Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tuesday roundup

Progressives love to cite the Scandinavian countries as models for workable socialism. Ben Shapiro at NRO demonstrates the faultiness of this construct, on grounds of geography, population size, demographics, and, most importantly, the fact that what they practice isn't actually socialism.

And in a piece at The Federalist (the whole of which is an excellent overview of why free-market economics is the only "system" that really empowers individuals), Andy Puzder quotes the Danish Prime Minister:

In a 2015 speech at Harvard University, Denmark’s prime minister stated: “I know that some people in the U.S. associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism, therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.” In 2016, a noted Danish economist told CNN that Denmark’s major political parties would oppose many of democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders’ regulatory policies “as being too leftist.”

At Ricochet, Hoover Institution fellow Richard Epstein makes clear that what Elizabeth Warren proposed in a WSJ op-ed last week - putting the federal government in charge of corporate charters - is economically disastrous and a trampling of freedom.

Post-America is a culturally bleak place, but apparently there are still enough post-Americans who find nothing funny about Michelle Wolf's TV "God-bless-abortions" / "viciousness-is-righteous" show that its ratings never got out of the cellar - even though it was a Netflix stream-on-demand offering - leading Netflix to cancel it.

Peter Heck at The Resurgent says that Christians ought to be straight up with postmodern secularists expressing whatever degree of interest in exploring the Bible and tell them, be prepared to be offended:

 I don’t think as Christians we should avoid telling the truth or acknowledging to those who hate the Bible that we understand why they do.
The Bible is offensive because God is holy and we are not.
It’s truly that simple. And that’s why if I might be so bold, I would suggest that as Christians we should spend less time trying to explain to people why the Bible shouldn’t be offensive to them, but instead spend our time telling them why the Bible is going to be offensive to them, and why that’s precisely what they (and we) need.
Stephen Moore invites us to contemplate this juxtaposition:

Take a wild guess what country is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions the most? Canada? Britain? France? India? Germany? Japan? No, no, no, no, no and no. 
The answer to that question is the U.S. of A. Wow! How can that be? This must be a misprint. Fake news. America never ratified the Kyoto Treaty some two decades ago. We never enacted a carbon tax. We don't have a cap-and-trade carbon emission program. That environmental villain Donald Trump pulled America out of the Paris climate accord that was signed by almost the entire rest of the civilized world.
Yet the latest world climate report from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy finds that in 2017, America reduced its carbon emissions by 0.5 percent, the most of all major countries. That's especially impressive given that our economy grew by nearly 3 percent -- so we had more growth and less pollution -- the best of all worlds. The major reason for the reduced pollution levels is the shale oil and gas revolution that is transitioning the world to cheap and clean natural gas for electric power generation. 
Meanwhile, as our emissions fell, the pollution levels rose internationally and by a larger amount than in previous years. So much for the rest of the world going green. 
John Bolton says that North Korea has yet to demonstrate any seriousness about denuclearization. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Post-America in the VSG era: still not taking the web of threats seriously

This ought to be a bracing upside the head for all of us:

Iranian-backed militants are operating across the United States mostly unfettered, raising concerns in Congress and among regional experts that these "sleeper cell" agents are poised to launch a large-scale attack on the American homeland, according to testimony before lawmakers.
Iranian agents tied to the terror group Hezbollah have already been discovered in the United States plotting attacks, giving rise to fears that Tehran could order a strike inside America should tensions between the Trump administration and Islamic Republic reach a boiling point.
Intelligence officials and former White House officials confirmed to Congress on Tuesday that such an attack is not only plausible, but relatively easy for Iran to carry out at a time when the Trump administration is considering abandoning the landmark nuclear deal and reapplying sanctions on Tehran.
There is mounting evidence that Iran poses "a direct threat to the homeland," according to Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and chair of its subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence.
A chief concern is "Iranian support for Hezbollah, which is active in the Middle East, Latin America, and here in the U.S., where Hezbollah operatives have been arrested for activities conducted in our own country," King said, referring the recent arrest of two individuals plotting terror attacks in New York City and Michigan.

"Both individuals received significant weapons training from Hezbollah," King said. "It is clear Hezbollah has the will and capability."

After more than a decade of receiving intelligence briefs, King said he has concluded that "Hezbollah is probably the most experienced and professional terrorist organization in the world," even more so than ISIS and Al Qaeda.
Asked if Iran could use Hezbollah to conduct strikes on the United States, a panel of experts including intelligence officials and former White House insiders responded in the affirmative.

"They are as good or better at explosive devices than ISIS, they are better at assassinations and developing assassination cells," said Michael Pregent, former intelligence officer who worked to counter Iranian influence in the region. "They're better at targeting, better at looking at things," and they can outsource attacks to Hezbollah.

"Hezbollah is smart," Pregent said. "They're very good at keeping their communications secure, keeping their operational security secure, and, again, from a high profile attack perspective, they'd be good at improvised explosive devices."

Others testifying before Congress agreed with this assessment.

"The answer is absolutely. We do face a threat," said Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who has long tracked Iran's militant efforts. "Their networks are present in the Untied States."
Iran is believed to have an auxiliary fighting force or around 200,000 militants spread across the Middle East, according to Nader Uskowi, a onetime policy adviser to U.S. Central Command and current visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

At least 50 to 60 thousand of these militants are "battle tested" in Syria and elsewhere.
"It doesn't take many of them to penetrate this country and be a major threat," Uskowi said. "They can pose a major threat to our homeland." 

Hezbollah also has a significant presence in Latin America, which it regards as a forward operating base.

It's also quite adept at projecting a facade of legitimacy for money-laundering purposes:

These Hezbollah operatives exploit loopholes in the U.S. immigration system to enter America under the guise of legitimate business.
Operatives working for Hezbollah and Iran use the United States "as a staging ground for trade-based and real estate-based money laundering." They "come in through the front door with a legitimate passport and a credible business cover story," Ottolenghi said. 

