Desperate Democrats?

A new fragrance

Is there no end to the arrogance, the blind arrogance, of the promotors of abortion here in the United States? But it is not only their arrogance which astounds, or their apparently wilful blindness. It is their determination to blatantly hoodwink and deceive.

But deceit has always been at the heart of abortion. The deceit stretches from the denial of the simple truth that a life is a life is a life, all the way to the litany of deceits which gave this country the Roe v Wade judgement and the media manipulation of events surrounding the tragic death of Savita Halapanaver which brought Ireland into this evil empire

In many ways this new wave of deceit has something of the flavour of desperation about it. As they see the increasing momentum of the swing away from their cause among moderate voters, the majority of whom now do not want the extreme provisions of abortion up to birth – and even beyond – they are now telling bare-faced lies to push their case.

As the body of scientific evidence mounts, destroying the lie that the the child in the womb is no more than a clump of cells, and as the rational and emotional recognition of that lie increases, their desperation grows.

Their latest fiction goes well beyond the category of fake news, so far beyond it that one wonders what kind of malaise must be affecting the deductive mental processes of those advancing it. And it seems to be an infectious disorder.

Lawrence Tribe is a Harvard law professor. He has tweeted the following “warning” to his followers:

White Supremacists oppose abortion because they fear it’ll reduce the number of white infants and thus contribute to what they fear as non-white “replacement.” Never underestimate the way these issues and agendas are linked. This turns “intersectionality” on its head.

Whatever about ‘intersectionality”, one is really left wondering where his head is.

Ignoring the fake categorisation of all conservative-leaning Americans with the ugly “white supremacy” label, this is a patently absurd reading of the real demographics of the US.

Obianuju Ekeocha and others took him to task on Twitter and he began to protest about being misread. That added to the mystification and deepened our concerns about his capacity to make any judgement.

Ekeocha tweeted in response:

In 2015,NYC pregnancy outcomes statistics showed👉🏾23,116 black babies were born while 25,698 were aborted.

More killed than born.

A black baby is 2.7 times more likely to be aborted than a white baby.

But don’t let facts get in the way of your pre-packaged narrative😏

However, their name is legion, and in support of Tribe, Marissa Brostoff in a Washington Post column last week came in behind him with the view that “antiabortion politics” can provide “cover for white nationalist sentiments.”

William McGurn sees a wider strategy behind this bizarre linking of the pro-life movement to a repulsive minority ideology. It is all about Trump and the next general election here.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal this week he suggests that their strategy may be something different – instead of blindness, what thy have is 20/20 vision. They think that by tarring pro-lifers with white nationalism they will distract attention from the agenda the Democrats have rallied around as they head into 2020. That agenda would include federally funded abortion on demand up to the moment of birth—and even after birth, if necessary.

But, he says, the pro-life proposition is nothing if not simple: Human life begins at conception, and every human life is equal in dignity and worth. Whatever else it might be, it is incompatible with white supremacism. Perhaps, he suggests, that’s why so many African-Americans, especially African-American women, have been leaders in the pro-life cause.

Mildred Jefferson, the first African-American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School, was a founding member of the National Right to Life Committee. Kay James, now president of the Heritage Foundation, founded Black Americans for Life. Before he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984, Jesse Jackson spoke of abortion as “genocide.”

Black pro-lifers, alas, are treated as if they don’t exist. Quick example: How many outlets even reported the National Day of Mourning that concluded this past Saturday with a prayer service in Birmingham, Ala., for all the black lives lost to abortion? One of its leaders was Alveda King, a niece of Martin Luther King. Another was Catherine Davis of the Restoration Project, who notes that the estimated 20 million black abortions since Roe v. Wade in 1973 are more than the entire African-American population in 1960.

But facts don’t matter these days; narratives do, even when they are absurd. So when Ms. Brostoff went looking for a living example of white supremacy hiding behind a pro-life mask, she found author J.D. Vance. If Mr. Vance is a white nationalist, he sure stinks at it: As he noted on Twitter , he has a “bi-racial family and non-white son,” and he wrote a book, “Hillbilly Elegy,” chronicling not white superiority but white dysfunction.

