Wednesday, 11/22/17

    1. The Ask
    2. American Conservative does Kunstler
    3. My Man Mitch on HQ2
    4. Christopher Caldwell on Putin
    5. Roy Moore I
    6. Roy Moore II



I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate. I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.

(Charlie Rose, emphasis added) I have no special ax to grind with Charlie Rose, another victim of our disenthrallment from decades of the orgy we euphemistically called sexual liberation.

As David French noted, even if consent were a sufficient criterion for any and all adult sexual encounters, somebody’s got the “make the ask,” and when there’s a power imbalance, true consent remains dubious. Charlie Rose was relatively powerful. QED.

A bright spot on the internet is the increasing visibility of Leah Libresco Sergeant, for whom I have a soft spot that’s getting softer the more she blogs and podcasts. Tuesday, she nailed it on an under-remarked aspect of some of these sexual harassment scandals:

Sometimes, when the powerful break the rules and use their influence to avoid the consequences, a kind of sympathy rises up: If you could get away it, wouldn’t you want to? But these patterns of predation, especially in the cases of Weinstein and C. K., have a grotesqueness that discourages fantasy. These men exposed and pleasured themselves in front of horrified women. Restate what they did, and it sounds like the worst sex life you could aspire to: frantically trapping people in a room, people who are disgusted to be there, while you engage in the most arid form of sexual pleasure possible.

(Emphasis added) There’s a lot more Mrs. Sargeant says, some of it reflecting her deepening Roman Catholic faith.

That’s such a breath of fresh air compared with the typical spectrum on these cases:

Our political parties seem to have swapped ball gowns for the time being: The right, recently outraged by alleged left sexual degeneracy, is now showing a certain sexuality-is-complicated ambivalence when it comes to Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore. Meanwhile, the individual-liberty-left seems unable to find a stable or evenhanded way to deal with potential abuses inherent in the post-sexual revolution culture, except through episodic bursts of scandal and indignation. A nice soup of sex, power and hypocrisy for all.

(Samuel Kimbriel, emphasis added)

Hey! I’ve got a great idea! What if we agreed that “the ask” should be “will you marry me?”

Or would waiting for marriage give us warts on our hands and drive us insane?


Another bright spot on the internet is what seems to be rising interest in James Howard Kunstler as fundamentally conservative in many of his insights.

James Howard Kunstler, a novelist and journalist active since the early 1980s, burst onto the scene in 1993 with The Geography of Nowhere, perhaps the most famous post-war denunciation of suburbia. Written with the intensity of an Old Testament prophet, The Geography of Nowhere and much of Kunstler’s later work is chock full of obscure facts and illuminating anecdotes that all tell the same story: the way Americans live today is physically, environmentally, and spiritually unsustainable, with the “strip-mall wilderness” and the regime of “happy motoring” coming in for special criticism.

Kunstler is a Democrat, albeit an angry, disaffected one, and among his previous journalism gigs is a year as an editor at the liberal Rolling Stone magazine. Yet his rage at debt-driven consumerism is no less conservative than Russell Kirk’s denunciation of the automobile as a “mechanical jacobin.”

A cursory reading of Kunstler’s books or blogs might give the reader the impression that he is a cynic, or even anti-American …

Yet Kunstler is not anti-American, nor is he a standard-issue liberal. He is interesting and unorthodox enough to have appeared in Rod Dreher’s Crunchy Cons, which dubbed him a “prophetic crank.” A secular Jew, a fierce localist, a skeptic of left-wing cultural pieties and “techno-narcissistic” science-fiction schemes, Kunstler might best be described as a patriot for an America that no longer exists: a country of small towns, tight-knit communities, human-scale development, and local entrepreneurship. We were never perfect, but we certainly don’t come close to embodying these ideals today. Kunstler is trying to nudge us in that direction.

He was gracious enough to grant TAC an interview ….

(Addison Del Mastro, American Conservative) Read it all, including Kunstler’s take on same-sex marriage.


