It is with Heavy Heart that I say, We Must Impeach

 

Friends,

I try for moderation in all things. I certainly don’t believe everything I see in the media. I don’t believe everything that either party tells me. This brouhaha over impeachment has seemed ridiculous to me up to now. But with recent developments, I have seen the light. Trump must be impeached, removed from office, and prevented from ever holding another office of public trust in his lifetime. There are some acts that are simply beyond the pale for any civilized person, and the use of exclamation points outside of very strict boundaries is one of them. The evidence is before us:

We cannot allow this sort of abuse of the exclamation point to continue. Not even one time.

 

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Here we go again… 7pm CDT Thursday, October 17, American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas. Tickets here. Right Side Broadcasting live feed: Fox 10 Phoenix live feed:   Dallas Morning News: ‘It feels like a big tailgate party’: Trump supporters line up days in advance of Dallas rally Trump tweet: THANK YOU you Dallas, Texas. See […]

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Why Use Social Media?

 

In the aftermath of the Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeting his support of the anti-government protests in Hong Kong, which consequently led to a PR firestorm and the ire of our communist neighbors, it got me thinking. Why does anybody engage is social media at all? Why would one engage in such platforms when even the most offhand, negligible comment can cost someone their job or even livelihood? It just doesn’t make sense to me. 

I can think of a couple of examples of social media costing people significant amounts. Last October, Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett cost her a new season of her extremely popular show “Roseanne.” Elon Musk’s tweet on the morning of Aug. 7, 2018, claiming he would sell Tesla at $420 ended up costing him $20 million. I think the most scathing example is how last December, an eight-year-old tweet cost Kevin Hart a chance at hosting the Oscars. It seems there is no statute of limitations on internet content.

In addition, being a relatively young person, it is nearly a 100 percent certainty that I will have to look for a job sometime in the near future. Today, it is nearly standard practice for companies screen potential employees social media accounts before hiring them. Why would I engage on social media if it could be nitpicked, misconstrued, and potentially prevent me from employment? Our country’s Miranda warning states, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Today, anything you say on social media can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion. 

Now, I can understand why a company would engage in social media, so that they can establish a following or maintain a customer base. But why would you or I, regular citizens, tweet their opinions or post an Instagram photo only for it to be grossly misinterpreted and have it eventually cost us? And yet, these platforms, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc., are massively popular and worth billions of dollars. It just doesn’t add up to me. Can someone please explain why anybody is on these things?

Quote of the Day: White Guilt

 

“‘And am I answerable that thoughtless and unprincipled men exist, whose shades of countenance may resemble mine?’ Cora calmly demanded of the excited savage.”
— James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans

Nothing is new. Published in 1826, Cooper was tackling the issue of collective white guilt for sins against American Indians. Cora’s question struck me as so timeless and relevant to our current controversies over reparations and the American sin of slavery. It’s really an argument in defense of herself as an individual. Thus, it’s an argument that places individual character and behavior above racial and tribal identity.

For more context, Cora is responding to the accusation that white men are to blame for introducing Magua to “fire-water,” which caused his excommunication from his own tribe for his drunken misdeeds.

I didn’t initially notice the line after her question until I decided to use it for the Quote of the Day. How does Cooper’s addition of the words “calmly demanded of the excited savage” change the reader’s sense of Cora’s question?

As modern readers, we could infer that she was just excusing the bad deeds of her own people because she (and Cooper) thought the Native Americans were sub-human. Or perhaps, the word “savage” implies that the tribal way of viewing the world ignores the importance of individual actions.

My Personal Struggle with OPM Addiction: A Cautionary Tale

 

Opium is my pet name for OPM – Other People’s Money. I know that it’s addictive and dangerous. I have personal friends whose lives have spiraled out of control after just trying a little bit of it. It seems harmless enough in small doses, but their experience has led me to do my very best to avoid experimenting even with recreational use of this powerful substance. But recently, I have fallen off the wagon. I share my story, hoping to help others. My name is Dr. Bastiat, and I am addicted to OPM.

I live in a very nice house on a golf course in a gated community in Hilton Head. A few months ago, we found a leak in our roof. My neighbor down the street had just replaced his roof. His estimate was $13,000, but during the repair, they found some problems with flashing and sheeting, and it ended up costing nearly $15,000. My house is a little bigger, so I was thinking of numbers close to $20,000. That would be a setback, but not enough of one to lead me to get hooked on OPM. At least, you wouldn’t think so, would you? But hear my story, dear reader, so that you do not suffer the same fate as me.

The roofer shows up, and he finds the leak. There’s a 5×5-foot area of bad shingles, plus some flashing that would need to be replaced. He figured $2,000 – maybe $3,000 if they found some other problems when they got into it. I mentioned that my neighbor got a whole new roof for five times that amount, and he just shrugged.

So he goes to my HOA. Our gated community has very restrictive rules – our mailboxes all match, and I recently got a letter from them pointing out that I needed more mulch around my landscaping. No kidding. Our neighborhood looks very nice. But the HOA rules supreme.

So he goes to my HOA and tells the lady that he needed to replace a 5×5-foot section of shingles on my roof. The lady there asked if he could match them. He said no, they don’t make that shingle anymore. And even if they did, the roof is 14 years old, and has faded some, and they wouldn’t match anyway. But he showed her samples he had found that were very, very close. He pointed out that the repair was in a valley of the roof, facing away from the road, and the new shingles were so close in color, that no one would ever notice the difference. Easy repair, and it’ll look great.

She said, “No.”

He said, “I have to fix this. His roof is leaking.”

She said “No.”

He said, “I need that in writing.”

So he comes to me with a letter stating that he was not permitted to repair my roof. I said some bad words, and he says, “Relax – the game is just beginning. Watch this.”

So he sends that letter to my home insurance company. They had already approved the $3,000 repair. He explained to the insurance company that he was not permitted to do the repair they had approved, and that the only way that he could repair this leak, and have all the shingles match, would be to replace the entire roof. Which would cost $70,000.

The insurance company approved it. They had to fix the leak.

The HOA approved it. The shingles all match, and it didn’t cost them anything.

My roofer approved it. He drives a Shelby Mustang.

My wife approved it. She got a new roof, and it didn’t cost her anything.

And here I sit, rocking back and forth in the dark, struggling with my addiction to OPM. You just can’t imagine the horror until you’ve been there yourself.

But I’ll bet that you have been there yourself, haven’t you? Don’t try to act holier than thou with me – I know you’ve dabbled in the pleasures of this drug yourself, correct? Be truthful. Maybe a little harmless experimentation in college, like a Pell Grant or something? No big deal, right? In fact, it was kind of nice, wasn’t it?

Right. I knew it. So don’t judge me.

Plus, this was just a little relapse. A long weekend, if you will.

I can quit anytime I want.

In fact, I quit now. I’ve had enough. That was it. Never again. I really mean it this time. You’ll see.

Oh, boy…

It’s just that OPM is, um… so, well, so wonderful. There. I said it. It’s wonderful. It really is.

But I don’t want any more. Nope. Not me.


The politicians continue to run for office promising more and more OPM for the masses.

And they win, and they hand out the OPM. Not just to those who really need it — they hand it out to everybody. The people are happy and content, and re-elect the politicians. And we don’t criticize, because now we’re all on the take. And after all, just a little is harmless, right? Maybe just a little more. Why not?

And the politicians keep handing it out — it doesn’t cost them anything.

And they keep getting re-elected. And on and on we go.

It’s mostly harmless, right? Why not?

Oh boy…

This is going to be difficult to stop.


My name is Dr. Bastiat, and I’m addicted to OPM.

 

Weep, Seattle Catholics

 

The headline reads: “Planned Parenthood Decision Sparks Seattle U Protest.” In typical fashion, you can’t really tell what the story is about, except that it has to do with Planned Parenthood, Seattle University, and protests (a frequent pastime in Seattle). It’s probably not what you think, though.

