Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Civilizational collapse in real time

This one has most of the items on the cultural-rot checklist: a guy who claims he has no gender, coddled college students, a tense standoff with a clearly disturbed individual in which police are placed in a stressful situation most of us would pee our pants if we found ourselves in, and, of course, reacting with a riot to the denouement thereof.

Rioters torched a police car at the Georgia Tech Police Department headquarters and fought with police Monday night in protest of a campus police shooting of a mentally ill student over the weekend.
About 50 agitators marched to the police station and rioted after a vigil earlier in the night to remember Scout Schultz, who was killed by officers after calling the Georgia Tech campus police on himself Saturday night.
Schultz, who had a history of mental illness, reported that a suspicious person was loose on campus, describing the suspect as “a white male with long blond hair, white T-shirt & blue jeans who is possibly intoxicated, holding a knife and possibly armed with a gun on his hip,” according to a statement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. 
When police arrived on the scene, Schultz was walking around in a disoriented and unpredictable manner. Police shouted at him repeatedly to drop his knife.
"No one wants to hurt you, man," said one of the officers.
But Shultz kept walking toward them and the police opened fire. A multi-tool with a knife was recovered from the scene. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Schultz left three suicide notes behind in a dormitory room. The 21-year-old Schultz identified as neither male or female and led the university’s Pride Alliance. 
And so its his  supporters wreaked mayhem upon the streets of Atlanta.

And a similar situation is going on in St. Louis, where there have been three nights of idiotic burning, looting and police-taunting over the acquittal of a police officer who shot a heroin-dealing suspect who had led him on a high-speed chase.

The gossamer thread by which everything that makes our lives safe, pleasant and orderly is about to snap.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Japan's prime minister understands the stakes

I'd post the the op-ed itself, but it's behind the NYT paywall. Here is strieff's excerpt of the key part, as well as his commentary on it, at Red State:

Yesterday, the most extraordinary op-ed ran in the New York Times. It was by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The subject was North Korea.
He gives a concise overview of what negotiating with North Korea gets you:
In the early 1990s, North Korea’s announcement to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency was a wake-up call. In response, Japan, the United States and South Korea engaged in dialogue with North Korea and agreed to construct two light-water reactors and to provide heavy fuel oil in exchange for freezing and ultimately dismantling its nuclear program. Japan, the United States and South Korea shouldered most of the financial burden, with the cooperation of Europe and other Asian countries.
We know what happened next: Several years after the heavy fuel oil was delivered and construction started on the light-water reactors, North Korea admitted to having a uranium enrichment program in violation of the agreement.
By the end of 2002, North Korea expelled I.A.E.A. inspectors, followed by an official withdrawal from the NPT in 2003. China and Russia then joined Japan, the United States and South Korea to create the six-party talks with the North. Pyongyang again agreed to the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But instead, it declared itself a nuclear power in 2005 and carried out a nuclear test in 2006. The five countries’ attempt to solve the problem through dialogue failed.
In short, while the international community provided North Korea with sanctions relief and support as “compensation” for its pledges, the regime ignored most of its commitments.
And he rightly comes to this conclusion:
Considering this history and its continuing missile launches and nuclear tests, more dialogue with North Korea would be a dead end. Pyongyang would see more talks as proof that other countries succumbed to the success of its missile launches and nuclear tests. Now is the time to exert the utmost pressure on the North. There should be no more delays.
He is exactly right.

Winston Churchill is famous for his saying that “jaw-jaw is better than war-war.” Churchill, unlike an enormous number of academics and think-tank denizens, never mistook “jaw-jaw” for appeasement. The international community has offered the North Koreans a way forward. Denuclearize and demobilize your ballistic missiles, in other words, comply with a couple of decades of UN Security Council resolutions and then we can discuss economic aid.

Abe’s statement is a very neat fit with the White House press conference by Nikki Haley and H. R. McMaster on Friday where they both said that time was running out. And over the weekend, McMaster reiterated on FoxNews Sunday:
This regime is so close now to threatening the United States and others with a nuclear weapon that we really have to move with a great deal of urgency on sanctions, on diplomacy and on preparing, if necessary, a military option. 
My post from this morning on Stephen C. Meyer pointing out that a higher-altitude and space-based missile defense system could be a way out of our existential pickle mentions that such a system could, if made high-priority, be ready to go in a year.

The question is whether we have that long.

Monday morning roundup

A Senate vote gives the National Institutes of Health a fresh $2 infusion, which it intends to spend on a bunch of studies about transgenderism. Would like to see Tom Price weigh in on this.

