Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Why I'm Leaving Twitter. (I Think)

Last night, I deactivated my Twitter account.

I’ve done this a couple of times in the past when I wanted to dim the noise of social media that was flooding my brain, but I think this time it’s permanent. I’m not sure. The rush of constantly updated stuff — Information? Gossip? Debate? — has appeal to a guy like me. It’s possible, in fact, that I’m an addict.

Which is reason enough to pull away: I’ve spent too many evenings dicking around, flipping from Twitter’s stream to Facebook’s stream back to Twitter’s stream — all while a book sat just a few inches away from me, begging to be read.

Lest this come off as a “It’s not you, it’s me,” breakup letter, let me be clear: The problem isn’t just me — it’s also Twitter.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Trump, Second Amendment, Revolution: Continued

Sometimes this happens: You write a post, publish it, shut the computer down, eat lunch, and realize there's a shorter, better way of saying it.

Let's boil it down:

• Donald Trump's "Second Amendment People" comment seemed to suggest that Hillary Clinton could be assassinated if she appointed judges disliked by Second Amendment advocates.

• My friends Ben and Julie responded by saying that's not necessarily what he meant, but that the right of rebellion is enshrined in the Second Amendment, so whatever.

• And what I was trying to say is: "Who wants your rebellion?"

Here's the thing to consider: We Americans have a rosy, Star Wars view of revolution — good guys versus bad guys, no moral ambiguities to make you feel icky, no weighing of interests to be done. The real world, even our own revolution, didn't work out that way. Lots of perfectly nice, morally upright people were happy to be subjects of the British Empire!

So if the "sovereign people" decided to take arms against Hillary Clinton because she appointed judges deemed likely to curb Second Amendment freedoms a bit, the truth is that they'd be also taking arms against a "sovereign people" who ... voted for Hillary and were perfectly happy to have her appoint those judges.

If Trump's revolution comes, it's not going to be Heroic Defenders of Freedom versus the Evil Tyrant Government. It's going to be some of us versus some of the rest of us. And that's one reason Trump's comment was so annoying and scary to many of us: We understand you Second Amendment folks claim a "right of rebellion" against tyrannical governments. A lot of us, though, will be happy with that government — and not at all happy with the violence you unleash to get your way.

We don't want your rebellion. Not even in musing, dorm-room, theoretical, purely hypothetical fashion.

The right of rebellion is the right to set brother against brother, family against family, neighbor against neighbor. There may be times when it is needed. But the devastation such an event would unleash on society shouldn't be underestimated.

Trump's "Second Amendment People": So You Say You Want a Revolution?

My conservative co-writer Ben Boychuk and our mutual conservative friend Julie Ponzi take turns this week trying to defend — or explain — Donald Trump's discussion of how "Second Amendment People" might try to undo the horrors of a Hillary Clinton presidency. (Yeah, that was several scandals ago, but sometimes these things are worth extended pondering.)

First up, Ben:

Hewitt asked Trump if he intended to incite violence against Clinton. “No, of course not, and people know that,” Trump replied. “We’re talking about the power of the voter. We’re talking about the tremendous power, and you understand this probably better than anybody, the power behind the Second Amendment, the strength behind the Second Amendment.” 
That’s pretty deft. In the United States, with the exception of an unpleasant period between 1861 and 1865, we settle our political differences with ballots, not bullets. But the Second Amendment is a lot like the nuclear deterrent the Republican national security establishment worries that Trump doesn’t understand. Judging from his comments on the radio, Trump understands deterrence very well.

Julie expands:
People argued he was trying to incite violence in the first case and that he was an intemperate madman in the second. But in both cases, people ended up having to rethink the fundamental question of purposes. That is to say: Why do we have a Second Amendment? What important public good is served by respecting an armed citizenry? And why does the United States have nuclear weapons? What purpose do we facilitate by maintaining a nuclear arsenal
We have a Second Amendment because, as a sovereign people, we reserve unto ourselves the right to stop tyranny. We are, after all, a nation founded in Revolution. We set things up so that we might always prevent tyranny with ballots because we understood that perpetual and persistent revolution (aka, direct democracy) is just another road to tyranny. So we put a lot of restraints on our ability to exercise that right of revolution.

