– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
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
– 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.
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.
– 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?
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.
– 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.
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.
I’m bringing back an old feature, which I will hopefully be able to bring back nightly. Please feel free to use this as an open evening thread for anything you’d like to share, including news and prayer petitions.
– I’m beginning to feel a lot like Ace here. The argument that Congress is limited in its ability to push back against the President only goes so far, and certainly collapses when you actually do have the power to tie his hands. I also agree with AllahPundit that we shouldn’t be too impressed with the number of Republicans who voted against the leadership, as many of them would have voted for the funding bill if their votes were really needed.
This isn’t even purely a partisan issue. At some point the legislative branch has to be willing to stop the continuing overreach of the executive. The checks and balances of our form of government is arguably the quintessential element of the republic. As these checks are eroded, so too is the notion that we are, in fact, dwelling in a republic.
– Party over, whoops, out of time, it looks like we’re living through the 90s again. Hey, the ability to totally ignore the Constitution without consequence is now an essential trait in any would-be President.
– Curt Schilling tweeted some words of pride and congratulations for his daughter, and naturally some individuals decided to take the opportunity to exemplify everything that is wrong with the internet, including tweeting some rape threats against his daughter. Schilling took to his blog and outed these fools, one of whom (at least) was fired, while others face other forms of discipline.
This incident is interesting as it gets to the idea of public shaming for internet comments. There was a story recently (that I’ve unfortunately misplaced) following rather infamous internet celebrities who lost jobs and any sense of privacy due to ill-advised tweets. The article made the point that the “grab the pitchforks” mentality can really go way overboard, and people have their lives ruined over 140 unwise characters. On the other hand, public shaming does have the effect of silencing the worst and most obvious offenders, and in this case I will cry no tears over someone losing their job because they tweeted their rape fantasies.
– Speaking of public shaming, I would like to do that the dolts employed by the Montgomery County (MD) Child Protective Services who found some local parents guilty of “unsubstantiated child neglect,” their sin allowing their 10-year old and 6-year old to walk home by themselves from the park. Now they will be “watched” by CPS for the next five years. As one of the commenters put it:
I think we need to start lobbying state legislatures for reasonable laws that provide some clarity and security for families in these situations. As I understand it, this is the law the Meitivs were accused of violating: “A person who is charged with the care of a child under the age of 8 years may not allow the child to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent and the dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle is out of the sight of the person charged unless the person charged provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child to protect the child.” How does letting your kids walk home from the park even trigger an investigation under this statute? It is unacceptable that CPS has the authority to interpret the law so loosely in order to bring a family into the system.
I was happy that most of the callers into the local radio show this morning were as perturbed by this decision as I was, but one person would just simply not accept the fact that kids are in no more danger of abduction today than they were 30 years ago. Some people just can’t let fact get in the way of unsubstantiated fear mongering.
– Rebecca Taylor is right: the UK has just made a frightening decision to allow the creation of three-parent embryos, and Catholics have largely been silent on this abomination.
Even more infuriating is that fact that, at the very same time that the UK approves the genetic engineering of the next generation (and the next, and the next), Hershey’s has been so hounded by food purists on social media that the confectioner has given into the pressure to remove any ingredients that come from genetically-modified organisms.
Great. We will be eating GMO-free chocolate (reading about the spread of Dengue fever) while we blissfully ignore the creation of genetically-modified kids.
– Kevin Williamson is just awesome. But you already knew that.
Here he is destroying Politifact for, as usual, not getting its facts straight.
And here he is, defending Archbishop Cordileone’s “scandalous” decision to uphold Church teaching.
And here he is one more time, once again writing about the good Archbishop.
The people who have the strongest feelings about Catholic teaching tend to be the people who know the least about it. That the archbishop is a fallen creature, a sinner like the rest of us, is not a challenge to Christian teaching—it is a vindication of Christian teaching. Of course the archbishop is called to a life of greater holiness—just like the rest of us—and of course he is going to fail—just like the rest of us. That’s the weird tough nut at the heart of Christianity: “Here’s an impossibility high standard that you have to try to live up to as part of a faith based on the understanding that you are not going to do that.
