Friday, December 09, 2016

What difference will a conservative majority in Frankfort make?

My opinion piece on the prospects for conservative issues in this years Kentucky General Assembly ran in the Louisville Courier-Journal today:

On election day this year, Kentuckians voted to clean out the Augean stables and sent a hundred years of cronyism, backroom deals, and abuse of legislative procedure down the river of history.The change of power in the Kentucky House, complete a trifecta of Republican victories that began with the takeover of the Senate in 2000.
What difference will it make?

Read the rest here.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Politics as Religion: The Real Reason for the Anti-Trump Rallies

My most recent post at Intellectual Takeout:
The anti-Trump demonstrations we now see in the streets are not just examples of the immaturity of many modern secular liberals, who seem to think that everyone else is somehow obligated to agree with them. They’re also a symptom of the distorted influence politics now exercises over our culture. 
But in addition to being a symptom of our culture, the dominance of politics in every aspect of life is also a consequence of liberalism itself.
Read the rest here.

Monday, November 14, 2016

How an Ancient Philosopher Predicted the Outcome of the #2016Election

My newest post at Intellectual Takeout: 

Many people depend upon polls to predict the outcome of elections. What pollsters do appeals to all the prejudices of the post-Enlightenment modern mind: They employ a distinctive technique (thank you Rene Descartes), they focus on empirical evidence (thank you Francis Bacon), and they invoke the mathematical forms of statistics (thank you John Graunt and William Petty).  
But the responsibility for making an accurate prediction of this year's election might better have been put into the hands, not of a pollster, but a philosopher.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

You want racial politics? I'll give you racial politics

My newest post at Intellectual Takeout:

Get out the Doritos. Pop the top on your Bud Light. Go down to your man cave, plop down on your La-Z-Boy, invite your friends over and turn on the Packers game.

Here come the White people.

CNN commentator Van Jones, clearly upset by the results coming in last night, claimed that Democrats got “White-lashed.” In a way, he was right. But he has only himself to blame.

Read the rest here.

Tim Kaine compares the Democrat's plight to that of the defeated Confederacy

Tim Kaine compared the Democrat's political situation after Trump's win to the situation of the South after the Civil War in his introduction to Hillary Clinton's concession speech. He quoted William Faulkner's character Wash (from a short story by the same name), who tries to cheer up Thomas Sutpen, decorated by General Lee and released from the defeated Confederate army, telling him, "They kilt us, but they ain't whupped us yet." (the quote Kaine used)

Kaine repeated those words in describing the condition in which Democrats find themselves after Donald Trump's unprecedented victory, apparently unaware of its source and context. Better talk to that speechwriter.

The remark was lauded by David Gergen on CNN, apparently unaware if its source, who said it expressed the "spirit of her speech."

Pretty soon they'll be waving the Confederate flag. That'll help things.

Kentucky voters "have cleaned out the Augean stables"

The Family Foundation's press release tonight on the Republican's wholesale slaughter of House Democrats:

LEXINGTON, KY--"Kentucky voters have cleaned out the Augean stables tonight and sent a hundred years of cronyism, back room deals, and abuse of legislative procedure down the river of history," said a spokesman for The Family Foundation, a social conservative group which a has been a presence in Frankfort for over 25 years.

"Kentucky is a conservative state that has suffered under liberal rule for decades," said Martin Cothran, spokesman for the group. "A liberal House leadership has stifled important conservative legislation at every turn. Now that the Iron Curtain of liberal rule has come crashing down, the challenge for the new conservative leadership will be to conduct a process that treats legislation that reflects Kentucky values with respect. We are confident that the new conservative House leadership will do this, and it will have a great model for how to do it in our State Senate, which is one of this nation's premier conservative legislative bodies. It will also benefit from the excellent leadership of our new governor."

Cothran pointed to the killing of popular pro-life, education, and religious freedom legislation he said would have easily passed on the floors of both chambers as examples of how many good laws never saw the light of day because of a rigged process.

"We now have a state government that is reflective of the conservative values of this state."


Monday, November 07, 2016

The question is not whether Trump, will accept tomorrow's election results, but whether the rest of us will

Amid all the absurdities of this year's election, one of the more inane issues the took up hours of media time was the fear that Donald Trump would not accept the results of the election if it didn't go his way. 

Apparently Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon were under the impression that an intransigent Trump could just bring the whole election to a grinding halt and they would have to park their cameras outside Trump Force One waiting in unrelieved suspense until he relented and agreed to sign off on the vote.

I mean, we all know about that section in the Constitution that says that a presidential election cannot be certified until billionaire reality televisions stars running for president agree to it. Right?


The correct answer is "Yes."

In fact, it had to be rather gratifying to Trump's ego (which was rather substantial already) that leaders of the liberal media were running around like frightened chickens worrying that Donald Trump might dislike the election results. Fortunately the media—every bit as ADHD as Trump himself—flitted to some other Trump outrage and spared us another week of the ridiculous discussion.

The more important question is whether most Americans are going to accept the election results. 

I don't know how most people feel (we'll find out tomorrow), but I'm less disturbed by a Trump win than a Hillary win, since the decision tomorrow is between bufoonishness and evil. Faced with that alternative (although, as I suggest in my last post, those are not the only alternatives), I guess buffoonishness is less scary. Trump is merely silly and inept, but Hillary represents a positively malignant political force.

Trump represents America at its most trivial and fatuous. It's fitting that he is a reality TV star. If elected, he will need full time political care. Forget the warnings that a Trump presidency will result in a nuclear war. The man will be too busy insulting people on Twitter in the wee hours of the morning to even think about wars. 

Storage Wars, maybe. But not nuclear ones. 

In fact, has anyone ever asked Hillary how she cay say that Donald Trump is cozy with Putin AND that he might start a nuclear war with Russia at the same time?

We won't have to worry about government interference in much of anything under a Trump administration, since that takes a lot of thought and a lot of knowledge of how the government works. He is incapable of the former and devoid of the latter. He is more likely to spend his time watching The View than thinking of ways to bother average Americans.

Hillary, on the other hand, is the Nanny from Hell who will make sure you eat according to government dietary guidelines, get the proper government-approved amount of daily exercise, and make sure no one ever questions what gender you decide to be when you get up in the morning. She's against the government in your bedroom, but will have government bureaucrats stationed in every other room in your house.

She's the quintessential representative of modern secular liberalism who wakes up every morning thinking of new ways in which she can bring about a society efficiently administered by secular elites. She thinks in talking points and talks in jargon. She's got a 4-point plan for putting on her pants suits in the morning and wants to require you to have one too (It will be dresses for men).

Hillary is not incompetent. She knows what she wants and how to bring it about. It would be far better if she were incompetent. Trump doesn't have the competence or the inclination to do bad things. He will only do bad things by accident--because he doesn't know any better. Hillary will have the bad things planned out months in advance, and will speak about why they are good for us in speeches paid for by questionable foreign governments who donated to her foundation.