First, let's be excruciatingly fair: Donald says he didn't mean to threaten Hillary with violence, but with the ballot power of NRA folks. That's not how a lot of people heard it initially. But: In the interest of fairness, let's call the ultimate purpose of his comments unknowable. That's still problematic — people shouldn't have to ponder or argue if one presidential candidate was trying to threaten another — but let's give him the benefit of the doubt and focus instead on what Ben and Julie say.


Well, yeah. This is what we thought he was saying. This is what we were worried about.

What Ben and Julie seem to concede that, yes, Donald Trump was really talking about killing Hillary Clinton if she appoints the wrong judges — but not really, but also that's really what the Second Amendment is for, right? Like Trump, they're trying to have it both ways. We're not saying Hillary should be killed. We're saying the Second Amendment is for killing tyrants. Is Hillary a tyrant? (Whistles softly and ambiguously down the street.)

So let's be clear and deliver the proper response to this silly Second Amendment utopianism: Guns can be used to defend against tyrants. They can also be used to undermine and destroy legitimate governments that have popular support. Guns can crush rights just as surely as guns can defend them. The same goes for threats — subtle and not-so-subtle — made with guns used as backing, i.e.: The deterrence that Ben and Julie support.

In Hillary's case, Donald was envisioning a scenario in which: A) Hillary had won the election and B) was trying to appoint judges, in which case she'd need the cooperation of the Senate. (And because of B, would probably need some cooperation from Republicans, even if they lose the Senate, because that's how things work nowadays.) Ultimately, what Donald is suggesting is that the desires of "Second Amendment People" should undo a government elected by popular will, held in check by senators who are also accountable to voters.

Is that what the Founders really meant? I'm deeply skeptical that "Hillary appoints judges disliked by the NRA" sets the bar high enough to justify armed revolution. My friends, who believe that undermining the Second Amendment would be an assault on the Constitution, have a different sense of where that bar should be set.

But yeah: Donald Trump was suggesting — never mind his backtracking — that election results can be undone with a gun. Ben and Julie endorse that notion in broad strokes, just not necessarily specifically in this case. Makes little matter. "Deterrence" is just a nice way of saying: "That's a nice candidate for president you have there. Be a shame if something happened to her." There's no amount of Founder-loving philosophizing that can dress it up.

Kansans in Congress: Here's Why Pat Roberts Is Backing Trump

Test-piloting a feature here at the blog: “Kansans in Congress” — a roundup of coverage at the local, regional, and national level of our state’s congressional delegation. Let me know if you like it, hate it, or if there are sources I need to be eyeballing when I do this roundup.

Pat Roberts advises Donald Trump on farm issues: Donald Trump can’t quite secure the explicit backing of the GOP’s leading figures, but Sen. Pat Roberts has jumped in with both feet — no backhanded nose-holding kinda-endorsement for him: He’s joined Trump’s Agricultural Advisory Committee. How much advising they’ll do remains to be seen, but it’s actually easy to see why Roberts joined up: Farmers might be Trump’s most loyal base of voters: “The latest Farm Futures survey shows that farmers prefer Republican Donald Trump to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. Trump led Clinton 73% to 10% in the survey of 1,178 farmers conducted July 18-Aug. 3.” (Editor’s note: !!!!! That would be great for Trump, except it's possible Farm Futures actually surveyed all the farmers in this poll.) [Farm Futures]

Sunday, August 14, 2016

I Miss Sidewalks (And I Don't Want to Die Walking to School)

Ok, I'm going to try to make this the last time I gripe about this, but:

I miss sidewalks.

Some of my Lawrence friends have already heard me opine on this topic, but I'm going to put it on the record: Center City Philadelphia was a wonderful place to be a pedestrian — so wonderful, in fact, that we sold our car soon after moving there, realizing it was a bigger pain in the butt to keep a car there (especially price-wise) than it was to have easy access to wheels. Groceries, libraries, parks, schools, and much more were all within an easy 15-minute walk, and every block was bounded on all four sides by sidewalks.

In Lawrence: There is no sidewalk in front of our house.

Scratch that: There is a sidewalk — but we have to cross the street to get to it. Not a big deal, right?

Except for this: School starts on Wednesday. For us, there are two ways to get T's new school — Ninth Street and Yale Road.

Ninth Street has a sidewalk the whole way, though it's also got decent incline. I'll get my morning exercise.

Yale Road has sidewalks in some places — the same blocks where school is. And almost nowhere else, at least not between the school and our house. The Yale Road side is also where students are released after school, so there's going to be a lot of foot and vehicle traffic on that path in the afternoons.

