Subscribe via email


Monthly Archives


Post Categories

Tag Index

1st Corinthians 1st Peter 1st Timothy 2nd Corinthians 2nd Peter 60 Minutes 1970s A. G. Sertillanges Abby Abortion Absurdity Academia Accordance Adoration Advent Aesthetics Affluence Agenda Aging AIDS Alan Keyes Alasdair MacIntyre Alexander Solzhenitsyn Algebra Al Gore Alienation Alvin Plantinga America American Culture American Enterprise Institute Americanism Amnesty International Anand Giridharadas Andrew Hacker Andrew R. Grainger Andy Rooney Angela Merkel Anglicanism Anthropocentrism Anthropology Anti-Bullying Anti-Christ Anti-clericalism Antigonish AP Apologetics Apostle Thomas Appearances Archangel Raphael Archbishop Charles Chaput Archbishop Harry Flynn Archbishop Sean O'Malley Art Asininity Assassination Athanasius Atheism Audio Books Austria Authority Avery Cardinal Dulles Balkanization Banality Barack Obama Barbara Bellar Barney Frank Beatles Belgium Belief Ben Johnson Berlin Wall Bias Bible Bible.org Bible Explorer Bible in English Bible Software Reviews Bible Translations BibleWorks Bill Cottle Bill O'Reilly Bill Whittle Bishop Robert Morlino Bitterclinging Black Friday Blackmail Blessed Sacrament Bloggers Unite Blogging Bloomberg Bobby Jindal Bob Schieffer Bono Book of Tobit Book of Wisdom Books Bosco Peters Boston.com Boston Bruins Boston Globe Boston Pilot Bourgeois Ethics Boyhood Boys Bozo BP Brendan O'Neill Bullying Bureaucracy Burial Cacophony California Campaign Funding Cancer Canon Law Cap 'N Trade Capitalism Car Seats Catechesis Catechism Catherine Lawless Catholic Church Catholic Culture Catholicism Catholic Lane Catholic Schools Causation CBA CBO CBS CCD CEB Celebrity Celebrity Psychopath of the Week Censorship Certain Urgency Charismata Charity Charlie Baker Chattering Class Chernobyl Chicanery Children Children & Media China Chris Christie Chris Squire Christendom Christian Art Christianity Christina Harms Christmas Chuck Colson Church Citizenship Civics Civility Civilization Civil Rights Civil Unions Clarence Dupnik Clergy Sexual Abuse Close to the Edge CNSNews Coercion Cognitive Dissonance College Culture Comedy Commerce Clause Commonweal Communism Community Commuting Competition Compromise Computing Condoms Confiscatory Taxation Conflict Congregationalism Congress Congressional Powers Conservatism Constantinople Constitutionality Consumerism Contempt Contraception Conversion Coping Cosmology Counterculture Cover Up Creativity Credentialing Credo Cremation Criminality Crisis Magazine Cult Culture Culture Wars Dad Daily Mail Damien of Molokai Dante Darfur Darwinism Dave Bainbridge David B Hart David Brooks David Frum David Linsky David Mills David Thompson Daylight Saving Time DDC Death Debt Deficit Commission Deficit Spending Definitions Dehumanization Democracy Democratic Socialism Democrat Party Department of Education Dependency Der Spiegel Despair Deuteronomy Deval Patrick Development Devotion Dichotomy Disbelief Discernment Discipline Discrimination Disease Disorder Dispensationalism Disrespect Dissent Dissipation Diversity Divinization Do-Goodism Doctor Assisted Suicide Douglas Farrow Dred Scott Drinking Dualism Earth Day Easter Eastern Religion eBooks Ecclesiology Echo Chamber Economic Crisis Economics Ecumenism Ed Markey Ed Morrissey Ed Schultz Education Edward Feser Edward Winslow Egalitarianism Eleanor Clift Election '08 Election '10 Election 2012 Electronic Publishing Elizabeth Scalia Elizabeth Warren Empathy Empiricism England Enlightenment Entertainment Entitlement Entitlements Environmentalism Envy Ephesians Epiphany Episcopacy Episcopal Church Epistemology Equality Equating Eric Holder Eschatology ESV Eternity Ethics Eucharist Eugenics Euphemism Europe European Union Euthanasia Evangelization Evolution Evolutionism Ewald Stadler Experience Experts Extortion Ezekiel Facebook Faith Faith & Reason Faithfulness Fall of Rome Family Fascism Fashion Fast & Furious Fatherhood Fausta Wertz FCC Fear Felix Just Feminism Fidelity First Amendment First Things Folly Forgiveness Founding Fathers Fourth Estate FOX News Frances Titchenor Franciscan University Fraud Fred Baumann Freedom Free Lunch Free Speech Free Will Friendship Funerals G. F. Handel Gabrielle Giffords Gaia Galatians Garage Light Gay Marriage Genesis George Carlin George Orwell George Tiller George W Bush George Weigel Georgia Warnke Gerry Dembrowski Gerush92 Glenn Beck Global Warming Gnosticism God Good Good Friday Good Samaritan Gorecki Gospel Gospel of John Gospel of Luke Gospel of Mark Gospel of Matthew Gospels Gossip Government Grace Graciousness Great Britain Great Entitlement Society Greece Green Movement Grief Guardian Gun Control Gunwalker Handel & Haydn Hannah Arendt Hans Urs von Balthasar Harry Christophers Harry Potter Harry Reid Hating HCSB Health Healthcare Healthcare Reform Heaven Hegel Henri de Lubac Henry E Hudson Heresy Heritage Foundation Hidden Treasure Higher Education Hiroshima History Hitler Holiday Season Holiness Homosex Hope Hospitality HotAir Housing HTML editors Hubris Human Dignity Human Flourishing Humanities Human Nature Human Rights Humility Hypocrisy Hysteria iBreviary Idealism Ideas Identity Ideology Idolatry iEducation Illness Imago Dei Immorality Imperialism Incarnation Incivility Individualism Indulgence Infantilism Insipidity Insurance Intellect Intercession Intergenerational Theft Interiorizing Culture Iona Iowahawk Irony Irresponsibility Isaiah Islam Italy J.E. Dyer J. Gresham Machen Jack Wagner James Pethokoukis James V. Schall Janet Daley Jay Rockefeller Jazz Shaw Jefferson Starship Jeff Jacoby Jeremiah Jesus Christ Jewish Advocate Jews JFK Jill Stein Jimmy Carter Joanne Hogg Joe Biden Joe Carter Joe Scarborough Joe Wilson John Henry Newman John Jalsevac John Kerry John Locke John McCain John Roberts John Sommerville John the Baptist John Ziegler Jonah Jonathan Last Jonathan Sperry Joseph Stalin Journaling Journalism Joy Joyce Judaism Judgment Judgmentalism Judiciary Jurisprudence Justice Just War K-8 Kant Kathryn Lopez Keith Olbermann Ken Cuccinelli Kermit Gosnell Keynesianism Killing King David Kingdom of God KKK Knights of Columbus Knowledge L'Osservatore Romano Labor Laity Language Larceny Law Lazarus Laziness Learning Lectionary Leftism Legacy Legality Lent Leprosy Letter to Hebrews Letter to Romans Leviathan