Paul Zummo

America the Beautiful Open Thread

Feeling a little bit better about my country tonight for some reason, so how about a Ray Charles nightcap.

PS, it looks like Mike Huckabee got his thirty pieces of silver from Trump and is calling it quits. It really has been a great night.

New York Values

Well this campaign season just keeps getting better. Last night the Republicans had the latest in a series of presidential debates. I personally thought the top three contenders – Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump – all acquitted themselves very well. Even Donald Trump, as off-point and rambling in his answers as ever, was basically coherent. Jeb Bush continues to look like a hostage forced to run for the presidency against his will. Chris Christie did well even if he completely dissembled about his record and once again complained about people debating during a debate. John Kasich is still permitted to participate in these things for reasons that elude most sane people. And Ben Carson, well, Dr. Carson is an extraordinarily humble man of great character, and I’ll leave it at that because I don’t want to say anything too mean.

There were some fierce exchanges, and perhaps the biggest moment of the night occurred Ted Cruz deftly handled the question about his status as a natural born citizen. He even got Trump to concede that he only went there because of Cruz’s standing in the polls. It was beautiful to see the crowd actually boo Trump as he tried to continue down this foolish path.

The other Trump-Cruz exchange arguably did not go quite as well for Cruz. On the stump Cruz had dissed the Donald for upholding “New York values,” a line of attack he continued during the debate. Cruz concluded with the line “Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan,” a line which was actually a subtle jab at Trump’s remark that “not a lot of Evangelicals come out of Cuba.” Trump hit back, going to the 9/11 well to talk about how New Yorkers stood tall and united after the terrorist attacks. It was certainly a well-crafted response by Donald, and it caught Cruz a bit off guard. Video of the exchange can be seen at this link.

Now there’s been some back-and-forth in the social media world about Cruz’s “New York values” line of attack – a phrase, by the way, uttered by Trump himself a few years ago. Many New Yorkers are supposedly upset by the remarks as evidenced by this Daily News front page (link does not go to the Daily News*).

*I remarked on twitter that if the New York Times had a lobotomy, the result would be the New York Daily News. I was in error. The Daily News is the result of the New York Times getting drunk. 

Now, I happen to be a native New Yorker, born and raised in the mean streets of Queens. I attended high school in Manhattan and worked there for a couple of years after college. My family still all live in New York. I loved New York, and still get a little weepy sometimes when I hear Frank Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York.” I remain loyal to my New York sports teams, particularly the Mets. Donald Trump was absolutely right about the spirit of New Yorkers, and their great resiliency. There is a great charm in New York bluntness. Having lived in several other large cities, and having regularly traveled throughout the country, I still think in many ways that New York is the greatest city in the country, especially if you are a certain age. The combination of arts, entertainments, business, food (the best food of any major city, or at least the city with the best diversity of good food), and just the general vibrancy of the city are unmatched. And even as Democratic as the city might be, there is a great working class charm to the outer boroughs where the residents are not so easily typecast. There is a reason New York City did not elect a Democratic mayor for two decades, and why the one who served for 12 years shortly before Giuliani (Ed Koch) was hardly a doctrinaire leftist.

All that being said, let me relay a statistic for you. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the abortion rate in 2010 for women aged 15-44 was 17.7 per 1,000 women in the country. New York’s rate was 35.3, second only to Delaware. No other state was in the thirties. I am willing to bet a small fortunate that the rate in the city was much higher than upstate.

Abortion rates of course don’t tell the whole story, though there is a definite correlation between high abortion rate states and “blue” states. There are demographic, economic and other factors at play in the statistic as well.

But let’s be clear about something. Ted Cruz was getting at something all of us understand in our hearts. There is a certain value set among urbanites and other people on the east coast that clashes with the values of folks in much of the rest of the country. Of course not everyone who happens to live in New York holds the same values as the urban elites, and even holding those values does not make you, ipso facto, a bad person. Believing in socialized medicine does not render you incapable of rising to the occasion in moments of great stress, or of helping in times of crisis. But when it comes to the world of politics, and in understanding the role of government, or in holding certain cultural values, New Yorkers and the like generally clash with the values and ideology held by the majority of Republicans, and definitely of conservatives. All the crocodile tears shed in the world will not change this stubborn fact. Even if you cringe at the hint of a suggestion of some kind of culture war, you have to acknowledge the difference in value sets. And no matter how much Donald Trump has pulled the wool over the eyes of many voters, his history and his actions show he’s from a different world (metaphorically speaking) than traditional conservatives. And that’s Ted Cruz’s point, and it’s a point that is absolutely correct.

Friendly Fire

When Rick Perry dropped out of the presidential race in 2o12 it was an easy decision to back Rick Santorum. Santorum was easily the best of the remaining field of candidates, as his political ideology closely mirrored my own. I have no desire to fe-fight the battles of 2012, though I will say that I thought some of the attacks on Santorum, particularly by some on the libertarian-right who depicted Rick as a big government conservative, were unfair.

Santorum is running again for the presidency, and thus far is gaining almost no traction. Considering that GOP runners-up have historically wound up being the man nominated next time, this is somewhat curious. It’s true that the field is (or was) much stronger, but Santorum had established a decent base of support. It’s also worth noting that while Donald Trump has rocketed to the top of the polls largely based on his strong rhetoric vis a vis illegal immigration, Santorum, unlike the Donald, has consistently been an immigration hawk. Even with Donald’s bluster, Santrum still holds the strictest line on immigration – legal and illegal. And yet he flounders, barely registering in the polls.

Whatever the cause for his stagnation, he and his supporters still hold out hope that he can make the same kind of poll comeback in Iowa as he did four years ago. Indeed he is in about the same spot in the polls as he was at this time, roughly five weeks before the Iowa caucus. Yet it doesn’t seem likely that Santorum will come from back of the pack this time, and one of the primary reasons is Ted Cruz. Cruz has garnered the support of the evangelical and conservative wings of the party, and what’s more, he has developed the sort of ground game in Iowa and elsewhere that makes it very unlikely he will fade from the race.

I am most certainly not the only Santorum supporter who prefers Cruz this time around. Though I still like Rick, there are a few key differences between the two that make me prefer Cruz. I’ve always been a bit bothered by Santorum’s more bellicose foreign policy views, and Cruz seems to fit a happier middle ground between the Paulite and McCainiac extremes of the party. Santorum has also backed ethanol subsidies and the Export-Import bank, two corporate welfare schemes that belie the idea that he is not in fact a big government conservative.

