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: Progressivism

…it was the halting and reversing of a socio-cultural revolution

Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 (10:18 pm), by John W Gillis


The lights have been out at this blog for about a year and a half, but I’ve been targeting to get back to it, and even made a few tweaks and updates over the past week in preparation. And I could hardly find a finer way of turning the lights back on than by sharing this illuminating article at TheWeek.com by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, who punctures the absurd conceits of the Progressive movement concerning the “inevitability” of social change, by revisiting the origins of the concept of racialism (race & racism) in early modern and – especially – Enlightenment era “scientific” liberalism:

Like other socio-cultural revolutions, it started out as a fringe idea and became mainstream seemingly overnight. The idea of studying and classifying “races” as such appears as mostly a sidebar in scientific inquiry in the mid-part of the 18th century, but by the end of the 18th century it’s all over the place and by the 19th century the idea of races is pretty much received wisdom. In the American Colonies, the first person to be legally recognized as a slave was owned by a free black man. While some colonies had laws banning marriage between free persons and slaves, none of them originally had anti-miscegenation laws. These laws were passed in a sudden wave, in a matter of a generation.

Like other socio-cultural revolutions, it draped itself under scientific accoutrements. To many people, theories of evolution seemed to naturally indicate that there were different races and that these races had intrinsic traits. “Scientific racism” was all the rage. While we hear about people like James Henley Thornwell, the Southern white Calvinistic preacher who backed slavery, we hear much less about figures like Louis Agassiz, the Swiss-born deist scientist who built a profitable public speaking career in the South promoting scientific racism.

Like other socio-cultural revolutions, it advanced under the banner of moral progress. Racism is inseparable from colonialism and the “white man’s burden” to colonize the lesser races to teach them civilization (at the barrel of a gun if need be — for their own good, of course). Another form of so-called moral progress, enthusiastically embraced by progressive elites and coevally linked with racism, is eugenicism. Margaret Sanger, the doyenne of the family planning movement and great advocate of eugenicism was, like the Ku Klux Klan, a sworn enemy of both inferior races and the Catholic Church (and in fact, spoke at a KKK event and was well received).

Part of Gobry’s point is that the progressive conceit that there is no turning back from social change once it is committed to is refuted, unawares, by progressives themselves every time they toll their signal bell claiming once-for-all social victory over the dark and “ancient” scourge of racism through the Civil Rights movement: the civil rights movement was nothing but the turning back of earlier but still relatively recent moral and cultural “progress” rooted in liberal (i.e. anti-Catholic) ideology.

To me, this is so obvious as to be pretty much self-evident, and I’ve always been baffled by the success of progressivism’s propaganda accusing its opponents (“conservatives”) of being champions of racism. Christian doctrine is as necessarily opposed to racism as it is to same-sex marriage: not simply because it’s a bad idea or evil result, but because it is an absurdity relying on a bogus premise concerning the nature of the human being, one which ultimately denigrates the race through mockery of just what it means to be a human being, created in the image of a God who is Father of all. But a lie can travel half-way around the world…

A Belated Clarification

Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 (1:12 am), by John W Gillis


Circumstances compel me to issue a clarification to a notion rendered in my last entry, from late December, lamenting the re-election of Barack Obama. My expressing a similar idea in a conversation prompted a sharp rebuttal that I was (wrongly and uncharitably) entertaining a conceit that everyone who voted to re-elect Obama did so either for trivial reasons, or out of naked self-interest. It is not true that I believe that, but I can understand how someone could come to that conclusion, given the cynical tone of my harangue.

I made two offending comments: one that “many people” had voted for him in 2008 because of the color of his skin (from which it was inferred that I therefore also meant to imply that the same occurred last November, which I did not say, but which I have no good reason to doubt happened on some scale, although I suspect it was not nearly the factor it was in 2008), and the other that “a majority of citizens are [now] willing to vote themselves other people’s money”, which I did say had appeared to have become a real possibility. What I said, I maintain, is true – in both cases. The first is demonstrable – nobody even tries to hide it until someone impolitic like myself is uncultured enough to point out its unseemliness in plain speech. The second I did not and do not assert as an accomplished fact, but did and do assert as either a real or near and impending crisis of political morality, representing the inevitable culmination of a century of domination of the American polity by political and social progressivism.