Liberal Education Liberalism Libertarianism Liberty Libraries LibraryThing Libretti Libya Licentiousness Lidwig Feuerbach Lies LifeSiteNews LifeWay Light Light Dawns on Marble Head Limited Government Liturgical Calendar Liturgy Liturgy of the Hours Logos Lordship Love Luciano Storero Lumen Gentium Lying Macintosh Magi Manhattan Declaration Mara Hvistendahl Marcel Guarnizo Marco Rubio Margaret Becker Margaret Marshall Marketing Mark T. Coppenger Marriage Martin Cothran Martin Heidegger Marxism Mary Eberstadt Mary Magdalene Mary Rose Somarriba Massachusetts Massachusetts SJC Massasoit Materalism Maternity Mathematics Matthew Hanley Matt Labash Mattress Girl MaybeToday.org Mayflower Meaning Media Ethics Media Hype Medicaid Medical Ethics Medicare Memory Mercy Methodology Mexico City Policy Michael Hanby Michael Moore Michelle Bachmann Michelle Malkin Mike Pence Milos Forman Miracles Misanthropy Misbehavior Miscenegation Mitch Daniels Mitt Romney Moammar Qaddafi Mockery Modernism Modernity Modern Scholar Mom Moral Doctrine Moral Imbecility Moralism Morality Moral Philosophy Mortimer J Adler Motherhood Mother Teresa Motives Movies MSBA MSM MSNBC Music NAB NABRE Nancy Pelosi Nanny State Naomi Achaefer Riley Nasta & Yulia Natick National Council of Churches National Day of Prayer Nationalism National Review National Socialism Natural Rights Nature NEA Negligence New American Bible New English Translation New Marriage News Product Newsweek New Testament New York Times Niall Ferguson Nigel Farage Nighttime Nihilism Noli me Tangere Nonsense Now Reading NY Times O Antiphons ObamaCare Occam's Razor Occupy OEB Old Testament Olive Tree Ontology Operation Rescue Opinion Ordinary Time Organ Sales Origen Original Sin Orthodoxy Osama bin Laden OWD Paganism Papacy Parables Parenting Partisanship Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry Passion of Christ Pat Caddell Patheos Pathology Patriarchy Paul Erlich Paul Ryan PC Study Bible Pearl of Great Price Pederasty Pedophilia Pentecostalism Permissiveness Perpetual Outrage Perseverance Personhood Pete Jermann Peter Augustine Lawler Peter Kreeft Peter L. Berger Peter Sanchioni Peter Seewald Peter Thiel Phenomenology Philosophical Naturalism Philosophy Pieta Pieties Piety Pilgrims Pink Floyd Planned Parenthood Plato Plenty Plymouth Plantation Poland Political Correctness Political Discourse Political Economy Political Resistance Political Science Pop Culture Criticism Pope Benedict XVI Pope John Paul II Pope Leo XIII Pop Music Pornography Postmodernism Poverty Power Pradis Prayer Preaching Priestcraft Priesthood Principles Priorities Prison Fellowship Prisons Privacy Private Schooling Privatization Pro-Lifers Procrastination Producers Progressivism Propaganda Property Property Rights Propheticism Prosperity Prostitution Protestantism Pseudo-Morality Public Discourse Public Order Public Schooling Public Spending Punishment Puritans QotD QuickVerse Racialism Racism Radicalism Rape Rape Culture Rationality Rationing Ravi Zacharias Reading Reality Rebecca Reconciliation Redemptionis Sacramentum Reform Regeneration Regensburg Regulations Relationships Relativism Religion Religiosity Religious Art Religious Dialog Religious Liberty Religious Repression Rent Seeking Repentance Republican Party Rerum Novarum Resomation Responsibility Resurrection Revelation Revolutions Rhetoric Richard Fernandez Richard John Neuhaus Richard Nixon Richard Wright Rick Santorum Rick Wakeman Rick Warren Righteousness Rita L. Marker Robert Barron Robert R. Reilly Robert T. Miller Rock Music Rod Decker Roe v. Wade Roger Vinson Roman Empire Romans Romanticism Romneycare Ronald Reagan Ron Dellums Ross Douthat Rush Limbaugh Ruth Ruth Marcus Ryan Messmore Sacrality Sacramentalism Sacraments Saint Augustine Saint Francis Saint Francis de Sales Saint Ismeria Saint Jerome Saint Maximilian Kolbe Saint Nicholas Saint Paul Saint Paul School Saint Peter Salvation Same-Sex Marriage Sanctification Sanctity Santa Claus Sarah Palin Satisfaction Scandal Scapegoating Schooling Science Scott Brown Scott Harrington SCOTUS Sean Bielat Self Discipline Self Knowledge Sentimentality Sermonizing Sexuality Sexual Revolution ShareThis Sharon Angle Sigmund Freud Sin Singing Slander Slavery Smoking SNAP Social Contract Social Engineering Socialism Socializing Children Social Justice Social Studies Sociology Socrates Solidarity Solutions Sonia Sotomayor Soteriology Soul Southern Poverty Law Center Soviet Union Speeches Speech Police spiked-online Spirituality SSM St. Augustine Church St. Patrick Church Standardization Statism Stem Cells Stephen Kinzer Stephen Prothero Sterilization Stewardship Strange Fire Stress Study Study Bibles Stupidity Subjective Objectivity Subjectivism Subsidiarity Suffering Sunday Readings Supernatural Superstition Symbolism Syncretism Tabernacle Talk Radio Taxation Tax Shelters Teaching TEA Party Technology Ted Kennedy Ted Koppel Temporizing Temptation Terl Bryant Tetragrammaton Thanksgiving The Catholic Thing Theism Theology Theology of the Body Theosis Theotokos Therese of Lisieux The Telegraph TheWeek.com Thinking Thomas Aquinas Thomas F Madden Thomas G. Guarino Thomas Jefferson Tim Cahill Time Timothy Dalrymple Tolerance Tom Coburn Tony Blankley Tony Melchiorri Touchstone Townhall.com Trade-Offs Tradition Training Transcendence Transhumanism Transparency Treasure Trinitarianism Trivia Troy Donockley Truth Tunisia Turkey TV Tyranny U.S. Senate U2 UFOs Unbelief Unintended Consequences Unionism United Church of Christ Unity Universal Declaration of Human Rights Universalim Universities Upon this Rock USA Today USCCB US Congress Usurpation Utilitarianism Utopianism Vatican Vatican II Verbal Engineering Verbum Vice Victimhood Victor David Hanson Violence Virginia Postrel Virtue Vocation Voluntary Insanity Voters Voting Vulgarity w.bloggar W. Norris Clarke Waiting Walk for Life Wall Street Journal Walter Russell Mead War Warren Buffett Washington Post Watergate Wealth webEdit Weekly Standard Wesley J. Smith Western Civilization Wicca Will-to-Power William Callahan Will of God Windows Live Writer Winter Wisdom Witchcraft WordPress Words WORDsearch WORDsearch 5 WORDsearch 7 WORDsearch 8 WORDsearch 9 WORDsearch 10 WORDsearch 11 Work Works Worship WWJD Yes Yom Kippur Youth ZBS Zero-Tolerance ZfEval-Searching Zondervan