So our national-security apparatus is on the case, right? Well, not exactly:

The Trump administration has offered tough talk on Iran, but failed to take adequate action to dismantle its terror networks across the Middle East, as well as in Latin American and the United States itself, according to CAP's Katulis.
"The Trump administration has talked a good game and has had strong rhetoric, but I would categorize its approach vis-à-vis Iran as one of passive appeasement," said Katulis. "We simply have not shown up in a meaningful way." 

And consider the VSG's remarks a while back about how the US ought to just let Russia take the lead in straightening Syria out in light of this:

"Iran is increasing Hezbollah's capability to target Israel with more advanced and precision guided rockets and missiles," according to Pregent. "These missiles are being developed in Syria under the protection of Syrian and Russian air defense networks." 

It always comes down to which side has the greater degree of determination, the side wishing to impose and spread its darkness, or the side that is just existing and spreading prosperity and otherwise minding its own business - and assuming that no one would go to that kind of bother.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday roundup

Erick Erickson at The Resurgent has a view of the Brennan security-clearance dustup that is refreshingly original: he doesn't care.

This really is not a big story. Brennan says he was not getting classified briefings. This will affect his life not at all. It will affect the nation not at all. It will not affect your life in any way, shape, or form.
It is just another story designed to foment outrage at the President and there is vastly more important stuff going on in the world than this.
If the Very Stable Genius wants Omarosa arrested, shouldn't he offer a specific charge for doing so? 

Pub legislators in Wisconsin need to pull back from the brink and act like free-market champions and not offer special incentives to Kimberly-Clark to keep plants in that state open that it makes economic sense to close. There's a very basic lesson her for them to heed:

When we abandon a strongly held commitment to something — say, free markets or fiscal responsibility — we weaken our ability to insist upon it in the next case.
Why can't Europe do tech? 

Somebody who has the respect of the Very Stable Genius - presumably because that person says GREAT things about him - has apparently gotten through to him on the matter of this parade, the cost of which ballooned exponentially. It's been cancelled.

The VSG administration is close to a revamped NAFTA deal with Mexico, but issues remain with Canada. It will be interesting to see the particulars. Again, they'll surely be whatever the VSG is told will make him look like a winner.




Thursday, August 16, 2018

A horrifying pronouncement from Chelsea Clinton

Really let this sink in:

Chelsea Clinton suggested during a progressive event over the weekend that the legalization of abortion was a boon to the U.S. economy.
At the “Rise Up for Roe Tour,” which kicked off Saturday in New York City, the former first daughter of President Bill Clinton argued that the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade added more than $3 trillion to the economy by women entering the workforce.
“Whether you kind of fundamentally care about reproductive rights and access, right, because again these are not the same thing — if you care about social justice or economic justice, agency — you have to care about this,” she said, according to a clip published by the Media Research Center. “It is not a disconnected fact … that American women entering the labor force from 1970 to 2009 added three and a half trillion dollars to our economy, right?
“The net, new entrance of women — that is not disconnected from the fact that Roe became the law of the land in January of 1973,” she said. “So, I think, whatever it is that people say they care about, I think that you can connect to this issue. Of course, I would hope that they would care about our equal rights and dignity to make our own choices, but if that is not sufficiently persuasive, hopefully some of these other arguments that you’re hearing expressed so beautifully will be.” 
Those millions of Americans who had holes poked in their the tops of their skulls and their brains sucked out, who had their limbs ripped from their torsos - well,, bless their little hearts, they expanded economic opportunity for so many women!

One thing this does is point up the crux of feminism: resentment at having uteruses, at being the half of the species with the bodies in which new bodies gestate. You see, that makes life so inconvenient relative to the lives of men.

Which takes us to a broader verity: Leftism has no use for the individual. What Chelsea wants those in her audience to celebrate is the strides of a demographic group. Per se, there's nothing wrong with that, but that it happens over the corpses of millions of fetal Americans elevates that "achievement" to a grim supremacy over the flourishing of actual human beings with names and aspirations.

This take on what makes life worthwhile is to be expected from the daughter of a guy who took trips on planes full of underage girls to remote islands with his buddy Jeffrey Epstein, and of a woman who looked said guy's rape victim right in the eye, with her hand on said victim's forearm and said, "Bill and I want you to know how grateful we are for everything you've done. Do you understand me? Everything."

Let us pray that there is a swift and fierce backlash, and let us also pray that Chelsea's soul can be freed from the grip of the Dark One.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The ongoing harassment of Jack Phillips

It's twofold: a, individual who clearly has too much time on her hands, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission:

Jack Phillips, the Christian baker who prevailed at the U.S. Supreme Court after declining to create a custom wedding cake for a gay couple, filed a lawsuit in federal court late Tuesday suing the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
Phillips and his attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) say the Commission has revived its campaign against him following June’s high court decision, singling Masterpiece Cakeshop out for disparate treatment on the basis of their religious beliefs.
“The state of Colorado is ignoring the message of the U.S. Supreme Court by continuing to single out Jack for punishment and to exhibit hostility toward his religious beliefs,” said Kristen Waggoner, an Alliance Defending Freedom attorney who represents Phillips. “Even though Jack serves all customers and simply declines to create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in violation of his deeply held beliefs, the government is intent on destroying him — something the Supreme Court has already told it not to do.”
On the same day the high court agreed to review the Masterpiece case, an attorney named Autumn Scardina called Phillips’ shop and asked him to create a cake celebrating a sex transition. The caller asked that the cake include a blue exterior and a pink interior, a reflection of Scardina’s transgender identity. Phillips declined to create the cake, given his religious conviction that sex is immutable, while offering to sell the caller other pre-made baked goods.
In the months that followed, the bakery received requests for cakes featuring marijuana use, sexually explicit messages, and Satanic symbols. One solicitation submitted by email asked the cake shop to create a three-tiered white cake depicting Satan licking a functional 9 inch dildo. Phillips believes Scardina made all these requests.

