August 1, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 2:17 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:33 PM


Jonathan Edwards in a New Light: Remembered for Preaching: New England's most famous preacher and the Great Awakening.  (Marilynne Robinson, November/December 2014, Humanities)

The doctrine of original sin need not seem especially strange or fearsome. We know we all do sin inevitably as an aspect of our humanity, and therefore that we have excellent grounds for forgiving ourselves and one another. Our shared identity as children of Adam has different meanings in different contexts, often very humane, as for example when Calvin says that to hate any human being is to hate our own flesh. But Edwards is committed to an understanding that would find us damnable in the sight of God as inheritors of guilt incurred by a literal Adam. So Edwards has the problem of explaining within the terms of his tradition how the human race as a whole could be implicated in one primordial act.

His explanation is extraordinary. Edwards argues that humankind can inherit Adam's sin and its consequences because there is no reason intrinsic to reality for the world to exist as it does. The world's going on is not simply the turning of the wheels of an original creation, a following out of laws established in the beginning, but is in fact a new creation in every instant. So the world in every particular exists as it is the will of God to change or sustain it. God's creating effective identity between ourselves and our first parent is no more improbable than His maintaining the selfhood of every individual person. The felt continuity of history and memory is the consequence of the will of God as it manifests itself in this continuous recreation. Edwards likens all being to an image in a mirror. "The image constantly renewed, by new successive rays, is no more numerically the same, than if it were by some artist put on anew with a pencil, and the colors constantly vanishing as fast as put on. . . . The image that exists this moment, is not at all derived from the image which existed the last preceding moment." He might be interested to read current thought that suggests the universe is a kind of holograph.

He is arguing that there is no point in dismissively describing the ascription of Adam's sin to humankind as arbitrary when the whole of being is arbitrary, always a fresh assertion of God's will in creation. Within the bounds of His own great constancy, God is free. "The whole course of nature, with all that belongs to it, all its laws and methods, and constancy and regularity, continuance and proceeding, is an arbitrary constitution. In this sense, the continuance of the very being of the world and all its parts, as well as the manner of continued being, depends entirely on an arbitrary constitution: for it don't at all necessarily follow, that because there was sound, or light, or color, or resistance, or gravity, or thought, or consciousness, or any other dependent thing the last moment, that therefore there shall be the like at the next. All dependent existence whatsoever is in constant flux, ever passing and returning: renewed every moment, as the color of bodies are every moment renewed by the light that shines upon them; and all is constantly proceeding from God, as light from the sun." 

Posted by orrinj at 12:17 PM

Posted by orrinj at 9:46 AM


The Man Who Made Stephen Miller: Almost 20 years ago, anti-immigration activist David Horowitz cultivated an angry high-school student. Now his ideas are coming to life in the Trump administration. (JEAN GUERRERO, 08/01/2020, Politico)

In December 2012, with the Republican Party reeling from a brutal election that left Democrats in control of the White House and the Senate, the conservative activist David Horowitz emailed a strategy paper to the office of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.

Horowitz, now 81, was a longtime opponent of immigration and the founder of a think tank and a campus freedom-of-speech advocacy group. He saw in Sessions a kindred spirit--a senator who could reawaken a more nationalist fire in the Republican party. The person he emailed it to was a Sessions aide: Stephen Miller. Horowitz, who recalled the episode in an interview and shared the emails with me, had known Miller since the aide was in high school.

Horowitz encouraged Miller to not only give the paper to Sessions but to circulate it in the Senate. Miller expressed eagerness to share it and asked for instructions. "Leave the Confidential note on it. It gives it an aura that will make people pay more attention to it," Horowitz wrote. The paper, "Playing to the Head Instead of the Heart: Why Republicans Lost and How They Can Win," included a section on the political utility of hostile feelings. Horowitz wrote that Democrats know how to "hate their opponents," how to "incite envy and resentment, distrust and fear, and to direct those volatile emotions." He urged Republicans to "return their fire."

This hatred is the entirety of Trumpism.