A few noteworthy news items:
– One of the key opposition leaders in Russia was
assassinated randomly killed.
A leading Russian opposition politician, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, has been shot dead in Moscow, Russian officials say.
An unidentified attacker in a car shot Mr Nemtsov four times in the back as he crossed a bridge in view of the Kremlin, police say.
He died hours after appealing for support for a march on Sunday in Moscow against the war in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned the murder, the Kremlin says.
President Putin has assumed “personal control” of the investigation into the killing, said his spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Undoubtedly this will be the most thorough murder investigation since O.J. Simpson hunted down Nicole Brown Simpson’s murderer.
– Scott Walker is already living rent free in the heads of the far left. Now they’re just throwing whatever they can at the wall to see what sticks. Unfortunately for them there’s been this invention called Google that exposes their misinformation attempts. RS McCain explains.
Jezebel’s “senior political reporter” Natasha Vargas-Cooper gotBreitbarted, exposed as a dishonest and corrupt partisan hack, by a guy who did 20 seconds of Googling. Darleen Click:
Here’s Darleen’s post.
Long story short, Vargas-Cooper posted a story about how Governor Walker had allowed Wisconsin universities not to report sexual assaults. What she failed to mention that this was a request from the universities, who already have federal filing requirements to comply with.
Naturally when Vargas-Cooper was confronted with all of the facts she retracted the story and apologized.
Ha ha ha. I slay me. No, she doubled down and basically said that facts don’t matter. Because narrative.
– Here’s a local story about how Montgomery County, Maryland is investigating the pros and cons of getting out of the booze business. County Executive Ike Leggett is having none of it.
The News4 I-Team reached out to County Executive Ike Leggett for comment. His spokesman pointed us to the Chief Administrative Officer’s official response in the report on page 107, stating, “In our opinion, local liquor control has served Montgomery County well. We have lower alcohol consumption and higher revenue for public purposes than other jurisdictions. There are not liquor stores on every corner.”
I highlight this because it demonstrates something that has been manifest for some time to anyone paying attention: the real social scolds are on the left. While the popular narrative is that social conservatives are the ones looking to run everyone else’s life, time and again, story after story, we see examples of left-wing busybodies seeking to interfere with private behavior. Now Leggett might actually have a good argument in defending the liquor stores on these grounds*, but make no mistake, the man is making social policy motivated at least in part in a desire to control behavior.
*: Though as my wife points out, Leggett’s shot at liquor stores is misplaced. I’ll take places like Speck’s in Houston over the dreary state-run stores in Maryland any day.
– This is a few weeks old, but as relevant as ever: fat is good for you. No really, eat your eggs and butter.
New research claims that official warnings against the consumption of saturated fats should never have been introduced
The article in BMJ’s Open Heart journal argues that the advice was based on flawed data and “very limited evidence”.
The warning, adopted by British authorities in the early 1980s, was based on research that focused only on unhealthy men, with the reports authors arguing: “it seems incomprehensible that dietary advice was introduced for 220 million Americans and 56 million UK citizens.
“Dietary advice does not merely need a review; it should not have been introduced.”
Yeah, so pretty much most nutrition advice over the past five decades or so was based on seriously flawed research, and the dietary guidelines have been counter-productive. And yet people still insist on low-fat diets. Whatever. More bacon and eggs for me.
Years of reading through and listening to debates on the internet and in other spaces is enough to make me yearn for mandatory courses in basic logic. In particular, it seems most people do not have even a remedial understanding of the difference between correlation and causation.
Enter President Barack Obama, who delivered remarks today at the National Prayer Breakfast. Meandering and condescending are but two of the words that come to mind after listening to this address. At one point the president lectures the audience on humility. Yes, Barack Obama was prodding his audience to be more humble. I’m just going to let that sink in for a minute and have you pause and reflect. Maybe you’ll even think about another concept: irony.
