Paul Zummo

Various & Sundry, 4/8/15

– The Hugo Awards have presented us with a rather odd cultural moment, and one which – for once – conservatives are winning.

To counteract the voting bias, Correia organized a campaign called “Sad Puppies”—because, he explains, “boring message fiction is the leading cause of Puppy Related Sadness.” Which gives you a small sampling of the kind of goofy, irreverent humor with which the campaign has been conducted. The idea was simply to suggest a slate of authors Correia thought were likely to be overlooked or slighted because of their views—and to counteract that effect by lobbying in their favor.

But then things got out of hand. This year, the Sad Puppies campaign (and a related slate of recommendations called Rabid Puppies) swept the field. The response was a total meltdown among the leftist elites who had assumed, in previous years, that they (and their favorite publisher, Tor) basically owned the Hugos. So they did what the Left always does: they smeared everyone who disagrees with them as racists.

– Fr. Z links to a video which helps explain why more men don’t go to Church. Fortunately I do not have to endure such things at my parish.

Oh look at that – more doubt is being placed on another set of government dietary guidelines.

Moreover, according to studies published in recent years by pillars of the medical community, the low levels of salt recommended by the government might actually be dangerous.

“There is no longer any valid basis for the current salt guidelines,” said Andrew Mente, a professor at McMaster University in Ontario and one of the researchers involved in a major study published last year by the New England Journal of Medicine. “So why are we still scaring people about salt?”’

More salt on my bacon, please.

– Yeah, Charlie Cooke’s a hypocrite. You know what? I guess I am as well because I pretty much agree with everything he says here.

I am an opponent of the death penalty, and I have for a long time now been happy to argue why. But I fear that I am also something of a hypocrite on the matter, in that my heart and my head are often in two different places. Like many people, when I hear the news that a serial rapist/murderer has been killed, something in my gut says, “good!” And then I quickly check myself, and I remember why I’m against it, and I recall that I really don’t trust the state the make these sorts of decisions. It is always important to look to our better angels when our emotions run away with our brains. Upon hearing the news that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been found guilty on all thirty of the counts that were brought against him, however, I have had trouble rebounding from my initial, intuitive, instinct. On paper, I hope that he is not sentenced to death. But if he is, will I care that much? Meh.

– The Kennedy (with some very rare and exceptions) has done as much as any to guarantee the deaths millions of unborn children. I guess it makes sense for one of them to get to work on the born.

When Kennedy asked the crowd of a few hundred viewers how many parents had a child injured by vaccines, numerous hands went up. “They get the shot, that night they have a fever of a hundred and three, they go to sleep, and three months later their brain is gone,” Kennedy said. “This is a holocaust, what this is doing to our country.”

Interesting analogy from someone who seeks to imprison climate change “deniers.”

Various & Sundry, 4/7/15

I hope everyone is having a happy and blessed Easter.

– Rand Paul has officially entered the 2016 presidential race. There’s a long way to go, and at this point there are a number of candidates I could see myself supporting. He is not one of them. There are myriad reasons why, and he gave me another one today.

– Kevin Williamson with a typically brilliant column, which concludes thusly:.

“I expect to die in bed,” Francis Eugene Cardinal George famously remarked. “My successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” Perhaps it will not come to that. But we already are on the precipice of sending men with guns to the homes and businesses of bakers to enforce compliance with dictates undreamt-of the day before yesterday. Yes, render unto Caesar, and all that. But render only what is Caesar’s — and not one mite more.

– Speaking of the Indiana RFRA law, I do have to agree with Andy McCarthy’s analysis. The federal RFRA was an overwrought reaction to what was a correctly decided Supreme Court case. Naturally this does not justify the over-reaction to the Indiana law, but we do need to have some perspective, as McCarthy explains the original legislation’s history:

It should be no surprise, though. RFRA was an unfortunate reaction, by an odd combination of conservative religious leaders and opportunistic statists, to a 1990 Supreme Court decision, Employment Division v. Smith, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, a brilliant conservative jurist (and, for what it’s worth in this context, a devout Catholic). The statute’s enactment was triggered in 1993, when the Court reaffirmed Smith in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah. These cases stand for the principle that the First Amendment does not provide a religion-based exemption from compliance with a law of general application that is religion-neutral — i.e., a law that applies to everyone equally and does not discriminate against adherents of a particular religion.

Moreover, RFRA does not provide a principled, knowable carapace of religious freedom. Rather, it transfers the power to decide what religious convictions will be respected from where it belongs, in the hands of free people through their elected representatives, to where it should not reside, in the whims of politically unaccountable judges whose sensibilities often differ widely from the community’s sensibilities. When someone claims a law burdens religion, RFRA imposes a test: The government must prove that the law serves a compelling public purpose and represents the least burdensome manner of doing so. There is no reason to believe judges are better equipped to perform that balancing than legislatures; and there is nothing about a law degree that makes a judge a suitable arbiter of which tenets of your faith outweigh the government’s interests, and which do not. Furthermore, if a legislature strikes the wrong balance, its statute can be amended with comparative ease; reversing a court’s error in defining the parameters of a constitutional right is extraordinarily difficult.

As McCarthy explains, the fact that the likes of Ted Kennedy supported the federal RFRA is reason enough to make conservatives suspect the wisdom of it.

– So Rolling Stone has retracted its UVA rape story and is on the cusp of being sued. Good. Let me just add that as the father of three (soon to be four) girls, those who lie about rape are utterly repellent, for they make it that much more difficult for those who were raped.

– Sally Kohn might be one of the dumbest pundits alive, and that’s saying something.

In a column for TPM, liberal media personality Sally Kohn asserted that it makes no sense to say the government is forcing people of faith to violate their consciences, because government can’t force you to do anything:
You may have heard that the government is forcing businesses not to discriminate. It isn’t. If you chose to run a business, you have to follow the laws. If you don’t, that’s a choice—and you choose to suffer the consequences.
Kohn, who has a law degree from NYU, carried her theory even further, stating that members of the police force aren’t really using force to enforce the law unless they put a gun to your head:

This issue of government force is a funny one. You could also argue that the government is forcing you to drive below the speed limit or wear a seatbelt in your car. But it’s not. There isn’t a police officer holding a gun to your head literally forcing you to buckle up. In fact, you are 100 percent free to speed and not wear your seatbelt—and simply deal with the consequences if you’re pulled over. Is the threat of the fine for breaking the law amount to “forcing” you to follow the law? No.
Eric Garner, who was choked by Staten Island police and later died at the scene of his arrest for selling untaxed cigarettes, might disagree with Kohn’s description of what does and doesn’t constitute force. Unfortunately, Kohn fails to see the linguistic hints embedded in the words we use to describe how government compels legal compliance.

Various & Sundry, 3/30/2015

With Holy Week upon us, this will be the last V&S until after Easter.

– Gabriel Malor answers all your questions about the Indiana state RFRA. Considering that Malor often rankles the Ace of Spades commentariat with his writings on gay issues, particularly his support for gay marriage, it is significant that he is coming out against the anti-bill hysteria.

– A woman who killed an unborn child in Colorado will not be facing murder charges.

Why can’t prosecutors charge Lane with murder? Colorado is one of only 12 states that do not protect unborn children from murder. For that gap, Coloradans can thank Democrats who controlled the state legislature, and the abortion industry that controls Democrats … and themselves for buying their arguments when they had a chance to prevent this injustice

For the Democrats, it’s the abortion lobbey uber alles. That’s why this guy doesn’t have a chance in hell.

– Nicholas Frankovich defends Cardinal Burke from the smears of some intellectually dishonest critics, including one at the National Catholic Fishwrap.

Distinguishing between sinner and sin is usually easy: The sin doesn’t define the sinner, and neither does the sinner define the sin. The David who committed adultery with Bathsheba was still, after all, David the apple of God’s eye. But the adultery he committed was still adultery. Our ability to think both thoughts simultaneously may be waning, although some people only pretend that they don’t understand. Their aim is to dumb down the conversation to the point that thinking has no place in it anymore. If their opponent has won the debate intellectually, what can they do? Ignore his ideas, deplore ideas generally (oh, those “doctors of the law,” those “Pharisees”!), and push sentiments (cheap “mercy,” the Catholic version of cheap grace) that they hope will appeal to the soft-headed child in us all.

– So this Google thing might be getting a wee bit out of control.

The question for voters who are watching the ongoing regulation battles should come when you compare the two different stories above. You have a company which is clearly in bed with the Obama administration in particular and the Democrats in general. And you also have a track record which indicates that they’re not shy about manipulating their search results when it works to their favor. How much faith should you then have that they are delivering news results or political analysis about various candidates and issue oriented questions in a consistent, agnostic fashion?

Of course I read this story on a Droid, using a Chrome browser, and am typing this all up on a Chromebook. So yeah.

– And now idiots.

A selfie-obsessed tourist apologized Sunday for posting an online pic of herself grinning at the site of the deadly East Village inferno.

Modal TriggerAfter The Post exposed her with a front-page story headlined “Village Idiots,” Christina Freundlich said she was “deeply sorry for my careless and distasteful post.”

“It was inconsiderate to those hurt in the crash and to the city of New York,” she said in an email to The Des Moines Register.

– And tonight’s music video.

Various & Sundry, 3/26/15

– Was Jesus a nonviolent pacifist?


Kids climbing on a statue by the Vietnam War Memorial? End of civilization as we know it or no big deal? Or maybe something in between.

– Who says economics can’t be exciting? Well, pretty much everyone, but it can be enlightening.

The best way to (in Barack Obama’s 2008 words to Joe the Plumber) “spread the wealth around,” is, Tamny argues, “to leave it in the hands of the wealthy.” Personal consumption absorbs a small portion of their money and the remainder is not idle. It is invested by them, using the skill that earned it. Will it be more beneficially employed by the political class of a confiscatory government?

– On a related note, James Lileks on the power of the Apple watch. He takes some fun shots at those who lament the unequal distribution of goodies.

It’s so different today. Every morning an executive in a $100,000 car is driving through the housing projects, when suddenly he really, you know, looks around for once, and understands. Like the hero of Metropolis, he clasps his hands to his breast and cries out with his newfound solidarity with the toiling and the idle. Half of these guys pull over, toss someone the keys, and take the bus the rest of the way. So if you put them in cars where they can’t look out, they will never develop social conscience. Also, all personal jets should have glass bottoms and fly at a maximum altitude of 750 feet.

– Chefs weigh in on the central question of our time? Is Chicago style deep dish pizza even pizza?

Not really.

I’ve never been a fan. I feel like it’s a lasagna with a crust.

Bread with tomato sauce is how I’d describe it. But to each his own.

Various & Sundry, 3/25/15

– Today’s manufactured news outrage: Ted Cruz goes on Obamacare.

Inconceivable! How could the most prominent anti-Obamacare Senator buy insurance through Obamacare? Errr, because he basically had to. His wife is going on a leave of absence from her position at Goldman Sachs, so the Cruz family had to make a decision.

Cruz currently gets his insurance through his wife’s plan. That insurance is suspended once she takes a leave of absence to campaign with him, leaving him with three options. He can decline to purchase insurance, which no husband and father with the means to get coverage would ever do. His wife could use COBRA to keep her Goldman Sachs insurance intact for another 18 months, which would cost the family a bunch and would leave them uninsured circa October 2016 when the coverage lapses (assuming Mrs. Cruz hasn’t returned to work by then). Or he can follow the Grassley rule and buy an unsubsidized ObamaCare exchange plan, as federal law requires of members of Congress. Why, oh why, might Cruz prefer what’s behind door number three notwithstanding his ferocious opposition to ObamaCare? Anyone want to guess why a guy running for president as a loud-and-proud populist might choose to subject himself to the same unpopular program that millions of Americans are coping with right now?

As Cruz himself noted, he also wants to abolish the IRS and yet he continues to pay taxes. Double hypocrite!

– I guess “hands up don’t shoot” only garners media attention under certain circumstances.

Two high school freshmen were arrested in connection with the killing of a man walking his dog last week in Philadelphia’s Overbrook section. A third teen, who police say actually pulled the trigger, is still on the loose.

Brandon Smith, 15, was arrested Thursday and charged in the murder of James Patrick Stuhlman, who plead for his life before he was gunned down while walking his dog along the 6400 block of Woodcrest Avenue last Thursday night, police said.


“At one point he did plead for his life,” said Clark. “He said, ‘please don’t shoot me, please don’t shoot me,’ and they still shot him one time.”

Stuhlman usually took his 13-year old daughter with him on these walks. Fortunately she didn’t go this time.

– So we’ve pretty much reached the end of western civilization. It’s been nice knowing you.

“Get Hard” casts Ferrell as a casually racist investment banker brought down for a crime he didn’t commit. To prep for prison, he hires a black car wash attendant (Hart) to teach him how to survive in the Big House. He just assumes Hart’s character is a thug, even though he’s a squeaky clean family man. Let the barrage of racial stereotypes commence.

The movie is evidently poking fun at racism. But you see, poking fun at racism is now, according to the geniuses who are decrying this movie, racist.

Oh, it gets worse.

Another Variety story suggested the fact that Ferrell’s character isn’t eager to perform oral sex on a man might be “homophobic.”

That’s it, I’m tapping out.

– A rather thoughtful rumination by Yuval Levin on the philosophic underpinnings of conservatism and libertarianism.

Conservatism inherently points in this direction for reasons that are anthropological, sociological, and epistemological (if you’ll pardon my street slang). We conservatives tend to see the human person as an incorrigible mass of contradictions: a fallen and imperfect being created in a divine image, a creature possessed of fundamental dignity and inalienable rights but always prone to excess and to sin and ever in need of self-restraint and moral formation. This gives us high standards but low expectations of human affairs and makes us wary of utopianisms of all stripes. It also causes us to be more impressed with successful human institutions than we are outraged at failed ones, and so to be protective of our inheritance and eager to build on the longstanding institutions of our society (rather than engineer new ones) to improve things because they are likely to possess more knowledge than we can readily perceive—and more than any collection of technical experts, however capable, is ever likely to have.
This anthropology informs our sociology. The conservative vision of society is moved by a low opinion of the capacity of individuals to address complex problems even as it is informed by a high regard for the rights and freedoms of those individuals. It therefore seeks for social arrangements and institutions that counterbalance human failures and encourage individual moral progress while respecting human liberty and dignity. And it finds these in the mediating institutions of a free society—families, communities, civic and religious groups, markets, and more—that stand between the individual and the state.

Much more at the link.

– The Curt Jester provides some musings on “Mass Etiquette.” Yep, I’ve had many of these thoughts at Mass as well.

Various & Sundry, 3/24/15

– Ted Cruz has announced his candidacy for the presidency, so cue the first round of GOP infighting, of which more is sure to come. I agree with parts of Sean Saffron’s take, though I think he is generally too dismissive of Cruz overall. All things being equal, I would prefer someone with executive experience. That being said, comparisons to Barack Obama are not completely fair. Yes, both men hadn’t served even half a Senate term before announcing their candidacies for the presidency, but that’s where the comparisons end. Barack Obama taught some constitutional law, while Ted Cruz argued cases before the Supreme Court (and won). Barack Obama’s main accomplishment was writing not one, but two autobiographies before actually doing anything of substance. Cruz’s pre-Senate experience dwarfs Obama’s. That doesn’t mean Cruz should be the leading contender, or that his lack of executive experience shouldn’t be an issue, but he’s not the GOP version of Obama.

Then there’s much other silliness regarding Cruz, as he’s attracted his own set of birther nonsense. Sorry, he’s a natural born citizen. Meanwhile Cruz has drawn criticism from such Republican luminaries as Donald Trump and Peter King, the latter of whom opined “So, to me, he is just a guy with a big mouth and no results.”Seriously, Peter King thinks that Ted Cruz has a big mouth and gets no results. Let that sink in. Next up we’ll be hearing from Bill Clinton and his concerns about Cruz possibly being sexually immodest.

– On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats are still wondering who might be able to fill-in in case Hillary bows out. Don’t you worry Democrats, you’ve got a can’t miss front-runner. You know who I’m talking about:

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will be the choice of New York Democrats for president if Hillary Rodham Clinton is forced out of the race by her State Department e-mail scandal, a prominent Democrat has told The Post.

. . . .

O’Malley, an all-but-announced candidate who was on a campaign swing in Iowa over the weekend, “is the one who I think is going to emerge as the front-runner if Hillary is forced out,’’ said the Democrat, a strong Clinton backer whose views carry considerable weight with party members.

Here it comes.

– The Diocese of Metuchen offers us a real profile in courage.

This week the plot thickens, with the diocese telling the New Jersey press that Jannuzzi has never been told she was fired, and they are “baffled” why anyone (especially Jannuzzi’s family) is suggesting otherwise.

Yesterday, Patricia Jannuzzi’s lawyer finally spoke to the press in response to this statement, and what he said is not pretty for the diocese: “At every point in our discussions the diocesan lawyers told us repeatedly there was no way that Patricia Jannuzzi would ever come back to the Immaculata classroom under any possible scenario,” Oakley told “On Thursday by phone, the diocesan lawyers told me clearly and finally that Patricia Jannuzzi would be terminated as of the end of August, end of discussion.”

– What could possibly go wrong by over-coddling our children? They can turn into hyper-sensitive snowflakes who can’t tolerate the idea that someone somewhere is expressing an opinion with which they disagree.

KATHERINE BYRON, a senior at Brown University and a member of its Sexual Assault Task Force, considers it her duty to make Brown a safe place for rape victims, free from anything that might prompt memories of trauma. So when she heard last fall that a student group had organized a debate about campus sexual assault between Jessica Valenti, the founder of, and Wendy McElroy, a libertarian, and that Ms. McElroy was likely to criticize the term “rape culture,” Ms. Byron was alarmed. “Bringing in a speaker like that could serve to invalidate people’s experiences,” she told me. It could be “damaging.”

Ms. Byron and some fellow task force members secured a meeting with administrators. Not long after, Brown’s president, Christina H. Paxson, announced that the university would hold a simultaneous, competing talk to provide “research and facts” about “the role of culture in sexual assault.” Meanwhile, student volunteers put up posters advertising that a “safe space” would be available for anyone who found the debate too upsetting.

The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall — it was packed — but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.

– On the other hand, even some on the left are starting to think this hypersensitive pc stuff has gotten way out of hand.

– Sure “Jackie” may have been completely lying, but her lies reveal much about a deeper truth. Or something.

– Huzzah! Some states are finally starting to see the light about daylight savings time. Unfortunately my state is not among them, and some want to keep it year round rather than jettisoning it altogether.

Various & Sundry, 3/20/15

– Yeah, I can’t believe I’m writing about the Mair affair again, but Leon Wolf makes the same point I did last night.

I wonder how long it will take us, as a movement, to learn from the strategic mistakes of our past. A major reason why we keep nominating moderates for the Presidency is that these kinds of attacks on viable conservative alternatives leave the moderate as the only plausible alternative standing.  While conservatives are dividing their support into increasingly narrow slices, the moderate voters unify early behind a single candidate and don’t go to pieces over one or two differences of opinion.

As Wolf says, it’s one thing to vet a candidate and not prematurely crown a favorite, but it’s another to disqualify candidates based on minor infractions.

Also, William Jacobson has another good take on the matter, writing that conservative pundits are embarrassing themselves.

But the campaign is not about Mair, it’s about larger issues of changing the course of the country in ways that Walker has accomplished in Wisconsin. Walker needs to do a better job vetting new hires that keep consistent with his message and his strategy.

Voters should vote on Walker, not his staff.

To summarize, we have a group of conservative bloggers and pundits upset that Walker fired a staffer, and then we have another group of conservative bloggers and pundits upset that Walker hired her in the first place. Then we have the remaining 97% or so of GOP voters who couldn’t care less either way. Maybe over the weekend both of these groups can grow up and start writing about issues people actually give a fig about and not some petty inside baseball stuff.

– Vatican says no to use of the 1998 ICEL translation. Fr. Z says exactly what I was thinking.

Out of curiosity, I wonder how many of those who want for the opportunity to use the 1998 version are supportive of those who want the opportunity to use the 1962Missale Romanum.

Elliot Bougis tackles the debate over the Church and the death penalty, and responds to a particularly silly post as well.

– Color me surprised: looks like the Obama administration flat-out lied to a federal judge.

A federal judge sharply scolded a Justice Department attorney at a hearing on President Obama’s immigration executive actions, suggesting that the administration misled him on a key part of the program — and that he fell for it, “like an idiot.”

He’s not the first person to utter those words  in response to the Obama administration, and he won’t be the last, I’m sure.

– This is an interesting story. A college student claims he was banned from a class because he told some uncomfortable truths about “rape culture.”

A student at Reed College has been banned from class for denying the existence of “rape culture” in the United States and arguing that the oft-repeated statistic that one in five women are raped at college is bogus.
Jeremiah True, 19, received an email from professor Pancho Savery on March 14 telling him he was making his classmates so uncomfortable that he was no longer welcome to participate in the “conference” sections of his Humanities 110 class, a course which focuses on the art and literature of classical Greece, according to BuzzFeed News.

While this got everybody’s rage meters turned up to seven, I wondered if there might be more to the story. Well, there is. The teacher in question was contacted by Reason, and the teacher claims that the student was barred because “of a series of disruptive behaviors.” Then when the student in question was contacted, well, this was his reply.

Before I interview with you, you must agree to make “[the n-word]” be the first word in your article.

Umm, yeah.

Now, Savery’s reply was vague enough that it could still be the case that True was kicked out for nothing more than hurting people’s feelings, and True may merely have been testing the reporter who contacted him. That being said, whenever a story seems a little fishy, do a little digging first before freaking out.

– Another interesting story. Two kids in Philadelphia were late getting to the bus stop and so missed their bus. They walked home to find that their mother already left for work, and so they were locked out. A cop saw the kids, discovered what had happened, and after checking with his supervisor, brought the kids to school.

Great community policing? You might think, but evidently not if you are those kids’ mother.

But the problem, the girls mother never knew what happened until a neighbor called her to say she saw her daughters drive away with police.

“I started crying. I broke down and i got here and I was hysterical”


“I don’t want them not to trust the police but they need to be aware they need to let their mother know. They need to let them say call my mom before they get in to say “call my mom,” she said.

I can understand the mother’s initial fear and even anger, but I have a hard time faulting the police in any way for anything they did in this situation.

– One day the Onion will be no more because reality is rapidly becoming more absurd than satire. A gun control group opened a fake gun store to guilt-trip people who wanted to buy guns. I agree with this take:

I like this clip as a microcosm of the gun-control movement in that it’s concerned chiefly with moral self-congratulation. You think anyone coming into the shop hadn’t heard of Sandy Hook or kids accidentally shooting family members with their parents’ guns before the schmuck behind the counter told them? This is a shaming exercise, pure and simple. And just to ensure that the appropriate amount of shame was expressed, if not actually felt, the producers exposed the ruse to the customers afterward and then stuck a camera in their faces to ask them if they’d reconsidered their purchase. Go figure that people who live in a very liberal, very anti-gun city, faced with the prospect of appearing in a viral vid that shows them trying to buy the SAME TYPE OF GUN ADAM LANZA USED, BRO, chose to express contrition when confronted.


Various & Sundry, 3/19/15

– More fallout from the incredible controversy of Walker firing a staffer. Or that staffer resigning. Or whatever. William Jacobson has a sensible take. Of course what this whole thing shows me is that the right is going to sabotage another election, disqualifying good candidates for minor infractions, and thus enabling someone like Jeb Bush to walk off with the nomination. Then bloggers like Ace of Spades will write 3,000 word rants about how evil the Republican establishment is, without of course conceding that they enabled the very nomination that they so decried.

– Yeah, Harry Reid is a real piece of, umm, work.

Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) has offered a bill that would use fines levied on convicted human traffickers to fund services for victims of human trafficking — for liberated slaves. And his bill would do more than that: It would fund task forces and investigative units dedicated to breaking up trafficking rings. The bill contains language that is horrible to contemplate in the 21st century: “trafficking with respect to peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, or forced labor.”

Who could be against such a bill? Senator Harry Reid, for one. The Nevada Democrat and Senate minority leader boasts of his pro-life record, and advertises the many occasions upon which he has voted against government funding of abortions. In the United States, the public funding of abortion is generally prohibited through “Hyde amendments,” commonplace statutory language that goes back to the earliest post-Roe days that ensures, out of a decent respect for the consciences of individual Americans, that none of them is forced by the government to participate financially in abortion. Senator Cornyn’s bill contains such a provision, and Democrats are pretending to be surprised by that. The truth is that they are taking a beating in their new minority status, while their national leadership is embroiled in a series of scandals and failures. A fight over abortion, they calculate, might be just the thing — and there’s always the chance that Republicans will help them out by having an obscure backbencher from nowhere proffer an innovative theory about reproductive biology.

– Obama hints at seeking to make voting mandatory. Because what we need are more uninformed voters deciding the fate of our country.

Obama floated the idea of mandatory voting in the U.S. while speaking to a civic group in Cleveland on Wednesday. Asked about the influence of money in U.S. elections, Obama digressed into the topic of voting rights and said the U.S. should be making it easier for people to vote.

Just ask Australia, where citizens have no choice but to vote, the president said.

“If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country,” Obama said, calling it “potentially transformative.” Not only that, Obama said, but universal voting would “counteract money more than anything.”

Oh, and shocker of shockers, he’s full of, umm, bile.

Disproportionately, Americans who skip the polls on Election Day are younger, lower-income and more likely to be immigrants or minorities, Obama said. “There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls,” he said in a veiled reference to voter identification laws in a number of states.

First of all, voter id laws, contrary to the scare-mongering of the deranged left, are not about disenfranchising legally eligible voters. Democrats know this, but they have to keep lying because lying is all they have left. Secondly, couldn’t it be reasonably inferred that efforts to make voting “mandatory” are politically motivated attempts to influence election outcomes? Nah, only Republicans and conservatives engage in that sort of thing.

– Speaking of The One, he’s now going to punish the people of Israel for defying him. Which I guess is consistent for a man with a Messiah complex.

While saying it was “premature” to discuss Washington’s policy response, the [Obama administration] official wouldn’t rule out a modified American posture at the United Nations, where the U.S. has long fended off resolutions critical of Israeli settlement activity and demanding its withdrawal from Palestinian territories. “We are signaling that if the Israeli government’s position is no longer to pursue a Palestinian state, we’re going to have to broaden the spectrum of options we pursue going forward,” the official said.

Well, when you’ve defied the will of a petulant, egotistical brat, I suppose you’ve asked for it.

Joy Pullmann looks at the fertility industry’s lack of oversight. I love this paragraph:

Lastly: How freakin’ many “third-rail” issues are there? Last I heard, that phrase applied to Social Security. Now it apparently applies to abortion, contraception, producing humans like so many cars, the national budget, military bloat, entitlements, ending marriage, you name it. Isn’t that practically everything our government is involved in nowadays? How can anyone govern if they can’t discuss what they’re doing!

– Now this is some really important analysis: does diving to first actually get you there faster? Answer: kind of.

They key to maintaining the advantage is technique. According to Rivas, “The average velocity reached by the runner in the last long step is 9.5 m/s. The average velocity of first .6 meter of sliding is 6.2 m/s, and the average velocity of full body sliding was 5.2 m/s.” Since the diver had a .81m headstart at the end of his dive (25.6 inches), it should take much more than a meter (three feet) of sliding for the runner to overtake the diver.

In other words, if the runner/diver has absolutely perfect technique, he has a fraction of a second advantage over the guy who runs through the bag. Considering that this analysis doesn’t weigh the injury risks of diving over running, my suggestion would be that the traditional view – that a runner ought to keep running – should prevail.

Various & Sundry, 3/18/15

– So I guess today’s controversy is Scott Walker firing (or accepting the “resignation”) of his online outreach director after an outcry was made against her hiring due to some harsh things she said about Iowa. Because you simply cannot say anything critical about Iowa, that wonderful Republican bellwether that has correctly picked the Republican nominee twice in thirty years and has voted for the ultimate GOP nominee in the general election once during that same time.

Here’s Drew M at Ace of Spades saying, “Eh, no big deal.” Here’s Ace himself going to eleven on the freakout-o-meter. Personally I just don’t care much either way, though I slightly lean towards the Drew M position. That being said, my main takeaway from all this: just stay away from twitter. Nothing good comes from twitter.

– Let’s step in the wayback machine to a time when adults were welcome in the Democrat party. George Will memorializes Daniel Patrick Moynihan and his accurate assessment that the breakdown of the family would exacerbate economic woes, especially for minorities. Moynihan was pilloried for his views, so it’s refreshing to see that absolutely nothing has changed in our political discourse in half a century.

Fifty years ago this month, Moynihan, then a 37-year-old social scientist working in the Labor Department, wrote a report, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” that was leaked in July. The crisis he discerned was that 23.6 percent of African-American births were to unmarried women. Among the “tangle” of pathologies he associated with the absence of fathers was a continually renewed cohort of inadequately socialized adolescent males. This meant dangerous neighborhoods and schools where disciplining displaced teaching. He would later write: “A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority . . . that community asks for and gets chaos.”
Academic sensitivity enforcers and race-mongers denounced him as a racist who was “blaming the victim.” Today, 72 percent of African-American children are born to single women, 48 percent of first births of all races and ethnicities are to unmarried women, and more than 3 million mothers under 30 are not living with the fathers of their children.

Ben Carson may need to sit down and do some studying if he wants to take this whole presidential run seriously.

Neurosurgeon and prospective Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson stumbled on key foreign policy questions during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday, appearing to not realize the Baltic States are members of NATO and dating the founding of Islam to well before the birth of Christ.

In fairness, reading through the interview online Carson doesn’t necessarily state that Islam predates Christ, but that the tension in the region does. That being said, I continue to find his entire candidacy quixotic. Conservatives have – rightly – spent the better part of almost decade decrying the cult of personality surrounding Barack Obama, and yet there’s a fairly solid base of support for someone whose main accomplishment in the political arena is delivering one single speech that people liked. In a field that will feature a half-dozen accomplished governors plus a few more serious candidates with varying degrees of accomplishment, what exactly is Carson’s appeal?

– Funny video: how to become gluten intolerant.

I feel sorry for people who have celiac disease and who probably get a roll of the eyes whenever they request gluten free food. Unfortunately there is now a cottage industry of people who don’t even know what gluten is demanding that anything they consume must absolutely not contain the stuff.

– I’ve been lifting weights and getting into strength training. If this thread indicates what happens to the brains of people who lift weights, I might be done.

Various & Sundry, 3/17/15

– A couple of posts that look at the Democratic field for 2016. First Robert Tracinski on the Democrats weak bench.

The Democrats have an astonishingly weak bench of potential 2016 presidential challengers. National Journal runs down the list, and it’s not a very impressive roster. True, one of these could emerge, maybe a Democratic senator—Amy Klobuchar? Kirsten Gillibrand? Mark Warner?—but there’s no one with a lot of name recognition, even among Democrats, or much of a national political organization. There’s Vice-President Joe Biden, but I suspect his eccentricity is mostly tolerated because of the relative unimportance of his office. And then there’s Elizabeth Warren, who says she’s not running and who, besides, has all the down-to-earth, populist, all-American charisma you would expect from member of the Harvard Faculty Club. Other national Democrats include a bunch of septuagenarians—Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the like—who are hardly up-and-coming young saviors of the party.

How is it that the Democrats have hollowed out their party so much that they do not have an extensive roster of young leaders waiting in the wings?

Tracinski notes how Bill Clinton placed his own political ambition ahead of his party’s needs. Barack Obama has done the same, and in my opinion, has been even more aloof from the rest of his party than either Clinton. This has all had the effect of wiping out the party as it loses election after election at the state and local level, further eroding its bench.

What they may not have anticipated is how badly this would hit them on the state level, where they have been wiped out in the statehouses. This further weakens the bench by ending the career of many a young Democratic politician before it even begins. It’s like a big league baseball team trying to recruit players without access to the “farm teams” where rising stars can gain experience and demonstrate their talent. And as with the effect on Congress, this specifically deprives the Democrats of talent outside a narrow demographic that dominates big cities and the coasts.

Michael Barone suggests this effect: “The geographically clustered Obama coalition—blacks, Hispanics (in some states), gentry liberals—tends to elect officeholders with little incentive to compile records that would make them competitive in target states and capable of winning crossover votes.” A few years ago, this was called the Emerging Democratic Majority. But that theory is in shambles, and it’s looking like Democrats actually pulled aReverse Southern Strategy. They were so intent on basing their electoral future on educated young people and racial minorities that they thoroughly alienate everyone else: whites, southerners, blue-collar workers, suburbanites—all the people they thought they could do without and found out that they can’t.

Victor Davis Hanson has a similar analysis.

A paradox arose in Obama’s efforts at encouraging bloc voting. To galvanize groups on the basis of their race, tribe, or gender, the Obama cadre has resorted to divisive language  — “punish our enemies,” “nation of cowards,” “my people” — that turns off independent voters and even some liberal white voters. When the president weighed in during the trial of the “white Hispanic” George Zimmerman by telling the nation that if he had had a son, that boy would have looked like Trayvon Martin, such an eerie tribal appeal bothered at least as many Americans as it may have stirred. Blacks and Latinos may appreciate Eric Holder’s constant sermonizing about white prejudice or Obama’s riffs on Skip Gates and Ferguson, but just as many other Americans do not believe that Gates was singled out on the basis of race and do not see how the thuggish Michael Brown, who had robbed a store and rushed a police officer, could conceivably become a civil-rights hero.

More importantly, there is no indication that Obama’s knack for firing up minority voters is transferrable in the same measure to other Democratic candidates such as Hillary Clinton. Once one appeals to tribal identity on the basis of race and appearance, one lives or dies with such superficial affinities. Hillary, in other words, is not Latino or black, and her winning 60 percent of the former or 85 percent of the latter would simply not be good enough under the formulaic racial bloc voting that Obama has bequeathed to Democrats. In addition, Obama seems to bestow voter resentment, as much as he does enthusiasm, on other Democrats. In 2014, it seemed that Obama harmed Democratic candidates a lot more than he helped them, especially when he reminded the electorate that his own policies were de facto on the ballot.

There’s much more at the link, all of it good. The Democrats have put all their eggs in one basket – both in the person of Hillary Clinton and the overall theme of identity politics.

The sad thing about the Democratic field is that it so bad that it’s starting to make the 2008 GOP candidates look like a field of dreams.

– Of course it’s not all roses for the GOP, as it does face a headwind when it comes to the electoral college.

Yes, the somewhat arcane — yet remarkably durable — way in which presidential elections are decided tilts toward Democrats in 2016, as documented by nonpartisan political handicapper Nathan Gonzales in a recent edition of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report.

Gonzales notes that if you add up all of the states that are either “safe” for the eventual Democratic nominee or “favor” that nominee, you get 217 electoral votes. (A candidate needs to win 270 to be elected president.) Do the same for states safe or favoring the Republican standard-bearer, per Gonzales’s rankings, and you get just 191 electoral votes.

This is true, but as the previous two articles highlight, some of the identity politics that have given the Democrats this electoral college advantage might no longer be as powerful.

– Then again, does it matter who wins. As this scathing post from Drew M highlights, it’s difficult to root for a team, so to speak, captained by the likes of John Boehner.

– Msgr. Pope digs deeper into the sin of sloth. It isn’t just about being lazy.

That said, sloth does often manifest itself as a kind of lethargy, a boredom that can’t seem to muster any interest, energy, joy, or enthusiasm for spiritual gifts. Such people may be enthusiastic about many things, but God and the faith are not among them.

. . . And boredom feeds right into sloth. The “still, small voice of God,” the quiet of prayer, the simple reading of Scripture and the pondering of its message, the unfolding of spiritual meaning through reflection, the slower joys of normal human conversation in communal prayer and fellowship … none of these appeal to the many who are overstimulated and used to a breakneck pace. Sunday, once the highlight of the week for many (due to the beauty of the liturgy, the music, the hearing of the sermon, the joy of fellowship, and the quiet of Holy Communion), is now considered boring and about as appealing as going to the dentist, a necessary evil at best.  Thus, sloth is fueled by the boredom our culture feels at anything going less than 90 miles and hour.


Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has decided that his 4,700-store enterprise is no longer just going to be offering customers coffee, frothy drinks, and overpriced pastries. His baristas will soon serve up a venti-size helping of social justice.

“Starbucks published a full page ad in the New York Times on Sunday — a stark, black, page with a tiny caption ‘Shall We Overcome?’ in the middle, and the words ‘Race Together’ with the company logo, on the bottom right,” read a Fortune Magazine report previewing a forthcoming Starbucks campaign in which the coffee chain’s baristas will be encouraged to talk about race relations with their customers.

I rarely go to Starbucks, mainly because I don’t feel like paying $2.50 for burnt-tasting coffee. This is just further reason to avoid the place. Because really, I fully expect bored twenty-somethings to provide meaningful dialogue about complex racial and political issues while serving coffee.

– The Ferguson Report reminds Dave French why he became a conservative.

And that malignancy has spread throughout the public institutions. Our local government’s core mission was dispensing favors. If you were part of the local elite, the normal rules of life simply didn’t apply. Speeding tickets? No problem. You need a conditional use permit? You got it! To this day one of the most satisfying events of my professional life was defeating the local zoning board in the first constitutional case of my career — winning the case after a local leader haughtily told my church client, “We can and will dictate how you worship.”

. . .Reading the DOJ’s Ferguson report took me back to the bad old days. It is the story of a small class of the local power brokers creating two sets of rules, one for the connected and another for the mass of people who are forced — often at gunpoint — to pay for the “privilege” of being governed. This is a very old story, and if the poor of Ferguson are overwhelmingly black, then it’s inevitable that a government built on exploitation will disproportionately exploit black citizens. I have no doubt that there are some racists in Ferguson’s leadership, but we also know that even black leaders will exploit black citizens in the cities they lead — setting up de facto rules that benefit the governing class at the expense of the poor. See, for example, Detroit.  It is entirely possible to believe (as I do) that the evidence indicates that “hands up, don’t shoot” is a fiction, even a malicious fiction, while also believing that the evidence indicates that Ferguson’s government was corrupt in exactly the way that government is typically corrupt.


Various & Sundry, 3/16/15

– Everyone else is linking to this G-File, so I might as well throw my hat in the ring. A very funny look at a really tragic situation.

It’s perfectly fine to want a woman to be president of the United States. All things being equal, I guess I might prefer it, too. But the question before the country isn’t, “Should we elect a category?” It’s, “Should we elect Hillary Clinton?” And these are wildly different questions. She’d “accomplish” being the first female president in the first second of her presidency. She’d then be Hillary Clinton for the next 126 million seconds of her presidency (Someone will check my math, I’m sure).

When someone asks, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a female president?” the correct answer, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to be sure, is “Yes.”

When asked, “Wouldn’t it be great to have Hillary Clinton as president?” The correct answer, again with varying degrees of enthusiasm, is “Oh, dear God, no. No, no, no. No.”

I don’t think this will happen, but if somehow in just under two years the best this country can offer is Bush vs. Clinton, we’re going to need a do-over as a nation.

– And in case you didn’t have your fill of Clinton-bashing at NRO, here’s Kevin Williamson’s turn to play whack-a-mole. He writes of Hillary’s Faustian bargain in which she abandoned any pretext of trying to achieve measurable policy outcomes and seems to be seeking the presidency just to assuage her ambitions.

The story is as old as Faust. But what did Hillary Rodham Clinton get out of her infernal bargain? There is money, to be sure, the Clintons having grown vastly wealthy, but she does not give the impression of a person who is in it for the money — she seems like the sort of person who could live quite contentedly on a fraction of what she might make as an academic and an ornament to corporate boards. Bill Clinton was in it for the adoration and affirmation (and does not seem to despise money), but Mrs. Clinton cannot hide the wry cynicism with which she regards the public — she lacks her husband’s psychopathic gift for being simultaneously sentimental and predatory.

– It’s clearly a slow news day because this is what’s passing for news on the hard left: a three year old girl heard Ted Cruz say the world is on fire. According to the Einsteins that make up the far left Cruz’s incendiary rhetoric left this poor child scarred for life. Except, of course, she was totally fine.

“There was no tears,” Trant said, telling the show she told her daughter that ”Ted Cruz is the one that will put this fire out. And then she then looked at him as a hero.”

“I’m telling you: She was quite happy,” Trant added. “She was like, ‘oh? you’re going to put that out? We’re good. We’re good here.’”

If you think that the above story is a big deal, but roll your eyes at the mere mention of Benghazi, can you do me and the country a big favor: never vote again. Thanks. I’d say something about reproducing as well but this is a Catholic site.

– Over at One Peter Five, a rundown of Bishop Schneider’s ten elements of renewal in the liturgy. They’re all good, but numbers four and five really struck a chord with me:

4. The faithful approaching to receive the Lamb of God in Holy Communion should greet and receive Him with an act of adoration, kneeling. Which moment in the life of the faithful is more sacred than this moment of encounter with the Lord?

5.There should be more room for silence during the liturgy, especially during those moments which most fully express the mystery of the redemption. Especially when the sacrifice of the cross is made present during the Eucharistic prayer.

There’s a lot that can be said – and I hope to get around to saying it in a more detailed post – about the lack of reverence for the Holy Eucharist, and how we have diminished the sense of awe for the real presence.

Various & Sundry, 3/12/15

Lots to talk about today.

– I haven’t talked much about the tax reform put out by Senators Marco Rubio and Mike Lee. Veronique de Rugy offered this bit of analysis in which she expresses her support for most of the plan, but also offers some criticism.

The second problem with the bill is that many free-market types are underwhelmed (for lack of a better word) by the huge child tax credits in the bill, in particular since the inclusion of those credits is “expensive” in more than one way. For instance, the projected revenue loss is $1.7 trillion over ten years according to the Tax Foundation. I assume this is the reason Rubio and Lee not only aren’t proposing a bigger reduction in the top income tax rate, but are even raising marginal tax rates on a significant number of middle-class and upper-middle class households. (The 35 percent top tax rate in the plan takes effect at just $75,000 of income for single households and $150,000 for married households!)

It has been noted before, but it is worth repeating: The opportunity cost of expanding the child tax credit in this way is huge, in terms of the possible tax reforms it crowds out. If their proposed child-tax credit were smaller, Rubio and Lee could have also included a low-rate flat tax, for instance. No matter what we hear about top-marginal-tax-rate reductions not yielding as much return at the current levels as they would if the rates were higher, lowering them would still yield more growth than the child tax credit, which does nothing for growth. If bolstering the economic status of families is the point of all this, the way to go is lower tax rates, not a tax credit. So why not solve 100 percent of the problem rather than 50 percent?

To make matters worse, I don’t buy the justification for the size of the tax credit they’re proposing. It is one thing to support some sort of child tax credit in the name of the idea that every flat-tax proposal has some zero-bracket amount based on family size, generally based on the principle that households shouldn’t be taxed on “necessity” or “poverty level” income. But providing giant credits, based on the premise that children are investments in maintaining entitlement programs and that parents should be compensated for the cost of raising their kids goes way overboard.

According to the senators, the tax credit would compensate for ”a parent tax penalty.” They compare it to “the marriage tax penalty.” But while I think that characterization is a brilliant marketing move on the part of those who think that parents should be rewarded/subsidized, it is also misleading. The marriage tax penalty is real and manifests itself in the form of higher taxes for certain people who get married and file jointly. That’s because government taxes the first dollar a married-couple secondary earner earns, often the wife, at her husband’s highest marginal rate rather than at the rate the wife’s salary warrants. The higher the marginal tax rate, the bigger the penalty.  However, people aren’t taxed at a higher rate nor do they pay more taxes the moment they have children. In fact, it is the reverse because of personal allowances. So there is no “parent tax penalty.”

I have to concur in large part with de Rugy’s analysis. Ramesh Ponnuru, Reihan Salan and others have been beating the drums for expanding the child tax credit, and I have yet to hear a convincing explanation of how this is anything but more social engineering through the tax code. Indeed that is my beef with much of Salan and Ross Douthat’s book, The Grand New Party, which felt like 200 pages of nothing but pleading for more tax credits. As a father of (almost) four, I would certainly benefit from an expanded credit, but even I have to say enough is enough.

Attention men: if you are nice, happy man who holds the door open for women, you are clearly signalling that you are nothing but a sexist.

Benevolent sexism makes men more smiley when they interact with women, and that’s bad news. Men who put women on a pedestal may be the wolves in sheep clothing hindering gender equality.

A new study examining the nonverbal cues thrown out during interactions between men and women finds that men who have high ratings of “benevolent sexism” — attitudes towards women that are well-intentioned but perpetuate inequality — finds that smiling and other positive cues increase when this kind of sexism is prevalent.

I clearly missed my calling. Who knew one could earn a living conducting such insightful “studies.”

– Fact-checking the fact checkers, part one million: Speaking of earning a living, I am starting to consider developing a fact-checking website that only fact-checks fact-checkers. Patterico writes of one of the most egregious examples of a fact-checker sneaking opinion into her column, as a manifestly true and simple observation made by Ted Cruz got rated as kinda false. WaPo editor Glenn Kessler at least had the dignity to respond to a few questions about this assessment, and offered up some whoppers. Continue reading

Various & Sundry, 3/11/15

– Jay just mentioned this in the comments: Crescat denied communion on the tongue.

Not only did he consecrate a wheat pita but when I went up to receive on the tongue he forcefully tried to pry open my hands to put the Eucharist in my palm. When I remained in front of him with my mouth open, holds folded closed, to receive on the tongue he grabbed my hand and took the Body of Christ, wedged it between my fingers and said, “Just take it. It’s easier this way.”

Easier for what or whom?! There were not even 50 people in that church! How was me receiving on the tongue going to disrupt the communion line? It made absolutely no sense. Just take it, it’s easier this way? And at my grandmother’s funeral is where you decide to make your little anti-trad point?

– Just to show you that not all Virginia parishes are so bad, one has severed ties to its Knights of Columbus chapter for honoring Governor McAwful.

A Virginia Knights of Columbus council is pressing forward with plans to honor pro-abortion, pro-homosexual “marriage” Gov. Terry McAuliffe by having him as grand marshal of its St. Patrick’s Day Parade. In response, the parish priest has strongly reproached the council and cut ties.

. . .

“Governor McAuliffe stands contrary to the Catholic Church in not one but many of the most essential teachings of the Church in the political arena,” the Norfolk pastor wrote in a March 5 letter to parishioners, distributed at Sunday Mass on March 8. “He himself promised to be a ‘brick wall’ against restrictions on abortion, has taken away commonsense protections for women in abortion facilities and lowered safety standards, and consistently takes money from pro-abortion lobbying groups.”

Good on the pastor, and shame on that K of C Council. It would behoove the members of this Council to reacquaint themselves with some of the degree ceremonies.

Good article from Ross Douthat on Obama’s “caesarism.” For some reason I am unable to clip any of it , so you’ll have to trust me and click the link.

– And just to show that British politics can be just as petty and stupid as our own: a fight over the potential placement of an empty chair during a televised debate.

Maybe they should get a hold of Clint Eastwood.

Various & Sundry, 3/10/15

I was attending a work-related event, thus the lack of a V&S yesterday and the brevity of this one.

– Don linked to the Dr. Long piece referenced, but here is Ed Peters on the issue of the Church and the death penalty.

So argue, if one will, the prudence of the death penalty—there are some very good prudential arguments against it, as Häring noted fifty years ago—but do not read the Catechism as making any principled points against the death penalty beyond those that have long been part of the Church teaching on the death penalty, that is, for the last 20 centuries during which no Catholic thinker, let alone any Magisterial pronouncement, asserted the inherent immorality of the death penalty. To the contrary, as Long points out, acknowledgment of the moral liceity of the death penalty justly administered, is the Catholic tradition.

Second, Catholic opponents of the death penalty should be aware that their (supposedly) faith-demanded opposition to the death penalty carries, right now, implications for real Catholics getting real summons to serve on real capital crime juries.

I assume that Catholic opponents of the death penalty would advise fellow Catholics in capital crime jury pools to express to the court (and jurors will be asked about this) their opposition to the death penalty. At which point, having answered Yes, they, like any other juror so answering, will likely be dismissed from the pool for cause. But, do we really want Catholic citizens—while Catholic pundits debate the death penalty from the comfort of their offices—excluding themselves (or being subjected to dismissal by lawyers) from trials wherein a sound Catholic commitment to justice and fair-play is most needed? If not, may I suggest some moderation in the rhetoric being used by some Catholic opponents of the death penalty against Catholic support for the death penalty. Such rhetoric (besides likely being wrong-headed in itself) seems especially susceptible to the law of unintended consequences. + + +


By the way, here is the Anchoress post that Dr. Peters also referenced. It’s, umm, something. I guess.

– On Mr. Spock – Point:

Not only do Spock’s peacenik inclinations routinely land the Enterprise and the Federation into trouble, his “logic” and “level head” mask an arrogant emotional basket case. Unlike the superhuman android Data, a loyal officer whose deepest longing is to be human, Spock spends most of his life as a freelancing diplomat eager to negotiate with the worst enemies of Starfleet. He’s the opposite of a role model: a cautionary tale.


First is that Continetti’s primary complaints are not with Captain Spock, but with the writers and the plotting. That is hardly his fault. They have to write for me, after all.

Second and most important: four times in the films, and many more times in the TV show, Spock acknowledges that he is not at all the superior being, and that his logic-based pursuits are intrinsically limited. The examples are so easy to find, it is shocking that Continetti missed them. But then, perhaps we of the Enterprise are the only ship within range …. of Netflix.

Things you should never say to a Catholic bookstore employee. I must say that having worked for a popular Shrine bookstore myself for over a year, I don’t recall any of these things ever being said to me.

This is what treason looks like.

Various & Sundry, 3/6/15

– Patrick Archbold has an excellent response to the Gang of Four joint editorial on the death penalty.

They are specifically calling on a Court to override the proper legislative authority of the states.  They are willing to grant plenary legislative power to a group of black-robed oligarchs that is specifically reserved by the U.S. Constitution to Congress and the States if they prefer the policy outcome. Remember, it is this very same power which these editorial boards grant so freely that unconstitutionally nullified the ability of state legislatures to protect the lives of the unborn over forty years ago.  As a result of the same unlawful exercise of power they espouse today, millions upon millions of babies have perished with God-fearing Christians in many states unable to do anything about it.

This is the same mistake that the USCCB makes time and time again in this case and in others. The USCCB willingly feeds the Federal beast even when every reasonable person understands that the federal government is the single greatest threat to life and religious liberty in America.

The USCCB got in bed with the Federal Government to force universal government healthcare on Americans even though many Catholics in good standing opposed it on prudential and constitutional grounds while warning of the dangers of federal interference with life and religious liberty.  The ink wasn’t even dry on that particular power grab before the very same federal government with which the Bishops allied in support of their preferred healthcare policy turned on Catholics and tried to force them to violate their religiously informed consciences.  This outcome was entirely predictable, but the lessons clearly are not yet learned.

– The national GOP may be a mess, but on the state level they continue to do things like this:

The West Virginia legislature on Friday voted to override Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s (D) veto over banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The move comes after Republicans in Congress also tried to pass a 20-week abortion ban but had to drop the effort in January after a revolt from female members and centrists.

Can we get one of these guys in West Virginia to be the next Speaker of the House?

– Surely slippery slope arguments against same-sex marriage are invalid, right? Right?

Ummm, about that . . .

Three gay men from Thailand have tied the knot in what is thought to be the world’s first three-way same-sex marriage.

Happy newlyweds Joke, 29, Bell, 21 and Art, 26, took the plunge on Valentine’s Day after exchanging their vows in a fairy-tale ceremony at their home in Uthai Thani Province, Thailand.

– Trust in Hillary starting to wain in light of the email scandal.

I kind of don’t get this. She’s been in the national spotlight for over two decades, has been embroiled in scandals since the beginning, has shown herself to be every bit as much a pathological liar as her husband, and this is what finally gets the public to start doubting her truthfulness? Better late than never I guess.

– With Hillary slumping, you know who’s waiting in the wings? Martin O’Malley.

Excuse me a second . . .

– And with that, I’ll remind you that Saturday evening is arbitrarily turn your clocks forward so we can pretend to save energy although every study under the sun shows that this doesn’t save a lick of energy but we’re gonna keep doing this anyway even though it means that we get less daylight in the morning but who cares about people who work for a living we get an extra hour of sunlight in the evening to theoretically do stuff who are we kidding we’re just gonna watch television anyway so really this is a complete waste and eventually we’ll probably expand it so that it lasts the entire year time.

Various and Sundry, 3/5/15

– Jay Anderson has indicated he has written his final blog post, so I will provide him one last link. It seems that the heads of the four families – excuse, me the big four Catholic publications have joined forces and issued a joint editorial. They have set aside their differences and collaborated to discuss the burning issue of the day. Liberal and conservative, orthodox and heterodox: these labels mean nothing when it comes to this unequivocal teaching of the Church*. Yes, finally, America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, and Our Sunday Visitor have written their joint editorial calling for an end to abortion, rebutting same-sex marriage, condemning the genocide of Christians taking place in the Middle East, calling for the abolition of the death penalty.

These four Catholic publications have decided that the paramount issue bridging the gap between these distinct entities is the death penalty. What’s more, they’re not calling for the election of local legislators who will vote to outlaw the death penalty in their respective states. Oh no, they’re calling for the raw judicial activism when the Court decides on the case of Glossip v. Gross. Despite the fact that the death penalty is one of the few things manifestly countenanced by the U.S. Constitution, (after all, if you need to write amendments saying you can’t deprive someone of their lives without due process you’re tacitly admitting you can deprive citizens of their lives with due process) these four publications are totally cool with judicial activism so long as such activism comports with their personal preferences.

Jay notes that in his very first blog post he wrote:

Sir Thomas More’s admonition to Roper should serve as a warning and a reminder to Catholics that the activist Court that sides with us in this particular instance is the same activist Court that is likely in the future (as it has in the past) to “turn round on us” and use its increasingly strident activism to decide cases contrary to our Catholic values.

This was in reference to Roper v. Simmons, another death penalty case. Now, here we are, ten years later these supposedly Catholic publications are totally fine with the use of raw judicial power. They’re fine with it now, but where will they be in ten years when judicial activists deprive Catholics of basic First Amendment rights?

Like Jay I am personally opposed to the death penalty, but I’m even more opposed to legislation by judicial fiat, and those who support the Court declaring unconstitutional that which is concretely and unambiguously constitutional are compliant in an act of judicial tyranny, even if it is for an ostensibly good cause.

*Footnote here for the sarcasm impaired. Let’s just say that traditional Catholic teaching is no more prohibitive of the death penalty than the U.S. Constitution.

– Anna Mussmann muses that we’re over-complicating motherhood. It’s of a similar vein to what I’ve written before, suggesting that helicopter parenting is a symptom of selfish parenting. Her take is a little different, but well worth the read.

– I just can’t quit the latest Clinton scandal. It’s odd that this is the thing that has dented the Clintons’ teflon coating, to the point where even Lawrence O’Donnell is abandoning ship. Now the website Gawker demonstrates that Clinton’s use of a personal email account was a huge security risk. Long story short, Clinton preferred having her emails fall in the lap of Russia than an intrusive American press.

Here’s another Hot Air link. The Republican party now controls more state houses than any point in recent history, and they owe it all to President Obama. The party that is supposedly on its deathbed is routing Democrats at all local levels. This ascendancy started before Obama was immaculated, but has only sped up since.

– Darwin’s take on when to call the cops on a kid.

If you see a property or violent crime being committed, by all means call the cops. Or if a kid is doing something which seems likely to directly result in death or injury. If a child seems genuinely lost, upset or hurt, and you’re not able to find an adult connected with them (especially if you’ve taken the time to ask the kid if she needs help and she says yes) then by all means summon help.

But keep in mind that calling the cops on a family can have traumatic (and at times even fatal) consequences. “I wouldn’t let my kid walk home alone,” is probably not a serious enough reason, unless you happen to live rather literally in a war zone.

A victory today for the revolutionaries who dared to sled on Capitol Hill.

Various and Sundry, 3/4/15

Is winter over yet? Supposedly we’re getting somewhere between a centimeter and a foot of snow tomorrow.

– Today the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the Obamacare subsidy case. It looks like Anthony Kennedy stuck his finger in the air and it was blowing the government’s direction today. We’ll see if the Court determines that words do, in fact, mean things.

– Stop the presses, David Brock was spinning on behalf of Hillary Clinton. His performance on MSDNC this morning was so outlandish that even co-host Mika Brzezinski was forced to sigh, ““Oh my God. I’m not sure what planet I’m on right now,” in response to one of Brock’s evasions. To paraphrase one of the commenters at NRO, when Miza Brzezinski is the voice of reason, oofta.

Looks like Brock’s gonna have his interns working double tonight to produce another 17-page document that is largely a giant tu quoque argument.

– Michele Obama’s attempts to brainwash our kids by feeding them tasteless junk is well underway. I cringe when I read things like this:

Under the complex “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” legislation, which has long been a signature issue for the first lady, participating schools take federal money but must stringently limit the number of calories and the amount of sugar, fat and sodium in every morsel of food sold at schools. Also, in what presumably falls outside the hunger-free aspect of the act, there are calorie caps.

A Maryland lawmaker is also pushing legislation that would require fast food restaurants to offer water, 100% pure juice, and low fat milk as the default beverage option for kids’ meals instead of water.

You know I don’t necessarily have a problem with the idea of government promoting healthy nutrition. What I do take issue with is them issuing mandates based on outmoded and discredited nutrition concepts. Evidently the only way children are eating healthy enough for the government is by eating tasteless vegetables and low-calorie foodstuffs.

Now, I’m fortunate enough to have children who actually like eating vegetables. I also try to prepare said vegetables in a manner that will make them more prone to eating them. If you have to add a little fat to the veggies to make them a bit tastier, so be it. There’s also no need to force feed them stuff when they might prefer other foods that have high nutritional value.

Four lessons from the fourth season of Downton Abbey. Not sure I completely agree with all of the interpretations, but certainly some interesting food for thought.

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