Posted by orrinj at 9:23 AM


'To Start a War' author Robert Draper talks about the intelligence disasters that led Bush to invade Iraq (Anthony L. Fisher, 8/01/2020, Business Insider)

Robert Draper, a writer at large for The New York Times Magazine and a contributor to National Geographic, is the author of the new book "To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America into Iraq." Draper in 2008 published another book about Bush, "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush," which covered the first six years of his presidency. 

In a phone interview with Business Insider Columnist Anthony L. Fisher, Draper talked about why he felt the time was right to revisit the greatest foreign policy catastrophe of modern times, Donald Rumsfeld's micro-managing megalomania, and who in the administration will Colin Powell never forgive. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Fisher: Such a catastrophic moment in recent American history, while not forgotten, is certainly not discussed nearly as much as one might expect. So what made you want to write this book now? 

Draper: This was sort of a case of unfinished business for me. I had done this biography of Bush's presidency while the Iraq saga was still unfolding. It was such a moving target that I didn't sufficiently cover it in that book. On top of that I also felt at pains to really unlock this central mystery of Bush's presidency, which is, why did he go to war at the time that he did against a country that had not attacked us? 

One would respect the opponents of the Iraq War more if they could be forthright in stating that they do not share W's interest in international law and the rights of the Iraqi people, because he could not have been any clearer about why he went to war with a dictator who had not attacked us President Bush Addresses United Nations General Assembly (George W Bush, September 12, 2002, The United Nations, New York, New York)

Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation. And the regime's forces were poised to continue their march to seize other countries and their resources. Had Saddam Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this aggression was stopped -- by the might of coalition forces and the will of the United Nations.

To suspend hostilities, to spare himself, Iraq's dictator accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear, to him and to all. And he agreed to prove he is complying with every one of those obligations.

He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations, and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge -- by his deceptions, and by his cruelties -- Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.

In 1991, Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities -- which the Council said, threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.

Last year, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights, and that the regime's repression is all pervasive. Tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution, and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation, and rape. Wives are tortured in front of their husbands, children in the presence of their parents -- and all of these horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state.

In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolutions 686 and 687, demanded that Iraq return all prisoners from Kuwait and other lands. Iraq's regime agreed. It broke its promise. Last year the Secretary General's high-level coordinator for this issue reported that Kuwait, Saudi, Indian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Bahraini, and Omani nationals remain unaccounted for -- more than 600 people. One American pilot is among them.

In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolution 687, demanded that Iraq renounce all involvement with terrorism, and permit no terrorist organizations to operate in Iraq. Iraq's regime agreed. It broke this promise. In violation of Security Council Resolution 1373, Iraq continues to shelter and support terrorist organizations that direct violence against Iran, Israel, and Western governments. Iraqi dissidents abroad are targeted for murder. In 1993, Iraq attempted to assassinate the Emir of Kuwait and a former American President. Iraq's government openly praised the attacks of September the 11th. And al Qaeda terrorists escaped from Afghanistan and are known to be in Iraq.

In 1991, the Iraqi regime agreed to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, and to prove to the world it has done so by complying with rigorous inspections. Iraq has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge.

From 1991 to 1995, the Iraqi regime said it had no biological weapons. After a senior official in its weapons program defected and exposed this lie, the regime admitted to producing tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents for use with Scud warheads, aerial bombs, and aircraft spray tanks. U.N. inspectors believe Iraq has produced two to four times the amount of biological agents it declared, and has failed to account for more than three metric tons of material that could be used to produce biological weapons. Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.

United Nations' inspections also revealed that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.

And in 1995, after four years of deception, Iraq finally admitted it had a crash nuclear weapons program prior to the Gulf War. We know now, were it not for that war, the regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993.

Today, Iraq continues to withhold important information about its nuclear program -- weapons design, procurement logs, experiment data, an accounting of nuclear materials and documentation of foreign assistance. Iraq employs capable nuclear scientists and technicians. It retains physical infrastructure needed to build a nuclear weapon. Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year. And Iraq's state-controlled media has reported numerous meetings between Saddam Hussein and his nuclear scientists, leaving little doubt about his continued appetite for these weapons.

Iraq also possesses a force of Scud-type missiles with ranges beyond the 150 kilometers permitted by the U.N. Work at testing and production facilities shows that Iraq is building more long-range missiles that it can inflict mass death throughout the region.

