So you may consider this a quick round-up of my thoughts thus far in the aftermath of a very weird election, and my medium-warm hot take on how the presidential transition is going. But quite apart from how it might actually be going, I do have to say that I am enjoying the transition way more than I thought I would be enjoying it. And here are some of the reasons why, along with some free observations here and there.
In case there are some people just joining us, I did not vote for Donald Trump. After a long series of Republican contenders who seemed conservative and who promised to stay that way, but who usually didn’t stay that way—think Lucy and the football—it seemed to me that Trump, who didn’t seem conservative, and who wouldn’t promise to stay that way, the phrase “safe bet” was not the one that came to mind. He seems to me to be a carnal man through and through, and erratically conservative, if that. So I wanted both Trump and Hillary to lose, but only one of them managed to deliver on that prospect—and I have previously confessed that I was surprised at how delighted the Clinton loss made me. That is my disclaimer. But if you read to the end, you will find that my disclaimer has a disclaimer.
In all that you read, both here and elsewhere, remember that success does not alter the truth, and winning an election does not affect who owes an apology to whom. In the consideration of Romney for State, much was made of what Romney said about Trump in the campaign. Trump responded, magnanimously after a fashion, that he had said hard things about Romney as well. But the issue is not hard and soft words. The issue is true and false words. But there is a political class that measures the winner as the one who is owed an apology. If Trump were to be found considering Cruz for the Supreme Court, nobody would ask how this was possible without Trump apologizing for what he said about Rafael Cruz.
This matter of the truth is going to come up again when I get to Trump’s competence as a player in negotiations, which is starting to seem to me to be a high level of carnal competence. I say this with qualified admiration, which is not the same thing as approval or applause.
Although I do not approve of him as a model of righteousness, my opinion of his canniness has risen greatly. And although his brand of populism is not my kind of conservatism, I have been surprised, pleasantly, by his cabinet selections so far—particularly DeVos, Price, and Mattis. If personnel is policy, as wise heads agree that it is, the developments thus far have been encouraging. Part of the spectacle in all this has been watching the reactions of Never Trumpers as Trump appears to be assembling a Never Trump dream team. One goes, as so many political observers before us have gone, huh.
He was ridiculed during the campaign for “speaking at a fourth grade level.” His opponents, Hillary chief among them, concluded erroneously that he must therefore be thinking at a fourth grade level, and all them went ho ho ho at their campaign staff meetings, their pasty white hands resting comfortably on their shaking tummies as they laughed. Ho ho ho. When the election was over, he had untucked all their shirts and pulled them over their heads, and had also rolled their socks down until they formed a little caulk-like bead around the edges of their shoes. Whatever else we conclude about this, it should not be that Donald Trump staggered into the presidency by accident.
I will say something more about the economics of the Carrier deal in a moment, but first let us simply consider the theatrical aspects of it. Consider it in the context of the theatrics of a presidential candidate going on a “thank you tour” after the election. If he swoops in and saves three more manufacturing plants like this, cameras following him everywhere, the Democrats just might lose the blue collar vote for good. And if he picks out two moonscape inner cities like Detroit and Chicago and goes after them with economic opportunities, the Democrats might discover that someone just raided their plantation and stole all their slaves.
Speaking of theater, let me point out that his brief phone call with the president of Taiwan was a stroke of genius. He is preparing to negotiate with China, and so before negotiating, he decided to unilaterally move the starting point of those negotiations about twenty yards away from where there were. Prior to any negotiations, Trump’s approach appears to be to “destabilize everything.” Get a lot more on the table before you sit down at the table.
Here is another example. Trump has said that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for the millions of illegals that voted. Outrageous, and where’s your evidence, pal? But notice that he is doing this in response to the left trying to run recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and nobody is challenging them for the evidence of wrongdoing. On top of that, the left is the faction that has consistently opposed things like Voter ID laws that would cut down on voting irregularities. So they, in a cynical political move, call for a recount—and the first thing Trump does is put all voting irregularities on the table. He destabilizes prior to negotiation.
I am not saying Trump is right about this issue or that one. I am pointing out his technique.
Now to the economics of it. Donald Trump has promised to punish any American company that moves operations overseas. The first scalp he took in this regard was that of Carrier, and he is promising more to come. This is the populism part. He is talking tough to the CEOs and their boards, and the conservatives who point out that tariffs make no economic sense (and who are correct about that) are simply gaming out the economics of the tariffs if applied. But it seems obvious to me that Trump is not going to be imposing all that many tariffs. He is destabilizing things in order to negotiate. He is going to threaten a lot of tariffs, but he is also going to sweeten a lot of deals in the back room—in the tax code and in regulatory agencies. What Trump is saying to assembly line workers is that he is going to punish American companies for moving to Mexico. What he is most likely to do is to stop the left’s insane policies of punishing companies for not going to Mexico.
Sarah Palin was exactly right. If this was a one-off deal for Carrier, then it is crony capitalism. But if the overarching plan is to drastically lower tax rates for all manufacturers, and to lift a large part of the regulatory burden from them, which it appears to be, then it isn’t a betrayal of any fundamental conservative principle. His destabilizing rhetoric about waterboarding CEOs of delinquent companies considered as policy would be a problem, but I am not sure that is what is happening.
So if he gets rid of the “please-go-to-Mexico” tax burden, and all the “please-go-to-Mexico” regulations, then this aspect of the thing is going to turn out okay. American factories, even with their higher labor costs, can certainly compete, but only if the tax and regulatory burden leans heavily the other way to compensate.