Seattle University used to be a private, Jesuit University. Over the years, the school has strayed farther and farther from being really Catholic, and I’m pretty sure the majority of students there are no longer Catholic. The decision in question, taken by the President of the college, was not to include Planned Parenthood on an online list of medical-care resources. About 1,000 students, faculty, and alumni were protesting this decision! You know what color Seattle is (as blue or maybe red/communist as can be), and as I have pointed out before, progressives are progressive first, and everything else later, including Catholic. With Abortion as the Holy Sacrament of the Progressive movement, any action to discourage it is taken as an affront by the population.

I’m not even Catholic, but this story really makes me sad.

Trick or Treat: A Conversation with a Young Man

 

I happened to fall into conversation with a young veterans’ organization member, who turned out to also be eligible for the veteran’s organization to which I belong, due to service in Korea. My outfit needs more fresh blood, so I had an ulterior motive to sit and listen, just prompting him for more of his thoughts. It was a treat to hear a well-spoken young man’s perspective on his own life, work, and service. The trick, really the pleasant surprise, was to then find an amazing breadth and depth to this fellow veteran, who I took from the conversation to be in his mid-20s.

That places him on the cusp between Millennials and Gen-Z. Folks, he was none of the negative stereotypes routinely riffed about his age cohort. He started on active duty, then (fairly recently) transitioned to a reserve component. He was highly focused on leveraging the mutually reinforcing training, certifications, and experience of his civilian and military careers. He had mapped out paths of advancement in both, taking advantage of the commonality in the two technical occupations. Oh, and he had not even needed college to get on this path, but already had thought through the evening/weekend/online schooling that would punch his ticket to the top of his chosen field in both the military and civilian life.

He had already been to the Middle East and Asia, so was looking for opportunities to see Europe and especially Africa in Uncle Sam’s service. And then it got interesting. We really do not understand the Middle East because we have forsaken much of our own intellectual and spiritual inheritance, he observed. We have the Arab world largely on our side or under our control, yet we cannot see the lines everyone there sees, of the Ottoman and Persian empires, let alone the one that once was centered in present-day Iraq. Turkey and Syria are two fixed countries in our eyes, yet Turks have a memory of empire that included Syria and more.

He showed great wisdom and maturity in not voicing full or unrestrained opinion, at least to a stranger, even in a friendly setting. Yet, he had dropped a mention of church, so when I asked an opening question, he showed a few cards. He is Roman Catholic and worried about the direction of the church and of society. Here he was carefully circumspect.

I offered that perhaps it would have been better for this time if an African had been selected as the Pope instead of an Argentine. “Yes,” he answered. The current pope was shaped by the Jesuits, and the Jesuits were at the center of the current situation. [He employed very careful language at this point.]

There is a common misconception, he averred, that the Holy Spirit selects the Pope. It is rather the case that the Spirit transfers authority from one to another, but the church has gone through schisms before when the wrong man was chosen. The laity’s prayers help guide the church, he continued, but when the laity is confused or astray, the “lens” of prayer becomes “smudged,” leading to blurry guidance in church leadership.

But, he was not passively resigned or fatalistic. Instead, he was determined to act where he could and had hope. Britain, he volunteered, had fallen more than once. When the Saxons invaded, it was left to a faithful remnant in Ireland to spread the true faith again. So, now, with Europe and America, a spiritual child of Europe, dying, it was likely the turn of the church in Africa to be the source of revival.

All that, from a clean-cut, fit young man on the rise in the rising generation. With a few more men like this, the kids will be alright, and the trick will be on the Trickster.

Whistleblower Unmasked: Cousin Itt

 

My world-renowned phrenologist, Dr. Hans O’Cranium, and I were in DC this week and inadvertently learned the identity of the heretofore unnamed whistleblower in the Trump impeachment inquiry: Cousin Itt, Gomez’s hairy cousin from The Addams Family.

Hans and I were on Capitol Hill to testify on the correlation of skull topography to the tendency of poorly educated pro athletes to make uninformed comments about complex geopolitical matters such as freedom of speech and trade with Red China.

A bumpy-headed security employee-for-life of the US government mistakenly ushered us into the House Selective Intelligence Committee To Impeach President Trump Once And For All.

Hans and I were shocked to see former stars of The Addams Family well-represented on the Committee.

The Chairman, Adam “Gomez” Shiftless, gaveled the hearing to order and focused his gigantic John Astin-like eyeballs on Republican members and reminded them that only information deemed harmful to Trump could be leaked under rules adopted by the majority moments after Hans and I were seated.

“Please take the witness chair, cara mia,” Gomez said to his heartthrob, House Speaker Morticia Lugosi, resplendent in a full-length black gown and long black wig.

“Thank you, Gomez,” she said, batting her eyes and introducing her legal adviser, 6’8” Lurch Comey, who sat next to her, thinking big thoughts.

“Madame Speaker,” Congressman Pugsley Smallwell said, “I want….”

“Don’t interrupt your mother,” Gomez Adam Shiftless barked at Pugsley.

“Let the President speak,” insisted Congressman Uncle Fester Addler, on loan from the House Judiciary Committee.

“I want to hear from Judge Eddy Munster Neapolitano first,” Pugsley Smallwell whined, signaling for the diminutive Judge to stand and show off his widow’s peak.

No way any Munsters will testify in my hearing,” Gomez said.

At that moment, Ohio Congressman and former NCAA wrestling All-American Jim Jordan burst into the hearing room dragging a small mop-like creature in a headlock.

“I’ve found the whistleblower,” Jordan said. “It’s Chairman Gomez’s cousin.”

“Free Cousin Itt,” Pugsley Smallwell demanded.

“Not until he tells this committee what he told me,” Jordan said.

Covered with long hair from head to toe and wearing only a bowler hat and glasses, Cousin Itt launched into ten minutes of unintelligible high-pitched gibberish at 78 rpm.

“See what I mean?” Jordan exclaimed. “It’s a witch hunt based on nothing.”

“That’s not what I heard Cousin Itt say,” Gomez Adam Shiftless said. “I believe Itt just reinforced our case for impeachment!”

“Look at those bumps on Shiftless’s forehead and skull,” Hans whispered to me. “No telling what’s going on in that head.”

GQ’s “New Masculinity”…Isn’t Masculine.

 

Some posts really don’t need a lot of text when images tell the story.

and from May of this year:

…and the old masculinity. I guess I’m old fashioned when it comes to men’s fashions.

Quote of the Day: Defending Margaret Sanger on Eugenics

 

“Framing access to reproductive health care and bodily autonomy as eugenics exposes a fundamental misunderstanding of the racialized gender oppression on which antiabortionists stand. The truth is, the anti-abortion movement was born out of racist and xenophobic concerns about the falling white birth rate—echoes of which you will hear in today’s white supremacist rhetoric.”
— Alexis McGill Johnson, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

This quotation came from the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago. Someone had written a piece criticizing Planned Parenthood. Not surprisingly, the president of the organization decided to respond by attacking the pro-life community with an outrageous accusation. Not only are her comments about the pro-life movement untrue, but she completely mischaracterizes the common understanding of eugenics.

To help clarify the record, here are some descriptions of Margaret Sanger’s eugenics work:

Sanger shaped the eugenics movement in America and beyond in the 1930s and 1940s. Her views and those of her peers in the movement contributed to compulsory sterilization laws in 30 U.S. states that resulted in more than 60,000 sterilizations of vulnerable people, including people she considered ‘feeble-minded,’ ‘idiots’ and ‘morons.’

Or, from her writings:

The main objects of the Population Congress would be to apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring[;] to give certain dysgenic groups in our population their choice of segregation or sterilization.

Clearly, Ms. Johnson is “misinformed” about the pro-life movement.

Made-up Words? Covfefe, I Say!

 

I have two related thoughts that I think explain why the left and the youngs are the way they are.

An idea that penetrated from the heights of American culture down to elementary schools around the turn of the century was the idea that being judgmental was a vice rather than a virtue. This is contradictory because it is a moral judgment itself. It is the ethos of puritanical nihilism: the only morally correct way to live is not to acknowledge that right and wrong exist.