Tag Archive: Leftism

The MSM has embarrassed itself to a near-fatal degree

Posted: Friday, August 31, 2012 (11:26 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Friday, August 31st, 2012:

Who better than J. E. Dyer to inspire me to rekindle my moribund blog, in a blog post entitled Are the American voters idiots?, which ultimately tackles several of my favorite hobby horses:

There were so many reasons to know in advance that Obama would be a poor president.  Yet many of the voters were taken in by the media hype surrounding Obama.  The president’s associations and recorded statements were played down.  The record was there for a number of investigative authors to find, from Michelle Malkin to Stanley Kurtz and Aaron Klein.  But the mainstream media presented a very selective picture of the Democratic candidate.

The MSM, in fact, has embarrassed itself to a near-fatal degree with its remarkable coverage of the Obama administration, whether it is amplifying the cries of “racism!” that erupt whenever there is criticism of the president, or credulously reporting whatever the administration puts out, word for word, as if there is no previous record or any set of facts to be counter-checked.  (The latter pattern is especially strong when it comes to reporting about defense and national security.  Reporters have regularly retailed administration talking points about the unprecedented “shows of strength” the Obama administration is making, when a little research would reveal that the US had already been doing whatever the “unprecedented” thing is, for 5, 20, or even – in the case of North and South Korea – 60 years.)

There has been a tremendous growth in vague, elliptical, and/or tendentious narration of what’s going on in the nation and the world.  The people can be pardoned for being tired and confused.

But the inability to distinguish fantasy-news and talking points from reality is a product of the US education system.  That system has taken millions of people with plenty of native smarts and indoctrinated them with a set of ideological trigger-concepts, all while declining to teach them to think critically.  Developing judgment through critical thinking is one of the hallmarks of adulthood, and the US education system has been making that harder for Americans, rather than fostering their abilities.

I have this lingering sense, which I honestly suspect is nothing but delusion, that the producers of mainstream “news” product really are making themselves progressively (!) more and more irrelevant by alienating their audiences with increasingly transparent cultivated stupidity, and un-reflexive progressive bias and partisanship. I hope it’s not just the projection of wishful thinking on my part. And although I agree with her assessment of the typical results of the US education system, I think the actual contributions of the schools to those results might entail a smaller and more collaborative role than Dyer seems to be suggesting. The entertainment industry plays no small part, independently of the schools, as does the overall entitlement ethic of society.

Dyer’s article gets to that in its own way later on, where she speaks critically of “the modern American pathology-network” of dependencies, addictions, disorders, and despair. She remains confident in the redeeming value of the free exchange of ideas in the public square, though the history of progressives and other leftists in power does not fill me with the same confidence that the square will remain open for dissent indefinitely.

Initial Thoughts on Reactions to Fast & Furious and Obamacare Developments

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012 (11:48 pm), by John W Gillis


Very interesting day in the political world, with the Supreme Court handing down its judgment on Obamacare, and Congress finding Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress for his evasive shenanigans trying to cover up the background to the “Fast & Furious” program – the first sitting US Attorney General to receive such an honor. How now to prosecute him becomes quite a conundrum, since the department he runs is responsible for such prosecutions, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Neither finding is very surprising to me (the first admittedly more than the next, however). But I find the behavior around the situations fascinating – and pretty much irrational. For starters, the big topic of conversation in the news space and blogosphere has been the Obamacare decision. Now, I’m not surprised by that in the least, and there are even some very good reasons for it (such as the fact that the contempt vote happened late in the afternoon, in contrast to the SCOTUS decision, which was read shortly after 10:00 AM).