Scardina filed a complaint with the civil rights commission, alleging discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The matter was held in abeyance while the Supreme Court adjudicated the Masterpiece case.
Three weeks after Phillips won at the high court, the commission issued a probable cause determination, finding there was sufficient evidence to support Scardina’s claim of discrimination. In a somewhat strange development, the probable cause finding reads that Phillips violated state law, even though the proceedings are still in a preliminary stage.

In turn, the ADF filed a lawsuit against the Commission on Phillips’ behalf, accusing the panel of violating his constitutional free exercise, free speech, due process, and equal protection rights.

“Colorado has renewed its war against him by embarking on another attempt to prosecute him, in direct conflict with the Supreme Court’s ruling in his favor,” Phillips’ lawsuit reads. “This lawsuit is necessary to stop Colorado’s continuing persecution of Phillips.”

The suit requests an injunction barring further prosecutions of Phillips for violations of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, a declaration that the Commission violated his constitutional rights, and damages from the director of the commission. The complaint names the director, Aubrey Elenis, in her professional and personal capacity, meaning she is personally liable for any financial judgment the court might award.

Phillips is seeking damages from Elenis for lost work time, lost profits, emotional distress, and reputational harm. He is also requesting an additional $100,000 punitive judgment against her.

The complaint also challenges the criteria by which commissioners are selected to serve on the civil rights panel. According to the filing, the seven-member Commission must always include four “members of groups of people who have been or who might be discriminated against because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, marital status, religion, or age.” Two seats must be filled by representatives of the business community, while another two seats are reserved for government entities.
ADF argues these criteria are not neutral, and embed hostility to Phillips’ religious beliefs into “the very structure that Colorado uses to enforce its public-accommodation law.” 

It would be interesting to see this Scardina person attempt to articulate some kind of principle she / he /  it sees as motivating this elaborate program of torment. Probably something about public accomodation. But that shows that such people not only hate the way God designed human (and general animal-kingdom) sexuality, but the free market as well. Anybody who really wanted those things on cakes could find a willing baker. But the idea that there's a guy in Denver who is not being subjected to government coercion is unacceptable to them.


Glad to see Alliance Defending Freedom is once again on the case. As for the rest of us, let us pray for this Scardina person, that she be freed from the grip Satan has on her soul. Ditto the members of the commission.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

On the Roncali High School counselor

The basic situation:

A Catholic school in Indiana might fire a guidance counselor who didn't reveal that she's in a same-sex marriage, which is contrary to Church teaching on sexual ethics.
Roncalli High School, which is overseen by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, has garnered much attention in response to reports that staff member Shelley Fitzgerald was told to either dissolve her same-sex marriage or be dismissed.
In a statement posted to its Facebook page Sunday, school officials said they don't "discuss specific details of school personnel matters."
"Roncalli takes seriously its responsibility to treat all employees fairly and to not discuss their employment record in a public forum," Roncalli stated. "All employees must be afforded the right to have their individual situations reviewed in a fair, professional and private manner."
The school went on to note that as an entity overseen by the Roman Catholic Church, they are obligated to have faculty and staff that "are vital ministers in sharing the mission of the Church."
"As role models for students, the personal conduct of every teacher, guidance counselor and administrator and staff member, both at school and away from school, must convey and be supportive of the teachings of the Catholic Church," continued the school.

Roncalli noted that their employee contracts lay out these demands, adding that if "the expectations of a contract are not being met, the employee and the school will attempt to reach a resolution so that the contractual requirements are fulfilled."

Posted Sunday, as of Tuesday morning, the Facebook statement has gotten over 2,700 comments, many of them critical of the school's position, as well as nearly 400 shares.

Fitzgerald had been employed by Roncalli for 15 years. During her time as an employee she had been in a same-sex relationship, eventually marrying her partner in 2014. The pair have an adopted daughter.

According to an interview she gave to the NBC affiliate WTHR, Fitzgerald explained that her same-sex marriage became an issue when an unknown party gave school administrators her marriage license.

"I have no intention of resigning. I have no intention of being quiet. And I didn't need the counsel that they were offering from priests. My goal, my intent is just to be a catalyst for change," said Fitzgerald.

"There's a piece of me that is shameful for the message that I've taught my daughter in the last 15 years that this is OK to stay quiet to keep a job. But I will tell you the lesson she has seen in this now is one of incredible love."

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the government cannot interfere with a religious group's employment standards.

"Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs," read high court's opinion.
"By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the Free Exercise Clause, which protects a religious group's right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments." 

Roncalli noted that their employee contracts lay out these demands, adding that if "the expectations of a contract are not being met, the employee and the school will attempt to reach a resolution so that the contractual requirements are fulfilled."

Posted Sunday, as of Tuesday morning, the Facebook statement has gotten over 2,700 comments, many of them critical of the school's position, as well as nearly 400 shares.

Fitzgerald had been employed by Roncalli for 15 years. During her time as an employee she had been in a same-sex relationship, eventually marrying her partner in 2014. The pair have an adopted daughter.

According to an interview she gave to the NBC affiliate WTHR, Fitzgerald explained that her same-sex marriage became an issue when an unknown party gave school administrators her marriage license.

"I have no intention of resigning. I have no intention of being quiet. And I didn't need the counsel that they were offering from priests. My goal, my intent is just to be a catalyst for change," said Fitzgerald.

"There's a piece of me that is shameful for the message that I've taught my daughter in the last 15 years that this is OK to stay quiet to keep a job. But I will tell you the lesson she has seen in this now is one of incredible love."

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the government cannot interfere with a religious group's employment standards.

"Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs," read high court's opinion.
"By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the Free Exercise Clause, which protects a religious group's right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments." 

I live in central Indiana, so I've seen and read some local coverage of this story, and it's pretty clear that Fitzgerald is well-regarded by students, faculty, and staff. She presents herself as a mature, calm person of some depth.

Let LITD be on record that it was a boneheaded move by whoever it was that outed her by giving the administration her "marriage" license. Everything was fine prior to that. And now the issue is forced and Fitzgerald feels the need to take a stance that inevitably has an ideological element to it.

But two issues that have a side to them which much be fiercely defended are these: individual accountability for choices one makes as to where to work, and religious freedom. She knew good and well she was going to work for a Catholic - that is, Christian - institution, and had been made aware of the school's and the Church's doctrine. And then there's the possibility that a court could conclude that Roncali has to keep her - using who knows what tortured rationale. That would be a cut-and-dried case of the government making the Catholic Church violate its own doctrine.

You see, while it's undoubtedly true that Fitzgerald feels deep and real affection for her longtime partner, there is this matter of a Biblical basis for deeming homosexuality a sin. God's word doesn't change over time as societies adopt various collective attitudes.

I hope for Ms. Fitzgerald, as I do for the homosexuals I know and like and enjoy the friendship of, that her moment before her Lord as she embarks on the eternal portion of her life goes well and is rich with mercy. I hope it goes well for me!

But a proper resolution of her current situation necessitates that she either just go back to being quiet about her sex life or find another job.

Roncali is a high school based on imbuing its students with God's law. If she goes into activist mode over her situation, she'll be interfering with that mission.


Fauxcahontas gets a response to her dog vomit about the nation's justice system

From a law enforcement agency close to home:

Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson said statements made by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren calling the American criminal justice system racist are “disrespectful and divisive.”
Warren made the remarks while speaking at Dillard University in New Orleans last week.
“The hard truth about our criminal justice system: It’s racist … I mean front to back,” Warren said.
On Friday, Yarmouth Police shared Frederickson’s response to the comments. Frederickson said the comments are “more bothersome” because Warren recently made efforts to pay respects to Yarmouth Sgt. Sean Gannon and Weymouth Sgt. Michael Chesna after they were killed in the line of duty. 
Frederickson called the comments an “insult” to police officers in the state and said there are other members of the criminal justice system that Warren “slapped in the face.”

Sen. Warren’s recent statement tarnished us all and dimished (sic) the sincerty (sic) of her condolence efforts. I now cannot trust her actions or words are real. I have a lot of repect (sic) for those who serve in elected positions even though we may disagree at times, however statements like this are disrespectful and divisive. In spite of what Sen. Warren said, the Yarmouth Police Department will continue to serve ALL people with dignity and fairness.

Dudley Police Chief Steven Wojnar, the president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, wrote a letter to Warren following her remarks.
Wojnar invited Warren to discuss the issue with him. He said he is “extremely troubled” by the senator’s assertion that the criminal justice system is racist.

According to a statement on Saturday, Warren and Frederickson spoke by phone about the issue.
“I appreciate Chief Frederickson’s thoughtful comments,” Warren said. “The men and women in law enforcement work in incredibly dangerous situations. We honor those in uniform who put their lives on the line every day and those who have been killed in the line of duty to keep the rest of us safe. I spoke about an entire system – not individuals – and will continue to work on reforms to make the criminal justice system fairer.” 
Just like a hard leftist to view the matter in macro terms and speak of an "entire system." It casts this business of her conversation with Frederickson in a light of condescension, along the lines of "I didn't mean you or your department personally. I know you poor dears are operating under a system of bigotry like everyone else. That's why you should vote for me, whatever I run for. Completely changing the system is among my highest priorities."

Freedom-, dignity- and common-sense-haters never see individual human beings or particular circumstances. They always see "systems."

Good on the chief for not swallowing that hooey.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Nothing more important to the Very Stable Genius than having "GREAT things" said about him

Here are his tweets about Omarosa Maginault Newman's tell-all book and media appearances:

Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard....
...really bad things. Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me - until she got fired!
This goes a good ways in answering the question that's popping up today: Didn't he have some kind of glimmer of a notion that she was "wacky," "vicious" and "not smart" when he brought her into his administration?

Well, he's associated himself with a lot of such people over the years. It seems he likes them around if they "[say] GREAT things about [him]." Presumably they're on more tenuous ground if they only say great things about him.

As I've said before, the good things that have happened on the Very Stable Genius's watch occurred not because he was guided by any consistent set of principles but because someone he respects (you know, the kind of person who says GREAT things about him) told him, "Go with this, chief. It will make you look like a winner."
 

Stzrok finally gets the axe

Here's how Tom Vitton characterizes it:

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, who has been doggedly pursuing accountability for the FBI, believe Strzok's firing paints a broader picture of the ongoing Mueller probe. 
"The firing of Peter Strzok is another body blow to the credibility of the Mueller special counsel operation. Strzok, who hated President Trump, compromised both the Clinton and Trump investigations that saw Hillary Clinton protected and Donald Trump illicitly targeted," Fitton released in a statement. "Strzok’s anti-Trump texts show the Russia investigation he helped invent with Clinton campaign operatives is irredeemably compromised. As Mueller’s operation is founded on Strzok’s corrupt activities, it must be shut down."
Strong words, but is there seriously any other way to characterize Stzrok or the Russia investigation?

A tale of three takes (on the effect of the Trump phenomenon on the Republican Party)

The first two, a piece by Jay Cost at NRO, and a post by Joe Cunningham at RedState, are pretty much in alignment with each other. The third, today's Townhall column by Kurt Schlichter, is the outlier. (Sorry, no linky-love for MAGA-Kool-Aid-besotted Kurt.)

