Once more, slowly, for the idiots

David French tries to set the record straight on Masterpiece Cakes, scheduled for argument in the Supreme Court Tuesday.

Forgive me for starting a piece with the oldest cliché in the practice of law. As the saying goes, “If the law is on your side, pound on the law. If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. If neither are on your side, pound on the table.” In the run-up to the oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission on December 5, we’re seeing a lot of table-pounding from the Left. In fact, I’ve never seen a case more mischaracterized in my entire legal career.

The actual facts of the case are crystal clear. Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, refused to custom-design a cake to help celebrate a gay wedding. As a Christian, he finds same-sex unions to be unbiblical and immoral, and he wasn’t willing to use his artistic talents to advance a message he holds to be wrong. In fact, he’d frequently declined to design cakes that advanced messages he found to be offensive. But he never, ever — not once — discriminated against any customers on the basis of their identity. He baked cakes for people of all races, creeds, colors, and sexual orientations.

Two years ago, in the Obergefell opinion, [Justice Anthony Kennedy] wrote this:

Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.

If Justice Kennedy holds to this view, then not only does the First Amendment win, nondiscrimination laws won’t lose. Phillips isn’t discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. If Kennedy changes his mind, then he’ll erode vital American constitutional traditions and doctrines. The sexual revolution, not the Constitution, will be the supreme law of the land.

That old cliché explains why it will be hard to set the record straight. Neither the law nor the facts favor what Colorado has done to Jack Phillips, the proprietor. Only the inexorable demand of the sexual revolution to eradicate all wrongthought and wrongthinkers supports it.

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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.

Like a spider monkey with a lit stick of dynamite

I didn’t mean to do it, but in short order this morning I had collected three worthy snippets on how Donald Trump manipulates us. (The third is my favorite, sublimely succinct and almost poetic.)

Every president has his own strategy for dealing with periods of acute difficulty. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan worked to disarm their opponents with charm, grace and humor. Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton moved to the center. George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama tried to get down to business and to do something significant and concrete.

By contrast, Donald Trump heightens the contradictions. He tries to provoke unrest and discontent, with a clear intuition that they are his best friends. He creates demons and scapegoats. That’s also Stephen Bannon’s approach, and it captures what drew the two men together.

That might be smart politics. But more fundamentally, it appears to be Trump’s gut instinct, his go-to approach when cornered or in trouble. In some cases, his statements look uncomfortably like Russia’s Facebook ads.

While Trump’s characteristic strategy is to intensify social divisions, and to make what divides Americans as salient and visible as possible, that approach is more often associated with the left than the right (true to its Marxist origins).

(Cass R. Sunstein, Russia Is Using Marxist Strategies, and So Is Trump:
Moscow’s meddling in the U.S. election was aimed at stoking social tensions. Sound familiar?
)

In the year since Donald Trump was elected president, the national news media has congratulated itself on a new golden age of accountability journalism.

And it’s true in many ways. The scoops have been relentless, the digging intense, the results important.

But in another crucial way, the reality-based press has failed.

Too often, it has succumbed to the chaos of covering Trump, who lies and blusters and distracts at every turn.

Of course, given the differences among news organizations, generalizing is a fraught exercise. Nonetheless, each news cycle is an exhausting, confusing blast of conflicting claims, fact-checking, reactions and outrage.

Trump drives the news, all day and every day, a human fire hose of hyperbolic tweets, insults, oversimplification and bragging.

And then there’s the huge influence of Fox News, which early last week was discussing hamburger emoji as the rest of the national media was reporting the indictments of Trump associates.

The president has been sowing those seeds of mistrust for many months, and cultivates them daily with extra-strength fertilizer.

Reporters “have so-called sources that, in my opinion, don’t exist,” Trump told Lou Dobbs of Fox Business recently. “They just ― they make it up. It is so dishonest. It is so fake.”

Of course, that’s not true. Reporters for legitimate news organizations do not make things up. Those few reporters who fabricate sources get fired and are driven out of the business.

(Margaret Sullivan, Media Columnist for the Washington Post, in Trump’s message of mistrust is sinking in, even in journalism’s new ‘golden age’)

[T]he president grabs the public’s attention like a spider monkey running through a church with a lit stick of dynamite.

(Jonah Goldberg)

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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.

Trigger-warned

“Natural disasters and their man-made counterparts (mass shootings, terrorist attacks) pose an obvious challenge for those living the Me-Driven Life. These events are frustrating, and inconvenient, because they tend to cause those people to think about their own problems: their injuries, the loss of loved ones, their hunger, thirst, discomfort, life-threatening cholera, what have you.

This is a common character flaw, and it is harmful because it distracts them from their more pressing obligation to think about you ….”

(Dana Milbank, A Narcissist’s Guide to Helping Others Understand It Is All About You)

President Trump is the author of many of the most successful business books of all time, from The Art of the Deal to … um … those other ones. And with his presidency spooling out before us like an endless rainbow of winning, there’s much that leaders of any organization, company, or family can learn about how to make their enterprise function like the “fine-tuned machine” that is the Trump administration.

Perhaps someday Trump will sit down to write a book detailing his leadership secrets, offering up another trove of penetrating insight and inspiring prose. Until then, here are some tips we can glean from watching Trump’s unrivaled performance as president.

1. Force your underlings to praise you in public. This will make them feel like honored parts of the team! It’s a technique Trump often employs, whether it’s a Cabinet meeting or a get-together with a group of religious leaders. He’ll call on them one at a time, knowing that they’ll all feel compelled to give him the hosannas he’s looking for …

(Paul Waldman, Leadership tips from Donald J. Trump)

Why? Why can’t just one religious leader, of all people, have the cojones to say “It’s always an honor to be invited to meet with the President of our nation” and leave it at that?

UPDATE:

The thing I got most wrong is that I did not anticipate the sheer chaos and dysfunction and slovenliness of the Trump operation. I didn’t sufficiently anticipate how distracted Trump could be by things that are not essential. My model was that he was greedy first and authoritarian second. What I did not see was that he was needy first, greedy second, and authoritarian third. We’d be in a lot worse shape if he were a more meticulous, serious-minded person.

(David Frum, The Atlantic, October 2017)

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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.

Don’t let your dogma mess with my dogma

It fell to Sen. Dianne Feinstein … to explicitly declare Barrett part of a suspect class. “Dogma and law are two different things,” Feinstein lectured. “And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. . . . When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.” Translation: Don’t let your dogma mess with my dogma.

[T]he deeper problem is a certain type of liberal thinking that seeks to declare secular ideas the only valid basis for public engagement. A neutral public square, in this view, must be a secular public square. Because religious ideas and motivations are fundamentally illiberal, they must be contained entirely to the private sphere.

This is a thin and sickly sort of pluralism. It is permissible, in this approach, to advocate human rights because John Locke says so, but not because of a theological belief that the image of God is found in every human being. If your views on a just society are informed by John Stuart Mill, they are allowed to triumph in politics. If your views on a just society are informed by your deepest beliefs about the cosmos, you can never prevail, because this represents the imposition of religion. This is hardly “neutrality.” It is a conception of pluralism that silences millions of people and reaches back into history to invalidate the abolition movement, the civil rights movement and many other causes informed by boisterous religious belief.

In effect, Feinstein would make her secularism the state religion, complete with its own doctrine and Holy Office. A judge is bound by the Constitution, not by any creed — as Barrett has affirmed again and again. But having a conscience and a character shaped by faith is not a problem; it is part of a rich and positive American tradition. Someone should inform the grand inquisitor.

(Michael Gerson, Senate Democrats show off their anti-religious bigotry)

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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.