Mildly offensive to all

1

There has been a fair amount of terse commentary in my field of vision on the question of “Is R.R. Reno correct in this assessment?” By “this assessment, I assume the reference is to the conclusion, from which I’ll quote a great deal:

I’m willing to bet that hostility toward Kavanaugh increases proportionally with socio-economic status. It is an elite rage of law professors and management consultants. It’s the rage of the powerful, which is always more dangerous than the rage of the downtrodden. It finds articulate, well-placed leaders who can draw upon fully theorized narratives of oppression. They position themselves to speak for all who resent exclusion or exploitation, actual or perceived. They draw upon an intersectionality of rage.

For this reason, the decision by the Democrats to turn the Kavanaugh hearings into a theater of rage was a dangerous ploy. Perhaps I am even over-stating the element of calculation in the decision. Because this rage affects the powerful, Dianne Feinstein, Kamala Harris, and the others may themselves be animated by it—rage’s instruments, rather than its masters. If so, the situation for the Democrats is more perilous still.

Donald Trump raises the emotional stakes of political debate. This has been the key to his political success. But his success has come at a cost. Trump’s politics of rage unsettles establishment Republicans. Staid suburban voters who are moderate conservatives see Trump as a destabilizing figure in our body politic, putting a hard ceiling on his support.

In this context, Democrats have much to gain by presenting themselves as the responsible adults, the ego to Trump’s id. Dianne Feinstein and most other Democratic leaders are ultra-establishment figures with no interest in upheaval. Soon they will pivot back to playing the “responsible party” against Trump and Republican “extremism.” But the rage on display during the Kavanaugh hearings will not be easy to contain. It is fueling Leftist populism, which is on the rise. It highlights the Left’s own destabilizing politics of rage and destruction.

Ever since Trump’s ascent, the strongest arguments against him have focused on his temperamental unfitness for the presidency and his polarizing effect on our society. These are arguments for establishment competence and sobriety. In the aftermath of the rage-driven strategy to derail Kavanaugh’s appointment (quite different from the quiet, procedural tactics of Mitch McConnell, which derailed Merrick Garland’s appointment), these arguments are harder to make.

The Democrats may imagine that they, like Trump, will benefit from the politics of rage. But the Democrats’ power flows from their monopoly on the “responsible center.” The last season of leftwing rage came as the 1960s crashed to a close, and it did great harm to the Democratic Party. This time is different, in that both sides are drawing upon reservoirs of rage. But in my estimation, the Democrats will suffer more than the Republicans, because the Democrats have long been the establishment party. The politics of rage are far more likely to undermine than to renew the Ivy League–Goldman Sachs–Silicon Valley liberalism that has stood astride our politics since 1945, for rage always upsets the calculations by which establishments maintain their grip.

The analysis seems too varied to support a wager, so I’ll not play my chips. But I dread living in a country where the two major parties have become, basically, alt-right and antifa.

2

I can hear the “what about Merrick Garland” already:

Democrats file cloture on every nominee, which kicks off 30 hours of debate even if no Senator is opposed. They figure if they can’t defeat nominees they can delay and consume valuable time. Democrats have forced 117 cloture votes—versus 12 in Barack Obama’s first two years and four in George W. Bush’s.

Wall Street Journal. This is not “responsible center,” is it? Were I in Congress, I’d want to make sure there were as many adults around Trump as possible, unless my motive was letting him screw things up so badly that my odds of winning the next Presidential election reached the stratosphere.

3

Longtime readers will remember that three years ago, a reader told me his elderly mother, who spent years in a communist prison as a dissident, told him that the spirit overtaking our culture today reminds her of the years when communism came to her country.

Thinking that must be an exaggeration, I relayed that observation to a friend in the UK who defected with his wife in the 1960s from a communist country. He said that it was absolutely true. I asked him to explain that conclusion, because it made no sense to me. He said that it has to do with the willingness of people to try to destroy their opponents. With righteous mobs, aided and abetted by the media. Ideological hysteria. This was how the communist behaved. And these aging former dissidents, who don’t know each other, see the same thing happening in the liberal West.

