Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

The 2016 election has caused many a good man to surrender his dignity and his principles for political expediency and power, but there is perhaps no greater example of this year’s Spirit of Cowardice than Tim Kaine, a fellow who, every time he hits bottom, somehow finds a way to break through the bedrock and keep digging.

To be fair, for the most part I already disagreed with Kaine’s politics before 2016, and he has been a morally deficient politician and person in any number of ways prior to this year. But the scale and scope of his craven impulses are kind of breathtaking, even to someone who held him in fairly low regard to begin with. Consider:

Hillary Clinton’s running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) said Sunday that the campaign does not need to issue an apology for email messages, including from communications director Jennifer Palmieri, mocking Catholics…

“You’re Catholic. Should the campaign apologize for these messages?”

Kaine dodged and said that he does not believe the validity of these hacked emails.

“I just want to say the writer of this email said he sent this email,” Raddatz said, trying to get him back on topic.

Kaine dodged again, citing that the emails had the potential to be doctored by the Russian government.

“This is an important topic that everybody needs to know about these emails,” he said. “One email has come up with my name in it and it’s completely inaccurate. Now, was it inaccurate because the sender didn’t know what he or she was talking about? Was it inaccurate because it was doctored? I have no way of knowing.’”

Raddatz asked again, point blank, if the campaign should issue an apology.

“We all have opinions and I don’t think you need to apologize for your opinions,” Kaine said. “But, in fact, that’s a great thing about our country and even about being Catholic.”

What a great thing indeed! No apologies necessary. Christians of centuries past were fed to the lions, sold into slavery, tortured, beaten to death. St. Thomas More himself went willingly to the chopping block rather than place king before God. Yet Tim Kaine cannot even be bothered to defend the faith from the two-bit tinpot schemings of a couple of third-rate DNC hack politicos. This would not be hard to do. But the Clinton machine demands total fealty—not one wit of dissent will be tolerated under Hillary’s regime—and Kaine knows that, and he’s made his decision accordingly. Rather than risk some professional fallout pushing back against the slandering of his brothers and sisters in faith, he says, “I don’t think you need to apologize for your opinions.” What brave words! Screw your courage to the sticking place, man, and you’ll not fail.

Elsewhere, the rest of American liberalism was celebrating Planned Parenthood’s centennial anniversary. Since the 1970s Planned Parenthood has been providing abortions to women across the country; also since the 1970s, “Catholics for Choice” has been celebrating abortions and advocating their legality throughout the United States. Catholics for Choice “supports a woman’s moral and legal right to follow her conscience in matters of sexuality and reproductive health.” The latter is code for “killing unborn humans,” something Tim Kaine believes should be 100% legal. On Sunday, the group tweeted:

Planned Parenthood’s work exemplifies the Catholic social justice tradition.

All other commentary aside, it really is kind of quaintly horrifying to reflect upon the barbarity of abortion, and the joy that such barbarity inspires in people who consider themselves to be enlightened. The “Catholic social justice tradition” is a beautiful and wonderful praxis; abortion, on the other hand, is the savage and inhumane taking of an innocent life. This is the truth. It is so odd—so profoundly baffling—to see people embrace legalized murder as “social justice.” No good will come of it—for the unborn, or for a society that tolerates the killing of the unborn.

On Your Knees, Boy

I am not at all terribly familiar with the politics of British tabloids, but the Sun, a sensational magazine out of London, appears to have been rather flustered by Olympian Louis Smith’s recent drunken parody of Islamic prayer time rituals: “Has He Got a Screw Louis?” asks the Sun.  I’m not sure the pun works all that well, but the point is taken. In any event, the video seems to suggest not that Louis Smith has a “screw loose,” but rather that he is somewhat unable to hold his liquor, or in any event that he drinks a whole lot.

Anyhow, the Sun reported some alarming details surrounding this whole controversy:

Last night a security source said of the video, taken at the wedding of gymnast Dan Keatings at Kettering Park Hotel, Northants: “Mocking religion is pretty foolish anyway.

“In the case of Islam, it can also be quite a risky thing to do.”

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadan Foundation, said of Smith: “I think he should apologise immediately.

“Our faith is not to be mocked, our faith is to be celebrated and I think people will be offended.”

“Mocking religion is pretty foolish anyway:” it seems like you only hear this admonition when it’s one particular religion being mocked (hint: it’s not Methodism). As to Mohammed Shafiq’s rather cryptic comments, Douglas Murray remarks:

Shafiq does not explain why his faith should not be mocked. Nor does he seem to know anything about the right of free people in free countries to do or say whatever we like about Islam or any other faith whenever we feel like it. There is nothing special about Islam that means it cannot be mocked. In fact, it would be a very good thing (both for Muslims and everyone else) if it were mocked rather more. But there in that sentence is the implicit threat again.

