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Of Pots, Kettles and “Rank Nihilism”

Tuesday, May 17, 2016  |  posted by John Schroeder

Merriam-Webster defines:


  1. a :  a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless

    b :  a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths

  2. a :  a doctrine or belief that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility

That is not a nice word. And yet, the Washington Post’s editorial board has used it to describe the entire GOP.  Not only that, they double down on it by calling it “rank:”

The rank nihilism driving the GOP’s acceptance of Trump

Here is the heart of their argument:

Rudimentary adherence to the truth and respect for openness matter. Mr. Priebus and his confederates in amorality dismiss or excuse Mr. Trump’s mockery of these precious political values because they believe politics matters more than principle. Mr. Trump’s campaign will end, one way or another, in November. The disgrace of the Republicans who have supported him will not.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Continue Reading


RNC Chair Reince Priebus On State Of The 2016 Race

Monday, May 16, 2016  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

RNC Chair Reince Priebus joined me on the show this morning to bring me (an the audience) up to speed on the campaign for the White House and –crucially– the campaign to keep the Senate and House in GOP hands:




HH: Joined now by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. Chairman Priebus, I’m just back from two weeks in Europe. Anything happen when I was gone?

RP: (laughing) Yeah, well, you know, it all ends well. It all ended pretty well, and we’re on to a better place, I think. And so we had a good week last week, and Paul Ryan and Donald Trump met, and it went about as well as anyone could hope for. So now we start a new day today. Welcome back.

HH: Well, then let me ask you, Reince Priebus, about the Daily Beast today has a story by Betsy Woodruff that begins, “How Donald Trump Trapped the Republican National Committee.” That’s the headline.

RP: Oh, trying to see that…

HH: And it says, “For years, the Republican Party has been developing talking points and strategic tactics to use against Hillary Clinton, and one by one, Donald Trump seems to be rendering them useless.” What do you think?

RP: I didn’t even hear. Can you repeat that?

HH: Sure. “For years, the Republican Party has been developing talking points and strategic tactics to use against Hillary Clinton, and one by one, Donald Trump seems to be rendering them useless.”

RP: Yeah, I don’t even know what that means. I mean, obviously, Hillary Clinton’s got her problems, and that’s why she’s in the ditch. And quite frankly, I think people across the country are angry, and they want something done, and they’re going to have a choice to make between someone who’s made their entire life off of politics and making millions upon millions of dollars from politics, or an outsider that’s never run for office before and is a businessman, and that’s Donald Trump. And so I don’t know, I happen to think that she’s got a lot of problems in that battle, and you see it across the country. While you were gone, there was a poll that came out much to the shock of, I’m sure, people like this writer, that showed Donald Trump ahead in Ohio against Hillary Clinton, tied in Florida and tied in Pennsylvania. So I’m not really sure what she’s talking about. I haven’t read the article. I might read it, I guess, but I might not. Who knows? Continue Reading

Christian Policy In The Minority

Monday, May 16, 2016  |  posted by John Schroeder

The NYTimes carried a piece over the weekend under the headline:

Social Conservatives, However Reluctant, Are Warming to the Idea of Trump

That means that Trump has become the presumptive Republican nominee essentially without the social conservative vote.  That has not happened in my political lifetime.  Romney due to his Mormon faith, divided the social conservative vote to some extent, but Trump, with the exception of Falwell, Jr., did without.

Social conservatives, largely Christians, find themselves not just in a minority position, but unable to even play a “spoiler” role.  So how is a Christian to react?  What is to be our policy positions? Continue Reading

Skinnerian Morality

Friday, May 13, 2016  |  posted by John Schroeder

When I was in college and took Psych 101 to fulfill a core requirement, we had an actual discussion about the morality of applying B.F. Skinner’s respondent conditioning techniques to human beings.  According to a letter that Rod Dreher got from a public school principal, that dilemma has been solved:

One of the worst things about public schools is that they are raising our children as if they do not have souls. In a public school, discipline and motivation to do the right thing are based purely on external stimuli–school-wide behavior programs and incentives for the good kids and discipline for the bad ones. These are simply controls that do not prepare anyone to do what he ought. This Skinner based approach is pervasive and inescapable. The poor and poorly behaved get the worst of it, for they are truly treated like soulless animals and governed purely by external stimuli.

This was easily foreseeable.  The “soulless” argument was the one I used with my atheist psych prof back in the stone age and I was roundly laughed at.  There were two differences between then and now; however.  For one I still did well in the class.  Despite our disagreement, the prof recognized that I understood Skinner’s thought and thus mastered the material, even if I had issues with it.  Secondly, my argument was cheered by a number of my classmates, something the reporting I read tells me they would be afraid to do in the current educational environment.

If one is atheist and there is no supernatural source for morality, I have a complete understanding of how morality can shift as it is doing right now.  What I cannot wrap my head around is efforts to hide behind some egalitarian ideal and calling it amorality.  It is not amorality, it is a substitute morality, and sadly it is not egalitarian. Continue Reading

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