Nothing in public life is more dangerous to the public interest than politicians chasing “jobs” with the people’s checkbook. They can buy their way into the ribbon-cutting photos knowing that, if they grossly overbid, they won’t be around when the bills come due. Chances are the Amazon “winner” will fall into this category. (Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns The Post)

Abuse of this practice is robustly bipartisan. As many Republican as Democratic officeholders have lost their fiscal virtue when a big score seemed in prospect.

(Mitch Daniels, Luring Amazon to your city: A how-to guide)


Christopher Caldwell takes a look at one Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin:

Let me stress at the outset that this is not going to be a talk about what to think about Putin, which is something you are all capable of making up your minds on, but rather how to think about him. And on this, there is one basic truth to remember, although it is often forgotten. Our globalist leaders may have deprecated sovereignty since the end of the Cold War, but that does not mean it has ceased for an instant to be the primary subject of politics.

Vladimir Vladimirovich is not the president of a feminist NGO. He is not a transgender-rights activist. He is not an ombudsman appointed by the United Nations to make and deliver slide shows about green energy. He is the elected leader of Russia—a rugged, relatively poor, militarily powerful country that in recent years has been frequently humiliated, robbed, and misled. His job has been to protect his country’s prerogatives and its sovereignty in an international system that seeks to erode sovereignty in general and views Russia’s sovereignty in particular as a threat.

When Putin took power in the winter of 1999-2000, his country was defenseless. It was bankrupt. It was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals, the Americans. Putin changed that. In the first decade of this century, he did what Kemal Atatürk had done in Turkey in the 1920s. Out of a crumbling empire, he rescued a nation-state, and gave it coherence and purpose. He disciplined his country’s plutocrats. He restored its military strength. And he refused, with ever blunter rhetoric, to accept for Russia a subservient role in an American-run world system drawn up by foreign politicians and business leaders. His voters credit him with having saved his country.

Why are American intellectuals such ideologues when they talk about the “international system”? Probably because American intellectuals devised that system, and because they assume there can never be legitimate historic reasons why a politician would arise in opposition to it. They denied such reasons for the rise of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. They do the same with Donald Trump. And they have done it with Putin. They assume he rose out of the KGB with the sole purpose of embodying an evil for our righteous leaders to stamp out.

The two episodes of concerted outrage about Putin among Western progressives have both involved issues trivial to the world, but vital to the world of progressivism. The first came in 2014, when the Winter Olympics, which were to be held in Sochi, presented an opportunity to damage Russia economically. Most world leaders attended the games happily, from Mark Rutte (Netherlands) and Enrico Letta (Italy) to Xi Jinping (China) and Shinzo Abe (Japan). But three leaders—David Cameron of Britain, François Hollande of France, and Barack Obama of the United States—sent progressives in their respective countries into a frenzy over a short list of domestic causes. First, there was the jailed oil tycoon, Khodorkovsky; Putin released him before the Olympics began. Second, there were the young women who called themselves Pussy Riot, performance artists who were jailed for violating Russia’s blasphemy laws when they disrupted a religious service with obscene chants about God (translations were almost never shown on Western television); Putin also released them prior to the Olympics. Third, there was Russia’s Article 6.21, which was oddly described in the American press as a law against “so-called gay propaganda.” A more accurate translation of what the law forbids is promoting “non-traditional sexual relations to children.” Now, some Americans might wish that Russia took religion or homosexuality less seriously and still be struck by the fact that these are very local issues. There is something unbalanced about turning them into diplomatic incidents and issuing all kinds of threats because of them.

The second campaign against Putin has been the attempt by the outgoing Obama administration to cast doubt on the legitimacy of last November’s presidential election by implying that the Russian government somehow “hacked” it. This is an extraordinary episode in the history of manufacturing opinion. I certainly will not claim any independent expertise in cyber-espionage. But anyone who has read the public documentation on which the claims rest will find only speculation, arguments from authority, and attempts to make repetition do the work of logic ….

I know there are counter-arguments or different ways of spinning Putin’s accomplishments, but remember: I said this was a different way of looking at them.


Once again, world (yes, that includes you, Catherine Rampell), Roy Moore’s creepiness was not pedophilia, may not even have been ephebophilia. Don’t let him off that easy just because it feels cathartic to call him the adult equivalent of “poopy-head.”

