Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pimping out a child

Now what in the world kind of American Conservatism do we have here?

Could it be a release from the Tea Party looking for some kinder and gentler press from all sides?

Maybe it's an early draft of The Road to Serfdom scrawled by a toddling Friedrich Hayek after observing a servant doing what they do best.

Nah, as it turns out, this is what your tax-deductible dollars buy at The American Ideas Institute's The American Conservative blog by Rod Dreher: otherwise mommy blog-typical content filched from his unsuspecting 7-year-old daughter Nora, a frequent contributor of such child labor, and pimped out as his own cheap and easy post-filler. Not only your tax-deductible dollars, by the way, mine as well, because who do you think has to pay more now to cover your tax deductibility?

And yet not only does a child's stolen refrigerator art (it's highly unlikely Nora received a proportionate cut of Dreher's pay for this effort as an allowance bonus this month) qualify as a legitimate government tax expenditure these days, it apparently also qualifies as some sort of example of conservative "culture" - in some Downton Abbey conservative-cultury sort of way.

Yep, that's what conservatism has now been reduced and degraded to in some quarters: the government-subsidized pimping out of someone's 7-year-old daughter's labor in order to earn their own daily bread.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hey-ey, I, oh, oh I'm still alive...

I'm still alive, just on a new project and up to my neck. Props to Keith and all y'all for keeping stuff going on EQE.

Thought this was an insightful comment from an admitted liberal anonymous commenter (LibAnon) regarding why Rod Dreher rubs him/her the wrong way. The comment continues in the following section here. I'll remark on several excerpts, then I have to bolt.

....I was bullied pretty mercilessly for a while as a kid - in a Catholic school. But I've largely moved on with life. Sure, I despise bullies and authoritarians in general, but I tend to function decently well.

Rod doesn't. Rod's a perpetually aggrieved teenager in a pushing-50-something's body. Rod keeps an enemies' list far longer than Nixon's and nurses his grudges like precious children. The world has failed Rod, and Rod is going to make the world pay. It's all about Rod.

Most people who are bullied do move on with life. That's why I wonder if the new emphasis on bullying isn't caused somewhat by a fixation on it. It might be even more important to get over bullying episodes in the long run than "standing up" to the bully. I always imagine the kids who bullied me in school as working as lackeys in quick oil change garages and as farmhands in the middle of Bum-fudge-egypt. And I'm sure I'm right.

Think about the trajectory of his life since he's been online (which, thanks to his ridiculous personal oversharing, one can get a good sense of). He went to Dallas to do editorial work, but the newspaper industry started to go belly-up. This is the age of his Crunchy Con blog on Beliefnet. Irritating to some, I found it fascinating. Sure, he was a little touchy, but seemed somewhat well-adjusted.

Then he goes to Philadelphia to edit the Templeton Foundation's new online magazine. He immediately runs into trouble because, shockingly, the Templeton people don't seem to appreciate a stream of posts about loose women rather than, you know, WHAT THEY WERE ALL ABOUT. Also, the OCA Orthodox churches (Religion Number 3, for those keeping score) don't fit Rod's standards. So, he passive-aggressively manages to get himself fired from his supposed dream job editing a magazine about the mysteries of the universe because he can't stop being snarky online (this time over some church dispute).

I think the man's peak was the Templeton Foundation gig. The guy had arrived and he didn't realize it. His pessimism got the better of him and all he could see were the things which were wrong with it.

You notice less and less about Rod's blissful family life (which he wrote a lot about in Dallas, which makes its absence all the more noticeable). The good Mrs. Dreher barely appears at all anymore.

Everyone keeps failing Rod. His idol, Wendell Berry, fails him earlier this year, and he turns upon him with a fury that makes me think Rod was looking for an excuse to unburden himself of that old man (who is far more influential than Rod will ever be). He goes the Mel Gibson route and founds the Church of Rod (affiliated with ROCOR, but pretty much Rod's personal kingdom) because the Orthodox churches in Baton Rouge aren't pure enough for him - Religion Number 4. His triumphant return to the town of his birth does not seem to be regarded so triumphantly by those he left behind - they're not lining up to kiss his posterior the way he imagines they should. He gets testier and testier, to the point that commenters on his own blog start posting their concern for Rod's emotional state.

I pointed out at the time that Wendell Berry's attack on Christian morality should not have surprised anyone. But I think Liberal Anonymous is correct to point out that Dreher's response to Berry's betrayal has has a "you-have-failed-me" tinge to it.

As we always like to say, read the whole thing. I don't necessarily agree with the characterization 100%; I think everyone tends to feel more like they've been failed by public figures than admitting their folly in trusting them to be their spokespeople. That's why our friend, Tom, is always quoting the Bible with "Put not your trust in Princes." Plus pointing fingers gets easier the more you do it. But it does seem like Dreher may be "failed" more often than most due to the remarkably bad judgment with regard to those with whom he throws in his lot, e.g., Abp. Gandalf, Met. Jonah, Wendell Berry and Wick Allison and his crazy crew at The American Conservative, which LibAnon rightly terms a "sinking ship".

One more insightful observation I will point out that LibAnon makes is the blogging less and less about "blissful family life". It does seem like this feature has fallen off as of late. But this is not necessarily due to a decline in bliss. Maybe the man is just wising up about the dangers of oversharing.