Then there are the blatantly partisan motivations to factor in. For example, The Boston Globe’s boston.com site had a Breaking News!!! alert at the top of their page as soon as the Obamacare finding was released, where the story has remained all day – now complete with “analysis” of how “Obama scores win”. Well, not so fast, but I’m getting ahead of myself again. In contrast, news of the Holder verdict took the better part of an hour to show up at all, and was presented as a small, second-rate story, which at this point late in the evening – though still amazingly on the home page – has slid down below not only about a dozen and a half Obamacare story links, but half a dozen links (plus embedded video) concerning the Boston Celtics’ draft picks, and a story about US Rep John F. Tierney’s brother-in-law calling him a liar. At least it still ranks above the MBTA reversing a commuter rail surcharge decision. It’s just hard not to picture cowardly ideological snake oil salesmen (propagandists) laying out the pages of that august publication.

But the truth is that the Holder story is a much bigger deal. Despite the incessant protestations of the professional leftists that the contempt vote was politically or even (may God heal their shriveled little souls) racially motivated, this criminally insane operation Holder is trying to hide the origins of is a very big deal. If this ends up being traced back to Obama himself, which is looking more and more likely every time the stakes are raised and Holder doesn’t buckle, it will be Obama’s Watergate – especially if any evidence surfaces that it was even partially motivated by a cynical desire to advance the left’s agenda of opposition to gun ownership by citizens. A good man is dead, and the entire republic is not stupid enough to get buried under a dump truck full of liberal smokescreens about a “botched operation” that actually went pretty much according to plan, even if the corpses were not supposed to include border patrol officers.

The self-proclaimed Most Transparent Administration Evah is going to have to release those documents they’re hiding to Congress, or risk a serious constitutional crisis. The only real question will be whether they are damaging enough to sink Obama’s presidency (and, needless to say, his reelection chances). Fast & Furious (or Gunwalker, as I first heard it called last year) might turn out to be the one thing schoolchildren know about Barack Obama 100 years from now (or more likely the only thing besides the fact that he was the first black president of the USA, a fact which will eventually be the answer to a trivia question). That would be a shame, because he has done so many other things to advance the cause of statism against the commonweal of human freedom and lawfulness, and those lessons should be learned and not forgotten.

On the contrary, the SCOTUS decision this morning, despite all the public hoopla, was really pretty much a non-event in terms of the ACA act itself. I’m not saying important decisions weren’t made, but everything remains pretty much the way it was yesterday, except that the Feds don’t have the power to punish non-conforming states by withholding Medicaid funds under Obamacare, and Commerce Clause activism has been legally circumscribed in a manner that departs significantly from the court’s trajectory over the past several decades. The first change very well might (further) doom the program fiscally, and the second establishes a much-needed, critical restraint on the cancerous spread of federal statism on the whole. Not insignificant points, either, but hardly fodder for naïve leftist victory dancing, or for anti-leftist tirades against Chief Justice Roberts for his “betrayal” of conservatism (which, of course, completely misses the point of his or SCOTUS’ role as constitutional referee). While I admit that it would have been easier if the whole law were shot down by the court, and that legislative repeal is likely to be difficult and at best partially successful, the fact is that Obama is going to have to carry this “tax” law with him as a political albatross through November, while Mitt Romney can stand on the side and say: “If you want to get rid of Obamacare, you have to get rid of Obama”. Sometimes the easiest answer is not the best.

Time permitting, I will try to take up these SCOTUS decision reactions in more detail later on, because I do find them fascinating, and almost universally wrong-headed in just about every conceivable way.

“The family is at the center of Santorum’s economic vision”

Posted: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 (11:39 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Wednesday, January 4th, 2012:

James Pethokoukis writing earlier today at the American Enterprise Institute’s Enterprise Blog, in an article called: Santorum vs. Romney is a conflict of conservative visions:

I don’t think Santorum believes tax reform is unimportant. True, throughout his Iowa campaign, Santorum has, in the words of David Brooks, been “picking fights” with supply-siders. Yet Santorum wants to sharply cut tax rates on labor income, capital income, and corporate profits.

Nor does Santorum think cutting the size of government is unimportant. He says he would cut federal spending by $5 trillion within five years and implement Representative Paul Ryan’s entitlement reforms. That’s a pretty Tea Party-friendly agenda.

All necessary but not sufficient for Santorum. He isn’t satisfied with an economy that’s more efficient and competitive if it doesn’t result in stronger families. As it says on his campaign website: “Rick Santorum believes that to have a strong national economy, we must have strong families.” The family is at the center of Santorum’s economic vision. GDP growth is a means, not an end.

Pethokoukis is absolutely right about the difference between the two competing economic visions on the so-called right of our nation’s political divide (so-called because they share a revulsion for the politics and ideology of the left), and it is one major reason why I am supporting Rick Santorum.

Making common cause against leftism does not make either flank of the opposition “right wing”, nor does it make them jointly conservative. A conservative vision of society is not one rooted in the liberal idea of the dog-eat-dog free marketplace of autonomous individualism, but one rooted in love, duty, and prudence. The conservative idea of society is an organic unity, flowing out from intimate interpersonal union, and nourished by virtue and wisdom (i.e. tradition) at each step along the way: from marriage to children to family to community to culture. Some form of this idea has been the stabilizing force in all the world’s great cultures.

