Friday, July 22, 2016

The peculiar Mr. Pence (and the notion of "conscience")

Sandy Levinson

Two other things are worth noting about the strange ticket embraced by the Republican Party.  First, Trump, though acknowledging and appreciating his support from Evangelicals, didn't even both to pretend that he himself takes religion remotely seriously.  He did not, for example, give any support to James Dobson's assertions that Trump had in fact found Christ and was now a "baby (saved) Christian," since I assume that his baptism as a Presbyterian 70 years ago, assuming that occurred, wouldn't be enough to establish him as properly reborn. 

Mike Pence, on the other hand, repeatedly describes himself as a "Christian, a conservative, and a Republican" in that order.  Did anyone else--and I will open for comments exclusively on this point--find it at all odd that he didn't even both to include, in fourth place, "American."  One might have thought that a hyper-nationalist party like the Trumpized GOP would make sure that their candidates were true-blue Americans.  It would be one thing--and represent fidelity to the theocratic GOP Kim Davis-influence platform--if Pence had said that he would never put anything ahead of God. But one might think that American national interest might take second place, even if, on occasion, that might require deviating from "conservatism" and the interests of the Republican Party,

Of course, there is also the added frisson provided by the fact that the political party that is willing to go to the mat to honor the "consciences" of the Little Sisters, Hobby Lobby, and Kim Davis, is willing to boo an Evangelical Christian who suggests that "conscience" might have something to do with deciding whom to vote for in November.  What if Kim Davis had been a Kentucky delegate for Cruz who honestly believed that the libertine Donald  Trump was an insult to Christianity and therefore did not deserve her support.  Would she have been booed down?  If not, why not?  Does God clearly say "no same-sex licenses," but speak less clearly about "no Donald Trump"?


This comment has been removed by the author.

Prof. Levinson is almost cute in resisting "thread jacking."

I find myself falling into using groups of three, so "fourth place" might be seen as sort of too wordy. Some do find those words redundant -- "Christian" translates to "conservative Christian" while "Republican" to "conservative Republican."

So, perhaps, find a way to use three words and use "American" too. Also, there was opposition to Cruz saying one should "vote your conscience." Realize that's code, but for the religious liberty brigade to boo that is a tad ironic.

"Did anyone else--and I will open for comments exclusively on this point--find it at all odd that he didn't even both to include, in fourth place, "American." "

That's what the flag pin is for ;)

I'd like to add that your point about the differential treatment of conscience strikes me as a good one.


The Fuhrer's followers do not accept dissent. I posted a video here some months ago where Cruz attempted to speak with some of Trump's followers and broke down all of the Donald's prior progressive positions for them. They just called him Lyin Ted.

It was like talking to a bunch of Democrats.

These poll numbers are GREAT news for John McCain!!!

Lyin' SPAM I AM! is still channeling the Cruz Canadacy that folded like a Cuban accordian, done in by the Revengelicals. Granted, the Messianic Narcissist is Fuehrer-like. Remember "Nixon's the One"? Take a peek:

That format may be used for the Donald Duck Die-Nasty.

In Governor Pence's mind, "Christian" and "American" are synonymous.

I predict that in a couple of years the Oxford English Dictionary will add ""trumppence" as the modern substitute for "tuppence."

Ex.: "Shave and a Haircut, trumppence!'

This comment has been removed by the author.

A new post w/o comments (so perhaps it will be forgiven that this comment is not germane) quotes something Trump said about the U.S. being a "good messenger" and how our own problems make us not one to talk:

TRUMP: I think right now when it comes to civil liberties, our country has a lot of problems, and I think it’s very hard for us to get involved in other countries when we don’t know what we are doing and we can’t see straight in our own country. We have tremendous problems when you have policemen being shot in the streets, when you have riots, when you have Ferguson. When you have Baltimore. When you have all of the things that are happening in this country — we have other problems, and I think we have to focus on those problems. When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.

It's an interesting comment and does reflect the mind-set of various people. Of course, his take on what we should do in our own backyard is at best a mixed bag. And, he is not a total isolationist. But, maybe he's not "a very good messenger," but the message isn't totally off.

OTOH, not thinking his supporters will take the "we aren't much of a model to the world" message that that far. They aren't THAT humble.

Also, there is the general argument that the U.S. does have a place in the world regarding civil liberties, a post-WWII belief that there are things the world as a whole has responsibilities to do. There is a balance there. It's an important debate.

Anyway, interesting historical footnote regarding Tim Kaine, in particular, his wife:

Holton's governorship arguably is best remembered for his response to a court-ordered school busing controversy during his first year in office. The Holtons voluntarily enrolled their school-age children in predominantly black Richmond public schools. A photo of the governor escorting his daughter Tayloe into John F. Kennedy High School on Aug. 31, 1970, made the front page of The New York Times.

[Tayloe is Tim Kaine's sister-in-law ... his wife is Anne Holton; she appears to have kept her maiden name. Will this be an issue ala "Rodham"? Anne Holton was also a children's advocate & is currently VA Education Secretary.]

Joe, I thought Trump was right on target with that remark. Are we better than Turkey? Sure we are, who isn't? Maybe North Korea.

Are we a shining city on the hill, an example to all the nations? Not so much. We're what, rank 16 on the CPI (Corruption perception index)? Not 1, 16.

We've got the NSA spying on us. People are still being ripped off by property seizures without trials or even charges. The bureaucracy has been politically weaponized. (Yeah, yeah, I know: Democrats are obligated to pretend otherwise.) We have to go to foreign news services to get an honest take on what's happening at home.

We've put together all the pieces of a banana republic, a police state. We've got a lot of house cleaning to do, hopefully before somebody takes advantage of that.