And no doubt many of you will need to take blood pressure medication after reading this part of the speech:
And this is the loving message of His Holiness, Pope Francis. And like so many people around the world, I’ve been touched by his call to relieve suffering, and to show justice and mercy and compassion to the most vulnerable; to walk with The Lord and ask “Who am I to judge?”
But that’s not what caught my attention, nor is it the part of the speech that has gotten or will get the most attention. After some discussion of the events taking place in the Middle East and in Paris, and the dangers of theocracy, he intones:
Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.
Yes, of course he went there, would you expect anything less? Now many will rightfully complain that he is dredging up events that occurred centuries ago in order to morally equivocate, and that is indeed happening. We’ve all heard this song before, and we have naturally become somewhat inured to it.
Without jumping into the Crusades and Inquisition and why using even these centuries-old examples is flawed, let’s look at the more recent American examples, and let’s talk a bit about cause and effect.
President Obama is, essentially, comparing Christians justifying slavery to Islamic terrorists burning people alive. He is saying, “You see, Christians did some terrible things in the name of religion, just like these people.” Again, let’s ignore that we’re talking about something that took place two centuries ago rather than two minutes ago, and explore the inadequacy of this analogy.
The thugs in ISIL, the theocrats in Iran, the butchers in France: all of these groups are comprised of individuals acting in the name of their interpretation of Islam. Granting for the sake of argument that they are all acting in a way that is contrary to the true meaning of Islam, however that is supposed to be defined, they are clearly and unmistakably acting in accordance with their religious dictates. Put more bluntly: their interpretation of their religion is causing them to behave in a specific manner.
Now let’s look at slavery and Jim Crow. Yes, it’s true that some defenders of each would use the Bible to defend these practices; however, did anyone ever pick up a Bible and, “Gee whiz, God is really talking to me, I’m gonna go buy me a slave.” To put it another way, slave holders and, subsequently, practitioners of Jim Crow acted on purely, dare I say, secular reasoning to engage in their behavior. Christianity did not cause them to own slaves, nor did it cause southern politicians to enact Jim Crow laws. The Bible was used as an ex post fact rationalization for what they did.
Some may try to argue that this is a distinction without a difference, and to them I’d suggest that they still do not understand the difference between correlation and causation. Take away the Bible and you’d still have slavery in the southern parts of the United States. Christian beliefs did not inspire slaveholding – economic self-interest did that, and the latter also largely explains Jim Crow (plus a whole lot of irrational racism that didn’t have a whole lot to do with the Bible and Christianity).
Take away the religious motivation and do we have gunmen killing members of the press? Do we have the beheadings? Contra the ramblings of certain atheists, not all or even most violence throughout history has been “inspired” by religion, but the maniacs in ISIL are undoubtedly acting upon religious motivations. It isn’t some ex post fact rationalization for their behavior; no, it is the primary cause of the behavior.
Much of President Obama’s address is an exercise in moral equivalency with some vague platitudes thrown in, so about what one would expect from him. Failures in logic are just a little bit of icing on the cake.
Incidentally, Noah Rothman at Hot Air makes a good point:
It’s strange that so few see the contradiction inherent in this assertion. The president, and many of his allies on the left, frequently trip over themselves to emphasize – correctly, as it happens – that ISIS’s acts of brutality are not archetypical Islamic behavior. The insurgency’s most recent atrocity, the immolation of a captured Jordanian pilot, is apparently a violation of Islamic norms according to even Koranic scholars in the Middle East.
But to assert this and in the same breath suggest that Christianity was also a violent, expansionist religion a mere 800 years ago is a contradiction. Why make this comparison if ISIS is not representative of Islam? Isn’t the concession in this claim that those who commit acts of violence in the name of their religion, regardless of whether those acts are supported by a majority of coreligionists, are representative of their faith? Therefore, by perfunctorily nodding in the direction of a moral equivalency between Christian and Islamic violence, isn’t the president invalidating his own claim that ISIS, Boko Haram, Ansar al-Sharia, al-Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiah, Abu Sayyaf, and a host of other fundamentalist Islamic terror groups are agents of a violent strain of the Islamic faith?