(Rod Dreher, The Media & The Mob)

4

Oh, dear! At least one person is not fawning over Nikki Haley during her lame duck period:

But because she only advocates establishment-sanctioned mass murders (and perhaps partly because she wears the magical “Woman of Color” tiara), Haley can be painted as a sane, sensible adult-in-the-room by empire lackeys who are paid to normalize the brutality of the ruling class. While you still see Steve Bannon routinely decried as a monster despite his being absent from the Trump administration for over a year, far more dangerous and far more powerful ghouls are treated with respect and reverence because they know what to say in polite company and never smoked cigars with Milo Yiannopoulos. All it takes to be regarded as a decent person by establishment punditry is the willingness to avoid offending people; do that and you can murder as many children with explosives and butterfly bullets as your withered heart desires.

Haley will be departing with a disgusting 75 percent approval rating with Republicans and 55 percent approval with Democrats, because God is dead and everything is stupid. It is unknown who will replace her once she vacates her position (I’ve got my money on Reaper drone in a desk chair), but it’s a safe bet that it will be someone who espouses the same neoconservative imperialist foreign policy that this administration has been elevating since the beginning. Whoever it is should be watched closely, as should the bipartisan beltway propagandists whose job it is to humanize them.

Caitlin Johnstone, Empire Loyalists Grieve Resignation Of Moderate Psychopath Nikki Haley.

5

A non-trivial number of Evangelical women in Texas are supporting Beto O’Rourke over Ted Cruz. Two vignettes feature competing baby-centered narratives:

“I care as much about babies at the border as I do about babies in the womb,” said Tess Clarke, one of Ms. Mooney’s friends, confessing that she was “mortified” at how she used to vote, because she had only considered abortion policy. “We’ve been asleep. Now, we’ve woke up.”

Ms. Clarke, who sells candles poured by refugee women in Dallas, began to weep as she recalled visiting a migrant woman detained and separated from her daughter at the border.

Plenty of white evangelical women still support Mr. Cruz. Pam Brewer, who leads women’s ministries at Mr. Jeffress’s First Baptist Dallas, does because she wants to end legalized abortion and increase border security, to stop allowing “criminals to come kill our babies,” she said.

6

Justice Kavanaugh’s worst decision of the last month (it’s not even a close call, IMHO) was taking a victory lap with partisans Monday night. Everyone knew Trump would sully it.

Depth to which Republicans have not yet sunk: Trying to pack the court before they lost political power.

7

Reminder to the Democrats: There are good people who could actually vote for Democrats, but who don’t do so currently, because of your friends of feticide platform.

(Lurking background concern for some of us: your little-remarked transformation into the secularist party as the Republicans transformed into the Religious Right and then, mirabile dictu, the Trump party. But you’ll not cease friendship with feticide until that secularism moderates, and the GOP’s “religion” currently is so toxic, that this concern merely lurks.)

8

Noble is right to say that society sends me on a quest for authenticity. Wisdom sends me on a quest to know myself. They are utterly different adventures. Society wants me to be my true self, philosophy demands I be as I should be.

John Mark Reynolds in part of a series of comments on Alan Noble’s Disruptive Witness.

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Potpourri 9/12/18

1

More and more, I wonder if the disgruntled senior Trump administration official who wrote the anonymous Op-Ed in The Times was actually representing a group — like a “Murder on the Orient Express” plotline where every senior Trump adviser was in on it ….

Thomas Friedman

 

2

There are far more political signs in the front lawns of my [Waco, TX] neighborhood — my middle-to-upper-middle-class, largely white neighborhood — than there were in the Presidential campaign of 2016, and every single one of them without exception reads: BETO.

Alan Jacobs. After that, this NYT story was no surprise. Excerpt (emphasis added):

For Mr. Cruz, the pressure has been steadily ratcheting up. On Saturday, Mick Mulvaney, the federal budget director, told Republican donors in New York that Mr. Cruz might lose re-election and suggested that the Texas senator was not likable enough.

