Wednesday, November 30, 2022

James Holland, Brothers in Arms

At Amazon, James Holland, Brothers in Arms: One Legendary Tank Regiment’s Bloody War From D-Day to VE-Day.

The Lonely American (VIDEO)

An outstanding segment, from Laura Ingraham:

Kim Denise

She's dreamy.

On Instagram.

Crazy People Are Dangerous (and They’re Working for the Biden Administration)

At the Other McCain, "Sam Brinton is self-evidently crazy. He is daft, deranged, bonkers, berserk, a few fries short of a Happy Meal and cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. Exactly why Joe Biden would appoint this lunatic to a job working with nuclear technology in the Department of Energy — well, Democrats do crazy things all the time, and appointing a “genderfluid” kook to be Deputy Assistant Secretary is probably about par for the course."

The Perpetually Irrational Ukraine Debate

From hardcore neorealist, Stephen Walt, of Harvard's Kennedy School, at Foreign Policy, "The war continues to be discussed in ways that are self-serving—and self-defeating":

Because war is uncertain and reliable information is sparse, no one knows how the war in Ukraine will play out. Nor can any of us be completely certain what the optimal course of action is. We all have our own theories, hunches, beliefs, and hopes, but nobody’s crystal ball is 100 percent reliable in the middle of a war.

You might think that this situation would encourage observers to approach the whole issue with a certain humility and give alternative perspectives a fair hearing even when they disagree with one’s own. Instead, debates about responsibility for the war and the proper course of action to follow have been unusually nasty and intolerant, even by modern standards of social media vituperation. I’ve been trying to figure out why this is the case.

What I find especially striking is how liberal interventionists, unrepentant neoconservatives, and a handful of progressives who are all-in for Ukraine seem to have no doubts whatsoever about the origins of the conflict or the proper course of action to follow today. For them, Russian President Vladimir Putin is solely and totally responsible for the war, and the only mistakes others may have made in the past was to be too nice to Russia and too willing to buy its oil and gas. The only outcome they are willing to entertain is a complete Ukrainian victory, ideally accompanied by regime change in Moscow, the imposition of reparations to finance Ukrainian reconstruction, and war crimes trials for Putin and his associates. Convinced that anything less than this happy result will reward aggression, undermine deterrence, and place the current world order in jeopardy, their mantra is: “Whatever it takes for as long as it takes.”

This same group has also been extraordinarily critical of those who believe responsibility for the war is not confined to Russia’s president and who think these war aims might be desirable in the abstract but are unlikely to be achieved at an acceptable cost and risk. If you have the temerity to suggest that NATO enlargement (and the policies related to it) helped pave the road to war, if you believe the most likely outcome is a negotiated settlement and that getting there sooner rather than later would be desirable, and if you favor supporting Ukraine but think this goal should be weighed against other interests, you’re almost certain to be denounced as a pro-Putin stooge, an appeaser, an isolationist, or worse. Case in point: When a handful of progressive congressional representatives released a rather tepid statement calling for greater reliance on diplomacy a few weeks ago, it was buried under a hailstorm of criticism and quickly disavowed by its own sponsors.

Wartime is precisely when one should think most dispassionately and carefully about one’s own interests and strategies. Unfortunately, keeping a cool head is especially hard to do when the bullets are flying, innocent people are suffering, and rallying public support takes priority. A narrowing of debate is typical of most wars—at least for a long time—with governments encouraging patriotic groupthink and marginalizing dissident views. And the war in Ukraine has been no exception thus far.

One reason public discourse is so heated is moral outrage, and I have a degree of sympathy for this position. What Russia is doing to Ukraine is horrific, and it’s easy to understand why people are angry, eager to support Kyiv any way they can, happy to condemn Russia’s leaders for their crimes, and willing to inflict some sort of punishment on the perpetrators. It’s emotionally gratifying to side with an underdog, especially when the other side is inflicting great harm on innocent people. Under the circumstances, I can also understand why some people are quick to see anyone with a different view as being insufficiently committed to a righteous cause and to conclude that they must somehow sympathize with the enemy. In the present political climate, if someone is not all-in for Ukraine, then they must be siding with Putin. Moral outrage is not a policy, however, and anger at Putin and Russia does not tell us what approach is best for Ukraine or the world. It’s possible that the hawks are right and that giving Ukraine whatever it thinks it needs to achieve victory is the best course of action. But this approach is hardly guaranteed to succeed; it might just prolong the war to no good purpose, increase Ukrainian suffering, and eventually lead Russia to escalate or even use a nuclear weapon. None of us can be 100 percent certain that the policies we favor will turn out as we expect and hope.

Nor does outrage at Russia’s present conduct justify viewing those who warned that Western policy was making a future conflict more likely as being on Moscow’s side. To explain why something bad happened is not to justify or defend it, and calling for diplomacy (while highlighting the obstacles such an effort would face) does not entail lack of concern for Ukraine itself. Different people can be equally committed to helping Ukraine yet favor sharply differing ways to achieve that end.

Debates on Ukraine have also been distorted by a desire to deflect responsibility. The United States’ foreign-policy establishment doesn’t like admitting it’s made mistakes, and pinning all the blame for the war on Putin is a “get out of jail free” card that absolves proponents of NATO enlargement of any role in this tragic turn of events. Putin clearly bears enormous personal responsibility for this illegal and destructive war, but if prior Western actions made his decision more likely, then Western policymakers are not blameless. To assert otherwise is to reject both history and common sense (i.e., that no major power would be indifferent to a powerful alliance moving steadily closer to its borders) as well as the mountain of evidence over many years showing that Russian elites (and not just Putin) were deeply troubled by what NATO and the European Union were doing and they were actively looking for ways to stop it.

Proponents of enlargement now insist Putin and his associates were never worried about NATO enlargement and that their many protests about this policy were just a giant smokescreen concealing long-standing imperialist ambitions. In this view, what Putin and his allies really feared was the spread of democracy and freedom, and restoring the old Soviet empire was their true objective from their first day in power. But as journalist Branko Marcetic has shown, these lines of defense do not fit the facts. Moreover, NATO enlargement and the spread of liberal values weren’t separate and distinct concerns. From the Russian perspective, NATO enlargement, the 2014 EU accession agreement with Ukraine, and Western support for pro-democracy color revolutions were part of a seamless and increasingly worrisome package.

Western officials may have genuinely believed these actions posed no threat to Russia and might even benefit Russia over the longer term; the problem was that Russia’s leaders didn’t see it that way. Yet U.S. and Western policymakers naively assumed that Putin wouldn’t react even as the status quo kept shifting in ways that he and his advisors found alarming. The world thought democratic countries were benignly expanding the rules-based order and creating a vast zone of peace, but the result was just the opposite. Putin should be condemned for being paranoid, overconfident, and heartless, but Western policymakers should be faulted for being arrogant, naive, and cavalier.

Third, the war has been a disaster for Ukrainians, but supporters of U.S. liberal hegemony—especially the more hawkish elements of the foreign-policy “Blob”—have gotten some of their mojo back. If Western support enables Ukraine to defeat an invading army and humiliate a dangerous dictator, then the failures of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and the Balkans can be swept into the memory hole and the campaign to expand the U.S-led liberal order will get a new lease on life. No wonder the Blob is so eager to put Ukraine in the victory column...

Still more.


Four College Kids Were Brutally Murdered In Idaho But There's No Attack Angle for the Democrat Party So Their Deaths Don't Matter

At AoSHQ, "On November 13, between 3am and 4am, a killer crept into a house and butchered four people with a knife on the campus of the University of Idaho. They victims are not members of Democrat Grievance Group nor was the weapon used a Hate Weapon like a gun so the Corporate Propaganda Press has decided that these murders are Non-Useful --- Oh, also: The murders did not happen in NY, LA, or DC. Just some Flyover Country corpses. No big deal."

