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Culture Wars


Lots of other readers want me to run for President. Alas, I am ineligible.
I could go for Surgeon General, though. That cool uniform!

(P.S. Do liberals ever say “Alas”? Seems to me this is a quintessentially
conservative ejaculation. Roger Kimball once told me he tries to get at
least one “Alas” into every issue of The New Criterion )

Jonah, Gays, and Why I Love America


One longtime reader, a very dear friend of mine, writes the following: “While the pointy headed intellectuals (!) debate the practice of homosexuality, in my fair city an openly lesbian/pagan coffeehouse coexists directly across the street from an evangelical broadcasting station.” That, I am pleased to report, is the American reality-evincing the basic goodness of our national spirit–and it goes far toward explaining why I was so delighted and heartened by Jonah’s column of today. An America in which gays have “won” is not an America in which some other group has “lost” and must now be oppressed; any more than the fact that Jews, blacks, or Catholics have rights somehow diminishes the rights of Gentiles, whites, or Protestants. “B-b-b-ut if we say it’s OK to be gay,” some are sputtering, “they’ll make it illegal for us to criticize the gays!” To which I respond: Not if we still have a First Amendment in this country, they won’t. This is America. You are entitled to express any opinion you like about gays-or any other subject. I might not agree with you, but I’ll be on your side if anybody tries to shut you up. I want to express a very personal thanks to Jonah for his call for “magnanimity in victory.” I think it can happen, because of the kind of people we Americans are-and because of that street my friend wrote about, an American street, one perhaps too wide for a handshake but never too wide for a neighborly wave.


The End of The World


Lots of readers wish to opine that my posting today on the end of the world
would have been fine for a Monday piece, but is totally wrong for a Friday.

Web Briefing: September 30, 2014

Re: Absolute Zero


The Universe Between was by Alan E. Nourse (1965). Lots of copies
available on Abebooks at prices from $4 up. Thanks
to a reader for tracking this down.


You Want Defeatism and Gloom


Talk to me after I get back from the DMV, where I’m heading right now.

Re: Kavanagh


A continuation from the conversation yesterday. Quin Hillyer of the Mobile Register e-mails:

The Dems should know that Brett Kavanagh was hardly a rabid anti-Clintonite. Matter of fact, when I did a book review for the Wall Street Journal, a review which helped debunk the idea that Vince Foster’s body was moved, etc…. in other words, one that supported the basic story of where and why the poor man committed suicide (okay, I bashed the Clintons on other matters during my book review, but not on that basic fact of this sad episode, and not on matters I discussed with Mr. Kavanagh), the main person who walked me through the public evidence and the Starr report (with full authorization from his superiors), and thus who cleared up some of the anti-Clinton conspiracy theories (to the benefit of the Clintons), was Brett Kavanagh. The Wash Post’s portrayal of Kavanagh as a part of the “vast right wing conspiracy” is thus just not accurate; I found him a helpful, fact-based, careful attorney. I assume his legal philosophy leans right, because the Bush administration seems to be considering him for a judgeship. But while on the Starr team dealing with me at least, he sure as heck gave no evidence of any ulterior agenda. He seems like a man of deep integrity.

Re: Where Do I Enlist For The Culture Wars?


What did I say? My e-mail bag’s exploding.

Re: Gay Marriage


Now look here. There ain’t nobody going to out-gloom the Derb. Don’t I
have a piece up on the site arguing that we are all going to be turned into
gray goo by swarms of self-replication bacterium-sized next Tuesday? But
there comes a point, you know, like that bit in Gone With the Wind where
Rhett Butler decides that, as lost as the cause may be, it’s still worth
fighting for. You can Burnham and blather all you like, Jonah, but I didn’t
detect much fighting spirit in your piece. That’s why I thought a little
Henry V was in order. Aux armes, citoyennes! That’s someone else, but it’s
the mood I’m in.



