Saturday, March 16, 2013

Odds and ends 3/16/2013

“As radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least, as it’s been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the States can’t do to you; says what the federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t state what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.” –Barack Obama

Such is the groundwork for tyranny laid.

“A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.” –Teddy Roosevelt

At the American Thinker, Randy Fardal profiles “Julia,” whom I nominated for Person of the Year:

Because Julia is a fictional character invented by the president’s reelection team, she is, by definition, his idea of the perfect socialist Überfrau – a role model for all Americans to emulate.

Glenn Fairman echoes my take on Nurse Ratched:

As we immerse ourselves in the tale, we find that a select group of patients, many who are voluntary admissions, are in reality the victims of Ratched’s therapeutic malevolence. Her method is designed to homogenize – to pit them against one another and themselves. By quashing bad thoughts, her project is systematically geared towards instilling an infantilizing culture of emasculation and caste-iron control. Most disturbingly, we learn that the ward’s therapeutic goal, once ideally aimed at the restoration of health, has long been discarded for the Nurse’s own questionable discipline: a therapy with a paper thin veneer of democracy that has nevertheless metastasized into a calculated regime of dominance.

Under color of an exaggerated maternal concern for our temporal wellbeing, the Therapeutic State arises in America with reptilian eyes as she licks her lips and sizes us up. Flowing from a technical reservoir of absolute certainty, the Great Matriarch Who Knows Best has deemed it prudent for you to assume the Procrustean dimensions of body and mind that have been lovingly prepared as an altruistic service to her wayward children.

Patrick B. Craine writes at LifeSiteNews about the perils of mandatory public education:

The state may stomp on our freedom of expression, conscience, and religion; it may demolish our churches and ban our soapbox diatribes. But these are all in the external forum – regulating words and deeds. Forced attendance at school, on the other hand, attacks the internal forum. Its goal is to control the thoughts of the next generation. As long as the home remains unscathed, a sanctuary amidst the chaos, there’s still some last vestige of liberty. While greatly impeded by the loss of religious and cultural institutions, the family can still keep the fires of faith and truth alive around the evening’s hearth or the morning’s math lesson.

Reeducation aims to break with the past, to reshape the character of the people. When parents lose custody of their children, it’s over.

Marxism as a revolutionary movement has a beef with orthodox religion and the family, Igor Shafarevich writes (via Savage Left):

Socialism is not just an economic system, as is capitalism, but also — perhaps above all — an ideology. This is the only explanation for the hatred of [Christian] religion in socialist states, a hatred which cannot be explained on economic or political grounds.

This hatred appears like a birthmark in all the socialist states, but with varying degrees of prominence: from the almost symbolic conflict of the Fascist state in Italy with the Vatican to the total prohibition of [Christian] religion in Albania and its proclamation as “the world’s first atheist state.”


Marx regards socialism as the highest level of atheism: if atheism “affirms man through the denial of God,” if it is the “negative affirmation of man,” then socialism is “man’s positive affirmation.”

But socialist doctrine includes principles which are not proclaimed by the socialist states, at least not openly. Thus, anybody reading The Communist Manifesto with an open mind will be surprised at the amount of space devoted to the destruction of the family, to the rearing of children away from their parents in state schools, to wife-sharing.

At Public Discourse, Scott Yenor reviews Jonathan Last’s book What to Expect When No One’s Expecting:

Giving birth, much like educating students, requires some sort of faith or hope in the future, a belief that the human condition is worth experiencing, and a confidence that one can nurture a proper environment for the education of a new life. Welcoming new life reflects openness to the gifts of life, and appreciating these is itself confirmation of a life worth living [link mine].


For Last, America’s fertility problem and the world’s fertility problem is “the result of an enormous, interconnected web of factors that constitute something like the entire framework of modern life.” Marriage and fertility are “pulled along by massive, invisible cultural undercurrents” and “disparate parts of modernity evolving independently.” Precisely what Last means by “modernity” is not clear, but while summarizing an argument from the late James Q. Wilson, he suggests that “when reason replaced religion and custom as the lodestars for human thinking, it became natural for the sacramental view of marriage to be replaced by the contractual view.”


His suggestive comments force us to understand with greater depth the meaning of modernity. The heart of the modern project lies in conquering nature, in making “nature” obey the creative wills of human beings. First in defying death. Second in controlling life and in redesigning marriage, the institution capable of generating life. Contraception (which asserts a power to control birth), abortion (which asserts a power to define life), the constructivist revolution afoot in marriage (which asserts a human power to define marriage or “relationships” as whatever we wish them to be) are thinkable only in a time when we are preoccupied with making ourselves, in Descartes’s phrase, “Lords and Masters of Nature.”

