Allister Heath on the Fall of the American Empire

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Allister Heath of the British Telegraph newspapers has recently published two compelling – to me, anyway – commentaries in the Daily Telegraph, one on Aug. 4, 2021 on the American “woke” crisis, and one on Aug 18, 2021 drawing conclusions from the chaotic fall of Afghanistan. Because these articles are behind a paywall, here are a few excerpts which seem to summarize his main points.
 
Despite my growing conviction that the stance most compatible with the New Testament is Christian pacifism, I have nothing but gratitude for the role of America in defeating the Nazi regime and providing Marshall Plan aid to rebuild Germany and Austria, and I thoroughly enjoyed the time we lived in Texas. So I regard the current situation not with “Schadenfreude”, but with sadness and a heavy heart.
 
(Italic emphasis is mine; “liberal” and “liberalism” does not carry the derogatory meaning in which the terms are used by American conservatives and Evangelicals.)
 
«America’s elites, led by younger graduates, have abandoned their post-1960s liberalism and embraced instead what Wesley Yang has described as its “successor ideology”: the sinister “woke” secular religion of so-called “social justice warriors” who see the world through the distorted prism of “intersectionality”, oppression, identity politics and the catch-all of “white supremacy”. These people say they want to fight racism but, in reality, are Balkanising America and have no interest in a truly meritocratic, colour-blind society finally at peace with itself, the original liberal ideal.»
 
«In the authoritarian, anti-democratic worldview which now dominates universities, big business, government and cultural institutions, free speech is dismissed as violence, conservatism as fascism and differences of opinion as “micro-aggressions”. Capitalism is loathed, as is free enquiry. The old elite – whether Left-liberal or Reaganite – tried to help the poor: the new elite dislikes the working class and seeks to deploy “cancel culture” to stamp out dissent. It attacks selective state schooling and campaigns to defund the police, moves that have led to an explosion of crime and are hitting minorities especially badly.»
 
«The Right, for its part, has also gone mad: too many Republicans have ditched their old principles – be it free markets, limited government or social conservatism – and instead embraced a dumbed-down, populist demagoguery on a long list of issues. Many Republican voters still believe, against all facts and evidence, that the election was rigged; on Covid, conspiracies have been rife. Trumpism could be the death of the Republican party. Left and Right hate each other: they refuse to talk, to live together, and they don’t want their children to marry one another. Race relations are also deteriorating again after years of gradual progress, according to polling.»
 
«No empire is eternal: all eventually fall amid hubris and humiliation. The heart-wrenching, humanitarian calamity that is the botched Afghan retreat is merely the latest sign that the American era is ending: Washington is no longer the world’s policeman, and an unsettling future of clashes between expansionist, authoritarian regional powers beckons.»
 
«In the late 1980s–early 1990s America’s global clout peaked.»
 
«Twenty years on, America’s global plan lies in ruins, its elites confounded on almost every issue, the stupidity and incompetence on display over the Afghan withdrawal confirming that they don’t understand the rest of the world, and aren’t fit to govern their own country, let alone the globe. Blinded by a simplistic universalism, they no longer understand religion, tribalism, history, national differences or why countries want to govern themselves.»
 
«America’s internal problems are immense: its constitution is broken, its predilection for second-rate gerontocrats such as Biden unrivalled. Racked with self-doubt, its elites in the grip of a bizarre “awakening” centred around a nihilistic, ungrateful self-loathing, it no longer has values to sell, neither capitalism nor democracy nor the American dream. How can people who live in terror of “micro-aggressions” find it in themselves to defeat real evils? As to the public, it doesn’t want to know about the rest of the world: how, under such circumstances, can the US empire not be in terminal decline?»
 
«The West has lost control: there will be mass population movements, currency wars and battles over natural resources. The American empire at least believed in freedom and democracy; what replaces it won’t even pretend to be liberal.»
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Georgia’s Election Integrity Act

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Critics of Georgia’s new Election Integrity Act are vocal and loud and outraged, while those who defend it sound whining and petulant.
 
I have read analyses (i.e. here) which suggest that contrary to expectations on one side and fears on the other the provisions of the act will make little difference to election results. If so, both the act itself and the outraged reactions to it are little more than attempts at virtue signalling, with the usual differences of opinion on what constitutes virtue.
 
Nevertheless one does wonder about the intentions behind it. It seems to address problems that exist primarily in the minds of those who believe that the Nov 2020 election was “stolen”, a claim that has been thoroughly debunked by the courts (including those with Trump-nominated judges) and by officials of both parties.
 
It is hard to impossible to argue for the legitimacy of provisions like the ban on providing food and water to those waiting in line to vote.
 
When the legislature reacts to criticism of the act by attempting to punish critics by revoking tax benefits this does nothing to dispel doubts and misgivings. It is just as inappropriate as Sen. Warren threatening Amazon with break-up for “heckling Senators with snotty tweets.”
 
To a well and widely read outside observer it surely looks like the American political class, on both sides of the aisle, has lost it — and it is no consolation that one can say the same thing of several other countries as well, including my own.
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“Progressive” Stupidity

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I have written a lot about the unspeakable nonsense coming from President Trump and his Republican enablers, and we will see quite a bit more of that on Wednesday.

But the Democrats are also quite capable of producing incredible nonsense. Joe Biden who presents himself as an oh so pious Catholic happily ignores and actively opposes what the Catholic Church has to say on the subject of abortion and sexual morals and ethics. Additionally we had a display of progressive nonsense in yesterday’s (Jan 3) opening of the 117th Congress.

