Tasty Tidbits 8/13/11 – Curmudgeon Special

  1. Anathema (Corporatism I)
  2. Can you top this I?
  3. A golden anniversary
  4. Catholicism/Americanism mish-mash.
  5. Rick Perry’s Crony Capitalism Problem.
  6. Can you top this II?
  7. Food police (Corporatism II).
  8. Corporatism III
  9. A Feast of the Mother of God.

(I seem to detect an antiwar, anticorporate selection bias here. Imagine that!)


Kenneth Cole: Anathema. They (he?) may be even more reprehensible than teen porn purveyor Abersnobby & Fitch.

More than ridiculous – it’s morally unseriousness. Even the video that accompanies the Kenneth Cole image featured in this post shows a woman anguishing over a decision — we think the decision to abort or keep her baby — then she walks over and picks up a handbag. Apparently that was the choice which was tearing her up inside.

(CatholicVote.org) I just hate it when a company does something like this and I can’t honestly say “I’ve been a loyal customer for ___ years, but ….”


In my mind, I’ve elevated Dubya’s policy of ending tyranny in the world, in his second inaugural address, to the zenith of hubristic nonsense. That just goes to show how aging minds can play tricks on their owners.

Remember this surpassingly gaseous self-promotion:

I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment–this was the time–when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals.

In the face of such demagogic bombast, even Dubya must stand in awe. (HT James Taranto)

So, how’s that “absolutely certain,” hopey, changey thing workin’ for ya, Obamanistas?


50 years ago today, in the wee small hours of the morning, a wall was hastily constructed to seal off East Berlin from West. I saw the wall some 7 years later, and even succumbed, hesitantly, to a West German child’s blandishments (he must have pantomimed it) to get me a piece of it for a modest price. Honestly, I feared he’d be shot by an East German guard, but he cajoled like a little beggar, and I vaguely pictured his family starving at home, waiting for him to bring home some bacon.

The cold war marked us, too. As left anti-Communism faded, the GOP used anti-Communism effectively as a reason to vote for its candidates in elections for national office. Hawkish Democrats like Scoop Jackson were newsworthy for the same reason a man biting a dog is newsworthy. I had a strong feeling that the collapse of Communism 20 years ago left the GOP disoriented about market placement. Ronald Reagan’s greatest triumph (if you credit him as much as most seem to) became an electoral calamity for his party.

I think the GOP has completed its reinvention. Taxes are the new Communism. Republicans are now the party par excellence of relentless rhetorical anti-taxism, except when tyranny anywhere in the world is a surrogate for Communism, or a bit of “unfinished business” from the last century.

But as Obama is proving, the GOP can’t claim bellicosity as an exclusive any more. As the parties have joined in reckless spending and promises of more to come, so have they joined in resolutely putting our troops in harm’s way somewhere, anywhere, though I’m darned if I know why. Maybe the Dems just aren’t going to let the GOP scoop them on tyranny as they scooped them on Communism in my youth until its ultimate collapse.


I used to like Rick Santorum. If he’ll get consistent on his Iowa opposition to lethal violence, I could like him again. He does self-deprecation nicely:

But …

he often veers off on some strange militaristic tangent or … endorses the use of torture on detainees, because he has already made the earlier mistake of attaching too much significance to the nation-state. That in turn leads him to support measures that directly contradict the moral principles that he normally defends. Santorum’s views are the unfortunate mish-mash that results from combining Catholic social teaching with Americanism and militarism, as the latter two tend to overshadow anything interesting that Santorum might have to say from his understanding of the former.

(Daniel Larison). And at the Iowa debate he apparently engaged in some ritual chest-thumping that may prove an insurmountable hurdle.


Rick Perry’s in the race for GOP POTUS.

Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential pitch goes something like this: During one of the worst recessions in American history, he’s kept his state “open for business.” In the last two years, Texas created over a quarter of a million jobs, meaning that the state’s 8% unemployment rate is substantially lower than the rest of the nation’s. The governor credits this exceptional growth to things like low taxes and tort reform.