In the Washington Times, David DesRosiers chimes in on Last’s book:

When you make man the measure of all things, don’t be surprised when he is not attentive to the population requirements of welfare-state economics, or the necessary fecundity of the human race. Mr. Last borrows from a recently departed and dearly missed social scientist to make his case. “Taking the long view, James Q. Wilson blames Milton, Locke and the Enlightenment in general. His argument is typically fluid and persuasive.”

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew “is a rare talent — at the art of getting paid,” writes Rich Lowry.

Troy Senik of Ricochet writes the Lew appointment is

nothing short of the contractual codification of regulatory capture. Make the federal government essential to the operation of the big banks and you make it essential for the big banks to infiltrate the federal government at every turn. Lew and Citi – operating on the basis of rational, if perverse, incentives – deserve a lot less of the blame here than a government that makes this calculation reasonable. It’s an exercise in plutocracy – from an administration that likes to posture about “fat cat bankers.”

Oscars host Seth McFarlane’s self-referential humor didn’t work for James Poniewozik at Time:

He delivered an opening routine that was all about inoculating himself against bad reviews, with William Shatner as James T. Kirk returning from the future to warn him against a disastrous performance, including a song directed at Hollywood women called, “We Saw Your Boobs.”

See, it wasn’t a drawn-out, obnoxious Oscar song; it was a joke about doing a drawn-out, obnoxious Oscar song!

The problem — and the problem with his whole table-setting performance — is: first, a metajoke about telling an unfunny joke is still an unfunny joke.

Larry David and Jim Carrey are masters of making the telling of a bad joke funny.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has her cake and eats it, too (via the UK Daily Mail):

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer built a nursery in her office so she could bring her baby to work, which has angered some stay-at-home employees following her demand that all remote workers report back to the office.

The former Google Inc. executive took the demanding top job at Yahoo! when she was five months pregnant and stirred up controversy when she took only two weeks of maternity leave after giving birth last fall.

Much in the vein of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Mayer has unabashedly said that her job is not her number one priority in life.

She boldly revealed that her most significant concerns were ‘God, family, and Yahoo! – in that order.’

Given that she has stated she personally prioritizes her faith and family before her job, some see it as hypocritical that she has pulled the plug on flexible working arrangements which provides work-life balance for many.

Feminine careerism works for millionaires.

Book reviewer Heather Wilhelm takes on Emily Bazelon’s book Sticks and Stones, an anti-bullying manifesto:

When it comes to the bullying of gay or lesbian students, for instance, she writes, “research shows that schools have to teach not just tolerance of an alternative lifestyle – the old code for keeping homosexuality at arm’s length – but acceptance. They have to teach, early and often, that there is nothing wrong with the sexuality of gay students or with the lives they lead.”

To do that, she argues, we should start them young, putting “books such as Heather Has Two Mommies or My Princess Boy on the kindergarten or first-grade bookshelf.”

You’ll have to excuse me for a moment, as I believe few dozen capillaries just ruptured inside my head. I think we can all probably agree that the bullying of gay and lesbian students is unconscionable. I also don’t care what consenting adults do in the bedroom, and I don’t think the government should care either. But I certainly do care if you try to promote sexual content to my 5-year-old while he’s at school.

The gay mafia hijacked the anti-bullying movement a long time ago.

Wilhelm on Peter Berkowitz’s Constitutional Conservatism:

Berkowitz cites the many compromises and balances that went into the making of the Constitution, noting that complete ideological purism can sabotage greater goals.

This translates, he argues, into two big takeaways for today’s right-leaning frenemies. Libertarians need to “come to grips” with the fact that “the era of big government is here to stay.” Any attempt to significantly dismantle the welfare state, for example, is likely to fail, he says; clear-eyed attempts to limit and reform it will be more successful. Social conservatives, meanwhile, need to accept that the sexual revolution has significantly changed our nation’s mores, and that using the federal government to force-feed traditional values is likely to fail, or, worse, backfire.

By and large, Berkowitz is right. The best I can hope to do is hold the legal line on “social” issues to prevent further slippage, and continue to be a culture warrior.

Years ago, watching the gay mafia’s backlash in California when Proposition 8 narrowly passed crystallized my opposition to same-sex marriage. I am stunned how a near-majority’s mind can be changed so quickly. It’s like all it takes to be turned is to be asked the question: “Should gays be allowed to marry?”

Wilhelm had this to say a while back about HBO’s Girls, garnering my instant respect:

What is it like to live in a world where nothing matters? If you’ve ever watched HBO’s cult series “Girls,” you know the answer.

