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.
The Left isn’t having kids, so they insist on stealing yours.
Kevin Williamson at National Review Online looks at the brazen attempt in Connecticut, go here to read my take on it, to use the Sandy Hook massacre to increase regulation of homeschooling.
Home-schoolers represent the only authentically radical social movement in the United States (Occupy Wall Street was a fashion statement) and so they must be suppressed, as a malevolent committee of leftist academics and union bosses under the direction of Governor Dannel Malloy is preparing to do in Connecticut, using the Sandy Hook massacre as a pretext. The ghouls invariably rush to the podium after every school massacre, issuing their insipid press releases before the bodies have even cooled, and normally they’re after your guns. But the Malloy gang is after your children.
Malloy’s committee on the Newtown shootings is recommending that Connecticut require home-schooling families to present their children to the local authorities periodically for inspection, to see to it that their psychological and social growth is proceeding in the desired direction. For anybody even passingly familiar with contemporary government schools, which are themselves a peerless source of social and emotional dysfunction, this development is bitterly ironic.
Adam Lanza was the product of madness, but he also was very much a product of the public schools and their allied institutions. He was briefly — very briefly — homeschooled after his parents had exhausted every other option. His mental troubles began long before he was home-schooled and were in fact well known to and documented by the various credentialed authorities under whose management he spent his youth, from his kindergarten therapists to the scholars at Yale’s Child Study Center. Far from being removed from the public system, Lanza was still attending student club meetings at Newtown’s high school just before the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
As City Journal notes, the Malloy gang says that Lanza’s educational and medical records support its proposals, which is curious: Its members have no access to those records. But a government commission says that it is so, so it must be so.
If you have not followed the issue closely, it is probably impossible for you to understand how intensely the Left and the government-school monopoly hate, loathe, and distrust home-schooling and home-school families. Purportedly serious scholars such as Robin West of Georgetown denounce them as trailer trash living “on tarps in fields or parking lots” and write wistfully of the day when home-schooling was properly understood: “Parents who did so were criminals, and their kids were truants.” The implicit rationale for the heavy regulation of home-schooling — that your children are yours only at the sufferance of the state — is creepy enough; in fact, it is unambiguously totalitarian and reduces children to the status of chattel. That this is now being framed in mental-health terms, under the theory that Lanza might not have committed his crimes if he had had the benefit of the tender attentions of his local school authorities, is yet another reminder of the Left’s long and grotesque history of using corrupt psychiatry as a tool of politics.
But take a moment to fully appreciate the absurdity of the Malloy gang’s assumption. Our public schools are dysfunctional, depressing, frequently dangerous places. Their architecture is generally penal, incorporating precisely the same sort of perimeter control as one sees in a low-security prison, with dogs, metal detectors, and the whole apparatus of control at hand. They are frequently run by nakedly corrupt, self-serving men and women who are not above rigging test scores to pad out their bonuses and who will fight to the end to keep pedophiles on the payroll if doing so serves their political interests, as in the case of California. They cannot even keep their teachers from raping their students, but they feel competent issuing orders that every family present its children for regular inspection in the name of the children’s “social and emotional learning needs.” Continue reading
Infant’s flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolific diet, there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent than at any other season; therefore, reckoning a year after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of popish infants is at least three to one in this kingdom: and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of papists among us.
Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal (1729)
To sell abortion, arguments about feminism, a woman’s right to choose, equality, freedom, etc., are used for the masses, but the forces that were behind the drive to legalize abortion tended to be clear, at least when talking among themselves, that eugenics was the prime motivation. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 81, remembers those days clearly, and, no doubt to the dismay of many contemporary liberals, tends to be fairly honest about that motivation. Kevin Williamson at National Review Online examines how the eugenics motivation still is the driving force behind abortion:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, having decided for some inexplicable reason to do a long interview with a fashion magazine (maybe it is her celebrated collection of lace collars), reaffirmed the most important things we know about her: her partisanship, her elevation of politics over law, and her desire to see as many poor children killed as is feasibly possible.
Speaking about such modest restrictions on abortion as have been enacted over the past several years, Justice Ginsburg lamented that “the impact of all these restrictions is on poor women.” Then she added: “It makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people.”
This is not her first time weighing in on the question of what by any intellectually honest standard must be described as eugenics. In an earlier interview, she described the Roe v. Wade decision as being intended to control population growth, “particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” She was correct in her assessment of Roe; the co-counsel in that case, Ron Weddington, would later advise President Bill Clinton: “You can start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy, and poor segment of our country,” by making abortifacients cheap and universally available. “It’s what we all know is true, but we only whisper it.”
In 1980, the punk band the Dead Kennedys released a song called “Kill the Poor.” In it, singer Jello Biafra considers the many benefits to be had from the policy he is singing about: the elimination of “unsightly slums,” the lowering of welfare taxes, reduction of overcrowding, reduction in crime, etc. “The sun beams down on a brand new day,” he declares, “Jane Fonda on the screen today convinced the liberals it’s okay.” To be sure, Mr. Biafra wasn’t singing about abortion; his tongue-in-cheek proposal was for the relatively antiseptic measure of striking poor neighborhoods and housing projects with neutron bombs, eliminating the populations but preserving property values. A ghastly and satirical proposal, to be sure, but not really so different from the case that Justice Ginsburg and others of her ilk make for eliminating those “populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”
“We only whisper it.”