The choice in this election is between stupidity and corruption. I don't think Americans will accept either of these. Our culture will continue to come apart no matter who wins.

If the founders could only see what we've made of their noble republic.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Why I am not voting for Donald Trump

I had an old friend pull me aside recently and ask me what I was going to do in regard to the presidential election. In other words, was I going to vote for Donald Trump? A number of people have asked me this question. And when I tell them I am not going to vote for him, they want to know why.

Here's why.

First, if, before this election, we were to describe to a religious conservative a generic candidate with all the qualities of Trump--one who is knee deep in celebrity culture, who has been married multiple times, who jokes privately about groping women, who has had almost as many women accusing him of sexually predatory behavior as Bill Clinton, who until very recently has been on the extreme liberal end on social issues, who has no expertise in foreign policy, who despite running a real estate empire clearly doesn't understand basic economic issues,  and who (as his ghostwriter for Art of the Deal told the New Yorker) doesn't appear to have read a book in years because of his short attention span--what would they have said?

And then there is his fundamental dishonesty. Go ahead and believe those women now accusing him of sexually harassing them are really lying--just don't ask yourself why you don't believe them but do believe Clinton's accusers.

And do you really believe that the Bible is his "favorite book"? How many times do you think he has read it? How many times do you think a person needs to read it in order to know that you actually do have to ask God for forgiveness?
I can't imagine that the vast majority of the religious conservatives now supporting him wouldn't have said that they would never, ever, support such a candidate.

I do not believe all the nonsense produced by Trump detractors about the dangers of Trump's finger being near the nuclear button. Starting a nuclear war is actually very complicated. It requires that the person starting it have a long attention span.

Trump is not a devil, he is something which in the political world is far worse: He is a buffoon. He has little ability to punish his enemies, he is competent only to embarrass his friends. And embarrass them he has--and will.

If conservatives think (as most of them do) that the Republican brand was ruined by George W. Bush, just wait until they see what Trump does to it. I think most of them are sincere in thinking that Trump will help with issues like Supreme Court appointments (the only truly compelling argument for voting for him), but I think they simply have not thought this through.

What we have is two candidates who will spend four years embarrassing the people who voted for them. So the question is, do we want liberal Democrats to be embarrassed by Hillary or do we want to be embarrassed by Trump? I guarantee that the conservatives now supporting Trump will all--to a man--one day regret their decision to support Trump--if he wins.

But there is something more important here than our own embarrassment. Conservatives willing to lower their standards to a level that would allow them to vote for Trump are sacrificing the long term to the short term, since along with this embarrassment will likely come a subsequent time in the political wilderness. Neither one of these candidates, given their considerable baggage, is likely to be an effective leader, and consequently will have a hard time being elected to a second term. Because of her legal problems, Hillary may not even make it that far. In either case the winning party now will be the party likely losing in the next midterm congressional elections and losing the next presidential race.

I can think of several Republicans who, had they been nominated, would have destroyed Hillary in this year's election. And I can think of a couple of Democratic politicians who could have beat Trump more easily than Hillary. Whichever candidate gets elected this year will not have been elected because so many people like them: They will be elected because they are hated less than the alternative. This is not a recipe for a successful administration.

With two candidates with such high negatives in the polls, we know one thing: Whoever gets elected will not be popular. If we're going to elect an unpopular president, let it be a liberal Democrat. That way, they pay the cost, not us.

I had a state senator call me a while back to ask my advice on how he should vote on a particular bill (a not very good one). He was beset by all the standard utilitarian arguments for doing so--in other words, all the short term benefits to voting for a bill--from his fellow legislators. I told him that he should ask himself one question: "Five, ten, fifteen years from now, when you look back on what you did, will you be happy you did it." There was a long silence on the other end of the line. The next day he messaged me, and said, "Thank you for talking with me yesterday. I've decided not to vote for the bill."

Let's dispense with the big numbers. In just two years, will we as conservatives be happy we voted for Trump? 

Forget all the campaign rhetoric. Wake up from your "Make America great again" trance. Just think for a moment about the utterly juvenile words that come out of the unscripted mouth of Donald Trump. Think about having to own every crass expression emanating from the Oval Office. Consider how you will feel every time a headline appears about some 3 a.m. tweet--not about foreign policy or health care or economics--but about Rosie O'Donnell's looks or something even more trite.

Remember: The handlers now telling him to stay on script will be gone. The restraints preventing him from adolescent crudities will have disappeared. You'll get Trump truly unplugged. And it's not a pretty sight.

The Don Lemons and the Rachal Maddows and Chris Matthews and Stephen Coberts and John Olivers will have a field day every day. And you will have to own it again, and again, and again. After all, you, as a Trump voter, will have provided them their material.

If you want to remind yourself what an unscripted Donald looks like, just go back (if you can stomach it) and listen to Trump's appearances on the Howard Stern show. If you haven't had the misfortune of listening to Stern, then just know that he is the King of Crass--a lower radio life-form who is everything wrong with our culture. When you hear him and Trump commiserating, you will realize very quickly that they are the same kind of people.

Would you vote for Howard Stern for president? If not, then list your reasons why not and ask yourself why you are not applying these to Trump. And, if not, what it says about how much of your judgment you are willing to sacrifice to vote for the man.

Either Trump comes through on his promises to conservatives or he doesn't. If he doesn't then he will have betrayed them. If he does, then those positions will be forever identified with Trump, and will suffer the same ultimate infamy.

Allying yourself with the wrong friends can be more dangerous than fighting the right enemies.

Now the argument on the other side is that, if Hillary gets elected, things will be worse. She's pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, pro everything we're against. But the argument that uses this as an excuse to support a candidate we would not otherwise support is the worst kind of moral reasoning. It is consequentialism, a secular form of moral reasoning that a Christian should be very wary of--if not outright repulsed by (See Catherine Nolan's excellent article on this here)

I am a Catholic, but even Protestants should question the idea that the right action is the one that produces the greatest good for the greatest number. It's no accident that that kind of reasoning was most famously championed by a thoroughly secular thinker: John Stuart Mill. The right action is not the one with the best consequences. It is the one that best perfects our nature as beings created in the image of God. Rules and consequences are fine such as they are and should be taken into account, but they are secondary to simply doing the right thing.

If we are faced with the decision of whether to do the right thing even if it might (we can never know) lead to bad consequences, or doing the wrong thing because it might lead to the right consequences (we can't know than any better), which should we choose? And the answer is that the consequences are not in our hands. They are in God's hands. They are His responsibility, not ours.