Finally, Wilhelm on The End of Men:

With an increasing share of men out of work, underemployed, or frequently found smoking, drinking, napping, or randomly gutting a carp on the newly polished kitchen table at two in the afternoon, many breadwinning women are throwing up their hands – and asking themselves, as Coming Apart author Charles Murray recently told a gathering in Chicago, “Why should I marry that bozo?” Marriage rates have plummeted, particularly for those without a high school diploma.

Meanwhile, in the middle class, high-achieving women face a dearth of equally qualified men, leading them to go it alone rather than “marry down.” MIT economist David Autor puts it this way: “When men start to flame out, women by necessity have to become self-sufficient...They don’t marry the men, who are just another mouth to feed.”

Women want men they look up to, and fewer men qualify. This is one way the feminist movement (i.e., war on men) destroys marriage.

“The man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.” –Paul VI

Jeremy Egerer writes of men’s natural attitudes towards women:

This predisposition, present in all healthy men, is not a social construct; it is an instinct, undeniable, oftentimes quiet, yet foundational to man’s very identity – to be a champion for women, to be rescuer of women, to provide for and be held in esteem by beautiful women – to be a man! To look around oneself for any chance – be it ever so small – to pursue the heroic! Man has dreams of dying for country and faith, but how these differ from his sacrifices for women! How many songs, how many poems, how many public pledges and private professions acknowledge that across all cultures, save the abominably backward, man must protect women, or forfeit his claim to manhood!

Across every spectrum of action and circumstance, the same pattern holds firm: even somewhat civilized nations do not send their women to be torn apart by barbarian bombs and bayonets, to suffer the indignities of war prisoners – altogether a different type of indignity for women. Civilized men do not require women to do their dirty work – to do the heavy lifting, to give up their jackets in cold weather for men, to take bullets in self-sacrifice, to suffer name-calling and coarse jesting, to defend men with their fists. No, for a man to require publicly – even in our increasingly barbaric age – that woman provide these services as duty would beckon the scorn and hatred of even the majority of feminists. And yet, to say that the above duties should be distributed equally, to be shared entirely, is exactly the same (in many cases) as saying they should not exist at all – for both cannot take bullets for the other. One must give, and the other receive; they cannot both give. And in the circumstances in which they could both give, what romance would be lost!

Scottie Nell Hughes thinks romance is already lost. He must, if his argument is that every responsible American should turn their daughter into a man (hat tip Patriot Update):

Once America figures out this new path of raising daughters, what should we now teach the boys? A young man will now have to learn a whole new way of relating to girls. His natural instinct of protecting the weaker sex has to be programmed out of him. What would happen if he were in a combat situation and he were too busy looking out for the female soldier next to him? It could cost him his life, or maybe the lives of other men in his unit.

What a brave new world America’s children are now growing up in. With this new law, parents across the country might be asking if they are supposed to raise their daughters to be soldiers while at the same time raise their sons to be metrosexual community organizers who could care less about protecting a women?

I enjoyed this Amazon customer review of Suzanne Venker’s and Phyllis Schlafly’s The Flipside of Feminism. Excerpt:

The authors point out that many women, especially feminist icons, don’t mind being victims, blaming their misery and failures on a society that is designed to thwart their happiness. True, but I think there’s an even greater reason. As George Gilder explained in his 1973 book, the new rules of the sexual revolution gave men what we’ve always wanted: freedom from responsibility and access to women. There are plenty of things that men don’t like about SWF [second-wave feminism], such as sexual harassment accusations, gray rape accusations, gender bias in child custody battles, and a general degradation of our innate natures. But consider this question: Is there anything in the universe that would be so terrible about SWF that would cause men to be willing to give up access to p**sy? (not sure if I can use that word here) But think about it. This is why I see so many men, like knights in shining armor, defending SWF, catering to those poor oppressed victims of the patriarchy – and seething at the thought of returning to a pre-60s morality concerning sex. It’s also the main reason why so many men, especially young men, are hostile to religion. “It’s all a bunch of BS,” they say. “It’s too dogmatic.” Any positive effects of religion are no match for the libido paradise SWF offers.

Venker explains this Faustian sexual bargain is a net loss for men and women:

With premarital sex a foregone conclusion and cohabitation on the rise, men live the good life with no responsibilities. Moreover, women have made it clear they don’t need a man to support them, to be happy, or even to become a mother. The result is that men become slackers. And those so-called empowered women feminists created? Many learn, eventually, that they were cruelly misled. Millions of women find that they do, in fact, want to stay home with their babies when they’re young and therefore need a husband with a good job. But by that time, it’s too late.

