Tofu Tidbits* Black Friday Supplement

Today’s supplement is brought to you by my aversion to frenzied crowds and by the letter “N”:

  1. Natural foods.
  2. Noonan on normalcy in the GOP.
  3. Norquist as piñata.
  4. New humor genre.
  5. No partiality.
  6. Novus ordo Mass, bye-bye.

* Temporarily renamed in honor of the Nativity Fast, about which Mystagogy has some more information.


The New York Times’ Timothy Egan makes the case for truly natural foods – i.e., fowl hunted in the wild, or perhaps just heirloom breeds at quite a bit more than $0.39/pound – with a telling story of how foodie friends recoiled in horror at reminders that this dinner was once a beautiful, flying thing.


Peggy Noonan makes the first semi-persuasive case I’ve seen for blaming Obama for lack of leadership on the Supercommittee process. That’s because I’m usually cool to claims  that at President could have achieved a better outcome though the exercise of a magic trait called “leadership.” But when you

  • frame it as party, not national, leadership, and
  • put it in the specific context of woodshedding members of his own party to find just $1.2 trillion in cuts that would be palatable to the GOP, from a total of $44 trillion, and then
  • speculate about the state of mind and partisan calculus that may have underlain the President’s passivity,

you just may come up with something fairly convincing:

At the end of the day, he didn’t want to spend his political capital. That, ironically, is why his reputation seems increasingly bankrupt. Maybe the most harmful aspect of the president’s leadership style is that all of his political instincts were honed and settled before 2008, when he was rising. What he learned before he reached the presidency is what he knows. But everyone else in America knows the crash and the underlying crisis it revealed—on our current course, we are bankrupt—changed everything. Strangely, inexplicably, the president thinks the old political moves apply to the new era. They do not.

Then she turns to the bellicose rhetoric of Tuesday’s GOP debate – where the headline to her column focused:

I also wondered if it actually serves U.S. interests to have possible presidents in a formal venue pressed on whether they will topple this regime or bomb that sovereign nation. At one point Wolf Blitzer asked Newt Gingrich: “Would you, if you were president of the United States, bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent it from becoming a nuclear power?”

Messrs. Blitzer and Gingrich, longtime Washington insiders, live in a cultural cosmos in which things like this are chattered about with no more sense of import than if they were talking about the Redskins. In fact it’s exactly what they talk about after they talk about the Redskins game. But should we be discussing those things so blithely and explicitly in such a public way? You have to wonder what the world thinks when it hears such talk—and the world is watching.

It would have been nice to hear one of the candidates say, “You know, Wolf, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to talk the way we’re talking at a time like this, with the world so hot and our problems so big. Discretion isn’t cowardice, so let me give you the general and overarching philosophy with which I’d approach these challenges, and you can infer from it what you like. I prefer peaceable solutions when they are possible. I think war is always a tragedy, sometimes necessary, sometimes even inevitable, but always tragic, and so I don’t speak lightly or blithely of taking up arms . . .”

By the end, some of what was said sounded so dramatic that Ron Paul seemed like the normal one ….

(Emphasis added.) Well, yes, Ron Paul does seem normal, in the sense of “sane” or “normative,” not in the debased sense of “distilling the debased zeitgeist.” And he’s got a history to back it.

Which is why, were primaries being held today, I’d get a GOP ballot and vote for him or, maybe, Huntsman. And why I keep reading Peggy Noonan’s columns; not that she’s a Paul partisan, but that something about her sensibility (and, obviously to regular readers, Rod Dreher’s) matches my own and leaves me wishing “I wish I’d said that.”


Charles Krauthammer, a neoconservative regularly vilified by some other kinds of conservatives, picks up on something I noticed, too: the ADD/HD Left has turned from pounding the Koch Brothers to pounding Grover Norquist:

Democrats are unanimous in charging that the debt-reduction supercommittee collapsed because Republicans refused to raise taxes. Apparently, Republicans are in the thrall of one Grover Norquist, the anti-tax campaigner, whom Sen. John Kerry called “the 13th member of this committee without being there.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid helpfully suggested “maybe they should impeach Grover Norquist.”

With that, Norquist officially replaces the Koch brothers as the great malevolent manipulator that controls the republic by pulling unseen strings on behalf of the plutocracy.

He then tries to defend the GOP against the charge that all of them oppose any revenue enhancement, but it was the new personification of evil that got my attention. Paint a portrait on the piñata and then beat it soundly in hopes that there’s an electoral victory inside.


A Spaniard, an Italian and a Greek go into a bar. They drink until dawn. Who pays the tab? A German.

George Will, describing “A new genre of humor …, the currency crisis joke” as among the 2011 developments he’s thankful for. My other favorites:

A week after Barack Obama cited an Ohio restaurant as a beneficiary of the Chrysler bailout, the restaurant closed.

When the Wisconsin Education Association Council, having spent liberally defending public-sector union privileges, announced it was laying off 40 percent of its staff, it was denounced by the National Staff Organization, a union for employees of education unions.

A market research firm found that people who buy the $43,000 Chevy Volt (seats four in space not taken by its 400-pound battery) or the $34,500 Nissan Leaf, and who get a $7,500 government bribe (a.k.a. tax credit) for doing so, have average annual incomes of $150,000, and half of the buyers own at least two other vehicles.


One of my new favorite bloggers, Mark Shea, tells it like it is in American justice today:

“You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality; and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land which the LORD your God gives you.” – Deuteronomy 16:19-20

We Americans, however, have outgrown all that barbaric Bronze Age stuff about a God who defends the alien, the orphan and the widow, as well as all that stuff about judging impartially and not taking bribes. In our repaganizing civilization with its scorn of the poor and our tender devotion to Mammon we are only too ready to cut slack to the the extremely rich and powerful with tender tears of pity, while bringing down the full weight of punishment (and then some) on the weak and poor.  Indeed, a good working definition of American justice in the present hour is that things which are sins when ordinary people do them are not sins when rich and powerful ones do them.

If you don’t have any idea what he might be talking about, you need to read his column. If you think you know completely and exactly what he’s talking about, you, too, need to read his column since it has some unexpected twists.


This weekend marks the introduction of  a new Mass translation to Roman Catholic Churches. Some of the right people are enthusiastic; restoring beauty and splendor seems like a good idea. (HT for the reminder to Rod Dreher.)

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Bon appetit!

Having become tedious even to myself, I’m Tweeting more, blogging less. View this in a browser instead of an RSS feeder to see Tweets at upper right.

I also have some succinct standing advice on recurring themes. Maybe if I link to it, I’ll blog less obsessively about it.