One for the post-American-culture-is-a-fetid-sewer file: The Emmy Awards "ceremony" was a nonstop indulgence in Trump obsession.

What are the jihadists looking at next to inflict on Europe? Train derailments and food poisoning.

Rolling Stone is up for sale.

One for the now-race-is-as-fluid-as-gender-and-depends-on-your-ideology file: Chelsea Handler calls Ben Carson a "black white supremacist."

LITD is greatly disturbed by the confusion over whether or not the Trump administration intends to pull out of the Paris climate accord. Tillerson says there's a possibility it could stay in if US interests were adequately addressed. Hell, if actual US interest were actually addressed, it would blow up the whole damn agreement. The Paris agreement is stupid and harmful to not only the US but any country fool enough to take it seriously. This is the kind of crud we get when we don't have a solidly conservative president.

A way out of the no-good-options-regarding-North-Korea bind?

Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Discovery  Institute's Center for Science and Culture, writing at NRO, says we need not live with our current array off options concerning the North Korean threat:

Many analysts have assumed that the U.S. has only three basic options for addressing the North Korean threat: an offensive first strike, diplomatic initiatives involving China and sanctions, or acquiescence. But the United States has other options that do not require either starting a war, waiting for help from the unwilling, or accepting the vulnerability of U.S. and allied cities to a North Korean missile attack. Rather than initiating a military strike or continuing to pursue ineffective diplomatic initiatives, the United States can take advantage of recent technological advances to deploy a more effective multi-layered missile defense, including one system perfectly suited to defuse the North Korean crisis.


  . . . the United States urgently needs to develop and deploy higher altitude and space-based systems for missile defense. Arthur Herman of the Hudson Institute has taken the lead on advocating one such high-altitude system with particular promise for neutralizing the North Korean threat. Known as High Altitude Long Endurance Boost Phase Intercept (or HALE BPI), this system would offer another option besides acquiescence or a high-risk first strike against North Korean missile launchers.

As conceived by Len Caveny, the former director of science and technology at the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, the HALE BPI system would host anti-missile missiles on existing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have the capacity for continuous flying for 18 to 40 hours or more (thus, the term “long endurance” in the HALE acronym). Using sophisticated radar, infrared detection, and “data fusion” technology, these missile-equipped UAVs would circle the Sea of Japan outside North Korean airspace at an altitude of 45,000 feet or more. Upon detection and verification of a missile launch from North Korea, the HALE BPI UAV’s operator on the ground would have time (perhaps a minute or more) to fire a purely kinetic missile, i.e. a missile without an explosive warhead, at the missile in its “boost phase.” Using already existing guidance systems and the pure kinetic energy that can be generated by even a small object moving at an extremely rapid velocity, the missile would destroy a North Korea missile almost as soon as it leaves the launch pad.
Caveny says that such a system could be operational within 12 months if put on "an expedited war footing."

Advantages: It would minimize debris that would fall to earth from the destroyed missiles,  it wouldn't pose a threat to the deterrent capabilities of large-land-mass adversaries like Russia and China, which are currently concerned about that, and the way it's designed would

give ground operators a minute or more to decide whether a rising object over North Korea has a trajectory that indicates a ballistic missile on a dangerous course. In this context, a full minute represents an eternity and could prevent an unnecessarily provocative response from the United States and its allies to a “false positive,” and time to decide that the missile’s trajectory indeed represents a threat and must be destroyed.

Only concern, and I saw this expressed in the comments below the article, is that it has to be airtight. No such-and-such-intercept-success-rate calculations.

LITD will keep an eye out for further commentary on this.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

You'll smile at these updates on three recent stories

A Michigan judge does the right thing re: The Tennes family-farmers market situation:

A federal judge ruled Friday that the Michigan farmers who were banned from selling their produce at a farmers market on public property because of their religious beliefs about marriage may resume selling their goods there as early as Sunday while their case proceeds.
The decision provides much-needed relief to Steve and Bridget Tennes, owners of Country Mill Farms in Charlotte, Michigan. East Lansing city officials had banned the Tennes family from selling at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market over a Facebook post addressing the farm’s policy on hosting same-sex weddings.
“As the court found, East Lansing officials changed their market policy to shut out Steve because they don’t like his Catholic beliefs regarding marriage,” Kate Anderson, a lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom who is representing the Tenneses, told The Daily Signal in an email.
“The court was right to issue this order, which will allow Steve to return to the 2017 farmers market while his case moves forward,” Anderson wrote.
Ben Shapiro's appearance at Berkeley went off with a minimum of silliness and tension and he gave a rocking speech. 