Maybe they couldn’t win the moral arguments, so they decided to call the whole idea of morality backward. This is what laid the groundwork for the gay rights movement and now the trans movement. It was just “I think this is wrong!” versus “Don’t judge! That’s mean! Don’t think about right or wrong!” As far as gay marriage is concerned, I don’t have a strong opinion, but I resent having to have a strong opinion. Lately I have become extremely defensive of the people who were opposed to it, refused to change their views just because those views were unpopular, and are now broadly slandered as bigots.

But that case is lost. Maybe it’s for the best, but this whole trans thing is a whole other can of worms. The left, in their desire to be inclusive, seems unlikely to acknowledge that not all girls who like short hair need hormone injections at age 12. I fear they will be successful if they can frame it as another fight against judgmentalism. No one has pointed out that if you believe in right and wrong, you are exercising judgment and could be called judgmental. The negative connotation is undeserved. I do not know where it came from, but it is the fundamental notion (‘twould be generous to call it an idea) that explains why charges of homophobia and transphobia and xenophobia and fatphobia are effective, to varying degrees. In the latter case, the fact that it is even a word printed in newspapers is cause enough for alarm.

These ain’t phobias, Jack. This is my second point. Phobias are psychological conditions: claustrophobia, arachnophobia, etc. The newly invented, incoherent* compound words were not created by psychologists, but they sound like irrational mental disorders that should be dismissed out of hand. Xenophobic arguments about border enforcement shouldn’t be taken any more seriously than arachnophobic arguments about the looming threat of giant spiders.

The previous sentence would be true if xenophobia were being used to describe people who had a psychological condition that made them irrationally afraid of outsiders, but it is not. None of these hot new words are phobias, properly understood, which is to say that they don’t exist. Not only is a belief in traditional marriage not homophobia, there’s really no such thing as homophobia. This word and those like it were invented to slander people who hold unpopular opinions. Actually, it’s even worse than that. When the word started popping up, it was used to slander people who held the popular opinion and bully the rest into changing their minds. None of the diversity-equity-inclusion stuff would have caught on to the degree it has without the foundation of anti-judgmentalism. 

I should clarify my homophobia denialism. Belief in traditional marriage is not based on hate or fear. One can believe that marriage should be reserved for one man and one woman and still treat gay and lesbian folks with respect. Some people don’t treat gays and lesbians well. Maybe those people are jerks, but I don’t think that makes it a fear-based psychological condition. Even if you want to say it does, lumping these two groups together is awful.

One additional layer of contradiction is that, by making dissenting opinions sound like mental disorders and simultaneously showing disdain and loathing for people who voice those opinions, progressives stigmatize mental illness. How very reactionary.

*Homophobia should mean fear of the same. Transphobia should mean fear of change. They added a Greek suffix to words with a Latin prefix and completely dropped the base word: sexual. I guess the sex is implied.

No Tricks, Please!

 

Remember Halloween? The homes that dropped sweets into our open and eager (paper) bags? The elastic string that held the flimsy Mickey Mouse or Goofy or Sleeping Beauty masks to our sweaty faces? For the rural among us, the eighth- or quarter-mile hike between houses, rewarded not with prepackaged bits of candy bars, but with candy apples, chocolate chip cookies, old maid-less popcorn balls, candy corn in baggies (no zip-locks), candy cigarettes, Chiclets, Necco Wafers, Bazooka Bubble Gum, and – glory of glories – whole candy bars, Snickers and Baby Ruth and Three Musketeers? 

Remember the gags? The water balloons? The tipped outhouses? The eggings? Ding dong ditch? (OK, one tipped outhouse, and it no longer “in service.”)

Remember the friends who did outlandish things–like the guy who climbed the radio tower at the high school, and then unfurled a homemade sheet/flag that looked like this:

And the two guys who outdid him, by climbing a 100-foot mast light tower at the football stadium and affixing a giant “KOOP – LEISTNER” banner to the backside of the array? They are heroes to me.

Or the three guys who broke into the French and German classroom, removed a fluorescent light cover, painted the cover and returned it, so that come next Monday the teacher entered the classroom and saw something like this:

The past included both tricks and treats. The tricks have increasingly disappeared. They have become crimes: Vandalism, destruction of private property, B&E, and so on. Had the perpetrators been caught then, the sanctions would have been light: a scolding, an apology, the restoration of damages, or something like this:

The price of good, sort-of-innocent fun is higher these days. I have no doubt that now those acts of frivolity would result in fines and maybe a few nights (or more) in the hoosegow. I mean, prison. Gone are the clink, pokey, slammer, lockup, coop. We are serious now.

What happened? The usual suspects. The revolution of the ’60s (sexual and otherwise) destroyed mores, ending the need for teens to sublimate their energy in other more and less risky behavior. Progressive policies led to the breakdown of mediating institutions, which understood the difference between good fun and thuggish behavior. At the same time, by treating individuals not as individuals but as representatives of a social class, those policies eroded the communities that knew how to deal with their own. The increasing litigiousness of society forced authorities to cover their you-know-whats, and treat Jimmy the impish teen the same as Jimmy the loutish bully.

So, no more tricks. I mourn their loss. Fortunately, we have cell phones and video games. Our misguided youth can find outlets for fun there, some healthier, some not so much. Plus, they aren’t out on the streets. We can all breathe a sigh of relief.

But when our daughter, during homecoming week, stepped out of our house and joined some classmates to TP a few trees, and stick forks in a few lawns, and write a few words about another class in sidewalk chalk outside their homes, I was proud and humbled at the same time. Maybe we raised her right after all.

Just don’t tell her that.

By the way, I disavow any personal knowledge of any and all of the other acts in this post.

Attorney General Barr Speaks up for Religious Liberty

 

AG BarrOn Friday, 12 October 2019, Attorney General Barr spoke at Notre Dame Law School. Notre Dame Law School advertises itself as America’s oldest Roman Catholic law school:

At the nation’s oldest Roman Catholic law school, students of diverse backgrounds are encouraged to broaden their social, spiritual, and personal lives while honing their intellectual and professional skills to serve the good of all.

Attorney General Barr took them seriously, and used the forum to deliver a call for defense of Christianity in the public square in the face of all-out attacks from militant secularists. I am pleased to see that the whole text of his remarks is posted on the Department of Justice website [emphasis added]:


Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks to the Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame
South Bend, IN
~ Friday, October 11, 2019
Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank you, Tom, for you kind introduction. Bill and Roger, it’s great to be with you.

Thank you to the Notre Dame Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture for graciously extending an invitation to address you today. I’d also like to express gratitude to Tony de Nicola, whose generous support has shaped – and continues to shape – countless minds through examination of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition.

Today, I would like to share some thoughts with you about religious liberty in America. It’s an important priority in this Administration and for this Department of Justice.

We have set up a task force within the Department in which different components that have equities in this area including the Solicitor General’s Office, the Civil Division, the Office of Legal Counsel, and other offices. We have regular meetings. We keep an eye out for cases or events around the country where states are misapplying the Establishment Clause in a way that discriminates against people of faith, or cases where states adopt laws that impinge upon the free exercise of religion.

From the Founding Era onward, there was strong consensus about the centrality of religious liberty in the United States.

The imperative of protecting religious freedom was not just a nod in the direction of piety. It reflects the Framers’ belief that religion was indispensable to sustaining our free system of government.

In his renowned 1785 pamphlet, “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” James Madison described religious liberty as “a right towards men” but “a duty towards the Creator,” and a “duty….precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.”

It has been over 230 years since that small group of colonial lawyers led a Revolution and launched what they viewed as a great experiment, establishing a society fundamentally different than those that had gone before.

They crafted a magnificent Charter of Freedom – the United States Constitution – which provides for limited government, while leaving “the People” broadly at liberty to pursue our lives both as individuals and through free associations.

This quantum leap in liberty has been the mainspring of unprecedented human progress, not only for Americans, but for people around the world.

In the 20th century, our form of free society faced a severe test.