In 1990, after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the world imposed economic sanctions on Iraq. Those sanctions were maintained after the war to compel the regime's compliance with Security Council resolutions. In time, Iraq was allowed to use oil revenues to buy food. Saddam Hussein has subverted this program, working around the sanctions to buy missile technology and military materials. He blames the suffering of Iraq's people on the United Nations, even as he uses his oil wealth to build lavish palaces for himself, and to buy arms for his country. By refusing to comply with his own agreements, he bears full guilt for the hunger and misery of innocent Iraqi citizens.

In 1991, Iraq promised U.N. inspectors immediate and unrestricted access to verify Iraq's commitment to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles. Iraq broke this promise, spending seven years deceiving, evading, and harassing U.N. inspectors before ceasing cooperation entirely. Just months after the 1991 cease-fire, the Security Council twice renewed its demand that the Iraqi regime cooperate fully with inspectors, condemning Iraq's serious violations of its obligations. The Security Council again renewed that demand in 1994, and twice more in 1996, deploring Iraq's clear violations of its obligations. The Security Council renewed its demand three more times in 1997, citing flagrant violations; and three more times in 1998, calling Iraq's behavior totally unacceptable. And in 1999, the demand was renewed yet again.

As we meet today, it's been almost four years since the last U.N. inspectors set foot in Iraq, four years for the Iraqi regime to plan, and to build, and to test behind the cloak of secrecy.

We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder even when inspectors were in his country. Are we to assume that he stopped when they left? The history, the logic, and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take.

Delegates to the General Assembly, we have been more than patient. We've tried sanctions. We've tried the carrot of oil for food, and the stick of coalition military strikes. But Saddam Hussein has defied all these efforts and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction. The first time we may be completely certain he has a -- nuclear weapons is when, God forbids, he uses one. We owe it to all our citizens to do everything in our power to prevent that day from coming.

The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?

The United States helped found the United Nations. We want the United Nations to be effective, and respectful, and successful. We want the resolutions of the world's most important multilateral body to be enforced. And right now those resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by the Iraqi regime. Our partnership of nations can meet the test before us, by making clear what we now expect of the Iraqi regime.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown. It will return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, and fully cooperate with international efforts to resolve these issues, as required by Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. It will accept U.N. administration of funds from that program, to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

If all these steps are taken, it will signal a new openness and accountability in Iraq. And it could open the prospect of the United Nations helping to build a government that represents all Iraqis -- a government based on respect for human rights, economic liberty, and internationally supervised elections.

The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people; they've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq.

We can harbor no illusions -- and that's important today to remember. Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. He's fired ballistic missiles at Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Israel. His regime once ordered the killing of every person between the ages of 15 and 70 in certain Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. He has gassed many Iranians, and 40 Iraqi villages.

My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet our common challenge. If Iraq's regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately, decisively to hold Iraq to account. We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions. But the purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.

Events can turn in one of two ways: If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission. The regime will have new power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbors, condemning the Middle East to more years of bloodshed and fear. The regime will remain unstable -- the region will remain unstable, with little hope of freedom, and isolated from the progress of our times. With every step the Iraqi regime takes toward gaining and deploying the most terrible weapons, our own options to confront that regime will narrow. And if an emboldened regime were to supply these weapons to terrorist allies, then the attacks of September the 11th would be a prelude to far greater horrors.

If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger, we can arrive at a very different future. The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity. They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can show by their example that honest government, and respect for women, and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will show that the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled in our time.

Neither of these outcomes is certain. Both have been set before us. We must choose between a world of fear and a world of progress. We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather. We must stand up for our security, and for the permanent rights and the hopes of mankind. By heritage and by choice, the United States of America will make that stand. And, delegates to the United Nations, you have the power to make that stand, as well.

There is obviously no reason that isolationists of Right and Left should ever support going beyond our own borders and enforcing UN resolutions, fighting for the freedom of captive peoples or trying to stop genocide, but they ought to have the courage of those convictions as W had the courage of America's. While Mr. Draper does suggest that he would have pursued an alliance with Saddam instead of his removal, he does not reckon with any of the consequences that would have brought for the Kurds and Shi'a in particular.