The tough talk means that he destabilized the negotiations successfully beforehand, such that he cannot plausibly be accused of playing cozy with fellow billionaires. And if he keeps this up, and visits a bunch of “not-shut-down-after-all” factories, he might actually bring about a bizarre kind of rapprochement between labor and management. We will see.
Code of the Salty Dog
A central key to Trump’s appeal was his willingness to put his foot through the side of political correctness. Inside the bubble of the ruling elites, there was no awareness of how heartily sick of it (and them) everybody has gotten.
When the audio was released of Trump’s conversation with Billy Bush, it was widely and correctly concluded that Trump was simply a vulgarian with money. And he won anyway. That is a political levitation trick that should continue to astound us all. The people who said that he was toast after that were not being unreasonable. In a normal universe he would have been toast. But the weird universe was not ushered in with Trump. The weird universe was the politically correct one, jammed down our throats by a rampaging left. Trump was the reaction to that, and it was the first weirdness that those inside the bubble noticed.
But consider this. In the aftermath of Trump’s statement that he would nominate James Mattis for Defense, a number of quotes from the good general have been circulating. Here is a sampler batch of them.
But unlike Trump’s crassness, this appears to be part of an honor code, a warrior ethic, the code of the salty dog. And as I have been watching Christians respond to Mattis, they have generally been responding with delight. How come? This warrior ethic is not a Christian ethic, as should be obvious at a glance. The delight is the delight of relief—relief from the bizarro-world created by the burgeoning insanities of politically-correctness. Stoicism is not Christianity, but many Christians would apparently rather live in a world shaped by Stoics than by Babylonian orgy-organizers.
No doubt I will comment more on this aspect of things as events continue to unfold. In the meantime, compare any given picture of James Mattis to the line-up of European defense ministers presented in the picture at the top. They are, reading from left to right, the defense ministers for Albania, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, and Italy.
Never Trump Just the First Time?
Now to qualify the disclaimer. To what extent does all this mean a possible reappraisal of how we Never Trump folks voted? That should be divided into two questions, actually.
Does an admission that I was possibly wrong about how Trump would act once elected mean that I am rethinking how I voted? Actually, no, not at all. You make decisions on the basis of what you know, and what we knew about Trump was that what he is currently doing seemed extremely unlikely. That was not an unreasonable position for thoughtful people to take, and if you put me back three months ago, knowing what I knew then, I would do exactly the same thing, and no apologies.
But the second point is worth considering also, and so those conservatives who held out against Trump in 2016 (and well done) still need to move on and start setting up another template in their heads. So here is the question. What would it take for us to be willing to vote for a Trump second term?
Suppose—or to use Lennon’s dreamy way of phrasing it, Imagine—that Planned Parenthood is prosecuted for the sale of baby parts, that Trump nominates and fights for a true conservative for the Supreme Court, and suppose he does the same thing two more times after that, that Obamacare is dragged out to a deserted place on the Eastern Shore and set on fire, that tax rates are slashed and the economy booms, and that Gen. Mattis turns the military back into a branch of government for effective fighting, instead of a bizarre Petri dish for social engineering and nation building?
At what point would we realize that Trump is the son in the parable who said that he wouldn’t go and work in the vineyard and yet did (Matt. 21:28-29)? I am not raising the question because I am there—I certainly am not. But I have been enjoying the transition enough that the question has occurred to me.
Good read, but I completely disagree Trump’s cabinet picks are not a Never Trump dream team. They are filled with uber rich Democrats, establishment Republicans, an opportunist, a few somewhat conservatives who I believe will get walked all over by the institution of the agency they’ll be running, and one good conservative AG. This is shaping up to be a typical Republican Admin with a bigger ego at the top.
Thanks for posting. Great stuff to read up on and learn from.
“Part of the spectacle in all this has been watching the reactions of Never Trumpers […]” Ha! Can’t tell if you’re being ironic on purpose. “[…] we Never Trump folks […]” Okay then. You had me worried. You’re coming around to Scott Adam’s take. He’s been saying since before the primaries that Trump is a master persuader and not nearly as dumb as he looks. There is deep method there. That’s not to say that Trump is good but don’t you just love the pop of all those leftist heads exploding? It is delightful how the world they constructed to… Read more »
It takes a snake, to be “as shrewd as a snake”.
Is anyone pretending they are as innocent as doves?
(I mean besides Hilary Clinton and Rachel Miller!????)
Any innocence we may have, we got from that God guy!
Good question at the end. . . . I would ask this in reply. What if someone, foreign or domestic, actually calls a Trump “bluff” on his destabilization technique? What if we start listening to his handlers and not taking him “literally” when he makes absolute statements? What if we held him to the standards of, . .um I don’t know. . a man in a position of honor? I agree that this whole thing could go remarkably well, but like you said in your election re-do comment. . .that doesn’t make what he says, or does, RIGHT. If he… Read more »
So…….,are you making an absolute statement about your need for ” control? ????
maybe, who knows? . . you shouldn’t take anything I say literally. . . it’s all just tactics.
Pro tip! ????
I can say with great certainty, that some times things get mixed up, and people end up ” as shrewd as doves and as “innocent” as snakes”.
Think Jennifer Palmieri!