He’s right, but it doesn’t matter at this point: Louis Smith has already issued a “groveling apology” for his imitation of noon prayers: “What I did was wrong. I recognise the severity of my mistake and hope it can be used as an example of how important it is to respect others.” Nevertheless, the pair are being investigated by the UK National Governing Body for Gymnastics. Maybe they’ll be stripped of their Olympic medals. That would show them; surely they’d think twice before making fun of Islam again.

One rather imagines that this whole controversy wouldn’t have taken place if, say, Smith had drunkenly chanted the Gloria in excelsis deo or had sloppily imitated the Mourner’s Kaddish. Certainly a few people may have been unsettled by the apparent derision of their religious worship, but you can hardly imagine a “groveling apology” being issued in the wake of Judeo-Christian satire; nor could you imagine an ominous warning that it is “risky” to mock the Jews; nor is it easy to picture that kind of threatening tone from a Catholic activist: “Our faith is not to be mocked.” Well, sure, stipulated: all things being equal, your faith is not to be mocked. Just the same, people are invariably going to mock it—and how you respond determines to a great extent what kind of faith you have. If it’s “risky” to do a drunken send-up of a particular religion, that says something about the religion, not the drunken pranksters.

But this seems to be the accepted wisdom these days: don’t make fun of Islam. You’ll often hear the standard stock admonition along these lines: “Mocking religion is pretty foolish anyway.” (Some exceptions apply.) Then there are the appeals to safety: “It can be quite a risky thing” to mock Islam. And it can. The fellows at Charlie Hebdo found that out; so did Nazimuddin Samad, hacked and shot to death in Bangladesh; so did the folks at Pamela Geller’s shot-up “Draw Muhammad” contest in Garland, Texas; so did Molly Norris, vanished from the face of the earth after proposing an “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day;” so did Kurt Westergaard, under police protection probably for the rest of his life; and so forth.

And so we have the curious case of Louis Smith, a guy who got too drunk and participated in a rather childish and inexplicable religious burlesque, being told that—in what was once one of the greatest bastions of human freedom on the planet—there are certain subjects which are strictly off-limits, potentially on pain of death, and that he’d better apologize if he knows what’s good for him. Well, he bought it, and he apologized. So that means he’s safe, at least for a little while.

This Whole Ancient Controversy

The Catholic Church has been under attack since its founding, but the mode of attack has obviously changed throughout the years. In the Apostolic Age it was done often with stonings and crucifixion; during the Reformation it was done with heresies and schisms and the occasional Act of Supremacy; these days the tactics are somewhat different but in many ways no less effective, as proven by John Podesta’s leaked 2011 e-mail exchange with Sandy Newman:

This whole controversy with the bishops opposing contraceptive coverage even though 98% of Catholic women (and their conjugal partners) have used  contraception has me thinking . . . There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the  Catholic church. Is contraceptive coverage an issue around which that could happen. The Bishops will undoubtedly continue the fight. Does the Catholic Hospital Association support of the Administration’s new policy, together with “the 98%” create an opportunity? Of course, this idea may just reveal my total lack of understanding of the Catholic church, the economic power it can bring to bear against nuns and priests who count on it for their maintenance, etc. Even if the idea isn’t  crazy, I don’t qualify to be involved and I have not thought at all about  how one would “plant the seeds of the revolution,” or who would plant them.  Just wondering . . .

Newman is right—shockingly high numbers of Catholic men and women have used and continue to use contraception. On the one hand this is an incoherent and doctrinally indefensible breach of the faith: why call yourself Catholic if you’re going to flout one of the Church’s most unambiguous and unequivocal teachings? What’s the point? But Newman’s devious and nasty designs underscore a more troubling and pressing aspect to the laity’s mass abandonment of Catholic sexual ethics: a confused, divided and disjointed faith is easy prey for those who seek to destroy it. If the faithful were less hostile to Catholic doctrine, then guys like Sandy Newman would have nothing to exploit; they wouldn’t be working to systematically turn the Catholic laity against their bishops; the idea of fomenting a “revolution” within the Church over the use of birth control would be a non-starter. A Catholic Church that has either forgotten what it means to be Catholic or has decided that it simply does not care will invariably make itself vulnerable not just from within but from without.