There had always been the question whether a democracy so solicitous of individual freedom could stand up against a regimented totalitarian state.

That question was answered with a resounding “yes” as the United States stood up against and defeated, first fascism, and then communism.

But in the 21st century, we face an entirely different kind of challenge.

The challenge we face is precisely what the Founding Fathers foresaw would be our supreme test as a free society.

They never though the main danger to the Republic came from external foes. The central question was whether, over the long haul, we could handle freedom. The question was whether the citizens in such a free society could maintain the moral discipline and virtue necessary for the survival of free institutions.

By and large, the Founding generation’s view of human nature was drawn from the Classical Christian tradition.

These practical Statesmen understood that individuals, while having the potential for great good, also had the capacity for great evil.

Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large.

No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity.

But, if you rely on the coercive power of government to impose restraints, this will inevitably lead to a government that is too controlling, and you will end up with no liberty, just tyranny.

On the other hand, unless you have some effective restraint, you end up with something equally dangerous – licentiousness – the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good. This is just another form of tyranny – where the individual is enslaved by his appetites, and the possibility of any healthy community life crumbles.

Edmund Burke summed up this point in his typically colorful language:

“Men are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their disposition to put chains upon their appetites….Society cannot exits unless a controlling power be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

So the Founders decided to take a gamble. They called it a great experiment.

They would leave “the People” broad liberty, limit the coercive power of the government, and place their trust in self-discipline and virtue of the American people.

In the words of Madison, “We have staked our future on the ability of each of us to govern ourselves…”

This is really what was meant by “self-government.” It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.

But what was the source of this internal controlling power? In a free Republic those restraints could not be handed down from above by philosopher kings.

Instead, social order must flow up from the people themselves – freely obeying the dictates of inwardly-possessed and commonly-shared moral values. And to control willful human beings, with and infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will – they must flow from a transcendent Supreme Being.

In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people – a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and manmade law and who had the discipline to control themselves according to those enduring principles.

As John Adams put it: “We have no government armed with the power which is capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”

As Father John Courtney Murray observed, the American tenet was not that:

“Free government is inevitable, only that it is possible, and that its possibility can be realized only when the people as a whole are inwardly governed by the recognized imperatives of the universal moral order.”

How does religion promote the moral discipline and virtue needed to support free government?

First, it gives us the right rules to live by. The Founding generation were Christians. They believed that the Judeo-Christian moral system corresponds to the true nature of man. Those moral precepts start with the Two Great Commandments – to Love God with your whole heart, soul and mind; and to Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.

But they also include the guidance of Natural Law – a real, transcendent moral order which flows from God’s eternal law – the Divine wisdom by which the whole Creation is ordered. The eternal law is impressed upon, and reflected in, all created things.

From the nature of things we can, through reason, experience, discern standards of right and wrong that exist independent of human will.

Modern secularists dismiss this idea of morality as other worldly-superstition imposed by a kill-joy clergy. In fact, Judeo-Christian moral standards are the ultimate utilitarian rules for human conduct.

They reflect the rules that are best for man, not in the by and by, but in the here and now. They are like God’s instruction manual for the best running of man and human society.

By the same token, violations of these moral laws have bad, real-world consequences for man and society. We many not pay the price immediately, but over time the harm is real.

Religion helps promote moral discipline within society. Because man is fallen, we don’t automatically conform ourselves to moral rules even when we know they are good for us.

But religion helps teach, train, and habituate people to want what is good. It does not do this primarily by formal laws – that is, through coercion. It does this through moral education and by informing society’s informal rules – its customs and traditions which reflect the wisdom and experience of the ages.

In other words, religion helps frame moral culture within society that instills and reinforces moral discipline.

I think we all recognize that over the past 50 years religion has been under increasing attack.

On the one hand, we have seen the steady erosion of our traditional Judeo-Christian moral system and a comprehensive effort to drive it from the public square.

On the other hand, we see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism.

By any honest assessment, the consequences of this moral upheaval have been grim.

Virtually every measure of social pathology continues to gain ground.

In 1965, the illegitimacy rate was eight percent. In 1992, when I was last Attorney General, it was 25 percent. Today it is over 40 percent. In many of our large urban areas, it is around 70 percent.

Along with the wreckage of the family, we are see record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.

As you all know, over 70,000 people die a year from drug overdoses. That is more causalities in a year than we experienced during the entire Vietnam War.

I will not dwell on all the bitter results of new secular age. Suffice it to say that the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has brought with it immense suffering, wreckage, and misery. And yet, the forces secularism, ignoring these tragic results, press on with even greater militancy.

Among these militant secularists are many so-called “progressives.” But where is the progress?

We are told we are living in a post-Christian era. But what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the hearts of the individual person? And, what is a system of values that can sustain human social life?

The fact is that no secular creed has emerged capable of performing the role of religion.

Scholarship suggests that religion has been integral to the development and thriving of homo sapiens since we emerged roughly 50,000 years ago. It is just for the past few hundred years we have experimented in living without religion.

We hear much today about our humane values. But, in the final analysis, what undergirds these values? What commands our adherence to them?

What we call values today is really nothing more than mere sentimentality, still drawing on the vapor trails of Christianity.

Now, there have been times and places where the traditional moral order has been shaken.

In the past, societies – like the human body – seem to have a self-healing mechanism – a self-correcting mechanism that gets things back on course if things go too far.

The consequences of moral chaos become too pressing. The opinion of decent people rebels. They coalesce and rally against obvious excess. Periods of moral entrenchment follow periods of excess.

This is the idea of the pendulum. We have all thought that after a while the “pendulum will swing back.”

But today we face something different that may mean that we cannot count on the pendulum swinging back.

First is the force, fervor, and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today. This is not decay; it is organized destruction. Secularists, and their allies among the “progressives,” have marshalled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.

These instruments are used not only to affirmatively promote secular orthodoxy, but also drown out and silence opposing voices, and to attack viciously and hold up to ridicule any dissenters.

One of the ironies, as some have observed, is that the secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor. It is taking on all the trappings of a religion – including inquisitions and excommunication.

Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake – social, educational, and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social-media campaigns.

The pervasiveness and power of our high-tech popular culture fuels apostasy in another way. It provides an unprecedented degree of distraction.

Part of the human condition is that there are big questions that should stare us in the face. Are we created or are we purely material accidents? Does our life have any meaning or purpose? But, as Blaise Pascal observed, instead of grappling with these questions, humans can be easily distracted from thinking about the “final things.”

Indeed, we now live in the age of distraction where we can envelop ourselves in a world of digital stimulation and universal connectivity. And we have almost limitless ways of indulging all our physical appetites.

There is another modern phenomenon that suppresses society’s self-corrective mechanisms – that make it harder for society to restore itself.

In the past, when societies are threatened by moral chaos, the overall social costs of licentiousness and irresponsible personal conduct becomes so high that society ultimately recoils and reevaluates the path they are on.

But today – in the face of all the increasing pathologies – instead of addressing the underlying cause, we have the State in the role of Alleviator of Bad Consequences. We call on the State to mitigate the social costs of personal misconduct and irresponsibility.

So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion.

The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites.

The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the State to set itself up as the ersatz husband for single mothers and the ersatz father to their children.

The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with the wreckage. While we think we are solving problems, we are underwriting them.

We start with an untrammeled freedom and we end up as dependents of a coercive state on whom we depend.

Interestingly, this idea of the State as the alleviator of bad consequences has given rise to a new moral system that goes hand-in-hand with the secularization of society. It can be called the system of “macro-morality.” It is in some ways an inversion of Christian morality.

Christianity teaches a micro-morality. We transform the world by focusing on our own personal morality and transformation.

The new secular religion teaches macro-morality. One’s morality is not gauged by their private conduct, but rather on their commitment to political causes and collective action to address social problems.

This system allows us to not worry so much about the strictures on our private lives, while we find salvation on the picket line. We can signal our finely tuned moral sensibilities by demonstrating for this cause or that.