Pedophilia or paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children.

(Wikipedia) Roy Moore’s targets were not prepubescent. Any questions?

Ephebophilia is the primary sexual interest in mid-to-late adolescents, generally ages 15 to 19. The term was originally used in the late 19th to mid 20th century. It is one of a number of sexual preferences across age groups subsumed under the technical term chronophiliaEphebophilia strictly denotes the preference for mid-to-late adolescent sexual partners, not the mere presence of some level of sexual attraction.

Generally, the preference is not regarded by psychologists as a pathology when it does not interfere with other major areas of one’s life, and is not listed by name as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), the ICD-10, or as a paraphilia. However, the preference can sometimes be diagnosed as a disorder if it results in dysfunction or exploitative behavior, under the DSM specification 309.2, “Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified“.

(Wikipedia again) We do not know for certain—or at least I haven’t immersed myself deeply enough in the slime to be certain—that Moore’s primary sexual interest or preference was for adolescents. (When he finally got around to marrying, his wife was only 14 years younger, after all.)

Instead of the DSM-worthy psychological disorder of pedophila or the quirk of ephebophilia, Roy Moore preyed sociopathically on sexually mature adolescent girls of low socioeconomic status and with no fathers around to cut off his nuts if they found out—kinda like Bill Clinton’s victims, but younger.

We don’t know whether he picked especially vulnerable girls consciously or by sheer predatory instinct, any more than we know whether he built his “long, disgraceful career out of smarmy religiosity spiked with tribal grievance” by design or whether it just sort of oozed from his addled mind.

Doesn’t that sound even creepier?

(For a discussion of how monolithic Evangelical support of Roy Moore isn’t or is, see this GetReligion story.)


David French, responding to people who say they’ll vote for Roy Moore to get better judges confirmed:

Many Americans believe that reversing Roe would ban abortion. This is wrong. The Court could vote to overturn Roe, and abortion would still be legal across the length and breadth of the United States. After all, overturning Roe would return the abortion question to the political process, where different states would enact different laws. For example, only four states have passed post-Roe statutes indicating that they’d ban abortion if Roe is overturned. (A number of other states have pre-Roe abortion bans, but several are in blue states that would immediately protect abortion rights in the event of an adverse SCOTUS ruling.)

Thus, the fight for life transcends Roe. Decisive cultural change can diminish abortion dramatically even if Roe remains intact …

Here’s the problem: Politics and activism take long, hard work. They require patience, persistence, and persuasion. But, ultimately, that process often results not just in political change but also in enduring cultural transformations. Given the constitutional atrocity of Roe, it’s easy to forget that it was connected to a potent cultural and political movement — one that still sways the hearts of tens of millions of Americans. The laughable reasoning of Obergefell shouldn’t distract from the fact that the argument for gay marriage had gained astounding cultural force in a remarkably short period of time.

Conservatives who want to protect life and preserve liberty must do much, much more than select the right judges, and they can’t sacrifice the larger cultural argument for the sake of any single nomination or series of nominations. “Sexual harassers for the Second Amendment” isn’t a compelling cultural message. If you make vile people your champions, you can’t be surprised if Americans begin to associate the cause with its advocates.

The pro-life movement is among the most successful cultural and religious movements of the last 50 years. In the face of unified opposition from the key elite institutions in the United States — the academy, pop culture, and the courts — it has not only survived, it has thrived. By some measures, the current generation is more pro-life than their parents, and the number of abortions has declined even as the American population has grown, saving millions of lives.

It didn’t make this headway by wrapping its arms around credibly accused sexual predators. Its leaders and volunteers understood that regardless of the state of the law, they could save lives. And so they set about doing just that. Through their grace, their patience, and — most significantly — their love for women and children, they are helping change this nation. Any “ambassador” who is inconsistent with that ethos is a risk. An angry, defiant, and dishonest credibly accused child abuser is a disaster, a walking commercial for the other side. His one vote out of 100 simply isn’t worth the cost.

* * * * *

“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.