For the Left, 'Antisemitism' is Just a Partisan Talking Point

From David Harsanyi, at the Federalist, "Anti-Jewish sentiment is far from a one-party problem":

“Jews are thriving in America, and even with the violent resurgence of antisemitism in the Trump era, I’ve rarely felt personally threatened, perhaps a function of my privilege,” writes New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg in a piece headlined “Antisemitism’s March Into the Mainstream.”

It must be privilege, then, that explains how a New Yorker could write an entire column in a New York paper about the resurgence of antisemitism during the “Trump era” without once noting what was going on in her hometown. As Armin Rosen detailed only a few months ago, there have been hundreds of violent attacks targeting Jews in New York since 2018, “many of them documented on camera, [and] only a single perpetrator has served even one day in prison.” Of course, mentioning that the culprits of anti-Jewish violence are predominantly black or Hispanic, and live in one of the nation’s most left-wing cities, would necessitate acknowledging that antisemitism can’t be neatly laid at the feet of Republicans. That is inconvenient, no doubt...



New York City Will Hospitalize Mentally Ill People Involuntarily

This really is the direction we need to go on this, and kudos to Mayor Adams for having the balls to push forward with the program.

At the New York Times, "New York City to Involuntarily Remove Mentally Ill People From Streets: Mayor Eric Adams directed the police and emergency medical workers to hospitalize people they deemed too mentally ill to care for themselves, even if they posed no threat to others."

And from the Letters to the Editor:

To the Editor:

Re “New York Aims to Clear Streets of Mentally Ill” (front page, Nov. 30):

It is many years overdue but, finally, Mayor Eric Adams has courageously acted to bring relief caused by the failed policies that have long harmed mentally ill people in New York City.

By ordering involuntary hospitalization, he is replacing an immoral and scandalous indifference to severe chronic illness with a humane and moral approach.

Claiming autonomy and personal choice as reasons to keep severely mentally ill people who lack competence on our streets makes no sense. Allowing the sick to “rot with their rights on” may appeal to single-minded civil libertarians, but it is deeply disrespectful to the dignity and kindness that mentally ill people deserve.

While the lawsuits will surely fly, the real challenge is to find enough money, beds and providers to ensure that homeless (and incarcerated) men and women with severe mental illness receive care, not a cardboard box.

Arthur Caplan

Ridgefield, Conn.

The writer is a professor of bioethics at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine.

To the Editor:

Mayor Eric Adams’s plan to involuntarily hospitalize homeless people with no indication that they are a threat (to anything besides his city’s image) is discrimination veiled in compassion.

Addressing the well-being of the unhoused would involve improving the root structural issues leading to poverty and the inability to afford rent. Poor mental health is often a side effect of housing insecurity and being put on the margins of society.

Forcing someone into a hospital system not designed for long-term stays, and that is already strained, does not fix this issue. Slapping a bandage on a bullet wound, or temporarily removing the homeless from the street, does not a compassionate policy make.

I don’t see a mental health crisis as much as I see a desperate need for appropriate and affordable housing.

Loren Barcenas

Chapel Hill, N.C.

The writer is a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.

To the Editor:

As a disability rights lawyer, I’ve represented many clients with mental illness. I’ve also witnessed the tragedy of three immediate family members suffering from schizophrenia, including both my parents in the 1960s and 1970s.

Choices about involuntary treatment can be excruciating. Psychiatric drugs sometimes have severe side effects. Worse, America has failed to ensure that hospitals provide safe, clean, therapeutic treatment settings. I’ve visited psychiatric hospitals that no one would want a family member to be forced to stay in; my mother died in one when I was a teenager.

That said, we’ve also done a disservice to mentally ill people through revolving-door hospitalization that both frustrates family members and dumps at-risk patients back into the community, untreated, where they often face homelessness or worse.

Mayor Eric Adams’s call for workable plans to connect discharged patients with ongoing care can work only if safe, high-quality care is available. For the sake of America’s most vulnerable people, officials must see that it is.

David Scott

Columbus, Ohio


When V.I.P. Isn't Exclusive Enough: Welcome to V.V.I.P.

At the New York Times, "Every sports venue has its own tiered system of luxury. The World Cup in Qatar is providing a reminder that there is always a higher level":

AL KHOR, Qatar — With its haughty aura of exclusivity, the red-carpeted, velvet-roped V.I.P. entrance at Al Bayt Stadium seems designed to inspire maximal awe and envy. As regular fans were herded through their gates at the England-United States game on Friday, the V.I.P. guests were welcomed by an exotic figure dressed as some sort of antelope, covered head to toe in shimmering golden squares.

(When pressed on its identity, the figure, who was not supposed to speak, muttered under its breath: “Oryx.”)

Not that it is available, or even fully visible, to you. Flanked by barriers and cut off from the normal road system, Al Bayt’s V.V.I.P. entrance is a sweeping thoroughfare on which the most important fans, starting with Qatar’s emir, who arrives by helicopter with his entourage and then hops into a Mercedes, are chauffeured directly into their special enclave in the stadium. That way, they are never required to interact with, or even occupy the same general space as, regular fans.

Every sports venue has its tiered system of luxury — the owner’s box, the business lounges, the special-access elevators, the ridiculously expensive seats, the even more ridiculously expensive seats. But at this year’s World Cup, the convergence of two entities awash in luxury and entitlement — Qatar, where all power and privilege flow from the emir, and FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, with its vast wealth and patronage network — provides a bracing reminder that there is always a more rarefied degree of exclusive.

The main difference between the luxury and non-luxury seats at this year’s World Cup is alcohol. In a shock to fans (and to Budweiser, the official beer of the tournament since 1986), Qatar reversed itself and decreed just before the event began that the sale of alcoholic beer (indeed, alcohol of any kind) would be banned in and around the stadiums.

But that didn’t affect the flow of free beer — or free champagne, Scotch, gin, whiskey, wine and other drinks — available to non-regular fans in the V.I.P., V.V.I.P. and hospitality areas. The rules, it seemed, did not apply to them.

At a $3,000-a-seat hospitality lounge at Al Bayt during the U.S.’s game with England, for instance, the bar menu included Taittinger Champagne, Chivas Regal 12-year-old whisky, Martell VSOP brandy and Jose Cuervo 1800 tequila.

“If you want to drink, you can’t drink in the stadiums,” said Keemya Najmi, who was visiting from Los Angeles with her family. “So this is just a lot more comfortable.”

Also adding to the comfort: a dedicated check-in desk staffed by smiling hosts doling out special passes and little gift bags; a coriander-infused welcome drink that was a jolt to the system; tables bedecked with nuts, dates, popcorn and potato chips; an endlessly sumptuous buffet comprising dishes like slow-cooked lamb shoulder and marinated tuna steak, along with a carving station and a selection of six desserts; and a band belting out cross-cultural fan favorites like “Sweet Caroline.”

In all, there are five tiers of “hospitality” in the stadiums, according to Match Hospitality, a FIFA partner that operates those sections, beginning with $950 stadium seats that serve street-style food, along with wine and beer. At the highest end are private suites that cost about $5,000 per person and offer six-course meals prepared by a private chef, cocktails served by sommeliers and mixologists and the promise of “guest appearances” by unnamed celebrities.

The most exclusive suite is the Pearl Lounge, right above the halfway line at Lusail Stadium, which offers each guest an “exceptional commemorative gift.” There is also, according to someone who has been in it, a suite at Al Bayt that, for some reason, boasts a retractable bed and a bathroom equipped with a shower.

