Monday Purge

That’s “purge” as in “binge and purge.”

On polarization

Buffalo

I was at a loss for apt words, but National Review’s Jay Nordlinger provided them:

About the Buffalo shooting — that massacre — a few simple words.

I believe that the Left has to come to grips with its criminal extremists. And that the Right has to come to grips with its criminal extremists. America would be a better place. Each side does a pretty good job of keeping an eye on the other. But what if each side also kept an eye on itself? That would be a lot better.

If the Right thinks it has no problem with white nationalism — murderous white nationalism — it’s whistlin’ “Dixie.” (Uh-huh.) If the Left thinks it has no problem with Antifa/BLM-style violence, it has its head in the sand. We could use less tribalism and more patriotism.

Adam Kinzinger, the Republican congressman from Illinois, said, “The tragic shooting in Buffalo is a reminder of why we don’t play around with white nationalism.” I agree completely.

Don’t play around. Don’t wink. Don’t look the other way.

When I was a kid, I thought of the Boston Massacre as a bloodbath. And it was. But at some point I learned that five people had been killed (which is five too many). Did the guy in Buffalo commit a massacre? He did.

And, as I see it, he not only assaulted flesh-and-blood individuals — black Americans, in particular — he assaulted the very American idea.

“Don’t play around. Don’t wink. Don’t look the other way.” Not even if it makes you very, very rich, Tucker.

On double standards

While we’ve long complained of leftwing radical ideologues, we’ve closed our eyes to eyes to the steady and “nativist” march of rightwing ideologues. Perhaps they looked too much like us for us to notice.

Father Jonathan Tobias.

That kind of stings. We do tend to apply different standards to our enemies than those we apply to our friends.

Toxic Symbiosis

[P]rogressives have been blind to their own cultural power. Liberals dominate the elite cultural institutions — the universities, much of the mainstream news media, entertainment, many of the big nonprofits — and many do not seem to understand how infuriatingly condescending it looks when they describe their opponents as rubes and bigots.

The Republican Party capitalizes on this. Some days it seems as if this is the only thing the party does ….

David Brooks

Epiphanies

Sometimes, the truth isn’t told, but realized.

Beardy Guy

On healing

We’re all mutts here

The further I go, the less I’m sure how to answer the question, “Who are you?” Where to start? I’m a Purdue employee, a happy husband, a father of four, a businessman, a former elected official, a Presbyterian elder, a history buff, and a mediocre golfer. Ancestry.com informs me that genetically I’m more Syrian and Lebanese than anything else, but I’ve got high percentages of Scotch, Welsh and a dash of Italian mixed in.

And I’m a dog lover. I grew up in a family of them. We got all ours from the Humane Society, every one some sort of mixture. And every one was great: loyal, loving, a full member of the family. During those years, I adopted my mother’s opinion that mutts are the best.

We’d all better hope Mom was right. Because we’re all mutts here today. Hybrids, amalgams, crossbreeds, mongrels. Mutts. If you doubt that, go check with Ancestry.com.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels to the Class of 2022

Great Replacement conspiracy theory

The major laws governing immigration policy were passed with large bipartisan majorities in 1965, 1986 and 1990, at a time when neither party saw the issue as a dividing line between them. To the extent that the limits on immigration have not been enforced since these laws were passed, it has had more to do with business opposition than with anyone’s desire to change the country’s political demography.

Ramesh Ponnuru.

Be it remembered, though, that the Great Replacement Theory is little more than an anti-Semitic resistance to the Democrats’ gleeful anticipation of a “Coalition of the Ascendent.”

Democracy over Judicial usurpation

Judge [Douglas] Ginsburg cites a “wonderful” book by his friend Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard legal scholar. “Abortion and Divorce in Western Law” is a study of 20 Western countries that changed their abortions laws contemporaneously—by legislation everywhere except in the U.S. In the other 19 countries, abortion is “not still a burning issue, because when a legislature acts, there has to be compromise,” Judge Ginsburg says. “It’s set up so that nothing can happen unless people compromise.”

Wall Street Journal profile.

Morning in America?

Nancy Pelosi has been denied communion by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. Brian Kemp is sailing to victory in Georgia despite the “stop the steal” vendetta of our 45th President, The Orange One, and the latter’s “complete and total endorsement” of Kemp’s MAGA opponent David Perdue.

Could it be morning in America again?

Miscellany

Confirmation

On Monday, I blogged, inter alia, that “in a lot of ways, my blog is a very large commonplace book.” On Tuesday evening, Alan Jacobs approvingly cited Corey Doctorow’s “idea of a blog as a place to make your commonplace book public.”

I do not follow Cory Doctorow, nor had I stumbled on his comment. It’s an interesting coincidence, and apart from reading Doctorow’s piece about it, that’s all I plan to do or say.