By contrast, who was it who said frankly that the Supreme Court legalized abortion in part because it was concerned about “growth in populations that we do not want too many of?”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has tried to walk back her remark because of its plainly eugenic implications. But that’s the point. Eugenics have been used to justify abortion from the start. It wasn’t Mr. Vance who worried the “more rebellious members” of the black community might start thinking “we want to exterminate the Negro population.” It was Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, speaking of the Negro Project—a campaign to get African-Americans to have fewer children.

I think that what McGurn is talking about with Gerard to RBG is referenced here.

Contrary to this twisted pseudo-liberal narrative, McGurn points out how close the pro-abortionists are to the hard-core white supremacists. He cites a post on AltRight.com, where someone writing under the name Aylmer Fisher warns against “the pro-life temptation,” because abortion helps weed out “the least intelligent and responsible members of society,” who are disproportionately “Black, Hispanic and poor.”

Ditto, he says, for Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who in May 2017 led protesters carrying torches and shouting “you will not replace us” after the Charlottesville, Va., City Council voted to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from a downtown park. Unlike pro-lifers, who want to be “radically dysgenic, egalitarian, multi-racial human rights thumpers,” Spencer says, “we want to be eugenic in the deepest sense of the word.”

Whether this is driven by a desperation bred of wilful blindness in the face of a rising sun of truth – the incontrovertible truth that the child in its mothers womb is a living human being sharing the beating of its mother’s heart until its own can begin to sustain it – or a callous and lying political strategy or a strategy, surely this will fail.

Why? Because, as McGurn says, calling a spade as spade:

Against these white nationalists stand the pro-lifers, and not just on behalf of African-American babies. They also speak for the unborn child with Down syndrome, for the child conceived in rape or incest, for the unplanned pregnancy that will undeniably crimp any career plans a mother might have if she carries the baby to term. These are all hard cases, and the clarity of the pro-life proposition—the insistence that each of these lives is no less precious than any other human life—can make for a difficult political sell.

But no pro-lifer ever said life is easy. We say life is beautiful.

Media examination of conscience…sort of

 

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While they still show that the media professionals are insufficiently self aware of their culpability for what has happened to public trust in what they do, there is some sign that the scales may be dropping for their eyes.
The elephant in the room which they fail to address, and which is at the heart of the distrust in relation to their reporting on this presidential administration, is their inate hostility to the man in the White House. Their distaste for the man, his manners and – for many of them – the conservative values they think he stands for, is seen by the public as colouring everything they write about “all his works…and all his pomps”.

Published on Jan 24, 2018

The great manipulator strikes again

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In spite of all the blustering tweets, conservatives in America – and indeed across the world – probably feel that President Trump hasn’t actually done anything to harm us yet. The tone of his regime is bit of a problem but our culture is probably robust enough to recover its decorum. The rawer end of mainstream media, Hollywood and elements operating in social media bear far more responsibility for the coarsening our our discourse that the Donald has.

The rhetoric of his foreign policy is hopefully very different from the actual policy being pursued. As rhetoric, it is pretty unerving. For the people across the world who took the risk of pinning their flags to his mast, he has not – as yet – done anything to really make them regret doing that. He kept the Clinton dynasty out of the White House and for that alone they are still happy to live with a bit of risk.

Fraser Nelson in today’s Daily Telegraph puts the whole Trump project in a sensible context. As he sees it, Trump just wants to keep people talking about the things which he feels they need to talk about. The most recent twitter outrage is one perpetrated to get Europe thinking about an immigration problem which no one – with the exception of Douglas Murray – seems to accept for what it really is – an invasion.

Fraser’s assessment should allay the worries which some might have – for another few months at least. He also estimates that the Trump risk may be something that all of us will have to live with for another seven years. Fasten your seat belts. He writes, in his concluding remarks:

A few weeks ago, I met an American fund manager who calculated that his father – who quarried sand in Long Island – would be paid 45 per cent less today if he was still working. This, he said, was why Trump won: because globalisation, immigration and automation are conspiring against the ordinary American and no one else (other than the vanquished Bernie Sanders) seemed to care. The aim of the Trump project, from the get-go, was to convey this anger, a sense that they understood the desperation (a word that those around Trump often use) of the American working class.

