Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Election Regret

It's hard to admit when you were wrong. Or so I've heard. (That's a joke, son.)

Grant Stinchfield regrets voting for Donald Trump, and in this article he details in a pretty comprehensive way the reasons he voted for him, and he demonstrates how to express your failings with humility. Excerpt:

I fell victim to my own hatred. Donald Trump offered me a vehicle to stick it to the bloviating bureaucrats I despise. I dedicated my life to exposing self-promoting career politicians and their love of big government programs. Trump was the guy who was going to scare the hell out of the “establishment,” the guy who was going to turn Washington on its head. So I voted with anger in my heart. I gave my vote to Trump with expectation he would find his way by putting smart constitutional conservatives by his side. Trump didn’t find his way; he got lost.

Sadly, I did exactly what my mother always warned me not to do. I made an important decision while in an emotionally fragile state of anger and despair. My vote for Trump amounted to a vendetta against the ruling class of DC career politicians. I made a mistake.

It’s why I am publicly apologizing to governors Rick Perry and Scott Walker. I abandoned them way too early. I now realize their level-headed grasp on conservative values and principles would have made them the perfect candidates to carry a torch of limited government straight into the White House.

Hatred, anger, despair.... These things characterize every Trump voter I know personally. This is a brief, honest article by someone who came to their senses although too late. They "gave in to the dark side." Where's Yoda when you need him?

Stinchfield ends by acknowledging that he will vote for whoever gets the GOP nomination in the general election, including Trump. I will do the same. It's just a shame to be forced to vote for someone so woefully unprepared for running in a general Presidential election, let alone actually being President. But we will never have to suffer through that tragedy. He will never win.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The best Benedict Option comment ever

I lifted this comment wholesale from Rod's blog. You know, like Rod himself frequently does.* It really doesn't get more concise than this.

yan says:
April 26, 2016 at 3:35 pm

I don’t understand what the Benedict Option entails on a day to day basis. I don’t really understand what it is at all, except for a mental rejection of whatever is “wrong.” And I don’t understand how that can be a movement or a culture. And if it can’t be a movement or a culture, I don’t see any relevance in discussing it as any kind of an “option.” Seems to me it is just as well to say, “keep praying every day and go to Church every Sunday and avoid morally pernicious influences as best as you can on yourself and your family.” And to me, that is synonymous with leading a religious life. So, what is new or different about the “Benedict Option,” compared to just trying to lead a religious life, if it does not entail some kind of co-ordinated, communitarian effort?

But, if it does require the latter, then, didn’t Monaghan the pizza guy attempt to set up some Catholic community in Florida at one point, and didn’t the federal gov’t say that they way he wanted to run things violated the Constitution?

If that is the case then the issue is not just culture/community, because you aren’t going to be able to create mini-cultures. The law won’t allow it.

Any kind of Benedict Option that involves community won’t be outside the reach of the law. And that’s the real problem. A real Benedict Option would mean illegal communities.

Like the days of the catacombs. If that’s what you mean by a Benedict Option, then please let us know. I’m just trying to get some clarity here.

Benedict Option

What can I say, yan? The Benedict Option is bogus. A placebo. A will-o'-the-wisp. There is no there there that wasn't there already. The only thing new is a catchy new marketing phrase.

Like the chains that bound the might wolf Fenris, the Benedict Option is forged of impossible things: the sound of a cat's footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, the spittle of a bird. Oh, and for good measure, a smokin' hot cover of Kiss.

One of the perennial characteristics of the defrauded is that, deep down they know they're being had as the process is occurring, but the psychological desire to believe that they're getting greater value (relief from all that bad culture stuff) at a very good price (an easy to acquire sugar pill called the Benedict Option that doesn't even make you larger) is strong enough to push any doubts out of mind long enough for them to be had. Afterwards, of course, they are victims, but at the time, they are actually eager co-conspirators. Fortunately, it sounds as if yan here may end up walking away with his wallet intact.


