Thursday, April 1, 2010

Commonweal maneuver

I'm no fan of Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, but in a dotCommonweal post discussing a Russ Douthat column she says,
Douthat then exercises a Commonweal maneuver... on the one hand, on the other... all sides bear some responsibility for this... .


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Gibbons Equality

A lot of blog posts about the USCCB emphasize the limited competence of bishops when dealing with practical political matters.

At the same time, a lot of other blog posts emphasize the doctrinal authority of bishops when they teach about the application of morality to political matters.

And I mean "at the same time" literally. Which kind of post shows up on which blog on any given day depends on which political party's interests are in any way being met with uncooperative behavior by the bishops. But if you find one kind of post on one kind of blog, you will find the other kind of post on another kind of blog.

Hence, the Gibbons Equality:
On any given day, the likelihood of a "limited competence" post on a conservative Catholic's blog equals the likelihood of a "doctrinal authority" post on a liberal Catholic's blog.

On any given day, the likelihood of a "limited competence" post on a liberal Catholic's blog equals the likelihood of a "doctrinal authority" post on a conservative Catholic's blog.

--"John da Fiesole"

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Unplugging their pull

What makes somebody an expert "bioethicist" — other than a "willingness to issue life-and-death pronouncements involving other people"? --Ann Althouse


Friday, January 29, 2010

Comprehensive comprehended

In the term comprehensive reform,
"Comprehensive" = unpopular. Voters wonder what you are hiding under that word. --Mickey Kaus


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Occam's Butterknife

the guy with the most convoluted argument wins. --Steve Sailer
when the simplest, most straightforward explanation of some phenomenon is emotionally disturbing to you, try for something more complicated. --John Derbyshire


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thin Reid

Is Harry Reid a racist? It depends on what the meaning of racist is:

If by "racist," you mean somebody who feels antagonism toward black people, then Harry Reid isn't a racist. Harry Reid thinks we are racists.

If by "racist" you mean somebody who would use other people's feelings about race in a purely instrumental way to amass political power, then Harry Reid is a racist. --Ann Althouse


Monday, January 11, 2010


The biggest corrupting force isn't money, it's consensus--what respectable people believe. --Mickey Kaus


Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Good Czar

The Russian government may be corrupt and repressive, but Vladimir Putin has stayed popular by embracing the country's tradition of the “good czar” whose intentions are pure and will set things right despite his ministers’ failings.

President Obama appears to be following a similar strategy in the wake of the attempted Christmas bombing.
Sure he’s lambasting his administration and his policies, but Obama the “good czar” will now set things right. --Ed Carson
(via KausFiles)


Monday, January 4, 2010

The Transitive Property of Internet Idiocy

Fortunately for us, it is well established on both sides of the Blatherosphere that frankly silly or incandescently outrage-making opinions are highly useful. For instance, the Transitive Property of Internet Idiocy allows us to impute the utterances of one blogger to every other blogger of his acquaintance, to anyone who shares the same political persuasion or who dares to agree with him. This is entirely justified because, unlike Them, We are always fair and reasonable. Thinking people realize that "They" (yes, every durned one of them!) all think alike. "We" would never do anything like that, though. We think for Ourselves. You see, unlike some folks we could name (you know the type – smug, morally superior, blind to their own faults) we're just better than they are. We’re tolerant and open minded folk: above the sort of wildly exaggerated, broad brush generalizations They employ with profligate abandon in lieu of, oh, I don't know, logic, actual arguments, or other irrelevant/boring fare. --Cassandra introducing The Official 2010 Villainous Company Banned Bloggers List. (via Just One Minute)


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tea for two

Today's left and right anti-Reid activists have a common enemy in corporatism, the easy alliance between Big Government and entrenched, favored too-big-to-fail businesses (Aetna, AIG .... ) that threatens to give us all the inequality of capitalism with all the dynamic innovation and accountability of socialism. --Mickey Kaus


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sibizen Cain

Now, we know that Barack Obama doesn't "keep" his actual brother — we remember George Hussein Onyango Obama, the brother who lives a hut — and it's clear that what he means is that government has the moral obligation to regard all citizens as brothers and sisters — I'm coining the word sibizens — and to care for them. --Ann Althouse (commenting on a Greta Van Susteren interview of the President)

Update: at Just One Minute, Menlo Bob comments
Regarding Obama's comment about being your brother's keeper; He seems positively engaged in carrying out what he calls God's commandments--even though on closer inspection (Genesis 4:9) the source of the 'brother's keeper' command is derived from Cain responding to God's inquiry about his brother Abel whom he had killed. In other words Obama has confused God with a murderer.

