Thursday, 7/14/22

A bit Snarky

Not since Jefferson dined alone

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!”

The Morning Dispatch.

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.

Is the ACLU’s Chase Strangio the weirdest, and least truthful, highly-placed person on the Left in America today?

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

Politics

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.

You can help smash the duopoly.

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.

David French.

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.”

R.R. Reno.

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.

Locus classicus

"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.

Mélange 11/17/18

1

To maintain its large membership base, the ACLU recruited new members by directing mass mailings to mailing lists rented from a broad range of liberal groups. The result of the shift of the ACLU to a mass membership organization was that it gradually transformed itself from a civil libertarian organization into a liberal organization with an interest in civil liberties …

… With the election of Donald Trump, its membership rolls have grown to almost two million, almost all of them liberal politically, few of whom are devoted to civil liberties as such. Meanwhile, the left in general has become less interested in, and in some cases opposed to, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the rights of the accused.

Future historians will have to reconstruct exactly how and why the tipping point has been reached, but the ACLU’s actions over the last couple of months show that the ACLU is no longer a civil libertarian organization in any meaningful sense, but just another left-wing pressure group, albeit one with a civil libertarian history.

First, the ACLU ran an anti-Brett Kavanaugh video ad that relied entirely on something that no committed civil libertarian would countenance, guilt by association …

Meanwhile, yesterday, the Department of Education released a proposed new Title IX regulation that provides for due process rights for accused students that had been prohibited by Obama-era guidance. Shockingly, even to those of us who have followed the ACLU’s long, slow decline, the ACLU tweeted in reponse that the proposed regulation “promotes an unfair process, inappropriately favoring the accused.” Even longtime ACLU critics are choking on the ACLU, of all organizations, claiming that due proess protections “inappropriately favor the accuse.”

The ACLU had a clear choice between the identitarian politics of the feminist hard left, and retaining some semblance of its traditional commitment to fair process. It chose the former. And that along with the Kavanaugh ad signals the final end of the ACLU as we knew it. RIP.

David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy blog

I’m glad he said it since I lack the high status to command respect. And I’m glad he cited specific proof.

ACLU no longer cares about civil liberties and SPLC primarily cares about labeling its adversaries “haters.” We’re in a fine mess.

2

Insider sources have reportedly confirmed to the Washington Post that Assange has been charged. Because those charges are sealed, it’s impossible to know what they are or how they’re being justified. If you ask #Resistance Twitter, it’s because it’s #MuellerTime and Assange is about to be arrested under some mysterious charges involving WikiLeaks’ publication of non-government, non-classified emails in 2016. If you ask QAnon cultists, it’s because Donald Trump is planning to extradite Assange so as to rescue him and deal a fatal blow to the Deep State. If you ask people who actually know what they’re talking about, however, it’s most likely for WikiLeaks’ Afghanistan and Iraq war logs and/or last year’s CIA leak publications, and most likely using the Espionage Act. This would constitute a deadly blow to press freedoms, and arguably a greater leap in the direction of Orwellian dystopia than the Patriot Act.

It also proves once again that Julian Assange was completely right.

Caitlin Johnstone

3

In ancient Egypt there lived a wise king named Thamus. One day he was visited by a clever god called Theuth.

Theuth was an inventor of many useful things: arithmetic and geometry; astronomy and dice. But his greatest discovery, so he believed, “was the use of letters.” And it was this invention that Theuth was most eager to share with King Thamus.

The art of writing, Theuth said, “will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit.”

But Thamus rebuffed him. “O most ingenious Theuth,” he said, “the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them.”

The king continued: “For this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember themselves.”

Written words, Thamus concluded, “give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things but will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.”

Welcome to Facebook ….

Bret Stephens

4

They changed the world to sand, and now find it slipping through their fingers.

Jonathan Pageau, who spoke for a whole half hour as Jordan Peterson sat listening. Those two have made some kind of intuitive connection over cognate insights about “logos.”

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Domani Spero’s Excellent Adventure

  1. Some animals are more equal
  2. The Achilles Heel of Christian Education
  3. Demanding actual qualifications is sooooo last week!
  4. Business out of politics?
  5. Animal House lives!
  6. Just sayin’
  7. Domani Spero’s Excellent Adventure
  8. Very, very baddest poison

Continue reading “Domani Spero’s Excellent Adventure”

Thursday, 7/7/16

  1. Two can play the Declaratory Judgment Game
  2. The GOP’s big opportunity, predictably, blown
  3. The Evangelical-Corporate Complex at work
  4. Freudian slippage
  5. Racists say the same thing!
  6. Behold, I show you a parable

Continue reading “Thursday, 7/7/16”