In the main post itself, Rod whips out his kid gloves and slaps conservative Christians with derision - slap!, slap! - for not signing up for his mystery meat from the bed of his pickup truck,

Anyway, Ross’s last bit — reaction as an artistic and religious stance, but not a political one — seems to be more or less where the Benedict Option is. You have to be fairly alienated from liberal democratic culture to find the Ben Op appealing. In fact, I think that’s why so many conservative Christians resist it. They know that things are bad, and getting worse for us, and they know that the center is not holding, and cannot hold. But if it’s true, then they would have to do things that are really difficult. It seems easier to live with the cognitive dissonance. Many of us are like the conservative Episcopalians who say, “One more thing and I’m out the door!” — but then the one more thing comes, and we redraw the red line.

finally ending this interminable scarf quilted from the thinking of others with this ultimatum:

Sooner or later, religious conservatives will have to take the Benedict Option, or be assimilated. I know of no feasible alternative. The longer you put off the decision to start thinking and moving in the Ben Op direction, the harder it’s going to be.

Well. Winter Is Coming, you bloody fools, and if you don't purchase the Emperor's New Clothes right now, your willies and boobies will promptly freeze to a crisp and fall right off. This is a limited time offer, folks. Act now.

But wait. Let's examine just how fraudulent Dreher's Offer You Can't Refuse actually is: no one yet knows even what the Benedict Option IS, least of all Dreher, who's still in the process of inventing it.

How do we know this? Dreher himself explains just how the sausage is being made earlier in the same post:

As part of my Ben Op research, I’m reading now a dense book by social anthropologist Paul Connerton, whose 1989 book How Societies Remember I blogged about here.

Having had no urgency himself with respect to the Benedict Option for decades until a book contract materialized - not to form any sort of coherent thought simply for his own understanding of his own to-be wares, not to save his own family, not for any reason which might have displaced the other pleasures in life he chose to pursue instead - Rod nonetheless wants you to know now he's doing the heavy mental lifting you probably can't by tackling this "dense" book.

But, exactly as with the invention of Obamacare, Christians will have to first buy Rod's not-as-of-this-moment even coherently understood account of the Benedict Option to find out what's in it. Shouldn't commitment this far in advance of delivery carry at least some sort of deep discount?

In addition to the typical Dreher thoughts-of-others-quilting and tacit narcissistic apple polishing, the main thrust of the post is a put-down of liberal democracy. You know, the sort of liberal democracy Christians across the lands of Christ's birth were sneering at themselves - ptui! - even as ISIS was cutting them and their children down like wheat. Well, weren't they sneering? No? You mean they wanted more than anything else a space of liberty to worship as they pleased? Huh.

When one puts any effort at all into examining what turns out to be this layer cake of fraud, one finds that the foundational layers are self-delusion: arrested adolescent rebellion against the very sort of spaces and processes supplied by older, wiser others enabling the adolescent's rebellion to even become possible. The aging, bearded teen, fuming, liberal democracy-enabled belly full in his warm, safe liberal democracy-protected bedroom, with latent Daddy issues about how uncool and decadent the bubble within which he exists is.

And so, like those un-self-aware jellyfish marooned in a lake in Micronesia, Rod will write his Benedict Option book and sell it to fellow Christians of similar oblivious bent, greater fools eager to co-conspire in the self-congratulatory exercise of thinking Benedict Option-flavored thoughts.

Will the book offer anything of practical value to anyone? At this point, the word from the author's mouth seems to be no:

Q: Not sure if you’re there yet in your book, but I’ll be interested to hear your thought on how the concepts of liberal democracy come into play in the self-governing structures of the BenOp.

I understand you’re not talking about setting up some sort of weird shadow government. However, the community would need some sort of rules for who’s in, who’s out, who should be eldered/discipled, what behaviors are unacceptable, etc. There will be real questions in any community about how those rules are set and those decisions are made. Since we’re pretty much talking about Westerners here, there will be a strong bias towards a more or less democratic process as people’s default approach to self-organization.