Happens all the time.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Here is a handy-dandy way to determine whether the failure to order some exam or treatment constitutes rationing: If the patient were the president, would he get it? If he'd get it and you wouldn't, it's rationing. --Michael Kinsley (via KausFiles)


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sinecure of Ars

Substitute for patron saint for parish priests who think they're overworked.


Friday, March 13, 2009


Subgenre of biography
It would be futile to blind ourselves to the fact that readers today find all pathography unpalatable. They clothe their aversion in the complaint that a pathological review of a great man never results in an understanding of his importance and his achievements, and that it is therefore a piece of senseless impertinence to make a study of things in him that could just as easily be found in the first person one came aross. --Sigmund Freud

Its motifs are dysfunction and disaster, illnesses and pratfalls, failed marriages and failed careers, alcoholism and breakdowns and outrageous conduct. --Joyce Carol Oates


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Echo Chamber

Ben Smith reported at Politico on The new left-wing conspiracy, a daily conference call involving "officials from more than 20 labor, environmental and other Democratic-leaning groups".
The "8:45 A.M. call," as it’s referred to by members, began three weeks ago, and it marks a new level in coordination by the White House’s allies...

The Center for American Progress Action Fund is one of the two groups hosting the call. Jennifer Palmieri, its senior vice president for communications, described the need the calls are intended to fill.
"[CAP President John] Podesta’s and my experience was in the White House during the Clinton years, and we didn’t have a coordinated echo chamber on the outside backing us up," she said.

See Cocoon.

(via KausFiles)

Update: Jonah Goldberg at The Corner asks What About the Lapdoggery? And, Let's Not Forget the Lickspittles
Places like the Center for American Progress (allegedly "the liberal Heritage Foundation") were explicitly created to mimic what self-styled progressives believe to be the vast right-wing conspiracy (It was the same agenda that brought us Air America). In one sense, they were great at mimicking all this stuff, but like the aliens in Galaxy Quest they lacked a certain level of understanding of how this stuff works internally to these organizations. For instance, they don't seem to understand that the purpose of institutions like the Heritage Foundation is to make the White House and Congress more of an echo chamber of Heritage, not the other way around.

Or to put it another way, it's reminiscent of President Nixon hiring Donald Segretti in an attempt to develop a "Dick Tuck capability".


Thursday, January 29, 2009

After Obama said that congressional Republicans shouldn't listen to Rush Limbaugh, Rush Limbaugh responded.

After quoting the January 25, 2009 broadcast transcript, Ann Althouse concludes,
Among many liberals I have come into contact with over the years, the very idea of conservativism is ugly and poisonous. Now, many conservatives take the same attitude about liberalism, and they've been pretty successful in getting the general public to think that way too. In general public discourse, liberal politicians shirk the "liberal" label. [ ] So I can certainly understand liberals wanting to make the word "conservatism" into something conservatives would run away from like that. And I can believe that Barack Obama would like to make that happen and sees a focused attack on Limbaugh as an effective technique.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009


The subject of clericalism comes up with some regularity. Clericalism is the corruption that, overtly or subtly, subordinates priestly service and devotion to clerical privilege and power. --Richard John Neuhaus


Friday, January 2, 2009

The Deadweight Loss of Brett Favre

Stephen J. Dubner in the Freakonomics column of The New York Times on the jersey market.
it is also unlikely many Jets fans will have fond feelings for Favre any time soon. So it is hard to imagine too many of them buying a Favre jersey again, ever.

And what about wearing the jerseys they’ve already bought? Psychologists have noted a pair of phenomena related to this question: Basking in Reflected Glory (BIRGing) and Cutting Off Reflected Failure (CORFing). This boils down to the fact that people like to wear a team’s jersey after the team wins (that’s a BIRGer binge) and they like to bury a team’s jersey deep in the closet after the team loses.