The Republican Party reflects a smorgasbord of actors and ideas conservative, liberal, and libertarian. That’s OK – there’s nothing wrong with coalition politics, though it’s a little dangerous to principle when too many people naively or stubbornly insist there is an alignment on values. There is not. There is also much that could be said concerning the affinity between libertarianism’s misappropriation of the term “conservative” and the relentless linguistic manipulation that notoriously characterizes leftist efforts at obfuscation and agitprop, but this is neither the time nor the place to pursue that…

Someone’s set of values will prevail in this election cycle, and in Santorum, Republicans and their enablers have an opportunity to propose an economic vision that rejects the “creative destruction” so central to libertarianism for a sober humanism, one which also rejects both the irresponsible fiscal libertinism of “moderate” modern-day liberalism, and the criminal imbecility of socialism and state-sponsored redistributionism.

Santorum is right: GDP growth is a means, not the end; the end is human flourishing in freedom.

And besides, who would we rob the next year?

Posted: Saturday, April 16, 2011 (5:42 pm), by John W Gillis


Pajama TV’s (and Declaration Entertainment’s) Bill Whittle, working with material from the always readable Iowahawk, doing a little ‘splainin’ about why the schemes of Michael Moore (and others on the left) to confiscate the wealth of the wealthy to solve the nation’s funding problems are simply useless, irrational – and dangerous – harangues. Note that this presentation doesn’t even touch on the debt problem, but solely on annual spending – nor does it really address the moral issues around the confiscatory “solutions,” but one thing at a time, I suppose…

 

Vicious charges made by people who claimed to be criticizing viciousness

Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 (7:47 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Wednesday, January 12th, 2011:

New York Times columnist David Brooks, in a too-rare moment of lucidity, commenting Monday on the despicable liberal media spin on the Giffords shooting:

Keith Olbermann demanded a Palin repudiation and the founder of the Daily Kos wrote on Twitter: “Mission Accomplished, Sarah Palin.” Others argued that the killing was fostered by a political climate of hate.

These accusations — that political actors contributed to the murder of 6 people, including a 9-year-old girl — are extremely grave. … They were vicious charges made by people who claimed to be criticizing viciousness.

Yet such is the state of things. … We have a news media with a strong distaste for Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement, and this seemed like a golden opportunity to tarnish them. …

I have no love for Sarah Palin, and I like to think I’m committed to civil discourse. But the political opportunism occasioned by this tragedy has ranged from the completely irrelevant to the shamelessly irresponsible.

I think Brooks misses the Left’s sly assault via this tragedy on the 1st Amendment, but I have to give him credit for bucking the mob of his fellows, and doing it early, before the backlash from an offended public – if this was published in the grey lady Monday, it must have been written no later than Sunday night. Besides, the aspect he instead focuses on is at least equally important, and he hits the nail on the head in terms of the viciousness involved. I don’t know how some of these people sleep at night…

Free Speech and the Peaceful Public Order

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 (11:19 pm), by John W Gillis


I arrived home from my sister Mary’s funeral Saturday evening, and saw that Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and several other people had been shot during some kind of meet-and-greet in her congressional district. I’d never heard of Giffords, but was discouraged that such a thing would happen – it’s hard enough just given our political process to get good people to run for public office, and it was of course a terrible tragedy for the people involved. It seemed to me that it had been a long time since something like that had happened.

As I read the AP story published on Boston.com, I began to get increasingly uncomfortable as the report progressively shifted from providing information about the tragedy and background on the people involved, to inserting accusatory innuendo aimed at various opponents of the Democrat Party and overall leftist political agenda: repeatedly finding a way to mention Sarah Palin by name in a setting suggestive of her being a menace to the lives of her political opponents; dredging up a reminder of a man who once threatened Nancy Pelosi over the telephone; dropping in a reference about a mad gunman from California the article tied to “conservatives” while simultaneously reporting that he wanted to “start a revolution” (note to moronic left-wing journalists: conservatives, by definition, are anti-revolutionary); pointing out that Giffords’ TEA Party-backed Republican opponent this past fall had fired a gun at a rally during the campaign; and suggesting in less-than-subtle language that this tragedy should be interpreted as the culminating denouement of “a highly charged political environment” that had hitherto not “reached the point of actual violence.”

I was, needless to say, dripping with disgust at the sleaziness of the journalism by the time I finished the story. Even the sketchy details in the earliest stories were enough to make it obvious that this was the handiwork of a deranged idiot, not an attempted political assassination. But the willingness of the leftist journalist class (and I quickly discerned that several other “mainstream” propaganda channels had picked up essentially the same meme) to immediately exploit the tragedy as an opportunity to try to score political points was just truly revealing – and infuriating.

Over the next several days, as we all know, we have seen an avalanche of contemptible opportunism from the leftists, as they’ve tried not only to pin the blame for the violence on the usual opposition scapegoats (Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, talk radio in general…), but have taken to self-reporting a mysterious hubbub of “concern” over “inflammatory political rhetoric:” an ailment that quite obviously knows no medicine except the silencing of such opposition.

And this new ethic of “civility” is being trumpeted by even some of the most screwball partisans in the leftist media! Even Keith Olbermann is in on the act! Keith Olbermann! This is the man who, on his April 23rd, 2008 “Countdown” show, back when Hilary Clinton was an opponent to Barack Obama for the Democrat nomination for U.S. President, and therefore a legitimate target for leftist bile under the ethics of the revolutionary order, wished on the air for “somebody who can take her into a room, and only he comes out," this on account of the "negativity, for which she is mostly responsible."

Negativity? Gee, sound familiar? This despicable clown all but called for someone to snuff Clinton out in order to save the narrative of the left’s favorite candidate from criticism, and the other left-wing loonies in the so-called “mainstream media” largely yawned and looked the other way. Three years later, he’s in the vanguard of a reactionary assault force intent on suppressing criticism of the leftist agenda by exploiting a personal and national tragedy to call for political speech censorship – or “an end to inflammatory rhetoric.” Priceless. You couldn’t sell fiction this corny.

The history of the leftists, from the Jacobins to the Bolsheviks to the Olbermanns, routinely resorts to characterizing criticism as “extremism” or “reactionaryism” in an attempt to marginalize and suppress it – a useful tactic when you can’t win the intellectual battle, and are stuck trying to sell a bagful of lies. Not only is this chicanery in and of itself, but in the American context, it is thoroughly disrespectful of the reality of what this country has managed to nurture as its political life.