The economist Steven Levitt, for example, has argued that abortion helped to bring down crime rates; that probably isn’t true, but it has not stopped abortion enthusiasts from incorporating crime-reduction into their case for killing the poor. Abortion as a tool of population control remains very much in vogue, particularly with international organizations: “To avoid a world with deteriorating social, economic, and political stability, with the concomitant loss of personal and national security, we must ensure that safe abortion is made available,” writes the American population-control activist and academic Steven Mumford, who also advocates mass sterilizations. Continue reading
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.
They didn’t transfer feasts to Sunday, that’s why.
That said, I wouldn’t volunteer to change places.
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.”
Couldn’t be any worse than the choice for the next Batman.
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?
Larry D announced the winner of the summer’s hottest contest.
Kevin Williamson says what is obvious to most, but is sadly considered controversial considering the number of comments.
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.
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.
As always, the USCCB really has its pulse on the issues that really merit out prayers and attention.
Because when you go three weeks between blogposts, things sort of build up in the queue.
Typically brilliant insight from Simcha Fisher about the sudden conservative and Christian appreciation for Mother Russia – you know, the authoritarian state run by the corrupt, narcissistic, kleptomaniac.
Fascinating documentary in Great Britain where welfare recipients are forced to live on 1949 allotments. If your primary concern is making sure those on welfare have every last need and want met, then the modern system is the way to go. On the other hand, if you’re into old fashioned concepts such as human dignity, maybe things were better once upon a time.
Leave it to a mediocre pop artist to really get to the heart of the issue. John Legend has decreed that the newly passed voter ID law in North Carolina is the new Jim Crow. Because having to show a picture of yourself before voting is totally the same as segregated schools.
Republican Congressman would totally love to hold town hall meetings during the summer recess to discuss the immigration bill, but they like got that thing that they gotta do. You know. That thing. Right Vinny?
The usual cheerful article from Kevin Williamson. President Obama has essentially handed over the management of government to bureaucratic functionaries. If anything Williamson undersells the painful reality of life in Washington. Our government is in the hands of well-meaning, well-credentialed, but power-hungry managerial type so perfectly depicted in CS Lewis’s masterpiece, That Hideous Strength. Basically it’s the N.I.C.E. minus the scary head thing. What’s worse is that President Obama is using these agencies to bypass that pesky little thing known as Congress. As Williamson puts it:
IPAB is the most dramatic example of President Obama’s approach to government by expert decree, but much of the rest of his domestic program, from the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law to his economic agenda, is substantially similar. In total, it amounts to that fundamental transformation of American society that President Obama promised as a candidate: but instead of the new birth of hope and change, it is the transformation of a constitutional republic operating under laws passed by democratically accountable legislators into a servile nation under the management of an unaccountable administrative state. The real import of Barack Obama’s political career will be felt long after he leaves office, in the form of a permanently expanded state that is more assertive of its own interests and more ruthless in punishing its enemies. At times, he has advanced this project abetted by congressional Democrats, as with the health-care law’s investiture of extraordinary powers in the executive bureaucracy, but he also has advanced it without legislative assistance — and, more troubling still, in plain violation of the law. President Obama and his admirers choose to call this “pragmatism,” but what it is is a mild expression of totalitarianism, under which the interests of the country are conflated with those of the president’s administration and his party. Barack Obama is the first president of the democracy that John Adams warned us about.
And on a lighter note, a look back at a rather questionable hiring decision.
At some point I’m sure I’ve read a better post than Kevin Williamson’s today on National Review about abortion. But, for the life of me, not a single one comes to mind.
I guess I’m somewhat obligated to highlight some passage or another, so here it goes:
There are many religious people in the pro-life camp, but it is not a religious question. It is a question about the legal status of an entity that is under any biological interpretation a 1) distinct, 2) living, 3) human 4) organism at the early stages of development. Consider those four characteristics in order: There is no scientific dispute about whether an embryo is genetically distinct from the body in which it resides, about whether the tissue in question is living or not living, about whether the tissue in question is human or non-human, or whether it is an organism as opposed to a part of another organism, like an appendix or a fingernail.
The pro-abortion response to this reality is to retreat into mysticism, in this case the mysterious condition of “personhood.” The irony of this is that the self-professedly secularist pro-abortion movement places itself in roughly the same position as that of the medieval Christians who argued about such metaphysical questions as “ensoulment.” If we use the biological standard, the embryo is exactly what pro-lifers say it is: a distinct human organism at the early stages of development. If we instead decide to pursue the mystical standard of “personhood,” we may as well be debating about angels dancing on the head of a pin.
The main biological question at issue is the question of “viability.” But viability is a standard in motion, thanks in no small part to the fact that in every aspect of medical practice save abortion we prefer scientific standards to mystical ones. And the viability standard is in the end an intellectual dodge as well: You will never discover if an organism is viable by setting out intentionally to kill it.
