Category Archives: Politics

Only the Pop Remains

“Alienation breeds a distrust that corrodes any collective effort. To be “woke” in the alienated culture is to embrace the most cynical interpretation of every situation, to assume bad intent in every actor, to imagine the conspiratorial malevolence of your foes.” (David Brooks​,

Both political sides have experienced alienation over the past year: the ‘right’ in the months leading up the election; the ‘left,’ in its aftermath. Both have used it to their advantage. Both continue to use it to fuel their speech and actions.

But I’m not sure one can do much with alienation after it’s spent–usually in acquiring some kind of power. Or whether one can unite a coalition, much less a country, powered by alienation.

It’s like the ‘fuel’ in bottle rockets. Only the ‘pop’ remains.


How Cheney Rolls

From an interview on GMA, posted at

Raddatz: “Two-thirds of Americans say [the Iraq war’s] not worth fighting.”

Dick Cheney, smiling: “So?”

Raddatz: “So? You don’t care what the American people think?”

Cheney: “No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public-opinion polls.”

This is how a politician talks when he doesn’t care about re-election. And I have to admit that I admire that somewhat, even though a lot of people say he’s kind of the Duck of Darkness–not the prince, you understand; that job’s taken. But I wish we got that kind of candor out of more politicians.

What’s more, he’s right. We don’t elect or pay a president to do whatever the public wants. Contra every talking head from here to Timbuktu, that’s democracy. But we do not live in a democracy, do we? We should be electing our leaders to exercise wisdom and judgment. (Not that that happens very often.) Not for their ability to remain in office by riding the waves of public opinion.

Instead, we continue to elect folks who will change sides to stay in office. Who have made flip-flopping an art form. Who don’t have actual opinions that aren’t tied to polls.

Marrying Belief and Behavior

I read the Chalcedon Foundation blog once a week or so, or when a friend of mine points me that way, and I usually find something worth reading. My response to Christian Reconstruction is, for lack of a better term, extremely cautious but interested. Frankly, I don’t know enough about it to make any discerning judgment; in fact, I know that I have a caricaturized view based on Gary North’s missteps and the modern cult of Rushdoony.

The blog makes me uneasy at times. While I have sympathy for some of their positions (particularly with regard to education), the delivery is occasionally, well, kooky. So when I started reading a post titled “As We Go Marching”, I felt that familiar queasiness in my gut. Would this be a call for quasi-militant response to the state? Well, yes and no. Here’s what caught my eye.

“What is our solution then [to the US move toward totalitarianism]? Live in bold faith. The State has a different understanding of the nature of the universe than we do. They believe we live in a natural word, controlled by the acts of men. We, on the other hand, understand that every molecule that forms matter is held in place solely by the hand of God and that, if it was His will, everything that exists would simply be no more. I love the histories of Elijah and Elisha because they understood the true nature of God, man, and the universe. Which is that both fire and rain come from heaven and are controlled by God, axe heads float (2 Kings 6:5-7), jars of oil never run dry (2 Kings 4:1-7), the dead are raised back to life (2 Kings 4:18-37), and that a few righteous are more than hosts of the wicked (2 Kings 6:15,16).

It is not God who has ceased working in the world; it is we who have stopped walking in faith.

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Matt. 9:24).”

That is a scathing indictment of . . . me. My response to the world is to have faith, yes, but I put my faith in myself and other human beings more often than I look to our sovereign God. Despite my lip-service to the gospel, my lifestyle demonstrates more “paying my respects” to an absentee God than a life of active and vibrant faith in a transcendent-yet-activist God.

My growing pessimism about Western culture as a whole and American culture in particular is rooted in an implicit faithlessness or hopelessness–in short, my lips say, “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,for my hope is from him” (Psalm 62:5) but my heart and actions say, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle and come to their end without hope” (Job 7:6).

As I try to submit my behavior to belief, I can only echo the post’s writer, and the desperate father he quotes: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Whiners Playbook

In typical po-mo style, John McCain sounded off today on Mitt Romney’s Dole comments:

“I was very sad and disappointed to see that kind of comment about a person who was an American war hero, built our party, served our party so well for so long — years where Governor Romney was claiming he didn’t want to go back to Reagan-Bush years, Bob Dole was leading our party,” McCain noted, speaking before taking off from Newark to San Diego for a final rally before Super Tuesday.

Seeking to portray Romney’s remarks as a rude disparaging of a respected GOP elder statesman — not a failed presidential hopeful — McCain repeatedly noted that Dole was “a hero” and cited his grievous war wounds from WWII.

So what was “that kind of comment”? What did Romney have the gall to say about a wounded veteran? Given McCain’s moral grandstanding, you might suspect one of the following: “Yeah, that gimpy Dole, what a loser!” “Bob Dole, wasn’t he on those ED commercials?” “Sure, I’d vote for Bob Dole…if I was a Communist!”

But you’d be wrong. What he said was simply, “Bob Dole is the last guy I’d want to write a letter for me.” And why would that be? Well, for starters, because Dole ran a disastrous campaign for president against the Other Clinton. And Romney essentially says that loss came about because the Republican party handed the nomination to the guy whose turn it was, instead of someone who represented the future of the party.

Thankfully some in the media (even the very pro-McCain) have seen this for exactly what it is: McCain borrowing the American Whiners playbook and calling Wrongheaded Moral Outrage on 2. It’s the same kind of thing we saw out of the Kerry campaign four years ago: “You can’t criticize me! I have a Purple Heart!” The way McCain turns criticism of a political personality and his campaign into insulting an American war hero is not only logically fallacious, it’s reprehensible.

One more reason why McCain is not a good choice for conservatives of any stripe.