I realize, writing this, I must sound like a cranky old coot. But lordy: Seems to me that residential neighborhoods around schools should be packed with sidewalks, so that there's never a question of whether an elementary school student — or their family — should decide to walk in the street, and thus in the path of traffic.

Eh — I get it. We chose to live on the slightly more suburban, slightly more cul-de-saccy side of town. This is what you get with it. But there are a lot of kids who live in this neighborhood: They're not all being driven to school, are they?

Friday, August 12, 2016

This Woman Worked Hard to Overcome Her Racism. So Why Are We Ridiculing Her?

I'm a bit disturbed by this post at Vox, about a woman whose daughter married a black man — causing the woman to recognize, then work to overcome her racism. The article she then wrote has become the target of ridicule, enough that she's had it removed from the website where it appeared.

You can see why this post, which the author almost certainly thought was a message about tolerance, was read differently by people who were irked by the idea that accepting a person of a different race would be a major feat requiring point-by-point instructions and a mandate from God. 
I shudder to think of how she would have treated this person if she hadn’t found a biblical angle that mandated seeing him as human, or if she embraced a different interpretation of scripture.
I mean: This is just liberal snootiness. And I say this as a snooty liberal!

I don't like racism. I hate it. I'm sorry that this woman's racism was so ingrained that it created issues within and for her family. But you know what? I'm really glad she recognized it and took steps to overcome it. For some people, that will require step-by-step instructions and religious motivation.And if she was motivated by her belief in God that racism was wrong ... well, we should probably tell Martin Luther King Jr. he was doing it all wrong.

Don't get me wrong. If I'm black, I'm probably irritated that it takes so much effort to treat me as human.

But still: What's our plan, liberals, to work against racism? To humiliate racists into surrender? Or to actually, genuinely change hearts? What's better for society? What's better for the individuals involved?

Vox is also careful to ridicule this woman for caring that her other, racist family members be treated with respect.

Calling Uncle Fred a bigot because he doesn’t want your daughter in an interracial marriage dehumanizes him and doesn’t help your daughter either. Lovingly bear with others’ fears, concerns, and objections while firmly supporting your daughter and son-in-law. Don’t cut naysayers off if they aren’t undermining the marriage. Pray for them. 
The writer seems to be quite concerned with the potential dehumanization of Uncle Fred and the experience of her daughter, but the impact of the decision on the “African American with dreads” isn’t given any thought at all. It’s a hint that she may still struggle to see him as fully equal to a white person.
Since the original piece was taken down, I can't say if the woman really appears to be more concerned about her racist family than her new son-in-law, and "lovingly bear" could encompass all sorts of responses. Let me suggest that it's possible to be concerned about both, though. And while I hate racism with all my heart and soul, let me say this: Racists are people too. 

That doesn't mean we don't confront racism. And it doesn't mean there aren't times to get angry about it. But if we really want to reduce racism in the world — I don't believe, unfortunately, that it will ever go away — we might try winning of hearts and minds. And we might stop ridiculing the people who are brave enough to acknowledge their own wrongdoing, people who have worked hard to overcome their own racism. Let's make it easy for people to do the right thing.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Back in Lawrence (Or: You Can Go Home Again. Kinda.)

Even as we prepared to return to Lawrence, the place that felt the most like “home” during my adult years, I kept repeating the following to myself:

You can’t go home again. You can’t go home again. You can’t go home again.

Lunch with an old friend.
I’d lived here eight years — most of them encompassing the last, most fun part of my extended bachelorhood — then been gone eight years. I had changed: A child, settled firmly into marriage, my body broken by surgery, my spirit humbled (and saddened) by age and the knowledge that life, my life anyway, is not the series of ever-greater achievements that I once expected it to be.

The town had changed, too. There are new, taller buildings downtown, a sign that this small town is determined to join the ranks of cities. Some old favorite businesses are closed; some new restaurants have popped up. The newspaper where I spent my favorite professional years has been sold and reduced staff. My friends are older; in the intervening years, many of them had become parents, or found new relationships, or simply moved on to other things.

The Lawrence I got so much pleasure and meaning from at the age of 30, I said, would not be the Lawrence I found at age 43. At least not precisely.

And that’s true. When I walk into my old favorite coffee shop, the baristas no longer recognize me and call me by name. I don’t have the energy or time, really, to linger on Mass Street until midnights during the week as I once did — and even if I did, I’m not sure who I’d be spending the time with. And the freshman arriving at KU this fall were … Jesus, 10 years old when I left town to begin with.