Posted by orrinj at 6:45 AM


Conservatism Is Rooted In Natural Rights: If you want to understand it, look no further than the Declaration of Independence (JAMES PIERESON, 8/01/20, American Conservative)

Beginning in the 1970s, perhaps because of the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence and, a dozen years later, of the U.S. Constitution, or because of the election of Ronald Reagan, conservatives began to focus more intently upon the nation's founding institutions, especially the Declaration with its ringing endorsement of natural rights. Historians and biographers such as Gordon Wood, Joseph Ellis, Richard Brookhiser, and others highlighted the distinctly American contribution to political theory in the Declaration, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and other writings emanating from the founding generation. Due in part to the growing relativism of the American Left, conservatives endorsed the absolute language of the Declaration, which left no doubt as to the truths upon which the nation was founded. Here was something of a change: conservatives began to embrace the natural rights philosophy of John Locke, an outlook that Kirk criticized as abstract, individualistic, and potentially radical. The new outlook represented a distinctly American version of conservatism, one that resonates well with the American public--and for that reason has contributed to the rise of conservatism as a popular movement. 

There is also the issue of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. Russell Kirk rarely mentioned Lincoln in The Conservative Mind, and did not parse the Lincoln-Douglas debates or Lincoln's wartime speeches, where Lincoln set up the struggle over slavery in terms of the natural rights delineated in the Declaration of Independence. The emergence of Lincoln as a conservative hero late in the 20th and early in the 21st centuries could not have been predicted based upon Kirk's book or the conservative mood of the 1950s and 1960s. This owes something to Harry Jaffa's pathbreaking book, The Crisis of the House Divided (1959), in which he showed that it was Lincoln and not his adversaries who were faithful to the Declaration and the Constitution--and to his many students who continue to raise the flag of Lincoln.

With the dust now settled, we can see in all this the emergence of a more distinctively American version of conservatism, based upon the Founding Fathers, the nation's founding documents, the writings and speeches of Abraham Lincoln--and, of course, the natural rights philosophy limiting government to a few important duties. This was an important corrective to (but not a repudiation of) the conservative writings of the early 1950s. It was also essential to the rise of conservatism as a popular political movement: before it could succeed politically, the movement had to embrace more forcefully the nation's founding philosophy of natural rights.

It was inevitable that the incorporation of the universalism of the Founding into conservatism would fracture the broader right. The only surprise was the percentage of white men who still refuse to adhere to the Founding ideals if it means sharing them with people of color and women.

Posted by orrinj at 6:41 AM


Portland protests continue Friday as police stay away for 2nd straight night (Piper McDaniel, 8/01/20, The Oregonian/OregonLive)

Clashes between police and protesters were absent Friday from downtown Portland for the second straight night, a sharp contrast to recent weeks that saw federal officers gas crowds nightly.

Posted by orrinj at 6:38 AM


This Carbon Emissions Law Actually Has Helped Kids Breathe: Avoiding childhood health impacts has resulted in savings of between $191 and $350 million. (EMILY PONTECORVO, 8/01/20,  Grist)

With Virginia and Pennsylvania clamoring to join, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, affectionately known as RGGI (pronounced "Reggie"), is becoming the coolest climate club on the East Coast. The program, which went into effect in 2009, places a cap on emissions from power plants across its 10 (soon to be 12) member states that tightens over time.

Carbon-wise, it's proven to be a big success: By 2017, RGGI had already surpassed its 2020 goal of reducing emissions 45 percent below 2005 levels. A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives on Wednesday shows the program has been a boon to public health, too.

While RGGI is designed to reduce CO2 emissions, it inevitably leads to reductions in other pollutants from power plants, like nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. These gases react with other compounds in the atmosphere to form tiny, inhalable particles that are dangerous to human health.

For the new study, the researchers looked specifically at the health benefits for children and babies of reducing this "fine particulate matter," as it's called. They estimated that from 2009 to 2014, RGGI prevented more than 500 cases of childhood asthma, 112 preterm births, 98 cases of autism spectrum disorder, and 56 incidences of low birthweight. They also found that the amount of money saved by avoiding these and other childhood health impacts amounts to between $191 and $350 million. Even better, these benefits were not limited to participating states but were spread across neighboring states as well.