Sunday, August 9, 2015

Donald Trump Feuds with Megyn Kelly

Donald Trump has succeeded in dividing American conservatives. For every Mark Levin, who is defending him, there is a  gang at National Review that is criticizing him. Some people think that he is great for conservatism, while others think that he is destroying it and the Republican brand.

Since Trump has NEVER been noted for being a conservative himself, this must count as a significant achievement.

Based on Trump’s unhinged reaction to Megyn Kelly, she clearly got the better of him. Rather than address substantive issues, he has responded by trying to shoot the messenger. Dare I say, it is beneath the dignity of a man who wants to be president of the United States.

Some commenters on this blog find that I have completely lost my own mind… for being critical of Donald Trump’s temperament and for questioning the reputational cost Republicans are paying for having him be the standard bearer of the party.

For today, at least, policy and politics are being overshadowed by Trump’s feud with Megyn Kelly. How this advances the conservative cause is beyond me. Why this makes him look more presidential or draws more attention to his ideas is also beyond me.

Yesterday, Trump’s former campaign adviser, Roger Stone resigned from the campaign. He wrote in his letter of resignation:

Unfortunately, the current controversies involving media personalities and provocative media fights have reached such a high volume that it has distracted attention from your platform and overwhelmed your core message. With this current direction of your candidacy I can no longer be involved in your campaign.

Naturally, Trump said that Stone had been fired.

Several conservatives, among them the thoroughly estimable Mark Levin have rushed to defend Trump. For example, Levin railed against Megyn Kelly for drawing a sexual innuendo from what he considered Trump’s perfectly innocent remark to a contestant on The Apprentice, to the effect that it would be a “pretty picture” to see her on her knees.

For the record, Kelly’s precise words were:

You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees….

Whatever Trump might have meant-- in truth, when doing critical exegesis what the words say is more important than the speaker’s intentions-- the remark, while not explicitly sexual, certainly has an implicit sexual connotation. In current parlance, a woman who falls to her knees in front of a man is not looking for a contact lens. When women talk of knee pads they are not thinking of playing basketball.

Here’s a remark from a New York Times column by Tufts philosophy professor Nancy Bauer, from several years ago:

When they’re on their knees in front of a worked-up guy they just met at a party, they genuinely do feel powerful — sadistic, even.  

Levin might not know it, but Trump must have known about the sexual connotation. Even if he did not, even if he is perfectly innocent before God—since when did Trump ever present himself as a young naif—the remark suggests what it suggests. If Trump was being ambiguous, he is responsible for any reasonable interpretation and should immediately apologize. He will not, but he should.

Levin also notes, correctly that the press has been far less concerned about asking Hillary Clinton about her husband's having been accused of rape. Of course, NBC news aired an hour-long program wherein Juanita Broaddrick made her case against Bill Clinton.

Should the press ask Hillary Clinton about it? Yes, they should. Does their failure to follow up on the issue means that they should never call out any Republican candidate on degrading and intemperate statements about women? No, it should not.

A good conservative like Kevin Williamson offers this analysis:

If you think that saying that sort of thing is merely a violation of political correctness and effete coastal liberal etiquette, try it on some dry-land cotton farmer’s wife or daughter and see if you live to boast of your free-spiritedness.

To be quite explicit, if you accept Levin’s reading try it out on a cotton farmer. Tell him his daughter or his wife would look pretty on her knees.

Since Trump was called out yesterday for making a crude and insulting reference to Megyn Kelly’s womanhood, we ought to examine the remark and his rationalization. As you recall, Trump said:

And you know, you can see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever, but she was, in my opinion, she was off base.

Trump was disinvited from the Red State gathering he was supposed to have addressed yesterday for making what some considered a crude reference to menstruation. He fired back by accusing his detractors of having a dirty mind. He insisted that he had really been referring to her “nose.”

