A bit Snarky
For several hours on December 18, 2020, some of the greatest legal minds of a generation gathered at the White House for a meeting that would change the course of history. Sidney Powell was there, as were onetime national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne. Rudy Giuliani showed up, as did Mark Meadows. Shortly after it concluded, then-President Donald Trump sent a tweet.
“Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election,” he wrote. “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
It’s a bit of a false note for the Dispatch to lead with such snark, but I like that false note this time.
Church and State
Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert caused a stir in late June when she denounced the separation of church and state as “junk” and proclaimed that “the church is supposed to direct the government, the government is not supposed to direct the church.” Bettering her usual performance, she was half-right.
William Galston, Lauren Boebert Is Half-Right on Church and State.
We don’t care. We don’t have to.
It’s kind of "We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the ACLU."
The limits of prediction
People can’t predict how long they will be happy with recently acquired objects, how long their marriages will last, how their new jobs will turn out, yet it’s subatomic particles that they cite as “limits of prediction.” They’re ignoring a mammoth standing in front of them in favor of matter even a microscope would not allow them to see.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan
Submission to whom?
As I watched Ms. Barrett fielding questions from senators [at confirmation hearings], I realized two things.
First, it is amazing how deeply this erasure cuts, how much I have subconsciously internalized that there is something defective about me as a woman because I do not share certain feminist tenets. … Second, I realized how many women I know—most who would not identify with the moniker “conservative”—share Ms. Barrett’s pro-life position and have felt chastened into civic silence and submission. … Too often, I keep my views quiet not out of tact but for the sake of my social life and career. In this, I submit not to the patriarchy but to the oppressive, mainstream feminist vision of myself and my peers and what we are worth to society.
Jane Sloan Peters, I See My Own Pro-Life Feminism in Amy Coney Barrett
Smash the political duopoly
Nothing says "Our political duopoly is rotten to the core" like Democrats spending tens of millions of dollars to support the most extreme, Trumpist, election-denying Republican primary candidates they can find.
Profiles in Poltroonry
Regardless of whether the committee proves Trump legally culpable for January 6, at least one top Trump adviser held him morally responsible for that day. After police shot and killed Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt as she attempted to breach the Capitol, Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale texted Trump operative Katrina Pierson. “This is about Trump pushing for uncertainty in our country,” Parscale—who worked on both the 2016 and 2020 campaigns—wrote, in messages provided by the Committee. “A sitting president asking for civil war. This week I felt guilty for helping him win [in 2016].”
“You did what you felt right at the time and therefore it was right,” Pierson replied.
“Yeah,” Parscale wrote. “But a woman is dead.”
“You do realize this was going to happen,” Pierson said.
“Yeah,” Parscale said. “If I was Trump and knew my rhetoric killed someone.”
“It wasn’t the rhetoric.”
“Katrina. Yes it was.”
One month later, Parscale tweeted: “Statement to Trump: ‘If they only impeached you twice, you need to run again… I’m in, are you?’”
Normal bad, not existential threat
Since it’s clear (at least for now) that Ron DeSantis is the Republican most likely to unseat Donald Trump, we’re starting to see a predictable line of pieces online. Trump is bad, but DeSantis might be worse. Trump was incompetent authoritarian. DeSantis is ruthlessly efficient. You can read versions of that argument in MSNBC, the Washington Post, MSNBC, New York Magazine, and MSNBC.
I started reading many of these pieces earlier this morning, and I finished just as today’s January 6 Committee hearing got underway. The contrast, quite frankly, was jarring. One the one hand, DeSantis’s critics were describing a politician who played by the rules to enact policies they didn’t like. On the other hand, I watched yet another account of a politician who came within one Mike Pence “yes” (to his harebrained electors scheme) to plunging America into the worst constitutional crisis since 1861.
Let me make this analysis as simple as possible. Donald Trump presents an existential threat to the continued existence of the United States as an intact republic. Our nation may not survive a second Trump term. Ron DeSantis has his flaws, but he’s absolutely within the bounds of a mainstream American politician.
I was tempted to stop there, but I read on. French is not happy with DeSantis and spells out clearly why he’s not. Progressive Democrats won’t like his analysis, though.
Introduction to the analysis:
My critique of DeSantis has less to do with Donald Trump and more to do with Kamala Harris or Gavin Newsom. By that I mean that DeSantis is more like a California Democrat than he is like Donald Trump. Specifically, both DeSantis and Harris are culture warriors who are prone to fight the culture the wrong way—by deploying state power at the expense of civil liberties.
Portraits in Credulity
Can you believe that 38 percent of Democrats are LGBT? And that a whopping 44 percent of Republicans earn over $250,000 per year? Those stats are from a 2018 study published by the University of Chicago based on 2015 data, but I may have messed up the delivery a little. Actually, it’s that Republicans in the study reported that 38 percent of Democrats are LGBT and Democrats believe that nearly half of Republicans make a quarter-million dollars a year. In truth, 6 percent of Democrats identify as LGBT and 2 percent of Republicans earn that high a salary. Democrats, themselves, also overestimated the number of LGBT members in their own party. But out-group members were far more likely to misperceive the opposing party’s makeup.
And aside from partisanship, interest in politics was also a great predictor of who was more likely to be wrong, i.e., consuming more political news and social media made a respondent more likely to misjudge the makeup of either party. “Interest in political news will be positively correlated with beliefs about the share of partisans belonging to party-stereotypical groups,” the authors reported.
I’d suspect these biases have gotten worse since 2015. But as I keep seeing surveys about young people refusing to be friends with someone who doesn’t share their political beliefs or people who don’t understand that social media curates their feed to show them political content that is most likely to agree with and shield them from alternative viewpoints, it’s worth a reminder that there’s no substitute—not even this newsletter—for striking up a conversation in the grocery store line, calling up a potential new friend for a beer, or asking someone a question about how he views the world and actually listening to the answer. Good luck!
Sarah Isgur, Andrew Egger, and Audrey Fahlberg, The Sweep (a publication of The Dispatch, my very best media expenditure).
Turning the tables
New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently allocated $35 million to provide special assistance to abortion providers, and there is a proposal to subsidize women’s travel to New York to procure abortions. In New York City, homeless men urinate in doorways and drug addicts shoot up in public at midday. In the face of these realities, Hochul’s commitment of resources to ensure the wide availability of abortion services seems more than a little perverse. The contrasts are even starker in Illinois. As the death toll of gun violence increases on Chicago’s South Side, Governor J. B. Pritzker has called for a special legislative session to address, not the murder rate, but “reproductive rights.”
It’s a dubious form of argument, but the temptation to turn it against those who’ve used it for 49 years is powerful. In other words, who’s obsessed with sex now?
GOP Gift-in-Kind to Stacy Abrams
What I like to do is see it and everything and stuff.
Herschel Walker, Republican nominee for Governor of Georgia, responding to a CNN reporter’s question about whether there should be new gun legislation in the wake of the Uvalde shootings. (H/T John McWhorter)
Consider his candidacy the Republican contribution to Stacy Abrams’ campaign.
"I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.” “In fact,” said Mustapha Mond, “you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.” “All right then,” said the Savage defiantly, “I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World.
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
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.