A Fetid Journey With Swamp Things

By Rod Dreher

Detail from ‘Crossing The Swamp’ by Jon McNaughton (via Jon McNaughton Fine Art)

Jon McNaughton, America’s Painter™ and the Titian of Trumpian Realism, is back again with a new patriotic painting. See more of it at McNaughton’s website.

According to Fox News:

The painting shows Trump at the helm, and Vice President Pence carrying the flag by his side.

McNaughton identifies the rest as: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson; Attorney General Jeff Sessions; first lady Melania Trump; Secretary of State Pompeo; White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders; the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump; National Security Adviser Bolton; Kellyanne Conway; and Chief of Staff John Kelly.

John Bolton is the poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed? Jed Clampett’s mustache was not so robust:

…read more

Via:: American Conservative


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The Trump Doctrine Has Foreign Policy Elites Pulling Out Their Hair

By Harry J. Kazianis

I get really aggravated when people say things like “Donald Trump is an idiot” or “he has no idea what he is doing” or lately “can you believe what President Trump said today on Twitter? That was so unpresidential!”

Really? Have you not turned on a TV or logged onto social media for three years?

What would have been a political firestorm pre-2015 is now just another day in a presidency that will completely reshape its office forever. The only question is whether that will prove a good thing or a bad thing.

If you haven’t figured it out, Trump never has, and never will, operate by the classic Washington rules of decorum, respect for tradition—respect for anything, really—or presidential convention. If you can accept all of that—I’m not saying make peace with it, just accept it—you will go a long way towards understanding the Trump Doctrine itself.

In fact, if I had to summarize the Trump Doctrine, it would be this: America’s interests come first, everything else second. That does mean everything: history, tradition, alliances, the “normal way of doing things,” customs—all of that can and will be thrown out the window if Trump feels that his country is being hurt. He sees the world in black and white, black meaning bad for America and white meaning good for America. Period.

Don’t bother trying to apply your fancy political science training to Trump; it will only take years off your life. He likely can’t tell you the difference between the Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of Westphalia. He has no interest in such details nor does he have the time.

And don’t bother asking about the finer points of global politics, such as the role that morality plays, the efficacy of nation building, and the foreign policy doctrines of the past—he doesn’t have a clue or give a damn anyway. I bet if you asked him what a foreign policy realist is he would look at you cross-eyed—even though so many people claim that he is one.

From here—and this will enrage anyone who studies international politics—it gets even more interesting. Trump considers everyone—and I do mean everyone—a competitor. The European Union, a long-standing American ally, in his mind, is nothing more than a big, bad economic colossus that could take jobs away from Americans or shave points off of overall U.S. GDP growth. Japan, one of America’s strongest allies? Yep, they are an economic competitor as well. The president might love to play golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but when it comes down to business, he’ll call out Tokyo all day, every day—right to the PM’s face when they stand side by side during a joint press conference.

What about America’s traditional great-power adversaries like Russia and China? Here and again, anyone who studies international politics for a living is likely ripping their hair out, as Trump does not conform to anything that they understand. On the one hand, he loves to flatter and compliment China’s President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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Today In Leftist Struggle Sessions

By Rod Dreher

Progressives continue to melt down over having profaned their own sacred cows. New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley has prostrated himself before the mob to beg mercy for a review:

Here is Ben Brantley’s response to the conversation surrounding his review of “Head Over Heels” https://t.co/48Xr2xgOjK. We are updating the review to reflect some of our readers’ concerns now. pic.twitter.com/3SjcC1qAuk

— NYTimes Communications (@NYTimesPR) July 27, 2018


What did he say that was so horrible? Steady yourself, reader: beastly Brantley misgendered a performer!

This comment is at best, unfunny, and worst, transphobic. We’ve got to do better, folks! Haven’t seen @HOHmusical, but this problematic @nytimestheater review just made it jump to the top of my list! pic.twitter.com/ope6e3vb5P

— Andrew Keenan-Bolger (@KeenanBlogger) July 27, 2018

Release the hounds!


Clearly he doesn’t have the empathy or genuine human curiosity to approach a non-mainstream piece of theatre without bias. @nytimesarts, HIRE CRITICS WHO HAVE HUMANITY. HIRE CRITICS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE. HIRE POC/NB CRITICS.

— Robert M. Thaxton-Stevenson (@rstevies) July 27, 2018


This citizen accuses Ben Brantley of being a party to suicides:

Perhaps if there were fewer people like @nytbenbrantley in theatre, actors wouldn’t feel compelled to kill themselves.

