Blast From the Past: Bring a Suitcase Full of Money

I saw an Facebook friend repost a prophetic piece relating a 2001 prophecy to this election.  The following isn’t exactly prophetic, but it dates from February 1999, when this site wasn’t even two years old.  It was written in the wake of Bill Clinton’s unsuccessful impeachment.

The impeachment trial is over with.  The current occupant of the White House gets to stay a little longer.  Most everyone is thrilled at this result, if you believe the media and the polls.  Somehow the Constitution has been preserved, even though either result would have been constitutional.

Most people have concentrated on the fact that the whole matter centered around a sexual scandal.  This is true of both sides of the debate; many Christians and conservatives are shocked that the President defiled the Oval Office in the way he did, and liberals can’t believe that anyone in this day and time would object to this kind of behavior.  It seems that the latter have done their propaganda well; they (through their colleagues in the media) have succeeded in making this trial about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky rather than what it was really about.

And just what, you ask, was it about if not that?  Well, at no point in the entire process, whether we look at the Special Prosecutor’s work or that of the Congress, was the legal status of the President’s having an affair with an intern or anyone else called into question.  What was called into question was his conduct in legal proceedings subsequent to that affair, both in terms of perjury and obstruction of justice.

There’s enough of the Sixties radical left in me to want him to be ejected from office just because of his refusal to be honest about his true feelings about a relationship, especially since he himself is the embodiment of much of what the Sixties were all about (his wife covers the rest.)  Unfortunately his honesty would have ended up costing him money in a sexual harassment lawsuit, something neither he nor his lawyers could stand.  So he attempted to cover himself in the usual manner.  This didn’t work out according to plan either and so we have the ordeal we have just been through.  He ended up paying the money to Paula Jones and we ended up with the impeachment process.

People who object to the whole process based on its roots in a sexual relationship should consider the following:

  1. Sexual harassment lawsuits are by their nature intrusive, messy affairs involving people’s most intimate activities.  This fact didn’t deter Congress (or the feminists who pushed them) into passing sexual harassment legislation.
  2. Our legal system depends on the honesty and availability of the parties involved; this honesty is enforced by perjury and subpoena laws.  If this is breached most litigation — especially civil — will turn into an unresolved black hole.  This is in fact what took place with the investigations on campaign finance violations in the 1996 election; this is why that really serious issue never made it to the impeachment proceedings.
  3. A legal system that has any fairness associated with it must proceed according to its own rules; if parties in litigation interfere with these, it’s obstruction of justice, and the system becomes unfair.
  4. Both (2) and (3) either apply to any kind of litigation or they apply to none.  If they don’t then the Congress has two choices: they should repeal legislation that has gone out of fashion to avoid problems like this for all of us (and not just some of us) or they should take the opportunity presented to demonstrate that they mean business about the integrity of our legal system.

As it stands we have the worst of both worlds.  On the one hand we have a Congress that goes on passing mind-numbingly complex and intrusive (in many ways, not just sexual) legislation; on the other we see them letting certain people off of the hook for political expedience. Representatives and Senators who participate in this “amnesty” overlook the fact that legislation is the only real way the Congress has to enforce its will on the government and the people.  When legislation becomes ineffective, so does Congress.  They might as well do like the old Supreme Soviet did: meet, rubber stamp anything the executive or “the party” puts in front of them, and go home.

Is this what our President wants?  To some extent it is, because this kind of political environment is exactly what he had in Arkansas, a state with a long history of one party, interest driven politics where a relatively small number of people work the system to their own advantage and the rest drift along in varying degrees of poverty.  The President’s sycophants in the media — who have done yeoman’s service on his behalf from Gennifer Flowers onward — may not think that this is a problem, but they only need look at the history of what used to be called the “Land of Opportunity” to see how this really works.

Moreover many of the powerful in this country — especially in the media and entertainment business — are taking a fresh look at the relationship between themselves and their government.  Why constantly fight something you can control?  In the early years of our country we turned our back on this kind of oligarchy, which is normal in most places, for a system where a broad base of people had a chance to make a difference for themselves.  The key to making this a reality is a universal respect for laws and a judicial system with basic integrity.  If we start putting people above laws on a routine basis our country will lose much of the “bottom-up” dynamic that has made it great, and really its reason to exist.  Liberals especially need to think this out because their entire agenda, from environmentalism to civil rights and, yes, sexual harassment have largely been implemented by enacting and enforcing laws.  Are they really thinking clearly now?  Or are they so cocky of their ability to control the system and manipulate public opinion that they figure they can advance their agenda through the fiat of loyal bureaucrats and elected officials?