Being a master manipulator does not necessarily take intelligence. I see no depth there, only drive, an intuitive ability to win and zero concern for the truth combined with almost no shame when called out for falsehoods. Also, linguistically Trump has been analyzed at a fourth-grade level. He would have to be some kind of genius to maintain that facade in public for so long. We would have heard the bootleg tape of him actually making sense at some point. The politically correct and anti-free speech contingent on the left did have a little humble pie coming but I am… Read more »
DeVos? The woman has never been in a classroom in a professional capacity her life! Any second year school teacher public or private would be a better candidate
Why would you say that? The job of the Secretary of Education is not to teach. Just like you don’t ask a software engineer to run a company (though rarely you find someone who has both the engineering mindset and an executive mindset gift) you don’t ask the average person with a teaching mindset to run something that requires an… I don’t know, probably executive mindset as well. Maybe that’s not the full qualification, I will grant that, but certainly the SoE will not be utilizing the standard skillset of a public school teacher.
How about a private school administrator or someone who worked for educational programs like Upward Bound. From what I have seen, this woman has no educational background whatsoever. She seems to be the ultimate armchair quarterback on Monday morning.
I am absolutely delighted she is not a teacher nor a private school administrator. I have been dealing with those kind of people since forever and come to the most unkind conclusion that the fastest way to really foul things up is to put a teacher or an administrator in charge.
“the fastest way to really foul things up is to put a teacher or an administrator in charge”
It’s a fast way, but I’d say putting a career politician in charge is likely the fastest.
I give you No Child Left Behind (thanks Bush & Kennedy!) as exhibit…well, exhibit R off the top of my head.
I’m sure if I had more time to think about it, Mann, Dewey, et al. would comprise a good list of exhibits leading up to R at least…
Put someone who can keep accurate accounts in charge of it. Charters, in particular, have a massive failure rate, and it is very often due to inexperienced or even feckless people being given enormous sums of money.
NCLB was such a headscratcher from the very beginning. How can anyone legislate that every child will be at least average in his reading and math skills? Who got rich from yearly standardized testing?
Yeah – ya know I’ve never been a huge fan of charters. I don’t mind them, per se, but conservatives in general seem to put too much stock in them. I’m all for school choice and if folks want a charter school, then have at it. I just look at it like a bit of a shell game. If all public schools just magically turned into charter schools, we’d have the same problems, just in new digs. What would those pro-charter conservatives get behind at that point?
I like charters, but the focus on standardized testing was incredibly stupid.
I like charters in theory, but I really resent the misuse of test results. First, they can refuse to take learning-disabled children, giving them an automatic advantage over the regular public school next door. Secondly, they can impose requirements on parents that disqualify hard up families with two working parents. My daughter’s charter required a hefty cash co-pay or a monthly quota of parent volunteer hours. Thirdly, even getting your child into a charter like my daughter’s required a fair degree of sophistication in navigating the interview process, entrance exams, auditions, and using leverage (“If you take my daughter, I… Read more »
Okay, but the alternative is to have nobody benefit from a schooling alternative. How is it worse that the learning disabled child can’t go to a charter school because they don’t admit everyone, than that he can’t go to one because it doesn’t exist? Meanwhile, with charters, at least some kids are given the opportunity to take advantage of a better alternative. And some charters are geared for children with challenges. There’s one here and a friend of mine teaches at it. I get your point about it not being a one-to-one comparison, but that’s dealt with by more comparable… Read more »
I agree with you that there should be charters (and magnets), and I realize that they are not all as selective as my daughter’s. The comparison problem, driven by test results, can be fixed–but, in California, it still produces injustice. When schools get (or lose) money based on test results, it is essential that there be a level playing field. It is reasonable to compare the results of an inner city charter which takes all comers (in terms of ability and background) with those of an inner city public school a block away. It is unreasonable to compare the test… Read more »
jillybean wrote: I think it is wrong to financially reward the charter school teacher who works with the stuff of dreams, academically speaking, at the expense of the teacher who is coping with a class full of non-English speakers. Jillybean seems to be thinking from inside the grid of zero-sum competition for government favor. Outside of that paradigm, and in the paradigm where parents have the duty to educate their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, why couldn’t a teacher’s financial reward be based on how well your own child is learning the chosen subject material, without… Read more »
Yes, my comments are entirely within the context of public schools. Outside them, entirely different considerations can and should apply.
Just realized I veered off my own premise and mixed different points – Mann & Dewey weren’t career politicians. Oh well…
Yeah if we wanted to continue the way things are, that would make sense, but that path has been tried, many times.
I’m interested to see what will happen. I hope it’s good. And I say this as a fellow who didn’t vote for Trump.
I agree with you about that. I think that teaching experience is important to a local administrator, but not to someone in so senior a position who will presumably be listening to advisers with relevant experience. I have a few concerns about vouchers. I think people need to understand that if vouchers allow tax money to support Catholic or Protestant schools, they will also allow tax money to support Scientology and Wiccan schools. I also have some concerns about tax-supported charters that turn away children who do not pass admissions tests. My daughter’s charter was a blue ribbon school in… Read more »
Vouchers will destroy Christian education.
Publicly funded Catholic schools in Ontario have been required to use provincial sex education and diversity training programs. You take Caesar’s money, you dance to his tune.
Maybe Trump will opt for education tax credits instead of vouchers, right after he acknowledges his need for God’s forgiveness regarding his sexual infidelities. Let no one say that I don’t believe in miracles.
Yes, but bear in mind that Doug Wilson does not believe there should be public schools in the first place. So a nominee that might harm public education would be seen as a plus.
I am one public school teacher that hopes that DeVos, Trump, and the Congress figure out a way to shutdown the Dept of Ed for good. That would be a win for all of education, public, private, and home.
Shut down the department of Ed.?!
Jonathan Gruber and Barak Obama could be poster boys for math education failure! Clean on up to the Ivy League!