Reacting to Massachusetts schools’ transgender bender, Adam J. MacLeod and Andrew Beckwith write in Public Discourse:

The regulations suggest that students who don’t endorse a fellow student’s gender identity may be subject to punishment. After condemning bullying, the directive endorses a memorandum that a Massachusetts school principal sent to teachers instructing them to discipline students who intentionally refer to a transgender student by his or her given name, or the pronoun corresponding to his or her anatomical sex. Such behavior “should not be tolerated.”

Suzanne Fields muses about the “genderfication” of adolescence:

What’s strikingly absent in accounts of the new “gender” attitudes of adolescents, however, is an authentic appreciation of sensuality and mystery that propels the male and female to seek intimacy and understanding. Without rules for sexual behavior, an uninspired hedonism dulls the senses, removing the wonder and titillation of mutual attraction. The sexual revolution that pulled aside the cloak of discretion over the sexual experience has erased some of the rewarding, secret, subtle, psychological discoveries for young people. Sex may be a desire as natural as the need for food, but hookups reduce sexual experience to McSex, the moral equivalent of fast food.

At Patheos, Marc Barnes defends men’s say in their unborn children’s lives:

The logic of abortion would have us believe that a husband bends to his wife’s swelling belly, kisses it and sings a song to her dear cellular clump, which at some arbitrary time decided by his wife (and who knows when? That’s the magical part!) will become his child. This, of course, is stupid. Unborn children are the children of a mother and father.

There is no legal distinction on the duty of parents to their child made on the basis of sex. Every parent has the duty to provide his or her children with the basic necessities of life, including food, clothing, shelter, and necessary medical care. To do otherwise is child abuse.

Now if parental duties towards children have nothing to do with sex, how can the question of the very life of that child have everything to do with sex? Why are men exempt from duty towards their children before they are born?

The issue here is one of consistency. If we are going to say that the creation of new life is one that, for 9 months, is entirely the responsibility of the mother and entirely not the responsibility of a father, we have to come up with a really good reason for the father receiving the exact same amount of responsibility when the baby does pop from the womb.

In this broadside against feminism, Kelly O’Connell quotes Leon J. Podles on the feminization of Christianity:

The rapid feminization of the main line religious community in America has been going on for some time. Not only do women join churches more than men do, they are more active and loyal. Women are twice as likely to attend a church service during any given week. Women are also 50% more likely than men to say, they are ‘religious’ and to state that they are ‘absolutely committed’ to the Christian faith. Because Christianity is now seen as a part of the sphere of life proper to women rather than to men, it sometimes attracts men whose own masculinity is somewhat doubtful. Religion is seen as a safe field, a refuge from the challenges of life, and therefore attracts men who are fearful of making the break with the secure world of childhood dominated by women. These are men who have problems following the path of masculine development.

I do not go to church because I am “fearful of making the break with the secure world of childhood dominated by woman.” I go because all the answers to my life’s problems that start and end with me are inadequate. I see myself standing in the way of becoming the man I want to be, and I believe God can get that fool out of the way. Is this “effeminate” weakness?

I’ll say this: I want to be strong in my approach to faith. I want to be confident in entering the Covenant with God and accepting the salvation that Christ bought me with his sacrifice.

At First Things, Mark Movsesian rips into the cult of self:

You can dismiss that mindset as empty and self-indulgent, but in the land of postmodern individualism, Sheilaism has powerful rhetorical appeal. It is preached relentlessly in advertising, books, movies, music, TV programs, even presidential politics (“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”). It is the effective religion of the “Nones”—the rapidly increasing cohort of Americans who claim no formal religious affiliation—and, one imagines, many churched people as well.

Christopher Piatt runs to the nones’ defense in the Washington Post:

Who cares if they’re a “none?” For me, it smacks of a dying modernist mindset that simply doesn’t fit anymore. That, and it also imparts a negative connotation on them, as if they lack something everyone else has.

Maybe, but not necessarily.

In politics, someone can officially identify as “independent,” and they are considered to be a cut-above the fray. We think highly of those independent thinkers. So why is it that, when it comes to religion, you can’t be independent, but instead you have to be a “none?”

Nonaffiliation as virtue? Natan Sharansky is shaking his head.

Insofar as nones are virtuous, and affirm their virtue, they freeload off their cultural inheritance, and contribute nothing to it. They adopt the morality of the broader culture out of convenience.