There might have to be a separate category for a Jim McMahon Packer jersey.

(via Just One Minute)


Monday, December 29, 2008


Politicians are always calling things historic. Usually all that this means is “something that happened while I was in office”. --The Economist


Friday, November 21, 2008

'Mistakes were made'

The quote is from a statement by Jerry Topczewski, speaking on behalf of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, when asked to comment about the just-published transcript of a deposition of former Archbishop Rembert Weakland. See Deposition of Archbishop Emeritus Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B. (complete transcript)

Wikipedia explains,
"Mistakes were made" is an expression that is commonly used as a rhetorical device, whereby a speaker acknowledges that a situation was handled poorly or inappropriately but seeks to evade any direct admission or accusation of responsibility by using the passive voice. The acknowledgement of "mistakes" is framed in an abstract sense, with no direct reference to who made the mistakes.

For further reading, see Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson (reviewed at Amazon).

Mr. Topczewski's statment is included in Marie Rohde's story in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, headlined Weakland spreads the blame.

At WTMJ-TV "NBC 4" More Weakland Deposition Video Released, by Mick Trevey and Katie DeLong

At WITI "Fox 6", Milwaukee Catholic Sexual Assault Scandal Unravels

At WISN-TV "ABC 12" Milwaukee DA Reviewing Clergy Abuse Deposition

At WDJT "CBS 58" Was Weakland following church orders?

(via SNAP Network)

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The paradox of voting

"John da Fiesole" at Disputations on "Downs Paradox".
I work with computer models for a living. When what I'm modeling doesn't do what my model predicts, it's called an "invalid model."

When what public choice theorists are modeling doesn't do what their model predicts, it's called a "paradox."


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Learning to Read Democrat

An op-ed by Michael Kinsley in today's New York Times on the draft platform for this year's Democratic Party convention.
The best-hidden boondoggle is dropped into the second half of a sentence in a general passage about women. “We will invest in women-owned small businesses and remove the capital gains tax on start-up small businesses.” (Attention all conservatives: Do not panic! This passage does not mean that Democrats favor government investments in businesses, even small businesses, even small businesses owned by women. That would be socialism. It is a convention of platform-writing that all government spending is referred to as “investment.” The Republicans do it, too. That doesn’t make it right.)


Saturday, April 19, 2008

The secret link: Sexual victimization came first

In this April 13, 2008 editorial, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said,
When what is abnormal becomes normal, harm soon follows.

Update: From another context,
But what is normal? The standard is constantly changing, and these socialites and celebrities are on the leading edge of that change.
--Ann Althouse


Monday, March 31, 2008


Eduardo Penalver at Mirror of Justice Defending James Cone in connection with the controversy over remarks by Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
When he [Cone] talks about defeating whiteness, he does not mean white-skinned people, but rather a system of racially-based oppression. And when he talks about black people, he means people who live under conditions of poverty and oppression. This is what he means, I think, when he says that Jesus was black or that any God worth believing in must be part of the black community and against whiteness. Given how he defines his terms, I agree.

(via Rick Esenberg at Shark and Shepherd, Jeremiah was a prophet?)

Update: David Gilmour points out in The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling, the word "white" [in The White Man's Burden] "plainly refers to civilization and character more than to the colour of men's skins. The 'white men' are those who conduct themselves within the Law for the good of others: Gunga Din may have a 'dirty' hide, but he is 'white, clear white, inside.'"
--Roger Kimball, "Rudyard Kipling unburdened", The New Criterion, April 2008


Monday, January 14, 2008


Matt Malone, S.J., at In All Things
On Meet the Press this [Sunday] morning, Senator Hillary Clinton accused her host, Tim Russert, of being 'Jesuitical' in his argumentation. The Jesuit-educated Russert (Canisius High School in Buffalo, N.Y. and John Carroll University in Cleveland) was pressing Senator Clinton on her 2002 vote to authorize war in Iraq. ...

See transcript part 3.

