Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Slavish Trump devotees do conservatism no favors

I find myself in the most uncomfortable position of sharply disagreeing with Dennis Prager. That has never happened before. He is one of the most principled, big-hearted, God-centered and erudite cultural critics writing today.

But his latest column has exactly the same tone and message as that WSJ editorial I referred to the other day. It's a castigation of "purists," notably the House Freedom Caucus, for Congress missing a unique opportunity to repeal and replace the "A"CA. The old you-insisted-on-the-perfect-at-the-expense-of-the-good position.

I can't help but believe Ben Shapiro had Prager, among others, in mind when he penned his latest NRO piece:

the lie came from conservatives who suggested that after Trump was elected — after the Hildebeast had been defeated! — they would go back to holding Trump accountable, pushing for better public policy. Everything had to be put on hold to stop the Democrats from taking power, every heresy tolerated. But once Trump took the White House, conservatives could return to their political philosophy.
Nope.

It now appears that the cognitive dissonance associated with Trump support has morphed into full-blown Stockholm syndrome, with conservatives now waiving principle not to defeat Hillary Clinton, but to back Trump down the line. Many conservatives now say that Trump’s American Health Care Act was the best available bad option. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and President Trump had presented a crap sandwich, to be sure, but it was the best available crap sandwich. Never mind its 17 percent public-approval rating. Never mind its accelerated death spiral. Never mind its new entitlement, its maintenance of key Obamacare regulations, or its increased premiums for the next few years. 

 Trump wanted it; thus it was good; thus it had to be passed. It was The Best We Were Going To Do™. 
Now, the post here at LITD immediately underneath this one is about Trump doing something right - very right. But I hold no illusions about him having a rightie epiphany.

I know what we're dealing with.

Shapiro illustrates the way that his die-hard water-carriers refuse to see:


Remember when Trump would be a great president because he was a great negotiator? That old chestnut has been discarded in favor of “Trump got played by that Machiavellian Snidely Ryan.”

Remember when Trump would know how to work with Congress, because he wasn’t tied down to ideology? That’s been tossed out the window in favor of screaming about conservative obstructionism.

Remember when Trump would be the most conservative president ever, and this whole populist shtick would merely be a cover for a Mike Pence policy? That’s gone, and Trump’s now going to be the greatest aisle-reacher in history.

Remember when Trump would know how to fix D.C., because only he knew how corrupt it was? Now we hear that Trump didn’t understand the extent of the problem in D.C.

Remember when Trump’s toughness would mean that nobody would cross him? That argument now reads, “Trump’s so tough, he knew when to walk away.” 
Let's add a layer of consideration to this. Let's bring in the Left and have a look at their utter ignorance of the Trump phenomenon's essence. Noah Rothman's account of the exchange between Ted Koppel and Sean Hannity will illustrate it nicely. Hannity, in full jerk mode, goaded Koppel into saying that Hannity has amassed a fan base that put ideology ahead of facts. Rothman points out that it is not ideology that gets Trumpkins salivating; it's a cult of personality, a vague populist / nationalist sentiment.

Which gets us back to the non-vote last Friday.

We have to be very careful what we send to Squirrel-Hair's desk. He looks for "wins" and is not guided by the principles that he vaguely senses in many of those he's surrounded himself with.

And we therefore can't settle for "the best we're going to do."

This whole business of electing Trump president has sure made it more complicated to enact a conservative agenda than it needed to be.

But there we are.




One for the good-move side of the ledger

I don't know how deeply invested DJT is in this on a personal level. No doubt to some degree he perceived it as a "win" and that was enough to make him pick up his pen.

In any case, it's the kind of move that begins to steer this great ship known as America around to a positive direction:

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an order to undo Obama-era climate change regulations, keeping a campaign promise to support the coal industry and calling into question U.S. support for an international deal to fight global warming.

Flanked by coal miners and coal company executives, Trump proclaimed his "Energy Independence" executive order at the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency. 

The move drew swift backlash from a coalition of 23 states and local governments, as well as environmental groups, which called the decree a threat to public health and vowed to fight it in court.

The order's main target is former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which required states to slash carbon emissions from power plants - a key factor in the United States' ability to meet its commitments under a climate change accord reached by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015. 

Trump's decree also reverses a ban on coal leasing on federal lands, undoes rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas production and reduces the weight of climate change and carbon emissions in policy and infrastructure permitting decisions. Carbon dioxide and methane are two of the main greenhouse gases blamed by scientists for heating the earth.

"I am taking historic steps to lift restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion and to cancel job-killing regulations," Trump said at the EPA. 

The room was filled with miners, coal company executives and staff from industry groups, who applauded loudly as Trump spoke. Shares in U.S. coal companies edged higher in response.
The wide-ranging order is the boldest yet in Trump’s broader push to cut environmental regulation to revive the drilling and mining industries, a promise he made repeatedly during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Of course, you'll need to brace yourself for social-media news feeds clogged with the venomous sewage of those who are still determined to abolish human advancement.

Just remember that their task is now even more daunting.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tuesday roundup

The premier issue of American Affairs is out, and it's impressive. It's an outgrowth of last year's Journal of American Greatness, about which I had my doubts, given that its raison d'ĂȘtre was the attempt to codify some new body of principles - ideology, if you will - that some say has emerged in the last few years, and particularly the last year or so. I was so repulsed by the grassroots level of Trumpmania that I couldn't see how there might actually be something to the idea that one might truly speak of evolution on the right side of the political spectrum.

But the editors and writers at AA demonstrate heft and depth in the content of this debut.