Team Trump’s other working assumption is that partisanship now governs American politics. That the Reagan era was the last one with politicians who fought in wars together, and were bound together by a shared experience. Today, it’s tribal – and the winner is the one that best enthuses their core supporters. Much is made of Trump’s low national approval ratings but among Republicans they’re pretty high: 81 per cent, at the last count. So it’s probable that he’ll be a two-term president.

It’s very rare for any American president, no matter how unpopular, to lose a bid for reelection in a growing economy – and even now, there are no signs that the Democrats will find a decent candidate to pit against Trump. He might tire of the job, fake an illness or implode for some other unthinkable reason. But we might well have to live with The Donald for another seven years. The trick will be to take him seriously, but not literally – and as far as is decently possible, ignore those tweets.

Horror in Charlottesville – and a warning from history

This is the most frightening sequence of film I have seen in a long, long time. I can only compare it to the scenes some of us – of a certain age – watched on Irish television back on the evening of October 5, 1968 . But this is at a much, much deeper, rawer, level of horror. What is most terrifying about this is the realisation that in Ireland those events were the beginning of what we euphemistically called “the Troubles” but which was in reality a blood-soaked civil war – a civil war which went on for thirty years.

The depth of injustice and the depth of prejudice and hatred which were at the roots of Ireland’s conflict were real, palpable and now, with hindsight, measurable and understandable. But for that hindsight to become a force capable of staunching the flow of blood from the wounds inflicted in that war, it took those thirty years. It also took 3000 lives.

In Charlottesville and in the precursors to Charlottesville – which only history will eventually be able to confirm as precursors to this and subsequent murderous follies which seem all but inevitable – can be seen the same ingredients which were present in the horrors of Ireland’s troubles. Here we also have: a class of citizenry denied human respect and equal rights – in practice if not always in theory – by another class; a fear of loss of privilege by that ascendant class generating a hatred of those perceived to be threatening their privilege – and a racism masquerading as religious fervour.

Add to that mix a State authority whose stance in the face of the unfolding chaos was at one moment seen as compromised by one side, at the next moment by the other side. In the resulting confusion the rule of law itself seemed to disintegrate.

Is this what is now facing the United States of America? In January this year, my namesake, Michael Kirk – without an “e” – made a compelling documentary for PBS television. He called it Divided States of America. It ended with little promise that things would get any better. One could only see them getting worse before, one hoped, they would get better. Its non-promise now looks ominously prophetic.

All we can say, with a quivering voice, is God Save America – or even more apt, God Help America.

Michael Kirk’s PBS documentary here:

 

The glory and the shame inevitable in all conquest

I have been watching, over the past month, the superb series made under the aegis of that supreme documentarist, Ken Burns. It is the PBS series, ‘The West’.

It is a nine part series, most running for about an hour and 20 minutes each. In it the history of America’s westward expansion is chronicled, explored and described through the stories of many who lived, suffered and perished in what was an extraordinary mass movement of people across the land mass that we now know as the United States.

In the opening scenes a voice talks over the spectacular images of North America’s beautiful and sometimes terrifying landscapes. He tells us that the story we are about to hear is one which both makes the heart swell with pride and at the same time shrink in shame. It is an incredible story. But it is a story which – at one point in one of the nine episodes – we are reminded by former Texas governor, Ann Richards, follows the pattern of all conquests. It is replete with barbarism and injustice, with heroism and idealism – but above all, a kind of inevitability. Furthermore, it is a reminder of the fallibility of men, even of men who sincerely set for themselves the highest of ideals.

Everything in the story ‘The West’ tells us bears out and illustrates a reflective column by Michael Gerson in a recent edition of the Washington Post.

By definition, America can’t be a normal nation. It stands for more than getting and keeping. Its greatness is a greatness of spirit. And its failures — such as slavery, segregation and the shameful treatment of Native Americans — are not only legal but also spiritual failures. They are blasphemy against our country’s creed.

Does anyone think or talk like this now? They need to. There is so much dehumanization in our politics, and the main role of the Declaration is humanization. Its ideals are desperately needed and roundly ignored.