Malone explains,
Now according to the Oxford American Dictionary, "Jesuitical" has two meanings. The first is the more benign: "of or concerning the Jesuits." Okay, that's straightforward. But the word has a second meaning, which is almost always pejorative and was born of the old anti-Jesuit canard that we can be a little slick with our reasoning. Here the word means, "Dissembling or equivocating, in the manner associated with Jesuits."


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Grimes Defense

I think it’s time we identified and warned against what I’ll call the Grimes Defense: If an argument has been exaggerated a little bit for effect, we can throw it out--baby, bathwater, and even the soap scum of lingering doubt. --Stefan Beck


Friday, October 12, 2007


What's the old saying - a conservative is a liberal who has been thrown up on by reality?
--Tom Maguire


Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Bush Doctrine

...the plan, as one skeptical pal of mine puts it, "to shove freedom down the throats of the entire world whether they want it or not"...
--Mark Steyn


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What is the The Cosmic Mass?

Here's the answer.

One of those involved in TCM is Matthew Fox. "A Faithful Catholic" had bewailed that
Even now, Benedict is reaching out to the Society of Pius X. And some would say that this Latin Mass thing is an olive branch in their direction. When will there be an olive branch for the Matthew Fox's and Rev. Alice Iaquinta's?

I'll concede I've seen no indication Pope Benedict is the least concerned with getting into his first chakra again.

TCM has options for those seeking an extraordinary rite.
At our Techno Cosmic Masses people dance to techno music as well as live music; DJ's provide the musical ambience and VJ's or video jockeys provide images through slides and videos that tell the story of the theme celebrated.

(That should put the two neins into Dad29.)

Update: The Resolution on Matters Concerning Proper Liturgical Form at the Spirit of Vatican 2 Catholic Faith Community is in accord.
IV. LITURGICAL COSTUMING: The Stole, the Alb, the Ambo, and the Vestment are all ancient costumes copied from the Romans. We don't see why we have to wear just these things and cannot wear costumes that speak to our particulary cultural norms in ways that are new and creative. We reserve the right to have a Star Trek Mass, a Clown Mass, or a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Mass.

Update 2: Glenn Elert's student Kristine McPherson says the cosmic mass is between 1053 kg and 1060 kg.


Friday, September 7, 2007


Assuming the worst about Craig [Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)], the Senate has not held a vote on outlawing homosexual impulses. It voted on gay marriage. Craig not only opposes gay marriage, he's in a heterosexual marriage with kids. Talk about walking the walk!

Did Craig propose marriage to the undercover cop? If not, I'm not seeing the "hypocrisy."

--Ann Coulter

(via KausFiles)


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Liturgical Referee

You might recall that Milwaukee's Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba has noted
...our problem, however, at least in my experience, is the wide diversity in current practice from one parish to another.

and called people in the pew noting the same thing The ‘heresy’ of rubricism.

Jeff Miller at The Curt Jester resolves the conflict with a New liturgical position.
The recently created position of Liturgical Referee has been instituted to help to bring uniformity to the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Liturgical Referees will travel around the world randomly attending Masses. Liturgical Referees will stand, mostly quietly, to the side of the sanctuary during Mass and call out signals if he observes any liturgical penalties according to the GIRM and other liturgical documents. Only in the case of penalties that would make the Mass itself invalid will the Liturgical Referee blow his whistle and when necessary call for any replays to correct any mistake made. Penalty markers may be thrown during the Mass to alert the celebrant to any problems that might need immediate correction.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Secondhand Jesus

Reverend Danny Harvey lost his position at Florida's Leesburg Regional Medical Center after using the name of Jesus in a prayer. Fox New reported,
Louis H. Bremer Jr., LRMC president and chief executive officer, said in a statement: "The interpretation many Christians are getting is that prayer is completely banned from the hospital, which couldn't be further from the truth."

"It would be very appropriate to say Jesus' name in the presence of a Christian family. That's no problem," Bremer said in the statement. "What must be understood is knowing the audience and what is appropriate for that particular situation."

Matthew Archbold at Creative Minority Report explains,
The hospital was worried about "Secondhand Jesus" meaning that those who didn't intend to have Jesus had Jesus forced upon them by a third party.