In his fascinating book The Seduction of Hillary Rodham, David Brock tells us that “If Hillary could have her way, she would establish here exactly the sort of cradle-to-grave nanny state that exists in Denmark or Sweden.”  What her husband has gone a long way to bringing here comes from a little further east — a state such as Russia, where real power and influence is not based on legal standing but on the amount of money — and firepower — you have at your disposal.  Under these conditions everyone loses, especially those who lack the resources — the poor and middle class — or those whose conscience won’t allow them to fully participate in such a system.

In this new world we won’t bring a lawyer to critical proceedings, just a suitcase full of money.  (Maybe we’ll still bring the lawyer along to carry the suitcase.)  With the new 500 Euro note, this job will be simpler.  But our country will be much the poorer for the bargain.  Maybe then we will have a greater appreciation for the morality so many  disparage today in the name of “tolerance,” but by then it will be too late.

Saying One Thing, Doing Another: The Way of Our Elites

…and there’s nothing new about it.  Consider this, from Philo Judaeus’ The Worse Plotting Against the Better, XXI, written about the time Our Lord was on the earth:

But it is the nature of sophists to have for enemies the faculties which are in them, while their language is at variance with their thoughts and their thoughts with their language, and while neither is in the least degree consistent with the other. At all events, they wear out our ears, arguing that justice is a great bond of society, that temperance is a profitable thing, that continence is a virtuous thing, that piety is a most useful thing, and, of each other virtue, that it is a most wholesome and saving quality. And, on the other hand, that injustice is a quality with which we ought to have no truce, that intemperance is a diseased habit, that impiety is scandalous, and so going through every kind of wickedness, that each sort is most pernicious. And, nevertheless, they never cease showing by their conduct that their real opinion is the reverse of their language. But, when they extol prudence and temperance and justice and piety, they then show that they are, above all measure, foolish, and intemperate, and unjust, and impious; in short, that they are throwing into confusion and overturning all divine and human regulations and principles

If there’s one thing we should be learning from the Wikileaks revelations, it’s that our elites don’t operate any different now than from the sophists of Philo’s day.  And that’s something that this blog has hammered on for a long time.  The fact that Christians can so blithely think they can “move up” and have an impact in this society without entangling themselves in this kind of thing is a major failure of the church.

The No-Win Position of @BethMooreLPM (and Others)

She’s taken a stand, all right:

On Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, popular Bible teacher and speaker Beth Moore broke her silence on political issues and posted a series of tweets that sent waves through the evangelical community. Moore’s tweet-sized messages called out Christian leaders who have turned a blind eye to the plight of women who have been objectified, sexually abused and sexually harassed.

But is it as helpful as it looks (to some people, at least?)  Not really.

This is an election.  We get to choose between two or more candidates.  None of those candidates (yeah, I’ve heard the Evan McMullin crowd) is a really “proper” choice for Evangelicals.   And nobody in real Christianity is really happy with someone who reaches for what he shouldn’t.

But by calling out Donald Trump on this, Beth Moore is doing two things that really aren’t correct.

The first is legitimizing Hillary Clinton.  For reasons that long predate this election, I don’t think she’s suitable for such support.  I should also mention that the recent email eruption over Huma Abedin’s computer is just a reminder that Hillary Clinton has serious problems of her own.

The second is that it puts her (Moore) in a classic no-win position.  If Trump wins, she’s on the losing side, and Evangelicals are too busy running a popularity contest to want to be there.  If Hillary wins, she’s going to eventually have to explain the bad consequences of an inevitable kulturkampf which is coming in a Clinton presidency, or that  the neocons are mostly behind her because they think she’ll get us into another war.

Beyond that, both Moores (Beth and Russell) and the Trump cheerleaders are both working under the same shared assumptions.  They both think that politics is a legitimate, transparent process which Christians can take part in without danger of moral hazard or having to settle for “second best.”  That’s never been the case and certainly isn’t now.

There’s a movement to repeal LBJ’s prohibition of our ministers endorsing candidates from the pulpit.  There’s also a movement for our ministers to actually run for office in a big way.  But honestly Evangelical leadership, with few exceptions, has shown itself too naïve to constructively engage in politics.  Leave it to the laity; they have to make hard choices all week.