— TerpTheatre (@TerpTheatre) July 30, 2018


Meanwhile, The Nation has apologized for publishing an “ableist” poem. Excerpt:

As poetry editors, we hold ourselves responsible for the ways in which the work we select is received. We made a serious mistake by choosing to publish the poem “How-To.” We are sorry for the pain we have caused to the many communities affected by this poem. We recognize that we must now earn your trust back. Some of our readers have asked what we were thinking. When we read the poem we took it as a profane, over-the-top attack on the ways in which members of many groups are asked, or required, to perform the work of marginalization. We can no longer read the poem in that way.

Click the link above to read the poem.

If you got hiv, say aids. If you a girl,
say you’re pregnant––nobody gonna lower
themselves to listen for the kick. People
passing fast. Splay your legs, cock a knee
funny. It’s the littlest shames they’re likely
to comprehend. Don’t say homeless, they know
you is. What they don’t know is what opens
a wallet, what stops em from counting
what they drop. If you’re young say younger.
Old say older. If you’re crippled don’t
flaunt it. Let em think they’re good enough
Christians to notice. Don’t say you pray,
say you sin. It’s about who they believe
they is. You hardly even there.

The poet, Anders Carlson-Wee, abases himself:


— Anders Carlson-Wee (@AndersWeePoet) July 24, 2018


Robby Soave of Reason quite rightly thinks this is bonkers:

As for the poem itself, please give it a read. I wouldn’t call it my favorite poem ever, but it’s clearly not trying to communicate anything nefarious. I read it as calling out the hypocrisy of people …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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Bless Jeff Sessions’ Heart, He’s Right

By Rod Dreher

Have you been watching the progressive freak-out over the Attorney General’s religious liberty task force? Alexandra de Sanctis is right: the fact that left-wing organizations cannot grasp the idea that religious liberty is important shows exactly why we need a Justice Department religious liberty task force. More:

Most fundamentally, these shallow, imprecise, and often inaccurate comments completely disregard the inherent value of religious liberty. But they also exemplify the political strategy of a progressive movement losing its bearings, sacrificing sanity in favor of stoking the fires of an ever-escalating culture war. Increasing numbers of thought leaders on the left put religious liberty in ominous scare quotes and redefine it as a buzzword for bigotry. They shouldn’t be shocked that scores of religious Americans are willing to hold their noses and overlook the serious flaws of the Trump administration for the sake of protecting their right to practice their faith without coercion.

My pal Michael Wear, a liberal Democrat who worked on religious issues in the Obama White House, writes:

Today, AG Sessions announced a Religious Liberty Task Force. Rather than pat responses about how religious freedom = discrimination, Democrats should putr forward a positive vision for religious freedom & pluralism in the 21st century. A successful 2020 Dem nominee will do this.

— Michael Wear (@MichaelRWear) July 30, 2018


The Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, a religious and political liberal, is sick and tired of it:

I get that some putative Christians use faith as justification for racism, misogyny, homophobia and Islamophobia.

I get that others ally themselves with a president who could not be less Christian if he had three sixes carved into his forehead.

But I also get that none of that, none of the failings of the human structure we call religion, has the slightest thing to do with the question of whether God is.

This being America, you have the right to answer that question in whatever way satisfies you. Many of my liberal friends will come to conclusions different from mine, and I respect that. I wish more of them would return the favor. Because I’m here to tell you: the condescension is getting old. Moreover, I find it interesting that folks who would never judge a Muslim by the lunatics who share her faith are so ready to judge me by the lunatics who share mine.

If all of time, space, history and reality — everything that is, ever has been and ever will be — could be represented by a vast arena, then you and I, in our piddling 70-something years of mortal life, are like someone looking in to that arena through a peephole. So a little humility might not be a bad thing for any of us, no matter what we believe, or don’t.

Politically speaking, religious liberty is the most important issue to me. I wouldn’t rule out voting against Donald Trump in 2020, because some other issue was so urgent, and so important, that it justified voting against my religious liberty interests. But every …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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Italy’s Populist Earthquake

By Richard Drake

“We have the sensation of being on the eve of an earthquake,” Corriere della Sera economics writer Dario Di Vico observed on the day of Italy’s elections in early March. The results would show that some 65 percent of the electorate was opposed to the political status quo represented chiefly by the center-left Partito Democratico of Matteo Renzi and the center-right Forza Italia of long-time premier Silvio Berlusconi. Both these parties made a disastrous showing in the elections.

