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At the risk of saying anything at all, how does the Obamas, Clintons and Bidens being practicing Christians factor into your appraisal of them. Whereas with the current occupant of the White House, I think he claims to be a Presbyterian but probably does not "practice".

I think it's clear where the deepest convictions and loyalties of Obama et.al. lie. But there are legions of Christians who are fully on board with the trends Legutko describes. Insofar as Trump is any kind of Christian, you could probably include him, too. He just has a different political angle.

Okay, at least I did not risk much with your response. Where is Art Deco to correctly slap me down and make me suffer a little for my ignorance?

Disagreement is allowed. :-)

That term "practicing Christian" is a sort of loose one, isn't it? I think many who call themselves that would be what Freeman Dyson characterized himself as -- "a practicing Christian but not a believing Christian".

I would certainly eschew my practice if I did not believe. Speaking of which, the Sunday before last (8 days ago) I was in Kanab, Utah and went to the little Catholic Church there for Sunday Mass and it was a very nice experience. It is so fun to attend Mass when you travel and pray with a different group of people geographically.

So would I (eschew etc.) I never have understood that. But then I've never (as an adult) been in a situation where going to church was any sort of occupational or social advantage.

Yes, "practicing Christian" is certainly a very loose term. There have always been--well, at least since the Roman persecutions ended--Christians who practiced but didn't believe. But there are probably fewer than there used to be, as Christianity fades as a cultural force.

That Dyson piece is frustrating. He doesn't seem to make any distinction between theology and pure speculation. Christian theology is at least in principle based on a specific revelation.

There is a kerfuffle going on at Claremont between Robert Reilly and Patrick Deneen over the question someone has stated as "Did the Founders build better or worse than they knew?" I haven't read any of the exchanges closely so I don't know if Legutko has been mentioned, but the thesis of his book figures into the question, I'd say.

That sounds interesting. My first thought is that both are true. The "worse" may be more or less built in to their philosophical foundations, their assumption of a stable context in which, for instance, religious differences were intramural. But I don't know much about them, really. In any case it seems that the system can't survive as a battleground for fundamentally different core principles.

Yes, that's the way I see it too, especially your last sentence.

I'm reading about the Spanish civil war right now. Talk about different core values!

The book makes a point that Franco was never a fascist and that he was not totalitarian. The falangists, who were part of the Nationalist coalition, were fascist.

I think many of the core values are almost as different among us now, but they don't extend to one group advocating a totally different form of government. It's a struggle for control of the existing form.

Back in the '80s there were people, I think in the Reagan administration, who made the case for a distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian. It was scoffed at by the left but I think it makes sense.

I'm curious what you think of the latest in vogue news item, "allegations of sexual harassment" many from decades ago.

I would have to say that I feel distinctly "right-wing" in my gut reaction to all of this craziness.

Judge, jury and executioner all seem to be in the power of a person saying, "So-and-so did this to me and I didn't feel like I could say anything until now since it is topical at this moment!"

Are all of these individuals going to be jobless and shunned like pedophiles from now until they expire? I suppose so far most are wildly wealthy, but this could trickle down to others that actually need employment.

Of course I do not think it is right to harass anyone, if I need to state that.

There's certainly a massive potential for abuse. I figure with people like Weinstein the accusations are so numerous that it's pretty safe to assume they're true. Also he hasn't really denied it, only saying he didn't rape anybody. But there has been a lot of concern for a while now about the situation on college campuses, where it's just one person accusing another, and the environment is pretty much set up to guarantee problems, with all the drinking and total lack of supervision. Easy for women to be abused, but also easy for men to get railroaded through a feminist-dominated bureaucracy. There have been some lawsuits involving both scenarios.

Back in the '80s there were people, I think in the Reagan administration, who made the case for a distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian. It was scoffed at by the left but I think it makes sense.

Long time listener, first time caller...

If I remember correctly from my Reagan era College Republican days, that was one of the premises of Jeanne Kirkpatrick's book "Dictatorships and Double Standards"

Oh yeah, I think you're right. I was pretty sure a prominent woman had made that case, but couldn't come up with the name. Thanks.

I'd always assumed that the distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian was an accepted piece of terminology (with the former a much broader category, and the latter a very specific sub-type).

It seems plain enough, and useful enough. But what I remember from the debate at the time was sneers.

There's a Wikipedia entry on the Kirkpatrick Doctrine, and what I take away from it is that the criticism was due not to her assessment of the differences between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, but that it led to the Reagan administration's giving "varying degrees of support to several militaristic anti-Communist dictatorships, including those in Guatemala (to 1985), the Philippines (to 1986), and Argentina (to 1983), and armed the mujahideen in the Soviet war in Afghanistan, UNITA during the Angolan Civil War, and the Contras during the Nicaraguan Revolution as a means of toppling governments, or crushing revolutionary movements, in those countries that did not support the aims of the USA."

Yes, that was the context. But the policy and the idea were yoked. It wasn't an abstract argument. The administration held that it was justifiable to support authoritarian anti-communists because totalitarianism was worse than authoritarianism. A debatable position but I think a defensible one. Understandably not considered so by those who were suffering under the authoritarians.

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