Neither of these claims, however, precludes the possibility of a principled support for Obama. I certainly have asserted that not all political support for Obama was of a principled nature, but that is not the same thing as saying that none of it was. I have no doubt that there is a core of true believers in the cause of progressivism who got behind Obama – as they get behind many other politicians from the Democrat Party, or other members of the left wing of the political landscape. In other words, there are people who actually believe this stuff. In fact, it’s silly to think that I think they don’t exist. So if you want to accuse me of claiming that all Obama supporters are either fools or knaves, I stand guilty as accused; I think it is utterly foolish to believe that the utopian nonsense of progressivism will produce anything but increased misery, impoverishment, dependence, enslavement, and social disorder, as it systematically funnels all the levers of social power into an ever-expanding, all-powerful state bureaucracy. But I categorically deny the charge that I think they are all knaves. There’s a difference.

Nonetheless, the point I was making, which referred to the crisis of political morality mentioned above, is that the Democrat Party, as the torch bearer for progressivism in America, has quite intentionally and systematically constructed an ever-growing constituency of self-interest, significantly augmenting that ideological core, through the enactment of policies that constantly increase dependence upon governmental “services” (e.g individual welfare subsidies; management of social crises) and “largesse” (e.g. institutional welfare; “friendly” tax code manipulation; grants and other funding), while simultaneously creating an ever-expanding constituency of direct dependents in the form of public sector employees whose livelihoods depend  on the secure growth of governmental reach into society.

Taking, as the most egregious example, public sector unions, the Democrat Party has assumed the role of sophisticated money launderer on behalf of the unions (or perhaps it would be even more accurate to say the unions act as money launderers for the Democrat Party), when, sitting as public officials and ersatz agents for the commonwealth, they allow the unions to fleece their neighbors through budget-breaking contract agreements (typically overloaded with sugardaddy-like risk removal) that quite transparently come attached with an implicit quid pro quo of solid political support for the Democrats, including the transference of public funds from tax revenues, through union salaries, to (mandatory) union dues, which finally make their way to political campaign contributions to the Democrat Party. The public sector unions are the largest political contributors in the U.S. (The NEA is consistently ranked #1), and virtually 100% of their “contributions” go to their sponsors: the Democrats. Every cent of that is tax dollars that are re-routed through the unions to the Democrats for campaigning against Republicans. Every cent. And this is legal.

But I digress. All of the government-dependent constituencies of the Democrat Party have similarly, if sometimes less radically, incestuous relationships in place with the party of the political class, cemented in place by the trading of tax revenue “allocations” for political support at the ballot box, an arrangement that seems to me to represent the very definition of political corruption. My complaint is that this arrangement promises to cannibalize the social contract that liberal society assumes as its foundation.

Furthermore, I have to say that I am simply not naïve enough to suppose that the vanguard of the political enterprise willing to use such means to achieve and consolidate power is necessarily to be found comprised of a full slate of idealistic but foolish true believers, who only want to see the flowering of the utopian future of “equality” and “justice” – and none who might better fit the description of knaves. The idealists may not be able to see it, but the truth of the matter is that when and if the leftist takeover is complete, the land will not be ruled by educated and sensitive idealists sipping wine in tweed jackets. Just saying…

Some Concluding, Year-End Musings on 2012

Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012 (11:59 pm), by John W Gillis


Logos: Logos Bible Research scored huge in my estimation this year. I had struggled to be productive with earlier versions of their software, but version 4, released just about 3 years ago, represented a dramatic improvement in usability and performance, and I started drifting toward it then – especially since they were also beginning to release quality Catholic resources (e.g. works by Aquinas). Then, this Spring, they put together a series of terrific Catholic base packages, all of which included an outstanding edition of the CatechismCatechism of the Catholic Church. Logos version 5, released a couple months ago, adds some nice capabilities to an already terrific product, and has also been published in a separately-branded Catholic product line called Verbum.

Like the standard Logos 5 offerings, the base packages seem disproportionally weighted toward the upper end of the price range, but the entry-level Catholic package, The Catechism of the Catholic Church Collection (in the $50 range), is simply the best set of resources available at anywhere near that price for Catholics looking for a digital study platform. Check it out. It lacks an NAB, but that can be surmounted – and the versions it contains, the RSVCE and Douay, are better versions, anyway. Besides the CCC, it includes the Roman Catechism, the conciliar documents from both Vatican Councils as well as Trent, the essential dogmatic reference works of Denzinger and Ott, and the (daily) Catholic Lectionary. It is an outstanding value, and the resources work together brilliantly. I’m really impressed.

