We are concupiscent from the ground up, and matters are only made worse by our living in sex-saturated societies. As a result our erotic 'ears' are continually being pricked up by salacious tales and rumors.
These distractions are exploited by the Clinton machine which knows that digging up ancient dirt on the opponent will trump any serious discussion of his ideas and policies.
And that is what we are seeing. Any intelligent and intellectually honest person should be able to grasp that what matters are the issues and the policies proposed to deal with them. The national debt, immigration legal and illegal, national sovereignty, free speech, religious liberty, gun rights, abortion, the composition of the Supreme Court, globalism, trade policy, radical Islam, and so forth.
This is what we should be discussing primarily, not the character defects of the candidates.
Policies first, persons second. Every man has his 'wobble,' and every woman too. Look hard enough and you will find it. But men and women come and go. Ideologies and institutional structures last a lot longer to either contribute to the flourishing of you, your children, and grand children -- or the opposite.
But as I said, we are concupiscent from the ground up. We will stay distracted, and Hillary will win.
Plenty of other factors are in play, no doubt, such as the large group of 'tribal' women who will vote for Hillary because she is one of them.
Trump’s defeat would translate into continued political subversion of once disinterested federal agencies, from the FBI and Justice Department to the IRS and the EPA. It would ensure a liberal Supreme Court for the next 20 years — or more. Republicans would be lucky to hold the Senate. Obama’s unconstitutional executive overreach would be the model for Hillary’s second wave of pen-and-phone executive orders. If, in Obama fashion, the debt doubled again in eight years, we would be in hock $40 trillion after paying for Hillary’s even more grandiose entitlements of free college tuition, student-loan debt relief, and open borders. She has already talked of upping income and estate taxes on those far less wealthy than the Clintons and of putting coal miners out of work (“We are going to put a whole lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business”) while promising more Solyndra-like ventures in failed crony capitalism.
We worry about what Citizen Trump did in the past in the private sector and fret more over what he might do as commander-in-chief. But these legitimate anxieties remain in the subjunctive mood; they are not facts in the indicative gleaned from Clinton’s long public record. As voters, we can only compare the respective Clinton and Trump published agendas on illegal immigration, taxes, regulation, defense spending, the Affordable Care Act, abortion, and other social issues to conclude that Trump’s platform is the far more conservative — and a rebuke of the last eight years.
[. . .]
Something has gone terribly wrong with the Republican party, and it has nothing to do with the flaws of Donald Trump.
[. . .]
The Beltway establishment grew more concerned about their sinecures in government and the media than about showing urgency in stopping Obamaism. When the Voz de Aztlan and the Wall Street Journal often share the same position on illegal immigration, or when Republicans of the Gang of Eight are as likely as their left-wing associates to disparage those who want federal immigration law enforced, the proverbial conservative masses feel they have lost their representation. How, under a supposedly obstructive, conservative-controlled House and Senate, did we reach $20 trillion in debt, institutionalize sanctuary cities, and put ourselves on track to a Navy of World War I size? Compared with all that, “making Mexico pay” for the wall does not seem all that radical. Under a Trump presidency the owner of Univision would not be stealthily writing, as he did to Team Clinton, to press harder for open borders — and thus the continuance of a permanent and profitable viewership of non-English speakers.
One does not need lectures about conservatism from Edmund Burke when, at the neighborhood school, English becomes a second language, or when one is rammed by a hit-and-run driver illegally in the United States who flees the scene of the accident. Do our elites ever enter their offices to find their opinion-journalism jobs outsourced at half the cost to writers in India? Are congressional staffers told to move to Alabama, where it is cheaper to telecommunicate their business? Trump’s outrageousness was not really new; it was more a 360-degree mirror of an already outrageous politics as usual.
I asked a reader whether the graphic to the left was too tasteless to post to my blog, adding, "But then these are times in which considerations of good taste and civility are easily 'trumped.'" My reader responded with a fine statement:
Of course it’s tasteless, but it’s funny. We should go to battle with a song in our heart. Never had patience for the hand-wringing by the beskirted Republicans and professional “conservatives”. How could anyone be surprised by the locker room braggadocio of a man who appeared on the Howard Stern show 600 times? Trump is a deeply flawed messenger of the right message, but politics is a practical affair. He’s a bastard, but he’s our bastard in this go-around. After all it’s only the very foundation of the republic at stake. So let’s have some fun while beating the drum for him.
My reader is right. Trump is all we've got. He has a rotten character, but then so does Hillary. This may not be obvious because, while Trump broadcasts his faults, she hides hers. This is part of her being a slimy, mendacious stealth ideologue.
Given that both are sorry specimens on the character front, it comes down to policy.
Another thing you must bear in mind is that a vote for Hillary is a vote for her entire ilk and entourage. Do you want Huma Abedin in the White House?
You say your conscience won't allow you to vote for a vulgarian who thinks, or used to think, that his celebrity entitles him to grab at the female anatomy? But your conscience is not troubled by Hllary's support for abortion? Then I humbly suggest that you are morally obtuse.
You tell me you won't vote for either Trump or Hillary? Then you support Hillary by your inaction. Is your conscience 'down' with that?
The readers of this site have heard often of that bill passed by the House over a year ago to punish surgeons killing those babies who survive abortions. The vote was 248-177, and all votes in opposition came from the Democrats.That, not merely partial-birth abortion, is the issue on the table right now.
For the official position now of the Democrats is that the right to abortion is not confined to pregnancy. It entails nothing less than the right to kill a child born alive, who survives the abortion. That is the position that Hillary should be made to defend.
And yet even more so Tim Kaine. He professes to be an earnest Catholic, that he had reservations about “partial-birth” abortion. And so: will he vote now in the Senate to bring to the floor for a vote that bill that passed the House a year ago? Will he break now from the pro-choice orthodoxy of his party, his president, and his presidential candidate? [emphasis added]
Pussy Bow is elliptical for 'Pussy Cat Bow,' the latter a well-established term in the world of women's fashion. Melania Trump sported one at the second debate. Was she out to implant some sly suggestion? I have no idea. But it occurred to me this morning that boy tie boys such as George Will also sport pussy cat bows. (As you know, pussy cats are both male and female.) And given the currency of 'pussy' in the politics of the day, it seems entirely appropriate to refer to the signature sartorial affectation of effete yap-and-scribble do-nothing quislings like Will as a pussy bow.
George Will is a good example of how Trump Derangement Syndrome can lead to cognitive meltdown.
We've known all along that Trump is crude and Clintonian in his sexual appetite, although not as bad as Bill in terms of deeds; but the Wikileaks data dump brought something new and objectively far more important to our attention. It is another revelation of Hillary's greed, mendacity, secretiveness, and lust for power. We get a whiff of her doctrine of 'two truths' one for the insiders, the other for public consumption. There is her assault on national sovereignty with her call for a borderless world. This supercilious stealth ideologue who has enriched herself in government 'service' absolutely must be stopped, and there is only one man who can do it. Jeb! never was up to the job.
What's worse, a P-grabber or a gun grabber? The former operates on occasion and in private in the 'noble' tradition of Jack Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, and Bill Clinton. The latter would violate sacred American rights for all and forever. Don't believe Hillary's lies about supporting the Second Amendment. She lies whenever it is useful for advancing herself and her destructive agenda. In that order.
And then there is the utter hypocrisy of liberals who, having presided over when not promoting the injection of moral toxins into our culture, moralize about Trump's admittedly disgusting and puerile locker-room talk. Heather MacDonald gets it right in Trumped-Up Outrage. As does Margot Anderson who points out that Dems have no problem with the objectification of females if they are small enough. Rebecca Tetti offers this important insight:
These people who celebrate porn and abortion and make heroic figures out of small-souled, sex-deluded creatures such as Bill Maher and Lena Dunham and Sandra Fluke and lionize sick predator men like the Kennedys and Bill Clinton are not merely being hypocrites or playing politics when they denounce Trump. They are deliberately engaging in The Lie: the corruption of meaning itself. They aren’t outraged because they’re decent. They’re using our decency as a pawn in their quest for political power.
The insight is that the Left uses our decency, which they don't believe in, against us, mendaciously feigning moral outrage at what doesn't outrage them at all. (Cf. Saul Alinsky's RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”)
And then there are the milquetoast pseudo-conservatives who have withdrawn their support from Trump out of fear of losing their position, power, perquisites, and pelf. That other 'P-word,' to use Megyn Kelly's demure expression, seems rightly applicable to them. The motivations of Senator McCain and the boys are transparent enough.
. . . must be getting some 'Mean Tweets' along about now over his attack on Donald Trump.
I've admired De Niro as an actor ever since Martin Scorsese's 1973 Mean Streets.