NPO VNIIstroidormash: Soviet Construction Equipment Technology

On my companion site vulcanhammer.info, I have posted several articles on Soviet (and after that Russian) pile driving equipment, such as diesel hammers, concrete pile cutters, and vibratory and impact-vibration hammers.  These are very specialised topics, even by construction industry standards; here I want to present some photos of more general interest to you heavy equipment fans.  The Soviet Union was known for its commitment to heavy manufacturing and construction equipment like this is certainly a big part of that.

NPO VNIIstroidormash is the Soviet name for the Moscow-based institute which designed and tested the equipment shown below.  The name means the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Construction and Road-Building Machinery.  It was put together in 1975, and survived past the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 as a share society, i.e., a privatised corporation.  In addition to the pile driving equipment which got me involved with the organisation, it designed many other types of equipment, and the best way to show this follows, from their catalogue produced around 1986.

DZ-110A-1 Bulldozer with laser-beam steering and control system. Surface-working accuracy +-5 cm at 10-400 mm distance from the laser source. Such a set-up is common today; at the time it was not.
DZ-110A-1 Bulldozer with laser-beam steering and control system. Surface-working accuracy +-5 cm at 10-400 mm distance from the laser source. Such a set-up is common today; at the time it was not.
Similar, laser-levelled concept with a DZ-122A-13 motor grader.
Similar, laser-levelled concept with a DZ-122A-13 motor grader.
EO-4125 excavator. The excavator is probably the single most versatile and important earth moving machine on a construction site. This one sported servo-controlled valves, which makes current excavators much easier to operate than their older counterparts.
EO-4125 excavator. The excavator is probably the single most versatile and important earth moving machine on a construction site. This one sported servo-controlled valves, which makes current excavators easier to use than their older counterparts.
Excavators are versatile in that things other than the usual bucket can be mounted on the boom. In this case, the MTP-71A excavator has an extended backhoe that is used for large swing radii and canal digging. It's mounted on rubber tyres (the one above is on tracks) for softer soils; it's also easier to transport on roads.
Excavators are versatile in that things other than the usual bucket can be mounted on the boom. In this case, the MTP-71A excavator has an extended backhoe used for large swing radii and canal digging. It’s mounted on rubber tyres (the one above is on tracks) for softer soils; it’s also easier to transport on roads.  To increase the effective counterweight it sports outriggers.
EO-3323 excavator, also mounted on tyres with outriggers. The red bucket on the end has a capacity of 0.75 cu.m.
EO-3323 excavator, also mounted on tyres with outriggers. The red bucket on the end has a capacity of 0.75 cu.m.
Turning to cranes, this is a 12.5 (metric) ton hydraulic truck crane. Very useful for light lifting, they're fairly common on construction sites and other places.
Turning to cranes, this is a 12.5 (metric) ton hydraulic truck crane. Very useful for light lifting, they’re fairly common on construction sites and other places.
40-ton truck crane, another versatile tool.
40-ton truck crane, another versatile tool.

Our business used these often for the assembly of our larger hammers, but sometimes things didn’t go according to plan.

For really heavy lifts, Vulcan could have used this for its biggest products. Cranes such as this were used in the early 1980's for the modification of its biggest hammer.
250-ton crane.  For really heavy lifts, Vulcan could have used this for its biggest products. Cranes such as this were used in the early 1980’s for the modification of its biggest hammer.
Vibration roller for compaction. These machines are not really intended for deep compaction of soils but surface smoothing, which is necessary when building roads and airfields.
DM-476 vibration roller for compaction. These machines are not really intended for deep compaction of soils but surface smoothing, which is necessary when building roads and airfields.
DZ-140 motor grader, used for final levelling of roadways before smoothing and paving. The blade is 4.8 m long.
DZ-140 motor grader, used for final levelling of roadways before smoothing and paving. The blade is 4.8 m long.
A skid steer loader, better known on American jobsites as a
TO-31 skid steer loader, better known on American jobsites as a “Bobcat” after the popular American brand. Maybe they should have named this a “Siberian Tiger.”
A bulldozer-ripper. Most people connect bulldozers with moving soil, but this one is designed to break up rock for removal.
A bulldozer-ripper. Most people connect bulldozers with moving soil, but this one is designed to break up rock for removal.
Computer aided design, 1980's style: VNIIstroidormash's computer room.
Computer aided design, 1980’s style: VNIIstroidormash’s computer room.
VNIIstroidormash's library.
VNIIstroidormash’s library.
VNIIstroidormash's female ski team.
VNIIstroidormash’s female ski team.