A: [NFR: I don’t want to mislead you about the book. I’m not going to get that granular about it. — RD]

Probably the smartest move, Rod. The less detail you offer, the easier it is to sell a lie.


But, Keith, you ask (I know you ask this because I get literally thousands of anonymous emails daily, each beginning "But, Keith..."), what sort of person is likely to buy the hot mess of thinking you just described above?

Well, people like this guy:

Hector_St_Clare says: April 27, 2016 at 12:09 am

Here’s where I think neo-reaction’s critiques of democracy are serving a useful purpose (amidst a bunch of noise and provocation). Neo-reactionaries say they would prefer a form of government where Hobbes’s Leviathan is not required to constantly persuade those it guards of its legitimacy through a system of voting that fixates on short time horizons.

Oh my goodness. This is the heart of why I dislike liberal democracy, and it says more pithily what I would just love to say but couldn’t express so neatly. Well, that and then there’s the fact that liberal democracy is ultimately a morally hollow form of governments: it grounds its authority on the will of the people, whether that will be for good or evil. And then of course there’s the fact that setting adults free to compete for political power ends up in the same place as unrestricted economic freedom. Most adults, like most children, don’t really have a good sense what’s good for them, and allowing them to govern themselves is just going to end up with the bullies and smooth talking sociopaths in power.

Here’s a decent example of why liberal democracy doesn’t make a lot of sense when you carefully examine its premises. We know that the popular will is just flatly wrong about a great many questions, we can see that from looking at questions which actually do have a scientifically correct answer. If 60% of the population can be wrong about a basic scientific question of fact, why would we expect them to be right about questions which are harder to answer, like "what sort of society would be optimal"?

And we wonder why ISIS is so attractive to so many effete young people world wide.

*If Rod or yan has any copyright problem with me lifting this comment wholesale, simply let me know in writing care of Est Quod Est and I'll be happy to remove this post. As I mentioned, Rod frequently uses reader comments - intellectual work created by others - as the mainstay, even the entire content of posts that pad out his contractual obligation to The American Conservative and from which he earns his salary and the medical and other benefits his family enjoys. So I don't see why I'm not entitled to the same liberty to take yan's comment that he enjoys, particularly since I'm not earning a dime from doing so. If it is the case that either Rod himself or the commenter yan believes one or the other owns the copyright to yan's comment, however, let's see that claim presented in writing. I'll be happy to participate in any such defining moment.

(Astute readers may detect a certain pattern of parasitic repurposing for profit common to both Rod's frequent lifting of his blog readers' comments to then become his own bylined blog posts and the re-branding effort which exhaustively defines his Benedict Option.)

Friday, April 22, 2016

A sad day in Benedict Option history

Goodnight, sweet Benedict Option Prince

Prince Rogers Nelson - "Prince" - has died, supposedly of complications from the flu, at his home in Minneapolis. He was 57.

As the creator of the Benedict Option tries to cope with the loss of this keystone of his Benedict Option life he had this to say, "He was 57 years old, but really, he was ageless", clearly one of the immortals in the cultural foundation upon which the Benedict Option is built (did I just mix architectural metaphors? I believe I did.)

The death of Prince follows upon the death earlier this year, also at age 57, of his spirited protege, Vanity, famous for the Benedict Option cultural staple, "Nasty Girl".

One of the Benedict Option creator's commenters, a Sam M. cautions its Prophet about the influence of his icon:

Once we’re done grieving, we will of course have to have an intervention with Rod to make sure he doesn’t bring his record collection to BenOp Acres. Little Red Corvette has to be at least as bad for kids as Grand Theft Auto.

But it was so damn good! Which has to count for something.

To which the Bishop of the BenOp tartly responds,

[NFR: Heard “Kiss” lately? It’s as smokin’ hot as the first time you heard it. Not many people can pull that off. — RD]

Not many indeed, no doubt.