This is the great lie of liberal Catholicism writ large. For around half a century, progressive Catholics, at least in America, have imagined that you can have a faith that is both aggressively permissive and sustainable: look the other way when it comes to sex, ease up on the reconciliation bit, brush off any practical consideration of one’s guilt and one’s sin with that old reliable standby: “Well, it’s not a big deal: I’m sure Jesus understands.” Indeed, this liberalization was supposed to save the church from irrelevance and destruction in a rapidly-modernizing and latitudinarian world. All it has done, however, is mislead and confuse a few sizable generations of Catholics—and render them susceptible to the kind of double-dealing agitation of charlatans who are looking to turn the faithful against each other.

Our Schoolyard Press

I always find it interesting to reflect on the ways in which children sometimes lie. I can remember, for example, the lies my peers in middle school sometimes told: they’d be leaning over to a classmate during a lecture, obviously and audibly talking about something, and the teacher would call them out on it: “Stop talking!” They’d respond: “I wasn’t talking!” But obviously they had been talking. Other times, someone would punch another kid, and they’d get called out for that. The response: “I didn’t do it!” But they clearly had done it; there was absolutely no question about it. That was the impulse, though: deny something which was quite literally undeniably; cross your fingers and hope that you could somehow will your own reality into existence by just saying a few words.

I thought about this weird kind of reality denialism after the most recent presidential debate. This was the debate in which Donald Trump said to Hillary Clinton: “If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. Because there has never been so many lies, so much deception, there has never been anything like it.” Clinton then claimed that “It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.” Trump responded: “Because you’d be in jail.”

Now, this exchange really has two separate components. The first is Trump’s promising to “instruct [his] attorney general to get a special prosecutor” to investigate the Clinton e-mail scandal. Trump would be perfectly within his rights to do such a thing; no serious person disputes this. Many people characterized Trump’s threat as: “He said he would appoint a special prosecutor!” But he didn’t say that; he knows it has to go through his A.G., and he stipulated the chain of command correctly.

The second part of the exchange involved Clinton’s little joke expressing relief that Trump is not “in charge of the law in our country” (whatever that means); Trump responded with a quick little barb: “Because you’d be in jail.” It was obviously, self-evidently and clearly not meant to be a threat against Clinton out of vindictiveness or lawlessness; it was, rather, a line that was playing off of the statement he had made immediately prior to Clinton’s remark: that he would use legitimate means to investigate and possibly prosecute Clinton for the crimes that the FBI claimed she committed.

Well: the media just about crapped its pants. The New York Times said that Trump had issued a “threat to jail Clinton.” CNN said the same thing.  So did Business Insider. NBC News claimed that Trump had “pledged to ‘jail’ Clinton.” The Chicago Tribune claimed that Trump “threaten[ed] Clinton with jail time.” The Washington Post announced: “Trump says he’ll put Clinton in jail.” Slate’s Jamelle Bouie said that “Trump threatened to jail his opponent in [sic] national television.” And so on, and so forth.

This is all so profoundly unnecessary. Many of us have spent the last fifteen months or so criticizing Trump for all of the genuinely authoritarian promises of his campaign: his opposition to free speech, his promise to commit war crimes, his intent to strip Americans of both their Second and Fourth Amendment rights, the constant threats from his surrogates that he’ll “remember” who didn’t support him during the campaign, and that we’ll have to “bow” to President Trump once he assumes office. By any reasonable metric, Trump is an aspiring tyrant, and has been more or less since the beginning of his candidacy. Nobody can deny this. Even his supporters can’t deny it; indeed they affirm it and celebrate it. It’s why they love him and revere him.

But this freakout over his “jail” comment is unseemly and opportunistic. Unquestionably, the headlines are designed to make you think that Trump stood on stage and more or less declared, “As my first act in office I will throw Hillary Clinton in prison because I don’t like her.” He didn’t say that or anything remotely like it. They could have rendered the headlines, “Trump promises to investigate Clinton’s e-mail scandals,” and there’s a very specific reason they didn’t.

Whether or not you think it was a savvy political quip for Trump to deliver, and whether or not you think Clinton is guilty of the crimes that the FBI said she was guilty of, it doesn’t matter. There’s no need to lie about something Trump didn’t say when you can skewer him for the countless things he has said.

Yet that is the weird and rather pathetic state of our media and much of our pundit class today. The folks at CNN and the New York Times and Slate are surely aware, on a fully-conscious level, that the things they’re writing are untrue. Like my old thirteen-year-old schoolmates, however, they seem to believe that they can get away with lying about things if they say them often enough. And the worst part about it is, they’re right. In middle school we at least had ways to punish the lies that students told. But there is not really anybody to punish the media—an industry that all-too-often comports itself with the dignity and professionalism of, well, middle schoolers.