Strictly speaking—assuming that we like to speak strictly—and following Trump’s own explication of his remarks—he saw Kelly's head as exuding blood.. For those of us who were watching, there was no blood coming out of Kelly’s eyes, so this ghoulish image was Trump’s alone. If you take Trump at his word, he was using a visually compelling and vulgar image to diminish and demean and denounce a journalist… as evil. If we take him at his word, he was saying that she was so filled with rage that blood was seeping from her eyes and nose.

Those of you who saw the exchange may ask themselves: did Kelly really look that angry?

Even if we accept that Trump did not mean to make any disparaging sexual reference, everyone who heard it immediately thought that he was referring to menstruation. Why was that so? Because, in using the word “wherever” he was referring to a place, not a thing, and because in using that word he was suggesting that the real word he intended to say was unfit for a family audience. You do not self-censor the word “nose.” As for where a woman is more likely to bleed... the implication is clear.

What he really, really meant does not matter. No speaker owns the language. No speaker owns his own verbal ejaculations. Once the words are out there in the public domain, they are fair game… subject to interpretation, both correct interpretation and incorrect interpretation. In this case, the sexual connotation is reasonable. If it is not what Trump meant, he should apologize for offering words that gave the wrong impression. He refused to apologize so the interpretation stands.

This morning Trump is going to appear on all the network talk shows (except for Fox), the better to continue to defend himself against charges of being a vulgar boor. Perhaps he is trying to make himself, not his ideas, the center of the debate. Is this going to advance the conservative cause? Williamson says it will not:

It is true that the our inability to control our borders is an existential threat to these United States and that the crisis of illegal immigration is felt most intensely in downscale communities that do not register on Washington’s radar or Wall Street’s. But Trump’s buffoonery makes it less likely rather than more likely that something substantive will be done on the question.

Trump has raised some important issues. But, he is all show and no substance. In the end, politics must have substance. In the end, Williamson notes, that is the real problem:

As the debate last night made obvious — obvious enough even for those drawn to Trump, if they can bear a moment’s intellectual honesty — that blustery, Babbitty persona is really all he has. Asked to provide evidence for his daft conspiracy theory that our illegal-immigration crisis is a result of the Mexican government’s intentionally flooding the United States with platoons of rapists, Trump’s answer was, essentially, “I heard it from a guy.” Challenged on his support for a Canadian-style single-payer health-care system, Trump described the system of his dreams in one word: “better.” As though nobody had ever thought: “What we need is better policies instead of worse policies.” Trump’s mind is so full of Trump that there isn’t any room for ideas, or even basic knowledge.


Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: ...Since Trump has NEVER been noted for being a conservative himself, this must count as a significant achievement.

This is an curious point, although its also a reminder that there is no historical law that says a party must be conservative-pure or liberal-pure.

Purity tests in general might be subjective, so if you're a conservative and you don't like someone, they can't be conservative. And the GOP also attempts to keep libertarians under their tent, while they are generally socially liberal.

This page says "Donald Trump is a Hard-Core Conservative" on the Libertarian political map, but I won't argue.

In regards to Trump's offensiveness, that's also curious, how some people will hyperfocus on his faults, while others would prefer to forgive and forget, because of some other imagined virtues.

But in general it seems there is something mysterious called "status", and people with status can get away with things that ordinary people can't, or at least don't dare try. And perhaps simply a willingness to act as if you don't care what other people think (shamelessness?) leads status rather than follows.

If you have a bad boss, crude and boorish language, but is otherwise reliable, does what he says, he keeps the business running, pays your paycheck, you may overlook that language. On the other hand, your loyalty is no deeper than your own self-interest.

I keep wondering if Trump's success so far is related to Congresses and its 16% approval rating? We can pretend Trump's business success won't be any better at compromise than congress, but wait, he's applying for CEO so if he's elected, we can imagine he's going to double-down on Obama's executive order congressional bypass, and his supporters will have no problem if he writes an EO calling for a 50 foot tall wall along 1933 miles of the Mexican Border, and another that voids ObamaCare, and a third that cancels the trillion dollar Air force F-35 program and fires all the contractors.