How do we measure our loss? It might be a useful exercise to take political arguments and apply the Declaration as a kind of suffix. So: We should fear Latino migrants as gang members and murderers . . . and all men and women are created equal. Or: Muslims are a threat and should be kept out of the country . . . and all men and women are created equal. Or: Spending on AIDS treatments for foreigners is a waste . . . and all men and women are created equal. Or: The human cost of a failing health or education system doesn’t matter . . . and all men and women are created equal. Or: Human beings can be dismembered up to the moment before birth . . . and all men and women are created equal.

Donal Trump rode to victory last year on the back of a slogan, ‘Make America Great Again’. Seeing ‘The West’ will make – or should make – every subscriber to that aspiration ask themselves about the cost that might be paid again if that greatness were to be pursued as ruthlessly and as incompetently as on the first path empire.

 

 

Religious freedom – an eternal conflict?

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The long and winding road that leads to the double doors of religious tolerance and the tolerance of religious freedom will, it seems, never disappear. The history of mankind shows us this, as does the daily news of our own time.

Stephanie Slade, managing editor at Reason magazine and a Robert Novak Journalism Fellow, has written a long, – very long – powerful and sobering essay in the Jesuit-edited America Magazine, reflecting on the battles for religious freedom in the United States. No summary can do justice to the historical analysis which she offers us and all we can do here is highlight some of the evidence she puts before us to support her overall contention: the fight for religious liberty is never going to end. We’d better get used to it.

But it is not just an American story. It is a story which unfolds daily in almost every country in the world in one way or another – sometimes in the form of mild hostility, sometimes leading to martyrdom and unthinkable cruelty. Slade’s focus is on America and on the more institutional forms of intolerance and denial of freedom of conscience. Those of us in other jurisdictions within the democratic tradition can easily extrapolate from her analysis and see the parallels in our own public squares.

Populism is the bête noir on everyone’s political horizon just now. New Criterion, the heavyweight journal of ideas, has just published the seventh in a series of essays on the phenomenon and how it may be threatening to tear apart the trusted and tried political institutions through which we try to organise a civilised society. Populist movements across the democratic world no longer seem to trust those institutions.

But who is populist and who is not? One of the suggestions implicit in the historical picture presented to us by Slade is that populism, from both left and right, has being playing fast and loose with our politics and laws for a long time. Our fundamental freedoms, and especially our freedom of conscience and religion, have been suffering at the hands of populism for centuries.

Sometimes it changes sides and it cries stop, in defence of a freedom denied to “the other side”. The United States may now have experienced one such moment. Slade recounts a conversation on CNN.

“I feel the country was founded on Christian principles,” Sandra Long, an 80-year-old resident of Mahanoy City, Pa., and a lifelong Democrat, told CNN before the election. “And now, if our ministers don’t marry a gay couple or refuse to marry a gay couple, they can be arrested and taken to jail.”

Long was mistaken. Despite the Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage two years ago, ministers are not required to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. But the perception that they might soon be—and that the government is continually encroaching on the ability of houses of worship and even individual Americans to live out their beliefs—seems to be widespread. Moreover, it likely played a role in the decision of many voters, such as Ms. Long, to support now-President Trump last November.

Megan McArdle, a columnist at Bloomberg View, wrote in December, “When you think that you may shortly see your church’s schools and your religious hospitals closed, and your job or business threatened in the private sphere by the economic equivalent of ‘convert or die,’ you will side with whoever does not seem to set its sights on your conservative beliefs. If that side is led by an intemperate man who more than occasionally says awful things … well, at least he doesn’t want to destroy you.”

The Catholic writer Mary Eberstadt, in her recent book It’s Dangerous to Believe, called this “the new intolerance” and said that what many believers “feel to the marrow these days is fear.”

“There is no doubt,” Slade says, “the concern is widespread. If the government can force family-run businesses to provide services for gay weddings and Catholic sisters to facilitate access to birth control, people are asking ‘what might be next?’ Could laws be on the way that criminalize traditional beliefs about sex and marriage? Or punish churches for excluding gay men and women from ministerial positions? Or, as Sandra Long assumed was already the case, compel houses of worship to host and solemnize same-sex weddings?”