But here’s the thing.

When we moved into our house last week, we had 10 friends show up to help unload the pod that held our possessions. It had taken us three days to pack it; they unloaded it in under a half-hour.

I find that many of my old friendships are renewing with an easy familiarity. And I find that I’m excited to finally get to join those old friends in sharing the experience of parenthood.

I feel … home.

It’s not a complete fit, not yet anyway, and who knows if it will be? I don’t want to be the same person I was my first go-round in Lawrence. I don’t want to feel as harried as I did in Philadelphia. I still long for new experiences, to learn new things, to read new books, to feel the joy of life that (frankly) I misplaced somewhere along the way. But I also want to face those things armed with some of the lessons learned these last few years.

One of the lessons: It’s good to have a steady foundation from which to launch your adventures. It’s good to have a home. I’m still not sure if you can go home again. But this feels about as close as I can possibly get.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Topeka Is No Joke

True story: When we realized we were moving back to Kansas, my wife and I briefly considered moving to Topeka.

Really. After eight years in Philadelphia, it seemed like Kansas’ capital city might be a good match for us. It’s more urban, more working class, and less white than the state surrounding it. That’s terrain we’d gotten used to. Lawrence, for all its advantages — a smart, educated population, as well as kick-ass music and arts scenes — can sometimes seem insulated from reality, a mini-Portlandia on the Plains. Topeka seemed like a refreshing dose of reality.

The notion lasted about 24 hours. Our friends are in Lawrence. And that seemed to be what we needed most.

Then, right before we moved back, this happened:

Expressing his displeasure with City Manager Tom Markus' budget recommendations, including cuts to the Lawrence Arts Center and the lack of funding for the proposed East Ninth Street project, Commissioner Matthew Herbert made some comparisons between the Lawrence and Topeka arts communities that were not intended to flatter Topeka. 
The Journal-World's Nikki Wentling quoted Herbert as saying: “Congratulations, we just became Topeka, Kansas. I live in Lawrence because it's not Topeka, Kansas. I don't want my legacy to be that I helped to make Lawrence Topeka.”
Herbert later apologized. But his comments weren’t that unusual. Topekans — and Kansans generally — have long decried Lawrence as “Snob Hill” a place where effete liberals gather to sip chardonnay and, well, you get it. Lawrencians have in turn dismissed Topeka as a cultural wasteland of sorts, a place where it’s easier to get mugged than to get a mug of quality coffee. During my first go-round in Lawrence, I participated in the back-and-forth, a rivalry created by, I dunno, the fact that they’re two of Kansas’s biggest cities and they’re just 20 miles apart.

But I’m going to refrain from being a Topeka basher this time around.

Truth is, I should’ve known better: Before we move, my wife and I would occasionally take day trips to the capital city. We enjoyed the fabulous library there — had cards and everything — as well as the Real America dining spots around town: Bobo’s, Porubsky’s, the Mexican cafe that also doubles as a stop for the bus that comes from Guadalajara.

Everybody needs somebody to shit on, I guess. Pennsylvanians had Philly, which in turn had New Jersey, which in truth is lovelier than outsiders really know. Topeka’s a real place with its own treasures, some of which I enjoy. For better or worse, it’s not so insulated from the real world as other places are. I live in and love Lawrence. But Topeka is no joke.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Why I'm Subscribing to the Lawrence Journal-World

My return to Lawrence, Kansas coincided with an epochal moment in the city’s history: After 125 years of ownership by the Simons family, the Lawrence Journal-World passed to the ownership of Ogden Newspapers, a West Virginia company with newspapers all over this great country.

One consequence of the new ownership: A lot of longtime employees lost their jobs.

None of this is a surprise, exactly. Lawrence hasn’t been immune to the newspaper industry’s overall decline over the last decade; the Simons family decided they couldn’t sustain the cost anymore, and Ogden apparently decided the paper would only be sustainable at a smaller size. Even before the sale, there was less LJW than there used to be, as both the staff and the paper had shrunk in fits and starts over time.

Even though I’m a Journal-World alum, I thought about skipping a subscription when we returned. Used copies of the paper are easy enough to find on coffee shop tables or at libraries in town; I wasn’t sure the cost — $18.25 a month — was worth it. I get the New York Times online for $15 a month, and there’s more there there. What can I say? I'm cheap.