The whole business about objections to Trump on the right side of the spectrum is getting sticky. All three of these pieces deal with the faction that has indeed gone off the rails, advocating the obliteration of the Republican Party and starting over in the quest for a political repository for conservative values, ideas and principles. Some within this camp are even exhorting voters to go Dem this fall. That is indeed just plain nuts by any standards.

But a noteworthy aspect of the first two is that they distinguish between this faction and the still-viable and vibrant object-to-Trump-but-understand-that-he-has-to-be-reckoned-with faction - the faction that includes LITD.

Schlichter engages in the sleight-of-hand that goes back to the 2015 and 2016 days, when the scurrilous Laura Ingraham tried to frame a 16-strong primary field as a dichotomy between Trump and Jeb Bush, who never got out of single digits in polling. He couches his position on the illusion that the Bret Stephens / Jennifer Rubin / George Will types typify conservative objection to Trump.

It's a red herring, as the first two pieces clearly demonstrate.

Cost:

  . . . if the Republican party “burns to the ground,” the Democratic party wins by default. I cannot believe the following needs to be said, but here we are: This would be a very bad outcome for conservatism! As we all saw during the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency, Democrats will not hesitate to use their majorities to enact sweeping changes. And as we have seen lately, Democrats are moving further left, away from Clintonian third-way triangulation, toward the social democracies of northern Europe. And as the experience of the failed effort to repeal and replace Obamacare has surely demonstrated, it is much easier to prevent the Left from implementing policies than to undo or reform those policies once they are in place.
Additionally, we must reckon with the fact that the Trump administration has succeeded in important ways. The president has exceeded nearly everybody’s expectations when it comes to the quantity and quality of judicial nominees — to date in his first term, he has had double the number of appellate nominations confirmed than those Obama or George W. Bush had confirmed by this point in their terms. A lot of the praise goes to Mitch McConnell, who has expertly shepherded nominees through the Senate, as well as think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation, which has done excellent work in vetting potential candidates. But that still leaves a lot of credit for the president. And his administration, along with congressional Republicans, has used the Congressional Review Act to an impressive extent, rolling back the regulatory overreach of the Obama administration. While I have frequently lamented the low tone that Trump has brought to the office, these policy victories have to count for something.
A realistic view. As I said the moment I got done voting in November 2016 (for neither the Very Stable Genius nor Madame Bleachbit), I was in a position to sleep well at night, knowing I hadn't endorsed tyranny, decline and decadence, but also had not signed on to the cult of personality that was further degrading post-American civic life. I could applaud good moves - either of the executive-order variety, or presidential signatures on good legislation that made its way to the Oval Office - and still forthrightly deplore the clown show that constitutes much of what DJT is about.

Cunningham employs the medieval practice of leeching to illustrate what needs to happen to the Republican Party, and, while it works as a writing device, strikes me as detracting a bit from the point about which he wants to be adamant, and rightly so - namely, no conservative should ever vote for a Democrat. He does plausibly tie it all together in his summing-up:

Going back to our history lesson, the practice of leeching still continues today. The saliva certain species of leech is actually an anti-coagulant. It stops inflammation and can restore circulation to blocked veins. There is evidence that leeching has some benefits.
In truth, there is a certain amount of leeching that can be done to fix the Republican Party. To get rid of the Chris Collins types, who seek to expand their personal wealth and power. Or the Jeff Flake types, who use it to increase their own spotlight at the expense of their colleagues. Even the “own the libs” types, and the Republicans who have vowed to sacrifice their credibility in order to curry favor with the President’s office.
This is the type of leeching we could use. Principled conservatism isn’t dead, and pragmatic conservatism needs to make a comeback. However, under no circumstances will I or anyone at RedState ever endorse a Democrat, nor will we endorse the idea of supporting them in an attempt to curtail Trump. We are not in the business of allowing a pro-socialist agenda to worm its way into power in an effort to stick it to a man we don’t like.

Speaking of writing devices, Schlichter recently has been reduced to trotting out his limited supply of self-coined terms and means of mockery in column after column, giving them a phoned-in feeling. I know he is actually passionate (and, of course, dead wrong) about his position, but my sense is he has more fun expressing it in his tweets and, most importantly, his books, which he never fails to getting around to advertising in his columns. (He has used the phrase "oh, well, I never!" to depict supposedly effete conservatives - the ones he has christened "Fredocons" - and who, in his lexicon, embody "Conservatism, Inc." so often that he how inserts hyphens between the words, making them an extended adjective. I wonder if he's monitoring how well - or not - his phrase for his own bunch - "militant normals" is catching on.)

Look, Schlichter is not wrong about his very most basic point: The Left is waging war on Western civilization - in particular, America. But his nemeses, the big conservative magazines and think tanks, are in complete agreement about that. He just tries to dismiss their conferences and cruises as ineffectual little pow-wows that keep the Right locked in self-flattery as the Left runs the table.

That's not what's going on. For one thing, those magazines and think tanks pay great heed to the intellectual lineage from which their worldview bloomed. Trumpists? What intellectual lineage can they point to? Trump may have heard the names Edmund Burke and Frederic Bastiat mentioned in passing at some point, but they don't inform anything he does or says.

As I say, it gets increasingly tricky to keep the hand on the tiller and stay the course. Socialists and mutants to the left, Trumpists to the right.

As I've also said before, though, in a certain sense I'm optimistic. The hollow core of Trumpism will be shown to be inadequate to defeat the Left, and its disillusioned adherents will return to the well of ideas and principles that are our only hope of making this desolate political-cultural landscape at least minimally hospitable.

The Dem's new It Girl is looking increasingly like a flash in the pan

Alexandria Ocasa-Cortez's excuse for not debating Ben Shapiro - that his mere challenge was tantamount to a "catcall" - was, of course, silly, but she has yet to even come up with a solid reason for not debating Candace Owens.