The woman has never been in a classroom in a professional capacity her life!
Excellent. We need new blood in that position that has not been thoroughly indoctrinated in the Way of the Dept of Ed
I thoroughly enjoyed this analysis because it affirms my own line of thinking since the election. Any time my thinking aligns with Douglas Wilson, I feel pretty good about it!
I wonder how you knew that. Seems to me that he’s proceeding in the fashion that he started. What was the unlikely part?
Yeah, I think when you find your expectations completely belied by events, and some other fellow is looking on and saying “this is exactly what I thought would happen”… sure, maybe it’s just an incomprehensible coincidence. But if I were you, it would occur to me that maybe the other fellow had a more accurate perspective.
Maybe he thought Trump was going to appoint Democrats.
I was expecting Oprah Winfrey to have been appointed to head some federal department by now. Instead we got Mit Romney on the dock, which I’m sure ashv saw coming months ago.
Sessions and Mattis were the sort of people I expected to see. The _main_ thing I expect is that Trump is really good at picking personnel and isn’t afraid to replace them when needed.
After he chose Pence and announced his Supreme Court potential candidates, I expected to see non-Acela Republicans picked for a lot of stuff.
I really doubt Romney will get a post.
Wow, this is exactly where I’m at. Trump may actually BE a real genius and had everyone fooled, even Chris Christie. The choice of Mattis was pure genius. So far most of his moves in the transition period show a political astuteness that is truly astounding. My one gripe is the overuse of twitter. I am one #neverTrumper that hopes that four years from now I’ll be saying, “Man, I was wrong about The Donald in 2016.”
By that time, let’s hope we are calling DJT “President Columbo”, in honor of Peter Falk! ????
The “too clever by half” class, would never catch on!????
There’s a reason for Trump’s use of Twitter: It’s to do an end run around the media. It also has the benefit of putting the media (and the left in general) on defense.
Speaking of tweets:
I wonder, if you regard his tactics as war (which might be a fair thing to do if you regard the PC brigade, elite bankers and SJW crowd, etc, as an enemy), would that make his tactics more Honourable?
If he does all of those things that you imagine he might (or that we wish he will), I think the postmillenial movement will grow even stronger in numbers.
I’m going to heartily recommend Scott Alexander’s review of Trump’s Art of the Deal at Slate Star Codex:
The takeaway: Trump is the creature of an environment (New York real estate) where you need to constantly lie to succeed, to a large degree because the regulatory environment is so constricting.
Speaking as an Architect, I don’t think “lie” is the right word. Major and minor urban construction projects do require a political design, in addition to a fiscal, aesthetic and technical design.
In this sense, DJT has long experience in “government”, as demonstrated by his ability to create viable physical reality, buildings, in the context of the imposed governmental / political environment.
I’m perfectly fine with the word lie.
No, “lie” is the wrong word. Think about the dispute about voter fraud in this election. DJT says there were as many as
3 million fraudulent votes. The libs lie and say there were no fraudulent votes. In California alone, “motor voter” fraud can conceivably account for 800,000 illegal voters.
Motor voter states have created the potential for millions of fraudulent votes. Let’s hope the new AG investigates!????
Working in New York real estate development requires constant lying. Sorry, it just does.
Have you worked on any developments in New York?
lying, not always.
Oh! And I did like the Scott Alexander article.????
He had some hyperbole going on as well!????
“Stoicism is not Christianity, but many Christians would apparently rather live in a world shaped by Stoics than by Babylonian orgy-organizers.” <– Ding, ding, DING!!!
And the man in the funny ear-flap hat quietly whispered, "Incrementalism."
Not to mention that an innocent God, taking on my due execution for me, before I even asked, is far beyond stoic!
Amen, brother! Preach on!
This Guy thinks he knows everything about everything except that no other candidate would have picked deVoss, no one! And cruise is an israeli-first baffoon, only instead of putting them before the US like most SenatorS do(all) he puts them before christians: except that he admits to IT!
Sum simpatico to most of the above.
The “crazy pirate” from Queens does, however, need a thesaurus.
“Bigly”? ; – )
The Trumpisms are a blast (although I think he meant to say “big league”?). Just want some modifiers other than “amazing” and “totally.”
what we knew about Trump was that what he is currently doing seemed extremely unlikely.
No it didn’t.
Only to the spiritually blind.
Several of us on here were predicting months ago that President Putin and Vice-President Trump would do some of these very things if they were elected.
Too true, 40.
All during the campaign Trump said he would do exactly what he is now doing. Why did some of us hear it and not others?
I don’t think it’s spiritual blindness. Maybe spiritual snobbery. If it were blindness, Trump’s follow through would not lead to re-examination. It would lead to harsher criticism and louder shouts of coincidence and dumb luck. Something about monkeys typing Shakespeare, I’d guess.
I’ll stick with blindness: Jeb Bush: he is near the front of the pack now because he is a plausible candidate on behalf of the Republican establishment, and because of his last name. But at the same time, he is winsome, articulate and razor sharp. Once the debates start, look for him to start winning people over. His stances on immigration and common core will be a real challenge in the primaries, but I do think he has the capacity to persuade conservatives that other issues are more important. https://dougwils.com/s7-engaging-the-culture/quick-takes-on-the-republican-field.html Doug should do himself a big favor and stop offering… Read more »
Ouch. I think of Luke 16:8 a lot when dealing with people who have only had what I would call a sheltered Christian world view: “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I admit I wish I had this same worldly naivete, but having been a pagan most of my life, I now look at things from both a spiritual and worldly perspective. I don’t know if that’s good or not. It certainly puts… Read more »
I’m surprised that Trump has yet to appoint Oprah Winfrey (or Hillary herself) to head some federal department or other. With regard to his actual appointees, I agree with Wilson that Trump is conservative by accident (or rather by expediency). Trump does not appear to be aiming to be regarded as any kind of fiscal conservative. Has he even acknowledged the supernova of public and private debt? I suspect he doesn’t say much about it because his own agenda of American Greatness is going to cost many trillions in new fiat debt that someone else can pay back after he… Read more »
Making America Great Again, even through outstanding federal appointees, is just not a substitute for repentance.
