Tag Archives: Kevin Williamson

The President is not my King or my God

[George] Washington was, as David Boaz put it in his excellent essay of that title, “the man who would not be king.” He would not accept a title or an honorific, and established the excellent republican practice of referring to the chief executive simply as “Mr. President.” George Washington did not need the presidency — the presidency needed him.

. . .

The presidency today is a grotesquerie. It is a temporary kingship without the benefit of blood or honor or antiquity, which is to say a combination of the worst aspects of monarchy with the worst aspects of democracy, a kind of inverted Norway. (King Olav V, the “folkekonge,” was famous for using public transit.) It is steeped in imperial ceremony, from the risible and unworthy monkey show that is the State of the Union address to the motorcades and Air Force One to the elevation of the first lady (or, increasingly, “First Lady”) to the position of royal consort; our chief magistracy gives the impression of being about five minutes away from purple robes, if not togas.

. . .

But the president is not the tribune of the plebs. He is not a sacred person or the holder of a sacred office. He is neither pontifex nor imperator. He is not the spiritual distillation of the republic or the personification of our national ideals and values. (Thank God Almighty.) He is not even primus inter pares like the chief justice of the Supreme Court or the Patriarch of Constantinople. He is the commander in chief in time of war (which, since we have abandoned the advice of Washington and Eisenhower, is all of the time, now) and the chief administrator of the federal bureaucracy. That is it.

He is not a ruler.

But men demand to be ruled, and they will find themselves a king even when there is none. (Consider all of the hilarious and self-abasing celebration of Donald Trump as an “alpha male” among his admirers, an exercise in chimpanzee sociology if ever there were one.) But they must convince themselves that they are being ruled by a special sort of man; in ancient times, that was the function of the hereditary character of monarchies. In our times, it is reinforced through civic religion, including the dopey annual exercise that is Presidents’ Day.

Abolish Presidents’ Day – It is time to roll back the imperial cult.

Statolatry

Catholics in America, Part 2

How then can the Church dialogue with American culture, Bishop Barron asked, assimilating what is good and rejecting what is bad?

It must identify the problems with the mainstream culture – an excessive individualism, a flawed notion of freedom, and the “privatization of religion,” he said.

The individualism affects America so that the “common good remains unexplored and unarticulated,” and thus “we do tend to lose our corporate social identity and a shared sense of moral direction.”

There is also a flawed understanding of freedom today “as spontaneous personal choice and self-determination,” he said. This differs from the traditional understanding of “freedom for excellence,” which is the “disciplining of desire” so that doing good becomes “possible, and then effortless.”

Also, today’s culture suffers from the “privatization of religion,” he added, noting that “authentic Christianity can never be privatized” and that all areas of life belong to God. The Church “certainly doesn’t absent itself” from the public square, he insisted.

What can the Church find good in American culture? Pope St. John Paul II set an example of this when he praised the Western human rights tradition, Bishop Barron said.

How to not be a ‘beige Catholic,’ according to Bishop Barron

There is no right to abortion in the Constitution. It’s “there” because Harry Blackmun wanted it to be there, and made it up, and got a few other men to agree with them. You can agitate against it, elect state and local legislators opposed to it, build large majorities in favor of at least regulating it, and pass laws policing it that would, in practically any other circumstance, be treated as ordinary exercises in legislation. But when it comes to abortion, you can’t. You have no political recourse. You have the fiat of a few mystics in black robes who simply decree that it must be thus, and then offer some Calvinball justification for it.

That isn’t just wrong, but illegitimate. And it isn’t a legal dispute, but an exercise in brute political force. It should be understood that way.

An Illegitimate Act

Trump is “an insecure bully and a boor”

I’ll be as honest as I can about why I dislike Trump. A big part of it is I think he’s a fraud. I think he’s part of the grand and glorious tradition of bunk artists in American history. I think he’s always lied about how rich he is and is lying to this day. And bear in mind, I don’t care how much money he has. The point is he cares. Specifically, he cares that other people think he’s really rich. In fact, that’s his business model. Most long cons require convincing marks that the con man doesn’t actually need the mark’s money. That’s his schtick to a T.

But I can actually get past that. That con-man aspect of him is also kind of charming. It’s not remotely presidential, but as an American character, I can see why some people are amused by Trump, and on occasion I am as well.

The thing I don’t find amusing is that he’s an insecure bully. He really does strike me as Biff from Back to the Future (Part II). His cheap macho posturing and boasting is simply tacky. I see him as a sad and insecure man. And what I truly find so depressing is that millions of Americans see the same blowhard overcompensation and mistake it for strength.