Yes, not very likeable. Just ask the other 99 Senators. And water is powerful wet, too.

Graham Hillard at NRO opens with a chuckle (and then descends to incoherence):

Not his inability to act with any consistency on the subject of Donald Trump. Not his ill-timed spasms of political gamesmanship (as when he gave a 21-hour speech on the Senate floor against Obamacare). Not even his uncanny resemblance to Count Chocula. No, Ted Cruz’s worst offense against the American body politic has been his failure, thus far, to crush the senatorial hopes of one Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke ….

 

3

A crowdfunding website is trying to strong-arm Senator Susan Collins, the Republican from Maine, by giving more than $1 million to her 2020 opponent—unless she opposes Judge Kavanaugh. Donors are asked to make a financial pledge and then enter their credit-card information. As of Tuesday afternoon, 37,425 people had put down $1,041,878.

The fine print makes clear the quid pro quo: “Your card will only be charged if Senator Susan Collins votes for Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.” To avoid the money bomb, all Ms. Collins must do is vote “no.”

It isn’t clear this is even legal. We’re all for citizens exercising their free-speech rights, including campaign donations, for or against political candidates. But federal law defines the crime of bribery as “corruptly” offering “anything of value” to a public official, including a Member of Congress, with the intent to “influence any official act.” The crowdfunders in this case are offering something of value—withholding funds from her opponent—in return for a Supreme Court confirmation vote.

“I have had three attorneys tell me that they think it is a clear violation of the federal law on bribery,” Ms. Collins says. “Actually, two told me that; one told me it’s extortion.”

She adds that her office hasn’t “made any kind of decision” about whether to refer the matter to prosecutors. But her astonishment at the strategy is clear: “It’s offensive. It’s of questionable legality. And it is extraordinary to me that people would want to participate in trying to essentially buy a Senator’s vote.”

Another pressure tactic, one Ms. Collins says she finds “incrediblyoffensive,” is “the out-of-state voicemails being left on the answering machines of my state offices.” Many of the messages are profane. “In one case—and we are going to turn this over to the police, but unfortunately, of course, the person didn’t leave a name or number—but they actually threatened to rape one of my young female staffers.”

Meanwhile, the next time progressives complain about the menace of money in politics, remind them of their failure to object to the crowdfunding bribe offered to Senator Collins.

Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, You Can’t Bribe Susan Collins.

I take no pleasure in repeating that rape threat, but it’s important to balance the ledger: trolling — even threats of violence and such — are not limited to the Right.

 

4

My experience vividly displayed how two countries, Belgium and Israel, view children. Israel treasures them. According to a 2018 report from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, the fertility rate for Israeli women stands at a robust 3.1, nearly double the level of most European nations. The Belgian fertility rate is 1.7, well below the replacement rate of 2.1.

Israel’s high fertility is a complex phenomenon, but it seems to arise from cultural norms sustained by religion …

This norm of childbearing reflects a consensus among Israel’s communities. Collective beliefs about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness inform each citizen’s personal choices, and inevitably affect the nation’s demography.

Nations that don’t recognize children as central to a good life will face serious economic consequences. Without enough young workers, aging societies will struggle to support the sick and elderly. These troubles await not only Belgium but also … the U.S.

My experience in Brussels was a glimpse into tomorrow. Despite the political challenges Israel faces, I’m bullish on its future. It celebrates life. Belgium, on the other hand, looks old and fading. As a Jewish sage once put it, “A child without parents is an orphan, but a nation without children is an orphan people.”

Robert C. Hamilton

 

5

For six days now, the New York Times has featured a story with the teaser As Lawyer, Kavanaugh Raised Doubts About Roe v. Wade, Leaked Email Shows, now because it ranks as one of a few “most popular.”

It just goes to show that you can sell nothinburgers with the right marketing.