TGIF highlights

From Nellie Bowles’ 5/20 TGIF Edition Bari Weiss’s Substack:

Crypto wants a bailout, please: The wild and wooly world of crypto investing has gone from being very fun to, suddenly, very depressing. Things like TerraUSD, which to many looked like an overly complicated Ponzi scheme, turned out to indeed be an overly complicated Ponzi scheme. Meanwhile, the co-founder of Ethereum is arguing for some sort of bailout.

Dear Government: Don’t you dare bail them out!

More:

Netflix lays down the law: At the end of last week, Netflix updated its corporate culture memo, which now includes a jab at the company’s increasingly agitated Red Guard: “Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful. If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.” And this week Netflix made that decision for 150 people. The company framed the firings as “layoffs”—but 150 people doesn’t really make a dent for a company of 11,000 people. Those 150 happen to include, just by chance, some of the most Twitter-active social justice workers in the place ….

Finally, an employer with spine!

One more:

BLM founder calls the money raised “white guilt money”: New financial disclosures shed light on how BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors spent all that cash: About a million dollars went to the father of her child for “live production design and media.” Another $840,000 went to her brother for “security.” Of course $6 million went to a private party house (the scam there is that it was bought from a friend who had paid $3 million for that same house only a few days earlier). Cullors admitted mistakes were made with what she called “white guilt money.”

I love the candor reflected in “white guilt money.”

Pro tip for what we used to call “bleeding heart liberals”: You do not rid yourself of guilt or make the world a better place by performative gifts to grifters.

Pro tip for adherents of The Thing That Conservatism Has Become: See the above advice for bleeding heart liberals. You’ve got your own grifters, from the Lincoln Project to (increasingly) the Heritage Foundation.

I’ve no doubt I’ve omitted some because life is too short to waste it on setting up flashing yellow lights at every hazard for protection of people who are apparently eager to be duped.

Oxymoron of the Week

stablecoin, a type of cryptocurrency that is pegged to another currency, sometimes a conventional one like the dollar. Read the full article.

Economist, The World in Brief

Intellectually indefensible and politically disastrous

The crusade against Roe v. Wade as a court decision is a crusade against defective, imperialistic jurisprudence, a campaign to defend the sanctity not of human life but of our constitutional order, against those who would pervert it for their own parochial political ends, using the Supreme Court as a superlegislature to grant the Left political victories that its allies in elected office are unable to win at the ballot box. The legal and constitutional case against Roe v. Wade need not be wedded to the anti-abortion cause at all, and, indeed, a small number of brave, intellectually honest legal scholars who favor abortion rights have conceded that Roe was an extraconstitutional power grab, intellectually indefensible and politically disastrous.

Kevin D. Williamson.

Not Beautiful

Regarding the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and Jordan Peterson’s comment on a “plus-size” covergirl:

A women’s dignity revolution will not be ignited by chasing Jordan Peterson off of Twitter. The best way to dignify Yumi Nu, Sofia Jirau, or any woman in this game like them is not to force men to play along. It is to demand game over. It is to stand athwart the path of Sports Illustrated, Victoria’s Secret, and the whole degraded, degrading procession, crying “Not beautiful!”

Bethel McGrew’s Further Up Substack

Wordplay: Implicature

Implicature. The link is a search leading to multiple varying definitions.

It’s always interesting at my age to encounter a word that I not only need to nail down, but one that I need to look up because I haven’t got a clue whether it’s related to “implication” (and how it differs if it is).


You can read most of my more impromptu stuff here (cathartic venting) and here (the only social medium I frequent, because people there are quirky, pleasant and real). Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly or Reeder, should you want to make a habit of it.

Ruso-Ukrainian War

I had collected so much on the current war that I decided to blog it separately.

Resisting Western cultural hegemony

Danilevsky concluded with words that continue to resonate today among Russian conservatives who want to resist the forces of globalism and what they see as Western cultural hegemony:

The danger consists not of the political domination of a single state, but of the cultural domination of one cultural-historical type … The issue is not whether there will be a universal state, either a republic or a monarchy, but whether one civilization, one culture, will dominate, since this would deprive humanity of one of the necessary conditions for success and perfection—the element of diversity.

Paul Robinson, Russian Conservatism, Kindle page 82.

The collective mind of Russia, insofar as there is such a thing, likely matters at present less than the mind of Putin. Were it not so, Putin wouldn’t have smashed civil society at all critical or even inquisitive voices (see below).

But Russian conservatives have at centuries of discomfort with the West. Many of them were educated in the West, and they acknowledge and admire its accomplishments, but they want to keep it arm’s length. They want Russia to be Russian.

I have not yet read about Russian liberals.