. . .

Regardless, the public Trump is an insecure bully and a boor, and I can’t help but believe that is the truer face of the man.

Does Anyone Actually Believe Trump Is Being Audited Because He’s a ‘Strong Christian’? By Jonah Goldberg

Since Trump has never held public office and seems to have few firm beliefs about anything aside from his own unparalleled competence, it’s hard to predict what he would do as president. Clinton, by contrast, has a long, almost uniformly awful record of public service. Whether Americans decide to be stabbed in the stomach or shot in the kneecaps, the consequences will be painful.

Clinton vs. Trump – The good news is one would lose.

The answer is that habitual liars lie habitually, and Trump is a habitual liar.

Donald Trump, Economic Ignoramus and Habitual Liar, by Kevin Williamson

Rough Road

A few days ago, I was bumping along a tooth-rattlingly rough stretch of interstate when I saw a sign: Rough Road. No kidding, Sparky. A mile or two of shake-rattle-’n’-roll later, another sign: Rough Road​. You don’t say. Rocka-rocka-rocka-thumpa-thumpa-thump: Rough Road. Sign after sign after sign: Rough Road.

. . .

Maybe your experience is different. In my experience, what government actually does at every level is hassle me and take my money while failing to do the basic things that we constituted it to do. The borders are a joke, the roads crumbling, the schools a sty of corruption and miseducation, and the police, as a wise man once put it, are a janitorial service that takes your body away after the deed has been done. Perhaps it is appropriate that our next presidential election may very well pit a reality-television grotesque against an antediluvian Red from Brooklyn. American politics consists of an increasingly bitter and hate-fueled fight over an increasingly irrelevant institution. If Apple disappeared tomorrow, the world would notice. You can’t say the same about the TSA or the Small Business Administration, and it is not entirely clear that you could say much better about the FBI.

Rough Road? Indeed, it promises to be.

Hurray for Tim Cook, by Kevin Williamson

Marriage and Children

The differences in life prospects between children brought up in married-parent households vs. those raised in the new ordinary chaos of American family life are pronounced, correlating with everything from income to felony convictions. In this age of “Do It For the Children” social posturing, the one thing we won’t do for the children is be decent parents, giving them the benefits of a stable, safe, nurturing home. A hashtag campaign is no substitute for that.

Of all the stupid and destructive products of 1960s-style liberation politics, the effective abolition of marriage (and hence of family, properly understood) will, in the end, turn out to be the worst. And spare me your banal self-justifications: “I divorced my child’s mother, but I’m a good father!” “I was never married to my child’s father, but I’m a good mother.” I’m sure you think you are.

You aren’t.

Statistically speaking, your domestic situation is about as healthy for your children as would be your picking up a drug habit. (Yes, yes, I’m sure that you are the special-snowflake exception to the rule. One of these days, a three-legged horse might win the Kentucky Derby, too.) The numbers are the numbers.

Strange thing: Wildly different philosophical and religious orientations all point to the same central fact of human life. In Genesis, it’s “male and female he created them.” In Plato, we spend our lives seeking the lost half of ourselves from which we were separated by the gods. In good ol’ Darwinian terms, the getting of healthy offspring is the very purpose of life itself. We parted ways with the chimps a few eons ago, and somewhere along the way we developed habits and institutions that helped us to connect our libidos with one of our most useful and uniquely human traits: the ability to engage in long-term planning, even beyond our own lives.

And then, around 1964, we said: “To Hell with it, let’s just be chimps.”

And here we are.

. . .

Social constructs? That’s a glib way of refusing to talk about reality. And the reality is that men and women are happier when they and their opposite numbers are given the opportunity to be what they are. You can do your damnedest to create an androgynous society, but little boys are still going to reach for the toy gun before they reach for Barbie.

Against Valentine’s Day

Religious affiliation is less important than regular religious attendance when it comes to predicting divorce.

. . .

Shared prayer is even more strongly associated with higher relationship quality, such that men and women who report praying together frequently (almost once a week or more often) are 17 percentage points more likely to say they are very happy together. Joint prayer is likely to engender a heightened sense of emotional intimacy, communication and reflection about relationship priorities and concerns, and a sense of divine involvement in one’s relationship. However it works, shared prayer is a stronger predictor of relationship quality than other religious factors in our statistical models.

Better Together: Religious Attendance, Gender, and Relationship Quality

The Right is deluding itself about law enforcement.