Drill baby, drill!
We’ll balance the budget by eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse!
All mens is created equal!
40 ACRES wrote:
Perhaps 40 ACRES can diagram for us exactly how we turn from (repent) our pattern of fraud, waste, and abuse, without any repentance.
40 ACRES seems to have a theology of economic liberty that resembles works-salvation (and American greatness).
Show me a man who has a solution that doesn’t involve any mention of God and I’ll show you a man who loves the status quo.
“Perhaps 40 ACRES can diagram for us exactly how we turn from (repent) our pattern of fraud, waste, and abuse, without any repentance…..”
Well, I’m pretty sure that can all be resolved with these chipped debit cards they’ll just implant in our thumbs…..
Yeah, that’s the ticket!
I would find this a more vital line of rhetoric if there was any consensus within or around the American church about what, exactly, should be repented of, and who should be doing the repenting.
Doug and KateCho and John Piper, etc, etc, want to wring their hands and lament how awful we are and talk about repentance, repentance, repentance.
Trump wants to go kill Goliath.
Trump isn’t going to kill Goliath, just ride on his shoulders for a bit. Most of our social/political predicament isn’t a result of things that progressives and conservatives disagree on, but things they agree on.
ashv would first need to define the term conservative in a way that isn’t sophomoric.
[Edit: By the way, I agree with ashv that Trump isn’t going to kill Goliath, at least not intentionally. He is more likely to make Goliath bigger. That may have the side effect of Goliath dying under his own weight.]
By “conservative” I mean “the right-wing component of American political opinion”.
ashv wrote: By “conservative” I mean “the right-wing component of American political opinion”. When ashv first began to reject the term conservative, root and branch, I asked what banner he flew by instead. He said “right wing”. He has been very coy about where the distinction lies, but, over time, it seemed that he associated conservatism, not with how the term is used in American politics, but with how it was used historically in relation to classical liberalism (back when liberalism also didn’t mean what it means in American politics today). Regarding the term right-wing, as far as I can… Read more »
I’m not a populist or ethno-nationalist. I reject both popular sovereignty and ethnic “self-determination” as a universal principle. (To put it another way, I am not so much in favour of independence for Dixie as for its independence from Yankees.) As I said, Trump will not fix anything but he has purchased a few years’ breathing space; the problem with American government is not the personnel but the structure, and both parties (both in the past and currently) wish to seize control of this structure, not dismantle it. If you need a label, “royalist” will probably do… though I’ve also… Read more »
Royalist doesn’t begin to cover the sort of autocratic rule that ashv has advocated here, but I guess this means that ashv no longer describes himself as right-wing (though he has not defined right-wing or conservative in terms of any particular features or principles that are to be rejected). ashv wrote: the problem with American government is not the personnel but the structure. Structure is not the root of our problem. The root is not some inefficiency, but sin, and sin is always personal. God’s judgment on our nation is not because of its structure, and I say that as… Read more »
ashv wrote: I would find this a more vital line of rhetoric if there was any consensus within or around the American church about what, exactly, should be repented of, and who should be doing the repenting. Consensus? Did John the Baptist first need a consensus from the religious leaders in order to preach repentance in Israel? Was he required to first provide an exact and complete list of what should be repented of, and who should do the repenting? I get that the PC crowd wants us to repent of all sorts of things that aren’t even sins, but… Read more »
I certainly don’t deny the need (the urgent need) for corporate repentance. But we don’t have a John the Baptist on the scene, just John the Piper who wants us to repent of honouring our fathers and mothers and protecting our families. I think if the American church could get a handle on how to conduct discipline in a godly manner that cultivates the unity of the church, that would be more momentous than any preaching against the political issues of the day (especially since the preaching in American churches has done a lot over the past few centuries to… Read more »
ashv wrote: I certainly don’t deny the need (the urgent need) for corporate repentance. If he really means it, why did it take ashv so long to just say so? Why did we keep getting Piper thrown in our faces for mentioning the basic need for national repentance and humility? Why the reaction for pointing out that Trump takes us in the wrong direction, toward hubris, and away from national repentance? In any case, I’m hopeful that we can now move past the debate over whether national repentance is necessary and urgent. I agree with ashv about the specific need… Read more »
If he really means it, why did it take ashv so long to just say so? Why did we keep getting Piper thrown in our faces for mentioning the basic need for national repentance and humility? Because calling for repentance is easy, but repenting of the right things is hard. The Pharisees were quite eager to repent of the Saducees’ failings. The prophets on Mount Carmel were quite repentant of their lack of zeal in calling on Baal. The only people who are going to say that repentance is a generally bad idea are people who don’t want any respect… Read more »
ashv wrote: Because calling for repentance is easy, but repenting of the right things is hard. Calling for repentance got John the Baptist killed, but I take ashv’s point that our culture is demanding repentance for bogus things. I’ve consistently acknowledged that, and I have no problem refusing to be manipulated by the guilt mongers. But what I’ve been talking about are genuine sins that are at the very root of the cultural rot that Romans 1 describes. I’m not sure how much more specific I can be. Romans 1 is clear about where all the problems begin. They begin… Read more »
What do you expect repentance to look like? (By repentance I mean effective repentance that would cause God to hold off judgment.)