It's probably because she already knows that we know why:

The answer is obvious, of course. Socialism has wreaked havoc everywhere it has been implemented — every time — and is always accompanied by tyranny. Free market capitalism has quite literally lifted billions out of poverty and is always associated with the expansion of individual liberty. But Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t know the history of either system and isn’t planning to learn. As Cicero phrased it, “To be ignorant of the past is to be forever a child.” This is why Ocasio-Cortez so often talks like a Valley Girl. Tom Perez at the Democratic National Committee says she “represents the future of our party.” Excellent!
The irony is that all these millennial progressives so enamored with socialism are in thrall to a relic:

One of the reasons socialism, as most of its current apologists use the word, can no longer be defended in a civil discussion among thinking people is that it is a debunked product of the 19thcentury, like phrenology. It was thought of by social theorists of that era as a model for human behavior that could be validated by the scientific method. Like many ideas that were taken seriously by intelligent people of that century it didn’t stand the tests of time or experience, and should have long ago disappeared from the realm of serious discussion, as did other products of faulty thinking. It should have gone the way of the aether theory.
And the headlong rush to socialism she seems to embody seems to have been oversold:

Is an endorsement smooch from the socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez actually a kiss of electoral death?
For Hawaii congressional candidate Kaniela Ing, the answer was yes, as he became the fourth high-profile endorsee of Cortez to go down in flames in a primary this week, based on returns.
The Hawaii Civil Beat reported in July:
… Ing, who bills himself as a democratic socialist, has seemingly found little traction among local voters in the race to fill the open seat for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District.
Ing lagged far behind the leaders among likely Democratic voters in the poll.
Another publication indicated Ing came in fourth in a recent poll.

It turns out Cortez’s support did nothing for his chances, and in fact, it may have hurt them.
Maybe self-proclaimed progressives, once they belly up to a voting machine, heed the voice of their intuition, and the first law economics, regardless of school, rings in their ears: The money has to come from somewhere.

 


 


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Saturday roundup

Senator Feinstein's longtime driver is far from the full extent of her ties to China that put her, given the committees she serves on, in a vulnerable spot:

  • China has for almost 40 years cultivated warm relations with Feinstein.
  • Feinstein has uniformly taken political positions supporting greater ties with China while taking a relatively dovish and strictly apologist line on its human rights atrocities.
  • Feinstein’s husband has profited handsomely during Feinstein’s career from the greatly expanded China trade she supported. It is of course possible that the Feinstein family’s privileged position with the Chinese regime improved his investment opportunities.
  • Feinstein has served as a key intermediary between China and the U.S. government, while serving on committees whose work would be of keen interest to the PRC.
  • A staffer of almost two decades in close proximity to Feinstein was allegedly successfully recruited by China’s MSS and fed China “political intelligence.”
Imagine for a second how a motivated and empowered prosecutor would operate in this situation if tasked with exploring “any links and/or coordination” between the Chinese government, Feinstein, and individuals associated with her office.
Few American officials could have been as potentially exposed to the PRC’s skilled intelligence service as Feinstein. Here we have not only proof of a spy, but real evidence of consistently pro-Chinese policy that at very best created the appearance of a financial conflict of interest.
House member representing upstate New York Chris Collins has suspended his campaign in the wake of insider trading allegations.  Just what Pubs don't need this close to November. But a campaign suspension usually means allegations are true, and if he'd continued and gotten reelected, it would have meant a corrupt guy in Congress, and that's never a good thing to live with.

A takedown of five of Alexandria Ocasa-Cortez's greatest doozies so far in her short life as a politician.

The Very Stable Genius, and more to the point, his son-in-law Jared Kushner are going all in for "criminal justice reform."

Great interview by Kathryn Jean Lopez of NRO with Chris Lowney, a prominent Jesuit thinker (who spent years as an investment banker), on the notion of pilgrimage.




Erdogan's take on US-Turkey tensions: long on attitude, short on the addressing of facts

Turkish president Erdogan pens a column for the New York Times in which he ratchets up the rhetoric a notch:

Unless the United States starts respecting Turkey’s sovereignty and proves that it understands the dangers that our nation faces, our partnership could be in jeopardy.
He basically puts the blame for tensions between his government and the US on the movement led by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who lives on a compound in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

Assuming Erdogan is not just full of ka-ka and aware that he is, why doesn't he offer helpful details regarding why he's so sure the 2016 coup attempt was the work of the Gulen movement, or for that matter just why his Justice and Development Party had such a falling-out with it, when they'd been allies? The Gulen movement doesn't appear to be some kind of firebrand militant outfit with some severe ideology. Quite the contrary, it seems to have a rather mellow position on mosque-state relations, modernity, and market-based economics.

And Erdogan's puffed-up righteousness regarding Evangelical Presbyterian minister Andrew Brunson, currently under house arrest after languishing in a Turkish jail,  is similarly lacking in any specific substantiation. Cites "charges of aiding a terrorist organization." That would be the aforementioned Gulen movement.

From what I can tell, the claim of Brunson's association with the Gulen movement hinges on the testimony of an undisclosed witness, and the fact that Brunson's daughter sent her dad an iPhone photo of a pan of maqluba, a Turkish casserole that is, according to the prosecution, commonly eaten by Gulen followers. This strikes me as pretty damn flimsy. Maqluba is a popular dish throughout the Levant.

No witnesses for the defense were called to the stand during his May hearing.

This follows the pattern revealed in Erdogan's past crackdowns and justifications therefore.

I think we're pretty much just looking at yet another leader of a nation-state who become intoxicated with the notion of power, and who has to have some enemies on deck against which to rally his base.