And Harvard rescinds the invitation to Bradley Manning to make him a visiting fellow.

The boobs kerfuffle

First of all, it was funny.

And it was hardly over the top. It didn't involve any bathroom humor or lascivious elaborations on his point. And he used the second most innocuous term he could have, after "breasts."

It was just the kind of jolting non sequitur required to inject a bit of levity into yet another ponderous talking-heads train wreck about identity politics:

Well, that was something.
During a panel discussion on the Jemele Hill controversy and the White House calling her to be fired, things took an entirely different turn when sports radio host and provocateur Clay Travis pointed out that he only believes in two things fully.
“I believe in the First Amendment and boobs,” Travis stated. 
It took a beat, but host Brooke Baldwin wanted Travis to clarify what he had just said, asking him specifically if he actually sad “boobs.”
“Boobs, two things that never let me down, the first amendment and boobs,” Travis said. “Those are the two things I believe in absolutely in the country.”
Further down the line, Baldwin still wanted to make sure that Travis was actually talking about women’s breasts and not booze. When she confirmed that was indeed the case, she ended the interview early.
“I’m done, I’m sorry. I’m done,” she exclaimed. “This conversation is over, yanking mikes, bye. Forgive me, live television happens and you think you heard something, you are not sure and then you realize it happened, so I apologize for him on that.”
It seems Mr. Travis's ideological leanings are fairly middle-of-the-spectrum. Besides, he'd trotted out the line before:

Baldwin claims that Travis's remark was unexpected, but according to Callum Borchers at WaPo, "Clay Travis used his ‘First Amendment and boobs’ line long before he shocked CNN." Travis was invited on Baldwin's show after he'd written:
I don’t believe Jemele Hill should be fired for tweeting Donald Trump was a white supremacist and for recently saying police officers are modern-day slave catchers. I also don’t believe Curt Schilling should have been fired for what he said about the North Carolina transgender bathroom law or any of the other conservative political positions he’s adopted over the years. That’s because I’m a First Amendment absolutist — the only two things I 100 percent believe in are the First Amendment and boobs — who is also capable of doing something that most in modern media seem incapable of — distinguishing between a person’s public job and their private political beliefs. (Which are also public thanks to modern-day social media.)
Borchers writes:
And that wasn't the first time. Travis wrote in June 2015 that “absolutism on either the right or the left is scary to me — which is why I’m a radical moderate — who believes in only two things absolutely: the First Amendment and boobs."

When Baldwin appeared stunned and disgusted by Travis's quip on Friday, he replied, “I say it live on the radio all the time.”

This is who Travis is. CNN ought to have known what it was getting.
All right then. I assume CNN did know. In which case, the whole hoo-ha is fake news
But Baldwin had to pen an opinion column for the CNN website expressing her outrage.

Why, per se was it demeaning?

Well, there is the aren't-we-more-enlightened-now-than-to-objectify-women take that, ironically, is shared by strident feminists and certain kinds of overly sensitive social conservatives.

Sorry, but as Dennis Prager has pointed out, men are more aroused by visual stimuli than women - that is, they objectify them:

1. It is completely normal for heterosexual men to see women to whom they are sexually attracted as sex objects.

2. That such sexual objectification is normal and has nothing to do with misogyny is proved by, among other things, the fact that homosexual men see men to whom they are sexually attracted as sex objects. If heterosexual men are misogynists, homosexual men are man-haters.

2. That such sexual objectification is normal and has nothing to do with misogyny is proved by, among other things, the fact that homosexual men see men to whom they are sexually attracted as sex objects. If heterosexual men are misogynists, homosexual men are man-haters.

3. One reason for this is the almost unique power of the visual to sexually arouse men. Men are aroused just by glancing at a female arm, ankle, calf, thigh, stomach — even without ever seeing the woman’s face. Those legs, calves, arms, etc. are sexual objects. That’s why there are innumerable websites featuring them. There is nothing analogous for women. Of course, a woman can be aroused seeing a particularly handsome and masculine man. But there are no websites for women to stare at men’s legs or other male body parts.

4. Every normal heterosexual man who sees a woman as a sexual object can also completely respect her mind, her character, and everything else non-sexual about her. Men do this all the time.

Let's turn the tables for a moment: Say the guest had been a female and the discussion was free speech, and, just to get a rise out of everyone, she said something equivalent, something like, "I like swim meets because you see all these guys' marvelous funpacks in detail," what would the reaction have been?