I’m asking because clearly you have not seen it, and so I’m wondering how you would quantify repentance.
JL asks: What do you expect repentance to look like? (By repentance I mean effective repentance that would cause God to hold off judgment.) I’m asking because clearly you have not seen it, and so I’m wondering how you would quantify repentance. I’m not sure that I would attempt to “quantify” repentance because it’s not a substance, and I’m not saying that even widespread repentance will allow us to avoid reaping what we have already sown in terms of judgment. God does not strive with man forever. However, the kinds of things that God expects are the basic things that… Read more »
Thank you. I’ve been pondering your answer. It’s hard to compare the US to the nations of the Old Testament and say we are somehow comparable as far as turning our national backs on God. If I were to compare, it would be to Sodom and Gomorrah which was far, far worse than the US is at present. Even with ancient Israel, God waited to bring judgment on them until everyone had gone astray and was doing what was right in their own eyes. He also stayed judgment when one person, a king/headship, cast down all the pagan altars. You… Read more »
I would welcome a return to a focus on individual rather than collective sins. Collective repentance is a feel-good activity. Thinking about how nasty I might have been in the last 24 hours very definitely is not.
I’m sure Daniel must have felt really good then.
Collective/corporate repentance assumes that we have already repented before God individually, otherwise we are just hypocrites. Intercessory confession is not in conflict with individual confession.
No, it’s not. It just often strikes me as so much easier. It produces a state of mind in which, as you note, hypocrisy can flourish. I was thinking about the Dakota pipeline video of people apologizing to our native American brothers for treaty violations. I am not saying that apologies aren’t due. But how much easier it is to do that than to admit that I, Jill, kept my gardener waiting an extra day for his money because I was too lazy to go to the ATM. The first makes you feel kind of noble; the second makes you… Read more »
“Collective repentance is a feel-good activity.”
If it feels good, you’re doing it wrong.
This one’s for Hillary.
If he did not convert to faith, but honestly said “I do not rely on Christ as you do, but after a decade with Melanie I realize I was missing out on what you were always saying was a more fulfilling relationship. Your ethics make sense and I regret living as if they were merely just weird rules, not wise advice on the most fulfilling life. I have been missing out.” I think if this was honest, even if he wasn’t redeemed, it would be enough for many never Trumpers to reconsider.
Once again Doug’s trying to have it both ways. He posts a picture of a bunch of female defense ministers, clearly implying, without actually coming right out and saying, that it’s a really bad idea to put a woman in charge of defending one’s country. It’s such a self-evidently bad idea, in fact, that he doesn’t need even to explain why having female defense ministers is unwise. This from a man who not only denounced Donald Trump relentlessly for the last year a half, but who also said that Carly Fiorina was on the list of people he was considering… Read more »
I also wondered at the picture which to me seemed irrelevant to the article. These women looked as if they could be a very nice group of teachers or nurses, whereas a photo of Margaret Thatcher or Golda Meir would not lead one to conclude that the very idea of putting a woman in charge of a nation’s defense is ludicrous because no woman possesses the requisite toughness. Some women unarguably do. And they could do so while continuing to look pretty as well.
Yeah, when I think “pretty”, Golda Meir always comes to mind. LMAO
In a way the toughness could be a whole lot scarier if concealed by an angelically pretty face. Imagine if Lady Macbeth had looked like Princess Diana.
You should make up your mind.
Imagine if several women had the “requisite toughness” to be in charge of a nation’s defense, but concealed it with their pretty faces.
Wouldn’t they strike many people as looking like a “very nice group of teachers or nurses”?
No, I think my mind is made up. I had to figure out why the picture annoyed me. Doug is contrasting the hyper-masculine appearance of Mattis with the feminine appearance of the European defense ministers. You and I agree that the faces of these women could conceal any amount of ruthless toughness. The ultra-tough Golda Meir could have looked like Doris Day on the surface. So, if we agree that some (though probably not most) women do have that toughness, how they look on the surface proves nothing. So Doug’s point seems silly to me. If, on the other hand,… Read more »
You and I agree that the faces of these women could conceal any amount of ruthless toughness.
Uh, no we don’t. No woman can compete with men for ruthless toughness.
Your second paragraph is pretty much spot on, though. If putting women in charge of warmaking is soft and decadent, then why was Doug willing to consider putting Carly Fiorina in charge of warmaking?
Yes, I wondered if that would slip past you! But then how do you account for the Thatchers and Meirs? Would you see them as outliers of such rarity that they can’t reasonably be used as evidence? Or would you argue that, tough as they were, they would have crumbled going head to head with Leon Panetta?
jillybean is not considering other options. The issue is not whether women can be ruthless or tough. There are lots of momma bears out there that are not to be messed with when it comes to defending their families. However, as Wilson has apparently not pointed out enough times, the issue is about God’s intended roles for men and women. Even if a china tea cup could drive a nail, that is still not what it was made for, and we don’t change that by encouraging more tea cups to drive nails. That said, God often judges those who are… Read more »
I did actually consider that, and didn’t bring it into the discussion because I think 40 Acres’ view (and I hope he will correct me if I am misstating it) is that women are inherently unfit to be defense secretaries because a feminine nature precludes that kind of toughness. If I understand your view correctly (and you have said similar things in the past), some women may have that toughness and others can be socialized into it. But not without doing tragic damage to what it means to be feminine in the truest sense of the word. Perhaps I could… Read more »
jillybean wrote: I did actually consider that, and didn’t bring it into the discussion because I think 40 Acres’ view (and I hope he will correct me if I am misstating it) is that women are inherently unfit to be defense secretaries because a feminine nature precludes that kind of toughness. I’m afraid jillybean can’t use 40 ACRES as an excuse this time. She attributed a rather strawy argument to Wilson without offering him any better alternatives: So, if we agree that some (though probably not most) women do have that toughness, how they look on the surface proves nothing.… Read more »
Katecho said “striking density.”