But the tragedy doesn't just stop at its impact on the BenOp magisterium. What about the cultural thickening of the children in the ways of the Prince?

[NFR: That’s a question we deal with all the time. My kids don’t know any Prince, but I want to play some for them. Thing is, how can I expose them to the greatness of “Kiss” without making them sit through the awful “Darling Nikki”? One feels one’s way through this carefully. The only total solutions is play NONE of it for them, or let them listen to ALL of it. Neither of those solutions is acceptable to me. — RD]

And so it is abundantly clear that the Benedict Option will be anything but a simple retreat into the wilderness to quietly seek the wisdom and the Grace of God, made even more complicated with the falling of such a shining star from its cultural firmament.

(A disclaimer: because I've never actually heard Prince, I cannot possibly grasp the depth and profundity of loss the Benedict Option community is now suffering from. The best I can do is report what I read from the epistles of its founder.)

GRATUITOUSLY ADDED: The Benedict Option, because you can't offer an alternative that's not the same old, same old, can you.

I'm actually a fan of this type of argument. Take for example, Keith's World Famous Di-Hydrogen Oxide Pills, crucial to staving off Alzheimer's and death in one's later years. Sure, you can criticize, maybe even mock, maybe, if you're really reckless enough, not even buy them. But what's your alternative? So be forewarned: the consequences of non-acquiescence are on you, and God help you if you attempt to sway minors to your foolish ways.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Self-revelations or Lies?

If the anonymous author of the Benedict Post is actually Rod Dreher as we've assumed in the past, then I don't know what to do with this excerpt from a recent post.

Like Scalia, I am a former high school debater, a product of a Jesuit education, a traditionalist-minded Catholic, a conservative, and a lawyer. To see someone so similar, in that prominent of a position, not only saying it’s okay to think this way, but this is the way you should be thinking about the law was incredibly inspiring and motivating. As one of the many conservative legal minds who had (and will have) the privilege of learning the law from you: thank you, Justice Scalia.

Obviously Rod Dreher is none of these things, although an argument could be made that he is a conservative since many people think he is, including himself. But he is not any type of functional conservative, not any more than he is a functional ice cube. (Oh brother, Pauli, do you really want to bring up your support for that loser Romney who very losingly lost the 2016 Presidential election? Sure; if Donald Trump gets the GOP nod, I'll vote for his sinking ship over HRC.) So if this is Dreher's sock-puppet site, he is being extremely deceptive in claiming to be a Catholic lawyer with a Jesuit education. Of course, he has a history of doing this as we know.

This post goes on seemingly forever, quoting and commentating upon practically everybody's farewell tribute to Scalia. I don't know if anyone who reads here is bored enough to compare the quotes with Dreher's TAC tribute — I assume he wrote one — to check for matches, similar patterns, etc. The other angle might be to skim through the writings of His Crunchiness to identify traditionalist-minded, Jesuit produced, former debater, "conservative" friends for whom Dreher provides a name. I'm thinking of people like the rich guy who he drank beers with in Europe who is tired of fast-food joints and dumb-ass Republicans. He might be a lawyer who doesn't want to lose clients by admitting he actually buys into this Benedict Option balderdash.

The possibility exists that Dreher is the author and is simply lying about law degrees and Catholic cred to throw people off the trail. I wouldn't be naïve enough to rule that out. But there are so many nuts out there, like my font abuse friend whom I've written about (and more recent news about him later), that I don't doubt this person could be a separate individual from Rod Dreher. He could be just another self-righteous, politically-homeless dude with a blog, a permanent scowl and a desire for a Christian ghetto apart from all those pesky Christians.

Subtitles for the Benedict Option book

Benedict Option
Not a crow, a penguin sentinel guarding the approaches to your thinking

UPDATE (as they say): Apparently Rod Dreher's brilliant, Svengali-like agent, the one who got him the million-dollar advance for the now-remaindered book about Rod's sister Ruthie, has found some pickings yet within the greater fool theory of publishing.