I particularly recommend Julius Krein's essay "James Burnham's Managerial Elite." Longtime LITD readers know that I have always felt that Burnham's works, at each point of his post-Trotskyite growth as a thinker, were among the most prescient contributions to twentieth-century cultural observation. Not only does Krein review the evolution from 1941's The Managerial Revolution to 1964's Suicide of the West, but he examines how subsequent thinkers, such as Irving Kristol and Daniel Bell, dealt with Burnham's concept of a technocratic class pervading all sectors of society.  He then looks at the current state of managerialism (what Burnham saw as the takeover of society by an administrative class with a bureaucratic mindset) through the lens of Burnham's enumeration of its pitfalls:

In describing the transition from bourgeois capitalism to managerialism, Burnham outlined nine fundamental challenges leading to capitalism’s failure. Capitalist society’s inability to resolve these structural problems heralded, for Burnham, the inevitable collapse of the old order. And nearly all of them—the sole exception being a decline in agricultural productivity—apply to the current economic and political conditions.
(1) The inability to reduce mass unemployment: although headline U.S. unemployment figures are low, labor participation rates are also at their lowest levels in decades. Broader measures of unemployment that account for labor force participation remain unusually high (from the U6 at 9% to independent estimations at 20+%) almost a decade after the financial crisis. Significant portions of the population have essentially been excluded from the labor force and have no realistic prospects for rejoining it. Furthermore, the few rapidly growing employment sectors are in the low-value service economy and are generally of lower quality than the jobs that have been lost. To quote Burnham, a social organization has broken down precisely when “it cannot any longer provide its members with socially useful functions even according to its own ideas of what is socially useful.”
(2) Economic cycles are no longer trending higher: boom-bust cycles are economic inevitabilities, but when cycles overall trend downward, as the post–financial crisis recovery would suggest, it is a sign that the society “can no longer handle its own resources.” Perhaps an even greater problem of this type at present, however, is the fact that median real wages have barely risen in decades. Neither a capitalistic nor a managerial elite can maintain its popular legitimacy if it cannot provide for increasing consumption.
(3) “The volume of public and private debt has reached a point where it cannot be managed much longer,” at least not by any ordinary means. Explanation of this point today seems unnecessary, but it is worth adding that even if capitalism’s moral or economic frameworks concerning debt no longer apply in managerial society, the system’s increasing dependence on borrowing is indicative of deeper imbalances.
(4) Instability and manipulation of foreign exchange: many of the world’s major economies are effectively engaged in an undeclared currency war against each other. In addition, an economy as large as China’s operating under a pegged currency regime is a unique development in recent times that causes further strain on the global system.
(5) Excess uninvested cash: the “mass unemployment of private money is scarcely less indicative of the death of capitalism than the mass unemployment of human beings. Both show the inability of the capitalist institutions any longer to organize human activities.” The same is true for managerial institutions. The inability of corporate or financial investors to find productive uses for increasing cash hoards—especially in light of unusually low interest rates—signals profound and systemic economic dysfunction.
(6) Failure of advanced nations’ policies toward developing economies: in recent decades, the managerial model for economic development has been “globalization,” or the offshoring of labor-intensive industries to geographies with lower wages and employment costs. This model is now breaking down and not only because of political resistance in Western nations. The so-called low-hanging fruit has already been harvested. Emerging countries are increasingly competing with each other for low-wage manufacturing and many are facing the “middle income trap.” Globalization of this type is unlikely to generate accelerating growth in the manner it once did in either advanced or developing economies.
Meanwhile, developed and emerging nations are no longer converging politically. The failure of “democracy promotion,” both of the hard and soft varieties, is part of a broader failure of managerial foreign policy that both indicates and itself creates a deeper destabilization of the system.
(7) The inability to exploit technological advances: this failure applies not only to hypotheses concerning a slowdown in innovation but also to the likelihood that fully exploiting available technological advances would not positively “disrupt” but rather destabilize society. For Burnham, the fact that capitalism would be unable to implement new technologies without significantly increasing unemployment was a further indication that a new social organization had become necessary. Today the situation is similar. The introduction of self-driving vehicles alone will add meaningfully to unemployment rolls, and automation will continue to erode blue-collar jobs and is beginning to replace high-paying, white-collar professions as well. All of the happy talk about education and innovation offers little of substance concerning the unemployment of an increasingly larger mass of society that is being rendered economically superfluous. Such “technological unemployment” shows, in Burnham’s words, “that capitalism and its rulers can no longer use their own resources. And the point is that, if they won’t, someone else will.”
(8) In place of the 1930s agricultural depression that Burnham described, consider the systemic challenge to managerial society posed by the collapse of the universities. They face two crises. The first is the frequent abandonment of genuine academic inquiry in favor of rigid ideology and mindless political correctness, which progressively degrades the quality of the elite. Moral fanaticism and paranoia are not inherently signs of imminent societal decline, however. The more significant crisis threatening the system is the explosion of student loan debt, a clear indication that the universities are creating more would-be managers than are useful, or at least too many of low quality. Since the main purpose of the universities today is to credential the managerial elite, such failures signal that managerial institutions can no longer organize their human resources.
(9) Ideological impotence: “no one who has watched the world during the past twenty years can doubt the ever-increasing impotence of the bourgeois ideologies,” wrote Burnham, “The words begin to have a hollow sound in the most sympathetic capitalist ears.” This is as true of managerialist ideologies now as it was of capitalism then, as anyone who has listened to Mitt Romney or Hillary Clinton speak can attest.

But still we have negotiating tables on one side of which are managers from large corporations asking, "Why should we come to your community?" and on the other side economic-development people saying, "Because we have bike trails, a human-rights council and good restaurants."

As both Burnham and Irving Kristol understood, the legitimacy of the managerial elite is not derived from constitutional or democratic or any traditional authority. It is based, rather, on its ability to satisfy the desires of a hedonistic society, its competence in increasing consumption and “quality of life.” 
A school in California finds out that one way to lose out on federal gravy is to be too pale:

Parents that send their kids to the North Hollywood middle school are outraged after being told the school will be losing significant funding because it has “too many white students,” according to a Los Angeles ABC-affiliate.
“Outrage has grown at Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, as the school faces layoffs and increased class sizes due to a law limiting funds for schools with a higher white student body,” reports ABC7. “The Los Angeles Unified School District provides more funding for schools where the white population is below 30 percent.”
For a long time, Hamas lacked the powerful rockets that Hizbollah has used to menace Israel. Well, they have them now.