A couple of things happened, though. The second one you’ve probably heard about: John Oliver’s lament for the newspaper industry:

You know what? He’s right! Even in its diminished state, the newspaper industry is at the core of much of the journalism that happens in America. Other media — radio and TV especially, but also a lot of aggregating websites — wouldn’t have much to put on the air if they didn’t get some help from their local newspapers.

He’s also right — though less so — that we’re responsible for keeping the papers alive if we want them. In truth, the problem isn’t really audience: Add online to print readership, and most news organizations have bigger audiences than they’ve ever had. But online advertising hasn’t replaced print advertising as a source of revenue, and it’s not gonna. That does mean that newspapers will be more reliant on payments from readers (and not just monetizing their eyeballs through ads) but they’ll probably also have to find some new ways of generating revenue.

Which brings us back to the Journal-World. I chatted last week with a smart friend of mine who contemplated the paper’s future. “From now on,” he said, “the community’s going to get the paper it supports. Before, it got the paper Dolph (Simons) thought it should have.”

Dolph’s willingness to subsidize the paper beyond its natural revenue limitations probably bred some complacency in the local community over the years; many locals wanted to gripe about his conservative politics and Chamber of Commerce alliances (or the paper’s longtime style of referring to the University of Kansas as “Kansas University”) rather than see the ways he served the city well. Now the blinders must come off.

Which is why I’m going to subscribe to the Journal-World instead of catching it for free wherever I can. The community is only going to get the news organization it supports. So I’m supporting it.

Sunday, August 7, 2016


I sang 606 this morning.

Funny thing about 606 — something Mennonites know, but you might not — is that 606 isn’t actually even 606 in the hymnal anymore. Oh, it was a long time ago. These days, it’s No. 118. However. Mennonites like their traditions, and even though 606 hasn’t been 606 for ages, it’s still known as 606. The hymnal even makes a concession to this in the index. Next to the song’s title, in parentheses, it helpfully explains that name and location aside, this is the 606 you’re looking for.

This is 606. The doxology.

Now. It’s been a few years since I was officially Christian. I sometimes describe myself as “lapsed Mennonite,” but that’s kind of a half-assed way of maintaining connection to the faith. I’m agnostic, if I’m honest. But in kind of a half-assed way.

But damn, that’s some beautiful hymn singing. The congregation I sang with this morning was just a fraction the size of the one in this video, but they gave it their all. I suspect all it takes is two Mennonites gathered together — four, at most — to get a really rousing rendition of this song going.

So yeah. I went to church this morning, my first Sunday back in Lawrence after eight years away. And yeah, we sang 606. And yeah, I might’ve gotten a little teary-eyed.

And yeah, I suspect there’s a metaphor there for my return to Kansas. I just haven’t figured it out yet. I’m still a touch bewildered about how to define myself now. Long story.

But I found myself in Lawrence once before. Maybe it can happen again.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Don't Tread on Me (Or: Is the Obama Administration Really Trying to Ban the Gadsden Flag?) (No.)

The latest non-Trump scandal du jour among conservatives is the reported effort by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to consider whether the display of a Gadsden Flag in the workplace amounts to racial harassment. It was first reported by Eugene Volokh here. Here's National Review's take on the topic:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that displaying the Gadsden Flag in the workplace — the yellow flag with the words Don’t Tread on Me below a coiled rattlesnake — may be punishable racial harassment.  
In case you’re wondering: That’s it. That’s the extent of the offense. There were no racist statements. No slurs. No threatening looks. A dude wore a cap.  
Ah, but: Complainant maintains that the Gadsden Flag is a “historical indicator of white resentment against blacks stemming largely from the Tea Party.” 
As Hillary Clinton would say: Sigh. There is no evidence that the Tea Party as a movement was motivated by racial animus (even some of the “racist” episodes that critics cited never happened). But there is a strong vein of leftwing historical revisionism that says it was so, presumably because that is easier to accept than the possibility that right-leaning voters circa 2009 had legitimate, defensible discontents. And here’s yet another example. So it turns out the complainant’s logic is just the typical, indefensible sort: The Tea Party is racist. The Tea Party uses the Gadsden Flag as a symbol. Therefore, the Gadsden Flag is racist 

And, naturally, the EEOC bought it. 
Naturally, there's both more and less to this story than meets the eye.