I daresay a lot of male viewers, anyway, would say, "My kind of gal!"

Now, to those who are at this point inclined to respond with, "The is just the kind of hedonism we need to turn away from if we're ever going to have a more. dignified, let alone God-inclined culture," I would refer you to what C.S. Lewis says on the matter:

It is not for nothing that every language and literature in the world is full of jokes about sex. Many of them may be dull or disgusting and almost all of them are old. But we must insist that they embody an attitude toward Venus which in the long run endangers the Christian life far far less than a reverential gravity . . . 

So what we have here is another case where basic fun, to be had by acknowledging the foibles common to most of us, cannot be permitted in the atmosphere of societal brittleness we now inhabit. We have lost all sight of the nuanced dimensions of being human.

Baldwin could have rolled her eyes and continued the discussion, especially since, as noted above, she probably knew Travis digs boobs.

A call to reverse a real bad move from the previous era (diplomatic relations with Cuba)

LITD is with these guys:

Five GOP Senators—Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Richard Burr, John Cornyn and James Lankford—have written a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling on him to kick all Cuban diplomats out of the country and, if necessary, close the U.S. Embassy in Cuba. From the Hill:
“Cuba’s neglect of its duty to protect our diplomats and their families cannot go unchallenged,” the letter reads…
“The safety of U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families posted overseas remains one of our high priorities and a shared responsibility of those nations that host U.S. diplomatic facilities,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to remind the Cuban government of its obligation and to demand that it take verifiable action to remove these threats to our personnel and their families.”
The letter comes in response to the 21 American diplomats (and five Canadians) who suffered hearing damage while staying in hotels in Havana. Last month, reports revealed the injuries to some of the diplomats was much more serious than originally believed with some Americans suffering traumatic brain injuries.

Of course, the Communist regime in Cuba denies being behind this, but what is a more plausible explanation?

This, folks, is why you don't ever reach out to rogue regimes. You squeeze them with sanctions and let them know you're prepared to address any funny business they pull with whatever is needed.

It's why you don't engage in Agreed Frameworks or Six-Way Talks with North Korea.

It's why you don't enter into JCPOAs with Iran.

It's why you don't ever even hint that the Taliban might have a place at the table in any lasting settlement for Afghanistan.

Cuba has done nothing to improve its human-rights record since the Most Equal Comrade's disastrous move last year.

It is allied with the other rogue regimes of the world.

And it's pretty clear that it's damaged the hearing and brains of American diplomats.

Time to cut the cord.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Another one over Japan

North Korea is clearly not impressed with the UN Security Council's latest package of sanctions:

The Japanese government has issued a warning to its citizens after North Korea fired a missile over the country. 
It was launched from the Sunan district of Pyongyang, South Korea's military said.
The missile has flown over Japan, Japan's NHK television said, but the government is warning citizens to avoid touching anything that looks like debris.
It landed 1,240 miles off the cape of Erimo in Hokkaido island at about 7.06am local time.  
South Korea's defence ministry said it probably travelled around 2,300 miles and reached a maximum altitude of 478 miles after being launched near Pyongyang's airport.
The North previously launched a ballistic missile from Sunan on August 29, which flew over Japan's Hokkaido island and landed in the Pacific. 
The South Korean and US militaries are analysing details of the launch, the South's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.   
South Korea's presidential Blue House has called an urgent National Security Council meeting. 
The  North Korean slow-burn-since-1953 is the clearest example of the spiritual implications of foreign-policy theory and the real-world application thereof. If you don't recognize and appropriately address evil - directed at you - the situation will escalate to the point where all your options are grim.

For crying out loud, it's a conservative speaker coming to campus

UC Berkeley and the city of Berkeley is doing its best to make sure what, when this was still the United States America, would have been a routine appearance by a visiting speaker, becomes yet another idiotic spasm of violence on that campus:

Law enforcement presence will be heavy. Police Chief Andrew Greenwood vowed to make “very strong, rapid arrests” if any demonstrators come carrying weapons or donning masks, according to the Associated Press. Campus buildings will shut down early, and police are planning to surround the area with concrete blockades.
In an extraordinary move, the Berkeley City Council voted 6-3 this week to allow the police department to fire pepper spray at violent protesters, ending a two-decade-old city ban on using the weapon in such circumstances, as the East Bay Timesreported. Police can also fire tear gas canisters to control crowds from greater distances.
“We have seen extremists on the left and on the right in our city,” Mayor Jesse Arreguin said at a Tuesday council meeting. “We aren’t distinguishing between ideology, we are concerned about the violence on both sides.”
What goes down tonight will tell us a great deal about how near post-America is to total collapse.