Putin and Pushkin

“You have Putin’s Russia and Pushkin’s Russia,” Krielaars observed. To blame a whole culture, past and present, for a current political action implies that everything about that culture contributed to that action. If Germany succumbed to the Nazis, don’t listen to Beethoven; because of Mussolini, cancel Dante and Raphael; if you reject American actions in Vietnam, the Middle East, or anywhere else, no more Thoreau or Emily Dickinson. Could there be a better way to encourage national hatred than to treat a whole culture and its history as a unified whole, carrying, as if genetically, a hideous quality?

When I visited Soviet-dominated Poland in 1970, people understandably resented Russian rule. Ill-disposed to the forced consumption of Russian culture, some responded, as oppressed people often do, with the sort of blind hatred that prepares victims to be oppressors as soon as the tables are turned. As a character in Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov observes, “it can be very pleasant to take offense.” One Pole I met proclaimed proudly: “I even hate Russian trees!” “You have something against birches?” I asked incredulously. But the more absurd his pronouncements were, the more righteous he felt.

Russian expert Michel Krielaars via Gary Saul Morson

Ukrainian Genocide

  • The International Court of Justice ruled 13-2 in favour of Ukraine, concluding that Russia’s allegations that Ukraine was committing genocide against Russian speakers in Donetsk and Luhansk were false. The ruling strips away the legal pretext that Mr Putin used for the invasion. The two dissenting judges were, unsurprisingly, from China and Russia.
  • In a menacing television appearance Mr Putin warned Russians to be aware of “fifth columnists”, urging them to “spit out like a midge that has flown into their mouths” those traitors whose minds had been captured by the West. The West’s ultimate aim, he said, was the destruction of Russia. Russian prima ballerina Olga Smirnova was clearly unpersuaded. Having been publicly critical of the war she quit the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow to join the Dutch National Ballet. She is the most famous Russian star to quit the country over the war.

The world in brief | The Economist, 3/17/22.

Allegations of Ukrainian genocide in Donetsk and Luhansk (eastern Ukrainian regions oriented strongly toward Russia rather than the West) seemed, apart from the possible hyperbole of “genocide,” plausible to me. I’m relieved that Russia was as bereft of evidence as was Trump in his grousing about the 2020 Election.

As for the claim that “[t]he West’s ultimate aim [is] the destruction of Russia,” there’s too much to it for me to summarily dismiss it.

We have made Russia our bête noire for my entire lifetime, with a brief pause around 1990 when we fancied we might turn it into a Western liberal democracy. But as it turns out, there’s a whole lot of historic and abiding Russian conservative resistance to liberal democracy, and since it’s always helpful for a regime to have an iconic enemy, we acquiesced in Russia remaining the Other.

Add to that widespread western Christian ambivalence about Orthodox Christianity (insofar as the West is aware of it at all) and the history of Russian Orthodox collaboration with successive illiberal regimes and — Why, yes! Now that you mention it we would find it reassuring if Russia as we know it were destroyed, by us, by it’s own overreach, or from internal forces.

Putin knows it, but his very knowing it, we fancy, means it’s false.

How might the Ukraine war scramble world Christianity?

Veteran Religion Beat reporter Richard Ostling does an outstanding, objective job in Beyond the Orthodox questions: How might the Ukraine war scramble world Christianity?. It’s heavily but not exclusively focused on potential scrambling in Christian Orthodoxy. Lots of links, too.

No hate speech except against the hateful people

The Russian government moved to designate Meta as an “extremist organisation”, after reports that the parent company of Facebook and Instagram would allow Ukrainians to call for violence against Russian soldiers on its sites. Meta said there was no change to its policies on hate speech “as far as the Russian people are concerned”. The row does raise questions about Meta’s role in selecting just when it thinks support for violence is suitable across its platforms.

Business | The Economist

Putin’s crackdown on his own people

For whatever reason these stories really brought home to me the enormity of Putin’s deceit and suppression.

Dissidents flee Russia

“The plane from Moscow to Yerevan was packed with people I knew,” he recalled. “Lots of young people — the future of Russia is leaving.”

“Collective blame is an easy way to channel rage,” Maria Stepanova, a prominent Russian poet, told me. But the impulse to punish Russians on the basis of national identity is a misguided one. Ms. Stepanova told me that many emigrants are driven by a feeling of pure moral indignation, a sense that emigration is the only remaining avenue for political protest. “They simply don’t want to breathe the air here,” she said. “They want to cut all ties with their country.… They’re willing to risk ruining their lives out of this feeling of disgust.”

Sophie Pinkham, Putin’s War in Ukraine Is Forcing Russian Dissidents to Flee. That title is underinclusive: intellectuals and potential conscriptees are fleeing, too. It was predicted and now it’s happening.

Remaining dissidents are like vermin

The idea behind the hounding of prominent figures in the arts is to reject Western influence as alien. One of the most public faces of this campaign is Margarita Simonyan, the boss of the state-run RT television station. As she said in one of her recent talk shows, “We must all consolidate, grip our will in our fists, establish exceptional order in education, culture and information, and rid the country of truants, idiots and traitors.” In a speech on March 16th, Vladimir Putin said such people would be “spat out”.

