Moore denies everything — but without specifically denying much of anything. In one interview, he said that while in his 30s he did not “generally” date teenage girls. He added that he cannot “remember dating any girl without the permission of her mother.” How weaselly does all of this sound?
.. Having Moore in the Senate would probably mean more grief for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) than losing the seat to Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones.
.. Moore pulled this off by positioning himself as the self-anointed voice of Christian grievance and resentment. “Populist” is too neutral a description. Moore is really a tribal leader, claiming that his followers are the only true Americans — while disqualifying his opponents as illegitimate.
.. The problem with tribalism is that it is absolute. In Rwanda in 1994, you were either identified as Tutsi or as Hutu; there was no in-between. For Moore, you are either among the good people or among the evil.
.. Moore’s philosophy is properly seen as Manichaean, not Christian; it has no room for universal love. The fact that most of his supporters, thus far, are sticking with him — enough to cow the state Republican Party into sticking with him, too — means he has convinced many Alabamians that child molestation is a lesser sin ..
.. Successful demagogues can use tribal enmities to blind their followers to such moral and logical contradictions. Some of Moore’s followers have told reporters they believe all the accusers are lying for partisan political reasons, which seems unlikely given what we know about the women’s politics; most describe themselves as conservative and several said they voted for President Trump.
Some Moore supporters charge that the women are seeking publicity, which is ridiculous; reporters sought the victims out and convinced them to tell their stories, and the women must have had some idea of the kind of vicious attacks that would follow.
.. Moore uses his angry Christianity as a tool of self-aggrandizement. He uses the trust and passion of the Alabamians he defrauds to sully the reputations of women who bravely testify to his allegedly vile and creepy behavior. He rages about filing lawsuits, but don’t hold your breath. Lawyers for potential defendants can’t wait to see what the discovery process might unearth.
.. He can be defeated — but only if Alabamians decide that honor, integrity and morality are more important than tribe
Some conservatives deride Mr. Cohn as a Wall Street Democrat, but he has assembled a first-rate policy team with free-market views. They are crucial to pulling off tax reform in the autumn and to holding off destructive ideas like withdrawing from Nafta.
.. Then there’s the national-security team that is trying to navigate the dangerous world they inherited from Barack Obama. Jim Mattis at Defense, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley are clear-eyed about the threats posed by Russia, Iran and North Korea. Whatever their policy differences, they know the value of alliances and diplomacy backed by military power.
They’re also reassuring to a world that doesn’t know how to read Mr. Trump’s Twitter outbursts. There’s no evidence they plan to leave, but if they did it would send a political shock that would ignite calls for Mr. Trump’s resignation.
.. Mr. Bannon has a Manichean view of politics, at home and abroad, that is sure to become destructive. “To me,” he told Mr. Kuttner, “the economic war with China is everything.”
.. Most striking is Mr. Bannon’s willingness to undercut Mr. Trump’s policy of pressuring China by saying there’s “no military solution” on North Korea. He said he’d consider a deal in which North Korea freezes its nuclear program with verifiable inspections in return for U.S. withdrawal from the Korean peninsula. But this would be a strategic windfall for China and North Korea, leveraging the nuclear threat to push the U.S. out of East Asia.
.. Mr. Bannon says he didn’t realize his chat with the journalist was on the record, which is hard to believe given his years of media experience. We almost wonder if it’s a dare to Mr. Kelly to fire him.
If Mr. Trump retains Mr. Bannon after such a public declaration of disdain for his colleagues, the President will risk other departures. And if Mr. Trump rejects such a request from Mr. Kelly, the chief of staff will have to wonder whether he can do his job.
- They see a rare moment of united Republican government to move in a better direction on domestic policy.
- Or they want to correct the erosion of American power and influence that accelerated during the Obama years.
Every person has to decide how long he or she can serve in good conscience. But we hope the best stay as long as they can for the good of the country.
He rescued Adam and Eve from obscurity, devised the doctrine of original sin—and the rest is sexual history.
“I came to Carthage,” he writes, “to the center of a skillet where outrageous love affairs hissed all around me.”
.. The feverish promiscuity, if that is what it was, resolved fairly quickly into something quite stable. Within a year or two, Augustine had settled down with a woman with whom he lived and to whom, in his account, he was faithful for the next fourteen years.
.. As a young man who had already fathered a child, he knew that, for the entire human species, reproduction entailed precisely the sexual intercourse that he was bent on renouncing. How could the highest Christian religious vocation reject something so obviously natural?
.. The “Confessions” does not take the story of Augustine’s life further. Instead, it turns to a philosophical meditation on memory and an interpretation of the opening of Genesis
.. Why Genesis? And why, in the years that followed, did his attention come to focus particularly on the story of Adam and Eve?
.. Pagans ridiculed that story as primitive and ethically incoherent. How could a god worthy of respect try to keep humans from the knowledge of good and evil? Jews and Christians of any sophistication preferred not to dwell upon it or distanced themselves by treating it as an allegory.
.. he persuaded himself that it was no mere fable or myth. It was the key to everything.
.. Augustine returned again and again to the same set of questions: Whose body is this, anyway? Where does desire come from? Why am I not in command of my own penis? “Sometimes it refuses to act when the mind wills, while often it acts against its will!”
