Friday, September 16, 2016


Luscious Jackson got in my head this week and hasn't left.
Not complaining.

•   The New York Times has a story on Vladimir Putin's drive to make the Russian Orthodox Church into, as one observer puts it, "an instrument of the Russian state." The Church's shock troops are medieval in outlook -- one of its bishops "warned worshipers that new biometric passports, required by the European Union in return for visa-free access to Europe, were 'satanic' because they contained a 13-digit number" -- and of course favor the persecution of homosexuals, as Putin does. This gives Rod Dreher yet another opportunity to tell us how he really feels about secularism and its inferiority to the Every Knee Shall Bend model of governance. While he claims "it troubles me deeply to see the Church become an instrument of State policy," nonetheless... Western societies disintegrate under aggressive secularism, individualism, materialism, and hedonism, it’s hard as a traditional Christian not to sympathize with the general thrust of what Russia is doing, if not in certain particulars... 
The West is losing the idea of marriage and family, and now, even the concepts of male and female — and all this is hailed as progress. Young people are ruining their hearts and minds by dosing themselves heavily with pornography, and there’s nothing in Western culture to stop them. And on and on. How could the West be a positive model? 
Russia does not have the answers, but it is asking necessary questions...
I understand why Glenn Greenwald et alia object to what they see as the revival of a Red Scare in this country, but come on: At least people who sympathized with the old USSR thought they were trying to advance human liberation. Dreher sympathizes with today's Russia for the opposite reason.

•   Donald Trump recently attacked the Food & Drug Administration as the "food police." Who knows why he does what he does anymore, but it gave us a chance to hear some straight-up bull-goose looney libertarianism from Nick Gillespie of Reason:
You get rid of "official" food inspectors and you know what will happen? To the extent that customers demand any sort of certification beyond public reputation, private-sector and nonprofit groups will be created to provide this or that level of inspection. We see that already with kosher and halal food prep, of course, not to mention other sorts of watchdog groups (think Fair Trade coffee and the like). Yelp or some other rating system would likely add some sort of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval-style process as well.
The yelpification of food poisoning! I can't put it any better than Kia on Twitter: "I would have given these diet pills one star but I am dead."

Jonah Goldberg complains about the obstreperous black guy who is interfering with his mild interest in football ("entertainment more than passion," Jesus Christ is everything about this guy terrible?). His premise is that "particularly among men, sports talk is a kind of safe space and common tongue all at once" and politics isn't supposed to interfere. He quotes and comments on a 2003 E.J. Dionne column:
And then [Dionne] added: “Politicizing everything from literature to music to painting and sports was once a habit of the left. The Communist Party’s now-defunct newspaper once had a sports column called ‘Out in Left Field.’ Now, it’s the turn of the right to politicize everything.”

I’m not sure that was entirely true then, but it’s definitely not true now.
Oh yeah? We need not get into the wider world of wingnut culture war here -- just remember that from 2011 until someone wised up, National Review ran a sports blog called "Right Field." This is from the inaugural post:
The facts of life are conservative, and in no sphere is that truism more manifest than in the world of sport. In the games we play, the same rules are meant to apply to all — and we are outraged at the injustice when they are not. There are winners and losers, and we don’t agonize over the self-esteem of those who do not prevail: We expect them to learn from defeat and improve...
Yuk. To this day we have conservatives like Matt K. Lewis claiming that sports blogs are "dominated by liberals" because no one wants to hear wingnuts snarling about political correctness instead of keeping their eye on the ball. (Yes, like every other thinking person in America I know about today's David Brooks column and his strange conviction that black people will be moved to reconsider their sports protests because they might make bigots mad and his Thanksgivings harder to enjoy, but by claiming conservatives don't go in for this sort of thing, Goldberg has effectively out-stupided even him. There can be only one!)

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