Friday, March 30, 2018


Well here's a rabbit-hole for the weekend.
• I know I've spent a lot of time on Dreher already this week but the guy's just been so awful. It's like he came back from the week or two he spent in Hungary pimping his book crazier than ever. While he was there he seemed happy enough and mostly posted gush about how great the Saving Remnant in godless Eastern Europe are (and of course how great the food is -- when this Benedict Option thing blows over he can be the new Jeff Smith). But something put a burr up his ass -- maybe he found out fellow theocon Michael Brendan Dougherty said mean things about Viktor Orbán just as Dreher was ready to come out for him, and it spoiled his high. Since then he's been raging on the usual stuff like the Trans Menace, but also displayed a particular hard-on for Pope Francis, who is the head of one of the many religions Dreher has belonged to, albeit not the current one. All wingnuts hate Francis, of course, but Dreher's goes above and beyond; he seems especially mad now that Francis did not strongly refute a reporter who said Francis does not believe in hell ("Francis is winking"). Example:
Think back to 2013, when he made his famous “Who am I to judge?” remark about gays in that press conference. A reader of this blog who teaches religion at a Catholic high school wrote to say that in a single stroke, Francis destroyed all the work that he (the teacher) has done with the kids in his classes. The students all concluded from that remark that they could believe anything they wanted to about sexuality, because even the Pope said, “Who am I to judge?”

This is Francis’s way. Remember his drawn-out answer when a Lutheran woman married to a Catholic man asked why she couldn’t receive communion in a Catholic church?
In other words, Francis refuses to stress hell, gays, and intermarriage -- that is, the parts of Catholicism that nobody, including Catholics, likes. I assume Dreher's mainly mad that his ex-religion has, as Jack puts it in The Ruling Class, forgotten how to punish -- what's the fun in being godly if you can't feel confident that your opponents will burn for all eternity? It perhaps also stirs Dreher's dreams of being himself the first modern-era cross-cult Pope -- I bet he daydreams about a scenario like that West Wing episode where John Goodman was President for a couple of days. Then again, maybe he's just logrolling a fellow God-botherer's book. In any case, I look forward to his next conversion, hopefully to Sufism so he can work off his nervous energy by whirling.

• Remember when brave National Review editor Rich Lowry got all the conservative stalwarts to contribute to an "Against Trump" issue in 2016? And how most of them started going over the side before Trump was inaugurated? Today Lowry makes it official in "The Never Trump Delusion":
A realistic attitude to Trump would acknowledge both his flaws and how he usefully points the way beyond a tired Reagan nostalgia.
Goodbye "Reagan" macro; hello MAGA macro!
...The hold that Trump has on the GOP has a lot to do with his mesmerizing circus act, but it’s more than that. He’s been loyal to his coalition on judges, social-conservative causes and gun rights. His desperation to get a border wall speaks to his genuine desire to deliver on a signature promise. The same is true of his tariffs this year.

The last two items underline Trump’s heterodoxy, although he isn’t as ideologically aberrant as Never Trumpers would have it.
Liberals have known this all along, of course -- Trumpism is just conservatism with the gloves off and a screw loose. It's about conning the rubes by beating up their perceived inferiors and promising windfalls that never come. Some of Trump's con games eschew wingnut orthodoxy -- you won't hear him giving lip service to the magic of the market -- but the end result is the same: tax cuts for the rich and the poor get screwed, with a new war a short-odds favorite before 2020. As I've been saying since this started, the deal is he signs their bills and they let him grift. With few exceptions, the conservatives who have been wringing their hands over Trump's bad manners have been as sincere as Noah Cross' show of sorrow over Evelyn's death in Chinatown, and now they're skulking away with their prize.

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