Friday, August 10, 2018

This is exactly why it's proper to call our nation post-America

The movie industry has traditionally reflected the width of the spectrum of American public tastes. From its beginning, in any genre, there was a sliding scale of output, from works genuinely qualifying as art to garbage designed to deliver the most base and immediate gratification. In the 1920s through the 40s, there was a collection of "poverty row" studios putting out grade-B and below fare. In the 1950s, the "grind house" studios such as American International emerged to participate in the shaping of popular culture.

Any fantasy that the lower-end houses - or even the major studios, for that matter - put out was understood to be just that: fantasy.

Of course, as we know, Hollywood has gotten increasingly causey over the past several decades. But could someone in, say, 1990, have envisioned that those leading the charge would, by 2018, insist that any and all cinematic depictions of anything whatsoever conform to an utter fantasy about matters of basic biology?

The Political Correctness Police, starting with the perpetually victimized GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and a group called 50/50 by 2020, are trying to impose quotas on everything Hollywood does.

Leftist fascism is not on the march. It is galloping.

They are part of an open letter signed by titans of the Hollywood left that demands an "unprecedented cultural moment." They demand the entertainment elite "use its power to improve the lives of trans people by changing America's understanding about who trans people are." GLAAD claims there were no transgender characters in 109 movies released by major studios in 2017, and that there were only 17 recurring and regular TV characters out of 901. Hollywood is always lagging behind its idea of diversity.

Both major Hollywood trade publications -- first the Hollywood Reporter and now Variety -- have run major cover-story packages in the last month stacking up bleeding-heart anecdotes of the terrible injustice done to "trans actors," starting with the idea that "cisgender" actress Scarlett Johansson was going to play a transgender woman in the movie "Rub & Tug." The outrage caused the movie star to withdraw.

Stop for just a second. No one gives a damn about this except them.
"Transparent" series creator Jill Soloway, who identifies as "nonbinary" and prefers the personal pronouns "they" and "them," is now horrified that she cast Jeffrey Tambor to star in her transgender show. That decision "was born out of my ignorance," Soloway lamented. "I had to have my education in public."
On the other coast, well south of the Acela Corridor, a traditional stronghold of a much different set of values is casting off its defining institutional bond:

South Carolina churches are shedding thousands of members a year, even as the state’s population grows by tens of thousands.
In the place we call the Bible Belt, where generations have hung their hats on their church-going nature and faithful traditions, an increasing trend of shrinking church attendance — and increasing church closings — signals a fundamental culture shift in South Carolina.
At least 97 Protestant churches across South Carolina have closed since 2011, according to data from the Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist and Southern Baptist denominations. An untold number of other closings, certainly, are not captured by these statistics.
Many churches are dying slow deaths, stuck in stagnation if not decline. And if they don’t do something, anything, in their near future, they’ll share the fate of Cedar Creek United Methodist, a 274-year-old Richland County congregation that dissolved last year; Resurrection Lutheran, a church near downtown Columbia that will hold its last service on Sept. 2; and the dozens of churches that sit shuttered and empty around the state.

Read more here: https://www.thestate.com/news/local/article215014375.html#storylink=cpy
As we know, this is a civilization-wide trend that is just finally coming to that state:

The South is slowly catching up to national and European trends shifting toward what many call a “post-Christian” culture — that is, a society with characteristics no longer dominantly rooted in Christianity.
Studies and surveys have documented the decline of self-identified Christians and the rise of “nones,” or the religiously unaffiliated, across the United States for years.
The Pew Research Center describes the United States as in the midst of “significant religious change. ”The share of Americans who identify with Christianity is declining, while those who say they have no religion is growing rapidly.



Now, the argument can be made that the movie industry is similarly in decline. Box-office receipts certainly indicate that. And surely the heavy-handedness of the presumptive overlords is a factor. To the extent that people do still go to movie theaters, it's not to see the finger-wagging didacticism that the Oscar nominators insist we pay attention to.

But Hollywood is still influencing the culture more than Christianity. The social-justice offices in the nation's high schools are concerned about making sure the kids who resent the DNA they were born with don't get picked on, but Christians? They're pretty much on their own.

GLAAD thinks it's some kind of outrage that trans people aren't represented in the output of TV and movie studios in higher numbers, completely ignoring the fact that statistically speaking, people who resent the DNA they were born with are such a small percentage of the population as to be negligible. And outside of Christine Jorgensen an a couple of other high-profile instances of freak-show surgical mutilations, no one was talking about this ten years ago, not even people who had already decided that two people of the same gender could be married.

One of the last sticking points for me as I drew closer to genuine faith was this notion of a devil. I'd spent so many years as a secular agnostic (which resulted from my trying to find an ultimate answer in some kind of broadly defined "eastern thought") that the notion of a real force, a real being with a real intention, sort of a mirror opposite of God, struck me as - well, fantasy. Fantasy of the sort best suited to middle-or-low-brow works of cinematic entertainment.

But I saw trends like the two cited here and realized that as a civilization we were staring directly into the face of Satan.


Now, given that both the movie industry and Christianity are losing followers, what are people occupying themselves with?

Well, look around you. Take a quick scroll of your Facebook feed. People are obsessed with tribalism. Pushing for ascendancy of their own sets of confirmation bias and the trampling of any other.

Don't people still amuse themselves with sports, you might ask. Or music? Well, those arenas are likewise experiencing dwindling interest. And what's left of them is rotten with ginned-up outrage and self-congratulation. NFL stadium-attendance numbers declined at the same time as the take-a-knee phenomenon went mainstream.

As I noted in a post the other day,

I doubt that the Jessica Prois / Sarah Jeong / Ta-Nehisi Coates / Linda Sarsour / Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez types have a clear view of just what happens when the dog actually catches up to the car - that is, when the white, straight, Christian male is resolutely quashed and transgendered amputees of color hold a majority in Congress - but we can safely say that it has nothing to do with God being glorified.