Now actors and actresses have a right to their political opinions, but I can't see that most of them have a right to their high opinion of their political opinions. I wrote the following in June of 2013:
The encomia continue to pour in on the occasion of the passing of James Gandolfini. 'Tony Soprano' died young at 51, apparently of a heart attack, while vacationing in Italy. Given the subtlety of The Sopranos it would be unfair to say that Gandolfini wasted his talent portraying a scumbag and glorifying criminality, and leave it at that. But I wonder if people like him and De Niro and so many others give any thought to the proper use of their brief time on earth.
It's at least a question: if you have the talents of an actor or a novelist or a screen writer or a musician, should you have any moral scruples about playing to the basest sides of human nature? Are we so corrupted now that this is the only way to turn a buck in the arts?
Hillary got clobbered in last night's debate, but Trump missed an opportunity to refute her nonsensical claim that vetting Muslim immigrants involves the application of a "religious test."
In Article VI of the U. S. Constitution we read:
. . . no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Two questions. One concerns Muslim citizens of the U.S. The other concerns Muslims who are attempting to immigrate. The first question first.
Does it follow from the passage quoted that the U. S. Constitution allows a Muslim citizen who supports Sharia (Islamic law) to run for public office? No! For the same Constitution, in its First Amendment, enjoins a salutary separation of church/synagogue/mosque and state, though not in those words. Sharia and the values and principles enshrined in the founding documents are incompatible. On no sane interpretation is our great Constitution a suicide pact.
It is important to realize that Islam is as much an anti-Enlightenment political ideology as it is a religion. It is an unholy hybrid of the political and the religious. Our Enlightenment founders must be rolling around in their graves at the very suggestion that Sharia-subscribing Muslims are eligible for the presidency and other public offices.
A religion that requires the subverting of the U. S. Constitution is not an admissible religion when it comes to applying the "no religious Test" provision. On a sane interpretation of the Constitution, Islam, though a religion, is not an admissible religion where an admissible religion is one that does not contain core doctrines which, if implemented, would subvert the Constitution.
Or one might argue that Islam is not a religion at all. Damn near anything can and will be called a religion by somebody. Some say with a straight face that leftism is a religion, others that Communism is a religion. Neither is a religion on any adequate definition of 'religion.' I have heard it said that atheism is a religion. Surely it isn't. Is a heresy of a genuine religion itself a religion? Arguably not. Hillaire Belloc and others have maintained that Islam is a Christian heresy. Or one could argue that Islam, or perhaps radical Islam, is not a religion but a totalitarian political ideology masquerading as a religion. How to define religion is a hotly contested issue in the philosophy of religion.
The point here is that "religious" in ". . . no religious Test shall ever be required" is subject to interpretation. We are under no obligation to give it a latitudinarian reading that allows in a destructive ideology incompatible with our values and principles.
As for immigration, would-be immigrants have no rights under our Constitution. So Article VI doesn't apply to them at all.
As for gaseous talk of blocking Sharia-supporting Muslims as being "not who we are," it suffices to say that 'liberals' who gas off like this ought simply to be ignored.
There is no right to immigrate, and a nation is under no obligation to allow in subversive elements. But it does have every right to protect its culture and values. Here alone is a decisive reason to vote for Trump and block Hillary. Trump punched hard last night, but not hard enough. He should have pointed out that Hillary is a destructive leftist globalist who aims at the same "fundamental transformation" that Obama called for. He should have pointed out that no patriot calls for the fundamental transformation of his country. For what that implies in our case is the destruction of the U.S. as it was founded to be.
Indeed, in the debate Monday night, Clinton framed her discussion of “implicit bias” as a malady we all suffer from, telling Lester Holt:
“I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police. I think, unfortunately, too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other.”
Well, yes, too many people do jump to conclusions. So, what’s the solution, Hillary? When it comes to policing, since it can have literally fatal consequences, I have said, in my first budget, we would put money into that budget to help us deal with implicit bias by retraining a lot of our police officers. Wait. What? If we’re all biased, who’s training whom? Let’s be very clear: When it moves from abstract to concrete, all this talk about “implicit bias” gets very sinister, very quickly. It allows radicals to indict entire communities as bigoted, it relieves them of the obligation of actually proving their case, and it allows them to use virtually any negative event as a pretext for enforcing their ideological agenda.
What bothers me about David French is that, while he writes outstanding columns in support of the conservative cause, he is, last time I checked, a NeverTrumper.
Would it be fair to label him a yap-and-scribble milquetoast 'conservative'? He talks and talks, writes and writes, but refuses to support the one man who has any chance of impeding Hillary and the Left's destructive 'long march' (Mao) through the institutions of our society. That is so strange and so absurd that one may be justified in a bit of psychologizing. Perhaps the explanation of his behavior and that of others in his elite club is revealed in this column by F. H. Buckley:
I gave a talk to a conservative group not so long ago, when the NeverTrumper still lived in his fantasy wor[l]d. They believed that the voters and delegates would finally come to their senses and nominate the amiable Ted Cruz, or that somehow they’d jigger the Convention rules, or that the absurd Great White Hope, David French, would do the trick.
It was four months ago, and I gave my usual anti-Pollyanna talk of gloom and doom. When I finished people lined up to ask questions, and one of them was a senior executive at a prominent DC think tank. “It’s true we’re going to Hell in a hand-basket,” he said, “but this time we’ve got a lot of great think tanks on our side.” Right you are, I thought. Bad as it might be, you can say “I’ve got mine.”
I thought of that when I talked to a friend yesterday. He spoke of dinner parties ruined when NeverTrumpers start abusing Trump supporters. Then he told me of one dinner party at which two of the most prominent NeverTrumpers confessed why they want Hillary to win. They know they’ll have no access to the Trump White House if he wins. Nor would they have any access to a Hillary White House. The difference, however, is that their donor base would desert them in the event of a Trump victory, whereas they can raise money from donors in the event of a Hillary win.
We had figured this out. We’re just surprised to hear them admit it.
Why do people exaggerate in serious contexts? The logically prior question is: What is exaggeration, and how does it differ from joking, lying, bullshitting, and metaphorical uses of language?
Donald Trump in the first of his presidential debates with Hillary Clinton made the astonishing claim that she has been fighting ISIS all her adult life.
Note first that Trump was not joking but making a serious point. But he couched the serious point in a sentence which is plainly false and known by all to be false. So he cannot be taxed with an intention to deceive. Since he had no intention of deceiving his audience, and since the point he was making (not merely trying to make) about Clinton's fecklessness is true, he was not lying. He was not bullshitting either since he was not trying to misrepresent himself as knowing something he does not know or more than he knows.
Our man was exaggerating. That is different from joking, lying, and bullshitting.
Exaggeration bears some resemblance to metaphor. If I say, 'Sally is a block of ice,' I speak metaphorically or figuratively. What I say is literally false. But by saying it, I manage to convey to the listener some such proposition as that Sally is unemotional and (perhaps) sexually unresponsive. And when Trump exaggerated, though he said something literally false, he managed to convey to his audience the true proposition that the Obama-Clinton response to ISIS was and is a failure.
But I wouldn't want to say that the Orange Man was speaking metaphorically. I am merely pointing to a similarity between metaphor and exaggeration.
The similarity may consist in the coming apart of sentence meaning and speaker's meaning. In our example, the sentence meaning is that of a falsehood. The speaker, however, using a literally false sentence means something different from what the words 'by themselves' mean, and manages to convey a truth to his hearers.
So I suggest that to understand exaggeration we need to understand metaphor so that we can delimit the former from the latter. But what exactly is metaphor? That's a tough one.
But the main thing in politics and life is that exaggeration erodes credibility. He who exaggerates betrays an inability or unwillingness to adjust his discourse to the world as it is.
Trump could easily win the election if he could get a grip on his rhetoric. But he can't and he won't.
HereI catalog three specimens of exaggeration by well-known philosophers.
I spent the whole day yesterday at an auto dealership buying my wife a new car. But last night I didn't dream about the car, but about Hillary who appeared young and stunning and topless, but with very small breasts. What does this dream mean?
My subconscious was telling me that Hillary came across in the first debate much better than Trump (young and stunning) and that therefore she 'won' the debate despite her indefensible position (toplessness) and weak arguments (small breasts).
And 'win' she did. She threw the Orange Man onto the defensive and made him look bad. Despite his allegations of her lack of stamina, she stood there strong as a bull. She threw a lot of bull too, but it doesn't matter in these so-called debates. It's all about appearances. That's what the world runs on. That's what impresses people. Remember Ronald Reagan's contentless 'zingers'? "There you go again!" "Where's the beef?" (An allusion to a Wendy's restaurant commercial of the time.)
Some of us recall Nixon-Kennedy, 1960. You could see Nixon sweat. Sweat and scowl. An introvert in an extrovert's profession, he was no match for the charming and charismatic and lovable Jack Kennedy. He lost on appearances. But Nixon was the better man with the better arguments despite playing Captain Ahab to Kennedy's Prince Charming.
Trump missed opportunities to nail Hillary. She spouted standard liberal nonsense about 'gun violence' as if guns are violent, but nary a peep escaped her lying lips about the thug culture in black ghettos which is the real root of the problem. Similarly on the 'stop and frisk' matter. But Trump was stymied by his need to appeal to black voters.