The Economist, ‌Russian propagandists turn on pro-Western “traitors”

Crushing Russian civil society

Wow. Strong opener:

Within the first days of the war, the Russian government smashed to pieces whatever remained of Russian civil society—including independent media, human rights organizations, and anybody who could still speak truth to power and to their fellow citizens. As the Kremlin adopted a new draconian speech law and cracked down on organization after organization—initiating or completing bogus legal procedures against them, shutting down their websites, and sending goons to physically harass them—the people staffing those organizations picked up and left the country. Within only about 72 hours, the entire institutional fabric of Russia’s civil society, painstakingly woven out of the post-Soviet institutional wasteland, was irreparably torn to shreds.

Izabella Tabarovsky, ‌Russia’s New Exiles.

Of all the stories I’ve seen on the new emigration of Russians, this (fairly long, but no paywall) was the most potent. The life of Russia intellectual, potential conscriptee, journalistic and dissident exiles is spartan and very hard; fleeing Russia didn’t “make it all better.”

When The Tablet is good, it’s very, very good.

Personal reversal

I’ve tended to buy the John Mearsheimer argument that we forced Putin’s hand (expanding NATO eastward threatened Russia — the idea is far from being a Mearsheimer exclusive), and this blog’s recent posts have almost certainly reflected that.

I’m no longer convinced of that. Ann Applebaum on Andrew Sullivan’s podcast was surprisingly persuasive, as have been a few others.

The most persuasive argument against the “pushing NATO too far” theory, to my mind, is that we always have nuclear-capable submarines close to Russia (as they have close to us). Although “NATO is purely defensive,” standing alone, wasn’t very persuasive, “NATO, which claims to be purely defensive, is a trivial threat to Russia compared to the U.S. and it’s submarines” packs a punch. Tell me why that’s wrong.

But the most persuasive observation is what Putin is doing within his own borders, and the stupid propaganda behind which he shields himself.

I’m still not sure what Putin is up to, but it should be born in mind that Putin’s intent is not Russia-at-large’s intent — else he wouldn’t crush truthful reporting, arrest protestors, ban civil society mediating structures and so forth.

That this war might bring down Putin is an outcome fervently to be hoped and prayed for, but we dare not directly promote it, and we should not be under any illusions that his fall would lead quickly to a liberal Western democratic Russia. There’s too much history and sentiment to the contrary. Russia and the West may learn to live together, but I don’t look for homogeneity.

Caveat: I have never repudiated my conscientious objection to war, so don’t think for one second that I’m some kind of military expert.


You can read most of my more impromptu stuff here (cathartic venting) and here (the only social medium I frequent, because people there are quirky, pleasant and real). Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly or Reeder, should you want to make a habit of it.

Wordplay 3/4/22

Particularly universal

[Wendell Berry’s] message is universal (as all particularism is.)

Paul Kingsnorth. Also:

[L]eft and right are much less meaningful divisions than landed and landless.

Sudden-onset Tourette’s Syndrome

Coprolalia, a primary symptom of Tourette’s Syndrom, etymologically must mean "shit talk" (as coprophagia means shit-eating) even if it doesn’t fit the modern usage of "shit-talkin’".

As an aside, I return to one of my obsessive questions: why can some types admit that there is some social contagion going on in sudden-onset adolescent Tourette’s but brand as transphobic (a neologism that has become the insult-of-choice among brain-dead progressives) anyone who notes the social contagion going on in sudden-onset gender dysphoria in adolescent girls?

Anagnorisis

  • Anagnorisis is that moment of recognition when a character in a play finally understands their predicament and who they really are. It is Shakespeare’s Cardinal Wolsey in Henry VIII realizing that he has “ventured … this many summers in a sea of glory, But far beyond my depth,” or Richard II saying, “I have wasted time and now doth time waste me.” It happens in war all the time, and it is happening now as Russia pushes forward with its invasion of Ukraine.

Eliot A. Cohen, ‌Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man

Devil’s dictionary redux

A journalist is someone who believes that any closet may contain a minister who is canoodling with the organist.

Garrison Keillor

Ambivalence/Panopticon

Ambivalence: the feeling I get when yet another crime is caught on a security camera, and thereby solved, but then it dawns on me again that we’re living in a …

Crowd-Sourced Panopticon or close to it.

Golden Bridge

A Golden Bridge, from Sun Tzu’s Art of War, is akin to a metaphorical "off ramp" whereby an adversary can retreat but save face. (H/T Damon Linker)

Phrase of the moment

"Unspeakable human suffering." I thought it was becoming hackneyed, and perhaps it is, but I can think of no better pithy phrase. Ineffable has connotations too different from unspeakable.