To Know the Worst, and to Provide For It

Entire volumes could be written on the cowardice of Senator Tim Kaine—you could devote an entire Wiki to it—and still it would not be enough; still there would be more to write about, always there would be another layer of cowardly spinelessness to uncover.

That much has been made clear by Kaine’s turn in the national spotlight as the vice presidential pick for the Hillary Clinton campaign: he has proven himself to be perfectly willing to make a joke out of his Catholic faith in favor of political expediency and national fame. For years now Kaine has supported abortion rights while claiming that he himself is “personally opposed” to it. This is quite obviously a meaningless non-compromise, as I’ll talk about shortly. In any event, since being picked by Clinton as her running mate, Kaine has only doubled down on this rhetoric, and has even turned against the Hyde Amendment, coming out in favor of forced taxpayer support of abortion.

For a man who is nominally “opposed” to abortion, Kaine somehow finds every opportunity he can to support it.

Kaine’s cowardice was again thrown into stark relief last week during the vice presidential debate in Farmville, Virginia. When confronted with the topic of abortion, Kaine grasped for the most empty, incoherent and opportunistic rhetoric he could lay his hands on:

“We can encourage people to support life, of course we can,” said Kaine, a practicing Catholic. “But why doesn’t Donald Trump trust women to make this choice for themselves? That’s what we ought to be doing in public life: living our lives of faith or motivation with enthusiasm and excitement, convincing each other, dialoguing with each other about important moral issues of the day. But on fundamental issues of morality, we should let women make their own decisions.”

The senator should spare us this pablum. Why draw it out? What is the purpose at this point? Does anyone believe that Kaine is anything other than a pro-abortion ideologue who is simply too frightened to admit it?

It is difficult to know where to begin deconstructing Kaine’s incomprehensible beliefs when it comes to moral issues, but we might start at the most obvious. There is not a functioning, respectable society existing today that allows “fundamental issues of morality” to be subject to the whim of individual citizens. It simply does not exist; no serious person would ever suggest structuring a civilization in so reckless and so horrifying a fashion. Murder, rape, assault, robbery, theft, treason: all of these are “fundamental issues of morality,” and it would be absurd and self-destructive to allow each and every one of us to make up our minds regarding such deep and critical moral conduct. Should I be allowed to “make my own decision” about killing my neighbor? Or do we subject that “decision” to the force of law? (Note that one not need put any words in Tim Kaine’s mouth to make this argument: by his own admission he concedes abortion is a “fundamental issue of morality.”)

There is a place where people are allowed to “make their own decisions” when it comes to “fundamental issues of morality:” it’s called a post-apocalyptic hellscape.

I do not know what drives Tim Kaine to see the world in so twisted a way; nor do I know what compels him to be so relentlessly dishonest about it. Nor do I know why Kaine—a lifelong Catholic—feels compelled to be such an amoral fraud on the matter of his faith. When it comes to abortion, the Catholic Church does not encourage its adherents merely to “convince” people, or “dialogue” with them, or “encourage” them: it demands legal protection for the unborn (there is literally a day of observance in the Church devoted to this very concept) and it enjoins the faithful to both pray for and fight for that legal protection.

There is no way for a smart, educated man like Tim Kaine to have missed these obvious teachings, which have been around long before he himself was born. He knows the Catholic Church’s feelings on abortion; he simply does not care about them.

The fundamental question at this point is this: why on Earth does Kaine even bother with the “personally opposed” label? If you are “opposed” to abortion, it is for one reason and one reason only: because you believe abortion is the killing of an innocent human life—murder, in other words. But if you sincerely believe that, then the matter cannot possibly be left to mere “dialogue” or “enthusiasm” or “encouragement.” No other grave moral matter is dealt with in so indifferent and irresolute a fashion.

To treat innocent human life with such cavalier disdain is beyond monstrous. If you are “opposed” to abortion, the only logical and ethical proposition is not to talk about it but to outlaw it.

That Tim Kaine has decided to walk a preposterous and unconvincing middle ground—being “personally opposed” to murder but also believing that murder should be 100% legal—tells us something rather awful about his character and his integrity. He is not a man to be taken seriously on the “fundamental issues of morality;” his moral compass is plainly broken, and wholly unreliable.