So if that's the sort of president currently 20-30% of the GOP voters want, who knows if Trump's human failings will continue to be ignored, and conservative or not, they want a dictator to do the hard choices no matter and is willing to take it all to the supreme court until Congress cleans itself up into respectability again.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares Olympus @August 9, 2015 at 6:49 AM:

" ... until Congress cleans itself up into respectability again."


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

We have a great Republican field, and all we're doing is lamenting the presence of Mr. Trump, who is -- so shockingly -- showing himself to be who he is. And everyone knows this.

We're talking about Donald Trump in terror, saying he is attaching himself to a Republican "brand" that he disavowed by raising his hand in response to Bret Baier's first question. he's not a Republican.

"Some commenters on this blog find that I have completely lost my own mind… for being critical of Donald Trump’s temperament and for questioning the reputational cost Republicans are paying for having him be the standard bearer of the party."

I don't think you've lost your mind. Yet you are parroting the Republican Establishment's hysteria about what Trump is "doing" to the party, and such reactions are perpetuating the problem. Watching Donald Trump's behavior during and since the debate has been like watching Charlie Sheen's epic meltdown. No one ever said Charlie Sheen was the standard bearer for Hollywood. Roger Ailes is loving all this! So is Megyn Kelly! Do we think Kelly has entered a counseling program because she has been so shamed and savaged by the cruelty of Trump's locutions? C'mon...

It's your blog, and I love it. But you've taken remarks about his temperament and layered on stuff like "reputation" and "standard bearer." Stop! The election is in November of next year! How do you think things are going for Hillary? Why she hasn't been indicted is the scandal in America.

You're complaining about Trump, which perpetuates the drama. If he's THAT bad for the Republican "brand" (as though someone like John McCain is actually "good" for the brand), then conspire to do something truly useful: stop taking about him. It's the chatter that's allowed him to gain whatever he has to date. He's a lousy candidate for all the reasons you cite, Stuart. Every one of them. So let's just STOP.

What's really happening is Trump is showing the truth about the GOP Establishment: it hates its base. The GOP leaders want to go to Washington cocktail parties and not have to talk about the "kooks" who put them in office. They want to be dignified, reasonable and respectable. In so doing, they've made it clear they want to lose in 2016. Really. With the way things are going now, the Republicans are showing they want to make Ares Olympus' day and LOSE in 2016. They want to look respectable, rational, reasonable, and Trump is ruining all that. They are LOSERS. Do you want to be a loser? I don't.

Make no mistake: we're buying into the media narrative about who Republicans are and what their base is really like. The Lefties are laughing their asses off watching Republicans freak out about Trump, because Trump confirms the Left's narrative of who the Republicans are. The media agrees with the Left. The GOP Establishment agrees with the Left. Washington, D.C. is for more government to build wealth around... Washington,D.C.! Those who don't want more government are... kooks! Kooks want to be independent: to be responsible and live for themselves. Wow, what horrible people! How un-American! Such people just be stopped!

Republicans need to start going on offense with clarity about who they are and what they believe, in plain language. That's what Trump has shown is possible, and he is now in the way. But Republicans drew a HUGE audience on Thursday. The field did well, save one man -- the curiosity most people came to see. Is it any surprise that's who the chattering class is chattering about? Trump chatters. They chatter. It's a game. Fiorina and Rubio did it very well on Thursday, and their answers are not getting traction because we are taking about Trump. Turn the game around. Leverage the gift Trump's given here, then ignore him. We have to learn, and stop reacting. Now. Please.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I am sure you all regret, as do I, that this blog does not lead or define the public debate. As it happens, the media is filled with stories about DT-- I trust that everyone knows what they means-- so it is not inappropriate to have a say. I was inspired by Mark Levin's analysis of the Trump brouhaha, which was linked in the comments section of this blog. I would have felt derelict if I had not been able to discuss the art of critical exegesis and contrast my views with Levin's.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

"I am sure you all regret, as do I, that this blog does not lead or define the public debate."

