Friday, 12/8/17

  1. Where nothing’s in common
  2. Changing the Context
  3. Why we’re not solving Weinsteinism
  4. “Ladies and Gentlemen …”
  5. A masterpiece on Masterpiece
  6. Motivated reasoning makes people stupid
  7. Unprecedented


One of my favorite authors as a young man, was Thomas Merton, the famous Trappist monk. In the introduction to his work “New Seeds of Contemplation”, he wrote: “Hell was where no one has anything in common with anyone else except the fact that they all hate one other and cannot get away from each other and from themselves.”

This very much fits with the Orthodox view of hell as being in the presence of God for all eternity, and hating it. For the one who has never loved and who is consumed in his own ego and his own passions, being with God for all eternity will be to him, hell. Without love, we can not experience the Fire of God without being burned.

(Abbot Tryphon)


The president knows our hostility towards Russia makes no sense. Communism has fallen, we have no interests that should lead us to oppose Russia and Russia is resuming her 19th century role as the most conservative of the great powers. Russia should be our ally, not our enemy.

The Washington establishment wants a hostile relationship with Russia because it is still thinking in the context of a world of states in conflict. Any other powerful state (including China) that does not bow to American hegemony must be seen as an enemy. The purpose of all the clucking and squawking about the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia is to scare the administration away from improving relations with Moscow. Unfortunately, that trick seems to be working.

But what if the administration responded by changing the context? President Trump could easily explain to the American people that the real threat we face is not any other state (except perhaps North Korea) but “terrorism” (really [4th-generation warfare, one of the author’s two grand obsessions — Tipsy]) from non-state entities, of which ISIS is only one. To beat the terrorists, we need an alliance with Russia and China, because they are the other two great powers. In fact, that alliance would only be the beginning. We should work with Moscow and Beijing to create an alliance of all states against violent non-state entities. If we want a relatively peaceful, ordered, and safe 21st century, that is what we have to do.

The public can understand that logic. And with it, they can see why we need good relations with Russia. President Putin has suggested several times that Russia and America work together against terrorism. Once the people see past the obsolete conflict among states and accept the new context created by 4GW, the establishment is left high and dry. Its desire for a hostile relationship with Russia will be perceived as senseless, as it is. In the new context, the president’s preferred policy can move forward.

(William Lind) I tend strongly to agree with this, except for the implication that the U.S. or Trump is “conservative” in the sense that Russia is reverting to conservatism.

Lind’s other obsession (besides “4GW”) is “Cultural Marxism.” I find it much less plausible—a foreign, sinister-sounding get-out-of-jail-free card for we who, I suspect, are not seeing a foreign invasion, like Asian Carp in midwestern rivers, but rather the full flowering of our own foibles and tragic flaws. Paul Gottfried sees “Cultural Marxism” much the same way as I do.


The Harvey Weinstein sexual-harassment fire burns on, consuming famous men. Corporations and institutions are on automated rapid response: proclaim zero tolerance and throw offenders into the street, while directing human-resources departments to design fine-grained standards of acceptable behavior.

It would be a comfort to think that HR specialists could solve this problem, but what has gone wrong runs deeper than calling in the lawyers. A question persists: How did this happen?

How have so many intelligent, accomplished adult men crashed across the boundaries of sex? Psychiatric explanations—reducing cause to a uniquely individual neurosis—are insufficient. This isn’t just “really weird stuff.”

Some may have a distant memory of the culture wars of the 1990s. This looks like a moment to revisit some of its battlefields.

Incidents of sexual abuse on this scale don’t randomly erupt. They grow from the complex climate of a nation’s culture. These guys aren’t blips or outliers. These men are a product of their times.

(Daniel Henninger) I do not avidly follow Henninger, but I’m very glad I clicked this one, which shows Henninger as a kindred spirit on this topic. I fault him mostly for not following the trail back to the 60s (or further).

The current hysteria isn’t going to eliminate sexual harassment because it isn’t radical enough. It’s a bunch of virtue signalling with little substance.

The problem isn’t that men (the brutes!) think women are fair game. The problem is that too many men and women alike think sex is a trifle, a bargaining chip, or even a spectator sport (in pornography).

Have you ever heard of gold-diggers? Do you think men always initiate the trip to the casting couch? Have you never heard of a woman “sleeping her way to the top”?

Don’t kid yourself about the problem or you’ll mistake stylish outrage for real change.