The irony is just too much.
It’s back to Joy Division for yours truly.
Didn’t 40 ACRES say he had me blocked?
” … many Christians would apparently rather live in a world shaped by Stoics than by Babylonian orgy-organizers.”
A veiled acknowledgment of Pizzagate? (Or Bohemian Grove, or Jeff Epstein’s Lolita Express?)
” … if you put me back three months ago, knowing what I knew then, I would do exactly the same thing … ”
What if you knew then everything you know now? (I wouldn’t change a thing — Castle-Bradley.)
I find Trump’s suggestion of revoking the citizenship of, or imprisoning, flag-burners to be pretty unsettling. Even if he IS “merely” trolling the leftist media.
I do too. I find flag-burners incredibly distasteful, and I view them with unalloyed disapproval. But is he trolling, or is he really unaware of Texas v. Johnson in which the far-from-liberal Scalia joined the majority in considering it protected speech?
Consider that Hillary proposed a bill banning it in 2005.
She was wrong. So was the ultra-liberal Stevens who wrote the dissent for the court.
My point is that the moral issue of whether flag-burning is good or bad is probably peripheral to Trump’s motivation for making that statement.
So that in both cases it is a politically motivated statement made in the full knowledge that nothing can actually come of it? Or am I still missing something?
Maybe ashv is simply suggesting that Trump doesn’t really give a flying fig about the moral pros or cons, but rather he is merely using it as an issue to troll the lib media and to score populist points with the “deplorables”?
Yes – but most particularly to neutralise the protesters. Anti-Trump protesters have to choose between their current reflexive opposition to anything Trump proposes and having any traction with normal non-radicalised people of any political persuasion.
Trolling the leftist media and political jujitsu on your opponents has its value but it doesn’t give a pass on advocating for evil stuff. The amount of pragmatism some people advocate in the name of upholding Christian principle is sometimes bewildering.
A hundred and fifty years ago, if someone wanted to stand in the town square and pontificate on this or that policy or political goal, few would care enough to listen…but they wouldn’t stop him. If that same person would try burning a flag on main street, the locals would beat them to within an inch of their life. And not a soul within a hundred miles would care. The local law would likely imprison them for inciting a riot and to ensure their safety. The distinction that people made between speech and acts were pretty common sensical. I find… Read more »
I agree that if you burn a Koran, the media would make your life miserable, but you would not be charged with a hate crime if you live in the U.S. The Supreme Court upheld the right of even the Westboro Baptists to picket the funerals of fallen soldiers with “God hates fags” and “thank heaven for 9/11” signs. The thought of the WBC being legally entitled to do that makes normal people want to beat somebody up or to enact the toughest hate crime legislation they can find. My national background led me to take hate crime legislation for… Read more »
As distasteful as WBC made themselves (and the name of Christ an offense to everyone), it was speech and signs and a protest at certain locations.
If they would take an effigy of said soldier and light it on fire…then all bets are off, I would think.
Unfortunately, the “despicableness” of such acts greatly wounds the conscience of those who see it…which is, of course, the goal. I wish there was some way to limit such things or devise a metric to accommodate both sides…instead of giving all the freedom to the miscreants and none to the faithful citizens.
I was inspired by the motorcycle clubs that attend those funerals, put themselves between the mourners and the protesters, and drown out the noise.
My preference is to use the weight of public opinion rather than the law. Used wrongly, social shaming can injure the innocent. But no one has an obligation to hire or do business with people who burn their country’s flag.
Jilly, what are your thoughts on Ariel Toaff and his research? He has become a free speech cause celebre in certain circles, although, for some odd reason, most Americans have never heard of him.
I’m pretty sure if a an Italian priest had written the same book, he would’ve been all over American news for a year, and his name would be a curse word for decades.
Never heard of him. Let me read and get back to you.
I read the article you cited, and a couple of reviews. I would agree with you if a mainstream Catholic priest did this, but there are still a number of trad-Catholic priests who have not accepted current Vatican teachings about Jews not having proverbial horns and tails. You can find their stuff on some U.S. websites but they are considered schismatic. From the little I read, I think it was all overblown. Toaff did not appear to be arguing that every blood libel throughout European history was true or that Jews delight in torturing Christian children for reasons best known… Read more »
My issue is not with the distinction between and action. I agree, that the extension of “speech” to cover so many actions is fallacious. My issue is with exalting a nationalist symbol to something sacred. We don’t have blasphemy laws in this country, and people rightly support that, except when it comes to blasphemy of the flag. To my mind, there is something wrong with this. I don’t have a problem with people reacting negatively to flag burning — I think they should. But I think if there’s one and only one thing in this country that it’s a crime… Read more »
We should not be okay with flat out lying. Paul Ryan doesn’t care if Trump lies: “It doesn’t matter to me. He won the election. The way I see the tweets you’re talking about, he’s basically giving voice to a lot of people who have felt that they were voiceless…” I take for granted that Trump lies every time he moves his lips. I am more appalled that Ryan thinks that spewing lies to the aggrieved is a valid form of governance. I understand that politicians in every time and place have lied like rugs. Usually the cost of getting… Read more »
“This warrior ethic is not a Christian ethic, as should be obvious at a glance.”