WORDsearch: Continuing the Bible Study Software theme… After rushing WS10 out the door last Christmas week, Lifeway finally got the product to the right spot with a series of version 10.5-enumerated updates released to WS10 owners beginning in June of this year. With a (Greek only) morphological search tool, user-created book types, a History window, and a sermon management tool, WS finally filled some long-standing functionality gaps. But for me, it’s too little, too late. I’ve been a loyal WS user since 1992 – my first (DOS) version of WS came with the NAB, NJB, NRSV, and a Strong’s-tagged KJV, plus TSK; it was Bible Study bliss. No application has served me better over the past 20 years, but it’s time to move on. This program simply cannot compete with the heavyweights. New owner Lifeway (i.e. the Southern Baptist Convention) has had a year and a half to demonstrate a commitment to improved professionalism with the product, and it has not materialized. The only changes I’ve sensed are an increased interest in chasing the latest cultural fads (you can now tweet your Bible Study results from within the program, if that’s your thing), and a decreased likelihood that the platform will be seeing anything like the excellent Catholic resources that are showing up steadily from Logos. On the increasingly rare occasions that I’ve opened the app to work with it recently, it has usually been crashing. Forget it. Thanks for everything; it was great while it lasted.

New English Translation of the Roman Missal: It’s been just over a year now since the introduction of the new translations of many of the prayers in the Liturgy of the Mass. Although they can be awkward and clumsy at times, and although I still haven’t memorized the new versions of the Gloria or the Creed, I think they are overall a big improvement, and are working quite well, with the exception of the Sanctus. I get the Isaiah basis for the change, and consider it an important corrective, but of the half-dozen or so churches where I worship with some regularity, there is not a single congregation that proclaims it smoothly. There’s even one where the priest himself still says “God of power and might” – probably because of the difficulty of getting his people to use a common cadence in proclaiming the new version. It needs attention.

On Obama’s Reelection: I have to admit, I was stunned by the election results. I was quite confident the country would reject Obama, after having four years to see for themselves what you get when you vote for someone based on the color of his skin – as so many people have openly (even gleefully) admitted to doing during the messianic frenzy of 2008. Mitt Romney was admittedly not the easiest guy to get behind, but he offered a genuine chance to correct some of mistakes that have been made, get the economy growing again, and bridge some of the rancor that has afflicted US politics since the Nixon years, but which has reached utterly dysfunctional levels now under this most divisive and partisan of chief executives.

Romney’s loss was disheartening. Partly, that’s because the “kill Romney” character assassination campaign strategy worked for the Democrats, despite the fact that Mitt Romney might just be the most decent guy to have ever run for that office – he’d certainly have to be a serious candidate in any such ranking. That is not a good omen for the future state of presidential politics in this country. But it’s disheartening also partly because of the sheer political force displayed in it by the progressive movement. The Democrats didn’t just convince too many potential Romney supporters to stay home, they wielded a large voting bloc that was willing to support the progressive agenda in plain daylight, not just as a kneejerk reaction to Bush burnout.

It could very well be that we’ve reached – or at least come close to – a tipping point as a culture, where a majority of citizens are willing to vote themselves “other people’s money” from the public till, and to delegate to the state the responsibilities of human freedom, from citizenship to family to personal health and well-being. If this is so, then we have reached the end of the usefulness of the great democratic experiment, and are descending into tyranny – one that will surely tout the infamous conceit of manifesting the will of “the people”. I wouldn’t expect it to end any better than its leftist forerunners have.

On perhaps a bright note, this debacle has produced in me a certain loss of faith in both the American people and in the political process – faith that was in reality misplaced to begin with. It has caused me to lose a good deal of interest in politics – or more accurately, in current events – which should serve both to free up time for less ephemeral concerns, and to orient my priorities more meaningfully.