Talk about moving goalposts. There's no satisfying these people:

The University of Oregon wants its students to learn certain things during their four-to-six years as undergraduates. One of the ways the school makes sure the right topics are learned is by providing "research guides" for topics essential to their education. One guide, "Transgender Studies & Cisgender Privilege," has raised eyebrows.
For those who haven't been afflicted with this level of political correctness, "cisgender" is the opposite of "transgender." According to Wikipedia:
Cisgender (often abbreviated to simply cis) is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth. Cisgender may also be defined as those who have "a gender identity or perform a gender role society considers appropriate for one's sex."
In other words, most people are cisgender, and therefore most people need to recognize and fight their privilege -- and the University of Oregon is here to help. Its guide lists the many things that cisgendered people unfairly enjoy. For example, this statement is one of unparalleled cisgendered privilege:
"My potential lovers expect my genitals to look roughly similar to the way they do, and have accepted that before coming to bed with me."  
Okay, okay. Maybe that one is to be expected, but number six is definitely a surprise:
"Clothing works for me, more or less. I am a size and shape for which clothes I feel comfortable wearing are commonly made."
In other words, being able to walk into a clothing store and buy items of clothing off the rack -- whether you're size zero or twenty -- is a matter of privilege. What's the solution to overcoming this? Thankfully, the guidelines reveal that capitalism is to blame. "Living in a society that is steeped in capitalism is hard," it reads. Not quite as hard as living in a society steeped in socialism, like Venezuela, where people are forced to kill stray dogs to have something to eat, but I digress.
In order to make life better for the transgendered, the guide advises disrupting capitalism and "sharing what you may have to help your kindred!" If we all pitch in and do this right, soon we'll live in a society in which no one is privileged!
Speaking of federal largesse flowing to various locales, Attorney General Jeff Sessions serves notice that if a city wants Washington's help with law-enforcement resources, it has to actually adhere to the law:

Is this just a “distraction” intended to draw attention away from the Russia investigations (as some morning show hosts were speculating today) or the opening salvo in a new set of executive actions? Our Attorney General had some tough words for the nation’s so-called “sanctuary cities” this week, suggesting that their federal grant money for law enforcement could soon be in danger if they don’t cooperate with ICE on matters of deportation of illegal aliens. That has the usual list of suspects setting their hair on fire in predictable fashion, so if it’s a distraction, it’s working so far. (Associated Press)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday warned so-called sanctuary cities they could lose federal money for refusing to cooperate with immigration authorities and suggested the government would come after grants that have already been awarded if they don’t comply.
Sessions said the Justice Department would require cities seeking some of $4.1 billion available in grant money to verify that they are in compliance with a section of federal law that allows information sharing with immigration officials.
His statements in the White House briefing room brought to mind tough talk from President Donald Trump’s campaign and came just three days after the administration’s crushing health care defeat.
What’s ironic here is that Sessions was only repeating the same thing that Barack Obama said last summer. But back then the media backlash didn’t seem quite so intense, did it? That AP report immediately jumps into a list of the most popular programs they can think of which are funded by the grants, including “victim services, body cameras for police and tools to cut rape kit testing backlogs.”
See how horrible Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions would be if they did exactly what Barack Obama threatened to do?

Dana Loesch is not going to stand for any talk of the House Freedom Caucus being to blame for last Friday's repeal-and-replace impasse. Thank you, Dana.









Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday morning roundup

How neurotic are the demands of the cultural Left? This neurotic: Cosmopolitan magazine publishes an article maintaining that the sensitive guy who really tunes in to his woman's holistic array of needs and wants during intimacy is actually a sexist pig. Bookworm unpacks:


 . . . one of feminism’s chief complaints starting in the 1960s was that too many men had a “wham, bam, thank you, ma’am” approach to sex. Women, said the feminists, were complicated and therefore needed delicacy and attention in order to get sexual pleasure. Meanwhile, men were single celled amoebas would could pop out their own orgasms and then just walk away.
For the last forty or fifty years, the message to American men has been that, to be a good partner in bed, it’s not enough to say, “This is great, wasn’t it?” Instead, men need to be attentive, skilled, caring, compassionate, empathetic and, above all, patient so that their partner can get as much pleasure from sex as men routinely do. No wonder that men, most of whom really can orgasm through very simple stimulation, feel proud when they delay their own pleasure, and make the extra effort and take the extra time to see to their partner’s pleasure. I applaud those men.
Modern feminists, though, do not applaud those men. The problem, you see, is that, to the extent that men get pleasure from pleasuring women, those evil men are robbing women of control over their own orgasms. And no, that is not bad writing on my part. That is utterly appalling thinking on the part of Sara Chadwick and Sari van Anders, the *ahem* researchers behind the study:
In a separate statement from Chadwick and van Anders, they explained why it’s a bad thing for men to gain masculinity points for bringing female partners to orgasm. “One reason is that it might pressure some heterosexual men to feel like they have to ‘give’ women orgasms, as if orgasm is something men pulled out of a hat and presented to women,” they wrote. “This ties into cultural ideas of women as passive recipients of whatever men give them.”
They also mention another sexist orgasm trope: women feeling pressured to fake orgasms in order to appease a male partner, or in their words, “to protect men’s feelings.” For women who have sex with male partners, the pressure to orgasm is a relatable feeling. Hence all the faking that we know is going down in hetero bedrooms all over the country.
[snip]
The researchers draw a fairly frightening conclusion from the research findings. When women’s orgasms begin to serve as a masculinity achievement for male partners, the orgasms cease to be about women’s liberation or sexual pleasure. They just become another opportunity for men to flex, or “shore up their sense of masculinity.”(Emphasis mine.)
North Korea is set to conduct another nuclear-weapon test. All relevant personnel are just waiting for Kim to give the go-ahead.

Obviously, I've perused a lot of reactions to yesterday's repeal-and-replace fiasco. So far, Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner has the best take, for my money.  His piece is titled, "GOP Cave on Obamacare Repeal is the Biggest Broken Promise in Political History."

Here's the bottom line: Republicans didn't want to repeal Obamacare that badly. Obamacare was a useful tool for them. For years, they could use it to score short-term messaging victories. People are steamed about high premiums? We'll message on that today. People are angry about losing insurance coverage? We'll put out a devastating YouTube video about that. Seniors are angry about the Medicare cuts? Let's tweet about it. High deductibles are unpopular? We'll issue an email fact sheet. Or maybe a gif. At no point were they willing to do the hard work of hashing out their intraparty policy differences and developing a coherent health agenda or of challenging the central liberal case for universal coverage. Sure, if the U.S. Supreme Court did the job for them, they were okay with Obamacare going away. But when push came to shove, they weren't willing to put in the elbow grease.
I'll have more to say about this dark episode.