With Santorum being desperate to start gaining ground, he has decided to go after Cruz on social issues. Santorum, like Mike Huckaphony Huckabee last week, has tried to take advantage of a Politico hit piece news story purporting to show Cruz being two-faced on social issues.

In June, Ted Cruz promised on NPR that opposition to gay marriage would be “front and center” in his 2016 campaign.

In July, he said the Supreme Court’s decision allowing same-sex marriage was the “very definition of tyranny” and urged states to ignore the ruling.

But in December, behind closed doors at a big-dollar Manhattan fundraiser, the quickly ascending presidential candidate assured a Republican gay-rights supporter that a Cruz administration would not make fighting same-sex marriage a top priority.

In a recording provided to POLITICO, Cruz answers a flat “No” when asked whether fighting gay marriage is a “top-three priority,” an answer that pleased his socially moderate hosts but could surprise some of his evangelical backers.

Aha! You see – Cruz isn’t as committed to social issues as his public statements make him seen. He’s a fraud!

Except, as Patterico points out, everything Cruz said in private is what he has been saying publicly for months on the campaign trail. First, Patterico provides the full quote from the fundraiser:

Q: Can I ask you a question? So, I’m a big supporter. And the only issue I really disagree with you about is gay marriage. And I’m curious: Given all the problems that the country’s facing — like ISIS, the growth of government — how big a priority is fighting gay marriage going to be to a Cruz administration?

CRUZ: “My view on gay marriage is that I’m a constitutionalist and marriage is a question for the states. And so I think if someone wants to change the marriage laws of their state, the way to do so is convince your fellow citizens — and change them democratically, rather than five unelected judges. … Being a constitutionalist is integral to my approach to every other issue. So that I’m very devoted to.

Q: So would you say it’s like a top-three priority for you — fighting gay marriage?

CRUZ: “No. I would say defending the Constitution is a top priority. And that cuts across the whole spectrum — whether it’s defending [the] First Amendment, defending religious liberty, stopping courts from making public policy issues that are left to the people. …

I also think the 10th Amendment of the Constitution cuts across a whole lot of issues and can bring people together. People of New York may well resolve the marriage question differently than the people of Florida or Texas or Ohio. … That’s why we have 50 states — to allow a diversity of views. And so that is a core commitment.

There’s more at the link. Long story short, there is absolutely no inconsistency between what Cruz said in private and what he has said in public.

Santorum, though, has decided to attack Cruz for his federalist-inspired approach.

“It’s basically that he’s not the social conservative that he’s portraying himself to be and is the answer is he’s not,” added Santorum, citing aPolitico story where Cruz said on a secret tape at a fundraiser that he wouldn’t make fighting same-sex marriage a top three priority in his administration.

“If people want to do drugs in Colorado, it’s fine with him,” said Santorum. “If people want have different kind of marriages, it’s fine with him. He doesn’t agree with it. If you want to have an abortion, it’s fine with him, he doesn’t agree with it, but he’s not gonna fight it. That’s not what people are looking for. They’re looking for someone who has a very clear vision of what’s right and what’s wrong and be able to lay that vision out for the American people.”

This is at best a gross mischaracterization of Cruz’s beliefs. What’s more, as streiff at Redstate says:

There is nothing non-conservative about saying that you are willing to allow the voters of Colorado to legalize drugs or the voters of Massachusetts to legalize homosexual marriage. That doesn’t make those decisions right but what social conservatism is about is creating a space where people of faith are free to campaign to have their view be the dominant one. On abortion that means fighting in all states to have abortion outlawed. It doesn’t mean you have to win in all states. It means getting the Supreme Court out of these issues and not imposing Anthony Kennedy’s perverted view of human sexuality upon 300 million people.

I’d go a step further than streiff and note that Cruz’s approach is far, far more likely to lead to social conservative victories than is Santorum’s. Sad to say, Santorum is living up to his image as a would-be nagger in chief. Cruz’s approach, meanwhile, is one that would get the courts out of the social policy game. If the states are left to their own devices to set policy, then we would have a much greater chance of seeing abortion outlawed or gay marriages not sanctioned than we would now. That is not to say that we stop fighting the cultural values – just the opposite. It’s just that the primary objective of a president is to appoint justices who respect the 10th Amendment and would thus allow those fights to be had on a local level. It would then be up to social conservatives to spread their message in New York, California, Massachusetts, etc.

I understand why Santorum said what he said, but it doesn’t make it any less disappointing. Yet I’ve been constantly disappointed by the need people seem to feel to absolutely denigrate every presidential candidate that is not their first choice, but that’s another discussion.

 

 

Horizontal versus Vertical Orientation

Nicholas Frankovich has a very astute post in National Review’s Corner blog about the amazing technicolor light show from the Vatican last night. In it he argues that the real battle in the Catholic world is not between the right and the left, but rather between those who are vertically oriented and horizontally oriented.

Two years ago on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis traveled to the neighborhood, Piazza di Spagna, which is near Rome’s highest-end shopping district, to pray and preach against neglect of the poor. On that occasion too, his politics overshadowed his spirituality. In general, he does a bad job of integrating Christianity’s horizontal message, “love thy neighbor,” with its vertical message, “love God.”

His intentions may be noble, but what he usually ends up communicating is that the horizontal message is primary. His assumption, which was fashionable among Jesuit educators in the 1970s, is apparently based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: You can’t expect someone to listen to your theology and philosophy if he’s cold, hungry, and sick. So the first duty of a teacher and of a preacher is to be, in effect, a social worker and political activist.

The poor we will have always with us, however. The implication of Jesuit social activism is that we must constantly postpone our attention to their spiritual needs. In many quarters, including the Vatican under this pontificate, the institutional Church has lapsed — or crashed, with a thud — into its besetting sin of valuing temporal over spiritual power. The political popes of the Renaissance would understand Francis well.

Contemporary Catholicism is mainly divided not between the political Left and the political Right but between the horizontally oriented and the vertically oriented. The latter are often pushed to the margins of Catholic circles. Last night, while up at corporate headquarters the princes of the Church were garishly attempting to ingratiate themselves to global political elites, the Institute of Christ the King, an order of traditional Catholic priests, led a stately Marian procession through the streets of Rome.

I noted in my critique of Pope Francis’s environmental encyclical that it really lacked a firm theological message, and that the encyclical was too secular in its language. Frankovich crystallizes why Pope Francis’s message seemed so hollow to me.

Trump Freakout Number 999

No doubt jealous that President Obama was getting all the attention for his latest inane speech, and worried that Ted Cruz had passed him in the polls in Iowa, Donald Trump offered his latest off-the-cuff, incendiary policy proposal: prohibiting Muslim immigration and foreign travel to the United States. There are five key points to make about this and the reaction to it.