Our family business first connected with the Institute in 1988, and our contacts continued for the next six years.  Sometimes things got strange but we discovered an organisation that put out some very good designs for construction equipment.  Unfortunately the Soviet manufacturing organisation was not up to proper quality control, especially in the civilian sector, and that weakness was one of those which ultimately brought the Soviet Union down.

Maybe No One in the U.S. Really Likes Democracy Anymore

Jeet Heer thinks that the right has given up on democracy:

Public-opinion polling shows that Trump’s low opinion of American elections has practically become Republican Party orthodoxy. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday, Republicans have an “unprecedented” level of “concern and mistrust in the system.” Roughly 70 percent of Republican voters believe that if Hillary Clinton wins the election, it’ll be due to fraud. In both this poll and an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, only half of Republicans say they’d accept a Clinton victory. (In the latter poll, by contrast, 82 percent of Democrats said they would accept a Trump victory.)

But they’re not alone:

Those aren’t the only political data that set young millennials apart from their elders. According to an exhaustive report by political scientists Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk in the Journal of Democracy, young people today are considerably more authoritarian and antidemocratic by attitude and temperament than any other generational cohort, especially baby boomers. Only 30 percent think that it’s “essential” to live in a country with a democratic system of government, and a terrifying 24 percent actually think that a democratic system of government is a bad thing. Only 32 percent of millennials think that it’s “absolutely essential” that “civil rights protect people’s liberty.” According to a Pew Research Center report, 40 percent of millennials want the government to ban “offensive” speech.

Does anyone really care if we have democratic process any more?  Or is it just a matter of winners and losers?

To this I have two observations:

  1. Our country’s elites have been raised in an environment where they don’t know what real freedom is, and that’s trickled down in our society, especially with the millennials.
  2. Our system is based on a stronger consensus than we have now; when it breaks down, we have a mess.

We Should Challenge the Legitimacy of Our System’s Outcome

Donald Trump’s mushy statement about his acceptance of the outcome of the Presidential election has many up in the air.  Such a knee-jerk reaction–driven by a system which has been so successful for so long that people take it for granted–needs to be tempered by a reality check.

First: it’s not the first time the results of a Presidential election in the U.S. haven’t been accepted.  Al Gore certainly did not, and the left never has accepted the results of the 2000 election.  John Kerry turned his nose up at 2004.  The left is fearful that Trump’s supporters will turn to armed insurrection, but problems like that are what the police and military are for, and you should have thought of that before weakening the military and trashing the police the way Barack Obama has.  (Remember the admonition of Septimus Severus to his sons: stick together, pay the troops, forget about the rest…)

In any case, it never occurs to anyone that a nominating system that produces two major party nominees going into the final sprint with negative favourable poll numbers  is in serious trouble.  Part of the angst of this election is the unappetizing choice in front of us.  But situations like this are opportunities to take a hard look at why we’re in this mess, and much of the answer to that question is the system we have to start with.

Since these are the days when people come out of the closet on a variety of things, let me do it on this subject: ever since I was a kid, I have never liked the presidential system we have, and always preferred a parliamentary one.  This comes from reading subversive books, and in a country where moving a county line is the local equivalent of a military coup, that’s not an easy belief to hold.

Evangelical Christians (at least the ones who haven’t turned into BDS idiots) can look to Israel as an example of a parliamentary democracy.  The president is a figurehead and every prime minister has to form a government from a coalition of parties to form a (hopefully) majority in the Knesset.  That includes the current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.  We hear about the orthodox and ultra-orthodox Jewish parties; they get a seat at the table because they elect representatives to the Knesset and, through the wheeling and dealing the Middle East is famous for, get a place in the government.

In a multi-party parliamentary system, conservative Christians (assuming they could pull their act together, form a decent party, and get proportional representation) could pitch the GOP and negotiate on their own.  And that’s true with many other groups as well.  As it stands now, every four years we have to bet the store on a candidate who may not be the most satisfactory one to represent our interests.  If we lose, we’re stuck with the results.  People who criticise Christians who support Trump need to think about that; we’re facing the abyss with the other candidate.