The political left is of course quick to assure believers that their rights are safe. After all, they say, the First Amendment protects the freedom to believe whatever you want, and any attempt to constrain that freedom would surely be invalidated by the courts.” Really?

McArdle, doesn’t buy the response from the left which, she says, “has (mostly) been that this is so much whining, clinging to a victimhood belied by Christians’ social power and majority status. No one, they have been assured, wants to touch their freedom to worship, but when they enter the commercial realm, they have to abide by anti-discrimination laws, whatever their private beliefs.”

Mozilla’s founder, Brendan Eich, donated to an anti-gay-marriage campaign and was kicked out of his own company.

Slade is certainly unconvinced by this assurance. She quotes Douglas Laycock, a law professor at the University of Virginia who is an expert on issues of religious freedom. While Laycock thinks there is too much alarm about the issue he did acknowledge that the line is moving all the time. Even those pushing the line admit this openly. During arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, Justice Samuel Alito asked the Obama administration’s lawyer whether a college could have its tax-exempt status revoked because it upholds traditional marriage. “It’s certainly going to be an issue,” the solicitor general replied. “I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is going to be an issue.”

But Slade shows us that the war is not a new one.

Ninety years before the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, another group of Catholic sisters appeared before the highest court in the land.

This time it was the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. An Oregon law passed by voters, at the behest of the anti-Catholic Scottish Rite Masons, required all children to attend public schools. “The effect of this law will be, if upheld by the courts, to close every private school in the State,” The New York Times reported. “That was its purpose, openly avowed in public discussions preceding the election.”

The measure had the enthusiastic support not just of the state’s majority-Protestant electorate but also of the Ku Klux Klan, newly arrived in the Pacific Northwest. “We are against the Catholic machine which controls our nation,” explained “Kleagle Carter,” according to a book about the Oregon chapter of the Klan. It is a refrain being heard repeatedly in Ireland just now. “Dear Catholic Church, get out of our wombs,” one histrionic headline screamed at Catholics last week. But that’s another story.

The Oregon story had a happy ending: The Supreme Court justices unanimously struck down the statute.

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That does not reassure Slade because other violations of religious liberty did not have such a happy ending. More than 30 states have on their books to this day some form of legal prohibition on public dollars going to religious institutions. They are known as Blaine amendments, after the House Speaker James G. Blaine.

As with the Oregon private school ban, all accounts suggest that the Blaine amendments were motivated by deep animus toward Catholics. “They were passed in a series of outbursts of anti-Catholicism, there’s no doubt about the history,” Professor Laycock says. State-level “baby Blaines,” as some now call them, remain in force.

As bad as anti-Catholic sentiment has been at points in America’s past, however, it is nothing compared to the vitriol directed at smaller religious groups over the years. Just consider what the Mormons have had to suffer.

Justices Alito, Thomas and John Roberts noted in their dissenting opinion on one court challenge, ominously wrote, “those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern”.  Slade says that it is hard to escape the conclusion that strong forces hostile to traditional belief are on the march.

If a form of populism is not driving much of what Slade describes, what is? The glib phrases being bandied around about conservatives being on “the wrong side of history” betray a populism as sinister as anything on the right. It is not rational argument. Slade asks us to look at the history of the Supreme Court to see how much more than measured legal judgement is at play here.

If a study of Supreme Court history makes one thing clear, it is that there is no fixed line differentiating the kinds of laws that are acceptable under the First Amendment from the kinds that go too far. Where lawmakers and the courts come down on contested questions is often influenced by what a majority of Americans seem to favour.

None of the experts I talked to thought the Supreme Court literally keeps an eye on poll numbers as it hands down decisions. But they all agreed that as fallible humans, even the most upstanding jurists will be affected by the cultural zeitgeist.

Gay marriage is among the most vivid illustrations of that. For decades, public support for legal recognition of same-sex unions was a minority position. Between May 2011 and May 2012, according to Gallup, the numbers flipped. On May 9, 2012, President Obama suddenly announced that his views had “evolved” and he was now in favour of same-sex marriage. Thirteen months later, the Supreme Court ruled the federal Defence of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Two years after that, it struck down all state-wide bans on same-sex unions.