The session opened with Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Miss.) who is also an ordained Methodist pastor, reading a prayer based on the Priestly Blessing (Birkat Kohanim):

“May the God who created the world and everything in it, bless us and keep us. May the Lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious unto us. May the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us and give us peace—peace in our families, peace across this land, and dare I ask, o Lord, peace even in this chamber. Now and evermore.”

So far, so good. Then it turned very strange. Here is the closing of this prayer:

“We ask this in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and gods known by many different names by many different faiths. Amen and Awoman.”

This raises a number of questions:

1. Should a Methodist pastor be praying in the name of “Brahma, and gods known by many different names by many different faiths”?

2. Shouldn’t a Methodist pastor know that “Amen” is a Hebrew word which has absolutely nothing at all to do with “man/men” or “woman/women“?

3. Shouldn’t someone educated enough to represent his state in Congress realize that it makes no sense, from a purely grammatical perspective, to ask God for something in the name of God? When you replace the Trinity by many different gods the formula of “praying in the name of …” is not only theologically nonsensical, but from a language perspective as well. If someone comes to me saying, “In Wolf’s name, could you lend me a hundred bucks?” I would assume he’s lost his marbles.

Someone commented on the video below, “If you are going to be woke, at least be an educated woke.” But the use of “woke” for that mindset is an insult to the Black community which coined the term to describe someone awake to ethnic and economic injustices rather than for the fancy-pants ideologies of the leftist elites.

 

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A Banana Republic?

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In a recent Facebook discussion I had expressed concern at the number of Trump supporters who are unwilling to accept court decisions which reject election fraud claims. They feel that these judges have betrayed Trump and the nation. After the Supreme Court refused to hear the lawsuit filed by Texas against four other states, President Trump himself echoed these sentiments, with a number of tweets, including this one:

In reply to my comment one person commented, “It’s about the voters who need to see a honest, transparent election,” and posted a link to a blog post from mid-2017, Transparency Is Solution to Shameful Lack of Security For US Voting Systems Revealed by NSA Leak .

Another person asserted that the election was rigged because a Biden administration would be “evil, a replay of Obama, it would cater to the Chinese, pay Iran, kill more unborn, USA and her legal citizens be damned.”

Here is my take on all this:

There are basically three views of this election:

One, that it basically worked just fine. Some mistakes may have occurred which are not surprising considering the scale of the country and the election, but they did not materially alter the result, and there wasn’t widespread fraud, and

Two, that the whole election was largely rigged, with fraudulently manipulated equipment and software whose manufacturers are part or wholly owned by the Chinese government, votes transferred to German servers to be altered, all in order to steal the election from Trump, and all with the collusion of state officials, even Republican ones.

Three, the election was rigged because of the outcome. The fact that this person views Biden with disdain and expects decisions and policies which s/he considers immoral and bad for the country and its citizens makes this a rigged election. It really has nothing to do with how many people actually voted for Trump or for Biden, the outcome is what makes it rigged. For this reason, it doesn’t matter what the courts say about lack of evidence of fraud, the outcome is bad, so it’s rigged. This view is so far out there that I am not going to say much about it, except that it re-defines what “rigged election” means — this view of “rigged election” is totally subjective and not subject to scrutiny by the courts. There is simply no basis on which one can rationally debate this view.

Of course, Trump has been incessantly preaching the second viewpoint since long before Nov 3 — but he didn’t do anything about it: no federal investigation, no court cases, nothing. The blog linked above about potential security flaws in the EViD software proves my point: it is from 2017, but apparently nothing was done about the report it cites or the concerns it raises.

The whole point of Trump’s badmouthing of the election seemed to be to make sure that in case he lost the election, his supporters would refuse to accept the result. He also nominated lots of conservative judges and justices, obviously with the expectation that in a post-election showdown they will support him.

So the election happens; he loses, and it all plays out exactly as planned, except that by and large the courts, even the ones chaired by judges nominated by Trump and earlier GOP presidents, reject his claims of rigging, fraud, and manipulation. The Supreme Court will not even hear a case brought by Texas’ Attorney General to invalidate the results in four swing states.

And Trump’s supporters are SO fired up by his incessant tweets that many come to the conclusion that the courts, and especially the GOP nominated judges and justices, have betrayed Trump and thus the country.

This is NOT about an honest, transparent election: if Trump had won they would not have cared one bit about this – they didn’t in 2016. It is about the conviction Trump has drummed into their heads that the only way he could loose is if the election were rigged.

That message coming from Trump for most of a year prior to Nov 3 (and continuing since then) is the hallmark of a sore loser, and while a sore loser is annoying in sports and games it is outright dangerous in the politics of what is still the most powerful nation on earth.

Americans are fond to say, “We’re not a democracy, we’re a republic!” — true, but it’s quickly turning into a banana republic.

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Dale Coulter on Amy Coney Barrett

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In First Things, Dale Coulter comments on the discussion about Amy Coney Barretts’ nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I am not sure anyone is going to heed this, but these are valid thoughts. Continue reading Dale Coulter on Amy Coney Barrett

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Whose sins do you confess?

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Not only in America:
 
«I find that people in America, the religious people, those who pride themselves on being the straight and narrow, I find universal among them, they’re confessing the other guy’s sin. This never pleased God. Continue reading Whose sins do you confess?
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