On the Vapidity of the American “Opinion” Bureaucracies: Related to the collapsing opposition to leftist thinking in America is the success on the part of the progressive movement to establish a fifth column focused on the formation of opinion and the control of knowledge for political ends. I refer, of course, to the thorough progressive domination of the agenda-setting and opinion-defining institutions of education (both mandatory K-12and university-level) and mass media. As it is abundantly clear to me that the greatest threat to America as a place of “liberty and justice for all” comes from a combination of the “news” media and the educational institutions, I’m all in here with Pat Caddell, in his rant from this past autumn:

On Gun Control Hysteria: On this, the Feast of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents, it seems appropriate to complain that I was deeply distressed by the (media-driven) national meltdown of propriety and circumspection following the dreadful grade-school massacre in Newtown CT a few weeks ago. The notion that so many people were ready and willing to exploit the situation for dubious political purposes before the bodies of the dead children were even cold is chilling. Perhaps especially galling is the site of notoriously pro-abortion politicians crying crocodile tears over the carnage while intoning that “we must get serious” and “something must be done” to “protect the children”. Would it be impolitic to point out that during that very day, well in excess of 3,000 children were murdered in this country using devices – and furthermore, in the performance of acts! – that were not only perfectly legal, but which boast the unbending political protection of the very hypocrites who wailed the most loudly into the megaphones of self-righteous convenience on that sorry day? I hope those of us who retain some semblance of intelligence will be permitted a healthy degree of skepticism at the proposal that the repetition of such senseless bloodshed might be avoided by limiting the capacities of ammunition clips available to law-abiding citizens, causing mass murderers (of the gun-toting type, not the forceps wielding sort) to have to either buy their clips on the black market, or stop to reload a few times in the middle of mowing down a screaming group of defenseless women and children.

On Christmas: I’ve disliked the holiday we call Christmas at least since I was a young father without two spare nickels to rub together. As I’ve gotten older, my financial wherewithal has (predictably) improved significantly, and my Catholic faith has taken root and flourished into a principal self-understanding, but I don’t like the holiday any more. I refer to the holiday celebrated a few days ago that marked the close of the “Christmas Season”, a largely secular and irreligious period of consumer indulgence that began some time around Thanksgiving.

There is another day, a Christian Holy Day, also celebrated a few days ago, at the conclusion of the Advent season, and which marks the beginning of a Christian Christmas season, which has several permutations, being in the first place an Octave that concludes on January 1st, the Feast of Mary, Mother of God; in the second place a traditional period of gaiety extending twelve days, until the eve of the Feast of Epiphany (January 6th, though this can get moved to a Sunday), and thirdly as a liturgical season extending through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, on the Sunday following Epiphany. This Holy Day and season celebrates the most remarkable thing that ever happened: the Incarnation of God in human flesh – in the flesh of a baby borne of a woman.

I’ve never been able to figure out how to celebrate the Holy Day amidst all the silly hoopla of the holiday, and I need to figure it out before I find myself thrown in to deep depression some one of these years.

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.

Forced Abortions & Sterilizations in Massachusetts?

Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 (11:28 pm), by John W Gillis


Occasionally, I read or hear about something so stunning that I feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience, watching from a detached vantage point as the world unfurls strangely in front of me. Yesterday afternoon, I had one of those experiences.

I was at work, pausing to check the headlines, weather and traffic, when I saw the surreal headline: “Massachusetts Appeals Court rules that judge was wrong to order mentally ill woman to have an abortion and to then be sterilized”.

Forced abortions and sterilizations in Massachusetts? Granted, the court-ordered violation of this woman – and murder of her baby – were stopped, but it still seems hard to fit these facts into the perception I have of the world I inhabit. This isn’t China, or some other totalitarian state; despite the admittedly growing monstrosity of state hegemony over too many areas of life, America’s still seems like a system worth saving through correction, not overthrowing. Judges don’t really order things like that, right?

I’m not wholly ignorant of the history of these kinds of criminal depravities in American jurisprudence; I know these kinds of judgments were not unheard of during the early heyday of Progressivism, 100 years ago or so, before the “historical marches” of fascism and communism progressed Europe into post-Christian, scientifically-ordered hell-holes, giving the eugenics and related movements a rather tarnished public image. I’m also very aware of the broad based public support for abortion, in both varnished and even unvarnished guises; for eugenics in just about every conceivable form excepting the currently unfashionable sex-selection killing of fetal girls practiced by Hindus and others; and even for sterilization of the “unfit” as part of the eugenic spirit, at least insofar as it is reflected in attitudes that some people, for the common good, just shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce. even if the means of accomplishing that are not part of the reflection. Still, I wouldn’t have thought any judge in 21st century America would dare to be so craven, regardless of her own level of contempt for the human being.