The cattle-masses of post-America are ready for enslavement

This is some chilling stuff:

A recent poll conducted by the University of Pennsylvania finds that residents of the United States are poorly informed about basic constitutional provisions.
The newly released survey suggests Americans cannot name a single right protected by the First Amendment.
According to Penn’s Annenberg Public Policy Center released Tuesday, 37 percent could not name any of the five rights protected by First Amendment, and just about half (48 percent) could name freedom of speech.
It is so very late in the day.

Harvard confirms its status as a sewer of treason-enabling and sin

The rot of Western civilization advances. By the way, the son of a bitch's name is Bradley And good on ya, Mike:

Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell on Thursday announced his resignation as a senior fellow at Harvard after the university named U.S. Army soldier-turned-convicted felon Chelsea Manning a visiting fellow.
Manning reacted to Morell's resignation with a one-word Tweet: "good."
“She speaks on the social, technological and economic ramifications of Artificial Intelligence,” the Harvard announcement said. “As a trans woman, she advocates for queer and transgender rights as @xychelsea on Twitter.”

Morell, a former CIA deputy director who twice served as acting director, announced his resignation from Harvard's Belfer Center was a result of Manning's appointment, saying he couldn't be part of an organization "that honors convicted felon and leaker of classified information." 

"Senior leaders in our military have stated publicly that the leaks by Ms. Manning put the lives of U.S. soldiers at risk," Morell said. "I have an obligation in my conscience -- and I believe to the country -- to stand against any efforts to justify leaks of sensitive national security information."
Many people were flabbergasted the university gave Manning the title, calling it “unbelievable” that a person convicted of espionage could be considered a “fellow.” 
It is so very late in the day.

Squirrel-Hair is quite the team-builder

Dressed down one of his first and most loyal supporters:

Shortly after learning in May that a special counsel had been appointed to investigate links between his campaign associates and Russia, President Trump berated Attorney General Jeff Sessions in an Oval Office meeting and said the attorney general should resign, according to current and former administration officials and others briefed on the matter.
The president blamed the appointment of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, on Mr. Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia investigation — a move Mr. Trump believes was the moment his administration effectively lost control over the inquiry. Accusing Mr. Sessions of “disloyalty,” Mr. Trump unleashed a string of insults on his attorney general.
Ashen and emotional, Mr. Sessions told the president he would quit and sent a resignation letter to the White House, according to four people who were told details of the meeting. Mr. Sessions would later tell associates that the demeaning way the president addressed him was the most humiliating experience in decades of public life.
Echoes rather closely another recent Oval Office scene:

President Trump was in an especially ornery mood after staff members gently suggested he refrain from injecting politics into day-to-day issues of governing after last month’s raucous rally in Arizona, and he responded by lashing out at the most senior aide in his presence.
It happened to be his new chief of staff, John F. Kelly.
Mr. Kelly, the former Marine general brought in five weeks ago as the successor to Reince Priebus, reacted calmly, but he later told other White House staff members that he had never been spoken to like that during 35 years of serving his country. In the future, he said, he would not abide such treatment, according to three people familiar with the exchange.

Why these distinguished Americans would ever put themselves in the position where they might be subjected to this is beyond me. I daresay one of these days someone's going to tell S-H, to his face, to f--- himself.


The water-carriers, each in his or her own way, are starting to come forth with some version of the message, "I was played for a fool, and it's making me mad!":

Ann Coulter reacts this morning: “At this point, who DOESN’T want Trump impeached?” That’s the author of In Trump We Trust. Now she tells us!

Congressman Steve King of Iowa, another big Trump supporter in 2016, reacts this morning: “Unbelievable! Amnesty is a pardon for immigration law breakers coupled with the reward of the objective of their crime. If AP is correct, Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.”

Breitbart.com goes with the headline: “AMNESTY DON . . .  DEMS DECLARE VICTORY AS TRUMP CAVES ON DACA” How bad is it? Bad enough to shake the faith of Sean Hannity!

Hannity: “If POTUS doesn’t keep that promise [for a wall], and goes for amnesty, it will be the political equivalent of ‘read my lips, no new taxes.’”

Just heard a bit of Ingraham on her radio show. She's steamed, too.

I'm a pretty big-hearted guy, but I have no sympathy for these people.