1. It’s stupid and unworkable. A blanket ban on all Muslim immigration fits in well with Trump’s basic approach to politics, which is to use a jackhammer to screw in a nail. Not only does the proposal cast all Muslims together as the enemy, it could have potentially adverse foreign policy implications, as Ben Shapiro explains:

Kiss Our Intelligence Apparatus Goodnight. We need to work with Muslims both foreign and domestic. It’s one thing to label Islamic terrorism and radical Islam a problem. It’s another to label all individual Muslims a problem. That’s what this policy does. It’s factually wrong and ethically incomprehensible. Donald Trump has just transformed into the strawman President Obama abused on Sunday night.

It’s unworkable for all of the reasons Reihan Salan suggests:

So I understand Trump’s anxiousness, and I share in it. Where we part company is on how the United States ought to treat people who identify as Muslims going forward. I use this awkward locution (“people who identify as Muslims”) advisedly, because the screening mechanism Trump seems to have settled on is to ask travelers if they are Muslim and to turn away those who say yes. There is something almost quaint about this approach, as if we should expect that people who are trying to do us harm will play by the rules Trump has laid out and openly profess their religious beliefs, knowing all the while that it would lead to their exclusion from the country. Granted, there are many Muslims who would never deny their faith, even if it meant that they wouldn’t be allowed into the country. Indeed, I can imagine such professions sparking a social media campaign designed to discredit the exclusion of Muslims, and to celebrate principled resistance to it. The trouble is that terrorists rely on deceit to achieve their objectives, while the kind of people who’d never dream of lying about their religious convictions generally fall in a different category.

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As usual, Trump is speaking off the cuff. Perhaps he is not entirely serious about simply asking people if they are Muslims or not, in which case he could rely on country of origin. Shall we exclude travelers from Muslim-majority countries? This approach would exclude Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, animists, and other religious minorities, and it would ignore the Muslim citizens of non-Muslim-majority countries, like India, Britain, or France. We might instead exclude people with Arabic surnames, as this is generally a good marker of Muslim ancestry, though not a perfect one: this approach would exclude some nontrivial number of non-practicing Muslims, converts to other faiths, atheists, and agnostics, not to mention a large number of Muslims who reject Islamism and Islamist violence.

Now I can already here the Trumpeteers shouting: aha, so that means you’re with Obama and just want unfettered Islamic immigration. Trump supporters and sympathizers have an unusually Manichean worldview: if you don’t support Trump that means you must support Jeb, if you disagree with banning Muslim immigration you’re for open borders, etc. On the contrary, it’s quite possible to disagree with the proposal to ban all Muslim immigration while simultaneously viewing President Obama and the left as dangerously naive when it comes to the problem of Islamic radicalism.

2. Trump doesn’t even mean it. As I wrote elsewhere, if Donald Trump became dictator tomorrow this ban would never occur, just as most of his over-the-top immigration proposals would never see the light of day. Trump offers up this red meat in the hopes of getting his supporters riled up while also getting his opponents to lash out in over-reaction. As usual, he accomplished both missions, and so in that respect Eric Erickson is correct in calling this a brilliant political move.

If you truly believe that this is a well thought out proposal, here’s the Donald explaining how it would work:

Willie Geist: Donald, a customs agent would ask the person his or her religion?

Donald Trump: They would be probably, they would say, ‘are you Muslim?’

Geist: And if they said, ‘yes,’ they would not be allowed in the country?

Trump: That is correct.

Wow, that’s almost as foolproof as asking immigrants if they are terrorists. This will certainly ensnare any would-be evil doers.

3. No, this will not help Isis. It has became all the rage to denounce all unpopular policy ideas as things that would be recruiting tools for ISIS. We were told that the refusal to allow Syrian refugees into the country would be used as a recruiting tool, and now we’re hearing that Donald’s proposal will only create more terrorists. I suggest we turn this idea around: I think that using the no-fly list as an excuse to deprive people of their second amendment rights without due process will only enable the terrorists, and will clearly create more jihadists.*

*No, I don’t actually think that, but it’s no less absurd.

You know what fuels the terrorists: our very existence. Some damned fool idea by a loud-mouthed American is not pushing anyone over the edge to jihad.

4. No, this is not unconstitutional. There seems to be an insistence in some quarters that all bad policy ideas are ipso facto unconstitutional. Jim Geraghty, for one, has been banging the drum on the proposal’s lack of constitutionality. Sorry to say bu the US government can pretty much restrict immigration to whoever the hell it wants. There is no constitutional right to emigrate here, and neither the first amendment or the ban on religious tests for public office speak to this issue. Unconstitutional does not mean “icky ideas.”

Now there has been some confusion as to whether Trump has lumped American citizens into this blanket ban, but it seems at the moment that this is confined to non-citizens overseas.

5. Only one person has not taken the bait. Like night follows day, the denouncements came in from all sides. Twitter quickly filled up with angry tweets, and presidential candidates giddily joined the fray. Jeb Bush, Lindsay Graham, Marco Rubio and pretty much the rest of the remaining GOP field quickly jumped in to declare how horrible a person Trump was.

Jeb Bush getting on twitter to denounce Trump might be the most tone-deaf political maneuver one can imagine. Donald Trump’s position as the lead horse in the GOP field is almost entirely due to Jeb Bush’s existence in the race. Bush’s continued delusional run – and lump Graham, Kasich, and most of the others in there – is what is keeping Trump atop the polls. Narrow the field to three candidates, or even four, and suddenly Trump’s 25 percent doesn’t look so impressive. Yet not only does Bush persist, he does the one thing Trump desires most: he gave him negative attention.

Only one GOP candidate didn’t take the bait, and it’s the one person who seems to know what the hell he’s doing. Ted Cruz didn’t denounce Trump, but instead chose a softer way to distance himself from the Donald:

“I do not agree with his proposals. I do not think it is the right solution,” Cruz said in the Capitol. “The right solution I believe is the legislation that I have introduced.”

More on what Cruz has proposed here.

So not only did Cruz refuse to poke the bear, he made his own policy proposal the centerpiece.

Amazingly Cruz is being roundly denounced himself by some for refusing to do his own denouncing. While it’s certainly possible that this is a cynical ploy not to anger Trump’s supporters for fear of alienating them down the road, it also happens to be the proper strategy, and one that other Republican candidates would be well advised to employ. Yet only Cruz seems to have the wits to understand this. That almost in and of itself is why Cruz is now in position to surpass Trump sooner or later.