You can't say to black people that, as a group, they, and in particular young black males, are more criminally inclined than whites, and that this is what justifies 'stop and 'frisk' profiling, for they will take it as racist insult, not as the plain truth, which is what it is.
I predict a win by Hillary in the general, by a small margin. I hope I am wrong.
A Hillary win will concern me as a citizen. But as a philosopher it will be of no concern. For the owl of Minerva spreads its wings at dusk.
Addendum 1. 'Gun epidemic' is another obfuscatory phrase Hillary used last night. A characteristic conflation of the moral and the epidemiological that could arise only in the febrile brain of a liberal. The problem in the black ghettos is not too many guns, but too few fathers.
Addendum 2. I said above that a Hillary win would concern me as a citizen but not as a philosopher. But this was an uncharacteristic undialectical lapse on my part. For one cannot flourish as a philosopher in prison or in a totalitarian regime. The embodied philosopher must concern himself to some extent with politics as with the material conditions of his philosophizing.
Corrigendum 1. Dennis M. writes,
A correction: “Where’s the beef?” was from a Reagan debate, but it was a line Mondale used against him. That one didn’t do much, but Reagan’s quip about not using Mondale’s youth and inexperience against him did a lot to kill the worries people had after his somewhat listless performance in their first debate.
One way to circumvent 'One man, one vote' is by cheating. That's the liberal way. Vote early and vote often. Vote even if you are dead. Vote by mail and then in person. That liberals intend to make the polling places safe for voter fraud is clear from their breath-takingly sham arguments against photo ID.
The conservative way is to persuade others to vote as one does. Suppose my posts have convinced 100 fence sitters to vote for Trump. Then I will have generated 101 votes for the Orange Man.
Suppose these 100 repeat my arguments to their friends. And these friends . . . . You can see how this could have a serious effect.
I am not worried about American fascism. We Americans are not a bunch of Germans about to start goose-stepping behind some dictator. Our traditions of liberty and self-reliance are long-standing and deep-running. A sizeable contingent of Trump supporters are gun rights activists who would be open to an extra-political remedy should anyone seek to instantiate the role of Der Fuehrer or Il Duce. True, Trump appeals to those having an authoritarian personality structure. But his supporters are also cussedly individualistic and liberty-loving. I expect the latter characteristic to mitigate the former.
There is also the following interesting question wanting our attention: why is it better to have the personality structure of the typical leftist? Why is it better to be a rebellious, adolescent, alienated, destructive, irreverent, tradition-despising, anti-authoritarian, ungrateful, utopian, dweller in Cloud Cuckoo Land?
Someone told me today that Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals is dedicated to Lucifer. Lucifer, not Lucifer Schwarz of Poughkeepsie, New York. Makes perfect sense.
Addendum (9/24): While the dominant press, the liberal press, is 'in the tank' for Hillary and her ilk, this won't be the case should the Orange Man make it to the White House. The lamestream media will be at his throat from Day One. This will serve as a brake on any incipient fascismo.
The most arresting sentence of the week came from a sophisticated Manhattan man friendly with all sides. I asked if he knows what he’ll do in November. “I know exactly,” he said with some spirit. “I will be one of the 40 million who will deny, the day after the election, that they voted for him. But I will.”
A high elected official, a Republican, got a faraway took when I asked what he thought was going to happen. “This is the unpollable election,” he said. People don’t want to tell you who they’re for. A lot aren’t sure. A lot don’t want to be pressed.
That’s exactly what I’ve seen the past few weeks in North Carolina, New Jersey, Tennessee and Minnesota.
[. . .]
Mr. Trump’s advantage? “Americans love to say they think outside the box. Trump lives outside the box. Hillary is the box.” [Noonan quoting Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager.]
Hillary is a supine defeatist in the face of Islamic terror and ought to be held in contempt for that and other reasons, as witness her recent remark that Trump is a recruiter for ISIS.
It's a good thing Hillary wasn't around when the Axis Powers were the main threat to civilization. She would have argued that we cannot name and condemn the ideology driving the Wehrmacht lest we antagonize Germans and cause more Nazis to rise up against us.
Yes, but only in the febrile 'mind' of an Hillarious liberal.
You have to realize that when Trump is 'off script,' he talks like a rude New York working man in a bar. He does this in part because it is his nature to be rude and vulgar, but also because he realizes that this helps him gin up his base.
Let me try to put his point in a more 'measured' way. His point was not that Hillary's bodyguards ought to be disarmed so that she could more easily be 'taken out.' His point is that if guns cause crime and have no legitimate uses, then why are her bodyguards armed to the teeth with the sorts of weapons that she would like to make it illegal for law-abiding citizens to possess and carry?
If guns are never the answer, why are they 'the answer' for government agents? If law-abiding citizens cannot be trusted with semi-automatic pistols and long guns, how is it that government agents can be trusted with them?
The graphic makes the point very well. Trump was not inciting violence. But if you say he was then you are slandering him and his supporters. Be careful, the Second Amendment types may 'come after you.' Politically.
UPDATE (9:25 AM). Here is what Trump said:
She [Hillary] goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm. Right? Right? I think they should disarm immediately. What do you think? Yes? Yes. Yeah. Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. … Let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay? It would be very dangerous.
John Derbyshire gives the following answer (HT: Malcolm Pollack):
So what, in my opinion, makes the Alt-Right a distinct thing — not by any means a party, a faction, or a movement, but a collection of souls with something in common?
Here's my answer: We don't like flagrant nonsense in the discussion of human affairs. We don't like being lied to. We especially don't like being lied to by credentialed academics like Jerry Coyne.
The lies are so flagrant, so outrageously obvious, you'd have to laugh at them, if not for the fact that laughing at them is close to being a criminal offense. "There is no such thing as race!" What a preposterous thing to say! What a multiply preposterous thing for an academic in the human sciences to say. Yet look! — they say it!
As Ann Coulter has quipped: It's like saying "there are no such things as mountains." When, after all, is a mountain just a hill? Similarly with "there are no such things as colors," since, after all, no-one can tell you how many colors there are, or the precise wavelength at which turquoise is more blue-ish than green-ish. How many neighborhoods are there in New York City? Beats me; so are there no such things as neighborhoods? This is infantile.
Much more to the point, it's like saying "there are no such things as families." When do you stop being a member of my family? Fourth cousin? Ninth cousin by marriage? So are there no such things as families?
But of course there are such things as families. And that's all races are: big old extended families of mostly-common deep ancestry.
This acquiescence in obvious lies — even by academics, who should be the guardians of truth — is characteristic of totalitarian societies. The money quote here is from Tony Daniels, a/k/a "Theodore Dalrymple." Quote:
>>In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is … in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.<<
Tony himself, I should say, lines up with Goodwhites in the Cold Civil War, not with us Badwhites of the Alt-Right. I very seriously doubt he'd consider himself a member of the Alt-Right. His insight there, however, is very penetrating, and could be inscribed on an Alt-Right banner, if we ever get around to brandishing banners.
And so it is with the NYU Student Council ninnies and the Student Diversity Initiative bedwetters, not one of whom is fit to shine James Watson's shoes.
They don't want to shine his shoes. They don't want to persuade or convince him. They want to humiliate him. They, midgets and mites, want to humiliate a giant, one of the world's greatest living scientists. And the cringing administrators at New York University want to help them!
That's what the Alt-Right is about; that's what unites us; disgust with, and resistance to, these liars and weasels and commissars.
While I agree with everything Derbyshire says above, though not with everything he says, the above is useless as a definition of Alt-Right. Suppose I 'define' an airplane as a vehicle. This fails as a definition, not because it is false, but because it specifies only a necessary condition for a thing's being an airplane. Every airplane is a vehicle, but not every vehicle is an airplane. An adequate definition lays down individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for the application of a concept. An adequate definition of 'airplane' must list those features that make airplanes different from other vehicles.
Similarly, an adequate definition of 'alternative Right' must list those features that make alt-rightists different from other sorts of conservatives. On Derb's definition, I count as alt-right, when I am no such thing.
I hate leftist liars and crapweasels. I have contempt for Jerry Coyne, or rather his attitudes and views. (See here.) I hold that the silencing of James Watson is an outrage and a betrayal of the values and purposes of the university. I find absurd the notion that race is a social construct. No doubt racial theories are social constructs, but the notion that race and racial differences are is preposterous. I agree with Dalrymple as quoted above. And I share Derb's "disgust with, and resistance to, these liars and weasels and commissars."
So I have some serious conservative 'cred' in the sense of both credentials and credibility, not to mention the civil courage to speak the truth as I sincerely see it under my real name publicly as I have been doing since 2004.
But none of these attitudes or commitments or virtues make me alt-right.