(via Spirit of Vatican 2 Catholic Faith Community)


Tuesday, August 21, 2007


The human mind is admittedly fallible, and in most professions the possibility of occasional error is admitted and even guarded against. But the legal profession is the only one in which the chances of error are admitted to be so high that an elaborate machinery has been provided for the correction of error--and not a single error, but a succession of errors. In other trades to be wrong is regarded as a matter of regret; in the law alone is it regarded as a matter of course ... .
--A. P. Herbert, "Why is the House of Lords? sub nominee Inland Revenue v. Haddock", quoting the Master of the Rolls

(via The Green Bag)


Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Much of the renewed interest in spheromaks is focused on a research effort at Lawrence Livermore called the Sustained Spheromak Physics Experiment (SSPX). The SSPX was dedicated on January 14, 1999, in a ceremony attended by representatives from DOE and collaborating scientists from the Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. SSPX is a series of experiments designed to better determine the spheromak's potential to efficiently contain hot plasmas of fusion fuel, in this case, the hydrogen isotope deuterium. --David Hill


Saturday, June 2, 2007

Strange New Respect

"Strange New Respect" is Tom Bethell's term for the love showered by the MSM on conservatives who move to the left.
--Mickey Kaus, KausFiles, Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 11:57 P.M.

See, e.g., Why the Republican Congress Hasn’t Cut Your Taxes, by Tom Bethell, Hoover Digest 1999 No. 3, and Strange New Respect, 1992 by Tom Bethell, The American Spectator, September, 1992


Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Ministry of Irritation

At the Women's Ordination Conference
The purpose of this ministry is to challenge the Church’s policies regarding women by engaging the hierarchy and organizing on a grassroots level to publicly witness for women’s ordination into a renewing priestly ministry.

To explain why we use the term "irritation," we use the analogy of

Diaper rash? Dishpan hands? The heartbreak of psoriasis? No.
the grain of sand and the oyster. The grain of sand irritates the inside of the oyster to create a beautiful pearl, and the people active in this ministry are the grains of sand, irritating the Catholic hierarchy to create a pearl of wisdom for the Church that bring about repentance for the sins of the Kyriarchy and bring about a renewing priestly ministry!

Unfortunately for either the analogy or the hierarchy, the oyster does not survive the harvest.


Friday, May 4, 2007

Lack of trust; lack of choice

Retired clergywoman Nancy Bauer-King with a Local Perspective in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Pastoral care, to me, means trusting that each person has within himself or herself a spiritual capacity that helps him or her discover and make moral and ethical decisions.

I see my pastoral care as listening and supporting people in this often difficult process of discovery and decision-making.


Tuesday, April 3, 2007


Some years ago, in conversation with a prominent Anglican bishop in Britain, I asked how he would define the mission of the Church of England. After a pause for thought, he said, "I suppose I would say that the mission, so to speak, is to maintain the religious option for those who might be interested."
--Richard John Neuhaus


Saturday, March 24, 2007


My Republican vote [Nixon 1972] produced little shock waves in the New York intellectual community. It didn't take long--a year or two--for the socialist writer Michael Harrington to come up with the term "neoconservative" to describe a renegade liberal like myself. The the chagrin of some of my friends, I decided to accept that term; there was no point in calling myself a liberal when no one else did. ...

I had no patience with the old conservatism that confronted the tides of history by shouting "Stop!"

--Irving Kristol, Forty Good Years", The Public Interest, Spring 2005, pp. 8, 9

Recall that the original definition of the neoconservatives was that they fully embraced the reforms of the New Deal, and indeed the major programs of Johnson's Great Society. Skepticism was only evoked by the more speculative and theoretical extensions into "social engineering", as in the community participation effort in the War on Poverty, or the movement from civil rights to affirmative action in job and college and university admissions (which, of course, dates more to the Nixon than the Johnson administration). Had we not defended the major social programs, from Social Security to Medicare, there would have been no need for the "neo" before "conservatism".
--Nathan Glazer, "Neoconservative from the start", The Public Interest, Spring 2005, p. 15

(see Neoliberalism)

Update: Who Named the Neocons? by Benjamin Ross, Dissent, Summer 2007

Update 2: Neocon Nation: Neoconservatism, c. 1776, by Robert Kagan, review of The Assassin's Gate, by George Packer, World Affairs, Spring 2008
(via Arts & Letters Daily)


Friday, March 23, 2007

Disney version

In the motion picture adaptation of Pollyanna the title character, played by Hayley Mills, asserts that no one can own a church.
One difficulty the entire [Anglican] church is having to come to terms with, though, is that if the US is expelled, the whole edifice could crumble. It is cash from the Episcopal Church that keeps the show on the road.
--Ruth Gledhill

(via Get Religion)

(see NPR at prayer, Charism)


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Double standard

He [Trotsky] maintains a double standard throughout his diary, using one set of values for his side and another for the enemy. ...

