Conservatives Conserving Failure

Sometimes I watch The Five on Fox News. Oddly, the one who raises my blood pressure the most is not the orthodox liberal Juan Williams — there is a soothing predictability to Juan that forces me to like him — but the nominal conservative Dana Perino.

Perino doesn’t seem to grasp the enormity of what’s unfolding before us in the forms of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. She strikes me as one of those people who think this election season a mere glitch — a short circuit that the dirty, uneducated lower classes have caused in a system that is otherwise functional.

Actually, that might be the strongest sense in which Perino is a conservative: she thinks that once November 8, 2016, comes and goes, the Republican Party can go back to doing business the way it did before Trump descended the escalator at his eponymous tower last year. (more…)

The People v. Pundits United

This electoral season has confirmed to me that the entire industry of opinion journalism is a con. Commit this to memory: it is not journalism. It is an elaborate game of social posturing and status jockeying, in which writers prove they are acceptable to other writers by constantly reaffirming the cultural values of their in-group.

It’s why liberal and conservative pundits sound the same these days. Once you understand that the purpose of contemporary journalism is not to inform the people, but to ingratiate oneself with the right kind of people, you begin to see the contours of our national malaise.

It’s also one reason Trump made it so far. The pundit class is a symbol, to all kinds of voters, of our civilization’s enduring cultural rot. If you make your living as a carpenter or janitor, you’re not likely to have much respect for a sealed-off class of idle scribblers who make money solely off their opinions. This is especially true if those scribblers, whether “left” or “right,” think you’re an unwashed malcontent. (more…)

Sometimes, Everything Does Change: Or, Getting Evicted From Your Life

My brother was diagnosed with brain cancer exactly two years ago today: November 4, 2014. For those who follow politics, that was Election Day — a clear Tuesday here in the suburbs of New York. Autumn had given us one of those perfectly crisp mornings you were sure would open up to a beautiful afternoon. It seemed a rare gift: After all, I was off from work that day. (Ah, freedom can be so sweet — sweetest when it’s taken from you.) My plans were to vote in the late morning, have a relaxing lunch, then spend the rest of the afternoon at the mall.

Of course, my best laid plans went awry somewhere around 11 a.m. My mother called to tell me that Matt had collapsed in his house before going to work. The headaches that had plagued him for several weeks had grown more severe. An ambulance took him to a local hospital, where scans revealed a large tumor that lay deep inside his brain.

Maybe one day I’ll tell you the whole story. There was no happy ending — just a protracted lurch toward this precise moment, as I sit here typing another eulogy, the latest but not the last attempt to conform to this ruthless reality. Look, I know that “everything changed” is a banality. But how else can I say it? On November 3, 2014, my family and I had a life we will never have again. It’s as though we were all abruptly evicted by a capricious repo man, and forced to sleep in the fields behind our former homes as others moved in. I am very slowly assimilating to this lonely hinterland.


UPDATE: I have cross-posted this to Medium. It’s available here.

Trojan Donkey


I have written the cover story for the October 21 issue of The Catholic Herald. My piece concerns the controversial pilfered emails from John Podesta, released by Wikileaks, that point to Democratic activists’ use of certain Catholic groups to influence the U.S. Church.

Here’s a taste:

It’s hardly surprising that liberal activists would create organisations devoted to left-wing goals. But these comments should open up fresh debate about the use of religious groups for political ends – and the often close relationship between a small circle of powerful Democrats and liberal Catholic groups.