And they must not be allowed anywhere near the construction site as the conservative movement is rebuilt.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

On the issue that the slavish devotees considered Numero Uno, Squirrel-Hair betrays them

Yesterday's daily White House presser put the finishing touches on the process begun when S-H tweeted his vision of a six-month window in which Congress would codify as Constitutional the Most Equal Comrade's unconstitutional DACA edict. Rather than just nix the executive order, S-H made it plain that the take-care-of-everybody approach with which he sees health care is also what drives his views on offspring of illegal aliens.

we had Donald Trump wrong all along. He’s always been a fan of amnesty. (The Daily Caller) 
President Donald Trump’s request that Congress protect illegal immigrants is not a change of heart, but something Trump has always supported, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
Trump presented a hard-line immigration policy on the campaign trail and said during an August 2016 campaign speech that “there will be no amnesty.”…
When asked during Tuesday’s White House press briefing about Trump’s support of amnesty, Sanders replied, “I think the president has spoken out very clearly that he wants us to make this decision based on a variety of factors. But the number one thing is that he wants responsible immigration reform and part of that is including that in the process.”
She went on to say that Trump “always wanted responsible immigration reform.”
This isn’t just a modification in policy. It’s a reversal. In fact the Daily Caller does a fine job of revisiting a 2016 campaign speech in Arizona where Trump went after Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush on the subject, chiding them for just being politicians who think that “immigration reform” means “amnesty, open borders, and lower wages.

Coming as it does on the heels of the Oval Office betrayal of Republicans on the debt ceiling, we get a further glimpse into the scrambled mind of Squirrel-Hair. He did a little asking around, ran some numbers, and concluded that more post-Americans were of the we-can't-just-jettison-these-teens-and-young-adults-who-have-never-known-Guatemala mindset than those embracing the ship-'em-all-back-and-right-now attitude.

And on the basis of that, determined that the quickest path to a "win" was the six-month window.

After all, the value he places on media adulation is so transparent that he had no qualms about calling Chuck Schumer to share his giddiness at the media coverage both of them were getting for the Oval Office non-negotiation on the debt ceiling:

"I got a call early this morning," Schumer told the New York Times. "He said, 'This was so great!' Here's what he said: 'Do you watch Fox News?' I said, 'Not really.' 'They're praising you!' Meaning me. But he said, 'And your stations' -- I guess meaning MSNBC and CNN -- 'are praising me! This is great!'"
Now, these recent events go far in dividing slavish S-H devotees into two camps: those who are, even if tentatively, willing to publicly acknowledge that they were played for putzes, and those who are still trying to find some other explanation for the current reality.

Like Kurt Schlichter, who still puts the onus on Congressional Republican leaders for the debt-ceiling cave:

Our friend Kurt Schlichter over at Townhall tried in vain to put a good spin on all of it, ultimately reaching the conclusion Trump had no choice because capitulation is only possible with the establishment. Or something. 

It is the perfect illustration of the logical fallacy, in this case, avoiding the issue. His attempt to make Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell the focal point avoids the fact that Trump surrendered so fast, if he were Davey Crockett, the Alamo would have fallen just after the first shots were fired.
The issue is not the dreaded “GOPe.” The issue is Trump’s capitulation. The question is, “Did Trump do a good thing?” Kurt and others like him don’t want to answer that question, hence avoiding the issue somehow through osmosis, shifting blame to Ryan and McConnell.
And the slavish devotees, ever eager to see 5-D chess maneuvers in Squirrel-Hair's actions, want to claim that this really was a negotiation, and that now Freedom-Haters might be willing to look at some wall funding.

Let's hope they don't hold their breath until the turning-blue phase sets in:

As it turns out, the Trump administration knows their new best friends, Chuck and Nancy won’t go for border wall funding at all. Of course, this serves as a reminder that Trump was full of crap when he said he’d get Mexico to pay for the wall. Plenty of us knew that was a garbage promise before Trump secured the nomination. Now the administration is hinting they don’t want that fight:
White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told reporters on Tuesday that President Trump would not demand that border wall funding is tied to a legislative replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Speaking at a roundtable event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Short said the administration didn’t want to “bind” itself by making a demand that would likely be a nonstarter for many lawmakers.
“We’re interested in getting border security and the president has made the commitment to the American people that a barrier is important to that security,” Short said. “Whether or not that is part of a DACA equation, or … another legislative vehicle, I don’t want to bind us into a construct that would make the conclusion on DACA impossible.”
There had been speculation that Trump would require any compromise on potential DACA legislation include money for a wall along the southern border.
Short went on to say that Trump is still committed to building the wall. Of course, they’re going to say that. What else are they going to say?
The problem is, the Democrats are never going to agree to provide funding for a border wall and they’ll thwart any attempts to do so. Trump, in alienating the people responsible for getting the legislation to the floor of both chambers, made it worse for himself. Trump can seek out the Freedom Caucus all he wants. As much as I like Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, they can’t move the football without it being handed them by Ryan.
So actual conservatives now have the small, admittedly not too noble, consolation of watching the fools who still carry this charlatan's water desperately look for a favorable spin to put on his chaotic behavior.