Count on the indispensable Kevin Williamson at NRO to deliver just the right perspective on the head of Squirrel-Hair's National Trade Council:


n the collected works of Peter Navarro, there is a peculiar paradox: Some of the dullest prose imaginable challenges the sharp edge of Hanlon’s razor, the aphorism that advises us: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Professor Navarro of the University of California at Irvine has hanging on the wall of an office or a den somewhere a doctorate in economics from Harvard; barring some Forrest Gump–level chain of coincidence, it does not seem likely that anything as innocent as stupidity explains his literary output, which consists of a few how-to-make-money-in-the-stock-market books (an actual title: “If It’s Raining in Brazil, Buy Starbucks”) from earlier in his career and a half dozen or so low-minded books about China with such talk-radio-ready names as “Death by China” and “The Coming China Wars,” two books that contain 80 exclamation points between them, as well as several pamphlets summarizing the main points of his books.

He is President Donald Trump’s house China intellectual, the only one of his close advisers who is a credentialed academic economist, albeit one whose area of specialty is utility companies, not international trade. (Our most famous scholar of trade economics, Paul Krugman, apparently was not available for service in the Trump administration. Pity.) Navarro has been named head of the newly created National Trade Council, a position in which he is well positioned to do a great deal of damage to the Trump administration, to the United States and its economic interests, and, possibly, to the world. That’s quite a step up for a man who was teaching undergraduate econ to business students until a few months ago.

The decline of US naval power isn't front-and-center on the public's radar screen, but it should be.

Let's end on a positive note: The State Department makes it official - issues a permit to TransCanada for the Keystone XL pipeline.





Friday, March 24, 2017

Reflections on today's vote on the Trump-Ryan plan

There is no shortage of arcane details in which one could get bogged down.

But that actually makes my point: Modern delivery of health care is complex enough without government involvement.

James C. Capretta, an American Enterprise Institute scholar who is considered a right-of-center wonk on health care, says, quite rightly, that it would be best if everyone cast off the self-imposed pressure and craft a better bill. And he offers a list of concrete measures he'd like to see.

Here's the problem with his list: It's still predicated on government requiring things of private organizations, and, more fundamentally, the notion that has insidiously established itself as a national assumption over the last century: that government ought to be in the business of providing services.

The two most egregious manifestations of his premise - his surrender to the statist mindset - are the idea of automatic enrollment, which would be based on requiring (there's that word again) insurance companies "to offer plans with premiums exactly equal to the standard credit," and ratcheting up the penalty for breaks in coverage.



He lays bare the extent to which he has succumbed to a view of the inviduals comprising the American populace as cattle-masses:

Moreover, states could identify individuals who fail to use their credits using federal tax data and state data sources, and automatically enroll then into such plans. Under this approach, the affected individuals would be notified of their coverage but could choose a different plan or withdraw their enrollment at any time. Most people are likely to remain with their assigned plan, especially since there would be no financial obligation on their part. They would get a high-deductible insurance plan at no cost to themselves, which is far better than no coverage at all.

And think about the substantial-increase-in-penalty provision: Mr. Capretta, how is it any of government's damn business whether a given citizen chooses to interrupt his insurance coverage?

As push comes to shove and guys like Capretta buy into the supposed need for government to swoop in and mop up even the slightest hint of upheaval, I get a clearer notion of who deserves my respect and who doesn't.

And then there's the Wall Street Journal editorial this morning that, dismayingly but not surprisingly, disparages the House Freedom Caucus as the House Freedom-From-Reality Caucus. The good old accusation of insistence on perfection standing in the way of the good getting enacted.

No, it's not an insistence on perfection. It's insistence on this whole effort being driven by the primacy of freedom.

And now Squirrel-Hair is strongly intimating that, if the frantically-tweaked Ryan bill doesn't pass today, he'll move on to other matters and let the "A"CA continue to wreak its ruin.

This whole thing makes clear just what a huge percentage of our political and governmental class, our policy-wonk class, and our pundit class, have lost sight of the proper relationship between the state and the individual.

Health insurance is just a service. If produced and consumed in a manner that reflects an understanding of that - namely, that it should exist to cover catastrophic occurrences, but not routine health care - there's not much role for government.

But then the question arises, who finds that an undesirable scenario?



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Crowning the queen of participation-trophy world

Can you imagine what a gooey gushfest this event is going to be?

Chelsea Clinton is set to receive a lifetime achievement award from Variety magazine next month, though it is unclear why.
The former first daughter will be honored at a “Power of Women” luncheon on April 21, Variety announced. Jessica Chastain, Gayle King, Blake Lively, Audra McDonald and Shari Redstone will also receive achievement awards.
Clinton, a 37-year-old mother of two, is receiving the award “for her work with Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which empowers kids to develop lifelong healthy habits,” Variety says in a statement.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which helps fight childhood obesity, is affiliated with the Clinton Foundation, where Clinton serves as vice chair.


She caaaares about keeping kids from getting fat.

Well, let's see, she also had a television journalism career that lasted less than a year, and was a hedge fund "consultant" for a while until she realized that she did not care about money "on a fundamental level." And there was the, ahem, Foundation.

Can you imagine what they're going to have to eat at this award pow-wow?

The age of distraction

A Top Five list of matters on our nation's plate at this moment might look like this, don't you think?

1.) The acceleration of North Korea's missile-test program.

2.) The increasing bellicosity and estrangement from Europe of Turkey under Erdogan and its ramifications for the Syrian civil war, demographic trends in Europe, and a unified Western response to Russian and Iranian aims.

3.) The civil war among Congressional Republicans manifested most acutely by the question of how to repeal and replace the "Affordable" Care Act, an issue with implications for one sixth of the US economy.

4.) The nearly complete rot of America's educational system.

5.) The marked slowdown in entrepreneurial activity.


Okay, it would make for an interesting parlor game to pursue the tweaking of this list. I've no doubt left off some readers' pet front-burner issues, and perhaps elicited a what's-that-one-doing-up-there response to a few on the list.

The overarching point, though, is that the country is facing an array of pressing problems.

I might have included something about the destiny of the Supreme Court on the list. The current Capitol Hill hearings for nominee Neil Gorsuch are pretty significant, after all.

But consider what a clown show much of yesterday's proceedings were:

During one exchange today, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) pressed Gorsuch to reveal the names of donors to Judicial Crisis Network, which ran an amply-funded ad campaign to fight Garland’s confirmation.
Though he did not name Judicial Crisis Network by name, Whitehouse asked why the group spent at least $7 million to keep President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland from getting a confirmation hearing and is now spending $10 million to get Gorsuch confirmed.
“Ask them,” Gorsuch said.
“I can’t, because I don’t know who they are,” Whitehouse replied.
We could debate all day about why it matters who is willing to put their money up for the causes or candidates they believe in.
Whitehouse attempted to frame it as a matter of courtesy, in order to know what interests are backing Gorsuch’s confirmation.
That is vile, on its face. It suggests that Gorsuch would be the puppet to special interest groups, and there is nothing in his background, or from his confirmation answers to suggest that to be the case.