The Trumpeteers’ New Emmanuel Goldstein

Trying to keep Trump supporter logic straight is a harrowing ordeal. When confronted with the reality of Trump’s many, many, many (did I say many?) deviations from conservative orthodoxy, Trumps fans respond with an “argument” that employs “GOPe” “Jeb Bush” and “RINO” in some form. The irony of calling any other candidate a Republican in Name Only while supporting the one candidate who is – based on his actual voting and ideological history – quite literally a Republican in Name Only is often lost on these individuals.

Throughout the campaign the big bad for most Trump supporters was Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush was held up as the Establishment darling, and as such the symbol of all that was wrong with the GOP (e). This is perhaps the one time the Trump supporters were largely right. For reasons that defy explanation the GOP Establishment, such as it is, has propped up Jeb Bush. Despite being arguably the absolute worse type of nominee the party could hope for to run against Hillary, the big donors flocked to him. As such, any attempt to criticize Trump has been met with accusations that one must therefore support Jeb Bush. Again, this ignored the fact that at one time 15 (now 12) other candidates were in the race, and the combined polling support for those other candidates has hovered around 60-70 percent, which would seem to indicate to anyone with either a sense of logic or ability to do math that Republicans had other choices in the primary.

Now that Jeb’s star has faded he has been replaced with a new Emmanuel Goldstein. It’s not Ben Carson. Though Trump has personally attacked Carson (and quite maliciously), the real subject of his supporters’ vitriol is Marco Rubio. Just as Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, and never Eurasia, evidently the real enemy has been Marco Rubio all along.

You can see it in comments sections of right-leaning blogs all the time. Marco Rubio is the clear GOPe darling (not Jeb Bush – it’s never been Jeb Bush), and the man to be feared. Now as Bush fades in the polls it’s quite possible that that hefty six percent or so of the electorate currently supporting Jeb will swing Marco’s way, and that indeed the big bad Establishment might see Rubio as their new savior. But the almost delusional antipathy to Rubio is only starting to peak, as can be seen in this bizarre rant where Ace of Spades lays the blame of Donald Trump’s inability to answer a question in a coherent manner at the blame of Rubio’s followers. Yeah, it’s the GOPe that rendered Trump incapable of clearly and convincingly saying no to a reporter who asked if we should just round up all of the Muslims in the USA and force them to register in some kind of database.

Sadly this is all too representative of the basic gist of Trump support, which is entirely grounded in some kind of hate towards the “other”: other candidates, other cultures, other ways of communicating that are more sophisticated than grunting. It also highlights how the Trump phenomenon is built on a foundation of sand. Even though Jeb Bush never reached particularly high in the polls, we were repeatedly told that if you didn’t hop aboard Team Trump then we were cruising towards a Bush coronation. Now Marco Rubio is the new scarecrow and symbol of all things to be feared.

And now that Ted Cruz is climbing higher in the polls, undoubtedly we will soon come to learn that the true Establishment darling all along has been the man that seems to be the most despised figure among this same so-called Establishment. In fact one Trump supporter has already assured me that “[m]any of us had Cruz pegged as a stalking horse before Trump even announced.” Scooby and Shaggy will soon unmask Ted Cruz only to see Mitt Romney in disguise, I suppose.  We’re not going to want the GOPe to get their man, they’ll say, and there’s no one that the GOPe loves more than Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz has always been their dream candidate, and never Marco Rubio. Or Bush. Or Romney.

And so it goes.

Will the Real Pharisees Please Stand Up?

It’s always nice when you are set to write on a topic but find yourself with a lack of time to discover that somebody else has already covered the issue. So, thank you C.C. Pecknold for doing the heavy lifting so that I don’t have to. Writing about the troublesome paragraphs of the final report of the synod on the family, Pecknold observes:

Jesuits, in fact, have a reputation for just this kind of casuistry that is so apparent in the ambiguous paragraphs. All signs point to Pope Francis’s interpreting them in the way progressives hope. But I’m on record as being a hopeful conservative with regard to this pope, often reading him against the liberal narrative rather than with it. I am obedient to the Office of Saint Peter, and I love this pope. I pray for him as I pray for my own father. And I trust that the Holy Spirit will guard and protect the pope insofar as God uses him as an instrument of the Church’s unity, as a guardian of the deposit of faith, and as our chief evangelist. But as Saint Paul reminds us, our obedience must be rational (Rom. 12.1–2). And thus far rational obedience impels me to ask the Holy Father questions.

What sort of legalism does the pope have in mind? When the pope condemns the Pharisees, does he realize that they were the ones who were casuistical and loosely legalist in allowing for divorce? Does he know that Christ responded to the Pharisees’ legalism with a radical gospel challenge that renewed the creation of man in grace, and the indissolubility of marriage? Does he see that Kasper’s proposal is itself at one with the Pharisees? Does he really think conservatives are teachers of the law rather than of virtue and truth? Does he really think that progressives wanting to accommodate the Church to liberal values, or comply with secular mores, are the vital source of newness for the Church?

Even if Pecknold’s hopefulness with regards to the Pontiff is a tad naive, the observation about Phariseeism is spot on. Heterodox, dissenting Catholics are the quickest to use the term “Pharisee,” mainly because that’s about the only argument their poor brains can muster. When applied to the issue of civilly divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Communion, this label is horribly misapplied. Jesus was highly critical of the Pharisees not merely because they were legalistic, but because their legalism in essence became their religion, and they missed the forest for the trees in their approach to faith. If Catholics were in the habit of suggesting that people could not receive Communion if their shirts were not buttoned up to at least the penultimate button, that would be a more apt description of Phariseeism. Insisting that we adhere to the strict words of Jesus quoted in the Gospels with respect to Catholic couples cohabitating in a state of sin is most certainly not a form of Phariseeism. The true Pharisees will be the ones who use the language of the final synod report to permit couples living in this state of sin to receive the Eucharist absent true repentance. Get ready to see just how many camels they will be trying to fit through the eye of the needle.

Of Pundits and Voters

I did not watch the Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday. There are two primary reasons for this: I am not a masochist, and the New York Mets were playing in the National League Division Series.* Either one of those reasons would have been sufficient to avoid this debacle, and the two in combination  made it a slam dunk decision.

*One may be tempted to sneer that the fact that I am a Mets fan negates my denial of being a masochist, to which I reply . . . Ummm, I’ll get back to you when I have a good retort.

