apologize for choosing Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton — especially since the church-going among them formed the backbone of Trump’s primary-season opposition.

As for the “evangelicals of color,”

There, too, though, the Left can’t claim the moral high ground. Indeed, there is not now on the national scene any distinct political movement that’s offering meaningful solutions to America’s lingering and persistent racial problems. If Evangelicals moved left on racial issues, they wouldn’t be joining a movement that’s “healing” anything; they’d just find themselves allied with increasingly intolerant post-Christian racial radicals.

Black Lives Matter increasingly dominates leftist racial politics, and progressive Evangelicals have often wrapped both their arms around that movement, which is committed to “disrupting the western-prescribed nuclear family” and celebrates convicted cop-killers and murderous dictators. Evangelicals white and black should reject its destructive rage.

I’ve got my own beef with BLM, which goes far beyond the modest objective of stopping police killings of innocent black people.

3

It’s interesting having the Volokh Conspiracy blog hosted at the Washington Post. Time and again, I’m picking up the paper (i.e., going to a newspaper’s home page) and seeing some breathless, gossipy story about a purported legal outrage that the blog has already debunked. Latest example:

Charlotte Pride is organizing a parade, but they’re not letting “Gays for Trump” participate with a float.

For the reasons Eugene Volokh adduces, I support their right to exclude a group they think does

not reflect the mission, vision and values of our organization, as is acknowledged in our parade rules and regulations by all groups at the time of their parade application. In the past, we have made similar decisions to decline participation from other organizations espousing anti-LGBTQ religious or public policy stances.

I nevertheless think there nothing anti-gay about supporting Trump. Considering his logorhhea, it’s remarkable that I can think of nothing remotely anti-gay. Can you?

Charlotte Pride is demonstrating that they are a partisan group in disguise, not just a group concerned that “LGBTQ people are affirmed, respected and included in the full social and civic life of their local communities, free from fear of any discrimination, rejection, and prejudice.” But wearing disguises and puffery are legal.

4

But this unexpected take on a recent story proves how puffery can come back to haunt:

Harvard’s deeper hypocrisy is that the school claims a commitment to “the transformative power of a liberal arts and sciences education” yet apparently sees real limits to that power. Who needs transforming more than a callow 18-year-old with a sick sense of humor, running his mouth on the internet? Surely the right prescription is to sit him down in Prof. Michael Sandel’s course “Justice.” Isn’t Harvard supposed to help students shed their white male privilege? The school recently held a separate black commencement. Administrators are trying to shut down all-male social clubs because their “discriminatory membership policies” purportedly create “spaces that are rife with power imbalances.” Yet in the judgment of Harvard’s admissions officers, even four years sitting at the feet of the most forward-thinking luminaries in the world will not, apparently, be enough to put these high-school seniors on the straight and narrow. The Harvard admissions website declares that “You Belong Here: Wherever your life may have started, and whatever its destination, there is a place for you at Harvard.” While this was plainly never true for most people, these 10 students did have a place. Surely the school should rethink its decision to rescind their admission. If Harvard won’t re-educate them, who will? Brown?

(Naomi Schaefer Riley)

5

* * * * *

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.