Tuesday, 10/10/17

  1. Apologies today
  2. Libertarians today
  3. Hollywood tomorrow
  4. Onward toward Mars!
  5. Real pluralism
  6. Weinstein’s ambitious enablers
  7. Christianity Today
  8. Tweetables

1

For years now, any time a public figure in this country is credibly accused of some terrific wickedness, their inevitable responses have been tediously uniform in style and content. The most striking feature is that these would-be apologies are almost never apologies.

Instead, what non-apologies like Weinstein’s or the recent “statement”released by the office of Rep. Tim Murphy, the ostensibly pro-life Ohio Republican accused of pressuring his mistress to abort a child, do is absolve the persons to whom they are attributed of culpability for the wrongdoing to which they are not, in fact, confessing

After noting that he will not seek re-election, Murphy tells us that “in the coming weeks I will take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties and seek healing.” Healing for what? Pancreatic cancer? Is exerting your considerable power as an influential member of Congress to suggest that a woman with whom you were committing adultery should consent to a practice that you have made a career out of equating with murder a disease? …

Just as predictable as the phony apologies themselves are the customary responses from their jaded consumers: not genuine disgust but a kind of gleeful hypocrisy-shaming.

I think it is likely that our shared allergy to contrition is in large part a result of how we have all been taught to think about evil in this country. The greatest sin of all in America today is hypocrisy; it is better to believe in nothing than to espouse certain principles and fail to live up to them. The most valuable rhetorical currency in our public disputes is to be able to accuse the other side of hypocrisy or proximity to it. “Think Hillary and the Dems are woke on women’s issues? Eat this, libs.” “Isn’t it amazing that people who explained away Donald Trump’s behavior towards women are seizing on this?” The tweets write themselves.

Like non-apologies, these proximity-based exercises of conscience won’t go away until we decide that things are wrong because they are wrong.

(Matthew Walther, Against Public Apologies)

2

There are two kinds of libertarianism, corresponding to two different understandings of what liberty is and why we need it.

One kind of libertarianism holds that we need a rich palette of definite liberties so that we can perform our duties and obtain what is good for human beings.  For example, it maintains that because parents have a duty to educate their children, they also have a right to do so, and because human well-being depends on finding the truth about God, every person has a natural right to seek it.  This kind of libertarianism is perfectly compatible with natural law.  In fact, it’s based on it.

The other kind holds that we need indefinite liberties so that we can escape our duties and obtain what we merely happen to want.  For example, it maintains that we have a right to behave however we please in sexual matters, even to the detriment of families and children, and that if unwanted children are conceived, we have a right to kill them.  This kind of libertarianism is radically incompatible with natural law.

The name “fusionism” is sometimes used for an alliance between social conservatives and libertarians of the former kind, based on shared belief in natural law, shared respect for the proper functions of government, and shared mistrust of government which exceeds these functions.

( J. Budziszewski) Budziszewski goes on to note that the second kind of libertarian ends up as the kind of statists who consider Team Trump’s tweak of Obama’s contraceptive mandate chapter one in a new dystopia.

3

For the past week, many women in Hollywood, frustrated with an industry that seems stuck perpetually sexualizing and mistreating women, had been watching closely to see where the Weinstein revelations would lead.

“I see this as a tipping point,” Jenni Konner, executive producer of the HBO series “Girls,” said on Sunday. “This is the moment we look back on and say, ‘That’s when it all started to change.’”

The firing of Mr. Weinstein by his own company, Ms. Konner said, “is going to scare any man in Hollywood using his power for anything but making movies and television.”

(New York Times, Harvey Weinstein Is Fired After Sexual Harassment Reports)

“That’s when it all started to change” strikes me on repeat readings as a kind of Rorschach hope. What is “it” that’s changing? Casting couch? Sexualization of women for the titillation of viewers? Something else?

4

A moon base makes zero sense on its own terms, so it’s pitched as a trampoline to Mars. Face it: The Red Planet has the best PR in the solar system. What Scientology is to creepy movie stars, Mars travel is to swashbuckling billionaires. Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeffrey P. Bezos (owner of The Post) have all set their sights on the fourth rock from the sun, with Musk saying he hopes to die there — “just not on impact.”

Science fiction can be seductive. Of course we want to boldly go where no one has gone before. But space exploration is a job for robots, not humans. Nature has adapted us exquisitely and precisely for life in one particular ecosystem in one remote corner of an incomprehensibly vast universe.