We’re approximately a year away from the beginning of the presidential primary season, and the stars are already out in Iowa. I’ll have a bit more say about the presidential field in the coming days, but I’d just like to note this article from the Washington Post and Rand Paul and his, umm, daddy issues.
This weekend was a crucial one for Rand Paul, the Republican senator from Kentucky and undeclared candidate for the presidency. He was in California, trying to line up donors at an opulent retreat organized by the billionaire Koch brothers.
At the same time, his father — retired after 12 terms in Congress and three presidential runs — was in the ballroom of an airport hotel here, the final speaker at “a one-day seminar in breaking away from the central state.” He followed a series of speakers who said that the U.S. economy and political establishment were tottering and that the best response might be for states, counties or even individuals to break away.
“The America we thought we knew, ladies and gentlemen, is a mirage. It’s a memory. It’s a foreign country,” Jeff Deist, Ron Paul’s former press secretary and chief of staff, told the group. “And that’s precisely why we should take secession seriously.”
A former press secretary of his dad’s. Not exactly a silver bullet to derail the Paul train. That said, the questions does remain: will his father be a millstone around his neck? Especially when his dad says things like this:
Chris Kyle’s death seems to confirm that “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.” Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn’t make sense
But that’s just his father talking. It’s not fair to lay the sins of the father at the feet of the son. Rand Paul should stand on his own merits, and the company he keeps.
It’s going to be an interesting primary season.
*: I feel compelled to note that the title is not a typo. Probably not many Public Enemy fans on this site.
Those of you who remember the space of time between January 20, 2001 and January 20, 2009 might recall that cries for George W. Bush’s impeachment rang out roughly every five seconds from some corner of the American left (and some libertarian circles as well). The Iraq War was a primary impetus for these calls, because I guess continuing a war that had been granted Congressional approval but was becoming increasingly unpopular ran afoul of some constitutional principle. Of course this was not the only motivating factor behind calls for Bush’s impeachment. At some point late in his second term his mere existence was viewed as grounds for impeachment. The most serious centered around supposed abuses of executive power, highlighted especially by his use of presidential signing statements. The anger over these relatively mundane statements revealed more about the bone-dry ignorance of those who sputtered the most outrage over them, because it was quite evident that these individuals didn’t even know what these signing statements were or what they were meant to accomplish.
George W. Bush was obviously not the first, and he certainly won’t be the last president to receive such treatment. Every president faces hostility from members of the opposing party, and every president will be the subject of frivolous and not-so frivolous impeachment talk. Perhaps this is just indicative of our polity’s reflexive desire to howl “IMPEACH HIM!” at every instance of executive overreach. After all, while Bush was not guilty (IMO[NS]HO) of any impeachable offense, arguments that he extended his executive powers to the breaking point are not exactly unreasonable. That Bush merely continued the long tradition of augmenting presidential powers beyond their constitutional breaking point is really no excuse. We can endlessly debate the merits and demerits of executive actions undertaken by our 41st president, but the point is that they are in fact at least debatable.
Which brings us to our 44th president. President Obama’s
imperial edict issuance of amnesty by executive order is so breathtaking in its abuse of presidential authority that even advocates of comprehensive immigration reform such as the editors of the Wall Street Journal are left shrieking in horror. We’ll leave aside the Journal’s insistence on using the idiotic phrase “anti-immigration” Republicans and note that even they think he clearly went beyond the scope of his powers. There is no shortage of commentary explaining why President Obama lacks such authority, so I’ll leave that discussion aside right now (although here’s one for starters). I also won’t get into a detailed discussion of what the Republicans ought to do (although you can go here, here, here and here if you’d like).