Admittedly, being called a racist, or some other clever form of ”hater,” simply for opposing a puerile and idiotic political agenda, is frustrating (not to mention mendacious on the part of the accusers). On the other hand, for some reason, left-leaning people in this country resent being called socialists simply for trying to advance socialist ideas. And for some other reason, libertarians often want to be called conservatives, even though about the only thing they want to conserve is their bankrolls (and, I suppose, the U.S. Constitution, which is ironically an archetypical document of liberalism).

So while, yes, there are fissures in the political fabric of our society, they are fissures that run only from philosophy to rhetoric – and branding, or marketing. Political violence in the U.S. is virtually unheard of – unlike so many places in the world. Why is the media fixating on the Giffords shooting while giving short attention to those who died in the shooting – including a U.S. District Court Justice and a nine year-old? It may very well be in part because Giffords is a Democrat (the judge, on the other hand, was a G.H.W. Bush appointee), therefore facilitating the propagation of the above discussed agitprop, but I suspect is has more to do with the fact that elected officials are so rarely targeted for violence in the U.S. Even looking more broadly, I can’t recall any political violence in the U.S. in about 40 years, save a couple of abortionists who were assassinated in retribution for their death-dealing. People like Hinckley (and Loughner) are  lunatics, not partisans.

The idea of “overheated political rhetoric” fomenting violence in the USA is absurd – and worse than absurd: it is a dangerous threat to the country’s ability to retain the relatively peaceful political climate we enjoy. The left would like to suppress dissent, but that cannot be allowed to happen. The liberals who formed this country were so much wiser than their unfortunate French cousins precisely because they understood the value of political moderation, and the value of allowing political opposition secure standing.

Some of the people being lambasted by the leftists today for their “inflammatory rhetoric” do indeed go over the top sometimes, and the Ed Schultzes and Keith Olbermanns on the left are even worse; and we’d all be better off if political discourse was always more polite and more thoughtful; but that’s not the important point at all.

Our institution of free speech is crucially important to maintaining not just an environment ripe for good intellectual discourse, but, more importantly, the very requirement of a peaceful public order that is capable of solving its political differences at the ballot box, regardless of how much yelling and screaming precedes it. Only a fool would fail to recognize what a good that political freedom truly is for society.

What Liberal Bias?

Posted: Monday, November 15, 2010 (9:43 pm), by John W Gillis


I saw something on TV last night that was just too funny to pass up. When I got home from teaching CCD, my wife had the TV on, watching a nice 60 Minutes character piece on an Afghan vet who is being awarded the Medal of Honor, and I milled around to watch it. Then Andy Rooney came on.

Rooney started complaining about a recent Gallup poll showing pretty broad dissatisfaction with President Obama and his performance. Rooney contrarily said he had gone and asked nine of his friends what they thought, and they all thought Obama was doing a terrific job. Well, duh! I have no doubt that if Rooney had spent an entire afternoon polling his friends and co-workers, he would have had a hard time coming up with anyone dissatisfied with Obama – except for those perhaps who think Obama has been too much of a middling moderate! “They polled 90, 000 people!”, he crowed: “Where do they find these people?”

I was just a little bit too stung by this man’s naivety to laugh out loud. If someone had hired an actor to portray the stereotype of mainstream media figures as a collection of smug, condescending liberals, living a secluded existence completely out of touch with the American people, he couldn’t have done better than Rooney did.

The point is not whether Rooney and his nine friends, or the 90,000 Americans, are better judges of Obama’s presidency. The point is how funny it is that a guy like Rooney apparently genuinely has no idea how much farther to the left the insular world of liberal “opinion” institutions is from mainstream America.

How is this ignorance cultivated? How about, for an example, we take Ted Koppel’s musings the same day on the sad demise of the nobly objective media institution his rose-colored way-back glasses remember from back in the day – like, you know, the days when Koppel held court and people listened. The three-step formula? Find someone else even more egregiously leftist to serve as one punching bag (MSNBC fits the bill nicely here). Then, to serve as the main punching bag, find someone who seems quite out of place in the whole media mix because they’re not particularly leftist at all (this is the FOX News role, since they’re not leftist – though they are pretty libertarian, which is something of a cross between being a liberal and being a tightwad, but that’s what passes for “conservatism” in a lot of circles today). Finally, declare yourself a centrist, or “normal,” or the only ones without an accent, etc.

But back to philosopher number one: the final punch line has to be Rooney insisting that there just must be something wrong with polls that reflect views so contrary to the prevailing view within the hallways of places like CBS. “They never ask me what I think,” he huffs.

So then, why do you keep telling us, Andy?

Gay Marriage and the Handicapped Parking Spot Problem: A Parable

Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2010 (9:25 pm), by John W Gillis


Once upon a time, a certain society made a conscious decision to confer a particular benefit upon a specific segment of the population: the rationale being that people with various physical ailments encountered particular hardships when attempting to access various public places, because of the long distances they often needed to locomote themselves after parking their cars in parking lots and garages – their physical ailments and disorders making such treks tedious, and sometimes even dangerous. As a remedy to this perceived problem, the society – let’s call it Liberstan – decided to require the designation of a certain amount of choice parking spots for these citizens in all public parking areas, creating a phenomena known as handicapped parking spots.

Despite the occasional cheat, the program worked pretty well for a number of years. People who experienced difficulty walking could obtain placards or special license plates identifying them as legitimate beneficiaries of this perk, which in turn better enabled them to participate in public activities with their neighbors. Most able-bodied citizens respected the handicapped parking privilege, but human nature being what it is, not everyone did. Usurpers of the privileged parking, when caught, would have their cars towed, and would be subjected to fines. This punishment deterred most people, but it unfortunately eventually inflamed the passions of a small group of fully able-bodied citizens who felt wronged by the situation.

