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July 2017

August 2017

More from Conscience of a Conservative

A few notable excerpts from Conscience of a Conservative.

We are only as good as our information, and if we lose our sense of objective truth, we lose everything. We must protect and preserve our healthy public sphere--that civic space in which we vigorously debate and negotiate, agree and disagree--or else.

***

Giving away one's agency and becoming captive to such outlandish and vile alternative facts would be bad enough were one an average person, quietly living his or her life. But giving away one's agency to such a confusion of fact and fantasy when one has power--well, that is truly dangerous.  And it is something else, too: highly influential.  Bad information propagated by powerful people spreads like a contagion, infecting vulnerable people in its path.

I really appreciated the concept of giving away one's agency related to dishonesty.

From a very young age in ranch country, you also get to know immigrants intimately and honestly.  You learn through experience how indispensable they are to making things work in America. It seems that once every generation or so, we have these spasms of immigrant resentment and scapegoating, if not outright hatred. We are at our worst when we give in to these impulses and resort to a device that can be emotionally satisfying, perhaps, and politically expedient but very self-destructive--the impulse to look for somebody else to blame for our problems.  If only these people weren't here, we would be much better off. The nativist impulse is always destructive, always comes with a cost, and never ends well.

***

Seemingly overnight, we became defined not by the limitless aspirations of a free people but by our grievances and resentments and our lowest common denominators. . . .  The quick answer: We did it because it was cheap and easy and the real world is hard and defending a principled position to voters is harder still.

***

Far from conservative, the president's comportment was rather a study in the importance of conflict in reality television--that once you introduce conflict, you cannot de-escalate conflict.  You must continually escalate.  

Reading this comment during the weekend of white supremacist violence and the President's sociopathic, racist response to it made me even more frightened for the future.

What is best for the country is for neither base to fully get what it wants but rather for the factions that make up our parties to be compelled to talk until we find policy solutions to our problems.

As I said in my review earlier this week, a worthy book. 


An Open World

A very important and serious essay in which Philip Zelikow reflects on the current global situation and how America should promote its values.  "Strategically, we could ask: Where can we do the most to tilt the balance toward an open and civilized world? What states or regions or issues are pivotal? Where can U.S. actions have catalytic impact?"


On Trump Now

I watched yesterday's press conference in horrified disgust. This morning these are my thoughts: We always knew he was an insecure, pathetic, little man. We knew for years he was vile and disgusting. We have come over the last few months to realize he is mentally unstable. Yesterday we realized he is a sociopath.


More in response to this week's evil

Here is our United Church of Christ minister for Justice and Witness, Traci Blackmon, who was present in Charlottesville, calling out the lies yesterday of President Trump.

Here a Civil War historian writes refutes the President's lies about there existing two legitimate sides as she explains why one side was moral and the other wasn't.  How sad that we must have this conversation, is what I'm thinking.

Here David Brook once again criticizes the President and advocates for the intellectual virtue of modesty.  The column reminded me of Amy Kittelstrom's Religion of Democracy.


Robbed of Our Peace

One of my Yale Writer's Conference friends, Jane Alessandrini Ward wrote this good words last night:

Daily we are robbed of our peace and our ability to function as people who have families to care for and neighbors to care for and communities to care for. Instead we fear for our gay children, our black children, our Jewish children, all of our children who are learning no good lessons from this spectacle. All because of this pile of disgusting thoughts and vile impulses.