What I would like to note is the utter silence of the left on this issue. Actually, it’s not really silence – rather, the left is in full-throated support of this action. Okay, maybe that’s not true, as some on the left don’t think the president went far enough. But, by and large, the left is completely hunky dory with this decree. And they are not alone, as some of the geniuses at the USCCB had already signaled their contentment with Obama’s act of contempt for the constitution. We’re not even two years removed from the Bishops marching out in opposition to the HHS contraception mandate, and there they are providing a wink and a nod this round of executive overreach. I guess some violations of the constitution are okay so long as they accord with your policy preferences.
Which brings us to the nub of the issue. After years of bemoaning every real and imagined instance of George W. Bush overreach, the left in almost its entirety has either remained silent or actively applauded every instance of Obamian executive rule-making. This most recent example is just the latest in a long line of executive abuses of authority by this administration. Whether it be forcing Churches to cover contraception, or “recess” appointments when there wasn’t any Congressional recess to be speak of, or name your favorite example of some departmental rule-making beyond the scope of its Congressional authority, and there have been opportunities for honest citizens of the left to cry out in opposition. But their silence is deafening.
You see for progressives it’s all about the ends, not the means. If the ends are good, then the means don’t really matter. Now if the ends are bad, then well, any means is de facto illegitimate.
Jay Nordlinger talks about an example of this from his own personal experience.
In 2003, I was at a dinner party on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. All liberals, plus me. The Texas sodomy decision had just come down from the Supreme Court. My hostess asked me what I thought. I said that I agreed with Justice Thomas — who wrote essentially this: “The Texas law is dumb. If I were a member of the state legislature, I would vote to repeal it. But I find nothing in the Constitution that forbids a state to make such a law.”
My hostess looked at me as though I had come from Mars. She did not look at me with hostility. She looked at me with incomprehension. If you’ve got the power, you use it, for good ends. If you’ve got the black robe and the gavel — why, ram home what is right!
When I was in college, and figuring things out, I noticed that the Left had a disdain for process. They would use it, if the process was to their advantage. But they would jettison it the second the process was inconvenient. What mattered was the result, period.
Jonah Goldberg has written about all this in his excellent book, Liberal Fascism. For over a century the American left has steadily worked to undermine the constitutional process. It has done so via the Courts. It has done so through the presidency. It has even done so in subtle ways culturally. Why do you think there has been so much bellyaching about gridlock and Congress’ failure to “compromise?” The left wants to leave the impression that the failure to produce legislative action is a bug and not a feature of our constitutional process. This impatience with our peculiar republican form of government is what has spurred all of the actions that have degraded our constitutional system.
It is tempting to bemoan the hypocrisy of the left and its refusal to hold President Obama to the same standards it held President Bush. But the left is not being hypocritical, at least not now. No, the real hypocrisy occurred in the years between 2001 and 2009 when the left pretended to care about things like separation of powers, checks and balances, and limits on the Executive’s authority. In reality, they didn’t give a fig about any of these constitutional checks on the presidency except insofar as the wrong guy got to exercise said authority. So when Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, or some other individual with an -R next to his name next occupies the Oval Office, please lend all leftist cries about abuse of power all the credence they deserve.
In graduate school I read John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira’s The Emerging Democratic Majority. Here is the Amazon summary of the book:
In five well-researched chapters and a new afterword covering the 2002 elections, Judis and Teixeira show how the most dynamic and fastest-growing areas of the country are cultivating a new wave of Democratic voters who embrace what the authors call “progressive centrism” and take umbrage at Republican demands to privatize social security, ban abortion, and cut back environmental regulations. As the GOP continues to be dominated by neoconservatives, the religious right, and corporate influence, this is an essential volume for all those discontented with their narrow agenda — and a clarion call for a new political order.
I confess that the book provided a good chuckle, particularly as I read it in 2003, sandwiched in between successful Republican electoral triumphs. Particularly laughable were predictions that states such as Georgia and Texas were destined to become fertile ground for Democrats thanks to rapid demographic shifts.