The reasoning now being used by conservative supporters of Trump--that the consequences of electing Trump, as unacceptable as he is--are better than the consequences of electing Hillary--is the worst kind of consequentialism. And it is the same kind of consequentialist argument that I seem to be faced with every Republican primary season: Vote for the moderate because he is the most electable candidate. In other words, the consequences for voting for the candidate who I would never otherwise vote for is better than the consequences of voting for the person I really should vote for because the right candidate can never be elected. Votes are taken away from good candidates because of this time and time again.

If everyone simply voted for the candidate who agreed with them most and would make a good occupant of whatever office he was running for, we would all be better off. This is the irony: that consequentialist reasoning like this leads to poorer consequences! Doing the thing that we think will lead to the greatest good for the greatest number does not lead to the greatest good for the greatest number. But instead we give in to every consequentialist political serpent who tempts us.

Will the consequences of a Clinton presidency be bad? Of course they will. But that's on the head of those who vote for her. But that doesn't change the fact that the consequences of a Trump presidency will be on the heads of those who vote for him.

But what about the Supreme Court?
I would love to believe that if we elected Trump, we could turn the Court. The problem is, even if he did nominate good people, they would never make it even through a Republican Senate. Go look at how supposedly conservative Republicans have voted on judicial nominees. Go look at all the Republicans who voted for Stephen Breyer's nomination. Look what happened when Robert Bork got shot down. When the going gets tough, Republican senators run for the hills.

The Court is gone. We lost the fight. Now we have a rogue Court and the only way to deal with it is to repudiate it. It is violating the Constitution. It has unconstitutionally claimed the unilateral right to rewrite the Constitution and is violating the separation of powers by legislating instead of interpreting. It has done this on abortion and on same-sex marriage. It will soon do the same thing on a host of gender issues. The only way to deal with it is for the leader of the executive branch to openly defy it. He would have every right to do so. He swore an oath to the Constitution too, and if he sees that the Court is violating it, he has, not only a right, but an obligation to do something about it. Its rulings should be ignored by conservative executives until it starts interpreting the Constitution again rather than rewriting it.

Of course, Trump will not do this. He doesn't know enough to be able to even contemplate the idea. It is open to question whether he has the power to contemplate anything. That is another thing that someone with a short attention span can't do.

And one more thing. 

Remember when conservatives used to say that "character matters"? We said that when Bill Clinton was found to have been preying on anything in a skirt. But now we have conservatives saying almost exactly the opposite now that it is clear that Trump has done pretty much the same thing (believe his denials of the multitude of charges from women if you want. No one can can stop you from inconsistency). 

It's just one more principle social conservatives who are supporting Trump have been willing to abandon in order to justify voting for the man. How many of our principles are we willing to sacrifice to a man who does not deserve such a sacrifice?

I have plenty of friends who are willing to do this. But I'm not. For what it's worth, I'm voting for the candidate I voted for in the primary: Carly Fiorina. It's the right thing to do.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Why We Like Monsters: A Halloween Meditation

Get a link to my newest post on why our popular culture is so fascinated with the dark and the demonic here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Scientific American takes some STEM advocates to task for hating on the Humanities

My most recent post at Intellectual Takeout:
There’s been a lot of rhetoric in recent years from conservative leaders about the importance of giving students a STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 
That our students should have a better education in math and science is not controversial. What is controversial is when a math and science emphasis is pitted against the liberal arts and humanities.
Read the rest here.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

It Was a Bright Cold Day in April, and the Clocks Were Striking Patriarchy: A Parable on Political Correctness

If you have not read George Orwell's 1984, then go read it. If you have read it, then read this.

Let us go back to that time (or is it now?) in order to understand our time. Winston Smith has been having incorrect thoughts, and he has been found out by the Thought Police and taken to the Ministry of Love for correction and rehabilitation. His Interrogator (and torturer) is O'Brien:

“Humans are like cockroaches.  But if we get in their minds and make them believe us, then we have them. You can make them believe anything. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not make you believe. Invisibility, levitation—anything. That despite biological, obvious differences, and other differences in musculature, in brain formation, despite hormones and how they shape everything about a human before he’s even born, we can make humans believe there are no differences between the sexes.  And alternately we can make them believe all males are natural oppressors and must be punished simply for existing, and all women, no matter how powerful or rich are natural victims and must be appeased.  We can make them believe there are no differences, and at the same time that there are six genders, or ten, or twelve, or a hundred, all of them natural from birth.’ 
“But that’s mad,” Winston shouted.  “Utterly mad.  You can’t make anyone deny the truth of their own eyes, forever.” 
He knew the lever would be pulled. 
“How many genders does humanity have, Winston?” 
The lever was pulled. 
“How many?” 
The lever was pulled. 
“How many?” 
“A hundred” 
The lever was pulled. 
“How many?” 
“As many as the enlightened say.” 
“That is right, Winston, you are almost well.  And what is PIV.” 
“Violation.  Always violation.”
“Can’t a woman consent to sex with a man?” 
“There is no true consent, since even in Utopia cis het males are programmed to institute patriarchy.  You must always be vigilant against your own thoughts and your own unconscious privilege, even if you can’t be fully aware of it.  All penetration is violation.  A baby is an invader in a woman’s body.  Utopia is forever and only the enlightened can tell us when we’re wrong. Because the individual is not able to balance the forces of retribution and oppression and greed by himself, or not even within himself. Society is always imbalanced, and there will be oppression till all of humanity is gone, so the enlightened ones must teach us and correct us until that time. 
Winston gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken zeem to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the androgynous, unreadable face. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of zees nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. Zee had won the victory over Zeeself. Zee loved Big Gender Indeterminate Sibling.
Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

#Trump would have it so much easier if his lewd comments had been discovered by the Russians

Just sayin'.

When Conservatives Could Talk Intelligently: Where is William F. Buckley when you need him?

Compound Sentences. Subordinate clauses. Conclusions with supporting premises. Eloquence. They were all once a part of conservative rhetoric, a rhetoric now become imbecile and associated with the nominee of this nation's nominally conservative party, the extent of whose wit is embodied in insults and thoughts that (perhaps fortunately) do not extend beyond 140 characters.

Instead of advocacy and criticism informed by a knowledge and understanding of the long tradition of American and European political philosophy, we get lengthy disquisitions on the optimal tonnage of beauty contestants. Comments once strewn with quotations from Edmund Burke, Alexis de Toqueville, Lord Acton, and Russell Kirk are now more likely to make reference to the words and actions of people whose chief public exposure is in People magazine. 

There are a few relics left. Charles Krauthammer, Brett Stephens, and, to some extent, Jonah Goldberg and Russ Douthat at least speak grammatically and prosecute a good argument, but they have proven themselves (to use the British term) wets when the going gets tough on social issues like marriage.

Today's conservatives breath with only one lung. They are all economics and no culture. Yes, you can find frequent and justified ridicule of the latest PC outrage on Fox News, but once the liberal tide rises, they just position themselves higher on the beach. And as the waters rise, the retreats pile up and the conservative territory diminishes. And no one wants to do the hard work of dealing with the more enduring problem of the rising sea of ideology.

