Wednesday, 8/23/17

  1. WSJ finally fawns over Trump
  2. Business is not a moral leader
  3. Boston ≠ Charlottesville
  4. Derek Black repented soberly
  5. William Aitcheson “repented” flamboyantly
  6. The appearance of judicial partiality?
  7. Sidelining “alt-right”

1

I consider the Wall Street Journal my primary source for national and international news, but it disgusts me that its Potomac Watch pitched a love-fest for Trump because he escalated the Afghan war.

Michael Brendan Dougherty seems to have this right:

2

The President’s Business Councils have (been?) disbanded. Business leaders on the Councils began bailing out after the botched messaging on the events of Charlottesville, so the President summarily disbanded them. Business is being given glowing credit for its principles and ethics.

I’m not the only one whose crap detectors went off on that:

[T]he dynamism of global capitalism does not — cannot — discriminate between the crudest atavistic impulses and the sublime beauty of the immaterial tenants (sic) of the Christian religion or the dictates of natural justice or the quiet joys of traditional family life or any quaint little attachment or aspiration — religious, political, social, aesthetic — that is not straightforwardly reconcilable with its omnidirectional process of disruption and accumulation.

In other words, the blind corrosive force that has made wage slaves of hundreds of millions the world round and reduced the splendors of creation to “an enormous pile of filth,” as Pope Francis put it in his encyclical Laudato si’, is only incidentally anti-Nazi. Its true nature is anti-everything that is not commodifiable or exploitable or packageable or otherwise capable of being heaped up and profited from. This is why capitalism was necessary for Marx: to destroy all vestiges of that vast array of convictions, practices, feelings, and objects of endearment that he dismissed as reactionary ideology.

… What comes after capitalism will be more capitalism, stripped finally of all the cast-out remnants of human veneration.

Applauding a grim relentless process of spoliation is not something I’m prepared to get behind even when I happen to agree with every syllable of some marketing consultant’s workshopped 140-character statement.

(Matthew Walther, Corporate America isnt woke)

3

I think it’s worth mentioning that Boston last weekend was not an echo of Charlottesville the weekend before.

The opposition, should they be so inclined, should not congratulate themselves for having overwhelmed bad guys, and the press should stop mythologizing Boston. There may be some bona fide facts in that story, but it’s mostly mythmaking, or so it seems to me. It elides a lot of distinctions (gliding from free speech to Trump support as if this was a Trump rally) and it disrespects the people who organized the free speech event by putting free speech in scare quotes and casting the organizers in the role of white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

This was a story pre-written by reporters with Selma Envy, who then tried to make the facts fit the story.

UPDATE: Holman Jenkins also attempts to set the record straight with “The Great Nazi Scare of 2017:”

More relevant is the principle that large mobs are more dangerous than small mobs, and likely to harbor more psychopaths. Apparently running out of Nazis to resist, Boston protesters threw rocks and urine-filled bottles at police. Any shortage of white supremacists can always be corrected by expanding the definition. Opponents of a $15 minimum wage are racist. Skeptics about a pending climate crisis are racist. Anyone questioning the utility of pulling down old statues is racist.

The slippery slope of civil-rights erosion is manifest every time certain members of the vituperative left open their mouths.

Hard to escape is a lesson about incentives: Majoritarian violence is the predominant risk even when its targets are people otherwise impossible to sympathize with.

4

Another irresistible episode of The Daily podcast.

Derek Black grew up in West Palm Beach, Fla., across the water from the president’s Mar-a-Lago mansion, which he drove past almost every day in a red pickup truck with a Confederate flag sticker on the back window.

His father is Don Black, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and his godfather is David Duke. Derek was poised to help lead the white nationalist movement. And then he left, betraying his family and friends in the process.

I will resist further summary. Just listen closely and critically.

5

Derek Black is much more matter-of-fact about his history than was Rev. William Aitcheson, whose reported story combines grandstanding, pearl-clutching, and credulous reporting.