I am not exactly sure what 'alt-right' refers to, and apparently those who fly this flag don't either, as witness Derbyshire above, but I get the impression that the position includes some very specific theses that differentiate it from other types of conservatism. I hope to go into this in more detail later, but for now I'll mention the following: white tribalism, anti-semitism, rejection of classically liberal notions such as the value of toleration, rejection of the formal (as opposed to empirical) equality of persons and with it key elements in the documents of the American founding as well as in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and a rejection of the normative universality of truth and value.
Alt-rightists call them 'cuckservatives,' but I am no alt-rightist. (I don't believe the cure for a Commie is a Nazi.) So I use 'sneer' quotes.
Professional 'conservatives' are like a lot of professional 'philosophers': they cherish their cushy yap-and-scribble lifestyle whether or not it brings about any personal or social improvement. Wisdom? What's that? (Memo to self: write an entire entry on this.)
“I’ve heard a lot of conservatives voicing frustration, like, ‘How fucking hard is this, Hillary?’” said Ben Howe, a conservative ad-maker and an outspoken Trump detractor. “That’s the only reason I’m panicked these days … I’m losing faith in Hillary’s ability to win this easy-ass election.”
Rick Wilson, a Florida-based GOP consultant now working on Evan McMullin’s independent presidential campaign, said few of his #NeverTrump compatriots believe a case of pneumonia will sink Clinton’s candidacy. But her impulse to conceal the illness — and her campaign’s clumsy response once it was revealed — reinforced a core political weakness.
“There are a lot of Republicans on the ‘Never Trump’ side that are starting to feel very nervous,” Wilson said, “because no matter how minor the next thing is there’s a possibility [the Clinton campaign] is gonna screw it up by lying about something. They can’t help themselves. It’s genetic.”
Good commentary from Roger Kimball on the Flight 93 piece by Publius Decius Mus.
Kimball now has a more positive view of Trump:
As recently as a few weeks back, I was a lesser-of-two-evils, reluctant Trump supporter: classic Russian roulette vs. the loaded semi-automatic that is a Hillary Clinton victory.
But then Trump embarked on a series of high-profile speeches and rallies. I liked what he said about taxes and economic policy. I liked his list of possible SCOTUS nominees. I liked what he said about supporting the police and the plight of blacks in the inner cities. I liked what he said about combatting Islamic terrorism (what Barack Obama calls “workplace violence”). I even liked most of what he said in hisimmigration speech in Arizona. I thought it was courageous and “presidential” for him to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. I thought he did the right thing in going to lend moral, and even a bit of material, support to the victims of the floods in Louisiana. I was grateful when he released a video commemoratingthe canonization of Mother Teresa. I was happy to see him supporting school choice, standing up for religious freedom, and criticizing those who mock Christians and people of faith.
I know there will be some who object, “But how do you know he will do all things things.” The answer is, I don’t.
But I do know what Hillary would do: Obama on steroids. She’s a known-known. She would, as Publius warns, complete the “fundamental transformation” of this country into a third-world, politically correct socialist redoubt.
There is a fair amount of hysteria among NeverTrumpers about “The Flight 93 Election,” which I guess underscores just how potent its argument is. (The fact that Rush Limbaugh read it aloud on his radio show redoubled that potency.) As I say, I’ve come around to thinking that there are plenty of good reasons for someone of conservative principles to support Trump. I know, and have repeatedly rehearsed, the standard litany of criticisms about Trump. But they fade if not into insignificance then at least into near irrelevance in the face of his actual program (see above) and, most of all, in the face of the horror that is his opponent. I’ll give the last word to Publius: “The election of 2016 is a test . . . of whether there is anyvirtù left in what used to be the core of the American nation. If they cannot rouse themselves simply to vote for the first candidate in a generation who pledges to advance their interests, and to vote against the one who openly boasts that she will do the opposite (a million more Syrians, anyone?), then they are doomed. They may not deserve the fate that will befall them, but they will suffer it regardless.”
The great James Burnham once remarked that where there is no alternative there is no problem. Fortunately, we do have an alternative, and, my, we do have a problem. I was wrong when I predicted that Donald Trump would not be the candidate. I hope I will be proved wrong about my prediction that, were he the candidate, he would not win. The trends are promising, I think, but it would be foolish to deny that there are madmen in the cockpit or that many of the passengers are scared, apathetic, deluded, or just plain cowardly. We need a real-life Decius Mus who is willing to say “Let’s roll” and make a concerted charge. It may be the last chance we have.
Perhaps you have noticed this too. People will often predict what they want to happen, even when what they want to happen is far from a foregone conclusion. At the moment I am reading an article by David P. Goldman who asserts that Hillary is "road kill":
The presidential election was over the moment the word “deplorable” made its run out of Hillary Clinton’s unguarded mouth. As the whole world now knows, Clinton told a Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender fundraiser Sept. 10, “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that, and he has lifted them up.”
What is the astute Goldman up to? He must know the election is not in the bag. A glance at the electoral college map should convince anyone of that. At the moment, Clinton has 209 electoral votes, Trump 154, with 175 toss ups.
My theory is that when intelligent people predict what they want to happen, when what they want to happen is far from a foregone conclusion, they are trying to influence the outcome. If more and more people think that Trump will win, then they will be inclined to support him. People like to be on the winning side. "You just want to be one the side that's winning," Dylan whined in Positively Fourth Street.
There are numerous examples of this phenomenon of predicting what one wants to happen.
A related phenomenon is often exhibited by my angelic wife. I'll ask her how likely it is that such-and-such a good thing will happen, and she will reply, "I hope so!" I will then point out that what I requested was her assessment of the probability of a desired future event, not a report on what she hopes.
'Do you think Socrates Jones will get tenure?"
"I hope so!"
Goldman's ending earns the coveted MavPhilnihil obstat:
He [Trump] built a new country club in Palm Beach two decades ago because the old ones excluded blacks and Jews. He’s no racist. He’s an obnoxious, vulgar salesman who plays politics like a reality show. I’ve made clear that I will vote for him, not because he was my choice in the Republican field (that was Sen. Cruz), but because I believe that rule of law is a precondition for a free society. If the Clintons get a free pass for influence-peddling on the multi-hundred-million-dollar scale and for covering up illegal use of private communications for government documents, the rule of law is a joke in the United States. Even if Trump were a worse president than Clinton–which is probably not the case–I would vote for him, on this ground alone.
In an outstanding NRO piece, William Voegeli has collected some choice specimens of Hillarious blather.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, really did say in an economic-policy speech this year, “I believe in an America always moving toward the future.”
This inanity is not a new problem. Consider the two most important speeches the president and the first lady gave in 1993. In his inaugural address, Bill Clinton said, “Each generation of Americans must define what it means to be an American.” Further, “the urgent question of our time is whether we can make change our friend and not our enemy.”
Less than three months later, in a speech ostensibly about health-care policy, Hillary Clinton told a bemused University of Texas audience that “we lack meaning in our individual lives and meaning collectively, we lack a sense that our lives are part of some greater effort, that we are connected to one another.” Her solution exceeded the responsibilities of a president’s spouse, but then it also exceeded the capacities of any public official, private citizen, or national institution: “Let us be willing to remold society by redefining what it means to be a human being in the 20th century, moving into a new millennium.”
The earnest, incoherent moralism that characterized Clintonism at the outset remains its salient feature. In her recent acceptance speech, Hillary Clinton offered “the words of our Methodist faith” that she had learned as a girl: “Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.”
It’s quite impossible to disagree with this credo, which is both its appeal and its fatal flaw. The hard questions, the moral and practical ones that matter, are about how to do good, not whether. The pious tautology that it’s good to do good but bad to do bad tells us nothing about choosing between goods when there are trade-offs or conflicts, weighing costs against benefits, comparing short-term attainments with long-term risks, or reckoning second-order effects. It’s useless, in other words, for grappling with every problem that makes our moral and political lives so hard.
Contrast this empty verbiage with the detailed policy proposals in Trump's Phoenix immigration speech.
The problem with Hillary, as with Obama, is that they are what I call stealth ideologues. They push a hard-Left agenda but they are too dishonest to own up to it. So they spout empty phrases the better to bamboozle the booboisie.
Hillary Clinton we now know to be a liar beyond any shadow of a reasonable doubt. A liar is one who habitually makes false statements with the intention of deceiving her audience. This definition, however, presupposes the distinction between true and false statements. Aphoristically: no truth, no lies. Hillary cannot be a liar unless there is truth. But maybe there is no truth, only narratives. Here, perhaps, is a way to defend Hillary. Perhaps the outrageous things she says are merely parts of her narrative. So consider:
N. There is no truth; there are only narratives.
It follows that (N) itself is only a narrative, or part of one. For if there is no truth, then (N) cannot be true. Is this a problem? I should think so. Suppose you want to persuade me to accept (N). How will you proceed? You can't say I ought to accept (N) because it is true. Will you say that I ought to accept (N) because it is 'empowering'? But it cannot BE empowering unless it is TRUE that it is empowering. You cannot, however, invoke truth on pain of falling into inconsistency. No matter which predicate you substitute for 'empowering,' you will face the same difficulty. If you recommend (N) on the ground that it is F, then you must say that (N) IS F, which leads right back to truth.