There is a great deal of vacuity in the debate. The usual pro-abortion platitudes are so far from being intellectually respectable that they are answered only out of a sense of duty, not because they deserve to be answered. “I’m personally against abortion, but . . . ” would rightly be laughed out of existence if it were “I’m personally against murder/slavery/robbery, but . . . ” Which is to say, it is a statement that is defensible only if one assumes beforehand that abortion is not a species of homicide. Similar examples of begging the question include “It’s the woman’s body,” etc. We simply must answer the question — which is a biological question, not a mystical one — of how many bodies there are in question. I count at least two in the case of abortion. “People will still have abortions, only they’ll be dangerous.” People will still commit homicides, and crime would be less dangerous if we disarmed the police and forbade victims to defend themselves. The statement, like the others, makes sense only if we ignore the salient facts of the case.
Now go read the rest. Like right now. Go.
All right. A little more.
Encountering the architectural monuments and administrative sophistication of the Incans and Aztecs, the Europeans were confounded that such marvels could be done by cultures practicing human sacrifice. Huitzilopochtli may have faded away, but career, vanity, and sexual convenience are very much with us, and they, too, are jealous gods, who apparently insist on being served in the same way. The metaphysical explanations may be radically different, but the physical facts of the cases are not entirely dissimilar. If our descendents one day wonder that savages such as ourselves flew to the moon, it will speak well of them, even as they wonder that such brilliant engineers had so impoverished a conception of what it means to be human.
Last week Kevin Williamson did something I have often dreamed of doing, although to people talking or texting on cell phones while driving and not in a movie theater.
The show was Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, which was quite good and which I recommend. The audience, on the other hand, was horrible — talking, using their phones, and making a general nuisance of themselves. It was bad enough that I seriously considered leaving during the intermission, something I’ve not done before. The main offenders were two parties of women of a certain age, the sad sort with too much makeup and too-high heels, and insufficient attention span for following a two-hour musical. But my date spoke with the theater management during the intermission, and they apologetically assured us that the situation would be remedied.
It was not. The lady seated to my immediate right (very close quarters on bench seating) was fairly insistent about using her phone. I asked her to turn it off. She answered: “So don’t look.” I asked her whether I had missed something during the very pointed announcements to please turn off your phones, perhaps a special exemption granted for her. She suggested that I should mind my own business.
So I minded my own business by utilizing my famously feline agility to deftly snatch the phone out of her hand and toss it across the room, where it would do no more damage. She slapped me and stormed away to seek managerial succor. Eventually, I was visited by a black-suited agent of order, who asked whether he might have a word.
The reaction has been fascinating. While a great many have applauded Williamson for his bit of cell phone vigilantism, others have been far less sympathetic and indeed think he should be brought up on charges. Personally, I called him a hero on facebook.
But is he really a hero? Technically this was destruction of personal property. While the woman was certainly rude, lack of social grace does not negate the right to property.
On one level, it’s difficult to disregard that Williamson did act in an almost (or maybe not even almost) illegal fashion, and he himself was guilty of causing a disturbance. At the same time, the absolute lack of proper etiquette is becoming a growing concern in modern society. My wife and I rarely attend movies largely due to the fact that we have small children and babysitting is expensive. Yet were it not for the children we still would likely have cut back on our movie-going as it had become something of a tedium. I vividly recall attending the third installment of the Pirates of Caribbean franchise. The sheer awfulness of the film was compounded by the sheer awfulness of the crowd attending, largely populated by shrieking girls gawking at Orlando Bloom. Cell phone abuse was hardly the biggest issue with this crowd.
All the same, the reason that so many view Williamsom with admiration is that he confronted rudeness head-on. Instead of bellyaching later in a blogpost about the obnoxious woman sitting next to him, he actually did something about it. Though the action itself is of dubious ethical value, it was an action, and in world of words any actions taken to tackle social problems seem much more meritorious.
There are obvious concerns with Williamson’s actions being replicated on a larger scale, so we should probably not completely encourage such behavior. That being said, I have a difficult time not applauding Williamson for doing what so many of us have yearned to do.
That’s a line from a brief but astounding post by Kevin Williamson of NRO, which I’m reproducing in full here:
A little perspective from the debt commission:
“The commission leaders said that, at present, federal revenue is fully consumed by three programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. ‘The rest of the federal government, including fighting two wars, homeland security, education, art, culture, you name it, veterans — the whole rest of the discretionary budget is being financed by China and other countries,’ [Alan] Simpson said.”
Three programs — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — consume 100 percent of federal revenue, and everything else is paid for with borrowed money. This is why we cannot balance the budget by cutting military spending, foreign aid, food stamps, etc. There is not going to be a serious project to address our deficit/debt problem without deep, painful entitlement reform, and the longer we wait to admit that fact and get going on it, the worse it is going to be.
So, who’s gonna grab that third rail? George W. Bush tried and got hammered — an example that few if any in Washington are eager to follow.
Indeed. I think if this is going to happen, it’s going to have to come from the people (tea parties, perhaps?), because it seems suicidal for any politician to take it on without considerable popular support.