I don't know that it ameliorates the anguish of knowing it could have been so different much, but it's kind of fun.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Real conservatism is not wrong

A theme for opinion pieces that got its start in 2015 - namely, what Trump is doing to conservatism - has taken on new contours now that we have a few months of an actual Trump administration under our belts. These contours have been sharpened a bit in the wake of DJT's blatant middle finger to McConnell and Ryan in the debt-ceiling meeting, at which he went for the Schumer-Pelosi proposal without so much as one counter-volley that would have made it an actual negotiation.

Two of the most recent pieces I've seen, which come to the same assessment, that conservatism has been marginalized as it hasn't been since perhaps before the 1952 publication of Buckley's God and Man at Yale, are penned by observers with markedly different biases.

Will Rahn of CBS News is a classic Acela-corridor news-media careerist, with all that that entails. In short, he is noting a phenomenon in his latest column, but not with any wistfulness. In fact, there's a readily discernible I-told-you-it-was-destined-for-the-sidelines tone to it:

The most overrepresented ideology in American politics today is conservatism. You see conservatives everywhere: on cable news, in opinion columns, in their magazines and most importantly in Congress. But as Donald Trump continues to show us, conservatism is at best a marginal ideology, a very junior partner in the GOP it once controlled. 
The Republican civil war is over, and the conservatives lost. We saw yet more evidence of their defeat last week, when Trump sided with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer over the debt ceiling. This is now the Party of Trump, and its dominant ideology is a right-wing populism that puts the emphasis on style and not substance. 
Trump will make deals with the Democrats when he can and he finds it expedient. He'll indulge in some ideological adventurism on economic issues because he knows his voters will back him up. The much-heralded Republican resistance to Trump in Congress will remain small and ineffective when it comes to obstructing his agenda, regardless of how many op-eds dissident senators publish in the Washington Post.
At NRO, Jonathan S. Tobin has much the same set of circumstances to report, albeit from the other side of the spectrum, the side that Rahn sees as being regarded with overinflated relevance.

rump’s not becoming an independent. His deals with Democrats and Bannon’s threats are signs that the hostile takeover of the GOP is just getting started. There is no precedent for President Trump’s political maneuverings at the expense of his own party. Only a president with no longstanding ties to the GOP or political experience would have even considered something like his astonishing ambush of the Republican congressional leadership last week, in which Trump cut a deal with the Democrats at the expense of his supposed allies.

Tobin's point is that rather than an obliteration of the two-party system, the Trump phenomenon represents the transformation of the Republican Party.

It's been transformed before. The most obvious and recent example was the Reagan groundswell, which, as it built to the moment when it gave birth to Reagan's actual presidency, posed a threat to the status quo which GOP power-brokers had a vested interest in protecting. Recall the tension at the 1976 convention, and how uneasy party leaders were about the prospect of Reagan upsetting the Ford coronation.

The 1980 coalition that sealed the deal was really pretty precarious, a coming-together of free-market champions, devout Christians concerned about what has come to be called "social issues," the policy leaders whose focus was Communism (a component of the coalition that brought a number of former Democrats, most of them New York Jewish intellectuals, but also including some Catholics and others into the fold), and still-Democrat union members.

Go back twenty-five years from that, to the original coalescing of the modern conservative movement, and you see a similarly fragile coalition, some elements of which eventually had to be told, as tactfully as possible, that they didn't fit - namely, Objectivists and the John Birch Society.

So the evolution of a movement is one way to look at how the definition of this term, conservatism, got honed and distilled over the years.

I'm starting to consider that this emphasis on "movement," however, has a couple of problems that don't serve conservatism, when considered as a worldview (that it behooves anybody and everybody to embrace). For one thing, efforts over the years to shore the movement up, to optimize its cohesiveness, have often been really boneheaded in tone (not unlike the boneheadedness at the core of Trumpism). Secondly, it lends itself to tribalism, to an overemphasis on jockeying for position in the political realm, and therefore obsession with poll numbers and myopic focus on particular issues.

