Single issues

    1. Christians & Trump
    2. Democrats & Weinstein
    3. Americans & their guns
    4. Retweetable



[F]or millions of voters, religious liberty remains the overarching issue of the day, the alpha and omega of whether Trump gets a nod of approval or at least a pass …

Evangelicals and Mass-attending Catholics gave the president healthy majorities when they voted last fall, and largely that support has not wavered. For those wondering why, it comes down to the issue at the core of Masterpiece Cakeshop: Will Americans be allowed to practice their religious beliefs without fear of ruin from secular absolutists? In the view of these voters, elites believe every knee must bend to their secular creed, not just on matters regarding sexual intimacy but also on issues of when life begins and when death ought to be optional.

(Hugh Hewitt, Why Christians will stick with Trump)

We’re stuck repeating the same points again and again, it appears, but that makes them no less true.

I don’t know whether “Christians” will stick with Trump …

(Hewitt: “‘How could a Christian accept [some presidential action or statement]?’ is now a trope.” My answer: “This Christian doesn’t accept it.”)

… but I knew twelve months ago that the likelihood of Trump’s position on religious freedom for Christians …

(Hewitt: “They also believe … that only Christians, not faithful Muslims, are targeted for refusal to celebrate same-sex unions, in a double standard born of animus toward the Christian community, fear of the Islamic one, or both.”)

… was almost certainly going to be better than Hillary’s — and I was just sick about it.

Thirty-five years ago, I considered myself a “single-issue voter,” the issue being abortion. Because I, the political climate, or both have changed, I no longer know of an issue about which I’m a “single-issue” voter. Even before Trump, I’d seen too many dumpster-fire candidates who checked the right boxes on candidate surveys but were patently nuts.

But it’s a surprise to me that religious freedom is now at stake. Thirty-five years ago, a shift of public sentiment against religious freedom was as unthinkable as same-sex marriage and the loving-but-vindictive couples’ sense of legal entitlement to universal approbation — a sense that much of the public seemingly endorses.

But in the age of Trump, I expect to be shifting some of my public-interest law firm donations from ADF (which de facto defends mostly Christians) to Becket Fund (which has a good track record of defending religious freedom for all). I think Muslims in America may need some support on that front.


“I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s,” Weinstein begins, “when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different.” The statement goes on from there, vaguely self-contradictory, varied in tone, reading at once like it’s been heavily workshopped and, at the same time, like it was dashed off in a haze of self-flagellation by Weinstein himself. (The Jay-Z “quote” Weinstein mentions, for example, is, at best, a liberal paraphrase.) Weinstein returns, again and again, to the structures that can mold individual behavior: one’s generation. One’s gender. Mad Men, Hugh Hefner, “the culture then.” And he concludes with a revealingly self-deprecating chuckle: “I am going to need a place to channel that anger so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention. I hope Wayne LaPierre will enjoy his retirement party. I’m going to do it at the same place I had my Bar Mitzvah.”

But the apology is also a sad—and supremely strange—reminder of how distant true “progress” really is, at this moment in American cultural life, as (some) women advance and as (some) men grapple with that shift.  There is a cyclical quality to these statements of remorse, whether they come from Hollywood moguls or Silicon Valley CEOs or the executives of cable news networks: buzzwords repeated, promises reiterated, a sense of true contrition colliding with a softer sense of “sorry you’re upset.” Weinstein’s own version tellingly vacillates in tone from the penitent to the petulant. It is suggestive of a man-child who is awaiting a punishment he will stoically accept but, perhaps, thinks he does not fully deserve.

(Megan Garber, What Harvey Weinstein’s Apology Reveals, The Atlantic)

As Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon writes, Weinstein’s statement in reaction to the Times story essentially reads as a series of signals pleading with progressives to give him a pass because he’s one of them: He cites Jay-Z’s soul-baring 4:44, trumpets work on an anti-Trump film, and promises to take on the National Rifle Association. (Jay-Z admitted to marital infidelity, not sexual harassment.)

(David Graham, How Will Democrats Respond to the Harvey Weinstein Allegations?, The Atlantic)

How will Democrats respond? Based on the Nina Burleigh precedent, and analogous to Christians concerned with religious freedom above all, they won’t take it lying down, but on their knees.


I think a lot of Americans have guns because they’re fearful—and for damn good reason. They fear a coming chaos, and know that when it happens it will be coming to a nation that no longer coheres. They think it’s all collapsing—our society, our culture, the baseline competence of our leadership class. They see the cultural infrastructure giving way—illegitimacy, abused children, neglect, racial tensions, kids on opioids staring at screens—and, unlike their cultural superiors, they understand the implications.

Nuts with nukes, terrorists bent on a mission. The grid will go down. One of our foes will hit us, suddenly and hard. In the end it could be hand to hand, door to door. I said some of this six years ago to a famously liberal journalist, who blinked in surprise. If that’s true, he said, they won’t have a chance! But they are Americans, I said. They won’t go down without a fight.

Americans have so many guns because drug gangs roam the streets, because they have less trust in their neighbors, because they read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” Because all of their personal and financial information got hacked in the latest breach, because our country’s real overlords are in Silicon Valley and appear to be moral Martians who operate on some weird new postmodern ethical wavelength. And they’ll be the ones programming the robots that’ll soon take all the jobs! Maybe the robots will all look like Mark Zuckerberg, like those eyeless busts of Roman Emperors. Our leaders don’t even think about this technological revolution. They’re too busy with transgender rights.

Americans have so many guns because they know the [culture] their children [live] in hasn’t gotten cleaner since Columbine, but more polluted and lethal.

The establishments and elites that create our political and entertainment culture have no idea how fragile it all is—how fragile it seems to people living normal, less privileged lives. That is because nothing is fragile for them. They’re barricaded behind the things the influential have, from good neighborhoods to security alarms, doormen and gates. They’re not dark in their imagining of the future because history has never been dark for them; it’s been sunshine, which they expect to continue. They sail on, oblivious to the legitimate anxieties of their countrymen who live near the edge.

Those who create our culture feel free to lecture normal Americans—on news shows, on late night comedy shows. Why do they have such a propensity for violence? What is their love for guns? Why do they join the National Rifle Association? The influential grind away with their disdain for their fellow Americans, whom they seem less to want to help than to dominate: Give up your gun, bake my cake, free speech isn’t free if what you’re saying triggers us.

Would it help if we tried less censure and more cultural affiliation? Might it help if we started working on problems that are real? Sure. But why lower the temperature when there’s such easy pleasure to be had in ridiculing your mindless and benighted countrymen?

(Peggy Noonan, The Culture of Death—and of Disdain) I have pretty generously quoted here, but there’s quite a lead-up to this conclusion you should read, too.

Noonan’s analysis seems plausible and has the added virtue of explaining why an electoral majority voted for Donald Trump eleven months ago (after a GOP majority nominated him to the horror of the GOP establishment elites).

It’s cute to quip — and I do — that if “Donald Trump” is the answer, you’re asking the wrong question, but that’s where we are.


[Note: This is likely to be my last blog until early next week.]

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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)

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

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.