Yes, indeed. It would be a much more sober, thoughtful, purposeful debate, and it would be a great contribution to the country. It's your blog, and we're reading it and commenting on it from your lead. And thank you for doing that. I come here daily because it is a breath of fresh air amidst all the nonsense, and your subject matter touches on much of what really matters in the end. So if I haven't said it enough: thank you!

Contrast this fine blog with the Thursday's Fox News "ESPN Game Day" debate in Cleveland-- complete with influences from CNN's obnoxious old "Crossfire" program -- where the chattering moderators took up just shy of ONE THIRD of the time. What a disgrace. I expect more (much more) from Bret Baier, and very little from the other two. But in commenting on this blog, I've cleared some of my thoughts and realized that Baier may have done the Republican Party a great service with his opening question: he gave them a definitive "out" when the inevitable comes to a close.

One last thought experiment in all this...

What do you think would happen if George Clooney entered the Democrat Party's nominating process? Furthermore, consider if Mr. Clooney entered the race against 16 other people: some Democratic governors, former governors, Senators, former Senators, a former Fortune 50 CEO, a neurosurgeon, etc? I suspect Mr. Clooney would poll at least 26%. I don't know if he'd run third party if he didn't get the Democrat nomination, but I wouldn't think him a true Democrat if he chose to go that path... I'd think him traitorous in that regard, someone who wasted all the Democrats' time, and be glad he was there to run interference for the Republican nominee, who would certainly win the presidency.

I hope this adds some perspective to this. Can you imagine how a poll of likely Democrat primary voters would turn out if the names considered were George Clooney and all those other people? Regardless of credentials, ideas, philosophies, perspectives, etc., I would think he'd be well-ahead at this stage. And if his candidacy was based on some "red meat" comments to the Democrat base, I think he'd be well along his way. But I don't know if he'd win in the long haul. If y'all think he would, maybe that explains more of your own fear right now. But Mr. Clooney comports himself as a handsome, smooth, thoughtful, mild-mannered gentleman of sorts, who was recently called "the last movie star." Ronald Reagan wasn't a huge star, but did become clear about his ideas, and this combo helped him through the nomination process and the presidency. And he was good for America.

I guess I have more faith in the GOP base to pick a good candidate than I do the Establishment. But I also think we'd be foolish to not consider that name recognition and popularity are (immediately) explosive and (ultimately) transient things... name recognition is helpful at first, but without true staying power. Hillary Clinton certainly pointed this out in 2008, and I expect she will do so again in this cycle. Perhaps Mr. Clooney or Hiward Schultz will pick up the mantle, provided they have any substance. If Bernie Sanders had any of Trump's star power, he would be a menace to the Democrat Party, a tidal wave of energy emanating from its base. Anyone think Bernie a Sanders will get the Democrat nomination? Me, neither....

Bizzy Brain said...

I wonder if Monica Lewinski looked like a "pretty picture" to Bill Clinton when she was "on her knees" before him in the Oval Office. Sounds VERY presidential to me as Bill WAS President and Monica was on her knees and it was in the Oval Office. So why a different standard for Trump?

Bizzy Brain said...

Glenn Beck was my first thought when Trump talked about blood coming out of Kelly’s eyes. Beck often speaks of his intense anger, figuratively, as “blood shooting out of my eyes.” Anyone who has ever listened to Beck for any length of time has heard him use that phrase. My hunch is that is what Trump was getting at, though he did not speak it as artfully as Glenn Beck.

JK Brown said...

I was disappointed you didn't address Trumps seemingly innate ability to manipulate his detractors. He didn't speak of Megan Kelly's menstruation, but his did leave it open for the minds of others to rush to thoughts of Kelly's vagina. Advantage Trump.

Trump has this ability to say half a thought in the most provocative way that others seem unable to refrain from completing in the worst way. At this his is a master, apparently. Or the pundits are just easy marks?

Trump is a great entertainer, great for ratings and clicks. He would not be a good president. But we are what 15 months from the election and 4 or 5 from the first primary. And quite frankly, there isn't much else going on that makes good TV.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

the Clooney analogy is interesting. The problem with it is that Clooney is a gentleman. Trump is a boor. One suspects that Clooney would never base his candidate on a constant stream of insults and innuendos about members of his political party and his fellow candidates, to say nothing of the press.