This World Cup has taken in about $800 million in hospitality seat sales — a sports industry record, a Match Hospitality spokesman said. But many of those guests have paid for the privilege, unlike, it seems, the V.I.P.s (or the V.V.I.P.’s).

The taxonomy of V.I.P.-ness has been a matter of some debate among those on the other side of the velvet ropes. There are different theories. “The V.I.P.s are the sponsors,” declared a woman who, it must be said, works for one of the sponsors herself and was speaking in a hospitality lounge, not a V.I.P. suite. (She is not authorized to talk to the press and asked that her name not be used.)

No, said a Saudi journalist in the stands who also asked that his name not be used. “The V.I.P.s are usually from business and the banking sector,” he said. “The V.V.I.P.s are the emir and the people around him — his family, his father — and foreign officials.” Those would include, presumably, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who sat near the emir during the opening match, as well as Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who were spotted in a luxury box at the U.S. match.

There’s a consensus that top FIFA officials, like President Gianni Infantino, are V.V.I.P.s, but that other FIFA and FIFA-adjacent personnel are merely V.I.P.s.

Meanwhile, a Qatari involved in organizing logistics for the tournament, who did not want to speak on the record because he is not allowed to, said that sometimes there is a surfeit of V.I.P.s at Qatari events. In that case, so many people end up getting bumped up to V.V.I.P. status that the organizers are forced to create a new tier entirely: V.V.V.I.P., the human equivalent of a seven-star hotel...

Oh brother. V.V.V.I.P. Keep adding Vs and the designation is meaningless after a while. I mean, no self-respecting emir would let some commoner out V him in the luxury hospitality competition.

More at the link.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Cyber Monday!

Today's the day! The deals are in!

Here: Shop Cyber Monday Deals 2022

And check out the Top 100 Deals

Plus, Lightning Deals and Everyday Essentials

BONUS: Cormac McCarthy, The Passenger.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Shop Early for Cyber Monday

Get an early start, here: Cyber Monday 2022

When Ideology Trumps Empathy

From Heather Mac Donald, at City Journal, "Progressives profess to care deeply about inner-city black Americans, but their voting patterns suggest otherwise."


On Instagram:

Frank Dikötter, China After Mao

At Amazon, Frank Dikötter, China After Mao: The Rise of a Superpower.

Political Demonstrations in Open-Carry States Favor Right-Wing Viewpoints

Seems like an obvious point, since open-carry states are more likely to lean right than non-open carry states, so the New York Times has got something of a tautology going on here.

But in any case, here, "At Protests, Guns Are Doing the Talking":

Across the country, openly carrying a gun in public is no longer just an exercise in self-defense — increasingly it is a soapbox for elevating one’s voice and, just as often, quieting someone else’s.

This month, armed protesters appeared outside an elections center in Phoenix, hurling baseless accusations that the election for governor had been stolen from the Republican, Kari Lake. In October, Proud Boys with guns joined a rally in Nashville where conservative lawmakers spoke against transgender medical treatments for minors.

In June, armed demonstrations around the United States amounted to nearly one a day. A group led by a former Republican state legislator protested a gay pride event in a public park in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Men with guns interrupted a Juneteenth festival in Franklin, Tenn., handing out fliers claiming that white people were being replaced. Among the others were rallies in support of gun rights in Delaware and abortion rights in Georgia.

Whether at the local library, in a park or on Main Street, most of these incidents happen where Republicans have fought to expand the ability to bear arms in public, a movement bolstered by a recent Supreme Court ruling on the right to carry firearms outside the home. The loosening of limits has occurred as violent political rhetoric rises and the police in some places fear bloodshed among an armed populace on a hair trigger.

But the effects of more guns in public spaces have not been evenly felt. A partisan divide — with Democrats largely eschewing firearms and Republicans embracing them — has warped civic discourse. Deploying the Second Amendment in service of the First has become a way to buttress a policy argument, a sort of silent, if intimidating, bullhorn.

“It’s disappointing we’ve gotten to that state in our country,” said Kevin Thompson, executive director of the Museum of Science & History in Memphis, Tenn., where armed protesters led to the cancellation of an L.G.B.T.Q. event in September. “What I saw was a group of folks who did not want to engage in any sort of dialogue and just wanted to impose their belief.”

A New York Times analysis of more than 700 armed demonstrations found that, at about 77 percent of them, people openly carrying guns represented right-wing views, such as opposition to L.G.B.T.Q. rights and abortion access, hostility to racial justice rallies and support for former President Donald J. Trump’s lie of winning the 2020 election.

The records, from January 2020 to last week, were compiled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a nonprofit that tracks political violence around the world. The Times also interviewed witnesses to other, smaller-scale incidents not captured by the data, including encounters with armed people at indoor public meetings.

Anti-government militias and right-wing culture warriors like the Proud Boys attended a majority of the protests, the data showed. Violence broke out at more than 100 events and often involved fisticuffs with opposing groups, including left-wing activists such as antifa

Republican politicians are generally more tolerant of openly armed supporters than are Democrats, who are more likely to be on the opposing side of people with guns, the records suggest. In July, for example, men wearing sidearms confronted Beto O’Rourke, then the Democratic candidate for Texas governor, at a campaign stop in Whitesboro and warned that he was “not welcome in this town.”

Republican officials or candidates appeared at 32 protests where they were on the same side as those with guns. Democratic politicians were identified at only two protests taking the same view as those armed.

Sometimes, the Republican officials carried weapons: Robert Sutherland, a Washington state representative, wore a pistol on his hip while protesting Covid-19 restrictions in Olympia in 2020. “Governor,” he said, speaking to a crowd, “you send men with guns after us for going fishing. We’ll see what a revolution looks like.”

The occasional appearance of armed civilians at demonstrations or governmental functions is not new. In the 1960s, the Black Panthers displayed guns in public when protesting police brutality. Militia groups, sometimes armed, rallied against federal agents involved in violent standoffs at Ruby Ridge and Waco in the 1990s.

But the frequency of these incidents exploded in 2020, with conservative pushback against public health measures to fight the coronavirus and response to the sometimes violent rallies after the murder of George Floyd. Today, in some parts of the country with permissive gun laws, it is not unusual to see people with handguns or military-style rifles at all types of protests.

For instance, at least 14 such incidents have occurred in and around Dallas and Phoenix since May, including outside an F.B.I. field office to condemn the search of Mr. Trump’s home and, elsewhere, in support of abortion rights. In New York and Washington, where gun laws are strict, there were no

Many conservatives and gun-rights advocates envision virtually no limits. When Democrats in Colorado and Washington State passed laws this year prohibiting firearms at polling places and government meetings, Republicans voted against them. Indeed, those bills were the exception.

Attempts by Democrats to impose limits in other states have mostly failed, and some form of open carry without a permit is now legal in 38 states, a number that is likely to expand as legislation advances in several more. In Michigan, where a Tea Party group recently advertised poll-watcher training using a photo of armed men in camouflage, judges have rejected efforts to prohibit guns at voting locations.

Gun rights advocates assert that banning guns from protests would violate the right to carry firearms for self-defense. Jordan Stein, a spokesman for Gun Owners of America, pointed to Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager acquitted last year in the shooting of three people during a chaotic demonstration in Kenosha, Wis., where he had walked the streets with a military-style rifle.

“At a time when protests often devolve into riots, honest people need a means to protect themselves,” he said.

Two Strains of Christian Nationalism

A very interesting Twitter thread:

There are two primary strains of right-wing Christian Nationalism in America at the moment. 🧵

1) the most extensive, called Seven Mountains theology, bubbled up from independent charismatic entrepreneurs like Lance Wallnau. They rely on a novel interpretation of obscure biblical passages in Isaiah & Revelation that call for reclaiming 7 mountains of Christian social control, from government through education. If they succeed, then God will bless America. If they fail, then apocalypse now.