Something happened recently that crystalized the difference between these moral systems. I was attending Mass at parish I did not usually go to in Washington, D.C. At the end of Mass, the Chairman of the Social Justice Committee got up to give his report to the parish. He pointed to the growing homeless problem in D.C. and explained that more mobile soup kitchens were needed to feed them. This being a Catholic church I expected him to call for volunteers to go out and provide this need. Instead, he recounted all the visits that the Committee had made to the D.C. government to lobby for higher taxes and more spending to fund mobile soup kitchen.

A third phenomenon which makes it difficult for the pendulum to swing back is the way law is being used as a battering ram to break down traditional moral values and to establish moral relativism as a new orthodoxy.

Law is being used as weapon in a couple of ways.

First, either through legislation but more frequently through judicial interpretation, secularists have been continually seeking to eliminate laws that reflect traditional moral norms.

At first, this involved rolling back laws that prohibited certain kinds of conduct. Thus, the watershed decision legalizing abortion. And since then, the legalization of euthanasia. The list goes on.

More recently, we have seen the law used aggressively to force religious people and entities to subscribe to practices and policies that are antithetical to their faith.

The problem is not that religion is being forced on others. The problem is that irreligion and secular values are being forced on people of faith.

This reminds me of how some Roman emperors could not leave their loyal Christian subjects in peace but would mandate that they violate their conscience by offering religious sacrifice to the Emperor as a God.

Similarly, militant secularists today do not have a live and let live spirit — they are not content to leave religious people alone to practice their faith. Instead they seem to take a delight in compelling people to violate their conscience.

For example, the last Administration sought to force religious employers, including Catholic religious orders, to violate their sincerely held religious views by funding contraceptive and abortifacient coverage in their health plans. Similarly, California has sought to require pro-life pregnancy centers to provide notices of abortion rights.

This refusal to accommodate the free exercise of religion is relatively recent. Just 25 years ago, there was broad consensus in our society that our laws should accommodate religious belief. 

In 1993 Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – RFRA. The purpose of the statute was to promote maximum accommodation to religion when the government adopted broad policies that could impinge on religious practice.

At the time, RFRA was not controversial: it was introduced by Chuck Schumer with 170 cosponsors in the House, and was introduced by Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch with 59 additional cosponsors in the Senate. It passed by voice vote in the House and by a vote of 97-3 in the Senate.

Recently, as the process of secularization has accelerated, RFRA has come under assault, and the idea of religious accommodation has fallen out of favor.

Because this Administration firmly supports accommodation of religion, the battleground has shifted to the states. Some state governments are now attempting to compel religious individuals and entities to subscribe to practices, or to espouse viewpoints, that are incompatible with their religion.

Ground zero for these attacks on religion are the schools. To me, this is the most serious challenge to religious liberty. 

For anyone who has a religious faith, by far the most important part of exercising that faith is the teaching of that religion to our children. The passing on of the faith. There is no greater gift we can give our children and no greater expression of love.

For the government to interfere in that process is a monstrous invasion of religious liberty.

Yet here is where the battle is being joined, and I see the secularists are attacking on three fronts.

The first front relates to the content of public school curriculum. Many states are adopting curriculum that is incompatible with traditional religious principles according to which parents are attempting to raise their children. They often do so without any opt out for religious families.

Thus, for example, New Jersey, recently passed a law requiring public schools to adopt an LGBT curriculum that many feel is inconsistent with traditional Christian teaching. Similar laws have been passed in California and Illinois. And the Orange County Board of Education in California issued an opinion that “parents who disagree with the instructional materials related to gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation may not excuse their children from this instruction.”

Indeed, in some cases, the schools may not even warn parents about lessons they plan to teach on controversial subjects relating to sexual behavior and relationships.

This puts parents who dissent from the secular orthodoxy to a difficult choice: Try to scrape together the money for private school or home schooling, or allow their children to be inculcated with messages that they fundamentally reject.

A second axis of attack in the realm of education are state policies designed to starve religious schools of generally available funds and encouraging students to choose secular options.  Montana, for example, created a program that provided tax credits to those who donated to a scholarship program that underprivileged students could use to attend private school. The point of the program was to provide greater parental and student choice in education and to provide better educations to needy youth.

But Montana expressly excluded religiously-affiliated private schools from the program. And when that exclusion was challenged in court by parents who wanted to use the scholarships to attend a nondenominational Christian school, the Montana Supreme Court required the State to eliminate the program rather than allow parents to use scholarships for religious schools.

It justified this action by pointing to a provision in Montana’s State Constitution commonly referred to as a “Blaine Amendment.” Blaine Amendments were passed at a time of rampant anti-Catholic animus in this country, and typically disqualify religious institutions from receiving any direct or indirect payments from a State’s funds.

The case is now in the Supreme Court, and we filed a brief explaining why Montana’s Blaine Amendment violates the First Amendment.

A third kind of assault on religious freedom in education have been recent efforts to use state laws to force religious schools to adhere to secular orthodoxy. For example, right here in Indiana, a teacher sued the Catholic Archbishop of Indianapolis for directing the Catholic schools within his diocese that they could not employ teachers in same-sex marriages because the example of those same-sex marriages would undermine the schools’ teaching on the Catholic view of marriage and complementarity between the sexes.

This lawsuit clearly infringes the First Amendment rights of the Archdiocese, by interfering both with its expressive association and with its church autonomy. The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in the state court making these points, and we hope that the state court will soon dismiss the case.

Taken together, these cases paint a disturbing picture. We see the state requiring local public schools to insert themselves into contentious social debates, without regard for the religious views of their students or parents. In effect, these states are requiring local communities to make their public schools inhospitable to families with traditional religious values; those families are implicitly told that they should conform or leave. 

At the same time, pressure is placed on religious schools to abandon their religious convictions. Simply because of their religious character, they are starved of funds – students who would otherwise choose to attend them are told they may only receive scholarships if they turn their sights elsewhere.

Simultaneously, they are threatened in tort – and, eventually, will undoubtedly be threatened with denial of accreditation – if they adhere to their religious character. If these measures are successful, those with religious convictions will become still more marginalized. 

I do not mean to suggest that there is no hope for moral renewal in our country.

But we cannot sit back and just hope the pendulum is going to swing back toward sanity.

As Catholics, we are committed to the Judeo-Christian values that have made this country great.

And we know that the first thing we have to do to promote renewal is to ensure that we are putting our principles into practice in our own personal private lives.

We understand that only by transforming ourselves can we transform the world beyond ourselves.

This is tough work. It is hard to resist the constant seductions of our contemporary society. This is where we need grace, prayer, and the help of our church.

Beyond this, we must place greater emphasis on the moral education of our children.

Education is not vocational training. It is leading our children to the recognition that there is truth and helping them develop the facilities to discern and love the truth and the discipline to live by it.

We cannot have a moral renaissance unless we succeed in passing to the next generation our faith and values in full vigor.

The times are hostile to this. Public agencies – including public schools – are becoming secularized and increasingly are actively promoting moral relativism.

If ever there was a need for a resurgence of Catholic education – and more generally religiously affiliated schools – it is today.

I think we should do all we can to promote and support authentic Catholic education at all levels.

Finally, as lawyers, we should be particularly active in the struggle that is being waged against religion on the legal plane.

We must be vigilant to resist efforts by the forces of secularization to drive religious viewpoints from the public square and to impinge upon the free exercise of our faith.

I can assure you that, as long as I am Attorney General, the Department of Justice will be at the forefront of this effort– ready to fight for the most cherished of our liberties – the freedom to live according to our faith.

Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you today. And God bless you and Notre Dame.

Quote of the Day: The Great Success Story

 

“Nobody thought we’d do this. Nobody really thinks it will work do they?”
“No. But you just described every great success story.”

This is one of my favorite scenes. I quoted it to my wife when we eloped all those years ago. I remember it daily as we continue walking in faith down foggy roads, waiting for that ding to give us a sense of security, but deep down knowing that true security is an illusion — at least in this world anyway.

