Thursday, November 30, 2006



Chester E. Finn Jr. at National Review.

today’s GOP doesn’t really want gays — and it yearns to supervise everybody else’s bedroom and reproductive behavior as well as (implicitly, at least) their relationship to God. The second is that Republicans are no longer really in favor of limited government. Besides having their own version of a nanny state, they want to spend and spend, start program after program, ladle out the pork, make deals with influence peddlers, and spin the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street. Yes, they still pretend to favor low taxes but that’s an illusion; they pay for limitless government via huge deficits that will mean high taxes for my granddaughter.


The Mentality of a Moderate Christianist

So, there's a controversy about whether Barack Obama should be allowed to walk into a church with Rick Warren to discuss AIDS prevention. Some say Obama should be shunned because of his beliefs on abortion; but maybe cooler heads will prevail. Here's one moderate Christianist's take:

It's OK to include people who disagree with you on some issues in a forum about AIDS, but only so that you might change their minds. Our minds must be made up before we come to the discussion, impervious to facts and arguments that we don't like.

This in the context of AIDS prevention in Africa. It doesn't matter whether or not stressing abstinence works in countries with AIDS; what matters is that abstinence is important to me, and must therefore be imposed on others-- or at least, must be supported at the expense of programs that work better.

And this is a moderate voice, someone not calling for the excommunication of Obama.

The facts are that Warren can invite to his pulpit whoever he sees fit, and that Christians are not monolithically opposed to abortion.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


So he's a Reaganite after all...

Andrew Sullivan plucks an interesting quote from Ronald Reagan.

The president didn't get to be the decider by stooping to nuance. He just cut out some of the unnecessary words from the quote and to make it the motto of his administration: "self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts."

Friday, November 17, 2006


Abuse of language to serve fuzzy thought

John G. West writes about the debate among conservatives over evolution, which he refers to as "Darwinism." This is an imprecise term, probably intentionally so.

Charles Darwin was a natuarlist who formulated the theory of evolution, now universally accepted among biologists.

The theory of evolution contains no more ideology than the theory of gravity or the heliocentric theory.

Regarding science, "Darwinsism" is usually employed today by nonexperts in science to personalize the theory of evolution. People who are predisposed to have their feelings hurt by what they see as the political implications of the theory of evolution utilize the term "Darwinism" to cast aspersions on science. Marxism was a political theory; Freudianism was... well, a scientific theory, maybe. Darwin, though, did not compose a theory of everything like Freud and Marx did; he offered a scientific theory to account for observed phenomena, a theory that has been refined and accepted over time.

Of course, the philosophical and religious views of scientists such those that West quotes of paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson (“Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind”) are disputable.

Regarding social theory and policy, "Darwinism" is the view that those who achieve the most money or success did so as a result of their intrinsic worth. Even assuming one can profitably analogize biological processes to social policy, Social Darwinism is a highly contestable application of the theory of evolution-- unforeseeable disasters seem to play quite an important role. The political power of Social Darwinism, and the resulting moral disaster of state eugenics policies, serve to illustrate the dangers of scientism and state infringement on the most personal decisions.

I am comfortable with the philosophical idea that evolution happened because that is how God saw fit to work his will. That is, I believe, the view of the Catholic Church. I am uncomfortable with the idea that observed phenomena that science cannot fully account for at a given moment in time is what God did. If we create a God who is an image of our own scientific ignorance, we will diminish him over time.

Friday, November 10, 2006


What Jonah's unfuniness tells us about society

People are puzzling over Jonah's Bush-as-bear-hunter comment yesterday. It was obvious, to me, that he was making an effort at teh funnay, but I've evidently read enough of his stuff to appreciate his allusive (or maybe elusive) rapier wit.

His post did for humor what K-Fed did for rap, of course, so that's not really worth commenting on in itself.

But it wouldn't be liberal punditry if I didn't make an effort to explain that his supposed individual failing wasn't actually the fault of society. So here goes.

Goldberg, like the president, is a product of the liberal spare-the-rod, if-it-feels-good-do-it culture. Their political opinions were determined, and their career paths smoothened, for them before they were born. They’ve been spoiled for life, isolated from the consequences of their actions by the system of patronage and lowered expectations that comprise today’s conservatism. So after all this time, how could either be expected to look at his own body of work and realize it's drivel?