A day later, there are still a few lingering things haunting my mind about this fiasco, after getting past the shocking moral depravity of the judge in the case – Norfolk (MA) Probate and Family Court Judge Christina Harms, who retired from the bench last Wednesday, less than a week after handing down this ruling, which among other indecencies, stipulated that the mother ‘could be “coaxed, bribed, or even enticed … by ruse” into a hospital where she would be sedated and an abortion would then be performed’, according to the original Boston.com story I read, as well as the few others I’ve found.

The first is the amazing lack of legs this story has (not) grown. I would have expected that a story reported on  pretty major MSM news site about a judge in America ordering this forced abortion and sterilization would have gone close to viral within 24 hours – especially during an election year. This has barely caused a blip. Am I the only one shocked by this, or is this a case of the MSM looking the other way from what could be a political hot-potato for their political sponsors? Is there another explanation? I’m lost on this.

Secondly is the realization that it was apparently only the attempted forced sterilization that brought about the judicial rebuke from Appellate Court Associate Justice Andrew R. Grainger, who noted that the ruling contradicted a 1982 (MA) Supreme Judicial Court ruling on the right to procreate. The fate of the baby appears to have been handed over to yet another lower court judge for dispositioning! The courts might yet order the baby to be killed for having a mentally ill mother! Incredible.

Lastly, I was profoundly struck by what I can only characterize as a thunderous moral tone-deafness and spiritual imbecility on the part of the alleged adults involved in this, including the reporters (with the exception of Ben Johnson writing for LifeSiteNews.com, who picked up on this). It is a tone-deafness to the cruel irony that the mental incapacitation afflicting this women (schizophrenia), which is the cudgel being used to beat her into the torture chamber, appears to have its source in a prior abortion she had committed. Court records are clear that she had a breakdown after the abortion, and has been a basket case ever since, especially around issues concerning babies.

This poor woman is tormented by the evil of her earlier abortion, and this knuckle-dragging judge wanted to trick her into having another abortion! And her own parents are advocating for killing her child! May God have pity on all of them in their deformities. This tortured soul does not need an abortionist, she needs a priest. I pray one finds her soon.

It is hard to imagine zero-tolerance bullying prevention without schools becoming mini-bureaucratic-police states

Posted: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 (3:10 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Wednesday, September 14th, 2011:

Mary Rose Somarriba, writing yesterday at Public Discourse, on the recent anti-bullying legislation recently enacted in New Jersey (hewing closely to Obama administration policies), in an article called “A Bully-Free World?”:

Why, one might ask, would the president lead a conference on preventing something like bullying, which is ultimately impossible to prevent? It could be, perhaps, because bullying is something that everyone agrees is wrong, and it is something that everyone can relate to, because everyone has been bullied at some point.

But sadly, bullying is like any unfortunate human conflict and will exist as long as humans do. This does not mean it is okay to bully; it means it is problematic to imagine that we can create a world in which conflict doesn’t exist. It is hard to imagine zero-tolerance bullying prevention without schools becoming mini-bureaucratic-police states—the likes of which only belong in films like Minority Report or Adjustment Bureau—where kids could be criminally charged for hurting each other’s feelings, “different” kids could be targeted as “likely to be bullied,” and so on. But that is exactly what this boils down to: a child’s version of hate crimes.

In reality, laws like New Jersey’s risk worsening the problems of bullying. There is reason to believe that hotlines where kids can anonymously text-message tips to incriminate bullies are yet another technology that kids will abuse for the purposes of bullying. Further, bullying prevention is arguably the wrong goal altogether. It would be better to focus on conflict resolution than on conflict prevention. Devoting all effort to preventing the inevitable is not only wasteful policy; it is a failure to do what actually might lessen the damage of real-life conflicts.