For the risk-takers.
For the dreamers.
For those who know the odds are stacked against them, and move forward anyway.
And, for those sitting in that place of uncertainty, working up the courage to do that thing, with countless naysayers aligned against them:

May you have joy as you step boldly into that adventure, and know it’s the beginning of your great success story.

Immigrant Tales

 

Consider two tales of African immigrants in America. One tale is of large populations crammed down local communities, possibly with massive fraud and likely with domestic political intent. The second tale is of worthy individuals, invited for their excellence and gratefully contributing to this country.

Pretending the first does not exist is an insult to the injured Americans, whose local economies and electoral power were quite deliberately infringed upon. Pretending the second does not exist is an insult to our founding ethos, to our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

The Somalis in Minnesota:

There are real concerns, raised with some evidence on PowerLine, that a significant portion of the Somali community, a community and not a carefully disbursed set of individuals and families, are here under fraudulent claims. It is asserted that this is what binds them to elect and continue to support Ilhan Omar, who may have come here with her father under a false name, because his true name would mark him as villain, not victim, in the Somali power games.

That underlying problem must be cleared with sunshine if the corruption of local and state politics is to be cured. However, many of these former refugees are now American citizens, trying to find their way in our society. So, there are better and worse ways to speak of and to act in response to the threat to our immigration system and our constitutional republic.

President Trump got a huge response to his lines in the Minneapolis MAGA rally about refugee groups being imposed on local communities. He specifically named the Somalis, because he is focused on Rep. Omar. He name-checked Scott Johnson of Powerline and met with him very briefly before the rally. Scott Johnson is deeply concerned that President Trump hit the wrong note.

When he turned to the subject of immigration, the president singled out Minnesota’s Somali community. “For many years, leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers,” he said. The remark predictably elicited boos from crowd.

I cringed. This isn’t the way to do what needs to be done. It’s not right.

How did my Somali sources — they treat me like a trusted friend — react?

…Source A loved that President Trump had quoted me saying that everything about Omar is a fraud, including her name. This is where I had come in with him three years ago….

Somali source B texted me on Friday morning. Source B comes at politics from the left. When it comes to the facts of the Omar case, I have found source B to be 100 percent reliable. Source B commented by text:

I’m in the space where I want her to fail but I can’t help Trump win. He can love America without hating us so much. It’s frightening to hear a president openly hate us this much. Anyway I needed to say that…

…We need to find a way to discuss the difficult issues raised by the the flood of immigration without provoking a good-faith reaction like this.

So, there is a real problem in concentrated Somali communities, and there are also people in those communities who want to really be Americans. How do we reinforce what we want and counter bad actors? Part of the answer comes in highlighting virtuous immigrants, model citizens. Consider two young American soldiers who were both born in Kenya.

Great Americans by choice:

Every year, the U.S. Army has a 10-mile race in Washington DC. You have to get in about six months out when registration opens for the Army 10-Miler. It is a bit of a mob scene, with a lot of unit and individual participants there to show the colors, or honor someone.

At the front of the Army 10-Miler pack, there are some serious runners. This year, the male and female winners, Lawi Lalang and Elvin Kibet, were both American soldiers, who are also world-class athletes, and who were born in Kenya. Stars and Stripes tells the story from this past Sunday:

When Lalang and Kibet were teenagers in Kenya, University of Arizona associate head track coach James Li visited the country to watch Lalang run a time trial. Kibet was also at the track that day, and Li kept an eye on Kibet, who had just picked up running.

Li became impressed with both, and Lalang and Kibet starred on Arizona’s cross-country and track and field teams. Then, a few years after they graduated, Lalang and Kibet joined the Army.

On Sunday morning, Lalang and Kibet were the top finishers at the Army Ten-Miler in the men’s and women’s races, respectively. Lalang finished in 48 minutes 38 seconds, while Kibet ran 54:05.

Notice that both of these proud American soldiers were sought out, recruited to the United States by a serious NCAA track and field program. They ran for their degrees, got their education, and then individually made the decision to really give back to the country that welcomed and gave them such opportunity. After they won, Elvin Kibet was excited about something else:

This weekend was her first time visiting Washington, so she planned to view the White House on Sunday afternoon.

President Trump should put Fort Carson, Fourth Infantry Division, and the World Class Athlete Program on his travel itinerary soon. He should praise all the soldiers and highlight, as only he can do, these two great Americans. He should talk about legal immigrants joining our great experiment in self-government and showing their appreciation by making American even greater.

Yard Art

 

Township hall and Chevy

This photo was taken at the first of five township hall stops on Saturday’s bike ride in eastern Ohio. The township hall is the white building under the American flag. A lot of township halls in this part of the world are uninteresting pole barns, but they are often in interesting surroundings. In this case, I wanted to get the old Chevy into the photo with it.

I didn’t notice at first that by standing where I was, I was blocking the owner of the residence from driving into her driveway. So after I got out of the way and she pulled in, I explained that I was taking a photo of the township hall, and thought the 1953 Chevy belonged in the photo with it, if she didn’t mind. She didn’t, so I got my photo.

It’s not the first time that I’ve taken advantage of an old car in somebody’s rural Ohio yard to get a photo. I wrote about one last year, too: Elimination: The MoravianTracts.

Today one of my stops was a couple of townships further to the west. While waiting for a guy to finish unloading his recyclables at the recycling bins, I went to read the notices on the town hall/garage door to learn what issues the township was dealing with lately. What I found was this:

The [Redacted] Township Board of Trustees has received complaints regarding junk motor vehicles within [redacted] Township jurisdiction. This Notice serves to notify residents of the legal authority pursuant to inoperable vehicles.

[Redacted] Township Zoning prohibits parking of any disabled vehicle within township limits. “No person shall park, store or leave, or permit the parking or storing of any unlicensed motor vehicle or any vehicle in a rusted, wrecked, junk, partially dismantled, inoperative, or abandoned condition, whether attended or not, upon any property within the township unless the same is completely enclosed within a building.”

Then it goes on to explain how it will enforce this regulation.

I’m all in favor of local regulation, and usually don’t offer my own opinion on local decisions. But this time I will.

Perhaps what put me off was this closing remark: “[Redacted] Township Board of Trustees sincerely hopes these efforts will continue to improve the quality of life for all [Redacted] Township residents.”

For me, a high quality of life would come from living in a township where people take enough pride in their property to keep their places looking nice of their own free will and to get along with their neighbors, and not because of government mandates. I try to live with neighbors who have different ideas of what constitutes a nice neighborhood, though I must admit that I have trouble with loud noises (aka music). But even if the old cars create a public health hazard, I think it’s even more important to let people manage their own affairs to the maximum extent possible. If 90 percent of the people in the township were dying from old-car cooties, sure, we’d need to take action. Even if it was only 80 percent I’d almost certainly be on the side of those who’d want them vaccinated down to a safe level. It’s a balancing act. But I place a high value on the individual-freedom side of the scale, and am willing to take some risks to the health and finances of my loved ones for the sake of those freedoms.

(Partial disclosure: A couple of years ago my son had a couple of more-or-less disabled cars in our yard. I asked him to move them around once in a while so the neighbors wouldn’t report us for having inoperable cars in the yard. I don’t know if we have an ordinance about it, but we probably do. Eventually, we put them out of sight behind the garage. He finally sold them for a few hundred dollars each, and the grass behind the garage grew back this summer.)

Oh, back to the guy at the recycle bins. He was taking a long, long time, and I couldn’t figure out what the banging noise was about. He wasn’t young, and was a bit on the rotund side; also shirtless, bearded, and wearing sweatpants. I could have asked him if he’d be willing to be in a photo, but I tend to get into long conversations with people, and time was short. I still wanted to get to my final destination, a historic museum, before it closed. I had missed my chance last year.

Then, as I was leaving, I noticed that he was not dropping off recyclables, after all. He was rummaging through the bins and putting some of the items in his van. I’ve known people like that. They are often interesting to talk to. But I moved on and made it to the museum in time to view the exhibits.