The Lesson of the Day

I have never particularly liked schools—call me crazy, but I’ve never enjoyed the thought of going to a building for eight hours a day, doing someone else’s work, and not getting paid for it—but more importantly I have always found slightly repulsive by the culture of schools: the weird kind of custom that has sprung up in recent years to treat schools as big family gatherings, or extensions of the home, places where children are “nurtured” by faculty and staff rather than simply being taught by them. Schools are none of these things—ideally they should serve a very limited practical function in an educational context, and nothing more—but this idea is pervasive, certainly in American pedagogy. Consider, for example, the recent comments of the American Education Secretary, John King:

King said he worries that ‘students who are homeschooled are not getting kind of the rapid instructional experience they would get in school’—unless parents are “very intentional about it”.

King said the school experience includes building relationships with peers, teachers and mentors—elements which are difficult to achieve in homeschooling, he said, unless parents focus on it.

Good grief, please. For starters, homeschool is—in principle and almost always in practice—a much more “rapid” environment than that of “normal” school. Invariably an educational environment must be slowed down to the pace of the slowest student: if you have nine kids in class that understand the math problem and one who has to keep learning the lesson over and over again, 90% of your studentry is not experiencing a “rapid instructional experience” or anything close to it. This problem compounds as the number of struggling students increases. The more students in a classroom, the slower the instruction will inevitably be. Homeschool generally fixes this problem by its very nature: with minimal instruction, every child moves at his own pace.

As for the idea that homeschooled kids do not have access to “peers, teachers and mentors,” it is honestly hard to know how to respond to this. Does King believe that schools are the only places on the planet where “peers, teachers and mentors” exist? Can they be found nowhere else? Plainly this is false: you can find all three types of people the world over, in far more interesting variations than the extremely small subset you’re apt to find in a school building, and in far more interesting circumstances as well.

In both cases, of course, King allows that parents can achieve these things for their children if they “focus on it” and are “very intentional about it.” But the same is true of schools, as well, so why remark on it? Because King’s point here is to insinuate that homeschooling is defective intrinsically, not merely as a matter of potential execution. This is simply not true; you can ask most homeschoolers and they’ll tell you.

But the school-is-the-only-way mindset persists—a frankly bizarre belief that the Prussian-style mandatory attendance model of education is the only way to “build relationships” and have a satisfactory “instructional experience” (my goodness, even the phrase “instructional experience” is quite dreadful). The worst part of this philosophy is that it doesn’t particularly care about outcomes: our often-dreadful educational statistics, coupled with the social dysfunction that a lot of schools seem to breed in their students, make no difference: if you don’t send your child to one of these places, the thinking goes, you’re cheating him out of a good education and denying him a host of “relationships” he can find nowhere but this one particular building. There is a reason more and more parents are homeschooling their children: because they don’t want to have to deal with ignorant and narrow-minded attitudes of education like King’s, attitudes which are rampant within the traditional school system.

They Can Be Greater

Outside of hard physical labor, can women generally do all the same things men can? Most people—myself among them—say yes: there is nothing in principle that prohibits the average woman from doing the things that the average man does. (Women do seem to make different choices then men, but that seems to be more an indicator of predisposition, not ability: the fact that most women, say, like to work less hours and in less demanding fields than men doesn’t necessarily say anything about women’s innate abilities to work in those fields.)

There are nevertheless a few types of people who believe that women are qualitatively inferior than men: avowed misogynists (who are not shy about their misogyny) and progressives (who take a more roundabout way to get there). The former need no explanation; the latter are a bit more subtle in their strange, retrograde beliefs regarding the fairer sex. You can see these beliefs in a number of ways: in the Left’s insistence that women are helpless and doomed unless they force elderly Catholic nuns to pay for contraception, for instance, or in their desire to shield powerful, successful women from any kind of legitimate criticism. And then there are the weird instances in which women are held to a lower standard than men, such as this NPR broadcast I listened to recently, in which Audie Cornish and Ron Elving discuss the 1984 vice presidential debate between George H.W. Bush and Geraldine Ferraro:

ELVING: So Vice President Bush is quite eager to show how much he knows about foreign policy. Right away, they get into it with references to the hostage crisis from the late 1970s in Iran and a more recent bombing of the U.S. embassy in Lebanon.


GEORGE H W BUSH: Let me help you with the difference, Ms. Ferraro, between Iran and the embassy in Lebanon.

ELVING: You know, even then, Geraldine Ferraro was not going to put up with mansplaining from George H.W. Bush.

CORNISH: Oh, right, with the let me help you.

ELVING: Exactly.


ELVING: So she came back with this.


GERALDINE FERRARO: Let me just say, first of all, that I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy.