Of course, Bill Clinton got impeached over the Lewinsky matter... so, it's not as though no one tried to hold him to account. For now I think it entirely appropriate that people ask Hillary about.

Trump is not manipulating his detractors. He made a blithering fool of himself and had to go on multiple talk shows to do damage control this morning. His remarks were highly suggestive of Ms. Kelly's menstruation... to the point where it was the most plausible interpretation. Thus, he made an idiotic error and failed to apologize for it... disadvantage Trump.

Sam L. said...

As did Bizzy, I first thought of Monica. Here's a slightly different take: Was he trying to get us to think of Monica, and Bill, and then Hillary? I'm guessing not.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Okay, so you think the Clooney analogy is "interesting," or at least a hint that such a scenario might be plausible because of name recognition. That brings us to...

Thought Expieriment #2: Given your claim of Mr. Clooney's temperament as a "gentleman" (in contrast to someone with the boorishness Mr. Trump aptly displays), would you think it a plausible scenario that Mr. Clooney would (a) win the Democrat nomination, and then go on to (b) crush the Republican nominee and become our new POTUS? Or would you think he would (a) win the Democrat nomination and (c) lose the general election to the Republican nominee? Or do you think (d) none of the above results would occur, meaning that he would lose the Democrat nomination; or (e) that he would never run in the first place?

Question: Would a George Clooney's prospects as "presidential material" result in a, b, c, d, or e?

'Tis not a trick, merely a musing. By the way, my sense of Clooney's chances just took a hit, as my spell checker seems to correct me every time I enter his name. Not a good sign for Mr. Handsome...

I would like your answer, Stuart, but it's your blog, and you can choose to participate or not. I welcome others' selection and thoughts... just keep (e) responses to a minimum, as they are, ahem, boring. I'll channel a little Ed McLaughlin here... My own sense is that America is obsessed with celebrity. In Trump's case, the answer is (d) -- in the Republican context, of course -- and if he ran as an independent the result would, of course, be (b). In Clooney's case, the answer is (b) because he is a celebrity, a media magnet, an established Democrat, a Leftist, someone who favors the economic priorities of metropolitan D.C., and the GOP Establishment could be proud of him as POTUS, because it would result in an avalanche of American dignity and respectability. Just as the GOP Establishment has shown itself to be okey-dokey with Obama, as evidenced by its serial timidity. All because Clooney is a handsome man. A slam dunk. He's just not boorish. Therefore, the correct answer is (b), though the more likely scenario is (e). The most impossible option is (d).

Isn't this a great country???

Jk Brown said...

Or, Trump spoke infuriatingly. He closed out all the other candidates from the news cycle and dominated multiple talk shows who weren't interested in anything beyond Megan Kelly's cycle. He failed to apologize for laying the groundwork for others to decide "tthe most plausible interpretation" because it would remove him from the front page even as his detractors continued to chew on him backstage.

I expect Trump will blow up, but until then he is showing up those who want to destroy him. Afterwards, he'll get a new TV show, etc.

Bizzy Brain said...

It doesn’t bother me that Trump made a joke about Megyn Kelly being so nasty because she might have been on her period. The truth is that many women’s temperaments take a turn for the worse during that time. A lot of men think that and say that. Then, all of a sudden, it is horribly degrading to joke about it. Kelly and the others were no doubt put up to this inquisition of Trump by the new managers of Fox News as of last month, Robert Murdoch’s sons. My prediction is they will kill off the network, or at least render it irrelevant. They sure as heck can no longer claim their reporting is "fair and balanced," which was their claim to fame.

flynful said...

My first opinion of the manner in which he participated in the debate was that DT can certainly dish it out but he can't take it (something that was said to me when I was a kid and that I took to heart). Imagine DT as a participant on his own television show and how he would react to being fired. What a boor.