They have gone further and anointed Donald Trump as a messianic figure--what theologians call christological typology--and linked him to the biblical Persian King Cyrus, a pagan who protected the Israelites and fulfilled prophecy. I call these people "entrepreneurs" quite literally. Lance Wallnau sold $45 "prayer coins" superimposing Trump's face over Cyrus's.

You might call this a "grift," though that assumes that Wallnau isn't sincere and is just flogging goods in the metaphorical temple square.

7 Mountains rhetoric is widespread, with political operatives like Charlie Kirk and Michael Flynn using the language at their God & Country tours of megachurches.

2) But while 7 Mountains might be the most prominent Christian Nationalist variant, there is also version percolating out of theologically reformed Presbyterian and Baptist circles.

This book in particular has been getting attention on Twitter. [The Case for Christian Nationalism.]

It's not a good book--see @BrianGMattson on its demerits--but it's notable b/c it attempts to give an intellectual foundation to a movement that has been easy to ridicule as one step removed from snake handling. They're Claremont-ing, in other words.

The book is from Canon Press, which began as the vanity press for Douglas Wilson, a neo-Confederate Lost Cause apologist. (It's no accident that the author, Wolfe, has himself questioned interracial marriage.) This version of Christian Nationalism has deeper, hateful roots.

Although the theology is very different from 7 Mountains CN, this alt-Reformational CN is similar in this core regard:

Whether by rediscovery or invention, both are surfacing novel theological justifications for culture war politics rooted in Christian cultural status anxiety.

Invariably, both kinds of Christian Nationalist promote a similar political rhetoric steeped in fear of sinister, anti-Christian elites who are conniving to deconvert, degender, derace, and replace God-fearing Americans.

I'll end by noting that as a trained historian of religion & politics, right-wing Christian Nationalism is not a new phenomenon. American history is rife with variants of Christian Nationalism bubbling up, particularly at moments of intense religious & political anxiety.

The classic example is "Parson" Weems, the itinerant traveling book salesman and evangelical minister who concocted soothing fables about the virtuous Christian character of various founding fathers.

It's Weems who gave us Washington and the Cherry Tree, for instance:

It's also Weems who invented the story about George Washington praying at Valley Forge, a myth that I can tell you from personal experience lives on in the form of paintings in many a church lobby today.

Why would Weems spread these myths in the 1820s/30s?

Because Americans in general, and evangelical Americans in particular, were anxious.

They were the 1st post-Revolution generation. The Founders & veterans were dying off. Would the American experiment survive?

In the midst of the tumultuous market revolution, early industrialization, westward expansion, and religious upheaval, what would the future look like??

So entrepreneurs--literally--like Weems wove them comforting tales. Yes, America would survive and thrive as a nation because it was grounded in orthodox, religious faith. The Founders were evangelical Christians just like you.

See, look! Washington even prayed at Valley Forge!

Sidenote: the most famous GW at Valley Forge painting was made in 1975 anticipating the bicentennial by a Mormon painter named Arnold Friberg who studied with Norman Rockwell.

It's a reminder that Mitt Romney wasn't the first (or even the second) Mormon moment!

I mention Mormons as a reminder that there are older non-evangelical versions of Christian Nationalism. Joseph Smith codified American exceptionalism in the Book of Mormon in the same milieu that Parson Weems was operating in. Thus the Missouri Garden of Eden, Mormon ancestors as the ten lost tribes, the Constitution & Declaration of Independence are considered literal sacred scripture, & so on. Mormonism has American Christian Nationalism in its bones.

Friberg's 1975 painting is also a reminder that the seventies were another era of Christian Nationalist resurgence. In 1977 two charismatic Christian Nationalists wrote a book called "The Light and the Glory," which sacralized America's national history.

It spread like wildfire in the new Christian homeschooling movement, through evangelical & pentecostal Christian bookstores, and was just hugely influential. I'd argue it's right up there in terms of internal influence w/ the Chronicles of Narnia & the Scofield Reference Bible.

Again, you can immediately sense the anxiety that underpinned the book's core message. Coming off the sixties counter-cultural revolutions and in the midst of what historians have called the "decade of nightmares" (the seventies), the fear pervades the text. From the intro:

Historians who were themselves confessing Christians tried to tell evangelicals that these were paranoid myths, but they were largely ignored. The odds of finding this book in your church bookstore is infinitesimally lower than finding "The Light and the Glory" on the shelf!

I could talk about other right-wing Christian Nationalists--Rushdoony-ites! Barton and the Wallbuilders!--but I want to end by noting that before you cast the first stone at the more outré varieties, bear in mind that Christian nationalisms are pervasive. When politicians from both parties talk about America being a "city on a hill," borrowing the rhetoric from a Puritan colonist, that's Christian nationalism

When you have a wedding ceremony at the Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge, that's ritualistic participation in a form of Christian Nationalism.

If you stop at the "Stonewall Jackson Shrine," you're hearing a ghostly echo of a Christian Nationalist variant that emerged to contest other Christian Nationalisms.

In every case--whether it's one of which you approve or detest--remember that it is very American and very human, to want to sacralize one's political project. It might function as a soothing lie or as a political weapon, but it's always useful.

Thanksgiving With Annie Agar

She's spectacular, on Twitter.

Why Talk of the 'Abrahamic' Faiths is an Ecumenical Farce

From Raymond Ibrahim, at FrontPage Magazine, "Spearheaded by Pope Francis":

What if you had a deceased grandfather whom you were particularly fond of, and out of the blue, a stranger says: “Hey, that’s my grandpa!” Then—lest you think this stranger is somehow trying to ingratiate himself with you—he adds: “And everything you thought you knew about grandpa is wrong! Here, let me tell you what he really said and did throughout his life.” The stranger then proceeds to inform you that much of the good things you had long attributed to your grandfather were, not just false, but the exact opposite of what he is now attributing to your grandfather—much of which you find immensely disturbing.

Would that endear this stranger to you? Every proponent of the so-called “Abrahamic Faiths” apparently thinks so.

I will explain, but first let’s define “Abrahamism”: because the patriarch Abraham is an important figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all three religions, according to this position, share a commonality that should bridge gaps and foster growth between them.

Pope Francis is one of the chief proponents of this view. Speaking of his recent participation at an interfaith conference in Bahrain, he said his purpose was to create “fraternal alliances” with Muslims “in the name of our Father Abraham.”

Even so, Abrahamism is hardly limited to octogenarian theologians; it’s entrenched in mainstream American discourse. Thus, even the Huffington Post (rather ludicrously) claims that “Muhammad clearly rejected elitism and racism and demanded that Muslims see their Abrahamic brothers and sisters as equals before God.” In fact, Muhammad and his Allah called for perpetual war on Christians and Jews, until they either embraced Islam or lived in humbled submission to their Muslim conquerors (Koran 9:29).

That, of course, did not stop former Secretary of State John Kerry from beating on a mosque drum and calling Muslims to prayer during his visit to Indonesia—before gushing: “It has been a special honor to visit this remarkable place of worship. We are all bound to one God and the Abrahamic faiths tie us together in love for our fellow man and honor for the same God.”

After a Muslim from an Oklahoma City mosque decapitated a woman, “an official from Washington D.C. flew in to Oklahoma to present a special thank you to the Muslim congregation,” lest they feel too guilty over their coreligionist’s actions. He read them a message from former President Barack Obama: “Your service is a powerful example of the powerful roots of the Abrahamic faiths and how our communities can come together with shared peace with dignity and a sense of justice.”

Needless to say, Obama himself has often spoken of “the shared Abrahamic roots of three of the world’s major religions.”