Notice the various surprising assumptions here: that George H.W. Bush “mansplained” to Geraldine Ferraro, that Bush’s rhetoric was offensive enough to the point that Ferraro had to scold him about it on national television, that her scolding of Bush merited applause from the audience. In reality, Bush didn’t speak to Ferraro in any way out of the ordinary for political debates, the vast majority of which are usually rough-and-tumble, unpleasant and biting. And yet both Ferraro, her audience and even the radio hosts reviewing this exchange all believe that Bush’s remarks were both overly nasty and gendered: that he was being spiteful towards Ferraro because she was a woman. But this kind of rhetoric is par for the course. It’s what you invariably sign up for when you enter into politics; this is true in American presidential elections, British debates in the House of Lords, the various Greek welfare arguments in the Hellenic Parliament: it’s just the way things go.

But lots of people don’t see it that way: they don’t believe that women should be subject to the same rancorous political trench warfare to which men are regularly subject. They want men to go easy on women. Maybe they think Bush should have said to Ferraro, “I respect your opinion, and you may absolutely be right, but here is my take on it—and honestly, I’m probably wrong, and in any event we should all just be friends, right? Can’t we all just go out for margaritas?”

The likeliest explanation is this: liberals understand that women who go into politics are perfectly capable of handling the acrimony of political fights, but they also want an unfair advantage on the playing field to up their electoral chances. So they rile up the base by suggesting that guys like George H.W. Bush are somehow devious little mansplainers who are extra-mean towards women running for office. It didn’t help in Ferraro’s case—her side lost that year—but it will probably do a good bit to help with Hillary Clinton, who is frankly and understandably desperate to talk about anything other than own dismal professional record and personal history.

But feminism has always had this kind of hard, calculating edge to it. Feminists know how to play ball. Take the recent admittance of one well-known opinion columnist:

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd says that the momentum behind the women’s movement took a hit during President Bill Clinton’s scandal-plagued years in the White House.

“Feminism sort of died in that period,” Dowd told Yahoo News Global Anchor Katie Couric on Monday. “Because the feminists had to come along with Bill Clinton’s retrogressive behavior with women in order to protect the progressive policies for women that Bill Clinton had as president.”

Now, this is entirely true—during his two terms, women who would otherwise be disgusted by Bill Clinton subjugated their own beliefs and their own dignity in order to help him out—but there is an odd sort of disconnect here. Feminists are invariably of the mind that negative portrayals and treatment of women in movies, television and pop culture generally has a negative effect: if people see women treated badly often enough, they’ll start to treat women badly in turn. This is what feminists believe. But that’s the thing: treating women badly is basically all Bill Clinton does. He has been credibly accused of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, countless repulsive improprieties; he engaged in a sleazy affair in which had a twenty-two-year-old intern give him oral sex while he was doing work on behalf of the United States of America; afterwards, he threw her under the bus and lied about the whole affair. To top it off, both he and his wife set out to smear and destroy the women who came forward with these lurid tales of infidelity and abuse.

That’s how it was for the eight long years that Bill Clinton was president: one long national expose of his horrid and inexcusable treatment of women. If feminists are right about how our culture functions in regards to these things—that people will ultimately adopt the nasty treatment of women they see played out in wider society—then how “progressive” could Bill Clinton’s presidency have been when it comes to women? Not very. What this ultimately shows is that, for many “feminists,” feminism is less concerned with helping women than it is with helping Democrats: they are perfectly happy to betray women if it will get them a cheap high of electoral victory.

The Last Greek Tragedy

The greatest personal tragedy of the 2016 election season isn’t Ted Cruz’s selling out to Donald Trump, or Tim Kaine’s abandonment of even the pretense of a practical Catholic faith, or the betrayal of Bernie Sanders by a corrupt and Clinton-beholden DNC; it is the grotesque spectacle of Milo Yiannopoulos, the tech editor over at Breitbart and one of the more fervent young Trump supporters on the scene today. To be fair, Milo’s self-imposed degradation is not purely idiosyncratic—he is a harbinger of things to come—and he serves the purpose this political season of giving a face to the intellectual collapse of the GOP under Trump, as well as the moral rot infecting much of its politics these days.