The almost unanimous verdict among pundits all along the political spectrum was that Hillary Clinton was the winner, and it was not particularly close. Clinton was a giant among midgets dwarves little people Democrats. For two shining hours she even seemed almost, dare it be said, human? Perhaps her crack team of engineers, scientists, data programmers, and other smart people finally managed to work together to develop a chip that imparted something close to a personality. She was in command of the issues, managed to approximate the sound of laughter when appropriate without creeping everyone out, and avoided shrieking at decibels that would have had all neighborhood dogs howling in agony. This miracle of modern technology, working in conjunction with the pathetic opposition she faced*, enabled Clinton to get away with the most brutal assault since Chase Utley was allowed to break the existing rules of baseball in order to break a defenseless Ruben Tejada’s legs.

*By way of comparison, imagine a Republican debate in which Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and John Kasich all had to skip, and we were left with Donald Trump, Jed Bush, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore. That is essentially what the Democratic field has been reduced to. 

So we had every pundit alive tripping over himself (or herself, or xerself, or ximself, or whatever pronoun you’re comfortable with) to declare Hillary the winner. So why is it that every focus group and online poll known to man indicated that Bernie Sanders won, and it wasn’t particularly close? I’ll be the first to admit that online polls are as useful as Joe Torre – just ask President Ron Paul – but almost every sample of actual real live voters who may theoretically vote in the Democrat primary, assuming of course evil Rethuglicans don’t deny them their right by forcing them to show personal identification at the polling place, indicates that Sanders was the real winner. What gives?

This is where I’m supposed to snarkily dismiss the punditocracy of being out of touch establishment shills who are merely zealously working overtime to ensure that Madame Hillary is coronated with minimal effort, and that most of them have their heads shoved so far up their collective posteriors that they have completely lost touch with the common man. And I suppose I’m supposed to make some crack about cocktail parties, and maybe another something or other about shills and the establishment, yada yada.

Well that’s partially right. But let me offer up a slightly less cynical take, or at least one that is cynical in the other direction. The problem with pundits, and I guess I’ll include yours truly in that category, is that we judge these things by completely different criteria than the people these debates are meant to persuade. We’re largely looking for substantive answers delivered in a convincing style. We’re looking for a certain adeptness at thinking on one’s feet, hopefully packaged in a way that is folksy without being condescending.

Now is that what the undecided voter is looking for? Do you think said undecided voter, who is probably that person you wind up in line behind at McDonald’s who spends ten minutes trying to decipher the oh-so-complicated menu before settling on the Big Mac, is carefully scrutinizing the pitch at which a candidate’s prepackaged lies responses are delivered? Is the type of voter who is reasonably persuaded that it is actually possible to deliver on the magical list of free stuff the Democrats have been promising all night such a reasoned, informed individual that he will deduct points from Bernie Sanders from sounding like an escapee from Bellevue? When Sanders guffaws on stage and says “G-damn” during a presidential debate, do you think that voter is clutching his pearls and tut-tutting the his lack of social etiquette?

I have some bad news for the pundits, and frankly for most of the American public for that matter. There’s really no way to put this delicately, so I’m just going to say it: these debates are principally aimed at the dumbest segment of the American electorate. Oh sure there are at least  still some reasonably educated people who may not have settled on a candidate yet, so the undecided segment of the audience for a primary debate might be a little bit better informed than that of a general election one. By and large, though, it is not unfair to wager that most of people who haven’t made up their minds and who are actually trying to gauge their vote on these “debates” are not the sorts of people who as zealously and closely follow politics as the people writing about the debates. Which is to say that the pundit interpretation of what happened on stage during the debate is worth almost nothing if one actually wants to know who really won the debate.

What Version of the Bible Does John Kasich Own?

Some time ago I ranked the Republican candidates for the White House in order of my own personal preference. At the time I ranked Ohio governor John Kasich in the middle of the pack. I think I was way too generous.

“Look at Medicaid expansion! Do you know how many people are yelling at me? I go to events where people yell at me. You know what I tell em? I mean, God bless em, I’m telling them a little bit better than this, there’s a book, it’s got a new part and an old part,  they put it together. It’s a remarkable book. If you don’t have one, I’ll buy you one, and it talks about how we treat the poor. Sometimes you just have to lead.”

Video at the link.

Kasich echoes an oft-repeated trope of left-wing Christians in claiming that those who oppose expanding the size and scope of the government are somehow not living up to biblical teachings. I’ve read different translations of the Bible – RSV, NRSV, Douay-Rheims – all in their entirety, and somehow missed the passage in which Jesus says, “Truly, Truly, I say to you that whoever grumbles when the government takes money from thy pocket and gives it to someone else surely will face the fires of Gehenna.” I mean there’s a whole lot in the Bible about personal charity and individual responsibility for taking care of the widow and the orphan, but I gotta say there’s nothing in there about government programs and the need to redistribute wealth.

Even if we concede that as a matter of some notion of community justice the state is responsible for providing some minimal sustenance to the least privileged among us, that does not preclude some kind of debate as to the means of providing said sustenance. What the hyprocrites who cry “Cafeteria Catholic!” at conservatives who oppose certain economic measures miss is that there is plenty of room for legitimate debate about the type of programs that we should establish to help the poor. Blindly accepting that any government program is ipso facto good and worthy of expansion is at a minimum foolish, and certainly does not justify this type of arrogant and condescending dismissal of fellow believers.

Surely there are libertarian-leaning folks, especially among the Ayn Rand acolytes of the modern era, who truly don’t indicate any concern for the poor whatsoever. Conservatives and libertarians alike can be at times dismissive of the genuine hardships that people face, and I earnestly pray that my own political opinions are informed by an honest interpretation of biblical and magisterial injunctions. Kasich’s attitude implies that only one path is correct in the field of economics. Well John, welcome to the land of disregarded candidates. Enjoy your time with George, Jim, Lindsey and the rest.

My Irony Meter Has Exploded

After reading these two items, it might be irreparably destroyed.

Item the first:

A Montgomery County man has filed a unique class action lawsuit in the wake of the Ashley Madison hacking scandal.

Christopher Russell, who is listed in court files only as a county resident, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt Sept. 11 claiming that the site fraudulently represented its female users as actual women, but in fact most were automated bots designed to entice male users to spend money.

Russell spent $100 on the site to purchase credits that allowed him to message other users who he believed were real women, according to the complaint, but they may have actually been bots or workers paid by the site. The site is set up to allow married men and women to secretly coordinate affairs.

 

So you might say he is filing suit because a party with which he entered into a contract did not live up to the terms of said contract. Uh huh.

Item the second has to do with First Thing’s excommunication of Maureen Mullarkey from their blog. For those who missed the sordid affair, here is RR Reno’s post on the matter. For point of reference, here is Maureen’s blog, republished at One Peter Five. You can discern for yourselves if the post in question merited banishment.

