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.
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.
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.
After reading these two items, it might be irreparably destroyed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I just had a rather refreshing weekend. Why, you may ask? Not once did I go on Facebook, and though I perused some of my favorite blogs, I stayed out of the comments section (except for this blog, naturally). It’s amazing what a little internet hiatus can do for the spirit.
The comments sections of conservative blogs in particular have been sources of frustration. So while I enjoyed parts of Kevin Williamson’s post about “Whinos’ on National Review Online (even if it’s a bit overdone), I knew enough not to get sucked into the comments, because it would have only filled me with despair.
When Donald Trump initially announced his candidacy I reacted like a good number of conservatives: I rolled my eyes and just tried to pretend that he wasn’t there. Then a funny thing happened. The more that conservative pundits criticized the Donald, the more popular he became. Soon Trump caught fire, and is probably the most discussed candidate in the race.
This should have been predictable. I noticed this trend during the 2012 campaign as well. The more it seems that a certain candidate is bashed in the press, the more a certain section of the conservative movement flocks to that person. It’s almost as though every time a Kevin Williamson or Jonah Goldberg pens a column bashing Donald Trump, the larger his support grows.
Of course there’s more to Trump’s popularity than mere spite. He tells it like it. Or so I’ve been told repeatedly by erstwhile conservatives who are sick and tired of the establishment (maaaaaan). Somehow modern day conservatives have morphed into hippies, stuck on an endless loop railing against the establishment, and Donald Trump represents that counter-culture.
And the thing is, as Ace so aptly observes, Trump’s ascendancy can be laid at the feet of many of the people who loathe him so much. The fecklessness of the Republican party has turned off a great many conservatives. The grassroots feels – with complete justification – that the party has abandoned them. Handed majorities in the House and Senate, it seems that the GOP leadership is afraid to do anything with their majorities. Understandably their options are limited with Barack Obama in the White House, but Boehner, McConnell have folded without even trying to take on the administration.
On the specific issue of immigration, many on the right feel that the party leadership is more apt to side with the Democrats than with their grassroots. Along comes Trump, “telling it like it is,” confronting the media head on. He’s not politically correct, and he doesn’t apologize. He says outrageous things and he doesn’t back down. He is effectively the young conservative id given voice.
Here’s the problem. The same conservatives who have been smitten by the Trump are those that regularly bash the GOP – again rightly – for making noise but failing to follow through on its promises. So what have they done? They’ve gotten behind a demagogic con man who not too long ago was criticizing Mitt Romney for being too harsh on the issue of illegal immigration, who has voiced support for single payer health care, who once backed partial birth abortion, and who has given money to Hillary Clinton and voiced general approval for her and the current incumbent of the White House. Jay Caruso is right when he says that Trump’s “truth telling” persona is a myth. And yet a large segment of the conservative base will continue to insist that Trump is a “truth teller,” while bashing Jonah Goldberg and others who are writing things that they know will upset their readership.
Just last week I was informed by one of these fearless Trumpaholics that he could never support Ted Cruz – a man he agrees with “99 percent of the time” – because of his initial support for Trade Promotion Authority. Nevermind that TPA was something that conservatives have traditionally championed, and nevermind the fact that Ted Cruz backed off his support. Oh no. You see Ted Cruz had demonstrated impurity. So who’s the fallback? A man who, if given a dose of sodium pentothal before being asked his political views, would register to the left of Jeb Bush (and Lindsay Graham and George Pataki, for that matter) on the political spectrum.*
And that, ultimately, is why I have grown more frustrated. I get Trump’s emotional appeal, but beyond that it is sickening to watch events unfold as they are. Once again conservatives purists are going to hand the nomination to the very person that they claim to despise. Why? Because they will pick off, one by one, candidates that express an impure thought, or who are less vocal in supporting the things they support than they’d like. So eminently qualified candidates with a proven conservative track record will be cast aside for some demagogue who says the right things but who is as genuine as a three dollar bill. And in the end the very man they’re all trying to avoid being the nominee will be the man who gets the nod.
The funny thing is that often Trump supporters imply that any criticism of Trump is a sign that you want Jeb Bush to win, as though there aren’t 15 other choices in this race, some of them even good choices. Yet they are doing as much to guarantee that Jeb is the ultimate nominee. Which is why it’s going to be amusing a year from now when all of them rail against the evil establishment that has given them GOP nominee Jeb Bush, when it is they who will have done more to make that nightmare a reality.
Of course Donald Trump will eventually flame out. He’ll say something wrong, as someone with no convictions is wont to do. So he’ll lose ground in the polls to someone else who can bloviate and act like he is a champion come to rescue the masses.
Chris Christie can hardly wait.
Earlier last week I quipped that the original title of Pope Francis’s latest encyclical was Industrial Society and Its Future. For those who didn’t get the reference, it is the title of the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s manifesto. Now I wrote this with tongue firmly planted in cheek, although I am evidently not the only person who made this connection. Though the Pontiff iterates that he is not opposed to technological progress per se, the impression he leaves is that he is not particularly fond of modern society and the advances of the great inventions of the 20th and 21st century.
In this he’s not entirely alone. Who hasn’t complained about the ways people bury themselves in their phones, failing to interact with those around them? But he goes far beyond such laments and rails against many of the aspects of modern life. What’s more aggravating is the way that he ignores how most of these advances have improved rather than hampered the lives of the poor. More unfortunately, this is a relatively minor failing of the encyclical compared to its other shortcomings.
The overarching defense of the encyclical is that it isn’t just about climate change. The Pope was really aiming his pen in large part at secularist environmentalists and trying to persuade them to encounter the entirety of the Gospel. After all, the Pope definitively defends Church teaching on abortion and family life, pointing out the hypocrisy of greenies who seemingly value plant life over human life.
This is true to an extent. It is not merely a climate change encyclical, and the Pope made an attempt to provide a holistic approach to ecology. As Yuval Levin puts it:
The Pope is trying to hijack the standing and authority (in the eyes of global elites and others) of a left-wing or radical environmentalist agenda to advance a deeply traditional Catholic vision of the human good and to get it a hearing by dressing it up as enlightened ecology.
Sadly the Pope utterly failed in this attempt, and that leads me to my fundamental criticism. The encyclical is a rather bifurcated document. The Pope generally relies on secularist language in attempt to talk, as it were, to the whole world. Then the Pope scatters in theological references. At no point, though, does he integrate the theological and the secular. What we’re left with is an encyclical that simultaneously treats the secular audience too softly and too hard. Too softly in that he is reluctant to boldly preach the Gospel message to them to convince them of the right approach to acting more ethically, and yet too hard because where he does attempt to defend traditional Church teaching, he does so in an abrupt, unconvincing manner. Calling out the hypocrisy of supporting environmental reform while also defending abortion rights is all well and good, but the Pope fails to elaborate on this. He doesn’t substantively rely on the rich teachings of the Church that date back two thousand years. He just makes a declarative statement that this attitude is incongruous and then moves on.
That this approach is doomed to failure is witnessed in the very first comment to the post linked at the beginning of this post.
If the pope wants to fight climate change he could start by allowing contraception.
Clearly the parts of this encyclical that we’re supposed to have cheered on didn’t reach this person.
Now it will be said that the Pope is not at fault because either the media under-reported these aspects of the encyclical or the audience simply rejected it. Sorry, but more than after two years into his Pontificate if he’s unaware of how his words will be used, then the Pope is not a particularly wise man. Furthermore, if he’s going to make a moral case against abortion and birth control, he has to try a little bit harder than he did on these pages. Considering how repetitive and long-winded the rest of the encyclical is, he surely could have edited down elsewhere to make room for more detailed apologetics on these issues. He did not, though, and he is primarily responsibile for this failure to connect.
And that’s a core issue with this Pope’s style: it’s one that is necessarily going to sway the people he’s trying to sway. Just as he is doomed to fail to convince the secularists, his method of dealing with economics is just as awkward and off-putting. He presents a rather black and white worldview with the ever put upon poor on one side, and a group of Snidely Whiplash-like cartoon capitalists on the other, twirling their mustaches and cooking up schemes to make the poor even poorer. Actually, there might be a third group: uncaring bumpkins sitting in their air conditioned homes with the eyes locked onto their mobile devices.
What’s funny about this rather strawman-laden document (which incidentally reads as though sections were written by the blogger formerly known as Morning’s Minion) is that he chides the ivory tower intellectuals who don’t really interact with the real world, and who form opinions without truly understanding what people are going through on a day-to-day basis. Now it’s true that perhaps Americans and others in the west can’t relate to some of the abysmal conditions existing in other parts of the world, and thus we might tend to ignore or shrug off as exaggerated some of the Pope’s lamentations. At the same time, the Pope himself has lived in his own sort of bubble. Having lived his entire life in an economic basket case he can’t totally be faulted for criticizing the current economic system. Yet these experiences have perhaps inoculated him from forming a more accurate picture of the world and how economic and technological progress has vastly improved the lot of much of humanity. Thus he has formed a rather simplistic view of capitalism. Sadly, this leads to a simplistic, meandering, and ultimately worthless document.
Coda: I wrote this blog and had it set to post last Friday, but then the Supreme Court decision came down and decided to hold off. Part of me thought of completely deleting the post because it seemed other issues were more pressing. Ultimately that’s why I decided to publish this: it’s even more evidence of the Pope’s bad judgment. With all that is happening in the world, this is what he chooses to write a long-winded encyclical about? This is what he’s throwing the full p.r. machine of the Vatican into? I’m not normally one for suggesting that Pope can’t write about certain subjects due to the severity of other issues. Metaphorically speaking Popes ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. And the Pope can’t drop everything for American political events. But it’s not just America that is being impacted by these cultural shifts.
If you have not read Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited – well, what’s wrong with you? You should really go read it. Like right now. I’ll be here when you get back.
Now that you’ve returned, let’s talk about the character of Rex Mottram. Rex, of course, is Julia Flyte’s fiance. He is a non-practicing Protestant, and he goes through the process of becoming a Catholic. Since the book is set in the 1920s, and thus pre-Vatican II, Rex is not subjected to RCIA. Instead, Rex meets with the Flyte family’s priest, Father Mowbray. Father Mowbray relates the following exchange:
“Yesterday I asked him whether Our Lord had more than one nature. He said: ‘Just as many as you say, Father.’ Then again I asked him: ‘Supposing the Pope looked up and saw a cloud and said ‘It’s going to rain’, would that be bound to happen?’ ‘Oh, yes, Father.’ ‘But supposing it didn’t?’ He thought a moment and said, “I suppose it would be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it.'”
This, along with Rex’s unquestioning acceptance of Cordelia Flyte’s description of Catholic doctrine are among the funniest aspects of the book. What this scene does is expose one of the silliest anti-Catholic prejudices, namely, that Catholics are expected to uncritically and unblinkingly accept every word uttered or written by a Pope as unequivocal truth. This makes hash out of the doctrine of infallibility, which this very educated audience understands applies only to ex cathedra statements regarding faith and morals.
This stereotype of Catholics has fueled anti-Catholicism here, to the point that Catholic politicians have had to fend off charges that they are, in essence, tools of the Vatican. Yet today we see a rise in the number of faithful Catholics who seem intent on giving credence to the stereotype.
An example of the genre is provided by a former TAC blogger who now writes, naturally, for Patheos. This is hardly the most egregious example of the type, but it is a handy showcase. Larry D of Acts of the Apostasy has a strawmen caricature-inspired satire of what not to expect from the (now released) Papal Encyclical. He then writes:
Bottom line? The encyclical will be Catholic, and will espouse and expand on Catholic teaching. Faithful Catholics needn’t get their biodegradable knickers in a twist over Laudato Sii. Those who are…well, they have an agenda to push. Will there be some things in the encyclical that might make us a bit uncomfortable? Sure, I fully expect it – because being a Catholic sometimes makes you a bit uncomfortable. Comes with the territory. Let the Right and the Left yammer about it – ignore them. Online at least – read the thing and be able to discuss it cogently and coherently with flesh and blood folks, like family members and coworkers.
Let’s unpack this a bit. He first accuses anyone who might be bothered by the encyclical as “having an agenda” to push, as though there could be no legitimate quarrel with anything the Pope writes. Further observe that Larry has pre-judged the criticism before it has even been offered. That’s right – before the encyclical had even been released and anyone knew officially what was in the document he determined that anyone who made a fuss had an agenda to push. So he’s criticizing the criticism, that hadn’t occurred yet, of a document that hadn’t even been released.We’re through the looking glass here people.
He then continues in a vein that is typical of the Rex Mottram Catholic: the Pope ain’t gonna say anything that is contradictory to Church teaching, so why the fuss? In other words, as long as the Pope doesn’t say anything heretical – and ipso facto he cannot – then why even raise a fuss?
There are several problems with the line of thinking, and we’ve been over some of them in excruciating detail. I won’t address the potential problems with this specific encyclical because I haven’t read it. Generally, though, this sort of thinking both excessively elevates the Pope and diminishes him. It elevates him because it places large swathes of what he says and writes outside the bounds of legitimate criticism. It diminishes him by reducing him to nothing more than a vessel of speaking truisms about the faith. If the Pope is merely echoing basic tenets of the faith such as that we are meant to be stewards of creation and have grave responsibilities towards it, then so what? Why bother with a 200 page encyclical? He could have pretty much said the same thing in a 10-minute homily. Obviously, though, the Pope’s intention is to do much more with this. He is hoping to shape debate and push Catholics (and others) towards a certain course of action. Well if that’s the case, don’t we have the duty to take a step back and make sure that what the Pope is saying has merit to it?
You can see this attitude in the comments. When one commenter dared imply that the Pope’s opinion about the scientific data was not sacrosanct, someone replied, “Why do you place your understanding above the Pope’s in determining what is, and what is not, ‘supported by scientific data’?”
This brings us back to the Rex Mottram quote. The Pope has no special charism to interpret scientific data. If he sees a few clouds in the sky and predicts rain, it’s not disobedient for me to pull up my Droid, open the Accuweather app, and inform him that there is a zero percent chance of precipitation.
One last note. Another talking point that has been and will be repeated is that conservative Catholics who ignore, dispute, criticize, etc. this encyclical are no different than liberal Catholics who did the same to previous documents, especially Humanae Vitae. Anyone who does so would be guilty of Cafeteria Catholicism just the same.
I would concede that there is a danger that too many Catholics will raise up the “prudential judgment” banner too reflexively. I’ll also concede that Larry D, for instance, has a point in noting that sometimes being a Catholic makes you uncomfortable. Our disposition as Catholics should be that hen we read this or anything written by the Holy Father that we put our prejudices aside, and not mentally check out whenever he says something that might contradict something we believe.
What I will vehemently dispute is that any criticism of this or any document is just the same as the reaction to Humanae Vitae. People did not just object to certain facets of the encyclical. Rather, dissidents objected to the very core teaching of Church that Pope Paul VI was promulgating. Now, if Catholics object to the idea of being stewards of creation, then yeah, they’re hypocritical cafeteria-style Catholics. If we reject the fundamental idea of caring for the poor, that’s dissidence. I suspect, however, that there won’t be much of that style of reaction.
– The Republican field is filled with conservative candidates who have a wide-range of executive and legislative experience, and who generally speak eloquently and articulately on the issues.
Then there’s Ben Carson.
Carson, in his first speech in the state as a candidate, was asked by a voter about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the federal mandate that fuel refiners blend a certain volume of ethanol and biodiesel into their gasoline and diesel supplies.
“I don’t particularly like the idea of government subsidies for anything because it interferes with the natural free market,” Carson said, according to The Des Moines Register.
Not bad. Subsidies in general are detrimental. If he’d only stopped there. But sadly, he didn’t.
“Therefore, I would probably be in favor of taking that $4 billion a year we spend on oil subsidies and using that in new fueling stations” for 30 percent ethanol blends, he added.
For a candidate whose main selling point is he made a good speech one time, he sure sticks his foot in his mouth quite often.
– Speaking of bad candidates in a good field, Mike Huckabee doesn’t seem too concerned about his snake oil salesmanship gone awry.
– I am linking to Think Progress, and not to mock them. Why? Because even they thought Mark Halperin’s interview with Ted Cruz was cringe-worthy.
Late last month, Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin conducted a cringe-worthy interview with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). The interview meandered from questions about how Cruz plans to appeal to Latino voters to what appeared to be a series of requests that Cruz, who is Cuban American, prove that he is really, truly, authentically Cuban. By the end of the interview, when Halperin asks Cruz to say a few words “en Español,” one can’t help but think that Cruz had unwittingly wandered into a minstrel show, with Halperin demanding that Cruz perform for an audience.
Though Halperin begins the interview by raising a legitimate topic — a speech Cruz gave to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce — his conversation with Cruz quickly goes off the rails. “Your last name is Cruz and you’re from Texas,” Halperin asks Cruz. “Just based on that, should you have appeal to Hispanic voters?”
Halperin’s suggestion that Hispanic voters may base their vote solely on the ethnicity of a particular candidate is actually a relative high point of the interview. The next question begins with Halperin telling Cruz that “people are really interested in you and your identity,” before Halperin asks whether Cruz listed himself as “Hispanic” when he applied to college and law school. Over the course of the next five minutes, Halperin demands that Cruz identify his “favorite Cuban food” and his “favorite “Cuban singer.”
Looking forward to Halperin’s interview with Bobby Jindal where he dares the Louisiana Governor to prepare “some of that curry stuff” on live television.
– Londonites riot over the UK election results. Someone might take away a barely noticeable portion of their government cheese. Can’t have that.
– There were a lot of good articles written in the aftermath of the Baltimore riots, but David French’s may have been the best of the lot.
For decades, the Left has ruled America’s great cities, presiding over often-unaccountable police departments, denying access to affordable housing, and dramatically increasing the state’s intrusion into citizens’ lives. In fact, the Left’s diverse urban centers are at the heart of the so-called coalition of the ascendant that will allegedly guarantee liberal domination for years to come. Yet now one part of that coalition is throwing rocks and burning cars, and another part of that coalition is locking shields and wielding pepper spray. And a third segment — the urban intellectual elite — can’t decide whether to justify or condemn the riots. It’s blue versus blue in America’s cities. Their one-party rule has failed.
Incidentally French has become my second favorite National Review writer after Kevin Williamson.
– Speaking of Williamson, here he is in the aftermath of the terror attack in Garland.
And speaking of the shooting, we’ve had another round of the “I support free spech, but . . . ” game. Here’s Ace shooting down that silliness, including a link to Megyn Kelly’s takedown of Bill O’Reilly ignorantly spouting (an occurrence as common as Bill O’Reilly drawing breath).
– Here’s a good refutation of the lament that Congress just doesn’t work in a bipartisan fashion anymore. Well, maybe it shouldn’t.
– Here’s another David French article (it’s been awhile since V&S entries). I had a similar evolution as French, though I got there much sooner. The supporters of gay marriage had as much to do with me changing my mind (to opposition) as anything else.
– Maybe General Jack D. Ripper was onto something after all.
– Speaking of ill-founded health conspiracy thinking, Chipotle’s GMO ban is both a toothless bit of pr tomfoolery as well as a silly ploy based on scientific illiteracy.
But what are the health risks from eating genetically modified food?
There aren’t any. Twenty-five years worth of scientific studies have shown no evidence of harm from the use of GM crops. A recent report from the European Union found that “the main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky [to consume] than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies.” These findings are backed by the American Medical Association, the US National Academy of Sciences, and the World Health Organization — along with other respected scientific research based organizations worldwide. Nevertheless, popular resistance to the product continues to grow. As a result of this, all of the countries in the EU and dozens of other countries worldwide restrict or ban the production and sale of genetically modified foods.
– Millennials aren’t having babies. Nothing to worry about though. Nosirree.
– The folks at Protein World might be my heroes.
A republic, if you can keep it.
I was going to wait to post another Various & Sundry until after the Mets lost another game, but I wouldn’t have to hold out on you until June.
– Example Number I lost count of how we are raising a nation of coddled brats.
On Thursday, the State of Israel is celebrating her 67th birthday. Naturally, pro-Israel college students nationwide have organized celebratory gatherings – ranging from guest speakers to culturally (read: food) oriented events.
On Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s campus, the planned celebration was not without controversy and dissent.
On April 20th, the student group Palestine@MIT issued an “open letter” decrying an Israel Independence Day celebration scheduled to take place during SpringFest. Palestine@MIT went as far as to claim that the event makes them feel “unsafe.”
– In completely unrelated news, a wide majority of Americans say they would not permit their elementary school-age children walk to school by themselves. There are some issues with the poll: elementary school-age could mean anything between 5 and 14 years-old, plus who knows how many families live miles away from school. That being the case, it’s more proof that large swathes of the public think of pre-teens as little faberge eggs that cannot be let out of adult sight for more than a second.
– Pro-abortion zealots in Colorado won’t even criminalize the act of ripping out and killing an unborn child against the mother’s wishes.
But abortion extremists — the real abortion extremists — insist that cutting a pregnant woman’s baby out of her and killing it, even against her wishes, should not be a crime in and of itself. You could charge this guy with assault for cutting the woman — but the deliberate cutting out of her unborn child would support no further charges, because it’s simply not a life. It’s not even property that could be vandalized.
– Seven Things Everyone Should Know about Pregnant Ladies. I particularly liked number four.
Another ridiculous media trope. In movies, laboring women are regularly getting raced to the hospital by mailmen or pizza boys who happen to be on hand. Nervous fathers experiment with different routes to the hospital because that extra 45 seconds will probably spell the difference between life and death.
How often have you seen this happen in real life, where a pregnant woman is rushed out of a restaurant or mall because the baby is coming right this second? Probably never. There’s a reason for that. In most cases, labor takes pretty much forever. My deliveries take so long I could just walk the six miles to the hospital, except by the time I got there it’d already be full of people who had heart attacks because they saw a laboring woman strolling along the interstate.
The movie Knocked Up was one of the few that actually got labor right, oddly enough.
Number five is also good.
A surprising number of people seem to think that pregnant women are automatic wards of the public. Nope.
That means you don’t need to give me the evil eye when I step into the coffee shop. (You don’t even know what I’m ordering. And also, it’s not your business.) There’s no reason to be scandalized if you see me in the checkout line of Total Wine. I might be going to dinner party, or getting something special for my husband’s birthday. Or maybe I am buying something for myself, which is completely fine, because guess what? I won’t be pregnant forever, or even (if it’s visible now) for very much longer. If the store is having a sale on the Lus’ favorite Shiraz, why shouldn’t I pick up a case?
We used to have British neighbors. One year they hosted a new year’s eve party. The woman was pregnant – late second/early third trimester – and she was happily drinking a beer. Most other countries do not put absolutist restrictions on alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Obviously they don’t encourage women to get drunk, but the occasional glass of wine or beer is fine. Of course not in lawsuit happy America.
– Some interesting photos of what the White House looks like completely gutted.
– Yeah, this has bad idea written all over it: Doctor Who could be coming to the big screen. It might not happen for eight years, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy the series until its demise.
– And just because: Whittaker Chamber’s awesome takedown of the rancid Atlas Shrugged. There’s so much to love about this essay, but I’ll highlight this paragraph:
The overlap is not as incongruous as it looks. Atlas Shrugged can be called a novel only by devaluing the term. It is a massive tract for the times. Its story merely serves Miss Rand to get the customers inside the tent, and as a soapbox for delivering her Message. The Message is the thing. It is, in sum, a forthright philosophic materialism. Upperclassmen might incline to sniff and say that the author has, with vast effort, contrived a simple materialist system, one, intellectually, at about the stage of the oxcart, though without mastering the principle of the wheel. Like any consistent materialism, this one begins by rejecting God, religion, original sin, etc., etc. (This book’s aggressive atheism and rather unbuttoned “higher morality,” which chiefly outrage some readers, are, in fact, secondary ripples, and result inevitably from its underpinning premises.) Thus, Randian Man, like Marxian Man, is made the center of a godless world.
Okay, one more
Something of this implication is fixed in the book’s dictatorial tone, which is much its most striking feature. Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. In addition, the mind which finds this tone natural to it shares other characteristics of its type. 1) It consistently mistakes raw force for strength, and the rawer the force, the more reverent the posture of the mind before it. 2) It supposes itself to be the bringer of a final revelation. Therefore, resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, right reason itself enjoins them. From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: “To a gas chamber–go!” The same inflexibly self-righteous stance results, too (in the total absence of any saving humor), in odd extravagances of inflection and gesture-that Dollar Sign, for example. At first, we try to tell ourselves that these are just lapses, that this mind has, somehow, mislaid the discriminating knack that most of us pray will warn us in time of the difference between what is effective and firm, and what is wildly grotesque and excessive. Soon we suspect something worse. We suspect that this mind finds, precisely in extravagance, some exalting merit; feels a surging release of power and passion precisely in smashing up the house. A tornado might feel this way, or Carrie Nation.