And I’m not the only one who has pointed out the rigidity of this system.  Matthew Yglesias of Vox did the same thing from a leftist viewpoint in his piece “American Democracy is Doomed:”

The idea that America’s constitutional system might be fundamentally flawed cuts deeply against the grain of our political culture. But the reality is that despite its durability, it has rarely functioned well by the standards of a modern democracy. The party system of the Gilded Age operated through systematic corruption. The less polarized era that followed was built on the systematic disenfranchisement of African-Americans. The newer system of more ideological politics has solved those problems and seems in many ways more attractive. But over the past 25 years, it’s set America on a course of paralysis and crisis — government shutdowns, impeachment, debt ceiling crises, and constitutional hardball. Voters, understandably, are increasingly dissatisfied with the results and confidence in American institutions has been generally low and falling. But rather than leading to change, the dissatisfaction has tended to yield wild electoral swings that exacerbate the sense of permanent crisis.

Voter fraud is certainly a possibility this time around.  But the core problem of our system is that the system has delegitimised itself through its own rigidity.  We can either fix this problem or hope that our thin blue and green lines will hold when things melt down.  But crying about people who don’t automatically accept the results isn’t the answer; changing the system to produce better results is.

NC Political Firebombing Not a Recent First

It’s scary, all right:

Gov. Pat McCrory Sunday called the weekend firebombing of a North Carolina Republican headquarters “an attack on our democracy,” while one GOP official called it an act of “political terrorism.”

In a tweet, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump blamed “Animals representing Hillary Clinton and Dems in North Carolina.”

Hillsborough police said somebody threw a bottle of flammable liquid through the window of Orange County’s GOP headquarters, setting supplies and furniture ablaze.

But not without precedent:

Just 5 days before the election, at 3a.m. on October 30th, all of the front windows of the Cindy Sheehan for Congress campaign offices were shattered. Although staffers had been in the office less than an hour earlier, no one was in the building at the time of the incident. No one was hurt and there were no witnesses. Cindy Sheehan is a candidate for Congress in California’s 8th Congressional District race against incumbent Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

“It seems to have been a calculated intimidation tactic,” said Tiffany Burns, the Cindy for Congress campaign manager. “One of our computers was stolen, but no other property was taken from our offices and no surrounding buildings were targeted. Clearly they wanted to both frighten us and to gather information.” Total damage to the campaign office is currently estimated at more than $5,000.

As I said, thugocracy isn’t fun…not for anyone.

A Little Lesson in Subsidarity

One of pot shots that Hillary Clinton and her operatives made at conservative Catholics is that they used terms like “subsidarity” that no one understood. Since they may be right about that, I think an illustration is in order.

Many of you know that I teach Civil Engineering. Six years ago, my department head (who is from Kenya) and his first assistant (who is from the Cameroon) sat me down and asked me to obtain my PhD so I could teach more courses. I agreed and six years later, as W.H Auden said about Tolkien, at the end of the quest, victory.

In the course of the conversation, my department head brought up the subject of why potholes don’t get fixed in Africa the way they do here. (I know we have issues here.) His explanation was this: here, the local authorities (city, county, state) maintain the roads and, since they’re closer to the problem, they have greater incentive to fix it. Back home, decisions are made in the capital, and since they’re far away from the roads, they don’t have a pressing interest, and the potholes remain. That’s probably the best illustration of the concept of subsidarity—which seeks to push decision-making down to the lowest level—that I’ve heard.

Roman Catholicism—especially in its Ultramontane form, which has been the norm since the Restoration—is not the most suitable vehicle to promote the idea of subsidarity. It’s a good theological concept, but the structure of the church works against it.

As far as Hillary Clinton is concerned, truth be told, her problem with subsidarity isn’t that she doesn’t understand it. Her problem is that she doesn’t like it. Her idea—one that has been obvious since Arkansas’ educational “reforms” in the 1980’s—is that power and decision-making be concentrated at the top. People who support subsidarity are political enemies, which is a big reason she wants a “Catholic Spring.”

As far as how two Africans got a Palm Beacher like me to pursue a PhD, it’s another sign that, in engineering, we really do have change we can believe in.

Americans Aren’t the Only Ones to Choose Between “Bad” and “Really Bad”

All of the blubbering and whining going on about how Americans (and especially Christians) are somehow criminal to vote for a certain candidate needs to be put in this perspective, from a 2013 post:

A few months ago, when the Iranians elected themselves a new president, I asked an Iranian friend what he thought of the election.  His response was simple: the Iranian people had a choice between bad and really bad in the election and chose only bad.

Let me ask this: have any of our self-appointed moral compasses in the Christian community ever gone to Iran to advise our brethren there not to vote for a certain candidate because he favours continuing forcing  women to wear the hijab, or hanging homosexuals from construction equipment, or supporting the nuclear weapons program?  Of course not; none of these people would even try to get past Iran’s security system to make this appeal.  And most of them are clueless about societies where these kinds of decisions are a part of daily survival.