One person who is not satisfied with First Thing’s actions: Mark Shea.

Mr. Reno:  Though I applaud your decision to give Maureen Mullarkey’s pope-hating blog the well-deserved ax, I think it is important to note that the level of sheer malice and bat@#$% [edited by PZ] crazy in the comboxes announcing he ouster at First Things is, like the popularity of Donald Trump among the wreckage of what was once conservatism, an indictment of the catechesis that conservatives have been getting from their manufacturers of thought and opinion over the last decade.

First Things–like the editors of National Review and the talking hairdos at FOX who have spent all summer trying to figure out how to team the Trumpkin Frankenstein base–have nobody to blame but themselves for the creation of that demographic. That Mullarkeys and similar lunatics have been given a forum and treated as voices to be taken seriously at all in conservative media is what has helped foster the subculture that is now roaring and frothing in that combox, as well as banging at the doors ofNational Review like zombies assaulting a shopping mall.  The sheer atavistic nuttiness on display among the Francis-haters in that First Things combox and elsewhere is the fruit of an Americanized fake gospel that FT and other conservative media has worked hard to promote.

Yes, in a post in which Shea describes others as bat@#$% crazy, lunatics, and zombies, and on a blog that is not exactly known for its decorum and lack of virulence, Mark Shea thinks that FT and its ilk are only to blame for sparking the development of an atmosphere that encourages the nuttiness that he claims is on display in the comments section of its blog.

Self-awareness, thy name is not Mark Shea.

The Lamest Defense of Planned Parenthood Ever

Have you ever gotten to the last line of an editorial where the author’s biographical information is posted and just shuddered? That happened to me today as I read this lame attack on Congress by David S. Cohen, who is somehow a law professor at Drexel in Philadelphia. Cohen argues that the House bill which would strip Planned Parenthood of funding violates the constitutional prohibition against bills of attainder. No, really, check this out:

The first day of teaching constitutional law, I inevitably find myself asking the question: “Does anyone know what a bill of attainder is?”

When one reads the rest of the article, one wonders if Professor Cohen know what a bill of attainder is.

A bill of attainder is a law that inflicts punishment upon a particular individual without a judicial trial. In other words, a bill of attainder is, as the Supreme Court has termed it, a “trial by legislature” rather than by court.

Ladies and gentlemen, you have just read the one factually correct line in the entire article.

Though no one is talking about it, this most recent dust-up over federal funding for Planned Parenthood is very clearly an example of an unconstitutional bill of attainder: Congress is singling out Planned Parenthood and punishing the organization for allegedly improper and illegal actions.

So just having factually and accurately defined a bill of attainder, Professor (shudder) Cohen now stretches the meaning beyond all recognition to imply that the attempt to not fund a private organization is the same thing as Congress punishing a person for treason without trial.

I have a high opinion of the readers of this particular blog. Based on the comments most of you have displayed a good grasp of logic and basic reading comprehension. Sadly, Professor (weeps) Cohen does not have such a high grasp of logic and reasoning. It takes quite a feat of mental gymnastics to categorize a Congressional attempt to not fund an organization as a bill of attainder. Planned Parenthood is not being “punished.” Cecile Richards (unfortunately) is not about to face either jail time or the gallows. The organization that she runs, which still manages to rake in millions of dollars from clients and from donors, might – like thousands of other similar organizations – have to live without receiving grants from the federal government. Somehow I don’t think that when James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Rufus King, and the other men who gathered together in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787 crafted the language in the Constitution about bills of attainder that this is what they had on their minds.

More fundamentally, Congress can make spending decisions based on whatever criteria it deems appropriate. Planned Parenthood is not entitled to federal money, and thus is not being deprived of essential liberty in the way that a person found guilty without trial would be. Therefore the linkage here is incredibly dubious, at best.

Professor (sobs uncontrollably) Cohen continues:

First, removing Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, over half a billion dollars that help it provide cancer screenings, gynecological care, contraceptive counseling, and more, is a clear instance of punishment. (emphasis mine)

Hmmmm, something seems to be missing from this list. Whatever could that “more” be?

Professor (what is wrong with this country) Cohen really gives the way over the course of his next two sentences:

The Republican-controlled House voted to remove the funding based on deceptive videos from the Center for Medical Progress that purport to show that Planned Parenthood sells aborted fetal body parts and alters abortion procedures to facilitate those sales.

Putting aside the fact that the videos show nothing of the sort,

So Cohen is going to go with the LIE that the videos are in any way deceptive, and then he is going to wishcast away all the parts of the video do indeed show that Planned Parenthood is engaging in all of the practices it has been accused of. I don’t think we really need to read any more of Professor (don’t send your kids to law school) Cohen constitutional “analysis.” He has just outed himself as a silly partisan hack who will bend constitutional law to mean what he wants it to mean.

Sleep well Americans – this is the man who gets to teach our next generation of lawyers about constitutional law. Clearly they are in excellent hands.

“And she just taps the heart, and it starts beating.”

The latest Center for Medical Progress video is up.

Content warning at the video.

From the CMP link:

O’Donnell describes the harvesting, or “procurement,” of organs from a nearly intact late-term fetus aborted at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s Alameda clinic in San Jose, CA. “‘I want to see something kind of cool,’” O’Donnell says her supervisor asked her. “And she just taps the heart, and it starts beating. And I’m sitting here and I’m looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating, and I don’t know what to think.

 

. . . The video also features recordings of Dr. Ben Van Handel, the Executive Director of Novogenix Laboratories, LLC, and also of Perrin Larton, Procurement Manager of Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. (ABR). Novogenix is the company that has harvested fetal organs from abortions done by Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, in Los Angeles, while ABR is the oldest fetal tissue procurement company and works with Planned Parenthood in San Diego and other clinics around the country. Van Handel admits, “There are times when after the procedure is done that the heart actually is still beating,” and Larton describes abortions she has seen where “the fetus was already in the vaginal canal whenever we put her in the stirrups, it just fell out.

Pure, unadulterated evil.

Ranking the Field

Now that we’re somewhat officially underway in the presidential campaign season, I thought I’d rundown my current rankings of the GOP field. This is a rough estimate of how I personally rank them. This has nothing to do with how I deem their chances at winning the nomination or the presidency in general, though there will be some mention of that in the discussion.

15 – 17: Jim Gilmore, George Pataki, Lindsay Graham. Just call them the 3 G’s. Their presence in this race just baffles. Gilmore is officially registering as an asterisk in the polls, the other two are barely above that.