“You could ask right now as a matter of courtesy, as a matter of respect for the process that anybody funding this should declare themselves right now so we can evaluate who is behind this effort,” Whitehouse said.

It is Whitehouse who is guilty of disrespecting the process.

Wisely, Gorsuch turned it back on Whitehouse.

“It would be a politics question and I’m not, with all respect senator, going to get involved in politics,” he said.

Gorsuch said if lawmakers want to pass legislation that would require that political advocacy groups to disclose their donors, they could do that.
“If you want to have more disclosure, pass a law,” he said.

It is no shock that Whitehouse would play the outraged party and say Gorsuch’s answer was unsatisfactory.

According to Whitehouse, Gorsuch failed to give his views on the problem of special interest influence in the political process.

One problem, Senator Whitehouse: That wasn’t your question.

You wanted specific names. You didn’t want to know Gorsuch’s opinion on special interests.
Nice try, though. 
Al Franken went Whitehouse one further and just plain beclowned himself.

Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein likewise conducted themselves in an utterly ridiculous manner.

But, of course, the big preoccupation, at least among the east-coast chattering class, is the whole business involving the following list of players:


The bottom line is that a whole lot of people are investigating a whole lot of nothing.

The president could go a long way toward steering the nation's attention to actually important issues and away from everybody's zeal to stumble across a Watergate-magnitude scandal - or two, or three - but, as we know, that's not the way he rolls. It's not in his nature to do a clean back-down from his outrageous tweet about Obama wiretapping Trump Tower.

And, speaking of parlor games, it's an interesting exercise to try to parse where FBI director Comey is coming from. In the past year, he's gone from soft-spoken-but-firm-and-principled law enforcement official to tragic figure who crumbles even in the face of 30,000 Clinton-related emails, to a guy who appears to be frantically trying to stay on top of incoming evidence, or at least ostensible evidence, that seems to necessitate reopening an investigation into said emails, to a guy obsessed with investigating presidential campaigns per se.

But, even if one would substitute some other issue for one or two on the list above, are they not all far more vital to our national well-being than a bunch of data-combers trying to prove what we already know - namely, that even a great system of governance such as that enjoyed by the Unites States is peopled with fallible human beings prone to both honest error and temptation?

So now that that is out of our system here at LITD, don't look for endless posts on the latest developments on this.

Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed, as he should be, Donald Trump will be a mess, as he always has been, leakers will leak, media hounds will pounce on each leak, Russia will continue to foment chaos in American politics and institutions, and Democrats will continue to behave like cornered animals.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of importance to pay attention to.




Monday, March 20, 2017

A real-world example of how our polemical back-and-forths make no sense without God

Remember my post from the other day on how the increasing brittleness of our society is due to the sidelining of God?

This little sequence of developments is illustrative.

Tomi Laren, host of a show on The Blaze, quickly gained fame for her in-your-face style, and the targets of her ferocity were generally such that any conservative would be gratified to see them getting the Tomi treatment.

Over the past few months, though, she has started to run afoul of Blaze founder Glenn Beck, primarily over her support for Milo Yiannopoulos.

The tension got ratcheted up a notch when she announced, as a guest on ABC-TV's The View, that she is "pro-choice" when it comes to whether fetal Americans have the right to live.

In the past few days, she has become considerably more controversial than she had been.

And now, she's getting support from a pretty cringe-worth source: alt-right crank Richard Spencer. He tweeted that she shouldn't worry about "pro-lifers and cucks." And he didn't stop there:

The alt-right leader and white supremacist included a pro-abortion article titled, “The Pro Life Temptation” in his defense of Lahren. An excerpt:
Unfortunately, as our movement gains influence, it is important that we not fall prey to the pro-life temptation.
First off, the alt Right appreciates what is superior in man, in the Nietzschean sense. Most members of the alt Right applaud countries like Japan and South Korea for having low out-of-wedlock birth rates and not taking in Muslim or African refugees. We don’t simply say “who cares what they do, they’re not my tribe.” Rather, we recognize that such people have built impressive civilizations, and we believe that it is in the interest of humanity that these nations continue to exist, and not adopt the suicidal policies of the West.
So we have a prominent rightie figure who turns out to be a moral relativist ("my truth") being defended by a eugenicist who has gone far in his quest to usurp the public's general understanding of what a rightie is.

And, of course, he then has come in for ire - and rightly so - from actual conservatives.

So we have this crackup among those who ostensibly share a core opposition to the collectivist enterprise.

Notice what's missing?

That's right. The pillar of conservatism from among the three - the one about understanding how and why the West has been a unique blessing to humankind, and understanding that the nature of God as Biblically revealed is  core to why the West is a unique blessing - that makes all three fit seamlessly together.

We're trying to make sense of our present cacophony with no inclusion of the Author of Reality.

And as long as we are, we'll be chasing after wind.




Why there is no peace between Israel and the Palestinians

This kind of thing:

The Palestinian president has awarded his people's highest honor to a former U.N. official who was forced to resign last week after authoring a report that accused Israel of establishing an "apartheid regime."
The official Palestinian news agency Wafa said Sunday that President Mahmoud Abbas informed Rima Khalaf by phone that she would receive the Palestine Medal of the Highest Honor in recognition of her "courage and support" for the Palestinian people.
A statement said Abbas "stressed to Dr. Khalaf that our people appreciate her humanitarian and national position."
Khalaf, a U.N. undersecretary-general, resigned Friday after refusing to withdraw her report for the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.
Its authors concluded that "Israel has established an apartheid regime that systematically institutionalizes racial oppression and domination of the Palestinian people as a whole."
The report was swiftly condemned by U.S. and Israeli officials, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' office said it had been published without any prior consultations and did not reflect his views.
And this is from the Fatah faction, not Hamas. Fatah, which names village squares after terrorists. Fatah, which has an educational system that leaves Israel off school classroom maps.