Is it really so difficult to believe that there is widespread wrongdoing, and widespread lying about it, among U.S. law-enforcement agencies, particularly those in big, Democrat-run cities infamous for the corruption of their other municipal institutions? Why do conservatives find it so plausible — obvious, even — that the IRS and the EPA and the Atlanta public schools are corrupt and self-serving, but somehow believe that the Baltimore police department isn’t?

It is possible that what is really at play here is an emotional response to protest culture. Seeing the Black Lives Matters miscreants and Baltimore rioters on one side of the line, conservatives instinctively want to be on the other side of the line. The same thing happened with the Iraq-war protests: When the dirty hippies take to the barricades, conservatives are drawn to the other side. That led to some bad thinking and poor decision-making about Iraq. Are we making the same mistake with regard to police misconduct and allegations of police misconduct?

Let him with eyes see.

Confused Statists

Why conservatives and Republicans should be defensive about the fact that Baltimore, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Honolulu are misgoverned to various degrees of criminality is a mystery. Conservatives with real political power in those cities are as scarce as hen’s teeth. Could it really be something so simple as the fact that we do not feel comfortable standing on the same side of a bright red line as the malefactors in Ferguson and such opportunists as DeRay Mckesson, now a Baltimore mayoral candidate, and Al Sharpton? Sharpton is a grotesque and one of the most dishonest men in American public life, but that does not mean that the people running Baltimore and its police department aren’t also crooked. Some police officers are indeed heroes. Some are villains. Most are ordinary, time-serving municipal employees like any other, and telling ourselves otherwise is sentimental rubbish.

These Are Not the Good Guys: The Right is deluding itself about law enforcement. By Kevin Williamson

See Radley Balko’s column for more examples.

“Why do you people love the state so much? It doesn’t love you.”
Michael Munger

Appalachia

There’s a great deal of drug use, welfare fraud, and the like, but the overall crime rate throughout Appalachia is about two-thirds the national average, and the rate of violent crime is half the national average, according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. [Booneville, KY police Chief Johnny] Logsdon is justifiably skeptical of the area’s reputation for drug-fueled crime. But he is not blinkered, and his photos of spectacular autumn foliage and delicate baby birds do not denote a sentimental disposition. “We have loggers and coal producers,” he says, dropping the cornpone accent. “We have educators and local businesses, and people in the arts. And we have the same problems they have in every community.” He points out that the town recently opened up a $1 million public library — a substantial investment for a town in which the value of all residential property combined would not add up to the big lottery jackpot being advertised all over. (Lottery tickets, particularly the scratch-off variety, are ubiquitous here.) He does not deny the severity or scope of the region’s problems, but he does think that they are exaggerated by visitors who are here, after all, only because Owsley holds the national title for poorest county. Owsley’s dependent underclass has many of the same problems as any other dependent underclass; but with a poverty rate persistently at the 40 percent mark — or half again as much poverty as in the Bronx — the underclass plays an outsized role in local life. It is not the exception.

. . .

And that, too, is part of the problem with adverse selection in the Big White Ghetto: For the smart and enterprising people left behind, life can be very comfortable, with family close, a low cost of living, beautiful scenery, and a very short climb to the top of the social pecking order. The relative ease of life for the well-off and connected here makes it easy to overlook the real unpleasant facts of economic life, which helps explain why Booneville has a lovely new golf course, of all things, but so little in the way of everyday necessities. The county seat, run down as parts of it are, is an outpost of civilization compared with what surrounds it for 50 miles in every direction. Stopping for gas on KY-30 a few miles past the Owsley County line, I go looking for the restroom and discover instead that the family operating the place is living in makeshift quarters in the back. Margaret Thatcher lived above her family’s shop as a little girl, too, but a grocer’s in Grantham is a very different thing from a gas station in Kentucky, with very different prospects.

. . .

In effect, welfare has made Appalachia into a big and sparsely populated housing project — too backward to thrive, but just comfortable enough to keep the underclass in place. There is no cure for poverty, because there is no cause of poverty — poverty is the natural condition of the human animal. It is not as though labor and enterprise are unknown here: Digging coal is hard work, farming is hard work, timbering is hard work — so hard that the best and brightest long ago packed up for Cincinnati or Pittsburgh or Memphis or Houston. There is to this day an Appalachian bar in Detroit and ex-Appalachian enclaves around the country. The lesson of the Big White Ghetto is the same as the lessons we learned about the urban housing projects in the late 20th century: The best public-policy treatment we have for poverty is dilution. But like the old project towers, the Appalachian draw culture produces concentration, a socio­economic Salton Sea that becomes more toxic every year.