These citizens – let’s call them Samers – insisted that conferring this privilege on the other group of citizens amounted to iniquity toward themselves, reasoning that all drivers desiring public parking places should have equal rights to the choice spots. The Samers were offended that some people were being privileged while they were not, because the Samers were egalitarians; their definition of egalitarian being “everyone’s the same.” And, boy, they prized those choice parking spots.

Critics argued that having a physical handicap legitimately qualified the so-called handicapped for such a privilege, since it merely made it easier for them to engage in activities common to the rest of the citizenry; it leveled the playing field somewhat.

This sounded like a difficult argument for the Samers to overcome, but, boy, they prized those choice parking spots. So they were faced with a tactical problem: would their aim using the choice parking spots be better served by arguing honestly against the legitimacy of the policy of privileged parking spots for particular people (a legitimate policy question, even if transparently mean-spirited), or by undermining the intent of the policy through subterfuge, dissembling, and sophistry? Well, wasn’t that a no-brainer…

“Nobody’s perfect,” the ensuing counter-argument proclaimed: “hence we all have some sort of handicap, and it is therefore discriminatory to withhold choice-spot parking rights from citizens who are merely differently handicapped than those who have been historically privileged by this policy. Citizens Unite! Equal Parking Rights!”

The ensuing controversy was soon heard by a judge who, being far more clever than wise, and easily enthralled by reason that seems to emanate from penumbra, was delighted to find himself flummoxed by the Samers’ argumentation, and who decided that parking equality was an idea long overdue. Soon, people with any kind of handicap – that is, anyone who was not a physically perfect specimen, which meant… well, everybody – converged upon the RMV to pick up their special Handicapped Person placards, and the choice parking spots were finally available to everyone equally, regardless of handicap type. Furthermore, it quickly became a “hate crime” to question anybody’s claim to handicap status: “we’re all handicapped, and that simple truth unites us in a global brotherhood that just might somehow sow the seed of permanent peace and understanding among peoples.”

Now, some quicker thinking readers might at this point be predicting a logistical complication to the story. After all, if, say, 5 percent of the population previously had handicapped parking privileges, and 5 percent or so of the available parking spaces were accordingly designated as handicapped parking spots, how could these spots possibly accommodate the ninety-five percent of the population that was now legally handicapped? [In any population, it is fair to assume at least 5 percent of the people will not debase themselves by participating in such a self-serving scheme, but once the perks start to flow, most everybody else will.]

Well, not to worry: there’s no problem here a little paint can’t fix. The solution, of course, is to designate a full ninety-five percent of the available parking spaces for privileged handicapped parking. This not only allows everyone who desires it to enjoy the privileges of handicapped parking spots, but has the added social benefit of exiling those obnoxious, self-righteous troublemakers – who make up the recalcitrant 5 percent of non-conformists – to the far reaches of all parking areas. Equality wins out over bigotry again.

The moral of the story is that the kind of moralistic bullying engaged in by the “Samers” produces losers, but no real winners. You begin with a legitimate benefit, but end up with an anti-benefit for a minority of well-behaved people, and a loss of benefit for those whom good reason had once privileged. If the argument over “equality” could have been made in honest terms, the once-good-reasoned privilege could have been examined rationally and reasonably, and a good-reasoned decision could have been made to continue or terminate the privilege of the genuinely handicapped. But by using subterfuge to eliminate the once-privileged distinction (the state of being handicapped) by changing the definition of the criteria upon which the benefit distinction was made, reason was undermined by demagoguery.

With 95% of parking spaces marked as privileged, and 95% of the population eligible for the privilege, the idea of privilege becomes absurd. More to the point, so does the idea of handicap. By equivocating on the meaning of handicap, the antagonists are able to do sufficient violence to the meaning of the term as to render it impossible to use as a differentiator between those who face serious difficulties in accessing public places and those who don’t, despite the fact that the term was initially intended to mean precisely that. This not only all but eliminates the opportunities for the truly needy to park in the truly choice spaces, but makes it impossible to even have an intelligent discussion about the problem – at least using the term “handicapped,” which no longer has any distinction (i.e. meaning).

How does this analogy hold up to the case of the “gay marriage” movement?

In an important sense, this parable is more analogous to the question of the legitimacy of civil unions for gays than it is to “gay marriage” – because it turns on legal definitions for political concepts such as social privilege and benefits, whereas marriage is a pre-political institution that cannot in reality be defined by a polity. Nonetheless, it does demonstrate how the question of the political privileging of marriage in society (an early emphasis, one will recall, of the anti-marriage lobby – our own “Samers”) was used as a rhetorical tool to subvert the original intention of the political structure around marriage by a moralistic misrepresentation of the concept of equality, or egalitarianism. Still, the battle over marriage is not about benefits, or any other realm of politics, but about the survival in this present society of the fundamental institution of human decency.

More to the point of the “gay marriage” problem is the example of how the usurpation of the term “handicapped” to mean most anything at all only renders the term meaningless. This is precisely what the “gay marriage” advocates have largely accomplished with the term “marriage” – and note that I put that in the present tense, for this is a political accomplishment that is social in character, not legal, and is largely a fait accompli. The Left has successfully manipulated the terms of the controversy so as to make the arguments of the traditionalists incomprehensible in the ears of many. The looming legal victories, if they come, will simply make it illegal to engage truths that are becoming increasingly difficult for many people to understand, anyway.

It’s true that people are being bullied into abandoning the idea that marriage is different from other sexual unions out of fear of being called bigots, but they never could have found themselves in such a vulnerable position unless they had already lost the ability to see the differentiation for themselves; unless they were already prepared to believe that marriage is no more than an honorific bestowed upon a sexual relationship by some social authority – be it religious or the state.

