Potpourri (Happy July)

Bravery and patriotism

"Her superiors — men many years older — are hiding behind executive privilege, anonymity and intimidation," Cheney said. "Her bravery and patriotism were awesome to behold. Little girls all across this great nation are seeing what it really means to love this country, what it really means to be a patriot."

Liz Cheney, speaking of Cassidy Hutchcinson’s, Tuesday’s blockbuster January 6 Committe witness.

Good news from North Korea

The cryptocurrency crash has likely depleted North Korean coffers full of stolen cryptocurrency. To raise revenue while skirting sanctions, the country has invested in bands of hackers to steal hundreds of millions in crypto heists in recent years, Josh Smith reports for Reuters. The U.S. Treasury put the value of one theft at nearly $615 million pre-crash. It’s hard to estimate how much of that haul the crash has wiped out. “If the same attack happened today, the Ether currency stolen would be worth a bit more than $230 million, but North Korea swapped nearly all of that for Bitcoin, which has had separate price movements,” Smith writes. $230 million is still nothing to sneeze at, but North Korea has some major expenses to cover. “One estimate from the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons says North Korea spends about $640 million per year on its nuclear arsenal. The country’s gross domestic product was estimated in 2020 to be around $27.4 billion, according to South Korea’s central bank.”

The Morning Dispatch

Very bad news from the Texas GOP

The Texas GOP added some interesting planks to its platform this year—among them, a resolution declaring the 2020 presidential election fraudulent. Augustus Bayard breaks down what else you need to know about what Republican delegates got up to in Texas.

The Morning Dispatch. That may be the worst of the news, or it may not. The platform also calls for repeal of the 16th Amendment (authorizing federal income taxes) and a referendum on secession.

Bless their hearts!

Mission Creeps

Institutions sometimes don’t really want to win.

The "Human Rights Campaign" won big when Obergefell was decided, but instead of throwing a celebratory party and then closing up shop, it went looking for new issues, seemingly having settled on pushing transgender ideology even though T hasn’t got much to do with LGB. It’s only natural for people who’ve dined out on a now-resolved progressive issue to want another one in its place. (This is not unrelated to the Iron law of institutions)

Some pro-life organizations may now be in a similar position. If any of them had the mission of reversing Roe v. Wade, their mission is accomplished. Those whose mission was passage of a Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution still have some legitimate mission. Those whose mission is to end abortion in America need never cease operation (because that will never happen).

But the specter of "mission creep" looms. How far can an organization go in supporting collateral projects to make society more hospitable to women, infants, and embryos in order to reduce the felt need for abortion? Are pro-life organizations now going to pivot to backing child tax credits, WIC, SCHIP, "artificial" contraception, and other collateral causes to show their compassion for women?

Of course they are, at least some of them. Should they? Where’s the line? Are supporters who drop away because of "conservative" opposition to such government programs to be excoriated as not really pro life?

By rights, pro-life people from the political side should consider pivoting the dollars and volunteer hours to the culture-building side. If they do, though, I suspect most of their Republican pals will put them on call-blocking.

The only party I know that’s both anti-abortion and friendly to building a more family-friendly culture is the American Solidarity Party.

Just sayin’.

A kind of genius, a kind of charlatan

Taubes soon achieved a kind of mocking multi-version notoriety as a kind of charlatan. On one occasion, some Harvard professors began a discussion about the theory of the soul of Bertram of Hildesheim, whose notions, they posited, were an intermediate form between the Thomistic and Scotist schools. After listening intently, Taubes went on to expound brilliantly and in detail about Bertram, astonishing all present with his profound and comprehensive knowledge — until he was informed that no such person existed. It is, of course, easy to ridicule such pretension, but Muller, while aware of Taubes’s many dubious qualities, is always at pains to point out as well his acumen and insight. The Bertram incident, Muller notes, “also reflects his talent for placing a book or thinker in a field of intellectual coordinates, and deducing what the key tenets ought to have been. To pull off the stunt he actually had to know a great deal about Thomism (i.e. the followers of Thomas Aquinas) and Scotism (i.e. the followers of Duns Scotus).”

Steven E. Aschheim, Brilliant Scholar or Predatory Charlatan?: On Jerry Z. Muller’s “Professor of Apocalypse: The Many Lives of Jacob Taubes”

The Noble Cause


the most vociferous supporters of Donald Trump [falling into] a determined repetition of assertions – especially that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen, but also concerning COVID–19 and many other matters – that wouldn’t stand up even to casual scrutiny, and therefore don’t receive that scrutiny[?]

That sounds to Alan Jacobs uncomfortably like the Lost Cause/Noble Antebellum South lies with which the South has dispositionally flirted for 150 years now.

Why Jesse Singal remains a man of the left

Question: Where’s your red line with the left? You frequently criticize people who jump ship to the right out of disgust with the left, but for you personally, what would it take? —Keese

For every crazy story about something happening on the left, I promise you there is an equivalent one from the right. It happens to be that there are more liberals in media and academia, so there’s an endless supply of stories coming out of these places about various forms of overreach and radicalism, but that doesn’t mean the average journalist or academic is crazy. I mean, see above — most folks just want to do their jobs and not get fired by a psychotic 25-year-old.

More broadly, I think this is the wrong way to approach politics. I don’t see “the left” as a social club I’m a member of because I like the people in it and approve of their conduct. I see it as a loose set of beliefs about the way the world should work that I view as much better and more reasonable than what the right has on offer. I really think luck determines almost everything, and that society should be built in a way where rather than endlessly reward those who already have gotten lucky, we do what we can to lift up the unlucky to a decent standard of living. I think a lot of bootstraps discourse is nonsense, or close to it, when you look into the specifics.

I’m not laying out a particularly detailed or sophisticated philosophy here, and I’m of course going light on policy specifics, but the conservative movement is not a welcoming place for those who hold those beliefs. So I don’t think any number of insane blowups on the left would cause me to “switch” — it would have to be some sort of deeper ideological transformation that I don’t think is in the cards. I’m too old.

Jesse Singal

If people have always said it, it is probably true; it is the distilled wisdom of the ages. If people have not always said it, but everybody is saying it now, it is probably a lie; it is the concentrated madness of the moment.

Anthony Esolen, Out of the Ashes

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