Glenn Reynolds says he doesn’t think there’s a good argument to be made that gay marriage could undermine marriage. Fine. Let’s put the point differently. Reynolds admits in this post that there are at least some folks on the left who actually agree with conservatives that gay marriage will undermine marriage in general. Then he says, “I rather suspect it will have the opposite effect.” My point is that the tone of Reynolds’ post is one of conceding at least some legitimate evidence to the other side, and then saying on a judgement call that he thinks the effects of gay marriage will go a different way. Reynolds doesn’t make it an issue of prejudice, but a question of judgement about a social effect. He may think the argument of conservatives is weak, but he grants it at least some basis, even if he thinks it is ultimately unpersuasive. I’m not trying to recruit Reynolds as a supporter of anti-gay marriage arguments. I’m only trying to show that his way of framing the debate is fair.
On substance, however, Reynolds is wrong. As I’ll show after Massachusetts, those radical gays who believe and hope that gay marriage will undermine marriage are absolutely right, and well placed to bring their goals about. Stay tuned.

Christian Pessimism


A thoughtful Christian take on my Last Days piece: “I’ve been engaged in a
Bible study program for the last half year or so, and if there’s one thing
that seems strikingly clear to me from reading the Bible, it is this: God
is perfectly willing to let us fester in our own sins and make a real mess
of things. He’s prefer that we not; in fact He commands us to obey Him so
we can avoid these problems. Alas, we have that tricky thing called ‘Free
Will’ that allows us to ignore Him if we wish, and at our peril. Most
choose to ignore Him. I honestly think what we are seeing is simply the
accumulated effect of our
willful disobedience. I used to not believe that. But the more I explore
the Christian faith, and give honest and serious thought to the proposition
of a loving God who gave us freedom to stray, it all seems to make sense. I
share your pessimism. But I cling to the hope of something beyond this
earth.” I share that hope, and should have said so in my piece.

Absolute Zero


Where do liberal Democrats come from? One reader offers a possible
explanation: “Derb: As always, I enjoyed your column today, even if it was
a bit of a downer. When I was a kid, I read a book called ‘The Universe
Between.’ I forget the author, but the story was pretty interesting. Some
scientists finally got to Absolute Zero, and it opened a portal to another,
seemingly parallel universe. They kept sending people through the portals,
but they came back complete catatonic vegetables…”

More Sniveling Capitulationism


In saying that I considered gay marriage “close to inevitable,” I obviously was not saying whether that was a good thing. An opponent of gay marriage could well take the view that gay marriage is on the way but that it should be fought and delayed at every turn. I would expect John Derbyshire, of all people, to see that fighting the good fight even when you expect to lose is an honorable conservative position.

Re: Gays


What a bunch of sniveling capitulationists! “Gay marriage is close to
inevitable”–R. Ponnuru. “The war is effectively over”–J. Goldberg. This,
from employees of a magazine whose founder declared that its mission would
be to stand athwart History crying “STOP!”? This, in the context of
dismantling and re-engineering what is probably–I’m not sure–Western
culture’s oldest institution? This, when important and relevant issues
cannot even be discussed for reasons of political correctness? (E.g.: What
proportion of health-care costs in the U.S. go to treating diseases peculiar
to male homosexuals?) Come on, guys. Stiffen the sinews! Summon up the
blood! Disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage! Etc. etc. There’s a
line to be held here. We are C-O-N-S-E-R-V-A-T-I-V-E-S. Remember



Jonah, of course you’re right that the momentum right now is all on the side of gay marriage. And your comments on Santorum confirm my claim that, if not exactly a Swedish system where bureaucrats monitor and punish speech, our ability even to debate this issue is already severely limited. Nonetheless, you might be surprised by what happens after Massachusetts. Certainly, national gay marriage imposed on all the states is a very real possibility–probably the most likely outcome. But a serious dogfight is by no means impossible. We are not yet Sweden, and the public still does not favor gay marriage. And Ramesh’s points about Santorum are dead on. After Massachusetts, I’m going to be making the case against gay marriage at a level of detail, and with new information, that I believe will help take this debate to a new level. I can see lots of ways in which what I’ve been finding out in my research could change the shape of our national debate. So while I agree that your current assessment has a lot going for it, I’d also ask you to withhold final judgement until we’ve had time to see how the Massachusetts decision plays out.