Being and truth are systematically connected. The truth is the truth about what IS, and what IS is at least possibly such as to be the subject matter of truths. (A classical theist can go whole hog here and say: necessarily, whatever IS is the subject matter of truths, and every truth is about something that IS. But I am not assuming classical theism in this entry.)
So you can't say that (N) is empowering or conducive to winning the election or whatever; all you can say is that it is part of your narrative that (N) is empowering, or conducive . . . . In this way you box yourself in: there is nothing you say that can BE the case; everything is a narrative or part of a narrative. But you cannot even say that. You cannot say that everything you say IS a narrative, only that it is part of your narrative that everything you say is a narrative. You are sinking into some seriously deep crapola in your attempt to defend the indefensible, Hillary.
It follows from this that you cannot budge your sane opponent who holds that there is truth and that some narratives are true and others are false. I am one of these sane people. You cannot budge me because, according to MY narrative, there is truth and not all narratives are true. According to my narrative, my narrative is not just a narrative. It answers to a higher power, Truth. The only way you could budge me from my position is by appealing to truth transcendent of narrative. And that you cannot do.
So what is a poor leftist to do? Fall into inconsistency, which is in fact what they do. Everything is a mere narrative except when it suits them to appeal to what is the case.
It is of the essence of the contemporary Left to attempt the replacement of truth by narrative, a replacement they cannot pull off without inconsistency.
What if the lefty embraces inconsistency? Then, while resisting the temptation to release the safety on your 1911, you walk away, as from a block of wood. You can't argue with a block of wood or a shithead. While shit has form, it lacks form supportive of rational discourse.
When Richard Nixon tried to weaponize the IRS, top officials at the Service made a stink. Under Obama, the IRS weaponized itself.
And, of course, the press is in the tank for the Democrats as usual. Bad news about Obama and Clinton has been soft-pedaled, with reporters sometimes admitting that they don’t want to help Trump.
So if the choice in 2016 is between one bad candidate and another (and it is) the question is, which one will do the least harm. And, judging by the civil service’s behavior, that’s got to be Trump. If Trump tries to target his enemies with the IRS, you can bet that he’ll get a lot of pushback — and the press, instead of explaining it away, will make a huge stink. If Trump engages in influence-peddling, or abuses secrecy laws, you can bet that, even if Trump’s appointees sit atop the DOJ or FBI, the civil service will ensure that things don’t get swept under the rug. And if Trump wants to go to war, he’ll get far more scrutiny than Hillary will get — or, in cases like her disastrous Libya invasion, has gotten.
So the message is clear. If you want good government, vote for Trump — he’s the only one who will make this whole checks-and-balances thing work.
Right you are, my man.
But more than good government is at stake. Government itself in the American style is at stake. We are at a tipping point. If the destructive, corrupt, lying leftist is elected, it is all over for the USA as she was founded to be. Despite what the bow-tied pussy-wussies say, there will be no recovery after four-to-eight more years of leftist infiltration of all our institutions and capitulation before our enemies.
James Cambell, a professor of political science, writes,
Thinking Republicans should NOT SUPPORT Donald Trump, but they should reluctantly VOTE for him. On what matters most, and that is public policy, Trump is not nearly as bad as Clinton. Shout that Donald Trump is an idiot from the roof tops and into any microphone thrown in front of you–but then declare a vote for him.
The distinction between supporting and voting for a candidate is not a gimmick. There is a real difference. Support implies a positive assessment. A vote is a choice.
This is close to the view I have been maintaining over a series of posts. But I don't think Campbell gets it exactly right. Here is the way I see it.
Hillary must be stopped. She is utterly corrupt as a person, as is becoming increasingly evident with every passing day, and she is in bad health to boot. And her foreign and domestic policies are disastrous. I cannot in good conscience abstain thereby aiding her. So I must vote for Trump. In doing so, I don't merely mark a ballot; I 'make a statement' and 'issue a recommendation.' The 'statement' is not that Trump is a good candidate, but that he is better than Hillary, all things considered. The 'recommendation' is that you ought to do as I do if you are a conservative.
So in one sense of 'support,' I do not support Trump by voting for him: I do not unreservedly endorse him. I agree with Campbell that there is a real distinction we need to make. The words in which we couch the distinction don't matter. You don't like 'support'? Fine. Wise men do not quibble over words. The distinction can be put like this: to vote for a candidate is not unreservedly to endorse said candidate.
A vote is of course a choice, asCampbell says, but it is not merely a choice inasmuch as it has a certain 'content' as I have already indicated. Marking my ballot for Trump, I express my belief that he is better than his opponent, and not merely better for me, but for the country. I am also tacitly recommending that others do the same.
Trump's recent speeches have been outstanding. The Phoenix immigration speech was just perfect, exactly what a conservative ought to maintain (and not all that different from what Bill Clinton maintained in '95!). So it not as if "Trump is not nearly as bad as Clinton" on policy. He is vastly superior. The trouble with Trump is his self-absorbed and mercurial character. But as events are showing, it is becoming less and less clear that Trump is as bad as Hillary character-wise. He is shaping up, and she is being exposed for what she is.
Therefore, with another four years of Democrat-left rule -- meaning a nearly permanent left-wing Supreme Court and left-wing-controlled lower courts; the further erosion of federalism; an exponential growth in the power of the federal government; further leftist control of education; and the de-Americanization of America in part by effectively eliminating its borders, in part by substituting multiculturalism for American identity and in part by giving millions of illegal immigrants citizenship -- America will not be America.
We conservatives who will vote for Trump understand that he is the only vehicle we have to prevent this. We recognize that though there are some fine individuals who hold left-wing views, leftism is a terminal cancer in the American bloodstream and soul. So our first and greatest principle is to destroy this cancer before it destroys us. We therefore see voting for Donald Trump as political chemotherapy needed to prevent our demise.
How might a NeverTrump conservative counter this line of argument?
A. One might argue that 4-8 years of Hillary & Co. won't make the country much worse than it is now and won't appreciably strengthen the leftist grip on our institutions.
B. One might argue that 4-8 years of Hillary & Co. will make the country worse, but that all the damage can be undone by a succeeding Republican administration.
C. One might argue that Trump is just too dangerous and mercurial to be trusted with the presidency. He might, for example, start a nuclear war. Better red than dead!
D. One might argue that Trump and Hillary are both evil and that one must never vote for an evil candidate. To vote for either would be like voting for Caligula or Nero, or for Stalin or Hitler.
E. One might argue that (i) Trump cannot be trusted to do anything he promises to do, so that policy-wise there will be no real difference between a Trump and a Hillary administration, and that (ii) Trump is character-wise worse than Clinton. Therefore one ought to either vote for Hillary or abstain. Someone who takes this line might urge that the much-touted Great Wall of Trump is just so much hot air: there never will be any such wall. Trump will back off from that in the way he has backed off (quite reasonably!) from talk of the deportation of the supposed 11 million illegal aliens in our midst. NeverTrumper David French a while back referred to Trump's wall as a "pipe dream."
At the moment I can't think of any other counterarguments. The only one that has any merit is (E). But it too is pretty lame. My response is that while we KNOW what Hillary will do, and that what she will do will be disastrous, there is some chance that Trump will accomplish some of what he proposes. There is zero chance that Hillary will do anything good for the country by conservative lights, while there is, say, a 30% chance that Trump will do 30% of what he proposes. So I reject (i). I also reject (ii). Both candidates are awful, but I don't see how you could say that Trump is morally worse than Hillary.
Trump is all we've got. Conservatives must vote for him. (I warmly recommend that liberals vote for Jill Stein.)
It ought to be obvious that anyone seeking entry into our country should be ideologically certified. We have no obligation to accept subversive elements. Now those who promote Shari'a are subversive elements. Therefore, we have no obligation to allow them in. Indeed we, or rather the government as representing us the people, has a moral obligation not to let them in.
This is just common sense. Trump, not Hillary, possesses this common sense as he made clear in his outstanding Phoenix immigration speech.
But you loathe Trump the man, don't you? And you have some good reasons. I suggest you make a distinction. There is the candidate and there is the candidate's ideological agenda. Both of the candidates have deeply flawed characters. But one supports a destructive leftist agenda and the other does not. And one or the other will be the next president. It won't be Jill Stein.
So, if you are a conservative, is it not obvious that you must vote for Trump?
The following is by Chris Jackson. I found it at The Remnant and I reproduce the whole of it here. It receives the coveted MavPhilnihil obstat.