Within hours of the Obergefell decision, people began suggesting the precedent should be extended even further. Fredrik DeBoer wrote an article for Politico titled “It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy.” Similarly, in 2013, Jillian Keenan had argued at Slate that “Legalized polygamy…would actually help protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and families.” If marrying whomever you want is a fundamental right, they wondered, shouldn’t the same be true of taking multiple spouses?

So what does Slade suggest we conclude from all this history?

She wants us to accept that institutional protections are only as strong as the underlying culture. If people are willing to see a minority group’s rights disregarded, neither the courts nor the Constitution is an airtight safeguard against abuse. But if the majority is unwilling to see liberties infringed, those in positions of authority are likely to take notice. Like it or not, popular culture has been in the driving seat for decades and conservative thinking has been in the back seat.

Slade reminds us that Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. “It might have been truer if he had said it can be bent, assuming enough people are willing to do the hard work of persuasion. In other words, if what counts as ‘religious freedom’ is eternally in dispute, it matters who shows up to the debate.”

“An assault on journalism, democracy, and basic human rationality”

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Glenn Greenwald, one of the journalists who helped give us the full picture – well, a fuller picture anyway – on Edward Snowden (firstly on American PBS’ FRONTLINE and then on the documentary, Citizen Four, now issues these somewhat somber warnings about the machinations of the CIA and its manipulation of the US media.

The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There is a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combating those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.

But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive. Empowering the very entities that have produced the most shameful atrocities and systemic deceit over the last six decades is desperation of the worst kind. Demanding that evidence-free, anonymous assertions be instantly venerated as Truth — despite emanating from the very precincts designed to propagandize and lie — is an assault on journalism, democracy, and basic human rationality. And casually branding domestic adversaries who refuse to go along as traitors and disloyal foreign operatives is morally bankrupt and certain to backfire on those doing it.

Beyond all that, there is no bigger favor that Trump opponents can do for him than attacking him with such lowly, shabby, obvious shams, recruiting large media outlets to lead the way. When it comes time to expose actual Trump corruption and criminality, who is going to believe the people and institutions who have demonstrated they are willing to endorse any assertions no matter how factually baseless, who deploy any journalistic tactic no matter how unreliable and removed from basic means of ensuring accuracy?

Read the full article here.

Groupthink in a nutshell

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Peter Thiel, in his interview with Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, seems to put the group-think bubble in a nutshell – if that’s not mixing my metaphors too much.

Thiel became the pariah of Silicon Valley – and further afield – when he opted for Donald Trump in the US election. Dowd conducted a long interview with him and in it sets the apparent craziness of American politics over the past year in a context which makes it all seem quite sensible, even if full of risk. That is perhaps the best context for a healthy politics in any country.

He recalls that he went through a lot of “meta” debates about Mr. Trump in Silicon Valley. “One of my good friends said, ‘Peter, do you realize how crazy this is, how everybody thinks this is crazy?’ I was like: ‘Well, why am I wrong? What’s substantively wrong with this?’ And it all got referred back to ‘Everybody thinks Trump’s really crazy.’ So it’s like there’s a shortcut, which is: ‘I don’t need to explain it. It’s good enough that everybody thinks something. If everybody thinks this is crazy, I don’t even have to explain to you why it’s crazy. You should just change your mind.’”

Thiel is undoubtedly one of those influencers in the culture which, If they didn’t exist, we would have had to invent them. But thank heavens he does exist – because no one on the planet could ever have invented this one.

The frightening thing about conventional wisdom is how stupid it can be. Thiel is one of those who defy conventional wisdom and who is a force which will hopefully expose the fallacies of the illiberal-left dictatorship of our time and bring the sheep who have been duped by it back to some semblance of rational humanity.

The first crack in the whole illiberal-left monolith has already appeared in the very environment from which Thiel himself comes. He thinks the bigger tech companies all want to get a little bit off the ledge that they had gotten on, he said when asked how he had managed to get so many of them to turn up to a meeting with the President-elect in Trump Tower.

