- Trump and Russia
- Eugene Peterson
- Esther in a Miley Cyrus World
- Self-designated lebensunwertes leben
- The pervasiveness of internet smut
Am I the only one who won’t even bother clicking through to an article like the Wall Street Journal’s Trump Defends Son’s Decision to Meet With Russian Lawyer because of a presumption that it will be bombast and puffery peppered with lying bullshit?
Not the story: the President’s defense.
Nobody who knows me or follows this blog could mistake me for a Trump supporter, but I was feeling what Charles Krauthammer describes:
For six months, the White House claimed that this scandal was nothing more than innuendo about Trump campaign collusion with Russia in meddling in the 2016 election. Innuendo for which no concrete evidence had been produced.
Yes, there were several meetings with Russian officials, some only belatedly disclosed. But that is circumstantial evidence at best. Meetings tell you nothing unless you know what happened in them. We didn’t. Some of these were casual encounters in large groups, like the famous July 2016 Kislyak-Sessions exchange of pleasantries at the Republican National Convention. Big deal.
I was puzzled. Lots of coverup, but where was the crime? Not even a third-rate burglary. For six months, smoke without fire. Yes, President Trump himself was acting very defensively, as if he were hiding something. But no one ever produced the something.
My view was: Collusion? I just don’t see it. But I’m open to empirical evidence. Show me.
When Donald Junior’s meeting with the Russian lawyer surfaced, I thought it was sleazy, but sleazy from Team Trump is no surprise. In my fatigue, I didn’t try to put the pieces together, merely registering that Russia would have wanted, immediately or eventually, something in return for their dishing dirt on the Dem candidate, which made the meeting foolhardy as well as sleazy — unless Team Trump was actually willing to deliver a quid pro quo. It looked like a trap.
We have people who by profession or passionate opposition to Trump have put pieces together.
Level one from Krauthammer:
Once you’ve said “I’m in,” it makes no difference that the meeting was a bust, that the intermediary brought no such goods. What matters is what Donald Jr. thought going into the meeting, as well as Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, who were forwarded the correspondence, invited to the meeting, and attended.
“It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame,” Donald Jr. told Sean Hannity. A shame? On the contrary, a stroke of luck. Had the lawyer real stuff to deliver, Donald Jr. and the others would be in far deeper legal trouble. It turned out to be incompetent collusion, amateur collusion, comically failed collusion. That does not erase the fact that three top Trump campaign officials were ready to play.
It may turn out that they did later collaborate more fruitfully. We don’t know. But even if nothing else is found, the evidence is damning.
Michael Gerson, another WaPo pundit not normally on my Preferred Pundit list, takes it further:
Given what we know about the collusion — and there is no other word for it — between then-candidate Donald Trump’s most senior advisers and what they thought was a Kremlin-tied lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, the most shocking thing is that no one on the Trump side was shocked. The most offensive thing is that no one took offense. Trump’s son, son-in-law and campaign manager treated the offer of aid by a hostile foreign power to tilt an election as just another day at the office. “I think many people would have held that meeting,” the president affirmed. It is the banality of this corruption that makes it so appalling. The president and his men are incapable of feeling shame about shameful things.
Republicans have sometimes employed the excuse that members of the Trump team are new to politics — babes in the woods — who don’t yet understand all the ins and outs. Their innocence, the argument goes, is proved by their guilt. This might apply to minor infractions of campaign finance law. It does not cover egregious acts of wrongdoing. Putting a future president in the debt of a foreign power — and subject, presumably, to blackmail by that power — is the height of sleazy stupidity. It is not a mistake born of greenness; it is evidence of a vacant conscience.
The foundation for this approach to campaigning and governing is a belief that politics is an essentially dirty business. Trump seems honestly convinced that the system is “rigged” against him — to the point of defrauding him of millions of votes. If the system is truly manipulated by political enemies, then only suckers are bound by its norms and requirements ….
The New York Times Podcast, The Daily, July 14 put together pieces that make it appear that Trump Senior possibly knew about the meeting:
Donald Trump Jr. sends an email. Hours later, his father gives a speech. Conspiracy or coincidence? We unpack the timeline of events in June 2016.
(Podcast teaser) The substance:
- 6 pm (actually 6:14) June 7, 2016: Donald Junior sends the email confirming that meeting with a Russian lawyer, reportedly connected to the Kremlin, who has “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father”: “Great. It will likely be Paul Manafort (campaign boss) my brother in law and me, 725 Fifth Ave 25th floor.”
- Roughly 3 hours later, Donald Senior takes the stage at the Westminster Club to claim victory in the primary that cinches his nomination. He announces, apparently looking forward to the general election, that “I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week, and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re going to find it very informative ….” It includes how Russia, among others, gave the Clintons money and in exchange got favorable treatment.
There were other rumors of corrupt dealings with Russia, so, the NYT reporter concedes, this could be mere coincidence. In fact, when the speech came, it including the uranium for pay rumors, nothing new. The first 6:30 of the podcast is the key part.
Finally, a masterful compilation from Mona Charen, who never fell off my Preferred Pundit list but who disappeared from the dead trees and bits-and-bytes that I normally read: 16 Things You Must Believe to Buy the ‘Witch Hunt’ Russia Narrative.
And these are only some of them.