The White Ghetto: In Appalachia the country is beautiful and the society is broken, by Kevin Williamson

We’ve learned, painfully, that for the multigenerational poor, home might be the worst enemy. Appalachian loyalty to the land is the stuff of legend, yet the stubbornness of poverty in the region means that those who stay risk being poor forever. When the government paved thousands of miles of roads in Appalachia, it hoped to provide employment for the masses and infrastructure to sustain future economic growth. But the best and most lasting effect of those roads was to give people a faster way out. If we cannot improve the urban ghetto or the mountain hollow — and the evidence suggests we can’t — then the best anti-poverty program is a ticket to somewhere else.

Consigned to ‘Assistance’, by J.D. Vance

Totalitarianism

Donald Trump may talk like a brownshirt, but the Democrats mean business. For those of you keeping track, the Democrats and their allies on the left have now: voted in the Senate to repeal the First Amendment, proposed imprisoning people for holding the wrong views on global warming, sought to prohibit the showing of a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton, proposed banning politically unpopular academic research, demanded that funding politically unpopular organizations and causes be made a crime and that the RICO organized-crime statute be used as a weapon against targeted political groups. They have filed felony charges against a Republican governor for vetoing a piece of legislation, engaged in naked political persecutions of members of Congress, and used the IRS and the ATF as weapons against political critics.
. . .
It is possible to have a robust, energetic political discourse within the parameters of American liberalism, which cherishes freedom of speech and of inquiry, which distinguishes between public and private spheres, which relies upon the rule of law and the Bill of Rights while placing limits on the reach of the state. But if you reject that, as our so-called liberals have, then you cannot have genuine political discourse, or genuine democracy.

Kevin Williamson

Sovereignty and the President

American sovereignty resides in the American people, not in the American state, still less in the person of the chief executive, and the organ most closely representative of the people is the one whose members we call, not coincidentally, representatives. We are a nation under law, a nation of laws, a nation with equality under the law, etc., which necessarily means a nation under lawmakers — not a nation under an elected and term-limited pharaoh. It is the role of Congress to decide what the federal government is to do, and it is the role of the president to get it done. The president is a servant, not a master.
. . .
While we are thinking about who should be entrusted with the awesome powers of the American presidency, perhaps we should think just a little bit about whether those powers are a bit too awesome, and about whether the presidency should be somewhat reduced to something closer to its original constitutional conception. Calvin Coolidge could afford to be a modest president, because he occupied a much more modest presidency. Before you decide what kind of president you want in 2016, think about what kind of presidency you want in 2016, and thereafter.

What Kind of Presidency Do We Want?, by Kevin Williamson

George F. Will: Caesaropapism Rampant

caesaropapism

Adults Needed

[W]e have an electorate that is, if the pollsters are to be believed, motivated by resentment, thinking it has been cheated, along with a populist Left that seems to believe that the richest society in human history is right on the edge of mass cannibalism and a populist Right that seems to believe that it is involved in an Elizabethan tragedy rather than an American political dispute.

Voters sometimes look around and wonder, “Who is going to be the adult in the room?” Fact is, it had better be you, citizen.

We’re Not That Far from a Balanced Budget, by Kevin Williamson

Public Schools and Statolatry…..


Changing Education Paradigms

The structures of paranoia that have been so assiduously fortified around our schools are there for a purpose, and that purpose is political: to immerse young people in a culture in which NRA literature is samizdat but how-to-fellate-your-friends literature is mandatory, where whitewashed Islamic studies are part of the standard curriculum and Christian prayer groups are verboten.
. . .
Being mistreated by imbeciles is the sine qua non of American public education today, but that fact is of political use only periodically….

Kevin Williamson


Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Abortion supporters, check your premises


Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts

Full video here

Dr. Deborah Nucatola, abortionist

Planned Parenthood—and supporters such as Mrs. Clinton—have always argued that what’s in play here is not the butchered body of a child at all, but a meaningless blob of tissue. (What kind of tissue, I wonder? Jackrabbit tissue? Rutabaga tissue?) If Mrs. Clinton and Planned Parenthood and the rest are right, why should it be a crime to deal commercially in these meaningless tissues? Shouldn’t there be a robust marketplace for those little hearts and livers and “lower extremities,” which, we are assured by all the best people, are not little human hearts and livers and lower extremities, but something else?

Why not sell them on eBay? Why not have billboards?

Why not have a Fast Freddy’s Fetal Livers Emporium and Bait Shop in every town large enough to merit a Dairy Queen?

If you are having some difficulty answering that question, perhaps you should, as some famous abortion-rights advocate once put it, check your premises.

Fast Freddy’s Fetal Livers Emporium, by Kevin Williamson

Culture of Death