... Trotsky not only takes the trouble to record Lenin's complicity in Ekaterinburg but also goes on to justify it: "The decision was not only expedient but necessary. The severity of this summary justice showed the world that we would continue to fight on mercilessly, stopping at nothing. The execution of the Czar's family was needed not only to frighten, horrify, and dishearten the enemy, but also in order to shake up our own ranks, to show them there was no turning back, that ahead lay either complete victory or complete ruin." ... This entry is sandwiched in between entries revealing Trotsky's anxiety about the fate of his son Seryozha, a nonpolitical engineer who had been arrested by Stalin simply because Trotsky was his father. Trotsky thinks this is barbarous, which it was, and refers to Seryozha as "an innocent bystander," which he was, but it doesn't occur to him that the late Czar might have considered his fourteen-year-old son another innocent bystander, not to mention his four young daughters and the family servants.

--Dwight Macdonald, "Trotsky, Orwell, and Socialism", The New Yorker March 28, 1959


Saturday, March 17, 2007


The word "neoliberalism," at least in its domestic context, was coined by The Washington Monthly's Charles Peters in 1978. (It didn't start, as David Brooks declared, with a Kinsley tax editorial [4 pp. pdf] in 1981).
--Mickey Kaus (March 12, 2007 4:48 P.M.)

Maybe that's neo-neoliberalism.
In March 1946, with a number of distinguished associates, Leonard E. Read established the Read Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York. ...

The principal function which the Foundation for Economic Education served in those years, in short, was to facilitate the recovery of a tradition and the dissemination of ideas. ...

The Foundation for Economic Education in these years was extending its version of classical liberalism from the few to the many, one by one.

As FEE went about its work, another organization founded in 1947 thousands of miles away was also contributing substantially to the growing self-consciousness and interrelatedness of what some were calling the neo-liberal movement in the United States and Western Europe. The earliest stimulus for this aspect of the revival emanated from the United States in 1937, when Walter Lippmann published The Good Society. Among those quick to perceive its importance was Friedrich Hayek, who considered it a "brilliant restatement of the fundamental ideals of classic liberalism." [Hayek, Studies p. 199n]

--George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America: Since 1945 (1976) pp. 24-25


Friday, March 16, 2007

The American religion

is gnostic -- the believer searches for occult experience of his innermost self, standing in aweful solitude with God. It is not ecclesial. "God in you responds to God without," wrote Emerson, America’s sage. It is therapeutic, sold and bought for results, like tooth-whitener. American Protestants, Episcopalians, Catholics and even Jews are spiritually closer to each other than to their global co-religionists. This spiritual divide is cracking Anglicanism. It is even more worrying for Catholics, who have centralised authority. Rome is necessarily pained by deviancy. Back in 1899 Leo XIII, pope and prophet, condemned the American Religion in his encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, "A Witness to Our Good Will". Leo didn’t insist that anyone had yet fallen into those "views ... called by some 'Americanism' ", but he warned that the heresy was, as it were, out there on the prairie, waiting to gobble up American souls.

Leo deplored "that there are among you some who would have the Church in America different from what it is in the rest of the world". A century on, and the Church in America is different from what it is in the rest of the world.
--Richard Major

(via Open Book)


Wednesday, March 14, 2007


one of the biggest problems that Democrats faced 1992-2005 was their inability to get outside of their media cocoon – CNN/NYT/PBS, etc. It was an echo chamber! Democrats would spend a cozy two years locked in a hazy liberal bliss, then get socked in midterms or the Presidential election.