Where once we had spokesmen who were Burkeans because they had read and agreed with Burke, we now have Machiavellians who not only have not read Machiavelli, but don't even know who he was.

If you want to understand better the low estate into which the conservative mind has fallen, you need to see PBS' new documentary, "Best of Enemies." It is about the public confrontations between William F. Buckley, Jr. and Gore Vidal, the two intellectual leaders, respectively, of the conservatism and liberalism of the 60s and 70s. They spoke at a level which would be incomprehensible to today's generation of voters, educated as they were in public schools where the traditional content of history and literature have been set aside in order to make space for test preparation, fun projects, environmentalism, and political indoctrination.

But in their time, Buckley and Vidal were a huge television draw. They were rock stars before rock stars were, well, rock stars.

"Best of Enemies" focuses on the television debates on ABC during the Republican and Democratic national conventions of 1968. It was a time when CBS and NBC ruled the ratings, with ABC a distant third. While the two more popular networks focused exclusively on the 1968 convention, ABC decided to throw the dice, and put Buckley and Vidal on the same set to see what would happen.

It was a tremendous hit filled with tremendous hits.

Buckley, editor of National Review, the magazine that put conservatism on the American political map and the host of PBS' weekly "Firing Line," and Vidal, the brilliant writer of lurid but popular novels like Myra Breckenridge, squared off in a series of televised flame wars that put to shame the sallow political discourse of today. They didn't like each other, but, with the exception of one now famous incident (which the documentary spends most of its time building up to), Buckley and Vidal engaged in informed political argument only peppered with insults, not, as today, insults peppered with ill-informed political argument. 

This is public television, of course, and so they can't keep their ideological fingers off the facts. Between the mostly accurate historical narrative, we are treated to a litany of disinformation on Buckley's conservatism.

We have Andrew Sullivan, for example, remarking on how elitist and anti-democratic Buckley was. Mind you, this was the Buckley famous for saying that he would rather be ruled by the last three hundred names in the Boston phone book than the entire faculty of Harvard University, and Sullivan and his fellow liberals the ones who applaud every time unelected elite liberal judges take issues out of the democratic process and decide them for the rest of us. 

And then there is the customary civil rights rhetoric, where conservatives in general and Republicans in particular are cast as the ones in favor of discrimination and segregation despite the fact that it was the Democratic Party who supported segregation in the South, that housed Lester Maddox, George Wallace and (to this day) Lyndon LaRouche, and that offered the greatest opposition to the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s, voting against them in much higher numbers--and percentages--than Republicans.

Then we have Sullivan speculating that Buckley's opposition to homosexuality was the results of Buckley's fear of his own homosexuality. Thoughts like this are, of course, a great comfort to gays like Sullivan, whose insecurity not only demands that everyone else agree with him (by force if necessary), but that everyone else must be like him deep down. And so we say unsubstantiated and--let's face it--stupid things like this.

And we are also given the impression that Buckley lived in the shadow of his emotional outburst when, after Vidal called Buckley a "crypto-Nazi," Buckley called him a "queer" and threatened to punch him in the face. In fact the whole program works up to this moment. And when it comes, it cuts to 5-second shots of the liberal commentators, silent, thinking apparently, how terribly, terribly sad it was.

Tsk, tsk. Such a shame.

That Buckley would regret losing his temper and calling Vidal a homosexual (he was, although he consistently refused the "gay" label) using a term that gays themselves use (check out the "Queer Studies" discipline at your local state university) was something Buckley regretted doing. Conservatives have, not only standards, but consciences. But Vidal's charge that Buckley was a "crypto-Nazi," a term no conservative uses of himself, goes unlamented on the show.

No five-second camera pauses focused on the pained faces of moralistic liberals pondering the tragedy of it all. No moralistic lectures from Andrew Sullivan. No grim voice narrating how Terribly. Unfortunate. It was (queue the footage of the face of the perpetrator, in slow motion).

Maybe that was because Vidal, apparently lacking an operative conscience, never regretted hurling his own epithets, and had no journalists to feel guilty for him.

But despite all of the obligatory liberal finger-wagging and head shaking, the glory that was Buckley comes through. In fact, maybe it was good that Buckley called Vidal what he in fact was on live national television and created such a legendary moment. If he hadn't, PBS might never have done such a show, and we couldn't have seen these great old clips of Buckley practicing the art of polemic, an art increasingly falling into disuse, and one which, if conservatives fail to revive it, will be their undoing.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Liberals Living in Glass Houses Shouldn't Throw Stones

The next time you hear the liberal media waxing high and mighty about Donald Trump's truly objectionable remarks on a recently released videotape, you need to remember a few important things.

First, you need to remember that you are hearing all this self-righteousness from a group of people, now fully a part of the entertainment industry, who consistently look the other way when their own industry make millions of dollars every year by selling rap and hip hop music the glorifies sexual violence, who defend the right of the porn industry to produce blatantly misogynist and objectifying pictures and films, and who, when it had the chance to condemn Bill Clinton's abusive behavior toward women instead gave him a pass.

And the next time you hear the Democrats preening about their high ethical standards, you need to compare two things:

1. How the Democrats dealt with Bill Clinton when it came to light that he had engaging in sexually abusive behavior with, among others, people over whom he was in a position of authority, which consisted of dismissing it as unimportant and making excuses for him; and

2. How the Republicans are dealing with Donald Trump now.

The fact that Trump's words have been condemned and that many Republicans have disowned him because of it, and that the much worse behavior of Bill Clinton was excused and caused no serious defections of Democratic support at the time is about the best evidence you can have about that the relative standards of the two parties are.

And, of course, it's a measure of the kind of hypocrisy liberals--inside and outside the media--are willing to engage in to promote their cause.

My Five-Step Method for Determining Who Wins Presidential Debates and How to Apply It to Last Night's Debate

I have a five-step method for determining who wins presidential debates. Here it is:
1. I switch to Fox News to see how Sean Hannity is feeling;2. I then switch to CNN to see how Jake Tapper (or Anderson Cooper) is feeling;3. If Sean Hannity looks grim and Tapper (or Cooper) looks chipper, then Hillary won;4. If Sean Hannity is chipper and Tapper (or Cooper) grim, then Trump won.5. If they book look about the same, then it was a draw
Applying this method last night, I determine that Trump won.

Tapper looked like his dog had just died. He had circles under his eyes and looked like he badly needed a long vacation. Of course, he wouldn't admit that Trump won, and he had to settle for saying that the debate wouldn't help him to win, which, of course, has nothing to do with the question, and which, if Trump had engaged in any similar confusion would have prompted Anderson Cooper to interrupt him and pointed it out and if Hillary had done it would have prompted neither moderator to do anything, since she can do no wrong.