Meanwhile, few people seem to have given this Abrahamic business much thought: How is one people’s appropriation of another people’s heritage—which is precisely what Abrahamism is all about—supposed to help the two peoples get along?

For starters, Islam does not represent biblical characters the way they are presented in the Bible, the oldest book in existence that mentions them. Christians accept the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, as it is. They do not add, take away, or distort the accounts of the patriarchs that Jews also rely on.

Conversely, while also relying on the figures of the Old and New Testaments—primarily for the weight of antiquity and authority attached to their names—Islam completely recasts them to fit its own agendas.

One need only look to the topic at hand for proof: Abraham.

Jews and Christians focus on different aspects of Abraham—the former see him as their patriarch in the flesh, the latter as their patriarch in faith or in spirit (e.g., Gal 3:6)—but they both rely on the same verbatim account of Abraham as found in Genesis.

In the Muslim account, however, not only does Abraham (Ibrahim) quit his country on God’s promise that he will make him “a great nation” (Gen. 12), but he exemplifies the hate Muslims are obligated to have for all non-Muslims: “You have a good example in Abraham and those who followed him,” Allah informs Muslims in Koran 60:4; “for they said to their people, ‘We disown you and the idols that you worship besides Allah. We renounce you: enmity and hate shall reign between us until you believe in Allah alone.’”

In fact, Koran 60:4 is the cornerstone verse that all “radical” Muslims—from al-Qaeda to the Islamic State—cite as proof that Muslims “must be hostile to the infidel—even if he is liberal and kind to you” (to quote the revered Sheikh Ibn Taymiyya, The Al-Qaeda Reader, p. 84).

Thus, immediately after quoting 60:4, Osama bin Laden once wrote:

So there is an enmity, evidenced by fierce hostility, and an internal hate from the heart. And this fierce hostility—that is, battle—ceases only if the infidel submits to the authority of Islam, or if his blood is forbidden from being shed [a dhimmi], or if the Muslims are [at that point in time] weak and incapable [of spreading sharia law to the world]. But if the hate at any time extinguishes from the hearts, this is great apostasy [The Al-Qaeda Reader, p. 43].

Such is the mutilation Patriarch Abraham has undergone in Islam. Not only is he not a source of commonality between Muslims on the one hand and Jews and Christians on the other; he is the chief figure to justify “enmity and hate … between us until you believe in Allah alone.”

Islam’s appropriation of Abraham has led to other, more concrete problems, of the sort one can expect when a stranger appears and says that the home you live in was actually bequeathed to him by your supposedly “shared” grandfather. Although the Jews claimed the Holy Land as their birthright for well over a millennium before Muhammad and Islam came along, Jerusalem is now special to Muslims partially because they also claim Abraham and other biblical figures.

As a result, statements like the following from mainline Christian groups such as the Presbyterian Church USA are common: “[PCUSA] strongly condemns the U.S. President’s [Trump’s] decision to single out Jerusalem as a Jewish capital. Jerusalem is the spiritual heart of three Abrahamic faiths …”

The Muslim appropriation and mutilation of revered biblical figures is a source of problems, not solutions. When, as another example, Islam’s Jesus—Isa—returns, he will smash all crosses (because they signify His death and resurrection, which Islam vehemently denies), abrogate the jizya (or dhimmi status, meaning Christians must either become Muslim or die) and slaughter all the pigs to boot. Again, not exactly a great shared source of “commonality” for Christians and Muslims.

It is only the secular mindset, which cannot comprehend beyond the surface fact that three religions claim the same figures—and so they must all eventually “be friends”—that does not and never will get it. All the more shame, then, that supposed Christian leaders, such as Pope Francis, rely on such “logic.”

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving Deal: Sony 65 Inch 4K Ultra HD LED Smart TV with Dolby Vision

Three-hundred off on this puppy!

At Amazon, Sony 65 Inch 4K Ultra HD TV X80K Series: LED Smart Google TV with Dolby Vision HDR KD65X80K- 2022 Model.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! And thank you for shopping through my Amazon links

Katie Pavlich

She's awesome.

She'll blast you out of your boots if you try to take her turkey!

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

John K. Amanchukwu, Eraced

At Amazon, John K. Amanchukwu, Eraced: Uncovering the Lies of Critical Race Theory and Abortion.

Beautiful Ms. Alyssa

On Instagram.

Corporate Consolidation in Publishing Industry Downshifts After Penguin's Bid to Acquire Simon & Schuster Collapses

Even Stephen King was against the merger, which was very likely to hurt the little people in the publishing world, those who don't have the enormous influence and market share as The Shining author.

At the New York Times, "A Huge Merger’s Collapse Breaks a Pattern of Consolidation in Publishing":

The deal to acquire Simon & Schuster would have made the buyer, Penguin Random House, even larger, and reduced the number of big publishers in the U.S. to four.

After two years of regulatory scrutiny and heated speculation in the publishing world, after a hard-fought court battle and hundreds of millions of dollars in expenses, Penguin Random House’s deal to buy Simon & Schuster officially collapsed on Monday.

The unraveling of this agreement stopped the largest publisher in the United States from growing substantially larger. It also paused consolidation in an industry that has been profoundly reshaped by mergers and acquisitions, with little regulatory intervention.

The implosion of the deal came three weeks after a federal judge ruled against Penguin Random House in an antitrust trial, blocking the sale from going forward on the grounds that the merger would be bad for competition and harmful to authors. In order to appeal the Oct. 31 ruling, Penguin Random House needed Paramount Global, Simon & Schuster’s parent company, to extend the purchase agreement, which expires on Tuesday. Instead, Paramount decided to terminate the deal, leaving Penguin Random House out of legal options and obligated to pay them a termination fee of $200 million.

“Penguin Random House remains convinced that it is the best home for Simon & Schuster’s employees and authors,” Penguin Random House said in a statement. “We believe the judge’s ruling is wrong and planned to appeal the decision, confident we could make a compelling and persuasive argument to reverse the lower court ruling on appeal. However, we have to accept Paramount’s decision not to move forward.” The outcome of the trial came as a shock to many in publishing, who have watched the number of big firms dwindle to five, even as those five — Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Hachette and Simon & Schuster — got larger by buying small and midsize publishing houses. Many feared that the further reduction in the number of big publishing houses to four would leave authors and literary agents with fewer buyers for their books, and would make it even harder for smaller publishers to compete. Many were especially wary of Penguin Random House — already by far the largest publisher in the United States — getting even bigger by absorbing a rival. Penguin Random House has about 100 imprints; together they publish more than 2,000 titles a year. The merger would have given it Simon & Schuster’s approximately 50 imprints, as well as the company’s vast and valuable backlist of older titles.

As it turned out, the Justice Department and the judge who heard the case had similar concerns and blocked the deal, an outcome that some authors and industry organizations celebrated as a necessary check on consolidation.

“The market is already too consolidated,” said Mary Rasenberger, chief executive of the Authors Guild, an advocacy group for writers that opposed the purchase. “A healthy publishing ecosystem is one that has many publishers with different tastes and interests and degrees of risk they’re willing to assume.”

This extends a period of uncertainty at Simon & Schuster, but it is one they are in a good position to navigate. The company’s recent performance has been strong, even as the results have sagged at other major publishers. Its profits for the first nine months of the year were up 29 percent compared to the same time last year, putting it on its way to a having a record-breaking year...


Lots to Be Thankful for This Thanksgiving (VIDEO)

It's Laura Ingraham, still the best opinion commentator on Fox:

'Democrats need to get the same treatment. Tit for tat/mutual assured destruction is the only way they'll learn...'