You can't make peace with an entity that doesn't recognize your right to exist.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ted Cruz: Big thumbs-down on some kind of three phase way to deep-six the "A"CA

Once again, he demonstrates why he was the best of last year's presidential candidates:

Sen. Ted Cruz wasted no time mincing words on what he thinks about the three phases of the American Health Care Act Sunday morning on Face the Nation.
“That ain’t gonna happen,” Cruz told host John Dickerson when asked about the 3-phase plan President Trump and House Republicans have been pushing since the roll out of their non-repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.
The senator pointed out the inherent flaws with the House’s bill. The most glaring being that it doesn’t lower premiums and relies on eight Democrats to pass the lauded “Phase 3,” which has “all the good stuff.”
Cruz laid out the minimum for what an Obamacare repeal and replacement need to contain to be effective — including repealing the 12 insurance mandates, allowing premiums to be paid through Health Savings Account (HSAs) and opening insurance markets across state lines — and insisted it could be done in one fell swoop if taken up as a budgetary matter.
Whether or not Senate Republicans have the desire or stomach for such a move is doubtful, but Cruz hit on one very important point. If Republicans pass the House bill as is and then go around patting themselves on the back when they haven’t effectively changed anything — or worse, never get around to Phases 2 and 3 — then Americans will be ready to “tar and feather [Republicans] in the street and quite rightly.” 
He should have been our current president, but at least we have him upholding the standards and continuing the fight in the Senate.


Why Squirrel-Hair needs to let the grownups with which he has surrounded himself conduct the foreign policy

Prepare yourself for a flying-pigs moment. LITD is about to link to  a Daily Kos article. Furthermore, the situation described involves the response by two figures not known to be righties - Ohio Wesleyan University professor Sean Kay, and former US ambassador to NATO (during the Obama administration) Ivo Daadler - to Trump's tweet after his meeting with Merkel, in which he said, " Germany owes . . . vast sums of money to NATO and the United States must be paid more for the very powerful and expensive defense it provides to Germany!"

It wouldn't be a Squirrel-Hair tweet without the signature exclamation mark at the end, would it?

Anyway, the above-mentioned figures school him on the fact that this isn't a damn financial transaction, this is a treaty obligation under an agreement between several members of an international organization.

The thing is, there is no denying the validity of its point. Trump had better get up to speed on the dynamics of the NATO alliance or shut up about it.

A Fox poll reveals that the American people generally understand this:

 . . .  his absolutely lowest approval rating, the one thing he absolutely needs to stop doing, is on Twitter. His use of Twitter only has a 16% approval rating. 32% generously “wish he’d be more cautious,” while 50% flatly disapprove of him there.
For one thing, it detracts from the very important work being done right now in East Asia by his Secretary of State. Tillerson spoke a little too plainly in South Korea for his wobbly hosts:



Tillerson very clearly put the South Koreans on notice that we are more concerned with North Korea’s nukes than we are with South Korea’s domestic politics which includes a very strong pacifist, in not outright Vichy, tendency in dealing with the DPRK. There was no state dinner last night. Some of it may have been pique but it was mostly due to the fact that the ROK is between presidents right now, they impeached one this week, and their government is in flux. Whatever the reason the ROK media had to justify no dinner and ran with a story that Tillerson had begged off dinner because of “fatigue.”

Then he impresses upon our allies in the neighborhood just how late the hour is:

Now to the rest of the [Independent Journal Review] interview.
EM: How dangerous is the place we’re in today? The State Department just announced that Joseph Yun is on the way here for six days. What’s his mission? What are the next steps? How urgent is it right now?
RT: Well, in terms of the urgency right now is to ensure that the regime of Pyongyang has heard the message. That’s why we’ve tried to be very clear and succinct with the message, which is, first, we do not intend to be a threat to you. We do not want to have a conflict with you. We want you to change your direction. And we want others in the region to help us help them make a different decision. That’s the first step. And then obviously that has to be backed up with action, so that they understand we’re serious. And that means soliciting others to help us with that message and backing that message up to North Korea: that you need to change directions.
RT: No one issue defines the relationship between the U.S. and China. We will be talking about a broad range of issues when I’m in Beijing. But the threat of North Korea is imminent. And it has reached a level that we are very concerned about the consequences of North Korea being allowed to continue on this progress it’s been making on the development of both weapons and delivery systems. And it’s reached a very alarming state to us. So it is getting a lot of discussion up front because it’s imminent. We have a broad range of issues that define the relationship. This is but one. There are others, and you listed them. All of them have their importance in the U.S.-China relationship, but this one — as I said — just happens to have bubbled to the top because of the recent actions that have been taken by North Korea. 
After decades of an Agreed Framework, several rounds of utterly fruitless Six-Way Talks, and general floundering, someone is being starkly candid about what the danger level is in northeast Asia.

And it's shaking up our allies there. In contrast to the way Trump is shaking up our European allies, the ones in the Korean situation need actual shaking up.

This is no time for mixed messages, or the possibility that the United States could be perceived as not knowing what the hell it is doing.

This, folks, is what we could have avoided if we'd fielded an actual conservative with a coherent worldview. The great appointments, the excellent reversal in energy policy, and the clear-eyed view of world-stage threats - but without the fifth-grade bluster of a narcissistic embarrassment.






Chuck Berry RIP







There is of course his role as the figure who put the electric guitar front and center as the soloing instrument of choice in rock & roll. Granted, the supplanting of the tenor sax in that role had already happened in R&B; Johnny Guitar Watson was knocking their socks off out in LA, playing with his teeth and behind his back. And yes, Elvis's Sun sides featured Scotty Moore's solos, but those boys were coming at it from a country orientation.



And close examination reveals precedent for what Berry wrought. The blazing lick with which he opens "Johnny B. Goode," and to which he had been leading in earlier intros such as that on "Roll Over Beethoven," appeared in single-note form, as performed by guitarist Carl Hogan, in 1946, on Louis Jordan's "Ain't That Just Like A Woman." Hogan delivers a clean signal, though. We all know the raw, manic treatment Berry gave it.



But there's also the overall story, and how it perfectly encapsulates the way rock & roll took America by storm in 1955. The son of a contractor and a school principal, young Chuck spent a little time in the slammer as a youth for armed robbery, and then entered the world of work in a factory and as a hairdresser. When he formed his combo in 1952, with pianist Johnny Johnson, they would mostly play jump tunes and slow blues, but in their last sets, when their nearly-all-black audiences were somewhat lubricated, they would work in some hillbilly tunes, notably an old fiddle number called "Ida Red."