But here’s the good news: It’s a really nice ecosystem! Earth is blanketed with a breathable atmosphere, and the gravity’s just right to hold us in place without crushing our bodies. There is snow for skiing, and there are beaches for tanning. Land and seas teem with food — so much that the ever-growing human population has never been better nourished than today. There are wondrous things to see, such as Yellowstone, the Louvre and Willie Nelson.

(David Von Drehle, The Mission to Mars is One Stupid Leap for Mankind)

Please don’t bother arguing about all the collateral benefits of space travel. I quoted Von Drehle more for the style of his article than for the substance.

5

The Trump Administration on Friday eased Obama Care’s contraception mandate, the now infamous regulation that coerced Americans (even Catholic nuns) to pay for forms of birth control that violate their religious beliefs. This is welcome news for American tolerance and pluralism, not a scene from “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

The left is treating this modest regulatory relief as a GOP effort to ban birth control, claiming millions of women will no longer have access to oral contraceptives … Left untouched are “the multiple other Federal programs that provide free or subsidized contraceptives” for women, the rule notes, and birth control is available through Medicaid and community health centers.

The overwhelming majority of affected employers have complied for years with the mandate, and there is no incentive to change. Contraception is not the type of expensive care that drains insurers, and companies will not be eager to face the left’s wrath for even minor coverage alterations.

The Little Sisters still need relief in court, which the new rule should make easier, but the regulatory change will launch a crush of new lawsuits from groups like the ACLU. That so many resources in government and so much litigation are necessary to allow nuns to practice their faith is a testament to the toxic identity politics that corrodes American life.

(Wall Street Journal Editorial Board)

6

At The Cut, writer Rebecca Traister tells a dreadful story about Weinstein. She was covering a book party he hosted, and she asked him some questions that made him angry. He called her a “c**t” and declared himself to be the “f***ing sheriff of this f***ing lawless piece-of-sh*t town.” When her boyfriend — another journalist — tried to intervene, Weinstein attacked. He threw her boyfriend down a set of steps, then dragged him outside in a headlock. All the while cameras flashed.

This was 17 years ago, in the year 2000.

Not one of the pictures saw the light of day. Here’s Traister:

Such was the power of Harvey Weinstein in 2000 that despite the dozens of camera flashes that went off on that sidewalk that night, capturing the sight of an enormously famous film executive trying to pound in the head of a young newspaper reporter, I have never once seen a photo. Back then, Harvey could spin — or suppress — anything; there were so many journalists on his payroll, working as consultants on movie projects, or as screenwriters, or for his magazine.

I’d modify that paragraph slightly. Such was the power of Weinstein, yes, but such was the ambition of so many around him that they would suppress themselves.

Thus the world we live in today. People who went on television night after night scorning Democratic and progressive misconduct knew full well that they were working with and for harassers and scoundrels. Progressives who launched full-frontal attacks on conservatives for their alleged “war on women” gladly basked in Weinstein’s glory, took the opportunities he offered, and spent the money he gave.

No, neither Harvey Weinstein nor Roger Ailes was really all that powerful. They were vulnerable. They were vulnerable to people who were willing to support victims and tell the truth. They were vulnerable to people who just might be willing to risk their personal ambition to seek justice. But because ambition is so overwhelming — because self-interest is so powerful — these paper tigers were allowed to prey on women year after year.

Why do men like Ailes and Weinstein get away with misconduct for so long? Because in certain sectors of American society, moral courage is in short supply.

(David French, Harvey Weinstein, Fox News, and the Power of Self-Interest) Recommended.

7

I said in my last blog that “I’ll try to be fair to evangelicalism at its best, which I caught many glimpses of this weekend.” Coincidentally or providentially, a trusted source recommended Christianity Today as a good way to keep up with evangelicals, and I was long a subscriber to that magazine (before it went through a period, apparently past, when I thought it had been dumbed down to the status of worthless). I intend to follow it more regularly now.

8

So it’s not just religion that the press doesn’t get? I’m almost certainly repeating myself, but I’m captivated by the idea that a big gun divide is between cities (where police can arrive quickly in emergencies) and country (where they can’t — and where there are varmints).

* * *

* * *

(H/T Leah Libresco Sargeant)

* * * * *

“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.

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