For millions of Italians, the status quo meant a continuation of economic stagnation, rising rates of unemployment particularly for young people, a faltering educational system, the South’s intractable social and economic problems, subservience to the European Union, and Muslim immigration. Critics charged that Renzi and Berlusconi had been given the opportunity to lead and had turned Italy into a failed state. On election day, the country affirmed that criticism. Boasts about their superior experience and knowhow became a campaign liability for leaders who had been in power for too long and who were seen as responsible for the country’s meltdown.

The steady erosion of support for the European Union figured prominently in the electoral failure of the establishment parties. Italians in politically decisive numbers view the EU as a pillar of a European status quo that’s become injurious to the peoples of Europe. Condemnations of Brussels reverberate across the Italian political landscape. That institution and the Italian centrist parties supporting it are now taking the blame for the globalization and open borders policies that have led to economic free fall and mass immigration. Italians complain bitterly about the EU, especially for having dumped on them the immigration problems of the Middle East and North Africa.

Italian voters have turned to two populist leaders to right these wrongs: Matteo Salvini of the Lega and Luigi Di Maio of the Five Star Movement. With 17.4 per cent of the vote, the Lega emerged from the election as the country’s foremost right-wing party, easily outdistancing Forza Italia and sending Berlusconi down to a humiliating defeat. Although descended from the anti-southern Lega Nord, Salvini’s new party boasts a nationalist agenda, following in some crucial respects the example of Donald Trump and promising to make Italy great again. Salvini’s “Prima gli italiani” slogan is shorthand for the party’s anti-immigrant and anti-European Union policy positions. He made headlines throughout the campaign advancing a zero-tolerance response to illegal immigrants, much to the delight of his allies and mentors on this issue, notably the French right-wing leader Marine Le Pen and Trump strategist Steve Bannon.

Luigi Di Maio’s Five Star Movement was the biggest winner of the election, with nearly 11 million votes and 32.7 percent of the total, truly stunning numbers given Italy’s complex multi-party system. Five Star more than doubled its representation in Parliament, but still fell short of the 40 percent necessary for it to rule alone. Hence for the next 90 days—a record for the formation of an Italian government—the two populist leaders alternatively threatened and cajoled …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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The Cost Of Clericalism

By Rod Dreher

You might have missed this update to a blog I put up last night. Phil Lawler, who is, as ever, a must-read on the scandal, unearthed it and posted it yesterday. It’s a 2003 exchange PBS religion reporter Kim Lawton had with Cardinal Timothy Dolan (then just an archbishop) of New York, in which he offered her assurances that the scandal was in the past:

Lawton: Some groups fear the bishops’ energy and commitment may fade.

Archbishop Dolan: Can’t happen. Can’t happen. We never, never, Kim, want to go through what we’ve had to do. We just can’t do it. We can’t do it personally. I think we bishops will collapse if we ever have to go through this again. And we can’t, we just can’t, in justice, put our people through that again. So, I don’t think there’s danger of us forgetting.

They won’t collapse, however. They just spent the past decade and a half covering up for themselves, and refusing to hold themselves accountable. At the time Dolan made that statement, Cardinal McCarrick, that dirty old man, was holding himself out as a leading voice of compassion and reform. Around that time, a bishop friend said to me, with what I took (and still take) as genuine puzzlement: “If you don’t trust the bishops to fix this, why are you still Catholic?”

Three years from first hearing that question, I wasn’t anymore. No need to go through that again here in detail, but I bring it up to say to you Catholics who are undergoing a crisis of faith right now: I get it. I have been there.

The only advice I can offer you, as someone whose faith did not survive the crisis, is this: get help, and get help now. For me, I absolutely hated hearing from well-meaning fellow Catholics back then some version of, “Well, the sins of the clergy do not deny the teachings of the Church.” As a matter of theology and logic, that is true. I believed that then, and I believe that now.

What the sins of the clergy can do, however, is to make it difficult, even impossible, to consider the truth claims of the Church. As a journalist back then, I was learning more every day about the depth and breadth of the scandal. McCarrick — who had a prominent closeted gay conservative work behind the scenes in an attempt to get my reporting on him quashed — became for me the foremost symbol of the Catholic bishops’ hypocrisy. You cannot go deeply into this story without recognizing how systemic the problem is, and how much it is perpetuated by clericalism — the idea that the clergy alone is the real church. The bishops cannot fix the problem because the bishops, and the system that produces them, are at the heart of the problem.

When you look closely, and see the lies upon lies so many bishops tell — including lying by omission — to protect themselves and the system, you either become …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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