From Glenn Reynolds, at Instapundit, "Marjorie Taylor Greene says her legal bill is $700,000. ""Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) reelection was such a sure thing that she was projected the winner as polls closed on Election Day, but that didn’t stop liberal groups from challenging her right to be on the ballot. In addition to facing a well-financed upstart challenger in a race she won 66%-34%, she faced a challenge to having her name on the ballot by a group that labeled her an insurrectionist for defending some of those jailed in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots'."

Colorado Club Shooting Suspect is Non-Binary

Well, that fucked up the left's "right-wing hate" narrative, the motherfuckers. This was an LBGTQIA+ nightclub, and the smears were just too irresistible for the vile, demonic left. 

At Twitchy, "Stephanie Ruhle didn’t let new info about Club Q shooter disrupt her narrative about ‘the far Right’."

Also, "Watch Alisyn Camerota’s brain break as she reports that CO shooter is ‘non-binary’."

Main story at the New York Post, "Colorado Springs shooting suspect Anderson Aldrich is nonbinary: lawyers."

Elon Musk: I Agreed to Let a Group of Leftwing Censors Advise Twitter on Content Moderation If They Agreed Not to Conspire to Pressure Advertisers to Boycott Twitter to Kill the Site. I Did That, But Then They Pressured Advertisers to Drop Me Anyway.

At AoSHQ, "A few weeks ago, conservatives were disappointed when Elon Musk announced Twitter would be consulting with leftwing censorship groups such as the noxious Southern Poverty Grifting Center, I mean Law Center, and the Democrat front group the ADL. A couple of days ago, the head of the ADL complained that Twitter had restored Donald Trump's twitter account. Donald Trump -- who has Jewish grandchildren. And then he asked, 'Is it time for Twitter to go?'"

Are Store Shortages and Empty Shelves On Purpose?

At Issues & Insights, "As Shortages Persist Under Biden, It’s Time To Ask: Is This On Purpose?"

Did the United States suddenly become a socialist basket case? It’s hard not to come to that conclusion after reading about the endless shortages plaguing the nation. Each of which President Joe Biden either seems clueless to resolve or determined to make worse.

Let’s start with the biggest one: the shortage of diesel fuel. While Biden was busy draining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to tamp down gas prices before the midterm elections, the real worry was that supplies of diesel fuel have been running short.

Two years after the short-lived COVID lockdowns ended, diesel inventories continued to trend downward to their lowest levels since 2008. The cost for a gallon of diesel fuel is 46% higher than it was a year ago, according to AAA, and now costs more than $5 a gallon.

That affects every corner of the economy because, while passenger cars mostly use regular gasoline, diesel powers just about everything else that makes the economy move, and many homes, especially in the northeast, rely on heating oil – a related product – to keep their families from freezing to death...



Shooter Who Killed Six at Virginia Walmart Was an Employee, Police Say

At the Wall Street Journal, "Man Suspected of Killing Six at Virginia Walmart Was an Employee: Four others are injured and assailant is dead, Chesapeake police said; ‘my heart hurts for our associates,’ Walmart CEO says."

Holiday Deals for Men

At Amazon, Holiday Deals 2022 for Men

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Tess Gunty Wins National Book Award for Her Novel, The Rabbit Hutch

I picked up a copy of the book. Check it out, The Rabbit Hutch: A Novel.

She's young and beautiful.

The Great Teacher Resignation

Interesting article, though it downplays leftist indoctrination in the schools. Otherwise, do doubt America's teachers are fucked.

See, "Empty Classrooms, Abandoned Kids: Inside America’s Great Teacher Resignation."

Good video at the link.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Another Post-Election Surprise! Trump Was Not, Repeat Not, Attempting to Sell Nuclear Secrets to Russia, Admit FBI Leakers and Washington Post

At AoSHQ, "Another revelation it's safe to disclose... after the election."

Pauline in Baja

On Instagram

Dave Chappelle's Opening Bit on Saturday Night Live (VIDEO)

I watched it. Pure genius, and funny as hell. Un-PC, though. Some folks got their skivvies twisted

At Vanity Fair, "Live From New York: Dave Chappelle Turns SNL Into Chappelle's Show — The controversial comedian opened his third hosting turn with a passionate 15-minute monologue touching on Kanye and Trump."


Twitter Workers Say Farewell After Musk Ultimatum Over Terms of Employment Passes

It was a bad day for Elon Musk, it turns out. Folks on the platform are talking like it's the end of the world. If goes down, it goes down. RIP. WTF. 

At the Wall Street Journal, "Company follows up with practical details after billionaire challenges remaining employees to be ‘hardcore’ or leave: ‘This is not a phishing attempt’."

And Paige Spirinac is ready, "Here’s my cleavage for the last time on twitter if it shuts down."

Monday, November 14, 2022

Early Black Friday Deals

At Amazon, Early Black Friday Deals 2022.

Donald T. Critchlow, Revolutionary Monsters

At Amazon, Donald T. Critchlow, Revolutionary Monsters: Five Men Who Turned Liberation into Tyranny.


I could marry this woman -- if I wasn't already married!

On Twitter.

Mollie Hemingway, Rigged

Mollie Hemingway, Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections.

Control of Congress Comes Down to California


At the Los Angeles Times, "‘It will absolutely come down to California’: Control of the House hinges on 9 state races."

The Normie Center Strikes Back

Do what you will with this.

From Andrew Sullivan, "Democracy works, survives, and can surprise us (including me). A great night":

Let’s first herald the truly good news. Democracy surprised almost all of us, as it sometimes does. It made some of us look a bit foolish (more on that in a bit). It defied most predictions and historic analogies. The election ended up with a super-close race for both House and Senate — highly unusual for a midterm when inflation is soaring and most people are super bummed about the country.

More good news: Joe Biden’s “Jim Crow 2.0” failed to materialize in Georgia. And most important of all: there are (currently) no widespread allegations of fraud or illegitimacy, despite many close races; and the candidates who made election denial their platform lost decisively. The thumping defeat of nutjob Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania — and the way he helped drag down other Republican candidates in the states — is just fantastic. According to the exit polls, “79 percent said they were very (47 percent) or somewhat (33 percent) confident that elections in their state were being conducted fairly and accurately.” Huge and encouraging news.

And it behooves me to note that Biden’s speech on democracy last week was in retrospect right in its priorities. Voters are worried about democracy’s survival and Biden’s distinction between MAGA Republicans and the rest obviously worked with some, including Republicans. Voters who “somewhat disapproved” of Biden’s record nonetheless broke for the Dems when the alternative was a MAGA loony.

Yes, as I anticipated, there was pushback to Democratic extremism. Republicans look set to win the popular vote overall. Where CRT was on the ballot — in school board races, where it belongs — it lost badly everywhere. The Latino vote kept trending GOP, making even Miami-Dade a Republican bastion. In New York City especially, Asian-Americans’ support for the GOP soared. We even have the first openly gay MAGA congressman. The Squad members of Congress all saw their support slide in their safe districts.

On the “LGBTQIA+” question, “26 percent said our society’s values on gender identity and sexual orientation are changing for the better, 50 percent for the worse.” That’s a huge backlash against “queer” and trans extremism, and it’s hurting gays and lesbians. And in the face of media insistence that America is an objectively white supremacist country, 45 percent said racism was either not a problem at all or a minor one. (Fifty-three percent said major.)

This is striking: around a third of non-white, non-college voters went Republican. According to exit polls, Asian-Americans went from 77 percent Democrat in 2018 to around 60 percent now. Latinos went from 70 to 60. (One irony is that Republicans gained many minority votes in solid red states, which didn’t have much of an effect on the outcome, but bolsters their raw numbers.)