Moreover, DT's rejoinder to any criticism was to internalize the point being made as if it were a pistol shot aimed at his heart and then personally attack the person rather than the subject of the criticism. This failure to intellectually debate the point (I know, he said he is not a debater) is characteristic of how progressives respond to factual criticisms of their brilliant and wonderful schemes. The fact is progressives can't intellectually support the positions they take and hatefully attack any person daring to make a counterpoint argument in response (as if that person were evil). DT's current resort to progressive defensive tactics leads me to believe that he hasn't strayed far from his progressive politics of the past. And, the fact that he couldn't bring himself to say that he would support whoever won the nomination leads me to think that he must view some or all of the other debaters as "evil" Republicans. This may become more apparent the longer he poses as a candidate.

The funny thing is that DT seemingly does not have a realistic view of his own persona. I read that he surrounds himself with "yes" men. The more he pretends to run for president the more his personality flaws will become evident and the greater the likelihood that he will make himself into an object derision and ridicule. I think he risks much more than he supposes he will gain.

Maybe it was me, but I thought in watching DT at the evening debate I was watching an 8 year old thrust into an adult conversation where he knew he might have to answer a question or two and was being defensive in advance. Just look at the faces he was making. Watch the debate for a few minutes with the sound off. He may be a brilliant and ruthless deal maker but I think DT has not matured into a rational adult. He was not a very appealing presence on that platform.

Anonymous said...

Trump is a good bullshitter because 99.9% of the time he believes his own bullshit.

The Fox slogan "fair and balanced" is also bullshit. Fox occupies a niche where people who feel marginalized in society can bitch about the bad government and bad mainstream media. I watch for a mix of entertainment and education as to how this branch of the slings a particular brand of bullshit.

Trump has been selling non-political bullshit and now he wants us to buy his political bullshit too.

Regarding the prosperity of the wicked see Psalm 73.

priss rules said...

I don't support Trump, who is Mr. Sleaze. But I do support Trump against the GOP elites who are a bunch of wussy sleazebags.

Trump hasn't much sense but he got balls. The other guys don't even have that.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Anonymous @August 10, 2015 at 12:51 PM:

"The Fox slogan "fair and balanced" is also bullshit."

Fair enough. What television networks or programs do you watch? What publications do you find reliable? What sorts of presenters do you believe fair?

Lots of people think Fox News is "bullshit." I'm then curious where they get their amazingly accurate, wholly unbiased, and magnificently true content from.

Pray tell, lest we begin trading Psalms...

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

flynful @August 10, 2015 at 12:48 PM:

"This failure to intellectually debate the point (I know, he said he is not a debater) is characteristic of how progressives respond to factual criticisms of their brilliant and wonderful schemes."

Agreed. Brilliant point. The scandal is that Progressives aren't required by mainstream news outlets to debate their points.

Wanna know why? The "journalists" agree with them. What is there to discuss?

Anonymous said...


I have read the book of Psalms dozens of times. I don't recall any Psalms that invalidate the insight communicated in Psalm 73.

I watch MSNBC and Fox News for politically slanted programming. I watch CNBC and Fox Business for politically slanted business coverage.

You can tell it is slanted or biased by the editorial differences: Fox/O'Reilly the other night is talking about an illegal alien who killed a female citizen; switch channel CNBC is talking about the people killed by incompetent or negligent police activity without reasonable justification. The events over which their respective viewers get angry, and want to change the law, government, or society, simply differ based on how one thinks authority should be used in society. I see valid perceptions on all sides and a child-like desire to change the world to meet one's own emotional needs which drives politics in this country. I recognize this as the pattern of sibling rivalry.

Link to lyrics: I'd Love to Change the World But I Don't Know What to Do

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Anonymous @August 10, 2015 at 6:29 PM:

"I see valid perceptions on all sides and a child-like desire to change the world to meet one's own emotional needs which drives politics in this country. I recognize this as the pattern of sibling rivalry."