Now, to be fair, Judis and Teixeira were not arguing that a permanent and enduring Democrat majority was on the cusp of dominating the political landscape. They noted that cultural and demographic trends favored the Democrat party, which is an observation that certainly rings true in many respects. Certainly at the presidential level it is true that Republicans seem to start out perpetually behind the eight ball, having to win every possible swing state to have any chance of barely squeezing past 270 electoral votes. And election results in 2006, 2008, and to a lesser extent 2012 seemed to confirm that the Republicans were in danger of extended minority status.
Then again, there’s this.
For those too lazy to click the link, it’s a map of US Congressional districts by party in control, and there is a sea of red that just washes over nearly the entire country. If you do not live along the coast in the United States, then there’s a near guaranteed chance that your representative is a Republican.
Even this map does not do the party justice. These maps show party control of the various state legislatures. After Tuesday night the GOP can now add Nevada, Minnesota, and West Virginia to the mix. Additionally, after inauguration days in January, 32 states will have Republican governors, including Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland. This table presents a clearer picture of where things stand. Republicans control both the governor’s mansion and the legislature in 24 states, with super-majorities in 15 of those states. Democrats, meanwhile, hold both the legislature and the governorship in seven states, with super-majorities only in Rhode Island and Hawaii. Seven GOP governors will have a Democrat legislature (with a super-majority of Democrats in Massachusetts), and 11 Democrats governors will have a GOP legislature (with a Republican super-majority in Missouri). Additionally Nebraska has a Republican governor and a non-partisan unicameral legislature.
Now, elections are cyclical, and things can change in American politics. The Republican majority in the Senate is rather tenuous considering that Republicans will have to defend 24 seats in 2016, many in blue or purple states, and in a presidential election year. That being said, Republican dominance at the state level is hardly a new thing. Republicans have fared well at state-level elections even in heavily Democratic years.
In the end, the Judis and Teixeira proposition (which they continue to defend, by the way) is fatally flawed for a number of reasons.
1) Politics is local – It’s a cliche, but it happens to be true. Though Americans tend to focus on presidential elections at the exclusion of all other races (much like some Catholics tend to focus on the Papacy at the exclusion of all other offices, ahem), believe it or not the presidency is not everything. Local decisions still have more bearing on your day-to-day lives than what the federals do, even if the federal government is more powerful today than in years past. Local circumstances are unique, and individual politicians at the local level might be able to connect with the electorate in a way that federal officials cannot.
2) Even the presidential disadvantage is overrated. Sure Republicans face certain electoral defeat in states that total close to 200 electoral votes (although Democrats face a similar hole in about the same amount of states), and Republicans continue to fail to break through in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico and other swing states, while losing their grip in Virginia and Colorado. Yet again one must ponder if this is due to a complete change in the electorate or unique circumstances in each presidential election. It is my contention that candidates matter, and the lackluster string of GOP nominees – including the one guy who won – over the past two decades have failed to move the electorate. Yet the potential GOP field in 2016 is incredibly deeper than the Democrat field. The GOP will have at least half a dozen credible candidates running. GOP has establishment governors (Christie, Bush, possibly Romney), conservative Governors (Walker, Jindal, potentially Kasich, Pence, Perry), as well as conservative Senators (Cruz, Paul, Santorum). All of these candidates would be serious contenders on both a primary and general election level – perhaps the Senate field less so. The Democrat field meanwhile is essentially Hilary Clinton and . . . umm, is her husband eligible to run again? Elizabeth Warren is being touted as a potential candidate, but does anyone see her as a legitimate threat to win a general election? What else is there? Republicans will still have to scratch and claw to win in 2016, and they will have to do much better than they did in 2012 to get out the vote, but almost all of these candidates (except Romney) would seem to be individuals who could inspire more of the electorate.
By the way, I would tie this in with point one. Republican victories at the state level have provided the GOP with a much deeper bench to help them become more competitive in presidential elections.