One of my kids – probably the youngest one – mentioned something during dinner the other night about the latest anti-bullying campaign at her school, and I was too tired and cranky to resist letting out a snort. The kids were a little flabbergasted when I said I thought the current anti-bullying hysteria is moronic. Of course, they assumed that anyone who didn’t “like” anti-bullying must therefore “like” bullying – that’s the way these things are framed society-wide, the way immature minds tend to work naturally, and certainly fits the Facebook zeitgeist we and they inhabit. I pointed out the hypocrisy of adults shoving anti-bullying propaganda down the throats of helpless populations of schoolchildren, and made some references to the long stream of social do-goodism in the schools, of which anti-bullying is not merely the latest fashion, but an almost inevitable consequence of previous efforts by the same kinds of “progressive” people to coddle school children, eliminate discipline, abandon authority, and eradicate the stain of “judgmentalism”.

I don’t think I did a very good job of explaining myself, and fortunately, Somarriba does a pretty good job in this article of explaining at least why the anti-bullying agenda is impractical. But I really dislike the agenda for reasons she comes close to, but doesn’t address. She suggests that perhaps President Obama wants to get out in front of this because everybody agrees that bullying is wrong, and she’s dead right about that: it’s a convenient platform for cheesy moralism. You won’t lose any votes by thundering denunciations against bullies, after all. And that’s the real problem here: it’s symptomatic of a culture that feels the need to find something phony with which to fill a glaring void, a void where genuine morality deserves to be found, but cannot be allowed expression lest it upset the libertarian apple cart of mutually assured disregard of vice.

College as a way to babysit 18-year-olds is not very efficient for anyone involved

Posted: Sunday, June 5, 2011 (7:36 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Sunday, June 5th, 2011:

Naomi Schaefer Riley, writing in the June 3rd Washington Post, on the value of a modern college education, and the disconnect exposed by PayPal’s Peter Thiel when he recently thumbed his nose at the university system:

Executives at U.S. companies routinely complain about the lack of reading, writing and math skills in the recent graduates they hire. Maybe they too will get tired of using higher education as a credentialing system. Maybe it will be easier to recruit if they don’t have to be concerned about the overwhelming student debt of their new employees.

Employers may decide that there are better ways to get high school students ready for careers. What if they returned to the idea of apprenticeship, not just for shoemakers and plumbers but for white-collar jobs? College as a sorting process for talent or a way to babysit 18-year-olds is not very efficient for anyone involved. Would students rather show their SAT scores to companies and then apply for training positions where they can learn the skills they need to be successful? Maybe the companies could throw in some liberal arts courses along the way. At least they would pick the most important ones and require that students put in some serious effort. Even a 40-hour workweek would be a step up from what many students are asked to do now.

If tuition continues to rise faster than inflation, and colleges cannot provide a compelling mission for undergraduate education, we may move further away from Obama’s vision of education and closer to Peter Thiel’s.

It seems to me there are few areas of public life more dysfunctional than the la-la land of higher education (well, maybe the K-12 public school system…). The “Obama vision” referenced here is the widespread vision, shared among the cultural elite (especially the professorial class), of universal higher education, which, like most every “progressive” idea, sounds wonderful – if you are naïve enough to believe the utopian hype without bothering to think through the nuts & bolts of the details, and understand their consequences.

The reality is that as the reach of “higher education” spreads deeper into society, both the relative and objective values of higher education plummet toward irrelevance – much to the detriment of most of us, but especially of the least capable in society, who find more and more vocational possibilities being pushed out of reach in the credentialing game, and yet much to the benefit of – surprise, surprise – the professorial class, who find themselves with ever increasing power in the marketplace, and the liberal governing class, who see higher education as the next frontier for state domination over the intellectual/spiritual/religious formation of its subjects, having already accomplished a virtual monopoly over the formation of youth from near toddlerhood through adolescence.

The western world is an end state: the comfy couch at the end of history

Posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 (10:03 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Wednesday, January 19th, 2011:

Walter Russell Mead, writing at The American Interest on the on-going decline – and largely unconsidered future – of the structures underpinning modern life in the West:

The word ‘developed’ contains an important assumption: that a historical process known as development (closely related to modernization — another problematic word) not only exists throughout the world, it culminates in a known end which has already been reached.  This word implies that countries like France, Canada and our own happy United States of America have reached the end of history, the summit of human achievement, stable and enduring arrangements in political economy that are unlikely to change much going forward.