In that vein, Cliff Asness at the American Enterprise Institute says “yes” to labels:

To be clear, I’m not against the idea of getting along or working together. Of course, all else equal, those are wonderful things. But the implicit claim of No Labels is that these actions are more important than standing up for what you think is right, that we all must put principle aside at this time of crisis, and that if we would all just compromise more, everything would be okay. This I seriously question.


I like my personal labels, and won’t be changing them, forgoing them, acting as if they don’t represent what guides me, and signing on to a group that eschews them. I’m a fiscal conservative and libertarian. In my view, these are both moral choices and the choices that lead to the most prosperity for the most people. These are not things on which I will compromise because, “Oh gee, we just need to get something done around here.” In particular, when government aims to “just do something” it’s often more harmful than helpful. The foundation of your position, advocating getting things done more and arguing less is not simply wrong but often dangerously backwards.

“Sexual orientation is neither a “discrete” nor “immutable” characteristic in the legal sense of those terms. ... Scholars do not know enough about what sexual orientation is, what causes it, and why and how it sometimes changes for the Court to recognize it as the defining feature of a new suspect class.” –Paul McHugh

Given the near-universal view, across different societies and different times, that a principle, if not the principal, purpose of marriage is the channeling of the unique procreative abilities of opposite-sex relationships into a societally beneficial institution, it is clear that same-sex and opposite-sex couples are not similarly situated with respect to that fundamental purpose.” –Ed Meese

George Neumayr hones in on media bias in covering the war over marriage:

Addressing the complaint that the paper [Washington Post] is a propaganda sheet for gay activists, ombudsman Patrick Pexton disclosed an e-mail exchange between a reader and a Post reporter. The reader had asked the reporter why the paper covers the gay marriage debate so one-sidedly.

“The reason that legitimate media outlets routinely cover gays is because it is the civil rights issue of our time. Journalism, at its core, is about justice and fairness, and that’s the ‘view of the world’ that we espouse; therefore, journalists are going to cover the segment of society that is still not treated equally under the law,” responded the reporter.

In other words, reporters don’t cover debates but decide them. On the basis of their notions of “justice and fairness,” they tailor all coverage and determine in advance the winners of debates. This admission—that there is no difference between the paper’s front page and editorial page—would have been bad enough on its own. But then the reporter dug the hole deeper by telling the reader that opponents of gay marriage are no more legitimate than segregationists: “As for accuracy, should the media make room for racists, i.e. those people who believe that black people shouldn’t marry white people? Any story on African-Americans wouldn’t be wholly accurate without the opinion of a racist, right?”

Rod Dreher riffs:

The bias that creeps into their coverage is typically the result of a newsroom monoculture, in which they don’t see the bias because everybody, or nearly everybody, within that culture agrees on so much. In the case of gay rights and the marriage debate, though, they don’t even make an effort to be fair. I have heard some version of the “error has no rights” claim for years now. They honestly believe they are morally absolved from having to treat the views of about half the country with basic fairness in reporting. And they are shocked — believe me, they really are — that these people view them and the work they do with suspicion, even contempt.

Charles C. W. Cooke of the Weekly Standard rips into ThinkProgress’ smear of Justice Scalia:

There is a certain strain of progressivism that cannot regard any question as worthy of examination on its merits. In this philosophy, the outcome is all that matters. To those who have been infected with this sordid little creed, process can go hang providing that power is exercised as they wish and that each and every one of their sentiments is indulged in perpetuity. Meanwhile, those who hang on to notions of law and reason are assumed to be concealing bad motives — or, worse, as being secretly evil. Better just to speak platitudes than deal with anything thorny, eh?

Excerpts from a sermon by Mormon elder David Bednar rhymes thematically with “Dissociation as addiction”:

Sadly, some young men and young women in the Church today ignore “things as they really are” and neglect eternal relationships for digital distractions, diversions, and detours that have no lasting value.


I raise an apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences upon our souls. The concerns I raise are not new; they apply equally to other types of media, such as television, movies, and music. But in a cyber world, these challenges are more pervasive and intense. I plead with you to beware of the sense-dulling and spiritually destructive influence of cyberspace technologies that are used to produce high fidelity and that promote degrading and evil purposes.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin is a critic of smart phones: “In addition to potentially socially isolating yourself when you are out and about using your phone, I feel it is kind of emasculating,” he said.

His solution? Google Glass! It’s like a smart phone, but mounted on your face!

He observed that smart phones sometimes become props used by people as distractions or to appear busy, saying that Glass strips away excuses not to be sociable or to not be honest about simply wanting to take a break.

“It really opened by eyes to how much of my life I spent secluded away in email, social posts or what-not,” Brin said. “There is nothing bad about that, but with this thing I don’t have to be checking them all the time.”