14. Rand Paul: Ron Paul lite is living up to his name. He presents a more palatable version of his father, but in doing so he has failed to sway those who didn’t support his dad, and at the same time he has alienated a good chunk of his father’s base.

13. Donald Trump: I’ve just about had my say on the Donald. Yes, we get it Trump supporters: you’re angry. Many of us are upset and frustrated with the Republican party’s leadership as well. We’ve just discovered more effective outlets for our frustration.

12. Ben Carson: If there has been one benefit to the Trump candidacy, it is that Carson appears credible by comparison. Carson is clearly the more thoughtful of the two male outsider candidates, and I would love for him to come to his senses and make a bid for the Senate in Maryland where I think he would have a pretty decent shot at winning. But one speech does not a president make, and this is not Carson’s time.

11. Mike Huckabee: You know there must be a lot of chaffe for Huckabee to be this high up the list. Huckabee is the big government conservative that foolish “conservatarians” convinced themselves that Rick Santorum is. He is an eloquent speaker and always does well in debates, but that is not the measure of presidential timbre.

10. Chris Christie: If Donald Trump were a governor, he’d be Chris Christie. While Christie’s off the cuff bloviations might have come off as refreshing and maybe even a little fun at first, now they just seem like the pathetic utterances of an ineffective governor. I would be somewhat surprised if Christie makes it to primary season before withdrawing from the race.

9. Carly Fiorina: Fiorina has charmed her way up the polls, and indeed she has proven to be an effective communicator. Where Trump is all show, she adds substance to style and has been one of the most effective champions of conservative ideas in the race. But before getting too excited about Fiorina, be forewarned. First of all, there’s the little matter of her complete lack of political experience. Even if you view that as a plus and not a negative, and point to her stewardship as CEO of Hewlett Packard, well I wouldn’t exactly rush to put that feather in her cap. (We’ll call her record mixed, and leave it at that.) On social issues her language is wishy-washy, and in general she’s somewhat of a blank slate. She has promise, but there are better candidates with stronger track records.

8. Jeb Bush: You were probably expecting him much lower on the list, but I do not have the same antipathy towards Jeb as others do. His record as governor of Florida was generally strong, and all in all I always thought he would have made a more effective president than his brother. That being said, he should absolutely not be the nominee. Aside from his (at the very least) muddled positions on immigration and Common Core, Bush is the absolute worst person to run against Hillary Clinton. His nomination would certainly negate the dynastic factor. What’s more, at least the person that Hillary is tied to is (sad as it is) actually popular with the electorate. And while Hillary Clinton is a charismatic dud, Jeb is not exactly a dynamo himself. More substantively, we are now almost a full decade removed from his term of office. I’m not the first to observe that he simply does not feel the connections to the issues that matter with the electorate that he might have once possessed. On top of all that, he’s a clumsy speaker who has made a number of unforced errors that hardly seems befitting the Establishment darling.

7. John Kasich: Well, Newt Gingrich made a pretty strong bid in 2012, so why not have another member of the 90s conservative revolution give it a shot? Unlike Gingrich then and Bush now, Kasich actually currently holds elective office, and won re-election in 2014 fairly easily. A conservative governor of a desperately needed swing state? Sounds like a sure winner to me. Unfortunately Kasich has decided to go the Bush route in seemingly taking delight in poking his base in the eye. And while he has a fairly strong conservative record, his support for Medicaid expansion is what particularly galls, especially in the way he framed it as a religious issue. Echoing the likes of Archbishop Cupich he said”“Now, when you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.” I didn’t realize entry into the kingdom of heaven would be based on my support of giving other people’s money to the poor. That soundbite is also odd considering more recent comments about faith and politics. Really, John? There’s only one social issue of importance now?

6. Marco Rubio: If he hadn’t initially supported the Gang of Eight deal on amnesty he’d be the front-runner. Alas he did, and so here we are. Unlike others I am willing to forgive a single transgression when a person’s record is otherwise solid, and Rubio’s record is very good. If anything gives me pause it is his somewhat aggressive approach towards foreign policy. He is almost at the polar opposite end of Rand Paul, and frankly I find both extremes troubling. It’s for this, and not his transgression on amnesty, that Rubio remains outside of the top tier.

Tie 4: Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum: If either man had been a governor he’d be the runaway leader for me. Alas, they’ll just have to make do with their sparkling ideological records. I was proud to support Santorum in 2012. Though I preferred Perry, Santorum was a strong second choice and, well, let’s not re-fight those battles. As with Rubio, my main concern is with Santorum’s dare I say neoconnish outlook on foreign affairs. Santorum is much more likely than Cruz to support military involvement, and as such Cruz might have the edge over Santorum. Both men are absolutely solid on both economic and social issues. Santorum gets pegged as a big government conservative, but this is completely unfair based on his track record. Santorum does have a bit of a protectionist streak in him, so once again Cruz comes out slightly ahead when it comes to trade. In terms of their overall chances, I’m sad to say that I don’t see Santorum making much of a run, though he did surprise last time out. Cruz, on the other hand, could potentially win a chunk of the anti-Establishment vote from the Trump supporters as real elections draw near. Along with Walker and Bush, I’d peg him as one of the front-runners (assuming the Trump boomlet does in fact die out, which I’m less certain of now).

Tie 1: Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry: And here is where I shake my head over the current state of the campaign. Let’s be frank: none of these men are perfect. Walker has been somewhat wishy-washy on immigration. Jindal’s budget record in Louisiana has been disappointing (although Leon Wolf makes a persuasive case that Jindal’s budget record is quite commendable). Perry continually makes missteps in debates and in his overall campaign strategy. One of our faults as Americans in these campaigns is looking for some perfect candidate who will absolutely embody everything we hold dear, and who will, in a single term, make America a land flowing with milk and honey, where rainbows will dash across the sky every day. And so we nitpick our politicians, looking for the slightest flaws. Then when we grow frustrated we lash out at everyone. So Ted Cruz and Scott Walker becomes no better than John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. They’re all equally bad, or so we delude ourselves.

So here we are. Three solid conservative governors with good to great records, including one man who won statewide elections three times in four years in a swing state and in the face of intense opposition. Rick Perry won three terms on his own and oversaw one of the few solidly functioning economies in the state. Bobby Jindal has worked to restore some sense of political trust in a state that has been wrecked by both political and natural disasters. Again, their records are not perfect, but I would take it in my home state.

And where are they? Two of them had to sit at the equivalent of the kiddies table during the debates two weeks ago, with Jindal also registering as an asterisk in the polling, and the other remains mired in a kind of political limbo – doing better than most but not as well as he should. All the while a boorish lout who is literally a Republican in Name Only laps the field and a man nine years removed from effective governance is the darling of the establishment class.