But these trends were overwhelmed by other issues, and did not amount to the kind of decisive rejection of Democratic leftism I favored and suspected would happen. I was wrong. I remain convinced that wokeness is terribly destructive to liberal society, but my obsessions are obviously not everyone’s. And my fault was in not seeing how MAGA extremism — the sheer anti-democratic crazy of the GOP — was seen by independent voters as far more dangerous than the crazy left. I actually agree — see this recent piece, for example — and if I didn’t live in a super-blue city, I might have felt differently about my protest vote. But from the broadest perspective, I was simply wrong to emphasize the impact of the far left as much as I have. You’ve told me this many times. I should have listened more, and I will.

Let’s first herald the truly good news. Democracy surprised almost all of us, as it sometimes does. It made some of us look a bit foolish (more on that in a bit). It defied most predictions and historic analogies. The election ended up with a super-close race for both House and Senate — highly unusual for a midterm when inflation is soaring and most people are super bummed about the country.

More good news: Joe Biden’s “Jim Crow 2.0” failed to materialize in Georgia. And most important of all: there are (currently) no widespread allegations of fraud or illegitimacy, despite many close races; and the candidates who made election denial their platform lost decisively. The thumping defeat of nutjob Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania — and the way he helped drag down other Republican candidates in the states — is just fantastic. According to the exit polls, “79 percent said they were very (47 percent) or somewhat (33 percent) confident that elections in their state were being conducted fairly and accurately.” Huge and encouraging news.

And it behooves me to note that Biden’s speech on democracy last week was in retrospect right in its priorities. Voters are worried about democracy’s survival and Biden’s distinction between MAGA Republicans and the rest obviously worked with some, including Republicans. Voters who “somewhat disapproved” of Biden’s record nonetheless broke for the Dems when the alternative was a MAGA loony.

Yes, as I anticipated, there was pushback to Democratic extremism. Republicans look set to win the popular vote overall. Where CRT was on the ballot — in school board races, where it belongs — it lost badly everywhere. The Latino vote kept trending GOP, making even Miami-Dade a Republican bastion. In New York City especially, Asian-Americans’ support for the GOP soared. We even have the first openly gay MAGA congressman. The Squad members of Congress all saw their support slide in their safe districts.

On the “LGBTQIA+” question, “26 percent said our society’s values on gender identity and sexual orientation are changing for the better, 50 percent for the worse.” That’s a huge backlash against “queer” and trans extremism, and it’s hurting gays and lesbians. And in the face of media insistence that America is an objectively white supremacist country, 45 percent said racism was either not a problem at all or a minor one. (Fifty-three percent said major.)

This is striking: around a third of non-white, non-college voters went Republican. According to exit polls, Asian-Americans went from 77 percent Democrat in 2018 to around 60 percent now. Latinos went from 70 to 60. (One irony is that Republicans gained many minority votes in solid red states, which didn’t have much of an effect on the outcome, but bolsters their raw numbers.)

But these trends were overwhelmed by other issues, and did not amount to the kind of decisive rejection of Democratic leftism I favored and suspected would happen. I was wrong. I remain convinced that wokeness is terribly destructive to liberal society, but my obsessions are obviously not everyone’s. And my fault was in not seeing how MAGA extremism — the sheer anti-democratic crazy of the GOP — was seen by independent voters as far more dangerous than the crazy left. I actually agree — see this recent piece, for example — and if I didn’t live in a super-blue city, I might have felt differently about my protest vote. But from the broadest perspective, I was simply wrong to emphasize the impact of the far left as much as I have. You’ve told me this many times. I should have listened more, and I will...


Sunday, November 13, 2022

Lyle Jeremy Rubin, Pain Is Weakness Leaving the Body

Lyle Jeremy Rubin, Pain Is Weakness Leaving the Body: A Marine's Unbecoming.

Lovely Kate

On Instagram.

After Midterm Election Disappointment, GOP Faces Leadership Choices

McConnell might be out.

At WSJ, "Trump is set to launch another presidential bid as party considers McCarthy’s and McConnell’s roles on Capitol Hill":

WASHINGTON—Republicans face a week that will be crucial in deciding the future direction and leadership of the party in the wake of disappointing midterm elections.

Former President Donald Trump is expected to announce another bid for the White House at 9 p.m. Tuesday in Palm Beach, Fla. House Republicans are scheduled to vote the same day on whether to choose House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) as their candidate for speaker. Some Senate Republicans are pushing to delay beyond this week a decision on whether to hand Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) another term as their leader.

Those moves will come after elections that many Republicans believed would deliver the party a sizable majority in the House and control of the Senate. Instead, they failed to capture the Senate majority and appear headed for only a slim edge in the House.

Some Republicans contend that Mr. Trump’s influence and endorsement choices cost the party winnable races in key states, partly by repelling some independent voters. Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears, a Republican who previously supported Mr. Trump, said on Fox Business that she couldn’t do so again after the midterm results.

“The voters have spoken, and they’ve said that they want a different leader,” she said. “And a true leader understands when they have become a liability. A true leader understands that it’s time to step off the stage.”

In response, a spokesman for Mr. Trump said: “Winsome Sears rode a wave of President Trump’s voters to election victory in 2021. Her comments are a slap to the face to all of the grass-roots Republicans that worked so hard to get her elected. They won’t forget this, and there will be a reckoning.” ...

A reckoning? Or a crackup? 

Stay tuned. Trump's expected announce his 2024 presidential bid on Tuesday.

More at the link.


Saturday, November 12, 2022

American Politics Is Being Shaped by the AWFLs (Affluent White Liberal Feminists)

From Mary Harrington, at UnHerd, "A sex war is coming":

“Gas prices? They’ll go down. But sure, tell me more about how you want the government to tell me what to do with my body.” So writes one liberal feminist on Twitter, following it up with: “Republicans suck. I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t want to hear your side. I don’t care. Y’all are bad people.”

If 21st-century politics is shaping up as class war, the American midterm elections have concretised a troubling facet of this political landscape: this class war is also a sex war.

Writing about the dynamic as a feminist is uncomfortable in the extreme because it’s difficult to do so without being accused of misogyny. This is not least because among the very online Right, there really is more than a tinge of misogyny to the term most commonly used to denote progressive-leaning Virtual women: AWFLs.

Coined by Right-wing commentator Scott Greer, AWFL stands for “affluent white female liberals”, and generally connotes not just the demographic but its perceived characteristic worldview — a mixture of progressive moral piety, self-righteousness, hypocrisy and unexamined class snobbery.

Whether or not you agree with this hostile evaluation, the AWFL class has been growing in relative power and influence for some decades. This is for wholly non-conspiratorial reasons: very simply, technological advancements have delivered new opportunities for well-qualified knowledge workers of both sexes, even as the same changes have automated and de-industrialised away the physically more arduous work previously performed mostly by working-class men. This virtualisation of work has, overall, benefited women much more than men.

Accordingly, women have seized the opportunity. American colleges have been majority-female since the late Seventies, and today, women outnumber men at undergraduate level in most colleges, with the disparity as large as 60%-40% in some elite institutions. And this has turned out a steadily compounding supermajority of knowledge-class women, which forms an increasingly heavy-hitting part of the rising Virtual elite.

The gradual extension of ever more spheres of work to relatively equal participation is, to a great extent, an effect of the transition away from physical toward knowledge work — but is routinely framed as “progress” in an abstract sense. In suggesting a more material interpretation of this change, I’m not making the opposite argument, that this represents decline. More women in public life is not in itself a bad thing, unless you really are a misogynist. But as female graduates have embraced professional life across knowledge-economy and bureaucratic roles, and their influence has compounded over time, this shift has redrawn the political map in important ways — not least by tilting visible public discourse Left, in ways that only ambivalently reflect the electorate overall.