“I need—no, I have the right to be unlimited.” Yuck. Mark T. Mitchell at Front Porch Republic dissects this technological/cultural fad.

First, the visible world constitutes the essence of the human experience. The real is that which can be captured by a video phone. The real is the tangible, visible, potentially pixelized world. By implication, the world of thought and idea, the world of spirit, is assumed to be unreal or at least unimportant, for God and the human soul cannot be reduced to pixels. In a curious twist, the new “miraculous” has rendered the old miraculous unimaginable and therefore unbelievable.

I agree. What Mitchell doesn’t mention is the embarrassing neediness of the narrator’s statement. Can’t you just enjoy life without worrying about how you’ll relate it to a virtual community?

On a related note, Dreher publishes part of an email he received from a friend raising a preteen son:

Just last week, my wife and I attended an orientation at our son’s middle school next year. It’s a lovely school with great test scores and supportive staff and a million extracurricular options, etc. Everything you’d expect in a wealthy suburb with high taxes. But in all the orientation talks by the principal and administrators and counselors, not one word was spoken of morality or character. It was a complete moral vacuum, beyond empty tolerance (no bullying, which I support, of course). And meanwhile, at home we’re experiencing the consequences of this way of raising a child. We do speak of morals at home. And we go to church. And our son goes to Catholic Sunday School. But it’s not enough. Not when there are the temptations of technology. And when his peers are always doing more.

Waterboarding worked (via Debra Saunders:

The Washington Post reported that Panetta wrote, “Some of the detainees who provided useful information about the facilitator/courier’s role had been subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques.” Panetta also has said he believes that the information could have been extracted without enhanced interrogation techniques.

Both letters suggest that on the senators’ big sticking point – whether enhanced techniques helped bring bin Laden to justice – “Zero Dark Thirty” was on the money. What they call torture produced results, and they don’t want the public to know that. That’s why some heavyweights in Washington and Hollywood were rooting for Bigelow and company to fail.

Daniel Greenfield makes a good point:

When Israel builds apartment buildings in its own capital city, the State Department, that branch of government which [Chuck] Hagel claimed was an adjunct of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, denounces the provocative act of putting one brick on top of another. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia arrests Christians for celebrating Christmas and you couldn’t pay the State Department to pay attention.

The State Department hates Israel because Israel is the barbarians’ whipping boy. The barbarians are like animals, unaccountable for their actions, provoked, but by whom? Why, Israel, of course, who, by virtue of being the only responsible adults in the Middle East, bears the responsibility for their neighbors’ hostile actions. At least, that’s the State Department’s internal rationalization, in my opinion. Hagel’s bizarre claim was motivated by radical egalitarianism.

That said, it seems like Iran has been “on the brink” of developing a nuclear weapon for years now. With all due respect to the credible threat Iran poses to Israel’s and America’s security, I fear more the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian statehood movement, which the American president holds dear.

Daniel Horowitz destroys AIPAC:

Over the years, Republicans have introduced numerous bills and resolutions to cut funding to the PLO, place meaningful and consequential sanctions on Iran and those who do business with them (China and Russia), demand that a unilaterally declared Palestinian state not be recognized, and force the State Department to move the embassy to Israel’s real capitol, Jerusalem. AIPAC is either indifferent or actively lobbies against those efforts.

More recently, they had nothing to say when Chuck Hagel became the most anti-Israel Secretary of Defense ever. They actively lobbied against Rand Paul’s amendment to block transfer of planes and tanks to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, weapons which will only be used for one purpose. As we’ve noted before, AIPAC actively opposes any conservative-backed resolution that would actually help Israel, in favor of bipartisan ones with vacuous language.

Why do they do this?

First, in an attempt to ensconce the partisan divide over Israel, they will never support anything that Democrats will not vote for. In fact, they will lobby against it. Second, unlike the NRA team, AIPAC is run by liberal Democrats. AIPAC’s leader, Lee Rosenberg, is a former Obama adviser and prolific fundraiser for him and other leftist causes. This is probably not true of many of their activists, but on a leadership level they all support the creation of a Palestinian state in the heart of Judea and Samaria, even as the Palestinian Authority is currently constituted. They regard the conservative view of cutting off the PLO as an anti-Israel position.

Robert Stacy McCain bemoans materialism:

During the 1980s, when the term “Yuppie” was first used to describe the young upwardly-mobile professionals whose consumer choices made them a coveted demographic for advertisers, one sometimes saw a bumper-sticker that expressed the ethos of that set: “He who dies with the most toys, wins.”