 

6

I thought this was the Babylon Bee, but it’s real-life Pastor Mack Morris’s 15 minutes of fame:

The Rev. Mack Morris took a hold of an old Nike headband and a wristband, held them both up before a packed church, and cut them.

“I ain’t using that no more,” said Morris, the senior pastor at Woodridge Baptist Church in west Mobile during his weekly Sunday sermon.

“I’ve bought my last pair of Nike shoes,” Morris said.

The reason? Morris, during a sermon titled “The Storms of Life,” said it was in protest to the Oregon-based apparel company’s recent advertising campaign centered around Colin Kaepernick, the professional football player who was the first athlete to take a knee during the national anthem that triggered a firestorm of controversy that exists to this day ….

 

7

Stunt marriage proposals are an “abomination,” writes Shannon Proudfoot. “How does it feel being reduced to a mere audience member—one face in a gaping sea—staring up at a scene from your own life?” Go Shannon.

Micah Mattix, Prufrock for 9/12/18 (link not guaranteed to work for others).

Amen!

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Just politics

1

For those conservatives who wish to survive the election principles intact, however, the choices are really only two: Hold your nose and vote Trump to stop Hillary, or do not vote for president at all.

(Jeremy Boreing) I point out this dogmatic pronouncement to note the imaginative failure of the author.

Third party, Mr. Boreing, third party. If ever there was a year to say “We’re fed up with two corrupt parties and aren’t going to take it any more,” this is it.

2

It has been several weeks now, which is an eternity in our rapid news cycle, but it still sticks in my craw that a Muslim hot head (and possible closet queen) can go on a mass murder rampage against gays in Orlando and the instant reaction of the most influential newspaper in the country, if not in the world, is to ask Have Christians Created a Harmful Atmosphere for Gays?

3

In this space was snippets of people defending or excoriating Ted Cruz for getting up at the Convention and conspicuously not endorsing Trump. Was it heroic principle or boorish manners? It got to be overwhelming and muddy.

There are conservative Trump opponents who nevertheless think Cruz behaved badly, not just Trump supporters. If you care, you’ve probably seen plenty of conflicting spins, but here are most that I read:

David Harsanyi
Rod Dreher
Daniel Larison
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry
Michael Brendan Dougherty:
Peggy Noonan
Patrick J. Buchanan

4

I am very, very distressed by the situation in our country. I believe that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a catastrophe for the thing I care about most: religious liberty. Yet I believe a Trump presidency would be a different kind of catastrophe, one that would, among other things, make war more likely. (For example, even though I believe it was foolish to bring all those countries on Russia’s borders into NATO, I think it is foolish for Trump to put NATO’s security guarantees to them up for grabs. If Trump is sworn in, I foresee Putin sending tanks into the Baltics soon thereafter.) One of the core reasons that I am a conservative is fear of the mob. It’s why I loathe and despise what Black Lives Matter and other SJWs do on campuses, and this week, what Republicans aligned with Trump have been doing in Cleveland and beyond. American politics has entered a stage where the passions of the mob increasingly rule both sides, because emotional extremism is rewarded. I want no part of any of it.

(Rod Dreher)

5

Though we knew it was coming, many of us still can’t quite get our heads around the news. The same mindless media cycle that helped propel Trump to this place seems to dilute the truth somehow, making it all seem to exist in a virtual land of non-reality. Melania plagiarized her speech! Trump still can’t form a complete sentence! LOL!

But it’s real, and it’s not funny.

The Republican Party holds majorities in both houses of Congress and record numbers of gubernatorial offices and state legislatures. The last thing it needed to achieve near-unprecedented levels of control of government was the White House, and amazingly, the Democratic Party is about to nominate Hillary Clinton, its most unpopular nominee ever. But instead of nominating any of the countless Republican candidates who would have won against Clinton, the GOP chose the one candidate American hates more than it hates her. A man who embodies the qualities of both a carnival barker and low-rent Mussolini at once.

(Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry)

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“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.