3) The idea of any kind of cyclical majority is simply wrong. And this is the most critical point. The Teixeira/Judis thesis is part of a larger body of work in political science that contends that American politics has been dominated by a series of electoral realignments. Starting in 1800 with the Jefferson coalition, one party dominates government for roughly 30 years before a new governing coalition dominates. Therefore the next coalition after Jefferson emerged in 1828 with the Jackson Democrats, 1860 with the Lincoln Republicans, 1896 with the McKinley and the GOP, 1932 with the FDR coalition, and then 1968 with GOP electoral dominance. So now we should be entering a period of Democrat dominance. But as Richard Mayhew* aptly demonstrated, electoral realignment theory just doesn’t pan out under close scrutiny. There are just too many holes in realignment theory to show that there is a real pattern. In reality, elections are decided by unique circumstances. The quality rather than the ideology of candidates determines national elections much more than is acknowledged. And while demographic trends should not be ignored, nor should we simply rely on demographic analysis to predict election results. The politics of demographic groups change over time. After all, I don’t think Democrats are counting on the Irish Catholic vote as much as they used to. Some trends on Tuesday should be encouraging for Republicans, including garnering a majority (or plurality) of the Asian vote, a much more substantial percentage of the Hispanic vote, especially in Texas, and some inroads among women. Again, the midterm electorate might be different, but those groups should not be counted on to vote in exactly the same way for all perpetuity.
Demographics is not destiny. American politics is more than just the presidency. And the Republican party, as flawed as it is, is safely off of life support.
There is nothing quite as soul crushing as reading a thread on Facebook or social media regarding vaccinations, especially when well-intentioned but seriously misinformed Catholic parents express their outright refusal to vaccinate their children. This anti-vaccination fervor has been sparked by long-discredited studies as well as well as celebrities of shall we say less than dubious credentials.
Not all opposition to vaccination is based on groundless fears about autism or other health issues. Some Catholics also have concerns about the nature of vaccine research and the possibility that vaccines contain aborted fetal tissues. The Rational Catholic discussed this topic, and puts to rest some of the myths surrounding this line of attack, and he quotes from the National Catholic Bioethics Center:
Parents may vaccinate their children because by doing so, they are not involved in any illicit form of cooperation with the original abortion. Many Catholic experts concur that cooperation today is not really possible in an event that was over and done with many years ago. Because the abortion occurred long ago, and for reasons completely unrelated to vaccines, it is untenable to conclude that vaccine recipients today somehow cooperate in the original abortive event. Moreover, there is no ongoing use of recently aborted material for vaccine preparation; the lines obtained 30 or 40 years ago are the only abortion-derived lines being used currently for vaccine production. In sum, then, by vaccinating their children, parents do not illicitly cooperate in evil, nor otherwise engage in wrongdoing. If pharmaceutical companies or other agencies derive fetal cell lines from elective abortions, those companies or agencies, not the parents, are guilty of immoral cooperation in the evil of abortion.
The Rational Catholic has another pair of posts that delve deeper into vaccines, and goes so far as to argue that not can Catholic parents vaccinate their children, they have a moral obligation to do so. Again, quoting from the Catholic Bioethics Center:
Focusing in on your central question, there is indeed a moral duty to immunize one’s child and so help preserve the public good through the use of scientifically established and clearly beneficial programs of vaccination. The chickenpox vaccine may be an exception to this rule, as the risks resulting from this disease are not great. As for the rest, for example, measles, mumps, and rubella, these are important childhood vaccinations and parents have a special duty to care for and love their children. Children cannot make these decisions for themselves and so depend upon the prudential judgments of others.
Unfounded fears about possible adverse effects do not overcome the objective duty to make use of immunizations. To make a sound moral judgment, the individual Catholic must properly inform his or her conscience. That means that one must seek to determine whether fears are based in reason and fact, or they are instead merely — if I may put it this way — superstitions. A correctly formed conscience will come to the conclusion that immunization is a moral obligation.
For those who remain “invincibly ignorant,” and who refuse to acknowledge facts, they must follow their conscience even though it is ill formed.
Of course not everyone will be convinced on this issue, no matter what evidence is out before them. But hopefully all parents – Catholic or no – will at least mediate on the potential harm they are doing to their children and other people’s children by refusing to vaccinate them.