The Great Retreat of Pederasty

Posted: Monday, July 5, 2010 (10:22 pm), by John W Gillis


I picked up a link from Hot Air a few days ago to a disturbing but fascinating (English-language) article in Der Spiegel Online, The Sexual Revolution and Children: How the Left Took Things Too Far. The article explores the history of post-1968 views on human sexuality, specifically its role in the “liberation” politics of the left wing in the non-communist world, and how that was translated into pedagogy at the Kinderladen (nursery school) level in the more left-leaning communities in Germany. The results, it should come as no surprise, are chilling:

Does what happened in a number of the Kinderladen qualify as abuse? According to the criteria to which Catholic priests have been subjected, it clearly does, says Alexander Schuller, the sociologist. "Objectively speaking, it was abuse, but subjectively it wasn’t," says author Dannenberg. As outlandish as it seems in retrospect, the parents apparently had the welfare of the children in mind, not their own. For the adherents to the new movement, the child did not serve as a sex object to provide the adults with a means of satisfying their sexual urges. This differentiates politically motivated abuse from pedophilia.

As shocking as the idea of politically motivated child abuse might seem, I have to confess to being rather unsurprised to come across its revelation. In no small part, that is because of a short article by Mary Eberstadt I was immediately reminded of having read in the December 2009 issue of First Things, How Pedophilia Lost Its Cool (the FT archives are paid content, but are well worth the price, even if you purchase just a single-day’s pass to them – lots of gold there to mine). In it, she identifies a significant change in a trend which she had traced over the preceding several decades, and on which she had published in The Weekly Standard on a couple of different occasions: with Pedophilia Chic, Part One and Part Two in June of 1996, and again in January 2001 with ‘Pedophilia Chic’ Reconsidered, Part One and Part Two.

In essence, the Weekly Standard articles were exposes of the way in which American cultural elites, especially in literary circles and the social sciences, had been floating the cultural normalization of pederasty, that is, of sexual liaisons between adult men and teenage boys. The change she noted in the 2009 First Things article was that in the face of the Catholic clergy sexual abuse crisis that had rocked American culture over the previous decade, American liberal elites had lost their taste for tolerating the particular pleasures of pederasty. If one was going to stake a high ground upon which to berate the Church for its pederastic sins, after all, this newfound moralism was a necessary regression in the otherwise progressive liberalization of sexual mores and moral standards, and nothing motivates liberal elites quite like excoriating the Catholic Church for some wrong.

To this end, one of the more interesting thoughts Eberstadt drew from all this was the ironic idea that the sexual abuse of boys and young men by Catholic clergy, for all its evil, might ultimately prove the be the decisive event in turning back a social movement toward the widespread acceptance of that self-same pederasty. Perhaps she could be accused of trying to paint a happy face on a dreadful situation, but its awfully hard to argue with the evidence (which she produces) of leading liberal media voices changing their views on the permissibility of pederasty after “the long Lent” of 2001. It also makes a lot of sense on an intuitive level, because the greatest threat (I say ultimately the only threat) to radicalism’s project of overturning the moral order is the Catholic Church, and pretty much everybody knows it. Whatever it costs, the Church must be defeated, or radicalism will fail. Only the naive (most of whom belong to the Church) don’t understand that.

So, as I was reading the Der Spiegel article, and thinking about Eberstadt’s, I couldn’t help being impressed by the timing of it. Why did Der Spiegel, hardly a voice of social conservatism over the sixty or so years of its publication, choose this time, after all these years, to address the issues of pedophilia in the history of Germany’s political left? Why come clean about it now, and try to bury it in the past as an historical anachronism? Could it have anything to do with the fact that the German Catholic clergy’s involvement in the pederasty of the day has finally come to light – in full fury – within the past few months? Maybe Eberstadt is on to something.

After having spent several hours over the past few days reading, re-reading, and thinking about the questions that are raised here, there is much more I would like to say, especially about the relation between pederasty and the larger homosex movement, which Eberstadt treats somewhat in the later Weekly Standard article. There are some common assumptions about that relationship which Eberstadt seems to share, and which I find increasingly troublesome. I hope to find the time in the near future to follow up on this at some length.

The Edge of Politics

Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 (11:21 pm), by John W Gillis


Richard Fernandez over at Pajamas Media posted a disturbing commentary yesterday on a couple of articles he had recently read concerning the apocalyptic economic problems facing both California and Great Britain. The root of the problem, in both cases, is easy enough to identify: the entitlement mentality that believes that something can be had for nothing (or little). The title of his article (I Want My MTV) sums it up neatly (money for nothing, chicks for free…).

But it’s easy to hammer on the unsustainability of free lunch programs for massive numbers of people. In the abstract, more or less everybody understands it. What’s disturbing about the viewpoint of Fernandez (and his interlocutors) is a pessimism that politics would even be capable of tackling the problem – but they may be right:

Britain has gone into debt to buy a ball and chain. Who’s going to tell the electorate that? And how do you sell solutions to such monumental problems to an electorate accustomed to being promised ever more comfort, safety and ease? The answer: you can’t. The political system can’t meet the challenge without liquidating itself. Faced with an insoluble problem the political elite marks time by becoming obsessed with trivia. It rearranges the deck chairs on its Titanic. It whistles past its graveyard.

I keep telling myself that America has a reservoir of resiliency that will surge up to fend off the dangerous lurch to the left that the country has taken – telling myself that the overreach of the Obama regime will waken the sleeping giant that has too quietly acquiesced to the steady leftward march of the nation over the past century, and manage to do so before we plunge over the edge.

But listening to people rationalizing the government takeover of the healthcare market – whether various flavors of the Obamacare vision, or even the current regulatory shakedown of (non-profit!) insurers here in Massachusetts under Romneycare – it strikes me that the defense of these actions is almost invariably couched in moralistic terms that defend taking (i.e. stealing) from the “haves” for the greater good – whatever that may actually entail in practice. In other words, this is hardly a political problem at all, but a spiritual one, which displaces even basic morality with a moralism rooted in the will to power – and those crafty paving stones of good intentions.

This is a very different rationale than Fernandez pursues, but it certainly supports his conclusion .