Passengers, customers, or whatever you want to call them are welcome to ride in the New York City transport system. Just don’t call them ladies or gentlemen. The city’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has outlawed the expression in yet another bizarre episode of the politically-correct Culture War.

“Ladies and gentlemen” is not inclusive enough for the thought police patrolling the lines. Never mind that conductors have been doing this for a century. Never mind that the automatic announcement systems are programmed with the old courtesy formulas. Never mind that passengers might even like to be addressed in this manner.

All this must be changed immediately on buses, trains, and stations. The MTA has ruled that conductors must now use new formulas that scrap the traditional “ladies and gentlemen,” suggesting “passengers” or “riders” as replacements. Conductors will be monitored by management for compliance. They must even manually override the automatic systems until new recordings can be made. Thus has it been decreed, and let no one dare do the contrary.

(John Horvat) Maybe they should call them “comrades.” Is Lind onto something with Cultural Marxism after all?


Tara Isabella Burton’s article How religious groups are responding to the Masterpiece Bakeshop Supreme Court case is from Vox, not a conservative or Religious Right site. But it is outstandingly thorough and fair to Jack Phillips’ case.

Indeed, some might think it imbalanced, but there are signs that it is a counterpart to a previous Vox story slanted toward the other side.


Justice Sotomayor interrupted Chief Justice Roberts and told the lawyer: “So that begs the question, when have we ever given protection to a food? The primary purpose of a food of any kind is to be eaten.”

(Adam White, Bake Now, or Forever Hold Your Peace)

Has Justice Sotomayor ever been to a wedding? Has she never heard Ooos and Aaahs over the beauty of the cake? Has she missed the kitschy cut by bride and groom (no, I won’t apologize) and the silly feeding cake to each other? Has she ever heard anyone Ooo or Aaah about how tasty or nutritious the cake is? Has she ever heard of Bridezilla pitching a holy fit because of how the cake tastes?

If I was minded as a Supreme Court Justice to beg a question, I’d beg it a heckuva lot more plausibly than that.

Or than this:

When Charlie Craig and David Mullins got married five years ago, they wanted one of [Jack] Phillips’ cakes.

We looked at their website and we’re, like, “Oh, look! These cakes look good. These cakes look like a cake we would want to have.” (Craig)

I don’t feel like we asked him for a piece of art or we asked him to say anything. (Craig)

(PBS News Hour—not part of the court record)

They picked the baker based on the appearance of his cakes. Their claim that they weren’t asking for a piece of art strikes me as objectively delusional, however they may feel about it five years later after artistry became their adversary’s key legal defense.


Masterpiece involves almost every issue presented by the First Amendment, including individual free speech, the free speech of a business, art as free speech, “expressive conduct” as intended and understood as free speech, “compelled” speech, free exercise of religion, and “hybrid” combinations of free speech and free exercise. There are background implications for freedom of association and even the establishment of religion.

What is in question is how Masterpiece fits into constitutional law. There are Supreme Court cases on both sides. But no case readily fits for the reason that no American government at any level has ever tried to police free speech and individual behavior to the degree that is being done today by the homosexual rights movement, now increasingly established into law …

In truth, Masterpiece is not a dispute between Jack Phillips and two bakery customers. The national gay-rights movement, with its wealthy activist litigating groups, all of whom are involved in this case, and its billions of dollars of in-kind support by such institutions as the media, entertainment, academia, and tech corporations, has successfully waged a thirty-year campaign in the federal courts, as well as in state courts, to establish homosexuality as its own special right and privilege, seemingly greater than or at least the equivalent of the “suspect categories” of race and alienage. With four consequent society-changing decisions in the Supreme Court, all authored by Justice Kennedy, that movement is now embarked on a mission to eliminate all dissent.

In Masterpiece, we are facing not only a constitutional but also a societal decision. Set in the context of fundamental rights of free speech and free exercise of religion, there is the underlying and basic question of whether state and federal courts and legislatures will abstain from destroying pipsqueak tradesmen who in their tiny shops—if we are allowed to be honest—neither intend nor give any real malice and who have no economic effect whatsoever. If Mr. Phillips’ plea is denied, a result that has no precedent in American history, there is no American right “to be left alone.”

(Thomas Ascik)

Okay. Stick a fork in that topic. I think (and hope) I’m done until SCOTUS announces its decision. You probably feel the same.

* * * * *

I would a thousand times rather have dinner with secular liberals of a certain temperament than with a group of religious conservatives who agreed with me about most things, but who have no sense of humor or irony.

(Rod Dreher)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.