This toy-collector mentality, the tendency to define one’s self through the accumulation of material objects symbolizing one’s social status, is childish at best and dehumanizing at worst. If the purpose and meaning of your life consists of the acquisition and possession of consumer goods – getting more toys – then your life is pretty damned meaningless, isn’t it? Genuinely successful, happy people don’t live that way.


Such left-wing hostility to capitalism is motivated by a perverse materialistic envy that presumes to redistribute happiness by redistributing wealth.

Liberalism disregards the natural connection between virtue and success, and tends to derogate both. Liberals are enraged, for example, by any suggestion that sexual promiscuity is harmful and immoral, and erupt in indignation at what they call “slut-shaming.” If sluts cannot be shamed, neither can the chaste be praised and, as liberalism becomes ever more ascendant in our culture, “virgin” becomes a dirty word while marital fidelity is mocked as hopelessly obsolete.

Ben Stein writes in the American Spectator about how we are indebted to the future:

We, ourselves, are the only ones we can reliably count on. The younger us has to be the one who cares for the older us. The young Ben Stein who made a bit of money and saved and invested it, is the one who is the only one who is available to help the mature Ben Stein. That’s the way it is for almost all of us.

I agree that this sounds obvious. But it’s endlessly amazing to me how many Americans there are out there who count on some money magic for the future.

What do you know: “Religious households more likely to save money, plan for the future.” Some would argue that’s a result of eschewing the present for the afterlife. I submit it has more to do with knowing your moral duties to family, church, and community, and orienting your present life towards a future in which you fulfill those duties.

Social ills aside, Ross Douthat’s formulation worries me. There may indeed be enough prosperity to sustain those who have been displaced by machines, but those who control it won’t give it up without a fight, nor should they. Giving and receiving are the essence of the marketplace. Will there be no need to fill, no demand to create or exploit? Even ostensibly mundane tasks, not yet mechanized or impractical to mechanize, could provide a decent income to maintain a good standard of living, enabled by automation.

Horowitz invokes Orwell in his analysis of the GOP establishment:

“Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No questions, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Instead of using their majority to leverage good legislation against the Senate, House leadership has been coercing its members to rubberstamp Democrat bills that pass the Senate. Last month, McCarthy once again whipped up support for a radical VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) bill using a majority of Democrat support.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to modify the gun ban he hastily ratified in January.

“We spend a lot of money in the state bringing movie production here, post production here. So obviously we would want to facilitate that,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said the prop firearms used in films would probably not be classified as an assault weapon.

“But people want certainty and there’s no reason not to make a change like that,” the governor added. “Apparently, they have blanks or they have phony magazines or something.”

What about the children, guv?

Cuomo will probably run for president. He’s a fairly orthodox liberal, redefining marriage, banning guns, hiking taxes, stealing to balance the state’s finances...generally presiding over a period of middle-class collapse and out-migration. Lest we forget, he played a big part in the housing boom and bust (hat tip Village Voice):

Andrew Cuomo, the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary in history, made a series of decisions between 1997 and 2001 that gave birth to the country’s current crisis. He took actions that – in combination with many other factors – helped plunge Fannie and Freddie into the subprime markets without putting in place the means to monitor their increasingly risky investments. He turned the Federal Housing Administration mortgage program into a sweetheart lender with sky-high loan ceilings and no money down, and he legalized what a federal judge has branded “kickbacks” to brokers that have fueled the sale of overpriced and unsupportable loans. Three to four million families are now facing foreclosure, and Cuomo is one of the reasons why.

With that record, it’s no wonder liberals love him.

I’m happy Hugo Chavez is dead. Jonathan Merritt isn’t. He recalls his reaction to people who celebrated bin Laden’s death:

I’m reminded of the words of Ezekiel: “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live” (33:11). The outcome that God desired and we should have too is that while Osama bin Laden was still breathing, he would have rejected doing any more evil and confessed Christ. This would have been cause for a true celebration—even the angels in heaven would have rejoiced (Luke 15:7). Anything short of this is a tragedy.

God may “take no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” but that is far from a prohibition on us. The Bible repeatedly exhorts us to hate evil. Further, “when the wicked perish, there is jubilation” (Proverbs 11:10).

Elsewhere in Proverbs we are exhorted not to “rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble.” Enemies in this context means rivals, such as for a woman’s heart or for a promotion at work, not unrepentant, evil men.

People also like to bring up God’s chastising the angels for celebrating the Egyptian army’s defeat. Lori Palatnik explains:

The Jewish people broke into song, called “The Song of the Sea.” Miriam, with musical instruments, took the Jewish women aside and danced and sang in praise of God. And we are told that in heaven, the angels also broke into song. But the Almighty chastised the angels and said, “How can you sing when my people are dying?” (Talmud Sanhedrin, 39b)

Several questions arise. Why would God tell the angels not to celebrate and yet allow the Jews to sing? And God’s people were dying because He himself killed them!