Isn’t Fox News – and its surrounding Conservative Blogosphere -- the exact same thing? And isn’t it leading to the exact same problems? Republican activist types never have to read the hated New York Times, or watch CNN, or do anything that would expose them to the larger world. And in the last midterms, the talking heads they were used to seeing on Fox and friends confidently predicted a Republican victory. Consequentially, there were no Republican vote-catching initiatives, no sense of urgency, just the same complacent cocoon we’re used to seeing on the Dem side.

--Kevin, at Bajillion

(via KausFiles)

P.S. In the final (Spring 2005) issue of the neoconservative domestic policy quarterly The Public Interest Nathan Glazer reflected on editorial and political developments after the 1980s.
Liberal students of public policy did not disappear from the pages of The Public Interest. ... But there can be no question where the main drift ran.

I see that as a failing on our part. ... It was our special issues that helped us to reach out and shape the debate. In their absence, one was too dependent on what came in over the transom, and these submissions reflected the increasing energy of conservative think tanks and foundations. Many of these conservative ideas were indeed powerful. But, as they began to dominate the debate over policy, we should have done more to examine them critically.


Monday, March 12, 2007


the restrictions necessitated by social domination. This is distinguished from (basic) repression: the "modifications" of the instincts necessary for the perpetuation of the human race in civilization.
--Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud (1966) p. 35


Thursday, March 8, 2007


the numbers of people willing to get out of bed on a Sunday morning to attend a Church that defines its charism as "facilitating the conversation" are probably rather small.
--Jim Naughton

(via Midwest Conservative Journal)

(see NPR at prayer)


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Catholic guilt

for some Catholics, lapsed Catholics and even non-Catholics, the term is used to express a sense of "liberation" from what they see as a misguided, outdated, or misinterpreted moralism; for others, it connotes a dismissive or belittling attitude toward traditional Catholic moral teachings, or an attempt to "psychologize" or "secularize" what they see as authentic spirituality.


Monday, March 5, 2007

Darwin's God

Robin Marantz Henig had this article in Sunday's New York Times Magazine on the relationship between science and religion. I got to read it that morning and teach my tenth grade Sunday School class that night. Henig wrote,
In 1997, Stephen Jay Gould wrote an essay in Natural History that called for a truce between religion and science. "The net of science covers the empirical universe," he wrote. "The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value." Gould was emphatic about keeping the domains separate, urging "respectful discourse" and "mutual humility." He called the demarcation "nonoverlapping magisteria" from the Latin magister, meaning "canon."

My Sunday School textbook informs us that
The "canon" of the scriptures comes from the Greek word kanon meaning "measuring rod" or "norm". (p. 76)

and, in the Glossary,
Magisterium - The teaching office of the Church. ... (p.230)

This latter term coming from the Latin magister, meaning "teacher". There might be circumstances where a teacher or schoolmaster would be referred to as a Canon, but Henig's use of it here obscures Gould's point.



What made fascism different from earlier dictatorships was the presence of a mass party that monopolized power through its security services and the army and that eliminated all other parties, using considerable violence in the process. The new style of party was headed by a leader who had virtually unlimited power, was adulated by his followers, and was the focus of a quasi-religious cult. The party's doctrine became an obligatory article of faith for not only its members but for all other citizens and was constantly projected by means of a powerful propaganda machinery.
--Walter Laquer, Fascism: Past, Present, Future (1996) p. 14

Update: What is fascism? by Jon at Exurban League,
By the way, here is Goldberg’s definition [Jonah Goldberg in Liberal Fascism]: “Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the ‘problem’ and therefore defined as the enemy.”


Sunday, March 4, 2007


As in "illegal alien"
I personally find the word 'alien' offensive when applied to individuals, especially to children. An alien to me is someone from out of [sic] space.
--Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami

(via Michelle Malkin)


Saturday, March 3, 2007


Feeling of pleasure from watching a television commercial you can't stand.

See hathos.
Hathos is the attraction to something you really can't stand; it's the compulsion of revulsion. I feel that way about Bill O'Reilly.
--Andrew Sullivan

(via Althouse)


Friday, March 2, 2007

Sex and the City

saga of (improbably) well-off, catty and over-the-hill sluts in the big city.
--Russell Wardlow

(via Relapsed Catholic)


Thursday, March 1, 2007

Creative Destruction

The fundamental impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion comes from new consumers' goods, the new methods of production or transportation, the new markets, the new forms of industrial organization that capitalist enterprise creates. ...