Hannity, on the other hand, was positively ecstatic. The Donald had perpetrated the most decisive victory in the history of debate, beating out Demosthenes, Pericles, Cicero, and every other -es and -o who ever rose to a podium. He made Clarence Darrow look like a Sunday School teacher. He had destroyed Hillary so utterly and decisively that it was a wonder she wasn't taken off the stage on a gurney.

The first debate was, of course exactly the opposite.

What always gets me is the utter bias with with both networks deal with issues, although I will have to say that in the days leading up to the debate at least Fox extensively covered Trump's video scandal in addition to its coverage of Hillary's emails, while CNN hardly mentioned the emails.

And this morning on NPR, Mara Liasson's report on the debate included a discussion of everything but the emails. This is just unethical journalism, and it is why public broadcasting has so little credibility any more. And it isn't even necessary: Trump tends to hang himself. He doesn't need liberal journalists grinding an ax and pretending to be objective to do it for him.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Liberal standards that only non-liberals must follow

At the Atlantic magazine Jonathan Merritt condemns the recent statement from Intervarsity Christian Fellowship that its employees must adhere to traditional Christian teachings on marriage. He imagines all the bad things that could happen under such a policy, such as that people who work for them would have to, well, adhere to traditional teaching on marriage.

Imagine. An institution requiring people to adhere to its purpose.

Once again we have liberals who want to hold others to standards they themselves refuse to adhere to. Liberal institutions routinely reject people for employment who hold conservative views. Go try applying for a job at at your local college's "women and gender studies" department and tell them of your traditional views on sexuality and see how far you get. Go try applying at Planned Parenthood and divulging that you are pro-life and see what kind of reception you receive.

And, of course, the Atlantic itself is so tolerant and diverse. Surely they would not exclude writers who, say, take a traditional view of marriage. Why there's ..., er, well, the writer, uh... Hmmm. Come now that I think about it, they don't have any writers who take that position.

Physician, heal thyself.

Friday, October 07, 2016

The chickens come home to roost for Trump supporters

You know it's bad when Trump fanboy Hannity is reduced to the argument that his candidate is no worse than Bill Clinton.

On the one hand today's release of a videotape containing Trump's lurid remarks about a soap star right before meeting her is nothing new. Is anybody really surprised at this? The only thing new about these remarks is their explicitness. But they are no different in character than other things he has said.

Remember when Republicans said that character mattered? Those were the good old days. That was when the people with bad character were Democrats. Now that the people with bad character are Republicans, all of a sudden character doesn't seem to matter much anymore.

Funny how that works.

I have been telling my conservative friends who are so fearful of Hillary that they are supporting Trump that they'd better watch out. He is the political poster boy from Hell.

Well, welcome to my nightmare.

As much as I like many of the people who have supported Trump, I don't feel sorry for them. They should have known better. Will a Hillary Clinton presidency be bad? Yes it will. But if we're going to have a screwed up Presidency, which I don't see any way out of, I'd rather the party of which I am a member not be responsible for it. 

This is not the last time something like this will come out. In fact, it's a fair bet that there will be several more revelations like this before the election. And, if he becomes president, he's sure to add new outrages. He's the gift that will keep on giving.

No worse than Bill Clinton? There's got to be a campaign slogan better than that. 

Thursday, October 06, 2016

The Stepford Students

Britain, it turns out, has the same problem with the Tolerance Police running their schools as we do in America. Instead of giving students a real education, which would should involve something approximating wisdom and virtue, they engage in the academic equivalent of goose-stepping lessons—ideological boot camps teaching students all the things they must be outraged about and trying to convince them they have the right to force other people to agree with them and access to a "safe spaces" if they can't. 

Here's Brendan O'Neill at The Spectator:

Two years ago, in this magazine, I wrote about the rise of the Stepford Students. These are the student leaders who might look and sound rad — all dyed hair and blather about ‘intersectionality’ — but who are really just officious meddlers in the lives of others. Whether they’re banning sombreros because they’re offensive to Latinos or No Platforming right wingers and off message feminists, these student officials strangle debate, and have tried to turn campuses from hotbeds of social and intellectual interaction into starched ‘safe spaces’.

But something is happening in Britain, says O'Neill. There are a few Brit students fighting back:

Now, however, a counter Stepford rebellion is stirring. Students are sick of being patronised, so they are shooting down this PC creed. They aren’t hurling Molotov cocktails or staging sit ins, as students of old did — they’re setting up free speech societies, boycotting patronising lifestyle lectures and, most strikingly, voting to get the hell out of the suffocating grip of the National Union for Students. These Students for Sanity, as I call them, are reclaiming their rights.

Read more about it here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Evan McMullin is NOT a Conservative

Evan McMullin
Caleb Howe at Redstate wanted us to watch Evan McMullin's event in Utah tonight. McMullin, the man the Republican establishment put up to compete with Trump (How's that going?), Howe calls "the only conservative running for President."


We now go to Maggie Gallagher, who, unlike Howe, still inhabits this dimension:

“As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman, but I respect the decision of the Court, and I think it’s time to move on,” McMullin said, according to Lifesite News.

When [Mark] Halperin asked if a President McMullin would at least appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn the Obergefell decision, he replied, “I wouldn’t.”

In other words, he's a conservative, but he doesn't want to conserve things like the viability of the Constitution, the separation of powers, and the legitimacy of the judicial system, and the institution of marriage, the institution without which we are all hosed.

Good luck with that.

It Was Nice While It Lasted: There goes Hamilton's popularity

Everyone knows how popular Alexander Hamilton has become of late as a result of the Tony award winning Broadway play, "Hamilton."

Now comes the news of "Hamilton"'s ten criteria for a wife, among which are "beauty," a "good body," "good breeding," and being "reasonably religious." Some of those things won't please the pop culture mavens now lauding him too terribly much.

And wait until they find out what he was in the market specifically for a female. If that doesn't completely destroy his reputation the places that are celebrating the musical, nothing will.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Since gender is just a choice on a spectrum, can a biological male apply for a female college scholarship?

Politically Correct pronoun declensions.
The absurd ramifications of Gender Denial are legion, and economist Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute points one of them out.

Since colleges and universities are becoming morally and mentally unhinged about gender and claiming that "being male and female is a choice on a spectrum, not a biological trait," what stops a male from claiming to be a female and then, in turn, claiming the advantage that being a female has always conferred when it comes to scholarships and other benefits?

In fact, we're going to see precisely how dedicated the Gender Deniers are and how willing they are to engage in multiple other denials in order to deal with the absurdities of their original denial.

It's only a matter of time before some male college student with a little gumption walks into a college office somewhere and claims some benefit designated only for females and demands that he (now a she, since that is his choice) be considered for such a scholarship.