I say apparently because, OTOH, no one from Penguin Sentinel has actually called me to confirm this while, OTOH, you would just not believe the zetabytes of anonymous email I myself receive praising not only my posts but my very existence as well. So there's obviously an issue of credibility to be resolved here with respect to this alleged Penguin Sentinel publishing contract. But enough about me and any hypothetical eating of any hypothetical crow over this hypothetical Benedict Option book ::cough::.

Anyway, now Rod wants subtitles for his, as Pikkumatti has aptly described it, vaporware.

I've already offered one suggestion:

The Benedict Option: Revenge of the Nerds

based on my analysis that, at bottom, the only religion which can adequately fulfill all the conditions with which Rod has circumscribed his concept is the one within which he has now taken refuge, Russian Orthodoxy, and from which Safe Space he now wages the good fight of Mean Girl snark against all other practitioners as he routinely characterizes them: those MTD Protestants, those pedophile and laissez-faire Catholics, and obviously those Christ-denying Jews alike.

Hey, if you're not an Orthodox Christian, according to Rod's consistent blogging you're obviously not a real orthodox Christian, and you're just not going to pass through that narrow eye of the needle into the kingdom of the select BO.

But an equally useful subtitle might be

The Benedict Option: Though Your Personal Faith in Christ and Christianity Have Failed You in Our Current Age, Fear Not: I, Rod Dreher, Am Here To Show You a New Way

Because if your personal faith in Christ and Christianity were sufficient, why would you need a Benedict Option to shore them up?

Okay, that's two from me. What are your suggestions for faceless editor Bria Sandford, FNG and lowest member on the Penguin Sentinel totem pole, tasked with selecting a subtitle for and otherwise rendering Rod's hypothetical Benedict Option book?

Friday, April 8, 2016

What the Benedict Option is like

If anyone knows what the Benedict Option is like it would be Rod Dreher, the man who invented it and lives it out day after day. So what's the Benedict Option like?

Let's let Rod tell us in his own terms.

Benedict Option
Luxury hotel on Lake Louise, CA courtesy Rod Dreher

Isn’t that something, that view? That beer belongs to Peter Leithart, who was sitting to the left of the frame. I was drinking the same kind. What a gorgeous, gorgeous place. A group of us went walking in Johnson Canyon, part of Banff National Park, in the Canadian Rockies. Then we dropped by to see Lake Louise, which is still frozen over. We had a beer at the hotel on the lake.
Man, did I ever have a great time with these Lutherans up here!

Man, I'll bet you did, Rod! Sign me up for the Benedict Option today!

Banff National Park has got to be one of the most beautiful vacation destinations ever, and you, too, can access it at its most spectacular if you play your cards right.

You just need to make some arrangements there that have a plausible connection to your business or church doings, then, while "thickening" yourself on a delicious craft beer, write off your expenses as tax deductions against your income or business revenue.*

Now, granted, Rod has the original Benedict Option book-to-be-written-somewhen as his hook, so you'll need to develop a derivative Benedict Option Tax Option of your own.

Maybe pretend to write a book about Rod's pretending to write his original Benedict Option book-to-be-written-somewhen, following in his footsteps as he himself followed Dante's on the Dante Trail when he vacationed in beautiful Italy. And then your friends could pretend to write a book about you pretending to write a book, and so forth. Naturally, as you can see above, there will be necessary expenses involved.

Or maybe something entirely different. You're really only limited by your imagination and the gullibility of the IRS.

The main thing to understand is - just as Rod tells us, over and over - the Benedict Option is not about pulling roots out of the ground and eating them raw in a field behind some nameless monastery outside Rump, Indiana like Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu. Dude! No way!

No, as you see can plainly see here, the Benedict Option is about cannily harvesting God's blessings as revealed through the U. S. tax code and living large - in praise of Him, of course.

The Benedict Option: Dum vivimus, vivamus, dude!