Here’s the summary: William Aitcheson was a college-age member of the KKK 4o years ago. He participated in cross-burnings, wrote a letter to Coretta Scott King threatening her life if she set foot on his campus, and apparently planned to make bombs. He was convicted, served time, and served out his probation.

Then he [insert your favorite term for conversion to the Christian, or specifically Roman Catholic, faith — itself anathema to the KKK]. 29 years ago, he was ordained a priest.

After Charlottesville, he penned a “mea culpa” essay and stepped down from his parish.

The press went wild. It either could not find, or declined to quote, any sane people to say what I shall now say: “So what?”

Has no bad sinner ever repented and become a Catholic Priest before? Why did he have to grandstand? Had he been denied vacation or sabbatical and decided to seize one for himself? Why is everyone clutching their pearls so tightly? Do they think racism is indelible, and he’s just been passing for a non-racist for 29 years? What’s with the hand-wringing about his ordination, as if a history of being a bad sinner was disqualifying?

Is this the new standard: ex-sinners need not apply for the Catholic Pristhood? How about current sinners; got any of those in clerical collar? I’ve actually heard rumors that Churches are full of sinners, and especially welcomes repentant ones. Whatever became of “And such were some of you“?

Not a single person who had any sanity and sense of proportion! What a maddening story this was!

UPDATE: I owe Fr. Aitcheson, the target of the headline and the gerund “grandstanding,” an apology — but none to the press. This story was badly reported.

The WRC-TV story offers an intriguing insight into the genesis of this disclosure, but then tapers off:

Aitcheson wrote in the essay that images from violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, inspired him to speak out. But a reporter’s inquiry may have played a role.

The diocese said in a statement issued Wednesday that a “freelance reporter, who introduced herself as a parishioner” contacted the diocese and said she knew that Aitcheson’s name matched that of the man convicted of cross-burnings.

“Fr. Aitcheson was approached about this, he acknowledged his past and saw the opportunity to tell his story in the hopes that others would see the possibility of conversion and repentance, especially given the context of what occurred in Charlottesville,’ the statement says.

I’d sure love to know who that parishioner is, and for whom they write. It’s something the TV station apparently didn’t get around to asking.

(Mark Kellner) Stepping down proactively as Fr. Aitcheson did, when there was a realistic risk that closet skeletons were to be exhumed publicly, does not deserve to be called grandstanding. My apologies, Father.

6

Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, is faulting Justice Neil Gorsuch for agreeing to speak to a conservative group that will be meeting in at the Trump International Hotel in Washington next month.

Her focus is 100% on the venue and its role in an ongoing kerfuffle about whether Trump is exploiting his office for personal gain or violating the foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution. Her theory is that by agreeing to speak to a meeting that will be held there, Justice Gorsuch gives an appearance of partiality.

After faulting Bush Derangement Syndrome and Obama Derangement Syndrome, I have come down with a significant case of Chronic Trump Derangement Syndrome, which I of course consider perfectly appropriate and proportional to the threat Trump poses. But even I know enough about the appearance of judicial partiality to opine that this ain’t it.

UPDATE: My gut reaction, informed by a gut that’s fairly reliable on such matters, now has some scholarly support.

7

I created a blog category a few weeks ago for “alt-right,” but I’m thinking now there’s probably no occasion to use it until someone explains to me what it means. It increasingly sounds a lot like “fundamentalist” is its expletive sense.

Is Richard Spencer’s white nationalism and abortion support alt-right, or elsewhere on the proverbial political spectrum? Is the alt-right the socially conservative but economically liberal double majority in the “upper left corner” of yesterday’s blog? Or …?

* * * * *

Gosh! Did you see what President Donald Trump is up to today? How utterly fascinating he is! I weep with envy when I look upon Melania. He escalated Afghanistan, cuz he’s one tough, thoughtful hombre! He fills my every thought! He surely doesn’t need to start (or escalate) any more stupid wars to get my undivided attention! No siree! MAGA!

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.