This is the most critical presidential election in the history of the United States. Hillary Clinton, a corrupt, radical pro-abortion, anti-Christian, career politician threatens to change the face of America forever. If elected, she will name three to four Supreme Court justices, cementing Roe v. Wade into the Constitution and losing the court for generations, if not forever. Hillary Clinton opposes home schooling and believes it is the government’s right to educate children and not the parents. She will restrict religious speech and persecute Christians who refuse to support her radical social agenda. She will promote illegal immigration and allow millions of unvettted illegal immigrants into our country. The illegal population will vote democrat far into the future so that no candidate with anything approximating Catholic positions will have a viable chance to be elected president. So despite obvious disagreements with him, I believe Catholics have the moral right to vote for the only viable alternative to Hillary Clinton in this election: Donald Trump.
Donald Trump is the first Republican candidate for president to publicly offer a list of Supreme Court justices he will select from. All of the names have been vetted by undeniable pro-life organizations such as the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society. Neither Mitt Romney nor John McCain offered such assurances. Donald Trump has also promised to ensure protections for religious free speech and against punitive governmental action for citizens acting out of religious conviction. In addition, he has just named Mike Pence, a pro-life leader and champion of religious rights as his running mate. There is absolutely no moral justification for any Catholic to vote for Hillary Clinton or to assist Clinton in wining the presidency through not voting or voting for a non-viable third party candidate. The stakes are too high. The price of defeat this November means an anti-Christian executive and judicial branch with no opposition party in congress to offer any effective resistance into the foreseeable future. In other words, not voting for Trump in this election is choosing to commit suicide for our nation and our families.
If you say that Trump is the 'lesser of two evils,' you invite the riposte: why vote for anyone who is evil? Say this instead: "Despite Trump's manifest negatives, he is better than Hillary." And then go on to explain why he is better.
Politics here below is not about Good versus Evil. It is not so Manichean as all that. Politics here below is about better and worse.
Via Burgess-Jackson, I came to this piece by Robert P. George and George Weigel, An Appeal to Our Fellow Catholics (7 March 2016). Appended to it is a list of distinguished signatories. Excerpt:
Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States. His campaign has already driven our politics down to new levels of vulgarity. His appeals to racial and ethnic fears and prejudice are offensive to any genuinely Catholic sensibility. He promised to order U.S. military personnel to torture terrorist suspects and to kill terrorists’ families — actions condemned by the Church and policies that would bring shame upon our country. And there is nothing in his campaign or his previous record that gives us grounds for confidence that he genuinely shares our commitments to the right to life, to religious freedom and the rights of conscience, to rebuilding the marriage culture, or to subsidiarity and the principle of limited constitutional government.
I will respond to these points seriatim.
A. It is true that Trump is unfit to be president, but so is Hillary. But that is the choice we face now that Trump has secured the Republican nomination. In the politics of the real world, as opposed to the politics of utopia, it will be either Trump or Hillary: not both and not neither. Are they equally unfit for the presidency? Arguably yes at the level of character. But at the level of policy no clear-thinking conservative or Catholic could possibly do anything to aid Hillary, whether by voting for her or by not voting for Trump. Consider just abortion and religious liberty and ask yourself which candidate is more likely to forward an agenda favorable to Catholics.
B. Yes, Trump has taken vulgarity in politics to new depths. Unlike milquetoast conservatives, however, he knows how to fight back against political enemies. He doesn't apologize and he doesn't wilt in the face of leftist lies and abuse. He realizes that in post-consensus politics there is little or no place for civility. There is no percentage in being civil to the viciously uncivil. He realizes that the Alinskyite tactics the uncivil Left has been using for decades have to be turned against them. To paraphrase Barack Obama, he understands that one needs to bring a gun to a gun fight.
C. The third sentence above is something one would expect from a race-baiting leftist, not ffrom a conservative. Besides, it borders on slander, something I should think a Catholic would want to avoid. You slander Trump and his supporters when you ignore their entirely legitimate concern for the rule of law and for national sovereignty and suggest that what motivates him and them is bigotry and fear. Trump and Trump alone among the candidates has had the courage to face the Islamist threat to our country and to call for the vetting of Muslim immigrants. That is just common sense. The milquetoast conservatives are so fearful of being branded xenophobes, 'Islamophobes,' and racists that they will not speak out against the threat.
If they had, and if they had been courageous conservatives on other issues, there would be no need for Trump, he would have gained no traction, and his manifest negatives would have sunk him. Trump's traction is a direct result of conservative inaction. The milquetoasts and bow-tie boys need to look in the mirror and own up to their complicity in having created Trump the politician. But of course they will not do that; they will waste their energy attacking Trump, the only hope we have, in violation of Ronald Reagan's Eleventh Commandment. What a sorry bunch of self-serving pussy-wussies! They yap and scribble, but when it comes time to act and show civil courage, they wilt.
D. I concede that Trump's remarks about torture ought to worry a Catholic.
E. It is true that Trump's previous record supplies a reason to doubt whether Trump really shares Catholic commitments. But is it not possible that he has 'evolved'? You say the 'evolution' is merely opportunistic? That may well be. But how much does it matter what his motives are if he helps with the conservative agenda? It is obvious that his own ego is the cynosure of all his striving. He is out for himself, first, and a patriot, second. But Hillary is also out for herself, first, and she is manifestly not a patriot but a destructive hate-America leftist who will work to advance Obama's "fundamental transformation of America." (No one who loves his country seeks a fundamental transformation of it.)
We KNOW what Hillary and her entourage will do. We KNOW she will be inimical "to the right to life, to religious freedom and the rights of conscience, to rebuilding the marriage culture, or to subsidiarity and the principle of limited constitutional government." Now I grant you that Trump is unreliable, mercurial, flaky, and other bad things to boot. But it is a very good bet that some of what he and his entourage will do will advance the conservative agenda.
So I say: if you are a conservative or a Catholic and you do not vote for Trump, you are a damned fool!
Attributed to Voltaire. "The best is the enemy of the good." The idea is that one should not allow the pursuit of an unattainable perfection to impede progress toward an attainable goal which, while not perfect, is better than the outcome that is likely to result if one seeks the unattainable.
Here is another formulation, not as accurate, but pithier and replete with trademark MavPhil alliteration: Permit not the pursuit of the perfect to preempt the possible.
Meditation on this truth may help conservatives contain their revulsion at their lousy choices. Barack Obama, who has proven to be a disaster for the country and for the world, was elected in 2008 in part because of conservatives who could not abide John McCain. And he was re-elected in 2012 in part because of disgusted conservatives who fail to heed Voltaire's principle and refused to vote for the milquetoast conservative, Mitt Romney. But surely it is obvious in hindsight that the milquetoast would have been preferable to the radical?
And now we face another ugly choice, this time between the vulgarian Trump and the hard-leftist Hillary. Some will vote for neither or throw away their vote on a third-party candidate. If you are a liberal, I warmly recommend that you vote for Jill Stein.
But if you are a conservative, you must vote for Trump. What is the force of the 'must'? It is at least prudential, if not moral. It is surely not legal. You are not legally obliged to vote in these United States. This is the way it should be.
Politics is a practical business conducted in a far from perfect world. While it is not always about the lesser of evils, in most situations it is, including the one before us. But perhaps we should avoid the word 'evil,' which I have found confuses people. Let's just say that in the real world political choices are not between the good and the bad, but between the better and the worse. Real-world politics is not about being ideologically pure. It is about accomplishing something in a concrete situation in which holding out for the best is tantamount to acquiescing in the bad. Political choices are forced options in roughly William James' sense: he who abstains chooses nolens volens, willy-nilly. Not choosing the better amounts to a choice of the worse.
Now maybe that is too strong a way of putting it if precision is at a premium. After all, if you refuse to vote for Trump, that is not a vote for Hillary since you may vote for neither. But by not voting for Trump, you aid Hillary inasmuch as you fail to do something that you can very easily do that will have the admittedly tiny effect of impeding her in her Obaminable quest to "fundamentally transform America."
I am of course assuming that Trump is better than Hillary. That is easily shown by the SCOTUS argument which has been elaborated by any number of distiguished commentators including William J. Bennett, Dennis Prager, and Hugh Hewitt, not to mention your humble correspondent. The responses to the SCOTUS argument that I have seen are breathtakingly lame. I am not in the mood to go over this ground again. In any case it is time for lunch.
Don't be a fool. Don't let the best or the better become the enemy of the good. Try to achieve something achievable. Don't pine after the unattainable. Impossible dreams are for liberals, not reality-anchored conservatives. It did not surprise me when I learned that Ted Kennedy's favorite song was The Impossible Dream. Figures!
Too many of our rights, liberties, and securities already hang by a one-vote thread. A Clinton Supreme Court would surely do away with them. It is a better bet that a President Trump together with Vice President Pence and a Republican Congress would ensure that Scalia's seat or any other open seats would be filled by a conservative. If you are a conservative who cares about the future of this country, there is only one choice. A vote for anyone else, third parties included, only helps Clinton and brings liberals one vote closer to ruining our republic as we know it.
If you care at all about the country, please read Bennett's piece, and please try to not let your loathing for Trump the man get in the way of clear thinking. For if you do, then you are no better than a gushing, emotion-driven liberal.