You can read most of my more impromptu stuff here (cathartic venting) and here (the only social medium I frequent, because people there are quirky, pleasant and real). Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly or Reeder, should you want to make a habit of it.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism: The Enlightenment’s Delight

I listened yesterday to the Yasha Mounk podcast The Good Fight, wherein he interviewed Elizabeth Bruenig. Part of the discussion was about our Western, and particularly American, efforts to keep religion and politics separate. They used the metaphor "radioactive" to describe how religion was viewed politically: "too radioactive to allow into politics," essentially. And Bruenig drew something of a corrolary: the dumbed-down, vacuous "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism" about which orthodox religious people complain was the very design of enlightenment thinkers for politics-friendly religion.

The replacement of religion by MTD has spawned the Great Awokening and white ethno-nationalism, sublimated religions. As I used to say (though I didn’t coin it), "If you don’t like the Religious Right, just wait till you see the unreligious right."

As always, I detest instrumental religion. If we can no longer believe orthodox Christianity, we should not profess it in order to defeat ideological extremisms. Hypocrisy is rarely a good long-term strategy.

But maybe those extremisms can remind us that orthodox Christianity (better: Orthodox Christianity) just might be true, might correspond to reality (apart from any political valence).

On a related note, Abigail Shrier savages the sheer, perverse and counterproductive tone-deafness of many conservatives. As she sees it, conservatives fought "[t]o keep an unhappy biological girl with a five o’clock shadow [Gavin Grimm] out of the boys’ room".

Here, specifically, is what the Left achieved in the intervening six years: 22 states enacted conversion therapy bans, making it impossible for therapists to offer trans-identified youth any alternative to transition; nearly every medical accrediting organization adopted “affirmative care,” solemnly promising to suspend all medical judgment and rubber-stamp transitions, even by minors; gender ideology wormed its way into public school, laid eggs, and hatched endless confusion; schools across the country, with the explicit approval of the Obama administration, began conspiring to conceal minors’ declared gender identities from their parents; and hundreds of pediatric gender clinics cropped up to meet a sudden demand, heedless of the dangers, peddling phony mental health benefits and dismissing international warnings.

Conservatives’ chief asset is also our chief liability: We are willing to fight unpopular battles because we’ve never been popular. We are less easily seduced by the good opinion of those who’ve always withheld it. But we often lack strategy for this reason, too. We seem to have no idea what would appeal to other humans. Putting conservatives in charge of political strategy is like putting the debate team in charge of prom; the only guarantee is that no one else will show up.

Abigail Shrier, We Must Win the Gender War. Shrier cares about those victories the Left achieved because they are unwarranted, and will harm many minors. The minors it will harm are mostly those in the absolute surge of recently-gender-confused kids — above the historic baseline of kids (a tiny minority, but no less precious for that) who genuinely have deep-seated gender dysphoria. But some of those dysphoric kids will be harmed, too, because transitioning is not always the best answer, and comes with its own long list of problematic side-effects.

Shrier’s "scorching" critique of conservatives’ worse-than-futile response so far to "gender ideology" is well-warranted in its own right, and worth reading in full. But it also reminds me of my own frustrations 30 years ago on another topic.

I’ll avoid yet another replay of "I was right and the powers that be were wrong," and I won’t even name the specific "presenting issue." Suffice that when there were public debates, I went and presented my best conservative Rawlsian "public reason" case against the proposal at hand. But before me and behind me were people with their Bibles in hand (sometimes literally, sometime bearing only cherry-picked proof-texts) inveighing "thus saith the Lord" (figuratively).

They had no idea what might appeal to secularists or Moralist Therapeutic Deists. They discredited our cause. They reflected discredit on me because, despite my Rawlsian arguments, I was known to be a conservative Christian, so my public reasons were assumed to be a deception. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, John Rawls.

The people who brought their Bibles that night, thinking it was still high trump in a "Christian Nation," have had their champion, another Trump, in the Oval Office for four years.

But "in the intervening [thirty, and four] years," progressives have marched, in the culture if not in government, from victory to victory.

Maybe it was fated to be so. Maybe "damned-if-you do, damned-if-you-don’t" is all conservative Christians need to know. But I don’t find that a very satisfying answer. And I find darned few palatable political allies, and little hope of politics restoring a necrotic culture if I could find them.


Being called un-American is like being called “un-Christian” or “un-Islamic,” a charge akin to heresy.

Shadi Hamid, ‌How Politics Replaced Religion in America.

This is a very worthwhile article.


You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Priorities and more

I heard the other day that most American Christians consider themselves Americans first, Christians second (or lower, I speculate). And they are hostile toward people who are Christians first.

This confirms to me that most American Christianity is nominal only. It also make me wish for a T-shirt or Sweatshirt (if only I weren’t too old to wear messagewear) inscribed "Other."


Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Poet Who Nurtured the Beats, Dies at 101


CPAC (a big annual gathering of "conservatives") isn’t what it used to be. Then again, maybe it never was.