“Normally, if you’re a C.E.O. of a big company, you tend to be somewhat apolitical or politically pretty bland. But this year, it was this competition for who could be more anti-Trump. ‘If Trump wins, I will eat my sock.’ ‘I will eat my shoe.’ ‘I will eat my shoe, and then I will walk barefoot to Mexico to emigrate and leave the country.’

“Somehow, I think Silicon Valley got even more spun up than Manhattan. There were hedge fund people I spoke to about a week after the election. They hadn’t supported Trump. But all of a sudden, they sort of changed their minds. The stock market went up, and they were like, ‘Yes, actually, I don’t understand why I was against him all year long.’”

We might wonder when the Hillary fan club of  ‘famous actors’ from Hollywood might take the same message on board. Despite the satirical drubbing they got in the Save The Day parodies, they will probably remain as vain and opinionated as their trivial pursuits and the toxic star-system condition them to be. The only cure for that condition might be a dent in their box-office receipts. That might bring them to their senses.

Read Dowd’s full interview here.

An interstellar option?

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Back in the 1960s there was a hit musical – well, perhaps a minor hit musical – running in the West End in London called Stop the World – I Want to Get Off! Things were not half as bad then as they are now. But if that ever – ever since Noah built himself an ark – looked like the best option for any members of the human race who still have a head on their shoulders, it must be now.
The big hit from the show was What Kind of Fool Am I? It contained the lines,

What kind of man is this?

An empty shell

A lonely cell in which

An empty heart must dwell

Allister Heath sums up our predicament rather well in this morning’s Daily Telegraph, centering it fairly and squarly in the context of the apparent political disaster unfolding in the most powerful country in the world. Emptiness is abiding sense we get looking across the Atlantic today.


It is remarkable,
Heath observes, how a country that is so good at business, science, the arts and just about everything else can be so bad at politics. There are now 318 million Americans, including many of the world’s most creative and brilliant people: the US electorate ought by rights to be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing its president.
Yet from this immense talent pool, the American political system has managed to narrow the race down to two supremely flawed human beings, neither of whom remotely deserves to be in the White House.
On the one hand we have Hillary Clinton, a scandal-ridden, uninspiring candidate whose Left-wing policies would destroy what is left of US exceptionalism; on the other is Donald Trump, a demagogue who specialises in whipping up hate and threatening cataclysmic trade wars.

The West End show ran for more than a year and ran on Broadway for 555 performances. It’s revival on Broadway 20 years later was a flop and it suffered a similar fate in Lonon in the late 80s. Perhaps it needs another revival now to remind us of the consequences of the selfish follies of our time
Read Allister Heath’s full article here.

Donald the victim?

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The American – sorry, the United States – electoral system has never looked so chaotic as it does in this election. If it were not for its relatively wise and sophisticated constitutional arrangement for balancing power within the overall political system, it might make the rest of us in the world very nervous indeed.

It has, of course shown its capacity for chaos before. Remember those dimpled chads of the Bush-Gore battle? The New York Times newsletter’s “Back Story” today reminds us that Donald Trump’s allegations of “rigging” the Republican Convention is not a new charge.

At the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting, despite Mr. Trump’s advantage in delegates, his opponents are arguing that it is not too late to stop him. If they are able to do so it will be thanks to the complex system of rules for choosing convention representatives. Those rules are why Mr. Trump is calling it “a rigged” nominating process.

Party conventions have faced those accusations before, the Times tells us, with one of the most famous examples occurring in 1960.

Former President Harry Truman resigned as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, calling the event “a prearranged affair,” fixed to give the nomination to John F. Kennedy.

Although Mr. Kennedy arrived in Los Angeles as the front-runner, having won each of the seven primaries he entered, his selection was not a done deal.

He didn’t reach the necessary vote total for the nomination until Wyoming, the final state scheduled in the roll call, pushed him over the top.

The political jockeying continued to the very end, with the convention floor briefly taken over by nondelegates who had slipped into the hall to support Adlai Stevenson, the Democrats’ nominee in 1952 and 1956.

The top Democratic Party official said the protest was “the best answer to charges of rigging for Jack Kennedy.”

What the top Republican Party official will be saying after July 18–21, when the Convention concludes in Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, is anyone’s guess.