But the personal aspect of it all is immensely dispiriting. Bloomberg’s September profile of Milo, terming him “the pretty monstrous face of the Alt-Right,” provides an excellent peek into Yiannopoulos’s desperately sad, sick and lonely life. By his own admission, in the past four years he has not been alone in a room for more than an hour; this is the sign of a man unable to tolerate his own presence. He claims his grandmother’s death two years ago was “the only bad thing that’s ever happened to him:” this is the claim of someone to whom many, many bad things have happened. (“I’m a perpetual 14-year-old,” he says at one point, before quickly revising his perpetual age down to seven.) There are intimations of criminal behavior (years ago he got revenge on a stepdad “in a way that’s not legal”), intimations of sordid prostitution (Milo, who is gay, allegedly made $20,000 selling his body to a man in Los Angeles last year), strong suggestions of a kind of paranoid inferiority complex (he “inputs all of his friends into a spreadsheet, with columns for attractiveness, intelligence, income, and politics”), and some kind of deep-seated father issues that are manifesting themselves in the most hair-raising way imaginable: he habitually refers to Donald Trump as “daddy.”

These are the classic signs of a deeply unwell man. Pray for him; he needs it very badly. But Milo’s sick behaviors extend outside the bounds of his own squalid personal life. In the course of the Trump campaign he has courted racists, sexists, white nationalists and other bottom-feeders of the political world, cleverly using a resurgent white power movement and a confused, disaffected young conservative base to advance his own interests and broaden his own exposure. His shtick mostly consists of saying controversial things so that people will look at him; he has also regularly turned his own rabidly bigoted and racist following against people that have upset him. Like Trump, Milo imagines that “political correctness” is the worst thing that has ever happened to the human race; his response to this “political correctness” is to say things like, “Feminism is cancer,” a statement he seems to think is both clever and meaningful. He combines the absolute worst elements of both young gay camp and young half-bright political engagement: a kind of screechy pseudo-sexual narcissism coupled with the belief that pissing people off is the best and most effective form of diplomacy.

He is a parasite on the conservative movement, a fraud who clumsily adopted a kind of shadow imitation of conservatism in order to make money and be an exhibitionist.

But, distinctly apart from the admittedly pathetic and painful personal life of this sick man, there is a lesson to learn from all of this. Milo’s continuing relevance—indeed, most of his relevance to begin with—is only understandable in the context of a Trump candidacy. There would be no Milo movement if, say, Ted Cruz (or Marco Rubio, or Jeb Bush, or Scott Walker, or even Ben Carson) had gotten the nomination; he would still be a mostly obscure writer for Breitbart, writing up his nasty little spreadsheets and spending twenty-three hours on Twitter every day. Trump has done a great many awful things for American conservatism, and one of them has been to make behavior and beliefs like Milo’s somehow sustainable. This unhinged obsession with “political correctness,” the destructive, insolent political antics, the diminution of campus conservatism into some stupid anti-feminist / shock-jock outrage show: this is part of what Trump has wrought across a great deal of the American political landscape in 2016. Donald Trump has taken the best hope for preserving the American experiment and helped to turn it, in part, into a vehicle for sham racketeers like Milo.

Reversing this, if it is reversible, will take quite a bit of work. It may necessitate a new political party, at least if the Trumpification of the GOP is as deep as it seems to have been: if this is the Republican Party’s new modus operandi, then they are welcome to it. Then again, there may be a kind of weird Darwinian effect that self-purges the GOP of its newfound moral rot: as Salon reports, a number of white supremacists are getting ready to mount a “holy crusade” against Milo because he’s “part-Jewish.” It is actually a little sad to think of Milo—a disturbed, broken and ultimately pitiable man—being turned on by the political movement upon which he has staked his fortunes. But you cannot argue that he has not brought it on himself; nor can you really disagree with the proposition that, ultimately, the public ruination of Milo Yiannopoulos would be good for the United States of America.

Now if only the white nationalists would next turn on Trump: then we might be able to get some real work done.

The End, Forever Near

Have you ever noticed how climate alarmism basically functions like a disaster movie at the end of its second act? A great example of this can be found at Fortune this week, in which Katie Fehrenbacher claims that “Earth has seemingly passed a worrisome threshold for the changing climate this week:”

The last week in September is often the time of the year when the planet’s carbon emissions are at their lowest as summer turns to fall and plants and leaves start to decay, releasing carbon. However, this year the amount of carbon emissions in the atmosphere this week has remained above 400 parts per million, reports Climate Central.

That means that even with the fluctuating of the seasons, which pushes the levels of carbon emissions up and down, the planet is likely now officially at 400 parts per million for the foreseeable future. While that could change decades into the future—if society worked hard to reverse the carbon emissions in the atmosphere or if there was a large catastrophic climate event—but the metric for now is likely here to stay.