Re: Santorum & Gays


Ramesh – All your points are well-taken. I guess I’m a bit cynical about those who tried to make Santorum’s comments the moral equivalent of Lott’s. First, since I flatly reject the facile analogy of gays to blacks, I always treat such arguments as — for want of a better word — theatrical or propagandistic. It seemed to me at the time and seems to me now as well, that many of the people who said Santorum’s “sins” were as a great as Lott’s were trying to make it so by saying it was so. In this sense there was something of a Stalinist strain to the denunciation of Santorum. Good liberals felt they had to call Santorum a bigot and the moral equivalent of a racist even though many of them understood that the issue — and Santorum’s comments — are complicated than that. I’m sure some people believed it, but I got the sense the real point of that argument was to close off debate and delegitimize opponents. Over all, you may think gay activists haven’t “won” yet, but it seems to me there on a “mopping up” mission now — going after pockets of resistance and the like. When you contemplate how hard it would be to put the genie back in the bottle, it looks to me like there’s still shooting but the war is effectively over.



Here’s the G-File I wrote about McKinney at the time she made her comments.

Cynthia McKinney


A bunch of people have sent me links to this story which seems to be spreading like a rash among the far lefty websites. It is extremely odd in format and style. But the gist of it seems to be that poor Cynthia McKinney never said Bush had prior knowledge of 9/11. The author, Greg Palast, seems to be saying that some damning “quote” by McKinney accusing Bush of advanced knowledge of 9/11 was “made up.” He writes: “The ‘quote’ from McKinney is a complete fabrication. A whopper, a fabulous fib, a fake, a flim-flam. Just freakin’ made up.” But he never actually prints the quote. So, here’s the quote I have in mind from the Washington Post account about her interview on Pacifica Radio:

We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11th. . . . What did this administration know and when did it know it, about the events of September 11th? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered? . . . What do they have to hide?

Palast seems to be saying this quote was either misinterpreted or was never uttered by McKinney in the first place. I don’t have time to wade through transcripts over at Pacifica Radio, but if he’s saying she never said this, I don’t understand why Cynthia McKinney didn’t flatly deny she ever said it. Instead, she seemed to be conceding she said it when she issued a backpeddling statement in response to her comments: “I am not aware of any evidence showing that President Bush or members of his administration have personally profited from the attacks of 9-11. A complete investigation might reveal that to be the case.”

Now, correct me if I’m wrong but if the quote was a complete fabrication, even a loonybird like McKinney would say so rather that issue a statement like that.

So, I assume Palast is asserting that the above quote doesn’t mean what many rational people think it means. If that’s the case, fine. But you can’t say McKinney has been the subject of disinformation campaign which includes outright journalistic fraud.

In short, unless I’m missing something, stop sending me this article because I think it is weird, unpersuasive and in no way changes my mind on the subject of Ms. McKinney’s enduring asininity.

The State of Gay Rights


I agree with a modified version of Jonah’s thesis–my version: Gay marriage is close to inevitable. I also agree with Stanley that Andrew Sullivan’s habit of describing opponents of gay marriage as belonging to the “far Right” is annoying: That makes, what, 65 percent of the country far-right? I think Jonah draws a slightly wrong lesson from the Santorum controversy, which actually suggests that Jonah’s version of the thesis is a bit premature. Gay activists, and at least some gay-conservative polemicists, thought what he said was equivalent to what Trent Lott said. They wanted Santorum to be forced out of the Republican leadership. It didn’t happen. Santorum hasn’t even suffered in the polls at home. Ten years ago, Santorum’s comments would not have aroused even the controversy they did. So we’re closer to the destination to which Jonah is pointing. But gays haven’t “won” just yet.

Deconstructing Whites 101


Have you read the Washington Post piece on whiteness studies? You must.

Hillary Blasts Rube Golberg System of Medicare”...


…on the Senate floor just now. With a big chart…bad flashbacks.


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