They want society to become increasingly freaky, ever further removed from the obvious natural parameters to the way humankind - indeed, the whole animal kingdom; indeed, the whole world - is designed. That's not their concern. Their concern is being in control of whatever grotesque arrangement society is going to morph into.

In short, this is about power.  In fact, it becomes easier for the overlords to wield power if a sizable swath of the cattle-masses have been neutered or turned into monstrosities. The cattle-masses then have no frame of reference for what normal human existence is supposed to look like.

And what is raw power-lust except the illusion that one can assume God-like status?

And where does that notion come from?

Ultimately, though, the mockery will not- cannot - stand. Things will be set aright.

We can heed the prodding from the Father of Lies, but in the end, he doesn't win.

One will want to be on high ground on the day of reckoning, far above the destruction that will wipe the slate clean.

This is about as serious as it gets.




Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Dem voters may not be ready for that much of a leftward lurch, but Pubs had better do a self-inventory

It's true that the special election in Ohio and the various primaries that took place yesterday took a bit of wind out of the sails of this narrative that Dems are set to go all Sanders Cortez:

Missouri primary

Democratic establishment candidate Rep. Lacy Clay easily defeated the Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez endorsed nurse and activist Cori Bush for Missouri’s 1st district.

Michigan primary

In the Democratic primary for governor, former state senator Gretchen Whitmer easily defeated Abdul El-Sayed , a former Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion executive director, and entrepreneur Shri Thanedar.
Abdul El-Sayed was seen as the progressive alternative to the more mainstream Whitmer. Ocasio-Cortez endorsed El-Sayed to perpetuate the left-wing takeover of the Democratic Party.
Ocasio-endorsed Fayrouz Saad also lost to Hillary Clinton-endorsed Haley Stevens in Michigan’s 11th district in the U.S. House of Representatives. Saad would have been the first Muslim woman elected to Congress if she had won the nomination and the general election.
In the GOP race for governor, Trump-endorsed Attorney General Bill Schuette easily defeated numerous candidates, including Dr. Jim Hines, president of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.
In the GOP Senate primary, Trump also endorsed veteran John James, who won the Republican nomination and will  challenge Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in the midterms.

Kansas primary

The Ocasio-Sanders socialist movement had only one possible victory in a U.S. House district in Kansas.
Brent Welder was endorsed by both Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez for the nomination against Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas’ 3rd district, and he appeared to be heading toward victory on Tuesday.
In the gubernatorial race, Laura Kelly easily won the Democratic nomination while Trump-endorsed Kris Kobach was narrowly ahead of incumbent Jeff Colyer on the Republican side.

Washington primary

Sarah Smith hoped to defeat 11-term incumbent Adam Smith, who is far more conservative than the Socialist Democrat, but that hope was easily crushed in Washington’s 9th district.

‘Blue wave’ crash in Ohio special election

Democrats also lost the pivotal special election in Ohio considered a bellwether for the “blue wave.” This was the last special election contest before the midterms and was being touted by Democrats as a disaster for Republicans because the president won the state by 11 percentage points in 2016.
But the razor-thin election ended up in a toss-up with Republican Troy Balderson ahead. He is likely to keep the victory barring any drastic errors in the count with provisional ballots. 
However, Jim Geraghty at NRO cautions against reading this aggregate of results too over-confidently:


The morning brings news that Republican Troy Balderson edged out Democrat Danny O’Connor in the special election in Ohio’s 12th congressional district. President Trump immediately boasted that he turned around the race.
This is whistling past the graveyard. Ohio’s 12th, which includes communities north and east of Columbus, has been a traditionally heavily Republican district; Trump won it by eleven in 2016, and previous incumbent Pat Tiberi usually won by a two-to-one margin. Balderson and O’Connor will meet in a rematch in November.

You’re going to hear a lot of breathless analysis of this special House election, but the basic outlines of November haven’t changed much since what we saw in Virginia and New Jersey last November. The Democratic base is roused. They will come out to vote. A side effect of that “own the libs!” “Democratic tears are delicious!” antagonism is that it does the job of Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts for them. Maybe it’s worth it.

Look at it this way. In 2016, 112,638 turned out in this district to vote for the Democratic congressional candidate, Ed Albertson. Yesterday, 99,820 voted for Democrat O’Connor. Democrats got roughly nine out of every ten Democratic-leaning presidential-election-year voters to come out for a mid-August special election!

By comparison, a whopping 251,266 voted for Tiberi in 2016, and just 101,574 voted for Balderson last night — meaning about four out of every ten GOP-leaning presidential-election-year voters came out for the special election. Balderson hung on just because of the district’s demographics.

Right now, you’d have to conclude that the Democratic base just wants it more than the Republican one. If that pattern keeps up, forget it. There will be no drama on Election Night 2018. It’s just a question of the size of the new Democratic House majority.

This isn’t the result of some great new micro-targeting gizmo, or a jarring advertising campaign, even a particularly great crop of Democratic candidates. This is primarily driven by a Republican president who is in the headlines every single day and who finds some new way to jab and poke at voters who didn’t vote for him in 2016 and voters who have spent his presidency convinced he is Beelzebub.


There’s a great irony to this: Remember when conservatives thought Trump might be eager to work with Democrats on an infrastructure bill, imposing tariffs, raising the debt ceiling, and other areas where they thought his agenda might overlap with the Democrats? Maybe some working-class whites are drifting over to the GOP, but a lot of suburban women are heading to the Democrats. Chuck Schumer boasted at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in 2016 that his party would come out the winner in that trade, but it didn’t work out the way he expected. But maybe those Trump voters aren’t so motivated if he isn’t on the ballot. 
Pubs need to knock off the tribalism - specifically, the Trump cult-of-personality cheerleading - and get back to principles and ideas. The cultists don't seem to be concerned about the fact that a whole lotta post-Americans can't stand the Very Stable Genius, but dismissing them isn't gonna get it come November.