> Somewhere along the line, when the pandemic was raging and Trump was blithely going on TV and telling us not to worry, that the virus was going to suddenly disappear, and not to let fear rule our lives, the response on the left was to insist on the opposite. To my eye, what started among myself and my peers as a genuine concern about the unfolding pandemic — concern for ourselves, our vulnerable loved ones, our vulnerable neighbors and community members — started morphing and hardening into something else, or something additional: a tribal totem. Harboring and expressing extreme anxiety, fear, and outrage about the virus became a crucial component of identifying as a virtuous progressive. > > The feelings were (and are) real, and not unwarranted. But when, in another time and place, we might have received steadying messages of individual and communal resilience (Keep calm and carry on, etc.), instead we on the left found our most despairing, fearful, and angry feelings flamed — by a media industry that’s figured out how to trade fear and rage for clicks, and by a desire to cast ourselves as a compassionate, humanitarian foil to the callous, capital-focused response on the right. (Never mind that it turns out we had plenty of blind spots of our own.)

Mo Perry in her Mailchimp mailing of 2/25/21.

It’s nice to see an acknowledgement of progressive Covid tribalism, since there was no mistaking right-wing Covid tribalism


So far, it feels to me as if the Senate is confirming nominees who ought to be confirmed and questioning those that truly are questionable. I hope they refuse confirmation to Xavier Becerra:

> Republicans have both partisan and nonpartisan reasons to bristle at the Becerra nomination. The nonpartisan gripe is based on experience: While Becerra has served in government for decades—he was a member of the House of Representatives from 1993 to 2017—he has never served in an executive health policy role. If there’s one nominee you’d like to be able to hit the ground running in a new administration during a global pandemic, Republicans have argued, it’s the head of Health and Human Services. > > But the more visceral opposition to Becerra stems from what Republicans describe as his radical views on the role of government in health care, his intense opposition to any government limitations on abortion, and his track record in California of wielding state power against groups from crisis pregnancy centers to orders of nuns that didn’t comply with state and federal laws later deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. > > David summed up the Republican case against Becerra in the French Press back in December: > >> Becerra zealously defended a California law that forced pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for free and low-cost abortions. He defied the current HHS Office of Civil Rights to attempt to force churches to provide abortion coverage. He selectively and aggressively prosecuted an undercover pro-life activist, and he litigated against the Little Sisters of the Poor as part of a continuing effort to coerce religious institutions into violating their consciences to facilitate contraceptive coverage. > > In a letter to Biden this week spearheaded by Sen. Tom Cotton, dozens of House and Senate Republicans accused Becerra of “contempt for anyone who doesn’t agree with his radical leftist agenda,” which they said ran afoul of Biden’s pledge to govern on a unity platform.

The Morning Dispatch: Security Officials Blame Intelligence Failures for January 6 – The Morning Dispatch.

Like preachers calling Playboy "hard-core pornography" and then having no stronger words left for Hustler, the GOP has so debased "radical leftist agenda" that it has no sting when it’s really needed. It’s also too broad to be useful even as shorthand in any cases I can think of.

They must think we’re stupid. We keep re-electing them so they must be right.

I’m thinking especially of social conservatives (especially Evangelicals and Catholics) who have clung to the GOP like — well, like black Americans clinging to the Democrat party. In both cases, there’s a feeling that the other major party has nothing to offer, and that’s (in me estimation) true. But we can start to change things by looking for third parties close to our key concerns (mine is the American Solidarity Party) and deprive both unworthy major parties of our votes.


You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

God talk

From the secular point of view, to admit that secular nationalism is just as religious as Islam, for example, would question the whole foundation upon which the secular nation-state claims its legitimacy. From the religious point of view, it would also invite charges of idolatry. Despite the similarities between what is called religion and nationalism, then, we must deny that nationalism is really a religion. We acknowledge verbally that the nation and the flag are not really gods. The crucial test, however, is what people do with their bodies. It is clear that, among those who identify themselves as Christians in the United States, there are very few who would be willing to kill in the name of the Christian God, whereas the willingness, under certain circumstances, to kill and die for the nation in war is generally taken for granted.

William T. Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence


I have seen men, proud of their ability to lie, and exciting laughter by their clowning and joking, who have miserably destroyed in their hearers the habit of mourning.

Vassilios Papavassiliou, Thirty Steps to Heaven


I recently picked up a tract on The Way to God from "World Missionary Press," left in a restroom at a restaurant. I was curious about how the kinds of people who leave tracts in bathrooms viewed the question.

Well, it wasn’t as bad as I feared — nowhere near as bad.