What God is saying to the angels is that this is not a happy day for Him. He did not create the Egyptians for evil, but they chose evil, and now evil had to be wiped out. But the Jewish people had suffered at the hand of the Egyptians and they not only had the right to celebrate, they must celebrate.

This is an important distinction. God mourned because He had to sacrifice the Egyptians to save Israel. He is their Creator just as he is the Jews’ Creator. Their destruction is Israel’s salvation and evidence of God’s blessing, worthy of celebrating.

Tzvi Freeman writes:

Solomon tells you not to rejoice over the fall of your enemy. If that’s the reason you are celebrating—because he is your enemy, that you have been vindicated in a personal battle—then how are you better than him? His wickedness was self-serving, as is your joy.

But to rejoice over the diminishment of evil in the world, that we have done something of our part to clean up the mess, that there has been justice—what could be more noble?

Further reading: “Kill bad guys and rejoice.”

Investor’s Business Daily says Chavez was no friend to the poor. The Miami Herald soberly remembers his legacy of plunder.

In a scene reminiscent of the Congressional Black Caucus singing hosannas to Fidel Castro, Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano mourned the death of Chavez:

At his core he was a man who came from very little and used his unique talents and gifts to try to lift up the people and the communities that reflected his impoverished roots. He believed that the government of the country should be used to empower the masses, not the few.

Pravda was less reserved in its mourning. “Heaven gains an angel.”

Nick Gillespie of Reason said it well: “It’s stunning what people will excuse if the right magic words are sprinkled over the repression.”

I know it’s early, but Pope Francis impresses me. Via CatholicismUSA:

Cardinal Bergoglio said the challenge to eradicate poverty could not be truthfully met as long as the poor continue to be dependents of the State.

The government and other organizations should instead work to create the social conditions that will promote and protect the rights of the poor and enable them to be the builders of their own future, he explained.

In 2002, he is quoted (via First Things):

To those who are now promising to fix all your problems, I say, “Go and fix yourself.”...Have a change of heart. Get to confession, before you need it even more! The current crisis will not be improved by magicians from outside the country and nor will [improvement] come from the golden mouth of our politicians, so accustomed to making incredible promises.

Via the National Catholic Reporter:

[During] the years of the military junta in Argentina, when many priests, including leading Jesuits, were gravitating towards the progressive liberation theology movement. As the Jesuit provincial, Bergoglio insisted on a more traditional reading of Ignatian spirituality, mandating that Jesuits continue to staff parishes and act as chaplains rather than moving into “base communities” and political activism.


“We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least,” Bergoglio said during a gathering of Latin American bishops in 2007. “The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”

I think that statement is more a criticism of fascism than capitalism. The peronist Kirchners have headed Argentina’s government since 2003. Peronism is “social justice.”

Finally, via Drew Belsky at the American Thinker:

Those who blast Pope Francis for his “doctrinaire” stand on marriage, family, and homosexuality need to remember that the leader of the Catholic Church is always going to be pretty solid on Catholic doctrine. And those who furrow their brows over a Church “resistant to change” should recall that (according to Catholics, at least), the Word of God is eternal, therefore resistance to change sounds not half-bad.

So what’s the best that Catholics can hope for from Pope Francis? Namely, that he keep doing what he’s been doing. The man who forsook a mansion and a chauffeured limousine in favor of “a simple bed in a downtown room heated by a small stove” can teach us a lot about holy living, if we’ll listen. And if he has strong words against the dissolution of marriage or against homosexual couples adopting children, dissenters must remember that, like it or not, the Catholic Church does condemn homosexual acts as sinful – but as Pope Francis knows, Jesus enjoins us to love the sinner even more strongly than we hate the sin. So we should have little patience for accusations of homophobia or cruelty against the man who kisses and washes the feet of AIDS victims and drug addicts.

Last but not least, Elizabeth Scalia praises the Catholic priesthood’s celibacy:

Celibacy is a great reminder that sex in itself cannot make a person happy. Wherever we turn, we see images, and hear songs, and smell body sprays that remind us of sex. Even a cloistered nun could tell you that we live in an over-sexed culture. Of course, the kind of sex that the world wants to sell is empty, but for some reason, it’s still attractive and alluring.

The point keeps being made, over and over, that we can endure love without sex, because love is a fullness; we cannot long endure sex without love, though, because it is all emptiness.

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