Perhaps Walker and the rest deserve some of the blame for their failure to catch on in the polling. And it’s still too early to get quite panicked, especially when history shows that candidates have a tendency to rise from the ashes as soon as you are about to count them out. We’ll see how this all plays out, I suppose.

Requiem for a Shill

Today is a momentous day for political theater as later tonight millions of Americans will tune in for a big tv event. I’m of course talking about the final Daily Show featuring Jon Stewart.

There are several commentaries exploring what a fantastic fraud Stewart was. This one is a few years old, but here’s Jim Treacher exposing Stewart’s two-faced nature.

Stewart has been playing this game for years, most notably back in 2004 when he comment-trolled my future boss, called him a dick*, and said he’s ruining America. Then, he responded to the ensuing discussion with, “You guys do know I’m on Comedy Central, right?” Stewart wants you to take his political opinions seriously, but then when you try to engage his argument, he draws back and says, “Whoa, I’m just a comedian!” Yes, you can be a comedian and yes, you can be a pundit. You can even be both over the course of the same conversation. But Stewart plays the two roles against each other to deflect criticism, and it’s dishonest.

Call it Clown Nose On, Clown Nose Off.

Bill McMorriss calls him the left’s Donald Trump. He delves into how Stewart ceased being an honest broker, pulling his punches when it came to Democrats. He also highlights Stewart’s simplistic and dull “humor.”

When Stewart first rushed onto the scene of renegade, devil-may-care truth-telling, the zeitgeist of the day demanded howling lamentations of soundbite politics. Stewart is the chief pioneer of soundbite humor, the news of the day broken into out-of-context eight-second clips followed by three to five minutes of the host making funny faces and sighing loudly as each one plays.

It’s the comedic equivalent of saying “ugh,” of Popsicle-stick one-liners, only less original. It was built for our SEO-fueled, clickbait-laden age. Stewart may despise the “Watch Jon Stewart DEMOLISH Idaho’s Infamous Homophobic, Bigoted, Sexist, Cis-Gendered Republican County Dog Catcher” headlines that accompany each one of his segments, but those headlines have been routine for nearly a decade and the show has never deviated from its formula.

Then there’s the matter of his dishonest editing.

That’s exactly what Stewart did to former Libertarian presidential nominee Wayne Allen Root when it aired a segment of him bashing the Internal Revenue Service for profiling Tea Party groups while seemingly defending racial profiling that he’d spent his career condemning.

“When the interviewer asked the 3 guests for their opinion of me…all 3 said something nice. The director said, ‘Cut. C’mon guys. This is supposed to be funny. Please say something funny or negative about Wayne. Like ‘rich white guy’ or ‘Fox News guy.’ And then they turned the camera back on…and each guest said something negative about me,” Root said in an email to Reason.

Here’s John Daniel Davidson, also writing in the Federalist.

This is no small thing. Stewart has managed to convince large numbers of Americans, especially Millennials, that he is a real-life newsman and can be trusted as a news source, but also, paradoxically, that he’s just a comedian making jokes about the absurd political news of the day. In a recent survey, self-identifying liberals said they trusted “The Daily Show” more than Fox News and CNN. Among moderates, he’s more trusted than MSNBC.

. . . The purpose of the show is to entertain, sure, but the purpose of the entertainment is to discredit political opponents of the Left. More or less the same is true of liberal “explanatory journalism” outfits like Vox and Politifact, which exist largely to provide Left-leaning readers with liberal talking points on the issues of the day. As Kevin Williamson pointed out last year, Jon Stewart and Ezra Klein are cut from the same cloth: “For the Left, the maker of comedy and the maker of graphs perform the same function. It does not matter who does the ‘destroying,’ so long as it gets done.”

And here’s a video at Reason TV: Five Reasons Jon Stewart is Full of (well, you know.)

I will not shed a tear for Stewart’s departure. He has done more to damage political discourse than anyone else in this country. Young hipster leftists have been reduced to snarky brats who have no ability to truly analyze or even honestly assess their opponent’s political views. I am no stranger to snark or sarcasm, but these are essentially the only arrows in their quiver. Stewart may have been as much a reflection of this pose as an inspiration, but either way we’re better off without this shill on air four nights a week.

CMP’s Latest Video

The third in their on-going series looking into Worse Than Murder Inc’s selling of aborted baby body parts.

Extreme content warning for this video, showing the dissection of an aborted child. It also features an interview with a lab tech who used to work for a company that procured body parts from Planned Parenthood.

May God have mercy on us all.

On a related note, here is Brit Hume’s fantastic commentary about these videos.

The “Truth Teller” Speaks His Mind

By now everyone reading this blog has either heard or read of Donald Trump’s incomprehensibly silly remarks about John McCain. As a reminder, here is what he said:

“He’s not a war hero,” said Trump. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” The comments clearly shocked the crowd at the summit, some of whom reacted with boos and shouts of condemnation.

Here is where I am contractually obligated to note that I am no fan of McCain, and that one’s war record doesn’t justify political actions four decades later. But this is also a man who voluntarily stayed in prison in place of another soldier, and who endured mental and physical anguish that the soft bellied anonmyi who occupy the internet like a plague couldn’t begin to dream of. What’s more, in attacking McCain, Trump managed to insult all prisoners of war.

Tangentially, I’ll note that the continued defense of every idiotic thing that comes out of this man’s mouth is starting to feel vaguely familiar. The last two election cycles we had to endure Ron Paul supporters flocking to every thread where even the slightest criticism of Doctor Paul was made. The same phenomenon is at work in this cycle with Trump, who at this point could call the Virgin Mary a dirty little whore and he’d have legions of supporters cheering on his “bravery” and “just telling it like he sees it” and “Yeah, well, Jeb Bush, GOPe, establishment shill, GAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!”

At any rate, it’s telling that this comment made all the news when it’s not even the dumbest thing he said during this talk. Here’s Captain Truth Teller on the Eucharist:

“When we go in church and I drink the little wine, which is about the only wine I drink, and I eat the little cracker — I guess that’s a form of asking forgiveness,” Mr. Trump said.

The “little wine” and the “little cracker.” Yes, this is how Donald Trump references the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now it must be mentioned that the thrice-married Donald is a Presbyterian, and so he’s possibly just revealing the truth about how certain Protestants view the Eucharist. Having been to a few of their services I could see how the average person could view what they serve as a little wine and crackers. That being said, perhaps a few more people might appreciate Trump for the circus sideshow freak that truly is.

 

 

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