The difference between Iran and the United States when it comes to elections is that nominations in Iran are managed by the ruling Islamic system, where here nominations are managed by the stupid nominating system we have.  And the DNC, by tilting the table towards Hillary Clinton, showed that the ayatollahs in Tehran have met their match when it comes to management.  Be that as it may, we have the absurd situation where both major parties have nominated candidates that most Americans don’t like, and that’s a stupid nominating system.

Nine years ago I made it clear that I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton.  That hasn’t changed.  If those who cannot understand the limitations of electoral process–ours and others–don’t understand that, there’s not much left to say.

Our Elites’ Snotty Attitudes, Then and Now

Wikileaks’ revelations that Hillary Clinton and her operatives take a dim view of social conservatives–following her characterization of large portions of the population as “deplorables”–has ignited a great deal of anger.  As someone who started out life growing up with the elites, I think some perspective is in order.

Let me start by putting up something that’s been on this website since 2004.  It comes from my Around the Island post about Palm Beach, and it goes like this:

Below: “There’s a hole in my bucket…” Fourth graders at Palm Beach Day School perform a satire on “hillbillies” called “Appalachian Legend” during Stunt Night 1969. Attitudes from the “coasts” about “flyover country” in the U.S. have been deep seated for a long time; stage productions like this only reinforced that. It’s fair to say that, if the “Religious Right” had fully grasped the contempt they were held in when the movement first got going in the late 1970’s they would not have started the Moral Majority: they would have started a revolution.

Haughty attitudes of our elites towards the rest of the population aren’t new; they’re as old as class differences.  So why didn’t the revolution I thought would be a logical outcome (then, at least) not happen?  There are several reasons:

  1. Our elites had better taste and manners then; they knew better than to rub the rest of the population’s face in their perceived superiority.
  2. We lacked the instant means of communicating contempt we have now.
  3. Most of the “moral majority” didn’t see the difference between their values and those at the top as class based.   That was simply false; the top of our society had been lost to the fervent Evangelicalism for a long time, being steeped in either Main Line Christianity or Judaism.
  4. Some actually did, but didn’t care; they felt that those at the top would go to hell for their lack of belief and they would not.  That kind of “remnant” mentality was very deep in Evangelical Christianity, especially in the South.  One result of the political activity of the last forty years or so is the erosion of that mentality.
  5. Others sensed it, but were too ashamed to admit it, because it would imply those who opposed them were better than they were.  They were and are the aspirational types; much of the impetus for political involvement has come from these people.
  6. Income inequality has increased since that photo was made; the gap between the elites and the Appalachians has grown significantly.

That leads me to some observations about the present:

  • I think it strange that the standard-bearer of those who seek a revolution is a billionaire; it’s one of those bizarre American things.  But it’s the aspirational way: those who idolize Trump project their own aspirations into his own success, which is very common in our society.
  • On the other hand, aspirational people are a threat to the existing power holders, which is why Hillary Clinton and her operatives feel about them the way they do.  Elites, then and now, prefer corporatism.  And that’s ironic too for a bunch whose ideological roots are in 1960’s radicalism.
  • As far as her attitudes towards social conservatives is concerned, what we’re headed for under her idea is a “two-tier” religious structure where certain churches and religious organizations are “acceptable” and certain ones are not, with legal disabilities following.  That was the case in Nazi Germany with the “Confessing Church,” in the Soviet Union, and is the case in China, although the Three-Self Church is showing many signs of life.  Her idea that Roman Catholicism is an “élite” religion (as opposed to Evangelicalism) has a strange feel to it.  Going from Episcopal to Catholic was a drop in social level in the 1970’s, but the Main Line churches have lost most of their relevance even at the top.
  • Trump’s crudity is unsurprising, especially for someone raised in South Florida as I am.  What we have to choose from is one candidate whose forced sexualization agenda is one of personal depravity and the other whose forced sexualization agenda is a matter of public policy.
  • Personally I’ve always gravitated to the “remnant” mentality.  I was raised listening to the encounter with the rich young ruler and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus; somehow anything else misses the point.  The most active alternative along these lines is the “Benedict Option” advocated by Rod Dreher.  Maintaining that in a totalitarian society–even one with periodic elections–won’t be easy.

Sailing the Last Voyage with Newton and Pascal

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