16 out of 167 strikes me as very little reason for concern. And while I strongly oppose what the NSA is up to as well as asset forfeiture practices, those kind of things, or the capability, exists across the First World.

If we're going to elect a felon President, it's not going to stay 16.

And, why shouldn't we aspire to be better?

No, I've thought for some time we should stop trying to be the world's policeman, and address the beams in our own eyes. Much that's wrong with the US is due to the strains empire puts on a democracy.

This comment has been removed by the author.

And, why shouldn't we aspire to be better?

Where Mr. W. says we shouldn't, denying that we live in a country for which we need to do a better job of things not shown.

OTOH, 16 of 167, especially given the size and scope of this country [cf. the likes of New Zealand, Denmark et. al.] for which it's going to be harder not to be corrupt, is not quite "eh, maybe better than Turkey and North Korea." A "perception" index sounds a bit subjective, but I'll take it as a rough judge.

As Mr. W. has noted in the past, it is insulting to people living in actual "police states" to use that term. Many of whom do find the U.S. of some value as guidance, including our basic institutions such as free speech, constitutionalism and so forth. Some sense of humility and sense of the limits of our power and special-ness doesn't deny that. Nor, does the U.S.' responsibility world-wide refute limits there too. It's just that Trump is not a great messenger here & push comes to shove, he is not likely going to be a consistent voice either.

Finally, repeating yourself does not negate Mr. W.'s in depth analysis on why Clinton was not indicted and the evidence of her being "a felon" was not shown. There was more evidence of "felony" in the past, including usage of torture. But, "perception" is subjective.

I didn't say we were a police state... Yet. I said we've put all the pieces of one in place, should someone gain the levers of power who fancies creating one. Pervasive surveillance. Punishment without trial. Rahm Emanuel even experimented with "disapearing" people in Chicago, and largely got away with it. And now we're establishing the idea that, if those in power don't want a crime punished, we have some kind of obligation to pretend it didn't happen.

Screw that, she's a felon.

"I didn't say we were a police state."

Didn't say you did, just like Mr. W. didn't say we shouldn't try harder.

Again, "As Mr. W. has noted in the past, it is insulting to people living in actual "police states" to use that term." Including in the context of implying we are on the cusp.

The dangerous powers that government have that can be abused by tyrants was something people talked about since before our Founding. Modern technology only underlines the concerns though in various ways things are better than the golden age you now and then pine for (using terms like what we "become" or "now").

Mr. W. explained in detail why Clinton wasn't indicted. It is not simply "those in power don't want a crime punished" or "pretending." Disagreement on the merits of things with respect you don't really understand aside.

"If we're going to elect a felon President, it's not going to stay 16."

We've had felon Presidents in that sense before. For example, Jefferson was almost certainly a felon via his relationship with Sally Hemmings. IIRC it was criminal to have relations with a black slave, but even if that recollection is wrong he committed the common law felony of fornication. And that, unlike what you allege Clinton to have committed, was considered a malum per se offense! Let's never forget just how intrusive government was at the Founding compared to today, all bull Tea Party rhetoric to the contrary.

This comment has been removed by the author.

You're demonstrating right now why, if we're the sort of country that would elect Hillary Clinton, we won't stay at 16. Because a country that would elect Hillary Clinton President is a country that doesn't mind corruption. Just doesn't take it seriously.

Think about the email scandal, think about why she did it, why she really did it. Not the excuse, that it was convenient, because having a private email server set up was the exact opposite of convenient. The real reason.

The real reason was so that she could do exactly what she did: Delete emails that she was legally obligated to turn over. The email server was Hillary's 18 1/2 minute gap! It was her destruction of evidence.

And. You. Don't. Care. You don't WANT to know what was on that 18 1/2 minute gap. You actually appreciate her destroying the evidence, because you're going to support her no matter what. And the more evidence, the harder doing that becomes.

So you appreciate her doing a thorough job of destroying evidence, to make your job easier.

That's what this is all about, and why Democrats don't care that Hillary destroyed public records she was legally obligated to preserve, structured her communications in order to be able to do so at huge cost to national security. You don't care because you were going to support her anyway.

That's my take on it. You don't care, not because it's no big deal, (Because it's a freaking huge deal is the truth.) but because destroying evidence makes supporting the crook easier.

Since this is as of the moment the latest post accommodating comments, I bring to the attention of the usual - and unusual - suspects Jane Mayer's The New Yorker article ""Donald Trump's Ghostwriter Tells All" available at:

If I weren't an agnostic leaning towards atheism (keeping my fingers crossed just in case), I would be interested in the thinking of the Ghost Rider in the Sky on Donald Trump and his followers, in particular the Revengelicals.

Read the article. It may be good for what Ailes you. Roger and out.

With the doldrums, heat and humidity in play before the storms of the Democrat Convention, I took a look at the latest issue of the Massachusetts Law Review and noted a lengthy review of a book titled "The Evangelical Origins of the Living Constitution," authored by John W. Compton, published in 2014, reviewed by Victor N. Baltera. The title is intriguing but the font is too difficult for me to read. This is the first I have heard of this book, which has been around a couple of years. Has anyone here read the book? I plan to Google for reviews available that I can read with relative ease on my desktop with its magnification feature. I wonder in particular how current day Evangelicals (aka Trump's Revengelicals) view the concept of a living Constitution.

This comment has been removed by the author.

This comment has been removed by the author.

I found the premise of that book interesting though could not quite get into the actual book. Others can read reviews to get the gist but overall it argues moral campaigns was a major driver in the changing understanding of basic constitutional principles. It helps show that our changing constitutional understandings didn't just arise sometime in the '30s or '60s but has roots at least in the early to mid-19th Century.

Post a Comment

Older Posts
Newer Posts