on investigations from the 2016 campaign

It strikes me as somewhat ironic that at the same time many are wondering how close to President Trump the investigation by Special Counsel Mueller is getting, others are wondering how close to President Obama the investigation by the House Intelligence Committee into the Fusion GPS/Steele dossier is getting.

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on left-wing politics and Harvey Weinstein

Stephen Miller writes a very perceptive column on the difficulty for the Democrat Party presented by the Harvey Weinstein scandal. The Democrats worked to position themselves as the party of compassion for people and social conscience. In doing that they deeply entwined their message with the entertainment industry. The revelation that the entertainment industry has covered up the worst sort of abuse of power and sexual exploitation while hectoring their political opponents has deeply undermined the moral credibility of the leftist political program. The Democrats chose a medium to present their message; that medium is falling, raising the question of whether and how they might be able to find a way to separate the two.

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on news, social media, and over-reactions

When I lived in San Bernardino, I got a first hand view of how news is reported, after a fire in our neighborhood. What I had seen and experienced basically resembled the reported account, but with some meaningful distinctions. It was the result of who the reporter quoted. I’ve never forgotten that.
It’s a big part of the reason I’m reticent when news breaks. I know there’s more to the story, and I know that how the story is being reported probably differs in some meaningful ways from what I would have seen and experienced in person. I refuse to get too agitated by misapprehension.
Today I’m seeing two very distinct, in fact contradictory, accounts from the aftermath of events in St. Louis. It’s the perfect cautionary tale regarding social media. What you say to and about people involved in these events is going to be misread, over-interpreted, and twisted, in your favor by those who agree and against you by those who don’t.
We’re in an over-reactive time, it seems to me. The amount of meaning and significance loaded in to various events prompts us to react as if the fate of the culture depends upon what we post, where we shop, and who we relate with. The result is people moving farther and farther apart. If C. S. Lewis is right it’s the precursor to Hell. It needs to stop.
Posted in Media, Rhetoric | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

on Ben Shapiro

It’s tempting to say there are two “Americas,” one in which Ben Shapiro is a fairly typical conservative commentator (at least in the substance of his thinking; he’s atypically lucid and engaging), and one in which he is a violent (on the basis of his speech) white supremacist. There’s actually a third America in which Ben Shapiro is unknown, but we’ll leave them alone, as we should. And as Mr. Shapiro would, I think, if asked. But I digress.

Denizens of these two “Americas” were in relative proximity in Berkeley, CA, last night. I say “relative,” because after events of the past several months the university and the city were compelled to maintain a strict buffer zone between the two, one in the auditorium where Mr. Shapiro was speaking and the other across a plaza in buildings and walkways with a view to his speaking venue.

Which “America” represents reality and which is living in a hallucination? [I’m drawing on Scott Adams and his metaphor here.] Perhaps the first step in coming to a conclusion would be to consider Mr. Shapiro directly by hearing him communicate what he believes. At that point one could be in a position to assess whether his ideas are those of a fairly typical conservative commentator or whether they are those of a violent white supremacist.

With that, for your consideration, Ben Shapiro’s speech and Q&A from Berkeley, CA, September 14, 2017.

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on the American Dream and black bodies

From what I can tell from current writing, racialists today seem to have fixated on a notion that a black person is reduced in the mind of everyone else to merely their body. Thus a “black body” is just an object to be ignored, or used, or oppressed, but doesn’t represent a human person.

One person who uses this notion is Ta-Nehisi Coates. He’s become well-known and highly lauded among the Left for his denunciation of American society as fundamentally and essentially racist and oppressive to black people.

There is an open letter to Mr. Coates, written by a black man from Jamaica, an immigrant who is now an American citizen, which presents a rather stark contrasting perspective to that of Mr. Coates. It’s worth your time and attention. Please read the whole thing.

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on the Nashville Statement of 2017

A group of evangelical leaders, apparently working along with the CBMW, released a statement regarding marriage, homosexuality, and gender dysphoria, basically iterating in 14 articles of affirmation and denial a traditional view of God’s intent for sexuality and marriage.
The content of the 14 articles is, as indicated, generally traditional in Christian thought and so not particularly controversial within that setting. Yet the publication of the statement has generated a fair amount of concern within conservative evangelical circles because of the societal situation in which it was released.
Perhaps the strongest concern expressed is the recognition that conservative evangelicals have adopted a much more open stance on issues of divorce and remarriage, showing little inclination to apply traditional Christian thought to their views on those questions. Likewise on issues of sexual ethics as practiced by heterosexuals, where rigorous teaching and practice are uncommon. None of this is acknowledged or addressed in the context of this statement.
Another strong concern being addressed is the context of the current political situation in the United States. The presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump found many evangelical leaders navigating concerns about both candidates’ palpable unfitness for the office with the recognition that one or the other would inevitably be elected to the office. The grudging decision to support Trump over Clinton for political reasons has been read as full throated support for Trump (granted, this did exist), which has been read for full throated support for every policy proposed (or alleged to be supported) by Trump, which has been read for full throated endorsement of the worst and most evil motives and attitudes alleged to be behind every real or imagined policy proposal or plan. In this light, the Nashville Statement is perceived as political positioning rather than theological statement.
There are other contextual concerns, such as the position of the CBMW in evangelical discussions on the role of women in ministry, or the concept of Spiritual Friendship as an option for Christians with same sex attraction. These are more limited to evangelical contexts and concerns about the statement, compared to broader social contexts.
Because of these contexts, the basically traditional, orthodox understanding of sexuality and marriage contained in the 14 articles is, at least for some conservative evangelicals, overshadowed by its appearance as a statement released by these representatives in this context. The question that has been posed to me, “Are you in support of the Nashville Statement?”, becomes somewhat difficult to answer simply, in that I find myself both 1) of the view that the content of the 14 articles faithfully represents Scripture on these questions and 2) aware of real concerns with releasing these articles as a single statement on sexuality and marriage.
Posted in Christianity, Culture | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

on white reactions

Very interesting notes on an interview with a professor who wrote a book in 2002 on white reactions to cultural trends. Dr. Swain even suggests a distinction between white supremacy and white nationalism. That she is African-American makes this all the more challenging. The New White Nationalism in America may be a book we should read in the age of Trump.

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on climate alarmism

Just a reminder of the large leap between the statement that human activity influences climate and global temperature increases and the apocalyptic alarmist claims about killing the planet. Watch this interview with Dr. Judith Curry on climate changes and public policy.


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Bret Stephens on reactions to terrorism

In the category of columnists able to see a bigger picture, along with Megan McArdle we can add Bret Stephens, who very specifically points out how the obfuscation about Charlottesville that people rightly denounced has been routinely overlooked when the acts of terror were done by groups favored by the Left, especially Jihadists. President Obama and his administration routinely refused to name evil specifically coming from groups they favored. President Trump’s initial reticence was rightly rebuked, but Stephens is right to say the criticism from the Left rings hollow in light of their own practices.

Read the whole thing in the New York Times. I’m sure the responses from typical Times readers will be instructive as well.

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credit when it’s due

No one will confuse the author with a conservative, but somehow in this column she allowed for some nuance in the discussion of the costs and benefits of labor policy. I wonder what kind of quizzical looks she’ll get at the next soirée she attends, assuming the invitations haven’t been withdrawn for her heterodoxy on policy claims.

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