Nothing could be stupider or less historically defensible than this belief, yet few assumptions are more widespread among the world’s intelligentsia, planners and, especially, bureaucrats.  Technological change has never been moving faster or with greater force than it is today as the implications of one revolution in IT after another work themselves out; the foundations of the global economic and political order are being shaken by the dramatic rise of new powers. Yet somehow many of us believe that the  western world is an end state: the comfy couch at the end of history rather than the launching pad for another great, disruptive leap into the unknown.

This is a smart essay from Mead that points out just how backward-looking the whole current debate over political economy is in America – and elsewhere. So-called conservatives are, of course, routinely accused of backwards, illiberal thinking (even though, at least in America, those known as politically conservative are almost uniformly advocating classically liberal policy). But even the left, with their pretentions of “progressing,” are not trying to move toward anything new, but are only doubling-down on a project that is already exhausted, even when viewed in the most favorable light.

Mead sees the best path forward in a new incarnation of liberalism. I suppose he’s right, at least at the white-board level, but the devil, as they say, is in the details. I think his view that the current state of liberalism is a continuing bulwark against socialism defies the growing evidence of the mainstreaming of a leftist politics of resentment, and the continued hostility to religion in public life emanating from the liberal institutions of influence (media, academia). Not to mention the ever-creeping scope of government. Maybe I’m misreading him. Then again, maybe he should similarly look at the evolution of socialism. Nonetheless, he’s a good read.

Sarah Palin as Cultural Metaphor

Posted: Tuesday, December 7, 2010 (11:52 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the day for Tuesday, December 7th, 2010:

Timothy Dalrymple, posting at Patheos yesterday on the meaning and underlying cause of what he calls “Palin Enragement Syndrome”:

[M]uch of the opposition to Palin is not political. It is deeply and thoroughly cultural. Sarah Palin is Miss Jesusland, the living emblem and foremost representative of an America that progressive elites had hoped had been swept into the dustbin of history. One definition of culture is “the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group.” Palin represents the values, tastes, and institutions, the attitudes and behaviors, that are shared by one American sub-culture and despised by another. Hugh Hewitt had it right over a year ago, when he said that Palin is “the opposite of every choice that lefty elites have ever made . . . the antithesis of everything that liberal urban elites are.”

In a very peculiar sort of way, then, Sarah Palin herself has become the latest contested territory in America’s ongoing culture war. The fight over Sarah Palin is a proxy battle over cultural issues and over the meaning of America: not only Democrats and Republicans but low culture versus high culture, conservative Christianity versus progressive religion, pro-life versus pro-choice, traditional family versus modern family, rural versus urban, the wisdom and goodness of the people versus the technocracy of the elite. It’s a proxy battle over which culture — which set of values, attitudes, and behaviors — ought to pervade and guide our nation and its government.

It was obvious in the summer of 2008 that Sarah Palin had instantly touched a venomous nerve in progressive circles. It was not entirely clear why. I thought some of it could be chalked up as a reaction to the energized thrill with which the more conservative elements of the electorate met her ascension to McCain’s Presidential ticket – I know for my part, I’d fully expected McCain to select a middle-of-the-road running mate, even someone pro-abortion, and I was delightfully surprised that he selected a social conservative, and I doubt I was alone in that surprise any more than I was in that delight.

Nonetheless, there are a lot of social conservatives out there, and while they do get trashed by the liberal press on principle, they don’t get trashed like Sarah Palin gets trashed. I agree with Dalrymple that she is more symbol than human being to the left, but that still doesn’t explain why she became such a lightning rod, rather than any of the many other people, including women, who generally share her views. And as a national figure, she is almost purely a product of the left’s obsession with her. They call her stupid(of course), but she’s dumb like a fox, and has proven herself to be one of the more prescient members of the chattering class, which I think is changing her perception among non-progressive elites.

In the end, I think Dalrymple overstates this somewhat, because even though he is correct about Palin being a flaming icon of the broader cultural conflict to the left, I think the moderates and more conservative folks are seeing her as more of an effective conservative political figure, especially as time goes on. She’s more about results than ideological grandstanding – even if she is not prone to compromising principles. Pure populist, yes, but she’s turning into a genuine movement leader, not just a token of a broader idea. I suppose that’s why the left turned her into a celebrity: by definition, you can’t take celebrities seriously… Good luck with that.

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 .