  • It didn’t describe the Fall as tainting humanity with hell worthy sin from the moment of birth, but rather as bringing sin and death into the world. ("Romans 5:12", they cited.)
  • It didn’t do any of the Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God scaremongering.
  • It didn’t remotely suggest that one "sinner’s prayer" magically saves you forever, no matter what you do later.
  • It didn’t have even a whiff of the detestable "rapture crap." But …
  • It didn’t mention that Christ’s second coming is for judgment.
  • It didn’t mention baptism, let alone chrismation.
  • It didn’t mention eucharist, let alone its necessity if we want life in us, or indeed Christ in us (though they emphasized somehow-or-other having Jesus in your heart).
  • Actually, it only vaguely hinted at Church in any form. (It printed the Lord’s Prayer, recommended memorization, and noted that "Believers often pray this prayer out loud together.")

In the New York Review of Books, Anne Enright writes about Stanford anthropologist T.M. Luhrmann’s continuing research among people of faith. Luhrmann has a new book out titled How God Becomes Real: Kindling The Presence of Invisible Others. Enright says:

American evangelicals speak to God about their feelings, and they do this because they assume their feelings matter. In the Western tradition, according to Luhrmann, the mind is imagined “as a private place, walled off from the world, a citadel in which thoughts are one’s own and no one else has access to them.” Nor can these thoughts leak out to act directly on the world; they cannot, for example, make another person ill or better. For American evangelicals, God is mostly about them. He is a friend, and, like a friend, he helps solve everyday problems—dilemmas about relationships, personal happiness, and the choices people make in life: “You can ask him what shirt you should wear and what shampoo to buy.”

Evangelicals in other cultures experience God differently, though the practice of their imported Pentecostalism is very much the same. In Chennai, India, where personal feelings are not privileged over family values, people are more likely to experience God “in their human father and through other people.” In Accra, Ghana, where prayers against demons are commonplace, God’s voice is experienced viscerally, often as an exhortation, and he is also expected to enact revenges and punishments in the world. Both Indians and Ghanaians are happy to discuss things that might be felt in some “spirit sense” that is hard to name. Most Ghanaian evangelicals hear God’s voice audibly, which is to say, in the room.

For Americans, the mind is separate from the world. In order to make it available to supernatural experience, they must occupy a mental space these other cultures take for granted, which Luhrmann calls “the in-between.” Believers cultivate a talent for “absorption,” an immersive focus that blurs the boundary between inner and outer experience. This is “the mental capacity common to trance, hypnosis, dissociation, and perhaps imagination itself.”

Rod Dreher, Reaching The Realness Of God


Epitaph for Modernity: I came, I shopped, I died.

Fr.Stephen Freeman

More Trump perspective (and more)

More indictments of Oath Keepers in the January 6 insurrection:

The new case describes the alleged Oath Keepers as being motivated in large part by former President Donald Trump, and an apocalyptic fear of a Biden presidency. One defendant, who was among those earlier indicted, Jessica Watkins, wrote in the weeks before Jan. 6 that if Mr. Biden became president, “our way of life as we know it is over,” the indictment said.

Ms. Watkins, 38, who served as an infantryman in the U.S. Army from 2001-2003 under her previous name, Jeremy David Watkins, was deployed to Afghanistan, and received an “other than honorable discharge” after “the Army determined that my presenting as a female was unacceptable for a soldier,” she wrote in a name-change filing in New York state. Ms. Watkins said she left her six-year tour of duty early because of her gender dysphoria, adding “I was not otherwise disciplined or prosecuted because of the extenuating circumstances of my medical condition.” She changed her name in 2005, court records show.

Kelly Meggs, one of the new defendants, wrote in a Facebook message in late December to another individual, “Trump said It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! He wants us to make it WILD that’s what he’s saying. He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!! SirYesSir!!! Gentlemen we are heading to DC pack your shit!!”

Mr. Trump was impeached in the House last month for inciting the violent riot. The Senate voted Saturday to acquit him, with Mr. Trump’s attorneys arguing that he was using typical political rhetoric and didn’t act to foment a mob.

Six More Alleged Members of Oath Keepers Militia Indicted – WSJ

Violent MTF transexual Trump fanatic blindsided me. The "wild" stuff is, I think, exactly what Trump hoped for and got. They should have convicted him.


Having seen that 70% of Republicans reportedly believe something tantamount to "Biden stole the election," along with more other depressing poll results than I can remember, I’m more inclined to put "Period. Full stop." after endorsing the consensus of credentialed opinion.

I won’t always be right, but I’ll be wrong less often than if I say "Well a lot of people believe X, so we can’t be sure, so we really shouldn’t act on the opinions of those who believably say non-X."