Cow Flatulence No Longer a Laughing Matter

 

We all giggled, guffawed, or groaned at the Green New Deal’s line about cow flatulence causing the end of the world. We wiped up the coffee we had spewed over our phone or keyboard. Then we went about our lives as if this was not a clear and present danger.

Well, the dairy farmers of Wisconsin, the state built on (dairy cow) cheese and beer, are not laughing now. No farmer across this country should be in anything but full fight mode now. There is no flight option. John Hinderaker of PowerLine Blog has the story [emphasis added]:

The Green New Deal, and similar environmental initiatives, have little to do with the environment and much to do with the Left’s desire to control every aspect of our lives. Because everything we do, beginning with breathing, involves emission of carbon dioxide or other “greenhouse gases.” AOC’s Green New Deal specifically proposed, among other things, that all air travel be banned and that all cows be done away with because they produce methane.

…Today’s decision from the Minnesota Court of Appeals (which may have been justified by a completely different issue that the Court addressed) should be a wake-up call to all Americans that liberals aren’t kidding when they say they want to prevent us from eating meat, or drinking milk or consuming other dairy products, in the name of “climate change.” The battle has been joined, and if normal Americans don’t get engaged, the Left will win. As they did today.

Read the rest at the link. The case is In the Matter of the Decision on the Need for an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Daley Farms of Lewiston, LLP – 2018 Dairy Expansion Utica Township. While no federal court is bound by this case, count on this being cited as persuasive authority in every state court across the country where Lab Coat Leftist professional litigants spot a judge sympathetic to the fundamental transformation of America.

Member Post

 

First, thank you to everyone who provided feedback–even if it was “just” a like–to the short stories I’ve been posting here. Too, the constructive criticism I’ve received, both in the comments and thru PMs has been awesome, and helped me be a better writer. Ricochetti keep telling me “write the book!” I hear the same […]

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It Is A Cult, After All

 

Can’t believe I couldn’t find a trending post on the climate change craze. I’ll have to do this myself.

We all casually observe the organized CAGW1 scam. C’mon, all of us, right? It starts at elite (and corrupt, if I may repeat myself) levels of the academy. We know the predilection of governments for conclusions that require their involvement, and we understand the funding needs of the intermediate tier of researchers and journals. This much is normal corruption.

But the craze isn’t limited to people who can do sums and know how to run a computer model. The spectrum of adherents runs through commentators who talked to a scientist once, through TedX and mass media, to entertainers and other celebrities-by-virtue-of-celebrity, and includes our co-workers who think hurricanes are increasing. When a Big Lie becomes that successful, it’s a big problem.

I’ve long humorously called the whole edifice a cult (well, I thought it was funny), based on the eager will and commitment of the groundlings to believe the writ from on high. All the elements were there – an unprovable dogma, belief insulated from proof or question, a clear hierarchy of membership, I could go on. Especially about the corruption and where the money goes.

But now here’s one more proof that CAGW is an ersatz religion. What do the words “climate scientist” mean to you? Regardless whether one retains the smallest measure of responsible discrimination or one respects the climate research establishment, I think to most those words imply a person who uses the tools of mathematics and physics to understand, or at least propagandize, the climate.

At The Lid, a story by Jeff Dunetz related a recent use of those words by a garden-variety halfwit celebrity.2 The twit was honking on and on, how she was inspired by St. Greta the Unpleasant to do more and more for the only one issue that mattered and … ok, I will not subject you to that. If you want it, see below.3

When her straight girl fed her the line, the halfwit neatly backfilled that she’d always been on the good side saying “I’ve always been a climate scientist,” just in conversational flow, no special emphasis, but I heard the mission bell.

She didn’t mean she wore a white coat and counted tree rings under a positron microscope. She meant she was a believer, speaking as if she’d borrowed that construction from “Christian Scientist.” I was blown away with dismay.

I’ve never heard that particular perverted phrase before, “climate scientist” to mean “one who believes the delivered doctrine of climate science.” I’ve suspected that simpletons I’ve met thought of themselves as good and wise because of their adherence, but I’d have never suspected this. I might shake my head over scientism, the general tendency to admire and submit to a “scientific” authority. But this is more particular – they actually call themselves cultists Scientists now!

So what she really said was “I’ve always been a Climate Scientist.”

[Aside: I can’t stand those poor misused words, “scientific” and “scientist.” If I could strike two words from public discourse, so that people would have to say what they really mean, it would be those two.]

Dunetz’ article referenced and linked to this ABC News article. By the time I got there ABC News did not say exactly that the halfwit said “climate scientist.” I guess their article once did use those words but someone on their side who wasn’t as stupid as the rest fixed it to hide the decline. At any event, the halfwit herself says them in the video, which I’ve thoughtfully linked below.3

What do Climate Scientists wear when they canvass neighborhoods? I need to alert the neighborhood watch.

(1) Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. Four lies for the price of one.

(2) It was Jane Fonda. I don’t want to get into her sick history, pro or con. Try to keep her out of the comments. I know, video and all. But she only matters as an exemplar of halfwit celebrity.

(3) You can watch Lady Jane of Hanoi’s video here: https://twitter.com/i/status/1182747671993315328, for now at least. Sorry, couldn’t help it and I slipped. My post anyway. [Edit: it’s at 1:49. She says “I’ve been a Climate Scientist for decades and decades.”]

Let’s Troll the Chinese

 

On opening day for the NBA season, a surprisingly large number of people show up with t-shirts with Asian writing on them. Chinese, Korean, Japanese. Maybe even other Asian languages like Thai or Burmese, even though they appear nothing like Chinese; to the average security guard, all Asian languages look the same. When translated, the slogans are innocuous: “Wang Family reunion 2018,” “East Bay High School Dolphins,” “Golden State® Rocks,” “All your base are belong to us.” Some may be complete gibberish, like the random Chinese symbols tattooed on the bicep of your average bodybuilder. Everyone will be let in. After all, who’s going to hassle a cute girl with a t-shirt bearing a Hello Kitty® logo and “Why can’t we be friends” in Japanese?

And nothing happens for the first half of the game. Maybe the cameras will focus on the cute girl with the Hello Kitty® t-shirt during lulls in the game. Everything’s cool.

After halftime, everyone goes back to their seats. Ms. Hello Kitty® gets another pass from the camera and the game starts up again.

Except, up in the executive suite, all hell is breaking loose. All of a sudden, the team executive weasels are getting calls from their Chinese masters. Pretty soon, Ms. Hello Kitty® is getting a visit from security. And a surprising number of people are live-streaming it on their phones. What’s going on?

Well, her shirt still has the Hello Kitty® logo, but it now says, “Free Hong Kong.” In Chinese. Elsewhere, “Wang Family reunion 2018” has become “Close the Uighur Concentration Camps.” “All your base are belong to us” is now “Premier Li looks like Pooh Bear.” “Excited Wonton Door Jamb” now makes sense: “Freedom or Chinese Money, your choice NBA.®

Then we’ll have the glorious spectacle of a cute girl in a Hello Kitty® t-shirt being kicked out of an NBA® game, along with several others. This would only have to be done once, ideally for every game on a single day. After that, we’ll have the ongoing drama at every game of cute girls in Hello Kitty® t-shirts and South Asian People of Color™ being harassed for their clothing.

Of course, the folks wearing shirts with slogans in Spanish or other languages will be let right in. What’s French for “Cowardly Lickspittle Hypocrite Poseurs?”

‘1636: The China Venture’ Delivers Another Great Adventure

 

Eric Flint’s standalone time-transposition novel “1632” proved so popular it metastasized into a series of some 30 novels and 12 collections of short stories.

The premise is a small town in West Virginia gets transposed in time and space with a similar volume from 17th century Thuringia in Germany. At the height of the Thirty Years War.

“1636: The China Venture” by Eric Flint and Iver P. Cooper is the series’ latest edition. In it, Granville (the town sent to the past) sends a mission to Ming China.