So this “disturbing climate change metric” can only be mitigated if “society work[s] hard to reverse the carbon emissions in the atmosphere.” We’re facing a dire climatic future, but we can fix it if we act in time.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. In fact, for the past two or three decades, that’s the only way global warming fanatics have argued: that disaster is just around the corner and can only be narrowly averted by doing whatever the global warming fanatics demand we do. In 2007, the U.N. said we had eight years to avoid “the worst effects of rising temperatures.” Seven years after that warning, in 2014, the U.N. gave us eighty-five years to fix climate change and “stave off its worst effects” (the worst effects, mind you, that were supposed to be irreversible after 2015). But wait: in 2012, two years before the U.N. issued its new eighty-five year deadline and five years after its original eight-year deadline, a NASA scientist said that we’d already missed our shot to avoid “dangerous climate change” by two years: to avoid terrible climate change, according to this scientist, we’d of have to reduce our greenhouse gas output substantially by 2010, five years before the U.N’s initial deadline and about ninety years before the U.N.’s revised date (the latter of which was issued four years after the NASA scientist said we’d passed the point of no return).

So, to recap: the U.N. claimed we had seven years to fix a climate problem; a NASA scientist said we actually missed the mark by three years after the U.N.’s seven-year was set; and then the U.N. said we had eighty-five years to fix the problem, three years after NASA said we’d beat the U.N.’s previous estimate by four years. In other words, nobody seems to know when the big climate collapse is coming, nobody seems to be able to get it right, and the best and brightest minds on the subject are constantly revising themselves and contradicting each other.

None of this makes much sense—unless you accept that climate alarmism isn’t merely or even mostly about solving environmental problems. If it were, then there wouldn’t be this perpetual, desperate scramble to terrify people into believing that the end is nigh. The doom-crying, the remarkably specific prophesying, the constant revisionism, the fervent assurances that—this time, by gum—the day of judgment will finally come to pass: it is more superstitious than scientific.

There is a lesson to all of this.: global warming politics is not something that turns on global warming. The end-goal for climate alarmists is not the mitigation of the greenhouse effect; it’s the consolidation of power, wielded by them, exercised over you.

What You Don’t Know Can Kill Them

Pro-abortion activism is bad, but it is also, a lot of the time, weird—weird in a way that other activist efforts really aren’t. In Albury, New South Wales, for instance, a common and perfectly reasonable pro-life tactic drove a pro-choice activist nuts:

About a dozen anti-abortionists have been picketing the Fertility Control Clinic in Albury at the NSW border every Thursday for the last few years.

And one of their ‘shameful’ tactics is to give women plastic doll foetuses as they enter the clinic, pro-choice campaigner Liz Marmo told Daily Mail Australia.

The 54-year-old said the tactic had been going on for years, but said the group had been hiding the dolls from the pro-choice campaigners.

The anti-abortionists have become more open about the ‘shameful new low’ over the past six to eight weeks, and now have the dolls placed in a woven basket for all to see…

NSW Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi took to Facebook on Monday to call the tactic of handing out foetal dolls ‘disgusting’.

“Shameful.” “Disgusting.” “Shameful new low.” The weirdness becomes palpable here: this is the language of puritanism, employed by people who are almost explicitly anti-puritan. The Daily Mail Australia also mentions that the activists want to impose a buffer zone around abortion clinics because it’s “the only way that women will feel safe.” It is funny: Liz Marmo claims that women “can even make up [their] own minds.” And yet: apparently women are incapable of being handed a plastic fetus; they tremble at the thought of walking close to someone who disagrees with them. So women are capable of “making up their own minds” so long as they’re only presented with one real choice. This is weird. It makes no sense and it is embarrassing for pro-choicers.

Another weird aspect of the abortion debate is the ignorance one often encounters from the pro-choicers. There is the foundational ignorance that undergirds most pro-abortion arguments—the assertion that a conceived, genetically distinct, fully individual human being is “not a human being”—and then there is also the simple, base, scientific illiteracy that you see in the day-to-day operations of the pro-abortion camp. For instance:

It’s not clear what foetal age the dolls are supposed to represent, but Ms Marmo believes they are not anatomically correct.

She said the dolls have little toes and toenails, fingers, ears and rib cages.

Oh, for Pete’s sake: she thinks the dolls aren’t “anatomically correct?” The images make it clear that, based on their size and development, the dolls are supposed to represent fourteen-week-old fetuses, maybe even a little older. Fingers and toes start to grow around nine weeks; ears start to grow around this time as well, and by twelve weeks these body parts are clearly visible. By twelve weeks, fingernails have begun to grow. A baby’s ribs, meanwhile, begin to harden around eight weeks. If Liz Marmo is going to both (a) demand that it be legal to kill the unborn, and (b) profess to know something about the unborn, the least she could do is pick up a basic biology textbook and educate herself a little bit.