 *Note: nothing in the post is to be construed as offering professional tax counseling. See your own tax professional, and soon! April 15 is almost upon us.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A reason to really like Ted Cruz

Here is a reason to throw your support behind Ted Cruz for President. He is being advised by Frank Gaffney from CSP, Clare Lopez, Andrew McCarthy — in other words, people who really get it right with regard to our war against radical Islam. Excerpt:

Abrams, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has worked to distinguish radical Islamist ideology from moderate Islam and has dismissed the “Islam is a religion of peace” line – essentially the bipartisan position of the American political class since the Bush administration – as simplistic.

In fact, he noted in a 2014 forum that he found it “annoying” when President Bush spoke that way, and that the “average American thinks this is crap” because of the carnage they can see roiling the Islamic world.

Other names mentioned in the Bloomberg View article are three members of Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, former CIA officers Fred Fleitz and Clare Lopez and former Army Special Forces Master Sergeant Jim Hanson, in addition to former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy, who was one of the prosecutors of the first World Trade Center bombing.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Trump Roundup, Volume 1

Stephen Hayes's sensibilities which determine why he cannot vote for Trump are largely the same as mine. If I lived in Maryland or Texas where my vote didn't matter one way or another, I'd probably vote third party like Hayes says he plans to if the Donald is nominated. Excerpt:

....I care most about the two issues that directly threaten the continued viability of the American experiment: national security and the debt. My views on individual politicians are shaped mainly by their positions on protecting the country and reforming entitlements. Accordingly, the most promising policy development over the past decade was Paul's Ryan victory over the GOP establishment and its determined opposition to entitlement reform and the most worrisome was Barack Obama's abandonment of the war against the global jihadist movement.

A Trump presidency would be disastrous on both scores. Trump opposes entitlement reform, and it's unclear whether he even understands the central role entitlements play in our mounting debt. Trump claims Republicans lost the presidential election in 2012 because of Ryan's reforms. "He represented cutting entitlements," Trump said last month, pointing to the selection of Ryan by Mitt Romney as "the end of the campaign." Trump has said repeatedly that he won't touch entitlements. "The only one that's not going to cut is me."

On national security, Trump says he'll be strong and frequently pronounces himself "militaristic." But he doesn't seem to have even a newspaper reader's familiarity with the pressing issues of the day. He was nonplussed by a reference to the "nuclear triad"; he confused Iran's Quds Force and the Kurds; he didn't know the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah. The ignorance would be less worrisome if his instincts weren't terrifying. He's praised authoritarians for their strength, whether Vladimir Putin for killing journalists and political opponents or the Chinese government for the massacre it perpetrated in Tiananmen Square.

Then Hayes basically reminds us of the steaming pile of crap and dead guts that represent the tip of the manure pile which is Donald Trump's thought process. The John McCain remarks, the Megyn Kelly remarks, the Carly Fiorina remarks, the Kovaleski remarks... He especially gives some insights to Trump's remarks about John McCain by relating that Trump's response to Hayes's question about "whether he'd read any accounts of McCain's time in captivity or was otherwise familiar with his experiences as a prisoner of war." Trump said "It's irrelevant." Really, he did.

If anyone wonders why Trump can't get to 50% anywhere and only wins open primaries, there's your answer. And speaking of 50%... For anyone out there who thinks that Trump's issue with women voters—which I blogged about earlier—is not a big deal, guess what? It's gotten worse. The Very Unfavorable camp has increased by 10 points since October. Excerpt:

Real estate billionaire Donald Trump’s coarse rhetoric has won him some fans, but there’s at least one large group in America that is increasingly unimpressed: women.

Half of U.S. women say they have a “very unfavorable” view of the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling, up from the 40 percent who felt that way in October. The survey was taken from March 1-15, and included 5,400 respondents.

I'm hoping Kasich stays in the race. He can take more of California away than Cruz can. I want to see an open convention at this point. Barring some type of strange intervention of Fate or something, he can't win.