What's a tolerant, progressive college official to do in the face the absurdities of his (or her or zes) position (and, we might add, the intransigence of reality)?

He (or she or ze) could point out that the biological male in front of him (or her or zer) was not dressed as a woman. At which point the biological male (if he has done his homework and is properly versed in the Politically Correct tongue) could start screaming and yelling about being victimized by gender stereotypes, in this case of the sartorial variety.

Or, more likely, a male with an ambiguous first name (say, Pat) applies for such a scholarship and gets it. And only then do the Orwellian college officials discover that the applicant was a biological male.

Can you just imagine the panic that would ensue? In fact, just imagine what this could do to Title IX programs across the country when people see the holes this blows in affirmative action programs based on gender, and setting the two main forces of Political Correctness--the LGBT people and the feminists--on opposite sides of these issues.

I personally am willing to donate to a grant fund that would go to any male college student willing to do this. And I have the advantage of knowing that my definition of gender won't cause me any problems in knowing who can and can't have that grant.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Why Trump Should Win Tonight's Debate

There are several reasons that, barring some major gaffe on Trump's part, he should win the debate tonight with Hillary Clinton.

First, all you have to do to win this kind of debate is exceed expectations. As it stands now, the expectations for Trump's performance are lower than Hillary's, giving him a much lower bar to clear.

Second, Hillary faces a dilemma that Trump does not: She either plays it conservative, in which case she appears too boring and Establishment, or she plays it aggressive and tries to trash-talk Trump, in which case she will get the short end of the stick because no one can out trash-talk Trump.

Given these realities, Trump's strategy should be purely reactive: If Hillary remains docile, just stand there, make a few policy statements and look presidential, in which case he will have exceeded the expectations. If Hillary goes on the attack, then deploy the email scandal, the Bengazi scandal, the Goldman Sachs connection, and her husband's Bimbo scandal, in which case he will at least neutralized her attacks and possibly draw blood.

Thirdly, Each candidate comes with a constructive and destructive narrative and both will be trying to play to one and downplay the other. Hillary's positive narrative is that she is competent and tested; her negative one is the mirror image: she is an establishment figure who skirts ethical rules and gets away with legal transgressions that mere mortals would do time for. Trump's positive narrative is that he is an anti-establishment figure bent on shaking things up; his negative narrative is that he is impulsive and reckless with his words and a lightweight when it comes to the serious policy work it takes to be the leader of the Free World.

That's pretty much a draw. However, Hillary has one more narrative working against her, and it has to do with her health. Up until about a week ago, I thought her health really was a tempest in a teapot that no one really cared about. But I think that I thought that because I didn't care about it. As has become evident, a lot of people do care about it. The video of her collapsing as she got into a car made it an issue.

This debate is supposed to be 90 minutes without commercials. Do they even get a potty break? If not, Hillary has another dilemma: If she drinks water before the debate, then she's going to need one (remember the several times in the primary debates when she disappeared from the set?); if she does not drink water, she faces the problem of dehydration, in which case she faces the problem of passing out again (this was the reason given for collapsing in the now famous video).

Again, Trump doesn't face the same dilemma. If we can go by past experience, he can hold it--and he is more likely to make other people pass out than to do so himself. In fact this is the one thing that could completely change this election: If Hillary collapses or shows any significant evidence of fatigue or physical weakness, this election could well be over. 

Finally, even if there is a gaffe, there is going to be an automatic double standards for the candidates that, once again, favors Trump; namely, that Trump can get away with gaffes that Hillary cannot. In fact, gaffes are such a regular part of Trump's rhetorical repertoire that the gaffe is going to have to be a big one in order to be news at all, whereas Hillary will be hurt by even a moderately serious gaffe, since her strength is stability and experience.

And of course this plays back into the expectations game.

Trump has more to gain and less to lose than Hillary, making him the favorite to win.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Subtle Bias of the Courier-Journal Shows Itself Again

I will be commenting on an online story today in the Louisville Courier-Journal today about Fayette County Family Court Judge Tim Philpot's recent remarks critical of same-sex marriage to a religious group over the next couple of days. In the meantime I'll just remark that the dishonesty of the media reaches proportions that are sometimes epically astounding. 

The CJ titled the online version of the piece, "Family judge: Gay marriage like 'jumbo shrimp'." 


I'd love to attribute the headline to the simple ignorance of the kind I encounter all the time when I use an analogy about a relationship between two things and the person responding just doesn't get the difference between the similarity of two things (which is not what this kind of analogy expresses) and the similarity of two relationships between two pairs of things (which is what this kind of analogy does express).

For example, in a discussion the other day, a person protested my comparison between the idea that you can choose your gender based on your feelings and that you can choose your race based on your feelings. If the latter is unacceptable, then why is the former acceptable? The person's response was: "You cannot try to compare race with ... sexual identity. What you are doing is called a logical fallacy."

Uh, no. Sorry. 

A comparison of the process by which you determine gender and the process by which you determine race is not a comparison of gender and race. You are not saying "Gender is comparable to race"; you are saying "The relationship between the way we feel about our gender and what our gender actually is is the same as the relationship between the way we feel about our race and our what our race actually is

A is to B as C is to D—Not A is similar to B.

And the similarity of these two relationships is unmistakable, which is why someone who is actually male who thinks he is female is just as preposterous (in fact, even more so, since gender goes deeper than race) as Rachel Dolezel, the former chairman of the NAACP who, despite actually being White, claims she is Black because she feels Black—a point not dissimilar to the one Philpot was making.

The fact that people no longer get this is a commentary, not only on the general decline in the ability to think, but in the decline of the ability to think analogically. Maybe this is why the College Board took analogies out of the SAT after years of declining scores in that section.

Philpot did not say that "gay marriage is like jumbo shrimp"; he said “Same sex marriage to me is an oxymoron…kind of like jumbo shrimp." Not only is that a completely different statement, but a true one. The primary argument of those opposed to same-sex marriage is that it violated the very definition of marriage. Philpot's remarks are only another colorful way of making the same point.

Of course, I'm not averse to attributing ignorance to journalists. It abounds. In this case, however, the obfuscation of Philpot's position in the way the headline was written was clearly the result of media bias against anyone who questions the Politically Correct position on gender, which, if you're on the lookout for goofy things, ought to stick out like a sore thumb.

So, while much of the story is quite fair and some of it not entirely unflattering, the CJ (I don't know whether it was Andy Wolfson or an online editor) was clearly banking on peoples' ignorance about how analogies work to distort what Philpot actually said. They also had to know that, however fair much of the story was, the headline is what people will remember. 

This is the subtle way that media bias works, and it's a commentary on the integrity of newspapers like the CJ that they do this kind of thing on a regular basis.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Deport Hollywood, Not Hispanics

This year's Enemys—er, excuse me, Emmys—reminds me once again that I don't know why we're talking about deporting a bunch of Hispanics. They're hardworking, family-oriented, and, according to statistics, generally stay out of trouble. And they've got an awesome culture that can only enrich our own.