Having said that, I quote for your consideration the opinion of one Hal Freeman, whose "credential" for writing about Russia is that he’s an Expat there with his younger Russian wife. Judge for yourself how that stacks up against journalists who don’t live there and may have their own biases against Russia and Putin:

I wrote a blog about [Alex] Navalny in September of 2020. His claim was that Putin’s hit men had tried to kill him by slipping him the nerve agent “Novichok.” …

I will set forth the basic reasons I don’t believe Navalny, but I don’t hide the fact that I don’t like him. He is a racist. I don’t use that term lightly, as folks commonly do in America now. I posted a video of him in my earlier blog referring to Muslims living in Russia whose ancestors were from the Caucasus Mountains as “cockroaches,” who need to be eliminated with a pistol. Before Trump and the whole Russia hoax on the elections, the New York Times used to report facts about Russia. Here is an excerpt from the Times, back before they were blinded by Trump Derangement Syndrome:

"He (Navalny) has appeared as a speaker alongside neo-Nazis and skinheads, and once starred in a video that compares dark-skinned Caucasus militants to cockroaches. While cockroaches can be killed with a slipper, he says that in the case of humans, ‘I recommend a pistol.’” Ellen Barry, NY Times 2011.

The U.S. media “narrative” has certainly changed over time. Now they tout Navalny as an honored leader of “the opposition.” Again, I will state as succinctly as possible why I think Navalny is lying when he says Kremlin messengers tried to kill him back in August, 2020.

The main reason is he changed his story too many times. When I wrote on him in September I mentioned that the first explanation his team gave was that Putin’s men put Novichok in his tea, which he drank at an airport restaurant. No one at that restaurant even remembered him being there. When his handlers were questioned how someone knew what establishment inside the airport he would stop at to drink tea, there was no answer. Was there a waiter there waiting with the Novichok in case he came in?

They not-so-deftly moved to a second explanation: Novichok was put in the water bottle from which he drank in his hotel room before departure. But then reporters discovered that there were at least 5 people in the room with him when the water was delivered. How did they know which bottle Navalny would drink from? Was it hotel staff who delivered it? Again, no real answers from the Navalny team.

So Navalny, now healthy, moved to a third explanation. He made a video that supposedly recorded a phone conversation he had with someone from the FSB (Federal Services of Security). In the call Navalny pretended to be an important person in the FSB, and wanted to know how they had tried to kill him and why it did not work.

The alleged security person Navalny was talking to claimed that they had put the Novichok in his clothes. They concentrated on packing it into the inner seam of the crotch of his underwear. All the Novichok absorbed into his system. He said Navalny survived because of the quick work of the medical team at the hospital when he landed.

Hal Freeman, Biden, Navalny, Protests and Propaganda


Does Limbaugh explain Trump?

There’s a tension between being a bomb-thrower and a leader, and the fact that so few people understand that today is emblematic of how dysfunctional our politics have become. Newt Gingrich, a creature of the Limbaugh era if ever there was one, never really figured out how to resolve that tension. But at least he tried when he was speaker (occasionally). Donald Trump, whom Limbaugh once said wasn’t a conservative, dismissed this tension altogether by simply redefining leadership as bomb-throwing. Trump was a piss-poor commander in chief, but he was the ultimate commentator in chief, hurling brickbats at the very government he ran.

Rich says Rush had an “absolutely unbreakable bond” with his listeners. Obviously, in the context of eulogizing Rush, that’s a fair comment. But it’s not entirely true. If that bond were unbreakable, Limbaugh would not have so often moved to stay on the good side of his audience. Like so much of the right Limbaugh helped create, when the people (or customers) moved, the “leaders” followed.

Of course, people change their views over time for all sorts of intellectually honest reasons, and I have no doubt many of Limbaugh’s evolutions can be explained in that light. But I also have no doubt that many can’t be. At the end of his career, Limbaugh was defending—or allowing himself to be understood as defending—political violence, conspiracy theories, and even secessionism.

If you want to defend that by saying, “We’ll that’s what a lot of right-wingers believe today,” I won’t argue with you. I’m just not sure it’s the defense you think it is.

Jonah Goldberg, Rush Limbaugh, RIP – The G-File


For five years, I tried to figure out the appeal of Donald Trump to an electoral majority of the country. I made essentially no progress.

Now, reading retrospectives on the late Rush Limbaugh, I’m starting to apprehend it, I think. Rush made the world in which owning the libs was its own summum bonum.

But that doesn’t mean I can see how to avoid a repeat. For instance, do I really want the Fairness Doctrine reinstated?


A proposal for reporters covering Republican candidates and officeholders over the next four years:

Every interview should begin with two questions.

Sir/Ma’am, I need one-word answers from you:

  • Who won the 2020 U.S. presidential election?
  • Was this the legitimate result of a free and fair election?

This shouldn’t take long. The questions can be asked in less than 5 seconds. The answers are one word each: “Biden” and “yes.”

Ask Every Republican These Two Questions


What if sometimes you have to choose between two goods? What if you actually can’t have both? Wow, that would really suck. Therefore it cannot be true.

Alan Jacobs, writing trade-offs from frigid Waco.


You can read most of my more impromptu stuff here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.