Take a look at the prime document, excerpted heavily in Volokh's post, and the story becomes a bit more clear.

The EEOC acknowledges that the Gadsden Flag isn't necessarily a racist symbol: "After a thorough review of the record, it is clear that the Gadsden Flag originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context. Moreover, it is clear that the flag and its slogan have been used to express various non-racial sentiments, such as when it is used in the modern Tea Party political movement, guns rights activism, patriotic displays, and by the military."

But there have been times when it has been used in the service of racism: "For example, in June 2014, assailants with connections to white supremacist groups draped the bodies of two murdered police officers with the Gadsden flag during their Las Vegas, Nevada shooting spree. ... Additionally, in 2014, African-American New Haven firefighters complained about the presence of the Gadsden flag in the workplace on the basis that the symbol was racially insensitive."

• So what the EEOC wants to do is ... investigate a little bit more to determine whether the Gadsden Flag's use in this case and context was used as racial harassment: "In light of the ambiguity in the current meaning of this symbol, we find that Complainant’s claim must be investigated to determine the specific context in which C1 displayed the symbol in the workplace. Instead, we are precluding a procedural dismissal that would deprive us of evidence that would illuminate the meaning conveyed by C1’s display of the symbol."

Somehow all of this has become, in conservative circles, "the Obama Administration wants to ban the Gadsden Flag." But what's really happening is: The EEOC is trying to determine if there's evidence that racial harassment occurred in a workplace. That's the EEOC's job. And if the EEOC does find that such harassment has occurred, it seems obvious from its statement that it won't be issuing a blanket ban on the Gadsden Flag. Instead, it'll be punishing a specific employer for allowing the flag to be used to harass.

Here's the EEOC's explainer of what happened in this case. One interesting fact that emerges — never mentioned by Volokh or the many conservative websites that spread the fear — is that the employer in this case is the U.S. Post Office. A public employer, not a private one.

Now, many conservatives may think the EEOC has no right to be adjudicating such workplace disputes, and that it is an affront to freedom by doing so. That's a different argument. The claim the "Obama Administration" is banning Gadsden? Doesn't hold up to even the mildest scrutiny.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Why are evangelicals supporting Trump? (Try abortion.)

Damon Linker muses at The Week:
Why would voters who engage in politics in large part because of their attachment to a social-conservative agenda rally around a blustering, bragging vulgarian who's on his third marriage; who specializes in such un-Christ-like behavior as mocking a reporter with a disability; who favors such policies as rounding up and deporting millions, torturing terrorism suspects, banning the members of specific religions from entering the United States, and striking first with nuclear weapons; and perhaps most pertinent of all, who shows no interest in, knowledge of, or sympathy for the social-conservative agenda?
Linker goes on to list a variety of reasons — ranging from a seemingly misguided belief that Trump has recently accepted Jesus into his heart to (more to the point) a belief that Trump will basically act as a mob enforcer "protecting" their neighborhood. One word Linker surprisingly never uses: Abortion.

Here's Pew: 
About half of white evangelical Protestant voters (52%) say the issue of abortion will be “very important” in deciding who to vote for in the 2016 election, as do 46% of Catholics. By contrast, 37% of religious “nones” and 31% of white mainline Protestants say abortion will factor prominently in their voting decision. But even among white evangelicals and Catholics, more consider issues like the economy, terrorism, foreign policy and immigration to be very important than say the same about abortion.
If anything, I'd say that understates abortion as a factor for evangelical voters. Not all of them are single-issue voters, as the Pew numbers indicate. But my years spent among conservative Christians suggests to me that there are many of them who vote almost exclusively on the abortion issue: There is literally nothing more important to them — indeed, for many, there is literally nothing else important to them.

Now: Donald doesn't seem like a likely candidate for pro-life president. (Indeed, there's reason to believe he's personally benefited from the right to choose.)  But there are a couple of other factors:

• Pro-life voters will never, ever vote for Hillary Clinton. They're not dumb: They see every outside-the-norm thing Donald has done and said in recent months, but they identify her so strongly with advocacy for abortion rights that they see Hillary as the infinitely worse option.

• Donald has hinted he'll defer to conservative sensibilities on appointment to the Supreme Court. That seems iffy, but it gives pro-life voters something to throw the dice on.

For such voters, it boils down to this: A slight chance Donald will aid their fight against abortion is better than zero chance that Hillary will. It's the Pascal's Wager of the election.