At undergraduate level, women are especially heavily represented among arts and social sciences courses – topics so overwhelmingly progressive that only 9% of undergraduates vote Republican. These overwhelmingly Left-wing female graduates then cluster in the institutions that set and manage social and cultural norms, such as education, media, and HR. In American nonprofits, for example, 75% are female, while HR, the division of corporate life most concerned with managing the moral parameters of everyday working life, is two-thirds female.

And those progressive graduate women who aren’t busy shaping public morals via nonprofits and HR departments are busy doing so for the next generation in schools: 76% of American teachers are women. Inevitably, given that all US states require teachers to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, these are also uniformly drawn from the female demographic most likely to be very liberal.

When Meghan McCain’s husband talked about how the Democrats will soon be dominated by “millennial girlboss energy” types and described the prospect as “crazytown”, progressive firebrand Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez was strictly correct to point out that women make up less than a third of the Senate, and millennials only 7%. But this is to miss the point.

The AWFL demographic, relatively underrepresented in the Senate, is overrepresented across media, journalism, nonprofits, HR departments, academia, and school teachers. Their views can expect enthusiastic signal-boosting and institutional support from such bodies. They’re also the demographic most overwhelmingly likely to vote Democrat. No wonder their political priorities increasingly shape Democratic political platforms: their high visibility makes it easy to mistake them for the entirety of the Left.

Even the staunchly liberal New Yorker has worried recently that this constitutes a blind spot, while the far-Left Jacobin described the emphasis of New York’s Kathy Hochul on abortion rather than inflation as “girlboss politics”. Much was made of a WSJ poll last week, that suggested, albeit based on a small sample, that even white suburban women (an affluent demographic that overlaps with the derisive “AWFL” designation) were swinging against the Democrats based on economic concerns.

But results so far suggest that this swing, if it’s come at all, has been muted. And perhaps this makes sense. For the changing nature of work isn’t the only way this political bloc relies on technology for its ascendancy...


How the 2022 Midterms Became a Squeaker

At the New York Times, "Interviews with more than 70 current and former officials show the outside forces — and miscalculations and infighting — that led to an improbable, still-undecided election":

Late one mid-September evening, the leaders of the House Democratic campaign arm were in the middle of a marathon meeting, grappling with an increasingly hostile midterm landscape. Two choices were on the table: a more defensive posture to limit their losses in the face of a potential red wave or a more aggressive approach in hopes of saving their paper-thin majority.

Leftover Chinese food was strewn about. The hour approached midnight. The decision was made. They would go all in for the majority — the pundits, polling and punishing political environment be damned. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, the chairman of the group, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, walked to the whiteboard and scrawled a single word.


The man who made that Ted Lasso-style exhortation went down to defeat on Tuesday. And Democrats are still facing the likelihood of ceding control of the House of Representatives to Republicans, no matter their morale-building exercises.

Yet Democrats turned in the strongest midterm showing in two decades for a party holding the White House, keeping the House on such a razor’s edge that control is still up for grabs days after the polls closed. In the Senate, Democrats have a path not only to keeping power but even to expanding their majority if the remaining races go their way, including a Georgia runoff. And the party won several key governorships, too.

The breadth of success caught even the most optimistic corners of the party by surprise. House Republicans had planned a big victory party on Tuesday, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi was hunkered down behind closed doors at a Democratic headquarters.

All the conditions appeared to have been set for a Democratic wipeout: inflation at 40-year highs, concerns about crime, elevated gas prices, the typical thrust for change.

How the midterms turned out so improbably was, in many ways, a function of forces beyond Democrats’ control. A Supreme Court decision that stripped away a half-century of abortion rights galvanized their base. A polarizing, unpopular and ever-present former president, Donald J. Trump, provided the type of ready-made foil whom White Houses rarely enjoy.

But interviews with more than 70 people — party strategists, lawmakers and current and former White House officials — also revealed crucial tactical decisions, strategic miscalculations, misreading of polls, infighting and behind-the-scenes maneuvering in both parties that led the G.O.P. to blow its chance at a blowout...

Keep reading.


Why Independent Voters Broke for Democrats in the Midterms

Trump's radioactive, it turns out. 

If he's not now, we'll know for sure after he makes his big announcement on November 15th. See how the Democrat Media Complex responds to that.

At the Wall Street Journal, "GOP candidates closely aligned with Trump turned off some centrists and in-play Republicans":

Lisa Ghelfi, a 58-year-old registered Republican in Arizona, voted for Donald Trump for president two years ago but has grown tired of his election-fraud claims. It is the main reason she voted for Democrats for governor, senator, secretary of state and attorney general this fall and plans to change her registration to independent.

“Not allowing the election to be settled, it’s very divisive,” Ms. Ghelfi, a semiretired attorney from Paradise Valley, said of the 2020 race. “I think the election spoke for itself.” She said she voted for Republicans down-ballot who weren’t as vocal about election fraud or as closely tied to Mr. Trump, yet couldn’t support Arizona’s four major Republican candidates because they echoed Mr. Trump’s false claims.

Republicans succeeded in one of their top goals this year: They brought more of their party’s voters to the polls than did Democrats. But in the course of energizing their core voters, Republicans in many states lost voters in the political center—both independents and many Republicans who are uneasy with elements of the party’s focus under Mr. Trump.

Control of the House and Senate, which had seemed poised to land with the Republican Party, is coming down to a handful of races that so far are too close to call, though the GOP remains on track to winning a narrow majority in the House. Republicans have won nearly 5.5 million more votes in House races than have Democrats, a tally by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report finds, as many voters were motivated by anxiety over high inflation and a low opinion of President Biden’s response.

At the same time, Republican analysts said their unexpectedly weak showing in the election indicated that they had failed to press hard enough on those issues. In Michigan, the Republican Party’s state committee said a failure to talk to voters in the political center was a central reason that Tudor Dixon, the party’s Trump-endorsed nominee for governor, was crushed in a 10 percentage point defeat by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“Tudor’s efforts focused largely on Republican red-meat issues, in hopes of inspiring a 2020-like showing at the polls,” a memo from the GOP committee said. “There were more ads on transgender sports than inflation, gas prices and bread-and-butter issues that could have swayed independent voters.”

More than 30% of the midterm voter pool, by one measure, were independent voters, or people who don’t affiliate with either political party. David Winston, a Republican pollster who consults with the party’s House and Senate leadership, said polling showed that they were unhappy with the country’s direction and assigned blame for high inflation to President Biden.

“So, the door was open for Republicans to have a good interaction,” Mr. Winston said. “If everyone was focused on turnout of their base, they missed almost a third of the electorate—and basically the third of the electorate that’s in play.”

Mike Cernovich, a conservative blogger and supporter of Mr. Trump, said in an online analysis of the election outcome, “I would say the single biggest issue was, if your focus in 2022 was the 2020 election, then you were going to have a bad night with independents.”

Nationally, Republican candidates this year had the advantage of a favorable voter mix. Some 49% of midterm voters were Republicans, and 43% were Democrats, a 6-point GOP advantage, AP VoteCast, a large survey of the midterm electorate, found.

The GOP edge was similar or larger in states with competitive Senate races: 5 points in Pennsylvania, 8 points in Georgia and 11 points in Arizona. Despite those advantages, Republicans lost the Senate races in Pennsylvania and Arizona and will compete again in Georgia, where the race goes to a runoff next month.

Undercutting the GOP advantage was that independents favored Democrats by 4 points nationally, the survey found, and by a far more substantial 18 points in Pennsylvania, 28 points in Georgia and more than 30 points in Arizona.

Polling shows that independent voters have little enthusiasm for either party. Both parties were viewed favorably by less than 30% of independents and unfavorably by 50% or more, the AP VoteCast survey found.

“It’s picking the lesser of two evils sometimes,” said Micki LePla, 65, a retired respiratory therapist near Port Huron, Mich., who backed Ms. Whitmer for governor...