One column cannot accommodate the list of things you must believe if you trust that Donald Trump is truly the victim of a baseless witch hunt. Consider this a mere stab.
I won’t steal any more of the credit she deserves. Go read it yourself on one of the internet’s most annoying websites (for reasons you may miss if you’re not a cut-and-paste-with-credits blogger).
There really has been fake news against Trump, just as there really are racists, sexists and (a word I used most cautiously) homophobes. Although “fake news” has become, it seems to me, the Trumpista’s equivalent to the antifa’s “no platforming,” only the most willful denier can do the “fake news” schtick on Charen’s list.
I need to remind myself of what I said repreatedly last Fall: Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton has God’s judgment written all over it. The details of how that judgment plays out may be unfolding before our eyes now.
Back to Gerson:
During the Trump campaign and his young, paralyzed presidency, we have heard some conservatives argue, “We’re not electing a pastor in chief.” It has been particularly strange to hear religious conservatives claim that the character of leaders doesn’t count. But the character of a president leaves an imprint on everyone around him. A high ethical standard — think Gerald Ford or George H.W. Bush — creates a general expectation of probity. A low ethical standard — think Richard Nixon or Donald Trump — has a pervasive influence of its own, inevitably resulting in scandal.
C.S. Lewis posited three elements that make up human beings. There is the intellect, residing in the head. There are the passions, residing in the stomach (and slightly lower). And then there are trained, habituated emotions — the “stable sentiments” of character — which Lewis associated with the chest.
In the realm of political ethics, voters last year did not prioritize character in sufficient numbers, during the party primaries or the general election. Now we are seeing the result. “In a sort of ghastly simplicity,” Lewis said, “we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”
That is from the Abolition of Man, by the way — a book many people I respect make it a point to re-read every year or so.
Eugene Peterson is a retired Presbyterian minister, one of whose books I really loved (I think this is a 20th Anniversary Edition — it definitely was published long before 2000). He recently disappointed me by endorsing same-sex marriage. Now he has retracted that endorsement — maybe.
Unlike Denny Burk, I’m not qualified or deeply interested in policing the boundaries of Evangelicalism which, in my estimation, is sorely mistaken and inadequate even when within its proper bounds, whatever they may be. But I’m relieved that someone I respected and whose writings genuinely benefitted me back in my Protestant days has retreated, howsoever reluctantly and equivocally, from an ill-considered and troubling answer to a hypothetical question.
I don’t often give trigger warnings, but the final three items today are just plain disturbing, involving the peril to our children— and ourselves — in this pornified world. But I really think you should suck it up read all three if you have children in your charge.
It sounds almost impossible.
But, moms, hear me. It is so important that we try.
She was beautiful.
Her long, blonde hair was pulled into a perfect messy bun on top of her head. Her skin was golden, evidence of lazy days spent poolside, being kissed by the sun. She was thin but fit, maybe a gymnast or dancer. Her string bikini was white and left little to the imagination. Hips swaying, chest pushed out, she walked with a confidence that demanded to be noticed. My kids were playing in the kiddie pool in front of me but I glanced away from them to catch one more look at her as she passed. And I felt a sudden heavy sadness.
Because she was maybe 12.
(Shilah Seale, Raising an Esther in a Miley Cyrus World)
This powerful article confirms my impression that one of the biggest threats to girls is the stupidity of their parents in tarting them up or allowing them to tart up themselves. Another is boys with parents correspondingly stupid.
Oh, wait! A friend of mine suggested how to be more winsome. Let me give it a shot.
Remember how when Billy Ray tarted up Miley and she turned into a notorious slut for real? Maybe you shouldn’t oughta do things like that to your daughters.
“I am helping people express their desires, legally and ethically. It’s not worth living if you have to live with repressed desire.”
So says Shin Takagi, Japanese pedophile and maker of “robotic sex dolls meant to simulate the experience of raping a child.” So too, if tacitly, say hundreds of millions of other people around the world who would laugh or rage at my period mentions of chastity if they saw or heard them, although they might add a “consenting adults” proviso.
It doesn’t even matter where you go on the internet, even reading a conservative article on a family friendly site, at the bottom, often include pictures and clickbait that make the JC Penny bra section look like curdled milk. I think, me as a 10 year old, it would Physically Impossible, to NOT click on the links that appear almost everywhere, and quickly can lead, a few clicks later, to who knows where.
(Seven Sleepers) This is true, and it’s one of the more annoying things about the internet when one has no desire to look at porn.
This lament reinforces my impression that one of the biggest threats to boys is the stupidity of their parents in giving them smartphones or unsupervised websurfing. I’m not in the thick of it, but I doubt that parental controls can work to keep boys from what Seven Sleepers describes (in response to a Rod Dreher series on porn).
Remember, dads, how alluring your first sight of a comely lass’s bare breast was? Maybe you should actually try to keep your sons away from that, especially since it’s a lot more than T &A these days.
Of course “boys will be boys,” and neurotic grown-up girls will want to relive their teenage years through their own teenage daughters.
As children abused tend to become child abusers, so too do MTD adults with troubled consciences, via cognitive dissonance, tend to cut kids undue slack, unaware that they really did not “not turn out too bad” or that the jungle out there is far more dangerous that the jungle they traversed a quarter-century before.
* * * * *
There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)