It’s more complicated than that. In our history, 1633 (when the book begins) is near the start of a convulsion that rocked and ultimately brought down the Ming Empire. With the assistance of history books from our present, Grantville knows this. China has goods Grantville desires, so they’re going to play the hand they’re dealt using their advantage: knowing everyone’s cards on the first round.

The contingent Grantville sends includes Mike Song, born in Taiwan, but living in Grantville when it was displaced, working as a mining engineer. He speaks and reads modern Chinese, allowing communications. Three other up-timers also go, one of whom majored in Chinese.

A joint mission with the Swedes and Dutch it includes down-timers (people originally from the 17th century), including historical figures. This includes Peter Minuit, who because of changes in history, will never purchase Manhattan Island.

The book has everything fans expect from a book in this series. The expedition gets to China experiencing the usual obstacles: pirates, European colonial officials with their own agendas and simply the distances covered.

Once in China, the party meets with a wide variety of Chinese society: A scholar who failed the Chinese civil service exam, a Chinese trading family, a pirate-turned-Chinese-admiral and a courtesan and poet.

Into this mix, the first round of the Li Zicheng revolt serves as a blender, forcing the various parties to work together for survival. There’s a climactic battle, a romance and a heaping of technology transfer and travelogue. “1636: The China Venture” offers fans of Eric Flint’s series’ an entertaining read.

“1636: The China Venture” by Eric Flint and Iver P. Cooper, Baen Books, 2019, 464 pages, $25

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.

Ukraine!

 

Only in song can we put the whole Trump-Ukraine phone call into proper perspective. Sung to the tune of “Cocaine”:

Mueller didn’t come through,
There’s only one thing to do—
Ukraine!
Though our ratings may slump,
This time we’re gonna get Trump!
Ukraine!
Got him now, got him now, got him now . . .
Ukraine!

Trump is evil you see,
Because he beat Hillary.
Ukraine!
With his telephone call
We’ll make the President fall!
Ukraine!
Got him now, got him now, got him now . . .
Ukraine!

Dammit we got gypped,
‘Cause Trump released the transcript!
Ukraine!
Now the whole country knows
Our leftist news coverage blows.
Ukraine!
We screwed up, we screwed up, we screwed up,
Again!

Quote of the Day: Are We a Great Civilization in Decline?

 

“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.” — Will Durant

Many civilizations have indeed come and gone, giving in to decadence, tyrannical rule, mismanagement and a lack of purpose or direction.

But when we look at the troubles of the United States, we have to wonder about our own direction? Are these times only a blip in the development of this young country? Or does the lack of religious belief, the prevalence of moral relativism, the move toward socialism, or naivete about the fragility of a democracy, all endanger our existence?

Is there a chance we can change direction and resurrect the foundational beliefs of this country? What would it take?

Surprised by Jerusalem

 

A few weeks back, Marie and I took a cruise that visited several ports on the Mediterranean. We started in Rome, then went on to Naples, Malta, Crete, Rhodes, and Cypress. None of them was particularly memorable. In fact, I hated Rome. When Marie and I visit cities, our pleasure is to walk all over the place. But in Rome, in particular, our walks were spoiled by the constant and loud noise of scooters and motorcycles.

Pardon my screed. What I really want to talk about here is the main reason for our cruise, the two days we spent in Jerusalem.

As we rode in a taxi from the main Jerusalem bus station, we moved through the Jewish section, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish section, and finally the Arab section. I had no idea that Jerusalem was so segregated. When we drove through the ultra-Orthodox section, for instance, there seemed to be only ultra-Orthodox Jews living there. That is, every Jew we saw walking on the sidewalk was wearing typical Orthodox garb: black coat and trousers, white shirt, black shoes, and a black hat of some kind: homburgs and fedoras were common, but we also saw a few shtreimels, the large, furry pillbox hat you see occasionally. Almost all of the ultra-Orthodox had ringlets coming down the sides of their faces. Some ultra-Orthodox Jews read the Torah as they walked along, as oblivious to their surroundings as teenagers in America staring at their smartphones.

Our Arab taxi driver let us know that he was ticked off that some of his taxes went to support ultra-Orthodox Jews to study the Torah. I think I would be too. In fact, about 60% of ultra-Orthodox Jews do not work but live off governmental stipends. Their “job” is to study the Torah and the Talmud (commentaries on the Torah). The government stipend is not quite enough to live on, so many Orthodox Jews have wives that work so that their husbands can study all day. I call that a sweet deal.

There are over a million ultra-Orthodox Jews (also called haredim) in Jerusalem. Their part of the population is increasing because they tend to marry within their sect and have large families. Six or more children is not unusual.

Marie and I stayed in an Arab hotel in the Arab section of Jerusalem. As far as we could tell, there were no Christians or Jews in this section. It’s not surprising, of course, that there would be no Christians. Only 1.9% of the population in Jerusalem is Christian. They loom large in the Old City because of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I’ll get to that in a moment.

What we were mainly interested in within Jerusalem was the Old City, just a few blocks from our hotel. The Old City is an area of Jerusalem surrounded by an ancient wall. Within that wall is the Via Dolorosa, the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (which contains Golgotha and Jesus’ tomb), and the Muslim Dome of the Rock. All of these spots are within a mile or two of one another.


A section of the Via Dolorosa. The scene is a small visual metaphor, with the Jew and the Arab walking in different directions. This section isn’t heavily commercialized, but you can see purses for sale on the right, and the man sitting on the left is selling something. 

From the Arab section, Marie and I entered the walls of the Old City through the Lion’s Gate, and from there past the 14 Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa, Jesus’ final walk from being condemned to death by Pilate to his execution and placement in the tomb.

The Via Dolorosa is a narrow dark lane full of Arab vendors on each side, some selling crosses and other trinkets to Christians tourists.

We’ve all seen the Western Wall, of course, but when you see it in person in its entirety, the sight is overwhelming. The first thing I noticed was that there is a barrier separating the men from the women. Marie was miffed that the women’s side was so much smaller, despite the fact that there were far more women visiting the wall than there were men.

When I walked up to the Wall, one old man was leaning into the wall sobbing. Up close, you can see all those prayers, written on little pieces of paper, stuffed in the wall’s crevices. (Marie put a prayer in the wall on her side of the barrier.) After a period of time, the authorities come at night and dig out the little prayer papers so that new ones can be stuffed into the Wall.

To the left of the Western Wall is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, within whose walls, according to tradition, is Golgotha (where Jesus was nailed to the cross), the slab where women washed his body, and the cave where his body was interred.


The Tomb of Jesus within the Holy Sepulchre. Notice how busy everything is within the Holy Sepulchre. There is no discernible nave.

As you enter the rather dark Church you are confronted by little buildings, various shrines, chapels, stairways, and crosses, things hanging from the ceiling, and so on. It’s immediately confusing. Because the original church (built by Constantine in 336 A.D.) was destroyed, built up again, destroyed, and so on, for newcomers, it’s a confusing jumble. Six Christian orders control what goes on in the Church, and each has a chapel of its own.

Immediately in front of us (photo to the right) was the traditional slab on which Jesus’s body was washed by Jewish women. To the right is a stairway that leads, according to tradition, to Golgotha, which is now a second-floor landing that overlooks the floor below. We descended the stairway and within a hundred steps or so was the traditional spot of Jesus’s tomb, now enclosed by a 19th-century small building called the Aedicula.

So much is going on that it’s hard to take it all in. At one small shrine when we visited, there were maybe 30 temporary chairs set up in preparation for a service of some kind by one of the six Christian orders.

Not much changes nowadays in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre due to an agreement, called the Status Quo, by six Christian orders (Catholic, Coptic, and so on). In fact, there is a ladder under a window on the outside of the Church, left there by a mason doing restoration work in the 18th century, that hasn’t been moved since it was placed there in 1728. All six Christian orders that control the Holy Sepulchre would have to agree to move the ladder, and they haven’t been able to agree to it. So there it stands. The immovable ladder.

Jerusalem was fascinating, really too much to take in during a short visit. I hope to get back someday.

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