Agreed. That said, at some point we have to choose. I don't like illegal aliens committing crimes, and I don't like corrupt cops who operate above the law. The issue I have is that these are usually positioned by activists and a lustful media as victim narratives, which appeals to an emotional (or perhaps even reptilian) part of our brain. It tells us we don't have choices. And then our society is cleaved into this liberal and conservative duality, and people seek to fit the label rather than thinking for themselves. If that's what you feel creates this "sibling rivalry," then our opinions of this are congruent. My objection is that most of the "child-like" people who throw around "Fox News is bullshit" believe that the MSNBC interpretations of things is the Truth, with a capital T. Such people scare me. Just like Trump acolytes scare me. Just like Keith Olbermann fans scare me. Just like people who think Sean Hannity is anything more than a party-line entertainer scare me. I could go on, but I'm sure you get my drift.

This is all clearly a part of the human condition, and that's what I hear you referring to in your Psalm 73 reference: "For I was envious of the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked." Yes, there are a lot of arrogant, prosperous, wicked people out there.

But there are also good people who are making the world a better place. These are people who make daily choices based on what is presented before them in plain sight, and they make their contribution. Thee are the people who "don't know what to do" anymore than you or I do, yet they choose to take that next action. I applaud them for that.

If there are people in this world who I hold as most wicked, it's the arrogant, prosperous people who think they can come up with one-size-fits-all solutions through government and impose them on all. Government cannot love, and it's not equipped to give everyone a living. It recognizes standards, and delivers those uniformly. That's its job. Yet people are not uniform. That's why I think government should do as little as possible, as it doesn't do much of anything well, and it cannot provide that which the human person most desires: love. It simply cannot deliver that, and yet we've created this leviathan that is encroaching on our lives more and more in the form of centralized control and planning around specific one-size-fits-all worldview.

Therefore, I would prefer that people didn't try to "change the world," and instead did what they could to make their own corner of the world more livable for all in it. That is, when we trust in God and recognize the dignity of the human person. The truth is that in 2015 America, we don't honor the dignity of the human person. And that's unfortunate. So far as I can tell, it's always been that way, except for the little rays of light that shine from the soul of those who fear God, and do His will.

And so we are left with the last lines of Psalm 73 for posterity:

"Indeed, those who are far from you will perish;
you put an end to those who are false to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
to tell of all your works."

Anonymous said...


Notice I said the Fox News phrase "fair and balanced" is bullshit. I refer to much of the Fox News programming as "fairly unbalanced" or "unfairly balanced" but I don't see it all as bullshit.

I agree with much of your sentiment. However I see the psycho-biology of childhood, which includes sibling rivalry as a major component, as the origin of the desire to improve the world, that is, of the desire to change the world into an improved type of external parent. Also I am hopeful that the character of people making market deals and forming/serving in governments can provide a better system of economic justice. It cannot occur without a critical mass of reasonable (just) men and women who emerge with character from childhood.

Children are born with the desire and ability to love but not the ability to sustain love in the absence of interaction with external parents. This conditions the desire to love to look for an external parent in the family and later the world of human affairs. Jesus had a public career criticizing the corrupt authorities and preaching, however, he did not advocate changing the world in efforts to secure an external parent when he crafted The Lord's Prayer.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Anonymous @August 11, 2015 at 9:49 PM:

The idea that any reportage can be perfectly "fair and balanced" is bullshit. In other words, your expectation that it is or should be is a subjective judgment built on an impossible standard. Fox News has been wildly successful because it fills a void in the perspective of many (if not all) mainstream news outlets. The idea that Fox News is successful in filling that void shows that the "fair and balanced" outlook many credentialed mainstream journalists thought they were offering back in the halcyon days of network news is bullshit. "If only Fox News hadn't come on the scene, the country would've been unified" is a familiar context on the Left today, and it is also bullshit. Monopolies misjudge demand. Colleges and universities are next.

"I see the psycho-biology of childhood, which includes sibling rivalry as a major component, as the origin of the desire to improve the world, that is, of the desire to change the world into an improved type of external parent."