One of the reasons put forward by some conservatives for voting for the controversial Republican nominee is that not voting for him would be “a vote for Hillary”. It’s important to understand why this is a really bad argument.
I agree that it is a bad argument, and for the reason Professor Anderson gives, namely, that if the choice is between A and B, one might vote for neither. Note that Anderson doesn't name any conservative who gives the really bad argument, but if there is such a conservative, wouldn't charity require us to construe 'A non-vote for Trump is a vote for Hillary' as a loose way of saying that not to vote for Trump is to aid Hillary?
Surely the latter -- not to vote for Trump is to aid Hillary -- is true. Or if not 'surely,' then 'arguably.' I will now try to argue it out.
There are of course candidates other than Trump and Hillary, but they have no practical chance of winning. I guarantee you that Gary Johnson, the Libertarian/'Losertarian' candidate will not be the next president of the USA. So, practically speaking, it will be either Trump or Hillary. Not both and not neither. Now suppose you are a conservative who votes for neither: you refuse to vote for Hillary because she is a leftist, and you refuse to vote for Trump because he is an obnoxious vulgarian and 'no true conservative' or for some other similar reason or reasons. By not voting for Trump you aid Hillary. You are not thereby voting for her, of course, but you are aiding her because you are failing to do something that would harm her in however slight and insignificant a way.
Anderson speaks of the "neutrality of a non-vote." But are non-votes politically neutral?
Consider a simple voting situation. Socrates Jones is up for tenure. He receives five votes against and three votes for, with three abstentions. He's out like Stout. Were the non-votes -- the abstentions -- neutral? Not at all. If the three abstainers had voted for, then Jones would have been in like Flynn. So while it would be absurd to say that the abstainers voted against Jones, it remains true that their abstentions were not neutral. You could say that the abstainers were complicit in the denial of tenure to Jones. They failed to do something which is such that, if they had done it, then Jones would have received tenure.
Or consider a hiring decision, which is a better analogy. It is down to a choice between A and B. A receives five votes, B three, with three abstentions. A gets the job. Clearly, the abstentions are not neutral. If the three abstainers had voted for B, then B would have got the job.
I suppose the neutrality question is the nub of the issue.
My thesis is that IF (i) one is a conservative and wants to see the conservative agenda advanced and/or the leftist agenda impeded, AND (ii) one believes that Trump, as awful as he is, will advance the conservative agenda somewhat and/or impede the infiltration of leftist totalitarianism into every aspect of our lives and institutions, while Hillary will go full-steam ahead in implementation of the leftist agenda, THEN to abstain from the choice between Trump and Hillary is to aid the leftist agenda and to work against one's interests as a conservative, which implies that one's non-voting is NOT politically neutral.
The thesis I am opposing is the negation of the foregoing. If you deny the first conjunct of the protasis of my conditional thesis, then I show you the door, or rather, I don't let you in the door in the first place. If you accept (i) but deny (ii), then we have an entirely different discussion which I am not interested in having at the moment. The precise question in this post is not whether (i) and (ii) are both true -- I assume they are both true -- but whether, given (i) and (ii), one aids Hillary by abstaining. I say yes.
Certain conservatives want to be able rationally to resist the following sort of 'bullying' speech from someone like me:
If Hillary gets in, then we can expect all or most of the following: four more years of illegal immigration from the south; four more years of largely unvetted Muslim immigration, including Syrian refugees; four more years of erosion of First and Second Amendment rights; four years in which Hillary can make 2-5 Supreme Court appointments that will change the complexion of SCOTUS for years to come; four more years of attacks on civil society, the buffer space between the individual and the state apparatus; four more years of sanctuary cities and the flouting of the rule of law; four more years of assaults on the likes of the Little Sisters of the Poor and others who stand in the way of the pro-abortion agenda; four more years of exploding national debt; four more years of leftist infiltration of our institutions, four more years of Obama's "fundamental transformation of America," and more.
Now Trump, as awful as he is, is all we have to stop or impede all or some of the foregoing, and there is a good chance he will do some impeding while there is NO chance that Hillary will do any impeding, quite the contrary.
Therefore, if you are a conservative, then you ought to do what you can to stop Hillary; at a bare minimum you ought to vote for Trump. If you do not, you are aiding Hillary contrary to your interests as a conservative.
What is the force of the 'ought' in my conclusion? For present purposes it suffices to take it as a merely prudential ought. It would be imprudent of you, even if not immoral, to abstain given your acceptance of (i) and (ii) above.
But have I really shown that your abstention, given your acceptance of (i) and (ii) above is not politically neutral? It seems to me that I have. By depriving Trump of your vote, and persuading others to deprive him of their votes, you are lessening the number of votes he receives. How can that be politically neutral?
“We do not pay ransom. We didn’t here, and we won’t in the future.”
Barack Obama might like to have that one back this morning, to stick a pin in the moving finger that writes. But the finger done writ, and it won’t come back to cancel a single line of the president’s fatuous fib that the United States didn’t pay $400 million to ransom four hostages taken by the president’s friends in Tehran.
Perhaps the president can take some solace, thin as it is, in the fact that nobody believed him, anyway.
'Fatuous fib' is not quite the phrase. It is a brazen lie from a man who specializes in the brazen lie. And not just the lie, but every mode of mendacity.
A mere picture of the man would suffice to define homo mendax.
Vote for Hillary and you will get more of the same. The difference between her and Obama is that she is not a very good liar.
Why is this? Permit me a speculation. Hillary is much older than Obama. She grew up in a time when it was understood that there is such a thing as truth and that lying is wrong. So at some level she knows she is doing wrong when she lies. This dim awareness interferes with the efficacy of her lying. But Obama is the POMO-prez. Truth? What's that?
His brand of leftist replaces truth with narrative.
A dog whistle is, according to Wikipedia, “political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup.”
Saying that Hillary Clinton lacks the physical and mental stamina to take on ISIS [as Donald Trump said in his speech last night] is literally saying the thing that supposedly needs to be dog whistled as a supersecret message. It can’t be secret, coded messaging when it’s the thing he says!
What you believe, or claim to believe or say you believe—not what you do or how you act or what the results of your actions may be—defines you as a person and makes you “good.” It is how your life will be judged by others and by yourself. In 19th-century France, the gastronome Jean Brillat-Savarin told us that “You are what you eat.” In 21st-century America, almost all of us seem to have concluded that “you are what you say you are. You are what you proclaim your values to be, irrespective of their consequences.” That is moral narcissism.
So George Will has proclaimed himself to be free and above the Republican Party -- most specifically the Republican Party whose current standard bearer by millions of votes is Donald Trump, a man Will obviously abhors. As the columnist said in his speech, Republicans should “make sure he loses. Grit their teeth for four years and win the White House.”
I understand why Will loathes Trump, but Will is more the quisling than the conservative when he advocates against Trump and therefore for Hillary.
I won't repeat what I said yesterday about the folly of putting up with Hillary and her crew for four years and then winning the White House.
Here is perhaps the deepest connection, the subterranean link, between the decidedly strange bedfellows, Leftism and Islamism: both deny the absoluteness of truth and both make it subservient to power and arbitrary will.
But how is it that Islamists attack objective truth? Aren't they theists? Don't they believe in an absolute source and ground of being and truth? Yes indeed. But their God is unlimited Power. Their God is all-powerful to the max: there are no truths of logic, nor any necessary truths, that limit his power. The Muslim God is pure, omnipotent will. (See Pope Benedict's Regensurg Speech and Muslim Oversensitivity.)
So we who form the Coalition of the Sane and Decent have our work cut out for us. It is a war on two fronts: against radical Islam and against their leftist enablers such as Barack Hussein Obama and Hillary 'Milhous' Clinton.
If you refuse to vote for Donald Trump because he is in several ways a loathsome individual, then I pronounce you a fool in point of the political. You don't understand that politics is a practical struggle, not a gentlemanly conversation. It is not about perfection or ideological purity or choosing the Good over the Bad. It's about better or worse in the ugly concrete circumstances in which we presently find ourselves.
The argument of George Will and others of the 'bow-tie brigade' is patently lame, as lame as can be. They will do what they can to stop Trump the vulgarian know-nothing. In so doing they support Hillary. When this is pointed out, the response is that after four years of Hillary, we will elect a 'true' conservative to the White House.
This ignores the fact that after four years of Hillary it may be too late. Four more years of illegal immigration from the south; four more years of largely unvetted Muslim immigration, including Syrian refugees; four more years of erosion of First and Second Amendment rights; four years in which Hillary can make 2-5 Supreme Court appointments; four more years of attacks on civil society, the buffer space between the individual and the state apparatus; four more years of sanctuary cities and the flouting of the rule of law; four more years of assaults on the likes of the Little Sisters of the Poor and others who stand in the way of the pro-abortion agenda; and more.
Here is another question for George and Bill Kristol and the rest of the bow-tie boys: who will be your candidate? David French? Lindsey Graham? Jeb!?
You boys live in Cloud Cuckoo Land. You are expecting the resurrection of Ronald Reagan. It ain't gonna happen.
Given the preternatural crapaciousness of the bow-tie arguments, I am permitted to psychologize.
What Will and the boys fear is the loss of their Ps: their power, position, perquisites, and pelf. They want the status quo in which they can continue to yap and scribble as before and enjoy the high life. They understand that a third term of Obama in the guise of Hillary is a better bet for them than a populist coup.
Being a conservative, I advocate limited government. Big government leads to big trouble as we fight endlessly, acrimoniously, and fruitlessly over all sorts of issues that we really ought not be fighting over. As one of my slogans has it, "The bigger the government, the more to fight over." The final clause of the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution enshrines the right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." So the more the government does things that grieve us, by intruding into our lives and limiting our liberties, the more we will petition, lobby, and generally raise hell with the government and with our political opponents.
If you try to tell me how much soda I can buy at a pop, or how capacious or incapacious my ammo mags must be, or how I must speak to assuage the tender sensitivities of the Pee Cee, or if you try to stop me from home-schooling my kids, or force me to buy health insurance, or force me to cater a same-sex 'marriage' ceremony, then you are spoiling for a fight and you will get it. Think of how much time, energy, and money we waste battling our political enemies, working to undo what we take to be their damage, the damage of ObamaCare being a prime example.
So if you want less contention, work for smaller government. The smaller the government, the less to fight over.
Or do you like fighting for the sake of fighting? I'm Italian: a lover, not a fighter. I prefer la dolce vita to bellum omnium contra omnes.
I stated that the reason for carefully vetting Muslims who aim to immigrate into the USA is political rather than religious. I had several points in mind, one of them being that it is the theocratic character of Islam that renders it incompatible with Western values, but not its specifically religious character. Theocracy is a form of political organization whereas there is nothing in the nature of the religious as such that requires that a religion be theocratic. Theocracy is a political concept. Religious character is -- wait for it -- a religious concept. These are different concepts. That should be obvious. If it is not obvious, argument up ahead!
It struck me as important to make the distinction between the political and the religious because the political reasons for vetting or even excluding Muslims or some proper subset thereof, perhaps the 'Medina Muslims,' are consistent with the commitment to religious liberty enshrined in the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. According to this amendment, the government shall not interfere with the free exercise of religion. Now while the First Amendment applies only to citizens, not to would-be citizens, it expresses a value that is universal in scope, that of religious liberty. The value/right comes first; the amendment merely protects it.
Note also that according to the Article VI of the Constitution, there shall be no "religious Test" for would-be holders of public office. So it is not the fact that Muslims have a different religion than most of us that supplies a reason for carefully vetting them; it is because their religion is a hybrid ideology, a political-religious ideology, the political component of which is manifestly incompatible with American political principles. I hope it is obvious that a totalitarian theocracy is incompatible with limited government.
Canadian philosopher Jacques, however, questions my distinction between the political and the religious. He writes,
What are political grounds? I doubt there could be any kind of political theory that isn't ultimately based in some (implicitly) religious attitude. Consider the very idea that religion and politics are different realms, or should be or could be. It's an idea that Protestants find easy enough to accept, because of their peculiar religious beliefs. People in a Protestant-derived society such as the USA find it easy to accept because they have been shaped by Protestantism. But if Islam is true, there is no such distinction.
I am afraid I cannot agree with this. First of all, it is obvious that at the notional level there is distinction between the concept of the political and the concept of the religious. The distinction holds even if one or both concepts are empty. The first concept would be empty or uninstantiated if there were no states, just people organized in non-state or sub-state ways. But there are, we know, states. We don't know, however, if there is anything corresponding to the concept of the religious. Here are some typical religious 'objects': nirguna Brahman, saguna Brahman, Nirvana, The One of Plotinus, Deus qua ipsum esse subsistens (Aquinas), Allah, Yahweh, immortal souls . . . . Suppose that naturalism is true and that there are no religious 'objects' at all, where naturalism is the thesis that reality is exhausted by space-time and its contents. There would still be a distinction between the political and the religious. They are clearly distinct at the conceptual level. I hope Jacques is not denying the distinction at the notional or conceptual level.
Jacques appears to be claiming that every type of political theory is based in some implicitly religious attitude. That would be false for the political theory of a naturalist. I should think it is obvious that one could have a political doctrine that did not entail or presuppose any religious doctrine. A libertarian doctrine of the state as outlined in, say, Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia, is consistent with the view that religion is a purely private matter.
Jacques tells us that "if Islam is true, then there is no such distinction" as that between the political and the religious. But surely if two concepts are extensionally equivalent, it does not follow that they are the same concept. To borrow a Quinean example, x is a cordate iff x is a renate, but it doesn't follow that being cordate and being renate are the same property or concept. So even if Islam is true -- God forbid! -- there would still be a distinction between the religious and political character of Islam. And that is all I need for the points I am making.
But if we think about this carefully, we see that there is not even an extensional equivalence. Not every religious item in Islam is a political item. For example, take the following doctrinal item: There is no god but God! Call it Radical Monotheism. Consider it and all its entailments. Among the entailments: God/Allah exists, is radically one, is not a trinity, is radically transcendent of the world, etc. None of these metaphysical propositions has, by itself, any political implication. One could, in all logical consistency, accept all of these propositions and also accept American principles of government. Case in point: Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a moderate Muslim who battles what he calls "political Islam" in A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot's Fight to Save his Faith, Simon and Shuster, 2012. My tribute to Dr. Jasser here.
A reformed Islam that is consistent with American values is not only possible but also actual in the case of Dr. Jasser and a few others. So, obviously, the political and religious aspects of Islam can be prised apart. They are distinct. I should add that, while there are a few moderate Muslims, the vast majority are not. These are the ones that subscribe to Islamic law (sharia) and have no intention of assimilating to the West and its values. I am afraid that Dr. Jasser's noble attempt at a reform of Islam is bound to fail. But that is a separate issue.
Probably the same goes for Catholicism (on the most honest and coherent interpretation) and Hinduism or lots of Amerindian religions. It makes no sense, on these various religious views, to isolate some particular realm of human affairs as being just 'political' rather than religious. Just as it makes no sense, on most religious views, to isolate an area that is just 'ethical' or 'artistic' without also being religious. Just as it makes no sense for progressives to isolate an area that's just 'personal' and not political.
With respect to Catholicism, Jacques is on very shaky ground. Jesus himself provides the charter for temple/church - state separation with his "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's; render unto God the things that are God's." That saying presupposes for its very sense that the political and the religious are not identical. The saying occurs in all three of the synoptic gospels. It is of course subject to different interpretations, but the Catholic reading is something like the following. Although our main obligations are to God, we also have obligations to the political authorities, where 'Caesar' represents the political authorities of whatever time and place. So of course the political and religious spheres are distinguishable.
And surely it is false that the concepts of the ethical and the religious coincide, or that no ethics is possible that does not rest on religious tenets. This would have shocked old Aristotle whose eudaimonistic ethics rests on no religious bases. There is of course a primum mobile in Aristotle's system, but it has no religious meaning. The Prime Mover, just as such, is precisely NOT "what all men call God." (Aquinas, Quinque viae)
Jacques tells us that progressives or as I call them, 'progressives,' do not separate the personal from the political. But of course they have to, at the notional or conceptual level, if there are to be in a position to say something meaningful albeit stupid such as The personal is political. This is an informative identity claim only if the senses of 'personal' and 'political' are different -- he said with side-long glance in the direction of Frege. On the level of reference, however, it is true that the person is political for 'progressives.' But so what? They're wrong. Jacques concludes:
Protestant theology holds up individualism and autonomy as very important values, ultimately for theological reasons. Take away Protestantism, or some similar theology, and it's not clear why we should care so much about these things -- for example, why we should care that society has some tolerance for religious diversity or a non-religious conception of politics. So I'm suggesting that, if Islam is not a 'pure' religion then western liberalism or conservatism is not a 'pure' political theory.
Jacques seems to be saying that there are no non-theological reasons for caring about the toleration of religious diversity. Well, try this reason on for size: We tolerate religious diversity because we do not know which religion is true; nor do we know if any extant or possible religion is true. Given deep and intractable disagreement within religions, across religions, and between religion and anti-religion, toleration makes possible comity (social harmony) and prevents foolish, costly, and sometimes bloody conflicts. There is no need for a theology to underpin this commitment to toleration. Atheists and naturalists have no theology, but that does not prevent them from espousing toleration.
"So I'm suggesting that, if Islam is not a 'pure' religion then western liberalism or conservatism is not a 'pure' political theory." I can't agree with this either. Islam itself -- not Islam 'lite,' some Jasserian reformed, de-politicized Islam -- is as much a political ideology as a religion. It is very far from being just a religion. But much of American conservatism is mostly free of religious elements. Correct me if I am wrong, but nowhere in the U. S. Constitution or its Amendments is there any reference to God or to any religious doctrine.