It’s a strong message. But one of the governor’s signature economic development initiatives—the Texas Emerging Technology Fund—has lately raised serious questions among some conservatives.

It has raised eyebrows because it may includ a spectacularly fishy example of crony capitalism, as a corporation whose founder only had $1000 of skin in the game got a $4.5 million grant.

Oh wait! He had more than $1000 of skin in the game if “the game” is electing Rick Perry. He was 75-times more generous on that score.

Convergen LifeSciences, Inc. is only one of the fishy cases, by the way. There’s more. (Rick Perry’s Crony Capitalism Problem)


I don’t know how long the scandal about Indiana State Representative Phil Hinkle will linger, but for commentary it will be hard to top this from Advance Indiana: “This is another reason why doctors should stop prescribing Viagra to their aging male patients.”

But by and large, the legacy, if any, is likely to be “the most vehement opponents of gay rights are closeted hypocrites.” It ain’t necessarily so, but with the emphasis on “vehement,” it sometimes seems plausible.


This little vignette nicely illustrates how big biz buys laws to favor them and crush the little guy: Keeping You Safe from Homemade Ice Cream.


We take for granted that big business will be carried on in corporate form. But once upon a time, bigness wasn’t a fetish:

“Now”, warned James A. Garfield, who had ended the war as a Union brigadier general and who would be the second President to be assassinated in office, “a class of corporations unknown to the early law writers has arisen”, turning the prewar Republican political slogan of “free soil, free labor, free men” into “industrial feudalism.”

(From A War Lost and Found in the The Civil War At 150 section of The American Interest, by Allen C. Guelzo)

I think that “free soil, free labor, free men” slogan should get a close look from Distributists. It sure doesn’t fit the Republicans or Democrats any time in my lifetime. Consider: the whole point of education, with occasional refreshing interludes, is assumed to be getting a higher-ranking serfdom than others get.

Guelzo delivers up a real shocker elsewhere in the article. After rehearsing the economic devastation the Civil War brought to the Union, then separately assessing the worse effects on the Confederacy, he discloses that in hindsight:

If the slaveholding states had agreed to a slave buy-out plan instead of going to war, then those billions could have freed every slave at market value, funded the purchase of forty acres and a mule for every slave family, with $3.5 billion left over.

(That was when $1 billion was “real money,” by the way.)


Orthodox Christians end another brief (2 week) Fast on August 15 — part of the rhythm of our lives — day which marks the death (“falling asleep”) of the Mother of God.

As a child, when I first heard “Mother of God,” and for decades after, I simply thought “God has no mother. That is an insane and impious idea.” It never occurred to me that Catholics plainly weren’t insane, and that the meaning might be along the lines of paradox, although even “paradox” doesn’t really capture what I consider the key facet.

It never occurred to me that the title was used by the early Church and continued being used by the Orthodox (who have preserved the early doctrine so tenaciously that we’re faulted for it by innovators, none of whom dare accuse us of theological innovation) as well as by Roman Catholics.

To put it simply, Jesus is God and Mary is His mother. It now seems to me profoundly impious to take issue with the title “Mother of God” as it implies either that Jesus was not God or that Mary was not His mother. The title came from an early Ecumenical Council precisely to buttress the doctrine that God became “incarnate of …. the Virgin Mary.” She gave God the only thing God didn’t have: human flesh. And that is absolutely central to our salvation as the Church has historically understood it.

But beyond that, as Father Stephen says:

For those for whom such feasts are foreign, it is easy to misunderstand what the Orthodox are about – and to assume that this is simply a feast to Mary because we like that sort of thing. Flippant attitudes fail to perceive the depths of the mystery of our salvation. The Dormition of the Mother of God is one of many doorways into that mystery – all of which is Christ – who alone is our salvation.

Go read his whole meditation on The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Bon appetit!