Tasty Tidbits 8/21/11

  1. So: The President walks into 5 bars …
  2. David Barton’s slip is showing.
  3. Read ’em and weep.
  4. R.I.P.
  5. Guilty! (Do we need any evidence?)
  6. Listen and smile.
  7. Doppelgänger alert.


When President Obama goes to Martha’s Vineyard, the cell phone service improves. <sarcasm>What a guy!</sarcasm>

Not everyone benefits from the better signal. James Ford, an AT&T customer from Saranac Lake, N.Y., had no service at the general store on Thursday. But his friend Stefan Martin, a Verizon customer, did.

Verizon working better than AT&T. Hmmmm. That sounds about par for the course.

Tip for AT&T users: if your biggest beef with AT&T service — you do have a beef, don’t you? — is that it’s nonexistent at your office, consider an AT&T 3G Microcell (manufactured by Cisco) that uses your broadband internet connection to create an ersatz private cell tower in your office. It cost me $199 + tax, but I’ve got 5 bars in my office now, and am no longer embarrassed that people who call my cell phone during the workday get voicemail; they get me now.


David Barton is an intellectual force in Tea Party circles. That is neither praise nor condemnation; as Paul Johnson noted in some detail, intellectuals can be weird.

Barton’s intellectual contribution to Tea Party and Theonomist thought (I’m not ready to equate the two yet) is revisionist “Christian America” history, or as he calls it, “America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our moral, religious and constitutional heritage.”

On Friday, he made the sort of red-meat comment about gay rights that can, if unchallenged, become axiomatic for the commenter’s acolytes:

“I’m sorry, your sexual choice is not a God-given right.”

“You’re talking about a choice and you’re talking about elevating a choice to an inalienable right, which is impossible, you can’t, not under the definition of American documents.”

(Emphasis added. This is the audio of the program in question. The quotes start about 5:05 into the show.)

Ann Althouse, a law professor with pretty decent “conservative” credentials, thought it needed to be challenged, perhaps fearing that it would become become a resistant virus like FCC Petition 2493 — a never-true story that outlived by a decade or more, in Sunday bulletins and chain e-mails, the villainous atheist supposedly behind it.

I agree with Althouse. You don’t have to be on board with the gay rights cause to say that “elevating a choice to an inalienable right” is not just possible, but in some sense necessary. Barton was painting with a very, very broad brush, and it’s quite untenable — especially from a self-styled “expert in historical and constitutional issues.”

If there’s any tacit right in the constitution, it’s the right to make certain choices — regarding one’s religious commitments, for instance — though not necessarily any choice about anything (I’m not a fan of the stinkin’ “Mystery Passage“). Scholar Barton’s intellectual slip is showing, and it is tattered, torn and dirty.

Althouse deserves gratitude from those who recognize that the right answer for the wrong reasons can ramify quite badly down the line, when the reasons justify perverse results.


Marriage statistics from the Brookings Institute. (HT Joseph Bottom at CatholicVote.org)


When I hear of some exploit by Navy SEALS, or of casualties, I think immediately of a young woman from our parish whose husband is a SEAL. I don’t think they’re allowed to boast of exploits like Bin Laden — not for some decades anyway — but we do know who’s killed.

I’m happy to know that he was not one of the 30 shot down in Afghanistan. I’m sorry that an Orthodox Christian was one of those. My hatred of our bipartisan love of endless war does not diminish my admiration of those who put their lives on the line, especially in this era when all who serve are volunteers.


I thought the headline was bogus and skipped the column first time. Second time I saw it, I stopped to look at “College Rape Accusations and the Presumption of Moral Guilt.”

On pain of losing federal funding, colleges and universities are complying with an Office of Civil Rights 19-page “Dear Colleague” letter to “provide recipients with information to assist them in meeting their obligations” under Title IX. One way to meet their obligations is to forbid questioning or cross-examination of the accuse by the accused, which questioning is “strongly discourage[d].” Another is to brand young men as rapists on a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, not proof “beyond reasonable doubt.”

This kind of nonsense is not new. We’ve been outsourcing some of our social dirty-work to unaccountable, semi-secret and largely amateur Kangaroo Courts like “Human Rights Commissions for at least two decades. Such Commissions, in places like my hometown, are no more competent than a panel of college students and administrators, and that’s a very low standard.

In my hometown’s first claim of discrimination based on sexual orientation, for instance, the City fought ferociously against public disclosure of the complaint and the identity of the parties, effectively saying that it’s a public enough matter for government involvement but too private for compliance with Sunshine Laws. The commission eventually exonerated the employer on the charge, but convicted it of discriminating based on who the employee associated with — an offense the local Human Relations Ordinance didn’t even recognize. (The employer was famously gay-friendly, but fired an employee whose same-sex lover/roommate had gone off to work for a competitor.) Like I say: “Kangaroo Court.”

My position? Colleges stopped acting in loco parentis decades ago (ironically, because they were under the gun for expelling without due process), letting kids do as they please. Fine: If you won’t lay down rules to start with, then you cannot deal with perceived transgression of the unwritten rules in your own Kangaroo Courts. If a co-ed accuses another student of raping her, turn it over to the police and let the same process apply that applies to all other adults.

Or is campus rape a special category where the most you get is expulsion, but you get that more or less automatically if you’re accused?


On a much, much lighter note, I defy you — nay, I double-dog-dare you — to crank up the volume and watch this without tapping your foot and smiling. The whole band rocks. It’s the instant antidote to the common blues.

This is not an endorsement of Rick Perry, George W. Bush, David Barton or anything about Texas except Lyle Lovett. Maybe I’ll endorse Stevie Ray Vaughan some day, too. (No offense, Texas family; you’re beyond the scope of this blog.)

(HT Fr. Gregory Jensen; I only had audio until now.)

If you’re really dying to know what I think politically (1) heaven help you, and (2) check the Tweets in the right column or follow RogerWmBennett on Twitter. His views are suspiciously like my own. If you figure it out, let me know because I’m not sure myself. “Disenthralled” comes to mind, though.


I’m not from Texas. I’m not even from Hawaii, which apparently is home to one of my two know doppelgängers:

Meine doppelgänger

Bon appetit!

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