Category 5. Politics

Anathematization as a Strategy

Rather than engage in civil debate, Democrats increasingly make ad hominem arguments against those with whom they disagree. They have become the party of personal destruction.

Every Republican president is portrayed in popular culture and most media outlets as not just wrong on the issues – that much is assumed – but evil. Each one is literally Hitler, until he is out of office. Then they are ignored until they die or criticize another Republican, at which time their images are magically accorded some semblance of dignity. Also, most Republican presidents are stupid; that’s a given, too.

Republican Supreme Court nominees? They must be stopped – or, at a minimum, deprived of their dignity...

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A Confirmation Takeaway

The Kavanaugh confirmation battle was the first of a new era in which it’s all too likely that we’ll come to know far more than we need or want to know about nominees. Henceforth, social media records will be dredged up to recall and amplify every ancient transgression, real or allegeable. Nothing will be forgotten – or forgiven – by the opponents of whoever is being considered.

Who didn’t make bad decisions as a teenager? Who didn’t learn important lessons from those mistakes? They are the very stuff of the transitions to our adult selves.

Who would submit him or herself be confirmed in such a rancorous, overly-target-rich environment...

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A Squalid Affair

In 1675, a Swedish ancestor of mine named Catharina Bure, the wife of a prominent man who was feuding with Uppsala’s mayor, was convicted of witchcraft along with several of her friends; they were all sentenced to be burned at the stake. The court accepted the testimony of a woman who historians believe had been bribed by the mayor and some children who claimed that the alleged witches had transported them to Hell so that they – the witches – could be watched having sex with the devil.

Catharina was ultimately saved by a last-minute pardon from the king – thankfully for my family and me, since she and her husband had their children thereafter – but her friends had already been burned to death...

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Senatorial Insanity

I had an experience this weekend that may shed an oblique light on how we should think about the recent allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.

I was in a three-and-a-half hour bicycle race, on a team with five friends. Roughly half way into the event, three of my teammates employed a tactic that infuriated me. I was so angry that I didn’t stick around to talk with them after the race for fear that I would tell them what I really thought of how they had ridden. One can get pretty wound-up about a three-and-a-half hour effort.

When I later received a group-email from one of the miscreants celebrating the event, though, I felt I had to set out my perspective.

They all responded to my email, of course. They had seen the same sequence of events very differently than I had.

Don’t get me wrong, h...

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The Impeachment End Game

Early last week, I found myself on an elevator with Tom Steyer. As you may know, he is a billionaire, by far the nation’s largest political donor and a possible aspirant to high elective office; he has given hundreds of millions to progressive Democrats and is currently funding a high profile effort to encourage Trump’s impeachment. A brief, slightly awkward situation arose when he and his lunch companion, and I and mine, reached the lobby – in it, he showed situational awareness and an instinctive personal grace that were truly impressive. He came across as the embodiment of old-school WASP gentility.

I don’t doubt that in advocating for Trump’s removal from office Steyer is sincere, rather than just using his directed spending to establish himself as a force on the left; but I thin...

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Trump/Mueller

In response to yesterday’s post, one of my closest friends emailed me without comment three of yesterday’s presidential tweets. He knows that I don’t ever use Twitter, or customarily read tweets.

Each one was disparaging of Robert Mueller and his ongoing investigation of TrumpWorld. The unwritten text of my friend’s emails would have been something along the lines of: how can you defend this jerk?

For my friend’s benefit, in this post I will give my own sense of the meaning of the current scandals, although it must be said that I am properly humble about what I don’t know – additional pertinent facts will doubtless emerge over time, and they may change how I see these matters...

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Uncivil Discourse

Last night, the Beloved Spouse and I were privileged to attend an absolutely beautiful dinner party given by two of our favorite people. Roughly twenty-four of us enjoyed a rich and delicious meal together in the temperate summer air, overlooking a glorious water view. There was a tent overhead in case of rain, but the weather held until about half an hour after the party ended. Then it stormed. Let’s just hope that wasn’t a portent.

Not long after we were seated, a highly accomplished and generally friendly man at my table, whom I had not previously met, went on a riff about how wouldn’t it be great if the CIA were to kill President Trump. He meant his comments to be taken as humorous, clearly assuming that the rest of us at the table shared his perspective that a deus (or rather, assas...

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