.. And this ardor, to which Augustine gives the technical name “concupiscence,” was not simply a natural endowment or a divine blessing; it was a touch of evil. What a married man and woman who intend to beget a child do together is not evil, Augustine insisted; it is good. “But the action is not performed without evil.”
.. Augustine’s tortured recognition that involuntary arousal was an inescapable presence—not only in conjugal lovemaking but also in what he calls the “very movements which it causes, to our sorrow, even in sleep, and even in the bodies of chaste men”—shaped his most influential idea, one that transformed the story of Adam and Eve and weighed down the centuries that followed: originale peccatum, original sin.
.. Pelagius and his followers were moral optimists. They believed that human beings were born innocent. Infants do not enter the world with a special endowment of virtue, but neither do they carry the innate stain of vice.
.. we are all descendants of Adam and Eve, and we live in a world rife with the consequences of their primordial act of disobedience. But that act in the distant past does not condemn us inescapably to sinfulness. How could it? What would be the mechanism of infection? Why would a benevolent God permit something so monstrous? We are at liberty to shape our own lives, whether to serve God or to serve Satan.
.. The Pelagians said that Augustine was simply reverting to the old Manichaean belief that the flesh was the creation and the possession of a wicked force.
.. Surely this was a betrayal of Christianity, with its faith in a Messiah who became flesh.
.. Not so, Augustine responded. It is true that God chose to become man, but he did this “of a virgin
.. that which was born from the root of the first man might derive only the origin of race, not also of guilt.”
.. Augustine embarked on a work, “The Literal Meaning of Genesis,”
.. For some fifteen years, he labored on this work
.. The inquieta adulescentia that delighted the adolescent’s father and horrified his mother could now be traced all the way back to the original moment when Adam and Eve felt both lust and shame. They saw for the first time what they had never seen before, and, if the sight aroused them, it also impelled them to reach for the fig leaves to cover as with a veil “that which was put into motion without the will of those who wished it.”
.. But what was the alternative that they—and we—lost forever? How, specifically, were they meant to reproduce, if it was not in the way that all humans have done for as long as anyone can remember? In Paradise, Augustine argued, Adam and Eve would have had sex without involuntary arousal: “They would not have had the activity of turbulent lust in their flesh, however, but only the movement of peaceful will by which we command the other members of the body.” Without feeling any passion—without sensing that strange goad—“the husband would have relaxed on his wife’s bosom in tranquility of mind.”
.. ” Others, as he personally had witnessed, could sweat whenever they chose, and there were even people who could “produce at will such musical sounds from their behind (without any stink) that they seem to be singing from that region.”
.. Adam had fallen, Augustine wrote in “The City of God,” not because the serpent had deceived him. He chose to sin, and, in doing so, he lost Paradise
.. With the help of his sainted mother, he had severed himself from his companion and had tried to flee from ardor, from arousal. He had fashioned himself, to the best of his extraordinary abilities, on the model of the unfallen Adam, a model he had struggled for many years to understand and to explicate. True, he still had those involuntary dreams, those unwelcome stirrings, but what he knew about Adam and Eve in their state of innocence reassured him that someday, with Jesus’ help, he would have total control over his own body. He would be free. ♦
I was familiar with Bannon’s work as a filmmaker, having reviewed his 2011 documentary, “The Undefeated,” about Sarah Palin.
.. Although Bannon has produced the occasional fiction feature, most of his creative energy has gone into making nonfiction agitprop designed to whip viewers into a froth of either adulation or rage, but always into passionate political action
.. His most recent film, “Torchbearer,” features “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson delivering an hour-long sermon about the existential necessity of a Judeo-Christian republic, his long gray beard and booming voice lending Old Testament gravitas to the oratory. In the 2012 film “Occupy Unmasked,” the late Andrew Breitbart — whose website, Breitbart News, Bannon took over that year — debunks the Occupy Wall Street movement as the cynical product of an organized Left “hellbent on the nihilistic destruction of everything the American people care for.”
.. Distinct Manichaean themes emerge within Bannon’s collected works, echoing the same urgent, apocalyptic anti-globalism he’s espoused in speeches and on Breitbart News. Contemptuous of the “permanent political class,” crony capitalism, hippies and community organizers (who “hate this country . . . hate the Constitution [and] hate freedom”), Bannon doesn’t see the world in terms of partisan politics as much as a cage-match clash of civilizations
.. it seems that Trump is clearly a fan of the Bannon canon: His recent policy actions, particularly the travel ban on refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries, can be traced, directly or at least philosophically, to the views espoused in Bannon’s films.
.. There’s “a major war brewing, a war that’s already global,” he said during a Skype call from his Los Angeles office. “Every day that we refuse to look at this as what it is — and the scale of it, and really the viciousness of it — will be a day where you will rue that we didn’t act.”
.. In other words, Bannon is as reflexively attuned to the spectacle as the substance of the “major war” that he and his boss are girding themselves to wage. The paradigm shift he craves is less about constitutional norms and democratic institutions — which have a tendency to bog down the second act — than the kind of propulsive provocations he has specialized in as a consummate showman.