...mutation--if I may use that biological term--that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.
--Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (3rd ed. 1950) Ch. VII

Update: Heavy Thinker, review by Robert M. Solow of Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction by Thomas K. McCraw, from The New Republic Online, July 12, 2007


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Higher education

the professional training of clever and sybaritic animals, who drink, vomit, and fornicate in the dorms by night while they posture critically and ironically by day.
--R. R. Reno summarizing Allan Bloom


Monday, February 26, 2007

"The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report"

It's the television equivalent of NPR.
--Martha K. Levin, the publisher of Free Press

(see NPR)


Friday, February 23, 2007

Brokeback Montanism

urging the Church toward a Vichy-style capitulation that acknowledges the de facto coercive power of sexual Leftism.
--Diogenes at Off the Record

(see Ultramontanism.)


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

More people in cars?

Today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorializes on local transportation issues.
Yet during a meeting with the Editorial Board Tuesday, [Milwaukee County Exectutive Scott] Walker said he would like to grow the local economy enough so lower-income people don't have to rely on transit and could instead afford to buy cars if they chose.

While we understand what Walker was getting at, those kinds of comments unfortunately sound like someone who thinks of rapid transit more as an urban albatross than a tool for regional economic growth.

I'd be more confident they understood Mr. Walker if they understood the meaning of the term rapid transit.

Update: Et tu Patrick McIlheran?



a private club for educated white people.
--Tavis Smiley


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

NPR at prayer

Long ago, witty commentators called the Episcopal Church the "Republican Party at prayer." Today, "NPR at prayer" would be more like it.
--Terry Mattingly (February 19, 2003)

Update: (see NPR, charism)


Monday, February 5, 2007

Spooky Old Alice

Gobel warning.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Analysts say"

At KausFiles (Nov. 27, 2006 2:23 A.M.)
... Many analysts say that "analysts say" pieces are the laziest form of journalism, because the "analysts" usually just happen to say what the journalist himself would say if the rules of journalism permitted him to do so without putting the opinions in the mouths of "analysts." Meanwhile, analysts who might say something else get ignored. But at least "analysts say" pieces, analysts say, should quote some analysts saying the things the analysts are supposed to have said. Otherwise the impression is overwhelming that the journalist who wrote the thing is just spouting off. According to observers.

At Google, what analysts say, according to observers.

Update: Avoid weasel words like "Critics/experts say that..." or "Observers say..."; that's the "consensus of many editors" according to the Wikipedia Manual of Style. (Apparently "Apparently..." is listed in error, since I use it here all the time.)


Saturday, November 11, 2006


Mickey Kaus noted the need for an ironicon. The proposals for an irony mark, the French backward question mark and Wilson's inverted exclamation point, haven't been widely accepted. In case this is because the problem is too complex for a single solution, I suggest the following for
verbal irony.Fe
dramatic irony!Fe
situational irony?Fe

If you can point out irony.Fe


Saturday, March 11, 2006

What are Commonweal Catholics?

We were just talking about Commonweal Catholics when who should chime in but Margaret O'Brien Steinfels.
My impression is that Commonweal's founding generation was most interested in looking beyond the sometimes narrow and constraining world of ghetto Catholicism. They were interested in art and architecture, literature and theater, politics and policy making on a larger scale than defined by the immediate needs of the vast majority of their fellow Catholics who were poor, or near poor, and many still of an immigrant generation--we're talking the twenties and thirties.

Today Commonweal readers no longer have this narrow and constraining view of who they are superior to.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Clown Mass

As defined in A Modern Seminarians' Dictionary
Liturgical innovation comparable to the innovation of Gregorian chant; relevant: “A clown liturgy may sound sacrilegious but those who attended a special Mass at St. Agnes Church described it as moving, uplifting, spirited and colorful” (Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, February 16, 1984).

Like the circus, itself.

Didn't want to let the 22nd anniversary of that article go unmarked.