Then came that fateful weekend of club-hopping on Chicago's south side in May 1955, which led to an audition for Leonard Chess. Berry played him "Ida Red," which he was then calling "Ida May," and Chess told him that he couldn't sell a black guy singing an old country number. He suggested Berry speed up the tempo and work up new lyrics, perhaps something about fast cars, which the kids seemed to be interested in at the time. Thus was "Maybelleine" born.



By September 1955, Berry's combo was performing in Alan Freed's package shows at Brooklyn's Paramount Theater, for mostly white audiences. As he came onstage and looked around, he could sense that he was a lightning rod, a key figure in a massive cultural shift.



There's also his songwriting. Never veering far from some combination of I, IV and V chords, he dabbled in tempos and rhythms ranging from jump to after-hours slow blues to various Latin propulsions, and his lyrics told wry stories of teenage frustration, always with the telling detail of a true writer.



His art was simple, but there is no overstating its impact.



Chuck Berry's place in American culture is deservedly permanent, high, and worthy of study for centuries to come. And, of course, his contributions will rock the house as long as there is some equivalent of a record player that can take those kinds of decibels.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Seven most important considerations pertaining to Judge Watson's ruling on the travel ban

1.) Where is any reference to previous cases, or the Constitution?

2.) Hawaii has no refugees from the six countries specified in Trump's executive order.

3.) It further obliterates the president's clear legal authority to decide what kinds of persons get to enter our country, and under what terms.

4.) It further obscures the plain fact that non-citizens have no rights that can be guaranteed by US law.

5.) What the hell does Hawaii's tourism industry or its university system have to do with the legal question being decided here?

6.) Ditto whether Hawaii has a "pluralistic and inclusive society"?

7.) How are statements by Trump from when he was a candidate legally relevant to this case?



The more local and free, the more elegantly simple

There is a jazz pianist of my longstanding acquaintance - I first met her over twenty years ago when I had a magazine assignment to profile the fusion group she was then playing with, and have since gigged and socialized with her - who posted on Facebook her displeasure with the plug having been pulled on the National Endowment for the Arts in the new White House budget proposal.

She began by recounting how earlier this week, she and a jazz violinist, also of my longstanding acquaintance, went to a school in our area and demonstrated musical principles at a convocation. She said the delight and engagement among the students was palpable and rewarding to see. She then mentioned that the event was made possible through a NEA grant and lamented at how such occasions might soon be a thing of the past.

What occurs to me is something that, it seems to me, ought to be rather obvious: Why is a NEA grant necessary? Why does it require federal dollars for these two musicians to hop in their cars and go show some scales and harmony concepts to some school kids? Isn't there, or couldn't there be, some money right out of the school's own budget for such events? Wouldn't there be far less paperwork and bureaucratic doo-dah involved if the whole thing were kept local?  What is the going rate for a couple of musicians to put on such an event? I know I'd go to that school and do it for, say, $150. Is it really necessary to involve a chain of form-filler-outers extending to Washington, D.C. to make it happen?

Once again, this demonstrates the principle we hammer home here at LITD with a fair amount of frequency: Freedom is always elegantly simple compared to any alternative, which always involves red tape of some sort.

And what does freedom have to do with the above scenario? Well, the federal dollars used came from all the disparate parts of America, and from people who may or may not think that a grade-school demonstration of musical principles by a couple of jazz musicians was a preferable use of their hard-earned dollars.


So it seems to me the pianist who posted her trepidation could widen her perspective just a little and examine ways that the whole thing could be handled on a local scale.

Provided there's an actual market for the product, of course.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

LITD does indeed like this first budget proposal from the new administration

This is surely one of those cases where principled conservatives crafted something that was sure to appeal to DJT's general aversion to bloat:

When you get inside the budget lines you find that the spending tracks pretty well with what the administration has said it wanted to do. For instance, you find Agriculture loses a $500 million water/waste water program and EPA receives a plus-up in its water safety programs. Climate change boondoggles in Commerce (which owns NOAA) and NASA are eliminated. Education funding aimed at turning schools into the focal institution of the nanny state are cut. School choice programs get a major infusion of money. HUD takes major hits in its various slush funds but gets more money to handle lead paint abatement in old housing stock. The immigration court system gets a large increase as does the program to expedite background checks for firearms purchases. State loses 29% and UN funding is slashed. Federal subsidies for long distance Amtrak service and for commercial airlines servicing rural airports goes away. EPA gets body slammed. Fifty programs and at least 3,200 positions are gone. EPA is basically out of the enforcement business. Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and a host of other sinecures for otherwise unemployable leftwing leeches are eliminated. (Light a cigarette and read the full breakdown.)
And, as strieff at RedState points out, the next interesting step is to see how it impacts the natural fault lines in Congress:

What will happen here? This document is obviously not going to survive contact with Congress. Sacred cattle aren’t merely killed, they are lined up, machinegunned, cooked well-done and processed into dog food. But it really isn’t expected to. Think of it as an initial negotiating position. But it is a budget where just about everything is on the table so a lot of natural alliances that form to protect spending will be divided. Now its fate rests in the hands of Paul Ryan and on the slender, weak, geriatric shoulders of Mitch McConnell.
Wouldn't it be cool if they just passed it as is?

Society keeps getting more brittle because God has been completely sidelined

Peter Beinart is a lefty who has contributed some silly ideas to the national conversation over the years, but in his latest piece at The Atlantic, he draws a conclusion that merits consideration. He says that declining church attendance has made our society even more brittle than it was becoming in more generally religious times:

Over the past decade, pollsters charted something remarkable: Americans—long known for their piety—were fleeing organized religion in increasing numbers. The vast majority still believed in God. But the share that rejected any religious affiliation was growing fast, rising from 6 percent in 1992 to 22 percent in 2014. Among Millennials, the figure was 35 percent.
Some observers predicted that this new secularism would ease cultural conflict, as the country settled into a near-consensus on issues such as gay marriage. After Barack Obama took office, a Center for American Progress report declared that “demographic change,” led by secular, tolerant young people, was “undermining the culture wars.” In 2015, the conservative writer David Brooks, noting Americans’ growing detachment from religious institutions, urged social conservatives to “put aside a culture war that has alienated large parts of three generations.”
That was naive. Secularism is indeed correlated with greater tolerance of gay marriage and pot legalization. But it’s also making America’s partisan clashes more brutal. And it has contributed to the rise of both Donald Trump and the so-called alt-right movement, whose members see themselves as proponents of white nationalism. As Americans have left organized religion, they haven’t stopped viewing politics as a struggle between “us” and “them.” Many have come to define us and them in even more primal and irreconcilable ways.
Beinart says the phenomenon goes a long way toward explaining the rise of Trump:

When pundits describe the Americans who sleep in on Sundays, they often conjure left-leaning hipsters. But religious attendance is down among Republicans, too. According to data assembled for me by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), the percentage of white Republicans with no religious affiliation has nearly tripled since 1990. This shift helped Trump win the GOP nomination. During the campaign, commentators had a hard time reconciling Trump’s apparent ignorance of Christianity and his history of pro-choice and pro-gay-rights statements with his support from evangelicals. But as Notre Dame’s Geoffrey Layman noted, “Trump does best among evangelicals with one key trait: They don’t really go to church.” A Pew Research Center poll last March found that Trump trailed Ted Cruz by 15 points among Republicans who attended religious services every week. But he led Cruz by a whopping 27 points among those who did not.
I can see that. The all-caps comment-thread yay-hoos and the talk-show hosts who served up a daily dollop of protectionism and ire at some ill-defined "elite" were not inclined to couch their arguments, such as they were, in the language of tradition and the centrality of transcendent faith. It was all about disappearing jobs and the search for objects of resentment.

Beinart goes on to document how black America is less religious as well. African Americans under 30 are much less inclined to claim religious affiliation than their elders. This plays itself out as an absence of church leaders among prominent figures in today's racial-politics arena:

Critics say Black Lives Matter’s failure to employ Christian idiom undermines its ability to persuade white Americans. “The 1960s movement … had an innate respectability because our leaders often were heads of the black church,” Barbara Reynolds, a civil-rights activist and former journalist, wrote in The Washington Post. “Unfortunately, church and spirituality are not high priorities for Black Lives Matter, and the ethics of love, forgiveness and reconciliation that empowered black leaders such as King and Nelson Mandela in their successful quests to win over their oppressors are missing from this movement.” As evidence of “the power of the spiritual approach,” she cited the way family members of the parishioners murdered at Charleston’s Emanuel AME church forgave Dylann Roof for the crime, and thus helped persuade local politicians to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s Capitol grounds.
Black Lives Matter’s defenders respond that they are not interested in making themselves “respectable” to white America, whether by talking about Jesus or wearing ties. (Of course, not everyone in the civil-rights movement was interested in respectability either.) That’s understandable. Reformists focus on persuading and forgiving those in power. Revolutionaries don’t.
Black Lives Matter activists may be justified in spurning an insufficiently militant Church. But when you combine their post-Christian perspective with the post-Christian perspective growing inside the GOP, it’s easy to imagine American politics becoming more and more vicious. 
So if that's the lay of the land, or an approximation of it, doesn't it look like the buzz-saw rancor and deep polarization are about secondary matters rather than the vital questions that ought to preoccupy us? If the issues at the heart of the culture war are "settled," is it not now just a case of various tribes elbowing each other out of the way for a place at the table?

And what of the prospects for the flickering flame - or is it dying embers? - of the truth that Christians know?

Rod Dreher has addressed this question in his new book The Benedict Option, and  in an interview with NRO's Kathryn Jean Lopez:

ome years ago, upon becoming a father, Rod Dreher — formerly a colleague of mine on staff at National Review – noticed that Christians “seemed content to be the chaplaincy to a consumerist culture that was fast losing a sense of what it meant to be Christian.” Now, in a post-Obergefell country, “Christians who hold to the biblical teaching about sex and marriage have the same status in culture, and increasingly in law, as racists,” he writes in his new book, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation. 
“Don’t be fooled,” he adds, “the upset presidential victory of Donald Trump has at best given us a bit more time to prepare for the inevitable.” He writes The Benedict Option “to try to wake up the church and to encourage it to act to strengthen itself, while there is still time.” We talk about the Option — and Saint Benedict, too.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Your book was causing controversy even before it was out. What’s your pitch to people who think they already know what you have to communicate? 

ROD DREHER: A number of people are under the false impression that The Benedict Option is a call to head for the hills. It’s not. The book is about the crisis of Western civilization and Western Christianity, and about how believers living in this post-Christian culture can respond faithfully to it. We are not called to be monks. Our vocation is to live in the world. But how can we do that while facing challenges that Christians have not had to face for 1,500 years? Pope Benedict XVI said that we are living through a period of disruption comparable to the fall of the Roman Empire. I think he’s right. That’s why I say we lay Christians of the 21st century need to look at how St. Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century responded to the collapse of his own civilization. There are lessons for us there.
He's unsparingly stark in his take on the current juncture, asserting that even institutional Christianity has been hollowed out:


LOPEZ: Why are you at peace with being called an “alarmist”? 
DREHER: Because the times really are alarming! I mean, we have a lot to be alarmed about. In addition to the considerable geopolitical turmoil in the world today, the state of the churches in the West is weak. The faith is flat on its back in Europe. We have long considered the United States to be a counterexample to European secularization, but research over the past ten years is conclusive: America is now headed down the same declining spiritual path. The Millennial generation rejects religious belief in percentages never before seen. Older Christians like to comfort themselves by saying that the young people will come back when they get older. It’s not really true. 

Plus, the content of the Christian faith that people actually profess has decayed dramatically from its historic orthodoxy. Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith and his team have documented exhaustively that among younger Americans, the faith is only nominally Christian in terms of its content. They have cast aside coherent, biblically consistent Christianity for a shallow, feel-good counterfeit that Smith calls “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” This is not the kind of Christianity that will endure — but this is the Christianity that most Americans hold. In my travels to Christian colleges, both Evangelical and Catholic, I hear the same thing from professors: Our students are coming to us from churches, families, and Christian schools knowing next to nothing about their faith. Contemporary American Christianity is a house built on sand.
So we really are faced with the reality of exile status.

And in the larger society, even though some will still talk a good game about community and civic bonds and the fostering of goodwill, the reality is that nearly everybody, within all camps and on both sides of the basic divide, really embrace veneration of self as the core value driving their words and actions.

The Author and Perfector of our faith still has the last word on the matter:

"Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes."