Paul Zummo

Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus with a Ph. D in Politics.

Various & Sundry, 9/18/13

Gun Control’s Dead End

Charles Cooke is a particularly incisive writer on any topic, but especially so when it comes to gun control – which is probably why Piers Morgan wants no part of a debate with him.

It is not, however, too late to set the record straight in the public square and with lawmakers, who will be predictably pressured to “do something.” Here, the truth is vital, for it demonstrates neatly the reality that, in a country with 350-million-plus privately owned firearms, the state is utterly powerless to stop evil with the law. President Obama, Senator Feinstein, Senator Schumer et al. could have pushed through Congress every single gun-control provision that they coveted earlier this year — an “assault weapons” ban, a limit on the size of magazines, and a requirement that background checks be conducted for all private sales — and yesterday would nonetheless have happened exactly as it did. Indeed, in preparing for his spree, Aaron Alexis quite literally followed Joe Biden’s advice: He went out and bought an uncontroversial shotgun from a reputable, licensed dealer and subjected himself successfully to a federal background check. So routine was this purchase, it should be noted, that it could have been made legally in England or in France.

Maybe It Was the Video Games

Instead of blaming guns for the mass shooting on Monday, let’s blame video games.

Friends said the length of time he spent glued to the “shoot ‘em up” games on his computer, including the popular Call of Duty, triggered his dark side that had previously landed him in trouble with the police on gun crimes.

Another possibility is that there is simply just evil in this world, and try as we might, we simply won’t be able to eradicate it.

The Food Police

Columnist Frank Bruni doesn’t seem to understand how grocery stores work.

There’s no more to Bruni’s column than this; it’s a tumefied argument against big portion sizes:

America is lousy with such vessels: the Big Gulp, the economy pack, the party size, two-for-one pizza deals, the Whopper, the Double Whopper, the Triple Whopper, Costco in all its bloated grandeur. They’ve taught us that volume equals value and established a dangerous baseline for what we consider a sane amount of food.Come to think of it, the Costco complaint is a non sequitur. After all, those massive packages of nuts or chicken aren’t portions but ingredients, sold in bulk for storage and subsequent gradual use.

Bruni must not cook, or he’d understand how this works. This columnist, for example, typically buys several pounds of beef or pork or lamb, or a whole duck, at one time. We divide the meat into individual servings, cook them in the sous vide, and freeze them to thaw and consume later, one at a time. Buying and preparing multiple servings at once allows us to economize on both money and time.

About that National Debt

As Chris Johnson writes, we’re pretty much screwed.

Almost all media reports about the Congressional Budget Office’s new long-term budget analysis will highlight its forecast that the federal public debt, now about 73% of GDP, is on track to reach 100% of GDP in 2038. Now that’s scary enough. As Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget puts it: “Today’s report confirms exactly what we have been warning — that the debt is on an unsustainable long-term trajectory.”

So over the next 25 years, Americans will be taxed more to pay for a federal government that will more purely become a redistribution, wealth-transfer mechanism. Taxes and spending at record highs. America as a nuclear-armed insurance company.

But here’s the thing: that forecast, as the CBO notes, does not factor in “the harm that growing debt would cause to the economy.”  Hey, that would be a good thing to know, right? Well, you have to dig deeper into the CBO study to find those numbers.

And when you take into account stuff like how deficits might “crowd out” investment in  factories and computers and how people might respond to changes in after-tax wages, you find the debt is much, much larger, closer to 200% of GDP.

The World’s Worst Police Department

With Grand Theft Auto V’s sales approaching a billion, I thought I’d go into the vaults for this Onion classic.

Many blame the LCPD directly for the increase in criminal activity, citing the department’s lax procedure for arresting criminals, which involves taking 10 percent of the suspect’s money, confiscating his weapons, and simply releasing him from custody later that day. Outraged citizens say this is not enough, especially in a city where assault rifles can be found on factory roofs and grenade caches are located under the globe at the old World’s Fair site.

“The police just let them go, and 20 minutes later they’re shooting at the very same criminals from helicopters,” veteran crime reporter Mike Whiteley said. “That is not proper law enforcement. We may be seeing a return to the bad old days of 2002, when the police, the FIB, and even Army tank battalions would leave countless bodies on the streets while attempting to capture just one man on some sort of joyful mass-destruction spree.”

Perhaps even more alarming, city records indicate that more than 75 percent of perpetrators in mass-murder or vehicular-manslaughter cases escape, usually by simple methods such as driving into a car-repainting facility. Criminals have even eluded pursuit by walking into their apartment and going to bed for six hours, after which the search has been called off.

Various & Sundry, 9/16/13

Abortion Clinics Closing at Record Pace

On a horrible day such as this one I thought I’d start with some moderately happy news.

For Abby Johnson, the closing of a single Planned Parenthood center demonstrated her dramatic reversal from abortion clinic director to leading pro-life advocate.

But for pro-lifers throughout the United States, it marked another exhibit in a hopeful trend—abortion centers are shutting down at an unprecedented rate. The total so far this year is 44, according to a pro-life organization that tracks clinic operations.

I say it’s moderately happy for as long as one clinic remains open, we can’t truly celebrate.

A Conservative Foreign Policy Vision

Fantastic piece from Andrew McCarthy that will be the focus of my Catholic Stand post tomorrow, though from a slightly different perspective. Basically we need to find some common ground between John McCain’s knee-jerk “bomb it all” foreign policy and the Paulite “Blame America first” isolationist wing.

The Matthew Shepard Narrative

On a day when people tried valiantly to score political points off of murdered human beings, here’s another story where a brutal murder was used as a political football – only the narrative proved false.

The Myth of Live and Let Live Liberalism

Another National Review writer knocks one out.

Social liberalism is the foremost, predominant, and in many instances sole impulse for zealous regulation in this country, particularly in big cities. I love it when liberals complain about a ridiculous bit of PC nanny-statism coming out of New York, L.A., Chicago, D.C., Seattle, etc. — “What will they do next?”

Uh, sorry to tell you, but you are “they.” Outside of a Law and Order script — or an equally implausible MSNBC diatribe about who ruined Detroit — conservatives have as much influence on big-city liberalism as the Knights of Malta do.

Seriously, who else do people think are behind efforts to ban big sodas or sue hairdressers for charging women more than men? Who harasses little kids for making toy guns out of sticks, Pop Tarts, or their own fingers? Who wants to regulate the air you breathe, the food you eat, and the beverages you drink? Who wants to control your thermostat? Take your guns? Your cigarettes? Heck, your candy cigarettes? Who’s in favor of speech codes on campuses and “hate crime” laws everywhere? Who’s in favor of free speech when it comes to taxpayer-subsidized “art” and pornography (so long as you use a condom, if liberals get their way) but then bang their spoons on their high chairs for strict regulations when it comes to political speech? Who loves meddling, finger-wagging billionaires like Michael Bloomberg when they use state power and taxpayer money to herd, bully, and nudge people but thinks billionaires like the Koch brothers who want to shrink government are the root of all tyranny?

I’m always amused by liberals and libertarians accusing social conservatives of being for big government on social issues when it is the left that is so desperately eager to involve the government in all aspects of our daily lives.

The Ultimate Civil War Chart

A very cool and useful chart – if you can read it.

Foreign Parenting Practices Americans Would Call Neglect

Personally I find number three intriguing. It might be too late for our first two, but with a third due any minute, we’ll need to get our whistles ready.

Various & Sundry, 9/13/13

A Moment of Fiscal Sanity in DC

Be still my beating heart – there’s actually a local politician with some understanding of economics.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray vetoed legislation Thursday that would force the District’s largest retailers to pay their workers significantly more, choosing the potential for jobs and development at home over joining a national fight against low-wage work.

. . .

Gray (D) announced his veto in a letter delivered to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson on Thursday morning. It explained his opposition to the bill and tried to soften the political consequences by disclosing his intention to seek a minimum-wage increase from all employers, not just large retailers.

In the letter, Gray said the measure was “not a true living-wage bill,” because its effect would be limited to “a small fraction of the District’s workforce.” He called the bill a “job-killer,” citing threats from Wal-Mart and other retailers that they would not locate in the city if the bill becomes law.

“If I were to sign this bill into law, it would do nothing but hinder our ability to create jobs, drive away retailers, and set us back on the path to prosperity for all,” he said.

Gray must be made to understand that being theoretically paid $12.50 per hour while actually being paid $0 per hour is much superior to being paid $8.25 per hour.

Judge Refuses to Let Jewish Man Wear Kippah in Court

And the judge relied on some profound reasons for the refusal.

Stephen Orr, a resident of Chesapeake, Va., was tried in absentia and found guilty, after a Circuit Court judge denied his request to wear a hat, or “kippah,” into the courtroom in keeping with a Jewish mandate that persons wear a head covering at all times. The judge allegedly based his denial on the fact that other Jewish litigants appear in court without a head covering.

Yes, they’re called Reform Jews, and they are to Judaism what readers of National Catholic Reporter are to Catholicism.

Senate Wants to Define Journalist

And in more “the First Amendment is obsolete” news, there’s this:

A Senate panel on Thursday approved a measure defining a journalist, which had been an obstacle to broader media shield legislation designed to protect reporters and the news media from having to reveal their sources.

The Judiciary Committee’s action cleared the way for approval of legislation prompted by the disclosure earlier this year that the Justice Department had secretly subpoenaed almost two months of telephone records for 21 phone lines used by reporters and editors for The Associated Press and secretly used a warrant to obtain some emails of a Fox News journalist. The subpoenas grew out of investigations into leaks of classified information to the news organizations.

They’re going to pretend this about protecting journalists, but in reality it’s about sticking it to non-traditional media. In the 90s we had efforts to re-introduce the “Fairness Doctrine,” nicknamed the “Hush Rush” law. This seems to be the “Hush Drudge” law.

Roman Catholic Priest Injured in Zanzibar Acid Attack

The nuttery is not just confined to the Middle East.

Ignorant Trash Destroy 9/11 Display

I have to agree with some of the commenters – were there no onlookers who could have stopped them?

Reason Number 845254 I don’t Particularly Miss Cable

Whatever Shepard Smith is paid is too much money.

Shepard Smith has signed a new multi-year deal with Fox News Channel in which he will become the primary breaking news anchor for the network. In the process, he will lose his 7pmET “Fox Report,” while his 3pmET program “Studio B” will now be known as “Shepard Smith Reporting.”

No one exemplifies the empty-headed, pretty boy talking head quite like Shep.

Various & Sundry, 9/9/13

I will be traveling for the next few day, so no V&S again until Friday.

Convert or Die

So I guess these are the people we’re supposed to be helping against the evil regime in Syria.

The village of Maaloula has been taken over by Syrian rebels associated with al Qaeda, who have stormed the Christian center and offered local Christians a choice: conversion or death. A resident of the town said the rebels shouted “Allahu Akhbar” as they moved through the village, and proceeded to assault Christian homes and churches.

“They shot and killed people,” he said. “I heard gunshots and then I saw three bodies lying in the middle of a street in the old quarters of the village. Where is President Obama to see what has befallen us?” Another witness stated, “I saw the militants grabbing five villagers and threatening them and saying, ‘Either you convert to Islam, or you will be beheaded.’”

John Kerry Told a Fib

Well what else would you call a declaration that Thomas Friedman is usually right?

Anyway, David Gerstam at Legal Insurrection documents some of Friedman’s most egregious errors.

Tar and Feathers Not Enough

Instapundit documents the most recent case of terrifying state overreach.

West Maryland Wants to Secede

More secession talk from folks tired of being pulled under by the rest of the state. I totally feel for the people of the western part of this state. They have more cause than some other state regions that have discussed secession, as the Congressional District representing the northwest part of the state was intentionally gerrymandered, and parts of Republican Frederick County were merged with Montgomery County in a district that basically runs up I-270, thus eliminating the one Republican district in the state (the southeastern part of the state has a GOP member of Congress, but Frederick is much more reliably Republican).

This article was posted on a friend’s Facebook wall, and the snooty comments of other Marylanders made me even more sympathetic to their cause. My particular favorite was one genius who said, “Maryland not have seceded with the rest of the South, but “unreconstructed” definitely describes western MD today.” I had to point out that western Maryland was the section of the state most loyal to the Union, and that it was Democratic Baltimore that almost drove the state out of the Union. Another person referenced West Virginia – you know, the state carved out of Virginia because it was the section of the state that wanted no part of the Confederacy.

While these talks of secession will certainly come to nothing, it’s hard not to at least feel a pull of sympathy. If it ever happened, I’ve moving west.

 

Various & Sundry, 9/6/13

The Obamaconomy Keeps Chugging Along

Over the last 56 months – since Barack Obama became president in January 2009 –unemployment has dropped 0.5%, from a rate of 7.8% in January 2009 down to 7.3% in August 2013, according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

During those 56 months, the unemployment rate rose substantially to a high of 10% in October 2009 and stayed in the high 9% range for 2010 and much of 2011. In January 2012, the unemployment rate was 8.3%. It crept down to 7.8% in December 2012, exactly what it was when Obama was inaugurated (and George W. Bush left office).

That rate has stayed in the mid-7% range so far in 2013 and is at 7.3% for August, according to the BLS data.

The unemployment rate has not fallen below 7.3% in the last 5-plus years.

Chug Chug Chugging Along

The number of Americans who are 16 years or older and who have decided not to participate in the nation’s labor force has pushed past 90,000,000 for the first time, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS counts a person as participating in the labor force if they are 16 years or older and either have a job or have actively sought a job in the last four weeks. A person is not participating in the labor force if they are 16 or older and have not sought a job in the last four weeks.

In July, according to BLS, 89,957,000 Americans did not participate in the labor force. In August, that climbed to 90,473,000–a one month increase of 516,000.

In January 2009, when President Barack Obama took office, there were 80,507,000 Americans not in the labor force. Thus, the number of Americans not in the labor force has increased by 9,966,000 during Obama’s presidency.

Staying off the Grid

Autumn Jones relates a day living tech free.

Yesterday I forgot to tweet. Yep, not a single message sent out on the grid. I didn’t post anything on Facebook. Even my hyperactive Instagram account took a holiday. My total text message count stayed under 10. And, believe it or not, my laptop was out of reach all day. Sure, I watched the email numbers increase on my cell phone, but I just simply let it go.

Instead, I slept in, drank coffee with my roommate, went out to lunch with my sister, perused an independent bookstore and spent the entire afternoon and evening with my family. It was my sister’s last day in town and for nearly eleven hours that was all that mattered.

Jack Might Be Back

We can all breathe a sight of relief as Jack Nicholson is not retiring from acting after all.

Various & Sundry, 9/5/13

The Indian Economy is Causing Indigestion

Sorry, that’s the best I could come up with. It’s not as clever as the Bollywood remark.

North Carolina Considering Eliminating the Income Tax

North Carolina now on short list of future residences.

State Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg County Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Wednesday that he hoped to use the 2015 legislative session to eliminate the state income tax, replacing it with a consumption-based sales tax to make up for the lost revenue.

The usual bellyaching in the comments, but I think this is the right approach.

How NC Reporter Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Is anyone surprised by this?

The National Catholic Reporter’s Michael Sean Winters has written a meandering screed supporting Obama. He doesn’t even mention the Pope, or the Bishops, much less rebut their statements. Can you imagine Winters failing to mention Pope Francis and the U.S. Bishops if they called for action on any other issue such as immigration, guns, or for that matter a Republican-instigated war?

On the NCReporter’s main page, it has forgotten how to plainly condemn bombing.  It lists some articles in favor of the bishops’ view, yet at the same time it hosts what can only be called a “diversity” of views on the topic.

In addition to Winters, NCReporter’s exclusive Jesuit “analyst” Fr. Thomas Reesewrings his hands about whether more bombs should be dropped. Fr. Reese cannot muster simple condemnation of more bombs. Reese prominently features the thoughts of William Galston, who offers a variety of justifications for the president.

So when Pope Francis, the Vatican, and the U.S. Bishops criticize Republican-led wars, or capitalist economics, pundits on the Catholic Left treat their messages asex cathedra doctrine.  When these same Catholic bishops strenouously oppose President Obama’s desire to drop bombs on Syria, Catholic Left pundits start to wonder if bombs aren’t so bad after all.

Some left-leaning Catholic sites have remained consistent and oppose any military action in Syria, but even those that express opposition to the war use much more circumspect language about Obama than they ever did about Bush and his evil neocon advisers. The silence of certain alliteratively nicknamed bloggers is particularly deafening.

Are Millennials Abandoning the Left?

Some cause for hope, but then again it seems that some of these kids are upset with Obama for not being leftist enough.

Baseball Superiority Day

I love football, but I love baseball more, and to me the game of summer will always be number one.

Of course had they played the game in Baltimore tonight it wouldn’t have been delayed due to lightning.

Various & Sundry, 9/4/13

The Priest’s Side of the Confessional

When Simcha Fisher wrote last week about reasons to go to Confession, someone protested that Priests would be feel burnt out from hearing too many Confessions.

Well scratch that excuse off the list because Priests actually get quite a lot out of administering the Sacrament.

Permits for Baptism

Elaine mentioned this in the comments of yesterday’s post.

A few weeks ago my office in Rolla received a phone call from church members who expressed concern about the Park Service requiring permits for Baptisms in the rivers of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Yes, you read that correctly, the Park Service was actually requiring churches and pastors to get a permit in order to perform Baptisms.

After learning of this ridiculous rule, I immediately contacted Bill Black, the Superintendent of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. In a letter, I expressed my serious concerns about the permit requirement and need for a 48-hour notice. I told Superintendent Black that the permit requirement would hurt church ceremonies that have happened in our region for generations and the condition also would infringe upon the religious liberties of the families living in the Eighth District.

The Superintendent reversed this silly rule, but this is just the beginning.

Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens to Promote Obamacare in Maryland

And just when the thug Ray Lewis was no longer a member of the team, now there’s another reason to despise the franchise located 35 miles to my north.

It’s the first official partnership formed with a sports franchise to encourage participation in President Obama’s signature healthcare law.

The White House had sought national partnerships on ObamaCare with the NBA and the NFL, but both leagues backed away under pressure from congressional Republicans.

Obama’s Last Intervention Has Really Worked Out Well

Hey, remember our last efforts at helping out that Arab Spring? The results aren’t so hot.

Yet now Libya has almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government loses control of much of the country to militia fighters.

Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, has threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and have been on strike over low pay and alleged government corruption since July.

As world attention focused on the coup in Egypt and the poison gas attack in Syria over the past two months, Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of Gaddafi two years ago. Government authority is disintegrating in all parts of the country putting in doubt claims by American, British and French politicians that Nato’s military action in Libya in 2011 was an outstanding example of a successful foreign military intervention which should be repeated in Syria.

The Buck Stops Way, Way Over There

Every now and then I reflect on what a cowardly, petulant individual we have in the White House, and I just weep.

Enough of Woody Allen Catholicism

Pat Archbold thinks it’s time we have a bit more John Wayne and little bit less Woody Allen.

Alert Jody Bottum

Even noted non-social conservative Ace of Spades is getting sickened by the bullying of Christian businesses.

But what we see here in Oregon — as we saw earlier in New Mexico, and as we will see everywhere, unless we do not pass a law sharply delimiting people’s right to sue people for unamerican, subversive crime of nonconformity with the current temporary government’s ephemeral cultural allegiances — is the attempt of a group of people who have long contended that they merely wish to be left alone to live their lives in peace suddenly feeling a little power and deciding that now that they have a short-term burst of political muscle, they may now indulge in the bullying and coercion they once thought was kind of a bad thing.

Northern California County Votes for Secession

Not gonna happen, but still amusing.

Jack Won’t Be Back

Nicholson is done with acting. While many will no doubt remember him most for scenes from The Shining and A Few Good Men, this is my favorite Nicholson role.

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Various & Sundry, 9/3/13

Tonight’s V&S has a Syria-heavy theme. It’s pretty much what everyone’s talking about, so I apologize in advance.

Not so Smart Power

If there’s a sub-theme to tonight’s post it’s that everything you heard Democrats say a few years vis a vis foreign policy has basically been discredited within the past few weeks – if not more. Jim Geraghty discussed this in his Morning Jolt, parts of which he highlighted on NRO.

As we await Congress’s decision on authorizing the use of U.S. military force in Syria, Democrats are suddenly realizing that their foreign-policy brain-trust completely misjudged the world.

Being nicer to countries like Russia will not make them nicer to you. The United Nations is not an effective tool for resolving crises. Some foreign leaders are beyond persuasion and diplomacy. There is no “international community” ready to work together to solve problems, and there probably never will be.

You can pin this on Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Susan Rice, but most of all, the buck stops with the president. Those of us who scoffed a bit at a state senator ascending to the presidency within four years on a wave of media hype and adoration are not quite so shocked by this current mess. We never bought into this notion that getting greater cooperation from our allies, and less hostility from our enemies, was just a matter of giving this crew the wheel and letting them practice, as Hillary Clinton arrogantly declared it, “smart power.” (These people can’t even label a foreign-policy approach without reminding us of how highly they think of themselves.) They looked out at the world at the end of the Bush years, and didn’t see tough decisions, unsolvable problems, unstable institutions, restless populations, technology enabling the impulse to destabilize existing institutions, evil men hungry for more power, and difficult trade-offs. No, our problems and challengers were just a matter of the previous hands running U.S. foreign policy not being smart enough.

The President Must Make His Case Directly

Kurt Schlicter, meanwhile, argues that the President must make his appeal for war directly to the people. His column is worth reading if only for the first few paragraphs.

The grossly obese Syrian officer was coming in the door of the King Khalid Military City exchange while I was coming out. I saw instantly that this was no soldier; this was a thug, a threat only to the unarmed civilians that are his kind’s prey. My eyes fell downward from his cruel face to the piece of flair gracing his olive green fatigues.

“Nice Assad button,” I sneered. Real warriors don’t wear pictures of dictators on their uniform. He glared back at me with his dark, rat eyes, not understanding my words but fully appreciating my contempt. Though Syria was a putative coalition partner, I knew I was staring at an enemy.

Not much has changed since Operation Desert Storm. The Syrian regime’s “soldiers” are still just punks fit only to oppress the defenseless, unable to even hold their own against a ragged band of barely-armed insurgents. But like the vast majority of Americans, I have grave concerns about attacking them.

Guess Who Came to Dinner

Yes, I know there’s a limit to these gotcha games, but in light of all the mileage the left got out of the picture of Donald Rumsfeld shaking Saddam’s hand, this is delightful.

Speaking of shaking hands, heh.

Russia’s False Concern for Children

Not directly related to Syria, though it does concern its BFF.

 

Various & Sundry, 9/2/13

On the Obligation to Fast 

Pope Francis has declared Saturday, September 7 to be a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria. Ed Peters tackles the question of whether we are canonically obligated to fast.

In short, a Catholic who does not observe a fast on Sept 7 does not violate canon law. What such disregard for the pope’s unusual request might indicate about one’s desire to act with the Successor of Peter is another question.

Bwahahahahahaha

Excuse me while I gather myself.

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

No. Seriously. I’m cool.

In what is being reported as a surprise move, the 40,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced that they have formally ended their association with the AFL-CIO, one of the nation’s largest private sector unions. The Longshoremen citied Obamacare and immigration reform as two important causes of their disaffiliation.

English Compositionism as Fraud and Failure

A senior lecturer at Santa Clara University takes a look at college level writing instruction and finds it wanting.

Compositionists today are laughingstocks on and off campus, notorious for babbling about “borderlands narratology” and “sustainable digitalized hyper-rhetoric” when students cannot write a coherent paragraph or even use an apostrophe correctly. I can think of no other field, academic or otherwise, in which the uninformed, “amateur” public has such a decisive advantage over guild-certified experts. A three-step program of professional reform follows: (1) dissociate composition teaching from literature teaching, (2) dissociate composition teaching from composition studies and composition theory, and (3) put writing instruction in the hands of practitioners—of whateveracademic training and political leaning—whose only job is to guide student-writers toward proficiency at the level traditionally associated with “higher” education.

And he’s just getting started.

Washington Post Writer Argues that Statutory Rape Ain’t So Bad

No. Really. That’s basically her argument.

To quote Bob Grant, “They’re sick and getting sicker.”

Prettiest Picture of the Day

Courtesy of Creative Minority Report, a wonderful image to close out the day.

 

Various & Sundry, 8/30/13

Kevin William’s Modest Proposal

Kevin Williamson thinks Allison Benedikt is right – rich liberals have a moral obligation to send their kids to public school. And he has a way to make it fair.

People hold capital in the form that brings them the best returns, and for the modestly affluent professional class, your lawyers and high-school principals and such, holding capital in the form of a nice house in a neighborhood with good schools provides the maximum return. Ms. Benedikt, savvy social observer that she is, concedes that “rich people might cluster.” (Might?) That the main trend in socioeconomic migration over the last few centuries or so seems to have escaped her here is not my particular concern, but it should be pointed out that the enemies of private education generally fail to consider the extent to which that rich-guy clustering provides advantages beyond high-quality schools. The development of social and professional networks, prestige, learning high-status habits and manners, etc., all are enormously important perks associated with living among the well-to-do. (I believe it was WFB who observed that a sufficiently motivated student could get a Yale-quality education practically anywhere, but that’s not what Yale is for.) The difference between a summer job answering phones at your neighbor’s law firm and a summer job mowing grass (or, more common, no summer job at all) is considerable. Redistributing funds is not sufficient; we have to redistribute people.

What we obviously must do, therefore, is turn rich white liberals out of their homes.

Ideally, they would relocate to the very worst neighborhoods, where, applying the Benedikt principle, they would do the most good. But I do not really care where they go, so long as they go.

Why a medieval peasant got more vacation time than you

They didn’t transfer feasts to Sunday, that’s why.

That said, I wouldn’t volunteer to change places.

Good to see fascism is still alive in Germany

At 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 29, 2013, in what has been called a “brutal and vicious act,” a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, forcibly removing all four of the family’s children (ages 7-14). The sole grounds for removal were that the parents, Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were taken to unknown locations. Officials ominously promised the parents that they would not be seeing their children “anytime soon.”

Just Timberlake as the Riddler?

Couldn’t be any worse than the choice for the next Batman.

Ya Think?

A House panel says that Obama needs Congressional approval before attacking Syria. What, do they think this is a constitutional republic with clearly delineated lines of  authority?

Hot Summer Snark

Larry D announced the winner of the summer’s hottest contest.

Various & Sundry, 8/29/13

The Misery of Being Merely Upper Middle Class

Allison Lynn has written a book called The Exiles that just has to be satire. Sadly, it is not.

As it happens, the book is entirely serious about the dire fate of the merely wealthy, the most pressing social issue of our time. The Exiles is littered with references to how impoverished Emily and Nate are—“who cared if Nate was financially undesirable, as economically impaired as she was?” (Emily is an advertising executive before taking maternity leave and deciding not to go back, because she realizes that she has turned into “a potato chip marketer, pregnant by the only pauper on Wall Street.”)

When their Jeep Grand Cherokee—a six-year-old car they have to park in a discount lot in Manhattan, can you imagine!—is stolen with, tragically, Emily’s new pair of TOD’s loafers inside on their first day in Newport, the family’s lives spiral out of control. Without credit cards, they’re forced to live on room service and the mini-fridge of their three-star hotel. Now they are “officially the have-nots”—a status that Emily is terrified of, having grown up as the child of a professor and been forced to eat sandwiches made with generic peanut butter.

Throughout the book, the pair bemoans their minor misfortunes, like the fact that they had to purchase a used Bugaboo from their friends and “the shame they’d shared after the transaction.” Nate and Emily nickname the stroller Ollie, “for Oliver Twist, the haggard little orphan boy. Since then, whenever Emily saw an industrial Stokke on the street—a Norwegian import far more technical than even a new Bugaboo—she’d glance pleadingly at Nate and joke, in her best cockney accent, ‘Please, sir, may I have some more.’ ”

I’m A Bad, Bad Boy

Speaking of satire that isn’t but sure sounds like it, Donald has already written about the ridiculous Slate article implying that all of us who send our kids to private school are eeeeeeevil. Ken at Popehat has a great takedown of her idiocy. Jeff Goldstein has more.

Ten Reasons to Get Thee to a Confessional

Simcha Fisher lays out the reasons why you need to get to Confession.

I Resemble that Remark

Fr. Z on the same theme. The Holy Spirit has said the same thing to me as his reader.

North Korea Still Being Run by an Evil Tyrant

Isn’t it precious to see a son follow in his father’s footsteps.

Hyon Song-wol, a singer, rumoured to be a former lover of the North Korean leader, is said to have been arrested on Aug 17 with 11 others for violating laws against pornography.

The reports in South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper indicate that Hyon, a singer with the Unhasu Orchestra, was among those arrested on August 17 for violating domestic laws on pornography.

All 12 were machine-gunned three days later, with other members of North Korea’s most famous pop groups and their immediate families forced to watch. The onlookers were then sent to prison camps, victims of the regime’s assumption of guilt by association, the reports stated.

Various & Sundry, 8/28/13

Obama’s Half-Measures with Syria

I disagree with Abrams that we should intervene, but he’s right about Obama’s approach. Why are a hundred thousand killed by conventional means not a cause for action, but several hundred killed from chemical weapons means action NOW?

What I Meant to Say

Okay, we’re probably beating a dead horse, but this is a pretty funny satire of Jody Bottum.

Now, on to my non-arguments. I begin with a Bald Assertion: Although all of Western law, foundational decisions of the Supreme Court such as its original polygamy decision, and powerful dissents by Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, are all against court-imposed same-sex marriage—and although I am not a constitutional jurist myself, and haven’t even read those dissenting opinions, or any of the legal briefs—still, I say that THE EQUITIES ARE ALL ON THE SIDE OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE. NO ONE HAS EVER GIVEN A SINGLE COHERENT JURISPRUDENTIAL ARGUMENT AGAINST IT. NO PRINCIPLED LEGAL VIEW CAN RESIST IT.  And if you continue to doubt this, then, superb writer that I am, I will be able to find even other ways of stating the same un-nuanced point, until you finally acquiesce in it.

It’s very important for my purposes that you accept this point, because, you see, as a writer, my goal at the start is to play on the ignorance of my young readers especially and make them feel embarrassed for believing in marriage as solely between a man and a woman.  Ultimately I wish to undermine that conviction, or at least to lead them to accept the courts’ and my distinction between “marriage” and “civil marriage.”  And so, I want them to feel—maybe for the first time—that they are being grossly inequitable, unfair, unprincipled, fundamentally illegal, and basically un-American if they oppose same-sex marriage.

It’s a bold gambit, to be sure, yet it’s very likely to succeed, because after all a young Catholic without much experience of the world—or any poorly catechized layperson, for that matter—will feel that if a former editor of First Things can say these things so boldly, or if they are printed without correction in Commonweal, then they have to be true.  Why would a responsible writer say these things unless they were true?

Whither First Things?

A symposium on its future. Maybe it should hire Bottum back, you know, just for fun.

Today’s Adventure in Petty Attack Ads

I have no love lost for Chris Christie, but this is an especially petty beef. Christie stars in an ad saying that Jersey is recovering from Hurricane Sandy, so come on down, and his opponent runs an ad criticizing him for making it sound like the state is fully recovered. Christie is one hundred percent on the money with his response.

When a reporter asked about critics of the “Stronger Than The Storm” tourism ads, Christie shot back, “What would they have us do: go into the fetal position? I’ve never said everything’s all right.”

Christie should realize that carping about the fallout from a hurricane is much preferred nowadays to moving on and recovering.

Some of You Are Clearly Drinking Whiskey Wrong

$20 whiskey mixed with soda should be an offense punishable by death, or at least banishment.

Moving Past Errors and Pitcher Wins

Great stuff from Joe Posnanski on the silliness of relying on either state to measure player and pitcher performance. While you’re there, also check out his post on the Cleveland Browns.

The Tragedy of Derek Jeter’s Defense

Two baseball posts today as I couldn’t pass up this fantastic feature in Grantland.

If Michael Bay Directed Heartwarming Documentaries

It would definitely be something a lot like this.

Various & Sundry, 8/27/13

Weariness and Current Events

Some chap named Paul Zummo has written about Jody Bottum’s white flag essay over at the Catholic Stand. You should all go read it.

But Hey, We Don’t Really Have to Worry About Same Sex Marriage

Speaking of the issue that will single-handedly destroy Catholicism, Erik Stanley provides more evidence that maybe, just maybe, First Amendment rights aren’t so secure in a same sex marriage tolerant regime.

Vice President Biden Threatens Impeachment if President Bombs Foreign Country Without Congressional Approval

Whoops. My bad. That was Senator Biden. Now that he’s Veep he’s totally cool with such actions.

Beware Common Core

Few people are talking about common core, but we should be, as it poses a serious threat to American education.

Common Core, now adopted by 45 states and DC, is a set of national standards and goals related on the surface to English and math that have far-reaching implications into who controls curriculum (teachers teaching to the national test), along with implementing data-mining for a jaw-dropping universe of facts provided to the federal government about your children and you. Can I implore you to watch this video of a Common Core creator celebrating the collaboration with Obama’s data team and how to use data to achieve political ends?

Common Core has dismal quality, puts us behind other countries, views teaching as job training and not the development of our children’s minds, and has backers that would make your head swim were you to conduct even a perfunctory search.

Tolerance, Health and Fascism

Dennis Prager uses the “f” word and so will be ignored, but he shouldn’t be.

Now this is a Professor I Wish I had in College

Mike Adams is a professor in the University of North Carolina system. One friendly reader labelled him the biggest embarrassment to higher education. Why? Because Mike actually believes marriage should be between one man and one woman. Mike wrote an open letter in response to Ed, and it’s truly worth your time to read.

Why the Left Needs Racism

James Taranto takes down a buffoonish article written by Margaret Carlson about the movie The Butler. I think the absolute kicker was this written by Carlson:

“I wish Chief Justice John Roberts and four of his Supreme Court colleagues would see [‘The Butler’], too,” she writes. “Maybe it will help them understand how wrong they got it when they recently decided that we are so far past Jim Crow that we can dispense with a central provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.”

Yes, if only Clarence Thomas had seen a movie about life in the Jim Crow south he’d have been more amenable to upholding Section 4 of the VRA.

Too Much Chant at an Extraordinary Form Mass?

Scott W. sounds incredulous that anyone could complain about too much Gregorian Chant at an EF Mass. I have to admit that at the last EF Mass I attended – one which lasted two and a half hours, and was not the Easter Vigil – at one point I was kind of hoping for the choir to shut up for a minute so that the Priest could continue. Of course that was a polyphonic choir, so perhaps it’s not quite the same thing.

Indian Satire of Breaking Bad

Extraordinarily funny if you’re a fan of the show. By the way, Sunday night’s episode may have been the greatest hour of television I’ve ever watched.

Various & Sundry, 8/26/13

Bradley Manning Is Not a Woman

Kevin Williamson says what is obvious to most, but is sadly considered controversial considering the number of comments.

Judicial Activism – That Does Not Mean What You Think It Means

Justice Ginsburg – evidently with a straight face, claims that the Roberts court is the most activist in history. Frankly I think the term is misused, but any way you slice it – No.

Miley Cyrus Needs Help

It’s been kind of a fun day on social media seeing both the outrage and the  non-outrage over Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance. I think I saw more tweets and facebook posts from people saying that they’re not going to comment than from people actually commenting. As I said last night on twitter, I’ve basically become my father when it comes to VMAs. That said, it’s led to some hysterical (not in the ha ha sense) tweets. See the RS McCain link, but also check this out.

Lord (do not necessarily) Hear Our Prayer

As always, the USCCB really has its pulse on the issues that really merit out prayers and attention.

Various and Sundry, 8/23/13

Sadly all vacations must come to an end, but on the bright side that means I’m back with some linky goodness.

The Debate We Aren’t Having

Three thugs murdered a young man simply because they were bored. Naturally this means we need to have another debate about the “gun culture” in this country. No, that’s not the debate we need to be having right now, at least according to the Wall Street Journal.

If Gun Control Worked, Chicago Would Be Mayberry

Speaking of guns,  Jim Geraghty quotes from a speech given by Cam Edwards.

If gun control worked, Chicago would be Mayberry right now! And Weld County and El Paso County would be Thunderdome! You guys wouldn’t have [Weld County] Sheriff [John] Cooke, you would have Tina Turner and Mel Gibson running around! It would be horrible! But that’s not real life! Real life is gun control not working in Chicago. Real life is gun control failing in Camden, New Jersey, and Oakland, California, and a lot of other communities in this country . . .

We are pushing back with the lawsuits, with the phone calls to our legislators, by electing officials and supporting elected officials who listen to us. But we’re also pushing back by being grownups, and by being okay at it. By having hundreds of people show up at a range and fire thousands of shotgun shells . . . and everybody’s okay! And now we’re enjoying cigars and drinks and we’ll all get home safely tonight, right?

Because we can control our lives! We can manage our lives! It’s not too difficult. We’re not perfect. We may eat a little too much dessert every now and then. We may not be able to beat that one bad habit, like smoking cigarettes, whatever. But we’re a heck of a lot more capable than our government gives us credit for, aren’t we?

Exposing Another Lunatic

Earlier this year some virulently anti-Jewish and anti-gay literature was spread around Oberlin College. Just another angry, right-wing loon, right? Err, wrong.

One of the two students removed from Oberlin College earlier this year for allegedly circulating virulently racist, anti-Jewish and anti-gay messages around campus  is an ardent leftist and committed supporter of President Barack Obama, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

Rallying Around a Pedophile

Throughout the height of the Church’s crisis, I don’t recall too many Catholics actually defending or supporting the guilty priests. Sadly the same cannot be said for many citizens of Rose City, Michigan, where a former teacher (if only they could be married) named Neal Erickson was sentenced to 15-30 years in jail for first degree criminal sexual conduct. Erickson had had a “relationship” with an 8th grader, and this “relationship” was exposed by an anonymous letter. But Erickson was such a swell guy, you see, and really the 8th grader welcomed the “relationship” so it’s all good.

In May of this year, Circuit Court Judge Michael Baumgartner started receiving letters of support.  Not for the victim, but for Erickson.   Ten letters, nine of which were written by former or current teachers of the district, were entered into the record.  Many talked of Erickson’s dedication to a local 6th grade camp. (Yikes).  They all proved two things.  You cannot take back the words you write.  And these idiots just don’t get it.

His wife, Toni Erickson, wrote that the person that released the photo, “…simply wanted to embarrass the school district, and expose others.”  She further proclaims the victim (I will not share his name, though it has been made public) isn’t a victim at all.  “X does not perceive himself to be a victim, nor is he living a life that has been negatively impacted by Neal’s actions.”  She DOES know who the real victim is in all of this.  “Going to prison can’t punish him anymore than he has been already – but there is someone who will be punished if he is sent away – my daughter, Margaret.”

Wow.

But it gets worse.  Sally Campbell, also a teacher, writes in her letter, “Neal made a mistake.  He allowed a mutual friendship to develop into much more.”  Harriet H. Coe, retired teacher, wanted to remind the judge that “Neal is, was, and always will be a good, kind, responsible, hardworking person.”

Suddenly Detroit doesn’t look like the most messed up town in Michigan.

Mike Trout is Awesome at Baseball

Miguel Cabrera is the best pure hitter in the game, but there’s no better all-around talent in the game than Trout. And he’s only 21.

Satire That Wasn’t Intended as Satire

Earlier this week Ace had a lot of fun with a new novel titled Christian Nation, written by Frederic C. Rich. Here is a description.

Christian Nation is a work of speculative political fiction, arising from the counterfactual of a McCain/Palin victory in 2008 followed soon after by McCain’s sudden death and Sarah Palin’s ascension to the presidency.

When the book opens, eight years have passed since the Holy War ended in victory for the fundamentalist Christian forces. Americans live in bondage to a comprehensive authoritarian law called The Blessing, enforced by a totally integrated digital world known as the Purity Web. The Narrator, Greg, whose best friend led the opposition to the theocratic movement, is brought to a secret abandoned cabin in upstate New York and told to remember and write.

The Christian right made no secret of its decades-long quest for political power, and did not hide what they would do if they got that power. Greg writes: “They said what they would do, and we did not listen. Then they did what they said they would do.” Struggling with perspective and memory, the memoirist recounts the country’s long slow descent to religious authoritarianism, propelled by economic distress, a second major terrorist attack, and the fanatical ambitions of an extremist evangelical minority.

Yeah.

Anyway, Ace poked a little fun at some of the sparkling dialogue from this true masterpiece. As always, the comments are a must-read as well.

Various and Sundry, 8/19/13

I’m on vacation, so this will be short and quick.

Take That Health Food Crazies

McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger is the cheapest, most nutritious food ever, at least according to one of the authors of Freaknonomics.

Chris Christie Continues to Endear Himself to GOP Base

Christie signs bill outlawing conversion therapy for minors.

In other Jersey news, 1 in 4 Jersians between the age of 18-31 are living at home with mom and/or dad.

Birtherism Lives

Well, if it involves a Republican, then it’s okay.

FWIW, Cruz is constitutionally eligible.

Bears on the Attack

This is not the kind of news story one wants to read right after seeing this in the backyard of the house you’re staying in:

Photo: Look! Bear!

Various and Sundry, 8/16/13

Egyptian Christians Under Assault

So a religious minority is being systematically attacked, and the news is greeted with crickets by the mainstream American press. But at least Al Jazeera (!) is there to report on it.

Security forces moved to violently disperse two protest camps by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo on Wednesday morning, setting in motion a day of deadly violence that left at least 525 people dead in clashes across the country.

Amid the violence, alleged Morsi supporters carried out on dozens of attacks on churches and Christian-owned properties throughout the country.

Mina Thabet, an activist with Christian rights group the Maspero Youth Union, told Al Jazeera on Friday that at least 32 churches had been “completely destroyed, burned or looted” in eight different governorates over the previous two days. The group also recorded dozens of other attacks on Christian-owned shops, businesses and schools around the country.

Obamacare Pushing Americans into Part-Time Work

Wow, who could have predicted this development? Well, other than pretty much everyone who opposed Obamacare and said this would happen.

The Affordable Care Act requires mid-sized and large employers to sponsor health insurance for all full-time employees, which it defines as those who work 30 hours a week or more. Big labor unions, which had been in favor of the new law, are now sounding the alarm against it. They argue the sticker shock from the premium hikes is leading businesses to offset the impact by capping hours on employees, despite a recently announced one-year delay in that insurance mandate. If workers don’t clock 30 hours a week, the reasoning goes, employers won’t have to offer health insurance.

So the big labor unions who paid thousands to pretend to be pushed their grassroots activists to actively demonstrate their support for the bill are only now realizing that this will hurt their members?

NSA Broke Privacy Rules Thousands of Times

I am not as strongly opposed to the NSA surveillance program as most of you, but this is more than a bit worrisome.

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

Oddly enough, the typographical errors worry me more, because it signifies how easily your rights can be violated by a mammoth bureaucracy that has little accountability.

As Though TSA Agents Needed Another Excuse

Al-Qaeda’s chief bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri is thought to have developed explosives that can be concealed in implants or bodily cavities and escape detection from airport scanners, according to The Mirror.

One staff member said: “There are genuine fears over this.

“We have been told to pay particular attention to females who may have concealed hidden explosives in their breasts.

Pamela Anderson has jumped to the top of the terrorist watch list.

How the Hobbit Should Have Ended

An alternative vision.

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