It would make far better sense to talking about deporting the entire Hollywood entertainment caste that, far from enriching our culture, seems bent on degrading it. These people have not only been trivializing and degrading our entertainment media, but systematically dismantling the values this country built on and are now part of the movement promoting the persecution of people who mostly want to be left alone to believe the things they've always believed.

Imagine no Barbara Streisand
It's easy if you try
No George Clooney in front of us
Above us only sky

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

Friday, September 02, 2016

It's the End of the Conservative World as We Know It

Paul Gottfried
There is one conservative blog (other than, of course, Vital Remnants) that will put the current election in excellent perspective. It is a conservative oasis in the sea of nonsense. It is the Imaginative Conservative. Today's article is a great example of why this online magazine is a light in the conservative darkness. Paul Gottfried, one of the great modern conservative writers reflects on the state of modern conservatism, so-called:

[E]very time I hear the term used to describe a GOP position on just about anything, I have to wonder what makes that position “conservative.” Why for example is nation-building abroad, which involves imposing the latest model of American democracy on populations that are culturally quite different from the present American ruling class, a “conservative” position? And why is letting American working communities languish while our jobs are outsourced a “conservative” policy? The obvious answer is such stands are talking points deployed by the Republican Party as it works to hold on to certain constituents. These stands also happen to be those of the GOP donor base.

... I am convinced that the designation “conservative” is losing any substantive meaning, except for attachment to Republican operatives and donors and the label that particular media personalities choose to give themselves. 

In going back and reading Russell Kirk, as I have had the occasion recently of doing, I am reminded once again of how far gone modern so-called conservatism is. Real conservatives are trapped between a presidential candidate and his followers who hold many positions consistent with conservatism but who, when asked to defend them blindly repeat that the want to "Make America Great Again," and establishment Republicans who hold many positions at complete odds with conservatism.

And, worse, both factions have abandoned the long tradition of social conservatism. On Trump's end you get an immigration plan that would only let in people who support the agenda of radical gay rights groups (maybe that's the reason he opposes letting so many Syrian Christians into the country):

Recently he discussed how he would make Muslims entering the United States undergo “extreme vetting,” which would include making sure they had favorable attitudes toward gays and affirmed full gender equality. I’ve no idea why this test is something associated with the Right. It looks like something that came from editorial board of the New York Times or from some other publication that is now attacking Mr. Trump as a fascist.

On the other side you have the New Conservative Establishment, who were waving the white flag on marriage even before the ink on Obergefell had dried:

Popular “conservative” journalists Jonah Goldberg and John Podhoretz are high on gay marriage, which they argue promotes family values. National Review‘s rising star Jillian Kay Melchior wishes to see the United States become more fully engaged in Ukraine against Vladimir Putin, lest transgendered Ukrainians come under reactionary Russian sway. Other conservative journalists have berated the Russian president for not allowing gay pride parades in Russian cities.

As Kirk pointed out, conservatives in any time are almost necessarily relegated to the status of a Remnant, and we probably need to embrace that role, which means keeping our powder dry in elections like this one.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

What are schools for? Good citizenship, job training, or academics?

Read my article on the new Phi Beta Kappa poll on the following question"

“What do you think should be the main goal of a public school education: to prepare students academically, to prepare them for work, or to prepare them to be good citizens?”

The results are quite interesting. The plurality believes schools are for teaching academics and the majority of parents of school children think the same thing. 

Read it here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The #WussificationofAmerica: Higher Education Edition

From the Daily Caller, summarizing Peter Gray, a Boston College psychologist:
Gray observed that today’s crop of college students is less able to handle ordinary life challenges compared to generations past. He noted, for example, that emergency calls to the Boston College counseling center have doubled in recent years. One woman sought counseling because her roommate called her a “bitch.” Two students wanted professional therapy — and actually called the cops — because they spotted a mouse in their off-campus apartment.   
Gray also explained that Boston College professors receive a constant stream of email from students about trivial issues. The students expect prompt, quality customer service in response. Professors have also seen huge uptick in students who freak out when they earn low grades. Students equate grades of ‘C’ or lower — and sometimes even any ‘B’ — with failure. And “failure” means total failure, Gray observed. Like an apocalypse. Students don’t think to study harder. Instead, they beg for higher grades or paper do-overs. They yell at their professors for not clarifying grading criteria.
Read more here.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Witch Hunt Targeting a Christian Judge

The Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics wants to remove a judge from her job and disqualify her for service anywhere in the Wyoming judiciary because she maintains a Biblical view of marriage:
The story began on a cold Saturday morning in December 2014. Shortly after the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals declared Wyoming marriage statutes unconstitutional, a reporter from the Sublette Examiner called Judge Neely to ask if she was “excited” to perform same-sex marriages. It was only because she had accepted a part-time job as a circuit court magistrate that this question had any relevance at all. In that unpaid position, she was authorized, but not obligated, to solemnize marriages. She gave a perfectly reasonable reply. She said that if she were ever asked, she would help the couple find someone to do the job. However, she would “not be able to do” it herself. 
Based on this solitary exchange about a hypothetical scenario, the commission has been waging what they call a “holy war” against her for more than a year. They are not content to send her a letter clarifying what she should have done, nor even a letter of reprimand. Instead, they are leveling the greatest possible punishment allowable by law—and the implications of their arguments are chilling.One central allegation against Judge Neely is the charge of bias. The commission claims that merely by publicly affirming biblical teaching on homosexual acts, she immediately and irrevocably rendered herself unfit to judge fairly or impartially in any matter whatsoever.
Publicly affirming same-sex marriage is not bias, but publicly expressing your personal disbelief in it brings out the Tolerance Police in their steel-toed boots.

The commission makes much of a private letter in which she discussed a number of biblically named sins. The commission was so shocked that she would agree with the Bible that her church (Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod) was called “repugnant” in open court. Moreover, when the Alliance Defending Freedom asked to represent her, the commission filed additional charges against her for “affiliating with a discriminatory organization.”

Yes, this is happening in America--in the name of Tolerance and Diversity. Read more here.

Friday, August 26, 2016

KY Farm Bureau protesters "Big on Intolerance," says family group

Today's press release from the Family Foundation:

LEXINGTON, KY--The Family Foundation today called on the Kentucky Farm Bureau to stick to in principles in the face of calls by protesters and liberal politicians to abandon their pro-family positions on marriage and domestic partner benefits. "The Farm Bureau needs to stand with its conservative rural constituency and not give in to the ideological demands of liberal protesters," said Martin Cothran.

Protesters from the Fairness Alliance and Congressman John Yarmuth had gathered outside the Farm Bureau's Ham Breakfast yesterday demanding that the group drop its position in favor of the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman and providing benefits to "domestic partners" of employees. 