It’s not their fault.

Blame their permissive conservative upbringing.


And Stanley Kurtz says nothing good comes out of the Netherlands

Here's one way to come up with an intellectual defense of Supply Side Christianity: just cut out all those wrongheaded passages about helping the poor!

THE NETHERLANDS — A new Bible translation produced in Holland that aims to be more attractive and market-oriented is causing controversy after it cut out difficult parts surrounding economic justice, possessions and money.
Chairman W. R De Rijke said the foundation has reacted to a growing wish of many churches to be market-oriented and more attractive.

"Jesus was very inspiring for our inner health, but we don't need to take his naïve remarks about money seriously. He didn't study economics, obviously," he said.

De Rijke said no serious Christian takes these texts literally.

"What if all Christians stopped being anxious, for example, and started expecting everything from God? Or gave their possessions to the poor, for that matter. Our economy would be lost. The truth is quite the contrary: a strong economy and a healthy work ethic is a gift from God."

Thursday, November 09, 2006


This makes me laugh

This Makes Me Furious [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Bolton unlikely to win Senate approval

By Anne Plulmmer Flaherty Associated Press

Posted at 3:57 PM

Sunday, November 05, 2006


What Makes a Lie "Pathological"?

Lying about something that (1) everyone thinks you're probably lying about, (2) can easily be checked by about .02 seconds of Googling, and (3) doesn't really affect your credibility within your target audience probably meets the definition of "pathological."

Gleen Greenwald catches Michael Ledeen asserting that he "opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place." Wow, that doesn't sound like the conventional wisdom coming from AEI in the runup to the war, does it? How had everyone missed Ledeen's voice in the wilderness on this one?

Of course, we didn't.

As Glenn points out, in a 2002 article in which Ledeen flashed his trademark blend of snarling condescention and ad hominem attacks, calling the coming invasion "the desperately-needed and long overdue war against Saddam Hussein." In another 2002 interview Glenn cites, Ledeen argued that "yesterday" was the proper time to invade.

Ledeen digs a deeper hold for himself today, responding by pointing to a passage in his book favoring support for an Iraqi revolution rather than an invasion. This establishes that Ledeen's ideal approach might not have been an invasion, but does nothing to establish that, in the actual world that exists, he "opposed" the invasion.

The only assertion in the passage that Ledeen quotes today that could remotely be taken to "oppose" the invasion is that "we do not want to pulverize the country." But no one except John "rubble doesn't make trouble" Derbyshire, and maybe whoever the guy is who articulated the "Ledeen Docrtine" would ever believe that we should act so amorally. And when it counted, in the real-world run-up to the war, Ledeen was an outspoken proponent of the invasion.

The strangest thing is that Ledeen's support from his target audience depends not a whit on whether anything that he said in the Iraq invasion debate was true. He's a card-carrying member of the VRWC. In conservative circles, it's not like you lose face by virtue of having been wrong about, say, the impact on the economy of the tax hikes of the early 1990s. The view that they'd send us into an economic tailspin was was completely wrong, of course, but it doesn't impact anyone's credibility among conservatives, because it fits conservative myths and prejudices.

All Ledeen had to do today was apologize for his bluster in asserting that he had "opposed the military invasion," which he evidently did not do. But just as his ideology depends on assertions and drive for American omnipotence, his psychology cannot account for his own infallibility.

Ledeen was wrong, and lied about being wrong, about the biggest foreign policy disaster in American history. Prediction: he will remain an A-list conservative foreign policy "intellectual."

What kind of editor allows this sort of thing? "[D]esperately-needed and long overdue war"?

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Haggard's role

This seems to me to get it almost right. Haggard isn't as big a figure in the Republican coalition as Grover Norquist, say, or James Dobson.

Scandals involving sex and drugs are a reliable way for fringe-ish public figures to get a lot of attention. Plus, Haggard makes himself a target by campaigning to deny equal rights to gays. His hypocrisy, extremism (Jonah Goldberg, Barbara Walters, and Mahatma Gandhi are going to hell), and bluster make him an easy guy for progressives to dislike.

So he's sort of like Ward Churchill is to the right.

Except he led a group that claimed 30 million members, and made weekly calls to the president or his advisors.

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