Okay, fine. But I don't want or need an external parent in the form of a government with a monopoly on police power to be my parent, with puppeteers resolving their personal childhood terrors by trying to control the rest of us. My experience is that most people who want to "change the world" and make it "fair" are human beings, too, and their attempts to make it "fair" impose a new form of one-size-fits-all tyranny on the rest of us. Using government to impose one's worldview is as close to collective megalomania as it gets.

"I am hopeful that the character of people making market deals and forming/serving in governments can provide a better system of economic justice."

Okay, and I hope -- int he case of those "forming/serving in governments" fail. Because I don't think it's the government's purpose to be redistributing resources. So that's my subjective viewpoint against your subjective viewpoint. I guess we cancel each other out. Perhaps you can content yourself with that. What I do know is that I have a choice about whether I want to interact with "people making market deals." I do not have that choice with the Federal government.

"It cannot occur without a critical mass of reasonable (just) men and women who emerge with character from childhood."

People are informed by a lot more than just their childhood. And what you consider reasonable (just) may not be so for another person. So one could say that you haven't emerged from your childhood, and that you still imagine Superman coming in to stand for "truth, justice and the American way," or some Lone Ranger coming in at the moment of truth.

Your worldview seems paternalistic, which is odd when considered with your final sentence. Perhaps that works for you. It doesn't work for me. I'm sure you can judge this as my "child-like" worldview emanating from some kind of injustice I experienced at the hands of my parents. And you might be right. But the problem you are trying to solve is impossible, and thus using government to do it will lead to terrible things. I sense that you think yourself a reasonable man. I, too, think myself reasonable. But you're not, nor am I. We're just two human beings trying to get through life as best we can, with all our gifts and foibles. Trying to impose a correction for the human condition through a leviathan-like government -- which is led and run by human beings -- is folly.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Anonymous @August 11, 2015 at 9:49 PM:

I certainly agree that Jesus' teachings and example show us the way to justice and eternal life. And I slip and fall along the way. But I don't think Jesus would say that we could create Heaven on Earth, and warned against it explicitly. The Kingdom of God is at hand, if only people would listen to God. But people are deluded to think they can create the "New Jerusalem" in this life. Lots of people have tried, and the 20th century was the greatest example of trying to do this on an industrial scale within the nation-state. It's a story that didn't end well. Jesus didn't just "criticize the corrupt authorities," He did many other great things. And you are correct, nothing in "The Lord's Prayer" calls for an external parent. Christians are called to be responsible for their own lives and build the Kingdom of God through faith, corporal acts of mercy, etc. This doesn't mean that an almighty, all-powerful government becomes our surrogate parent, or serves as a clearing house for indirect acts of mercy and forgiveness. We don't pay taxes to cleanse our soul. On that I hope on that we can agree. Otherwise, I fear we are at another impasse.

That said, I don't t think looking at those who disagree with you as "children" will likely attract others to your opinion. Quite frankly, I find it repellant.

Anonymous said...


I don't expect Fox News to be "fair and balanced" however I note the hypocrisy of adopting that phrase when their coverage is obviously slanted. I am not imposing an impossible standard on Fox they are expressing a hypocritical slogan because their actions are not consistent with the slogan.

I accept that human nature wants to form governments and that governments tend toward corruption. The fact that people want to form governments I do not want to change because markets cannot provide the socially desired public goods in my judgment. The fact that governments tend toward corruption is something I would like to change, however, as an obscure line in the Bible says, "Do not become a judge if you don't have the strength to root out corruption." I fear my own authority as a judge backed by police power and lack confidence in the judgment of judges and police, but I realize the reasonable judges and reasonable police are adding value to society by performing the legitimate role of government authority.

A poet wrote, "The child is father of the man." If I am not a conscious former child then what kind of creature am I? The answer is an unconscious former child who cannot close the generation gap in myself. I think people who close the generation gap can improve the world locally, as you desire, and run a government with much less corruption.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Anonymous @August 12, 2015 at 2:16 PM:

You're a judge?

Anonymous said...


No I am not a judge. I wrote that sentence poorly.