"The Fairness Alliance and its allies are Big on Intolerance" said Cothran. "They talk about diversity, but somehow manage to find the time to oppose it whenever they see it."

"The Farm Bureau needs to stand up for conservative rural values and ignore calls from intolerant groups in our society to abandon the views of people they represent."


Thursday, August 25, 2016

C. S. Lewis' List of Great Books

The blog A Pilgrim in Narnia has published a list of the books C. S. Lewis refers to in his book, Experiment in Criticism, a book about how to read books. The list tracks pretty well the books that a person concerned with preserving our culture ought to read (or aspire to read):
See the list here.

Ann Coulter Finds Out that You Can't Trust Trump

There is some kind of poetic justice in Ann Coulter having to admit you can't trust Trump on the very day of the release of her book In Trump We Trust

The invasion of the body-snatchers thing that has been going on with many so-called conservatives infected Coulter fairly early on. Why? Almost exclusively because of the immigration issue. He was the only one addressing it, she thought. 

Okay so far. I get that. I don't agree with the immigration panic, but I can understand why Coulter thought that. Trump is right on the immigration issue: I can understand why someone would think that. But where, precisely, did she get the idea that you could trust Trump?

I'm sorry, but that doesn't make any sense at all.

Trump is exactly the kind of candidate that you can never trust: One who has no moral or political center. One whose attitudes are determined by what will either get him attention or help him win. That's what demagogues do.

And that's all they are: attitudes. They are not positions. Positions are come to by a process of application of some underlying principle or philosophy. Trump is incapable of even having a principle. 

Attitudes change with the political wind. So now he's calculated that this new position, now different from Coulter's, will help him win. That is literally the only factor in his decision to make the change.

Coulter is no fool. But she now looks foolish. Why? Because she should have known better. Now let's just wait for the evangelicals who have backed Trump to get their comeuppance. He'll turn on them too in time.

As someone who does not suffer fools gladly, I wonder what Coulter thinks about herself.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

U. of Chicago failing to protects it students' fragile little feelings

The mean, mean people in the University of Chicago administration are clearly insensitive to the feelings of the weakly-constituted generation of students attending our colleges and universities, who apparently break out in hives whenever they are confronted by anyone voicing an opinion at odds with their own.

Unlike Brown University, "which last year created a room 'with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies' because a debate on sexual assault was taking place on campus," the University of Chicago has chosen to place their entering students in the precarious situation of having to confront ideas they might disagree with.

What is the world coming to?

What the Humanities Can Tell Us about T. Rex that Science Can't

Monday, August 22, 2016

My comments in the Washington Post today on the Paul/Gray KY Senate Race

Lexington, KY Mayor Jim Gray
I was quoted in the Washington Post today about the Rand Paul/Jim Gray Senate race. The story centers on the fact that Gray is a gay candidate, one of a record number of gay candidates running for state and local offices.

The narrative is basically that the number of gay candidates running for office is an indication of greater acceptance of gays in our society. That's true as far as it goes, but my point was that Gray is not a "gay candidate" in the sense that he runs on the issue:

“He’s never run as a gay candidate,” said Martin Cothran, spokesman for The Family Foundation of Kentucky, a socially conservative group. “It’s not something he’s ever worn on his sleeve … For that reason, he’s not identified with gay issues.”

I also pointed out to the reporter that what social conservatives care about is where the candidate stands on the issues, not what their sexual preference is. That being said, I also pointed out that wearing the gay label on your sleeve probably wouldn't help a statewide candidate in Kentucky, largely because they would take that as an indication of where they stood on the issues.

Read more here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The End of the Liberal Tradition?

As even liberals are now abandoning their own cherished principles of tolerance and diversity under the very guise of implementing them, it's not like there's anyone anymore who thinks Francis Fukuyama was right when, in his "End of History," when he said that we were approaching the liberal utopia where we would all live in peace and prosperity under a tolerant secular regime.

Still, it's interesting to read about the demise of liberal utopianism in places like First Things magazine where Mark Movsesian writes, in his article, "The End of the Liberal Tradition":
In fact, a fascinating new paper in The Journal of Democracy suggests that liberal democracy is losing ground even at home, in the West. Political scientists Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk review data from recent World Values Surveys and observe some truly remarkable trends, especially among young people. Young people often reject the traditions of their elders; that’s nothing new. What they seem to be rejecting nowadays, though, in increasing numbers, is the tradition of liberalism itself.
Read more here.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Wisdom and Happiness: What Classical Education Can Do for Your Soul

My most recent article on Memoria Press' blog:

One of the measures of how hard it is to articulate the case for the value of a classical education is that you have to use the assumptions of those who don’t value it in order to persuade them that it has value.

That’s a mouthful, I know. But what I mean to say is that whenever you are asked to give a reason why your student needs a liberal arts and humanities education, you are expected to give a thoroughly utilitarian explanation, an explanation that someone with a classical education would immediately see was not only beside the point, but a little subversive of the very goals of this kind of learning ...

Continue reading this article here.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

#DonLemon 's Violent Campaign Rhetoric

The liberal media spent a full two or three days this last week castigating Donald Trump for using what it maintained was violent rhetoric. CNN anchor Don Lemon was particularly outraged by Trumps comments.

No one seems to have noticed yet, least of all the liberal media, but most of the rhetoric used in political campaigns is based on violent rhetoric. In fact, the chief metaphor used in any political campaign comes straight from warfare, where the rule of the day is killing and general mayhem.

Like a lot of terms in our daily vocabulary, campaign terms are metaphors from some other area of life (and, in this case, death) whose original usage we see right through because of our common use of them. 

In fact, the term 'campaign' is itself a martial metaphor. Before there were ever democratic forms of government, armies when "on campaign," meaning they went off to kill people and break things. In fact, the earliest occurrence of the political use of the term in English dates only to the very beginning of the 19th century A.D.

And the military metaphors don't end there. 'Win', 'lose', 'victory', 'defeat', 'war room', 'battleground' states, 'fight', campaign 'foot soldiers', an election constituting a 'rout'—not only is it common in political language, it is the dominant metaphor.

So let's all panic now and run around telling everyone the political sky is falling because virtually every politician out there is using explicitly martial language, clearly indicating that they are advocating death, rape and pillage—even Hillary. I'm expecting that any second now Don Lemon will go into full apoplectic mode, warning everyone that they should head for their basements and stay there until after the election is over.

Oh, but wait. 

It is not only politicians who use these terms, but journalists who cover their "campaigns." In fact, Don Lemon uses them on a daily basis.

Don Lemon. Advocating death, rape, and pillage. So sad. Maybe he could conduct three consecutive days' worth of overheated interviews with liberal commentators on what a hypocrite he is.