The coalitions that led to the growth and success of conservatism as a movement may have been tenuously holding together disparate elements of various inclinations, but there is a worldview called conservatism the facets of which are quite unified into a whole that makes imminent sense. We know the heritage: John Locke, Edmund Burke, Frederic Bastiat, Richard Weaver, Albert Jay Nock, James Burnham, Russell Kirk.

I've laid out the three pillars of conservatism as I articulate them before, and it's probably useful to repeat them here:

1.) Free-market economics, which begins with the premise that a good or service is worth what buyer and seller agree that it is worth - period. No other party has any business being involved in that agreement - certainly not government.

2.) An understanding that Western civilization has been a unique blessing to humankind. (Judeo-Christian morality, Greco-Roman model of representative democracy, the great scientific and artistic achievements.)

3.) A foreign policy based on what history tells us about human nature. This plays itself out as our allies knowing we have their backs, our adversaries respecting us, and our enemies fearing us.

These encompass pretty much anything one would go on to say in an effort to flesh out the picture, but some fleshing out is useful indeed.

For starters, on the level of personal conduct, conservatism is about decorum, a sense of propriety, the cultivation of gracious engagement with fellow human beings. I don't doubt that this is why, from a popular-culture standpoint, conservatives are often regarded as hopeless squares.

There's also the way conservatism resolves the tension between freedom and reverence. I realize that certain figures have, at least apparently, successfully crafted a conservative foundation for themselves while holding fast to the claim of being atheists, but they pay homage to an actual religious premise by their lauding of the traditions and institutions we all agree are vital to Western civilization.

The conservative puts freedom front and center among the values he or she embraces, but believes that a person ought to rely on providential guidance in the use of his or her freedom. John Adams's insistence that the American Constitutional form of government is of no use to anyone other than a moral people regularly consulting God applies here.

There's also conservatism's instinctual wariness of collectivism. Any kind of ideology that sets great store by some kind of "common good" is going to wind up imposing someone's will on the rest of us. We've seen it over and over again.

I don't doubt Tobin's conclusion that the Republican Party is going to look a lot different in the wake of the Trump phenomenon, and, as much as I don't want to agree with Rahn, he's probably not wrong that conservatives have been marginalized. (I do take exception to the permanence he ascribes to that.)

But, with everybody who wears the conservative label wondering what happens on the movement level, and what the political-prospects for that movement can possibly be, I would offer the worldview that gives life to the movement as a ray of hope.

For one thing, conservatism is correct about everything. It is the answer to the questions that perpetually vex our species.

And because it is so, it finds itself in reaction mode to the cacophony of erroneous and dangerous ideologies that so much of the world finds attractive.

We find ourselves much of the time in the position of pointing out what runs counter to the making of a happy, productive, advanced, free society that pleases God.

Omitting God from human life is wrong. Collectivism is wrong. Deigning to ignore the natural design of the universe is wrong.

I briefly considered that my purpose here was to fend off the despair that might come with a full realization of the point Tobin, Rahn and many others are making. But I have rejected that.

Here's why: none of these other ways of proceeding work. Identity politics doesn't work. Denial of the male-female duality that characterizes the human race and indeed most species doesn't work. Making "rights" out of things that by definition can't be a right, such as health-care care or a job, doesn't work. Searching for "lasting peace" on the world stage doesn't work.

Most relevantly to the present moment, the incoherence of Trumpism doesn't work.

So hang in there. It isn't pretty to watch flawed worldviews get disproved, but it tempers the essence of what we know, and what, eventually, will be once again realized by enough people that sunnier days will prevail again.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Jackbootery in the classical-music world

A Freedom-Hater sticks her nose into something that is absolutely none of her business:

Get a load of this story:
An acclaimed British conductor has been fired from a prestigious American music festival after a seemingly innocent joke he made to a black friend was labelled racist.
Matthew Halls was removed as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival following an incident in which he imitated a southern American accent while talking to his longstanding friend, the African-American classical singer Reginald Mobley.
It is understood a white woman who overheard the joke reported it to officials at the University of Oregon, which runs the festival, claiming it amounted to a racial slur.
Shortly after Halls, who has worked with orchestras and opera houses across Europe and the US, was told by a university official his four year contract, which was to have run until 2020, was being terminated.
This sounds like a bad Title IX inquisition. Further down in the story, it is explained that the University of Oregon never spoke with Mobley, who is appalled at the University’s action.

Mobley says he and Halls often playfully mock each other's accents (British and southern, respectively). Alas, he was not consulted on the situation by the jackboots who cut Halls loose.