I fear this isn’t particularly obvious to me…. Are we suggesting that the sentiment expressed in Psalm 58 (among a host of others) does not represent a Christian ethic? Or do I misunderstand?
“The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.”
Yes. Martial language of this type occurs throughout scripture.
Martial language is consistent with the Christian ethic — the warrior ethic as such is not.
The warrior ethic does not mean “it’s okay to be a warrior” or “it’s okay to be good at war” or even “there are aspects of war to rejoice in.” It means making war is the highest calling of man, that loss in war is the worst possible thing, that warriors are superior to every other class of people, and that if you don’t come home either victorious or dead, you shouldn’t come home at all.
Plus perversions such as the belief that war is in itself purifying, and that death is to be preferred to dishonor (not sin–I understand that we are supposed to be willing to die in order not to sin).
Maybe. But frankly I’m more concerned by a culture that has no concept whatsoever of what honor is (like ours), than a culture which would say “death before dishonor”.
I think we need a Christian sense of honor. Death before dishonoring your God, your vows, your sacred word, your loyalty to the right things. When the Cavalier poet write, “I could not love thee, dear, so much/Loved I not honor more,” I think his sense of honor was rooted in God. But when honor is rooted in self or in an artificial code, it’s not so good. I couldn’t agree with you more that we seem to have lost this. The ability of politicians, on both sides of the aisle, to be caught in boldfaced lies without suffering consequences… Read more »
I’m curious to know your source for your definition of “warrior ethic”. In my 20+ years of “warrior-ing”, I’ve never heard it described in such superlative terms. Perhaps someone (Mattis?) thinks of it in those terms, but no one I’ve ever met.
Here is the US Army’s definition of warrior ethos, which seems quite a bit more practical and less superlative in moral terms than you describe:
The point is that while there is a Christian ethic that pertains to war, a warrior ethic is not necessarily a Christian one. There can be non-Christian warrior ethics. And the one he is talking about, doesn’t fit — but that has no bearing whether a different approach to war might be Christian.
Sounds like a strawman argument. Of course there theoretically could be an un-Christian warrior ethic. But a couple of “salty” motivational phrases from a jarhead in the heat of battle doesn’t constitute one.
Anything that is not a distinctively Christian ethic is not a Christian warrior ethic, even if it is the warrior ethic of Christians. In what way do those comments represent a Christian ethic? What about it specifically represents the Christian approach to war? The contrast is not with an approach that automatically disqualifies one from being a Christian, but with an approach that is not in itself rooted in Christian faith and life. The problem Wilson is pointing out is not that salty quotes are bad, it’s that being salty doesn’t make them right, despite the fact that they’re somewhat… Read more »
Sounds like you are sorry you didn’t vote for Trump instead of Hillary. Maybe you didn’t vote for her but in any case your vote (or no vote) was a vote against Trump. As for his crass sex talk what kind of talk do you think goes on among other male politicos? Imagine being in the locker room or on the golf course (or his little island)with Bill Clinton would sound like. My guess is most of the offended women who have been relentlessly preaching “Never Trump” would be horrified if they heard their hubbies around “the guys.” And since… Read more »
Two thoughts: “And as I have been watching Christians respond to Mattis, they have generally been responding with delight. How come? This warrior ethic is not a Christian ethic, as should be obvious at a glance. The delight is the delight of relief—relief from the bizarro-world created by the burgeoning insanities of politically-correctness. “ Perhaps the problem is that Christians have forgotten that we are designed to be warriors. Ephesians 6 proclaims it. How about the armies following Christ in Revelations? Dare we separate the spiritual from the physical? Should medieval Europe have said, “Yes, we see the muslim hordes… Read more »
Here’s how President Trump will cause the US empire to devolve into fascism and then collapse — according to science! http://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/heres-how-the-us-empire-will-devolve-into-fascism-and-then-collapse-according-to-science/ A sociologist who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union and 9/11 attacks warns that American global power will collapse under Donald Trump. Johan Galtung, a Norwegian professor at the University of Hawaii and Transcend Peace University, first predicted in 2000 that the “U.S. empire” would wither away within 25 years, but he moved up that forecast by five years with the election of President George W. Bush, reported Motherboard. Now, nearly 17 years later, Galtung predicts that decline… Read more »
“Johan Galtung” gave it away. What’s that new saying now? “Fake news!”
Good for you! I wouldn’t have picked that up!
Hey! You don’t get to be a Catholic without a high degree of credulousness! So now I can go back to being irritated at how dumb it all sounds.
I forgot to add that the nuns tried to convince us that St. Joseph of Cupertino actually flew around the chapel during mass.
There’s a lot of people in the USA who are ready to “transcend peace”, I think…
What does transcend peace even mean? Is peace a bad thing? Does it mean transcendent peace? I am starting to feel irritable again.
Reminds me of the slogan I saw a while back: “I found the cure for hope”.
I saw a bumper sticker once: Imagine whirled peas.
Yeah, I saw the “Visualize Whirled Peas” bumper sticker a lot in the previous decade, but I’ll never forget the fellows who took it one step further and made the “Visualize Grilled Cheese” sticker.