Saturday, 12/28/13

    1. American religious liberty at the founding
    2. Dealt high trump, GOP folds
    3. 2 Old Tennis Buddies
    4. Can Jesse Jackson get his groove back?
    5. 2044: a preview
    6. Sometimes, I just hate Google


So many books, so little time:

Familiar accounts of religious freedom in the United States often tell a story of visionary founders who broke from the centuries-old patterns of Christendom to establish a political arrangement committed to secular and religiously neutral government. These novel commitments were supposedly embodied in the religion clauses of the First Amendment. But this story is largely a fairytale, Steven D. Smith says in this incisive examination of a much-mythologized subject. He makes the case that the American achievement was not a rejection of Christian commitments but a retrieval of classic Christian ideals of freedom of the church and freedom of conscience.

(Noting the February 2014 release of The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom by Steven D. Smith (University of San Diego)).


Is there “An Alternative to the Republican Establishment”?

Karl Rove’s Crossroads group raised over 300 million dollars to defeat President Obama. That money was not used to describe how Obama continues to lie about his record of voting against legal protections for newborn babies who survived abortions. Crossroads instead funded an ad in which affluent and confused-sounding white business owners made vague complaints of being overtaxed.

The Tea Party has failed to provide an alternative. Take the recent Virginia gubernatorial race: The big story to come out of an article in Campaigns and Elections was the finding that Virginia Republicans would have done better to go after Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s abortion extremism. This finding is an indictment of the intellectual weakness of the Republican establishment that funded the futile anti-Obama campaign of 2012, but it is also an indictment of the organizational and cultural weakness of the conservative insurgents. The establishment did not want to fund Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli (and they didn’t know how to help him even if they had been so inclined), but where were the Republican insurgents to help this staunch pro-lifer and articulate opponent of Obamacare? Where were the insurgent organizations running ads on McAuliffe’s abortion extremism? The story is not that the establishment did not come through for conservatives. The story is that conservatives to the right of the establishment do not have an infrastructure and culture of fundraising capable of raising large sums outside of the establishment donor networks. Conservative insurgents don’t have what it takes to produce the funding surges that candidates like Howard Dean, Barack Obama, and Elizabeth Warren have gotten from the left-wing grassroots.

The leadership for a more effective conservative grassroots is small, but it exists. What it is lacking is an infrastructure to pool the resources of grassroots conservatives and a culture that can link conservatives together to help candidates who adopt a reformist agenda to defeat their liberal opponents in the general election—it is missing outside the Republican establishment just as much as it is missing inside it.

(Pete Spiliakos, 12/26/13)


And last but not least, Noam Chomsky.  Long before I knew who this great teacher was I was riding around the Cape with Howard Zinn (A People’s History of the United States) on my way to Wellfleet where his wife Roz was waiting lunch for us.  The Zinns were old and dear friends.  Howard mentioned playing tennis.  I couldn’t believe it.  I’d never heard anything before about him playing tennis.  He said Oh, yes, I play tennis.  I play tennis with Noam Chomsky.  I think he said every Thursday and I think we must have been passing the tennis court.  Since that time whenever I’m really depressed about the political situation in America, which is often, I think of these two great beings playing tennis.  That’s when I know we the people have every chance of winning.

(Alice Walker’s Solstice Greetings. H/T Wall Street Journal) The Wall Street Journal presumably had snarkier intent than I in sharing that. Chomsky and Zinn have been among my guilty pleasures, Playboy having long ago lost its allure.


From sea to shining sea, only T.J. Rodgers, CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, has
had the courage to stand up to [Jesse] Jackson.

When Jackson came calling, hat in hand, Rodgers rebuffed him, saying Silicon
Valley had nothing to be ashamed of regarding its diverse work force.

The response? A Jackson ally told the press, “We can now officially describe
Cypress Semiconductor as a white-supremacist hate group.”

Got it? Cross Jesse Jackson, and find your company likened to the Ku Klux Klan.
No wonder so many CEOs are scared.

“I don’t care if he screwed somebody. I care about whether or not he’s running
a scam for his own benefit,” Rodgers told me.

(Rod Dreher, 2001, in the New York Post, resurrected on the occasion of Jackson announcing his intent to shake down A&E and Cracker Barrel)


The Nonhuman Rights Project made headlines recently by filing three lawsuits seeking to have chimpanzees declared legal persons entitled to “bodily liberty,” and hence, writs of habeas corpus to end their forced captivity.

(Wesley J. Smith) And 30 years ago, Evan Wolfson labored assiduously at his Harvard legal paper justifying “marriage” between members of the same sex, a position also thought absurd at the time.


Sometimes, I just hate Google. That’s “hate” as in “hating” the Homecoming Queen who also was Valedictorian, starred in the school play and got a voice scholarship to Julliard. And did I mention that she was built like … well, never mind. She dated only the Captain of the Football Team anyway.

I got an e-mail today from a social media utility that somebody had tried to log into my account from somewhere that I haven’t been in about 50 years. They recommended that I log in and change my password.

Not being a fool, I logged in on my own, not following the embedded link (which did appear proper when I hovered my cursor over it) and was offered two-factor authentication before I found where to change the password. Two-factor authentication via “Google Authenticator,” that is. I’d never heard of Google Authenticator until, maybe, two weeks ago.

Just before writing this, I added two-factor authentication to WordPress, too – with Google Authenticator. So now I have a list of two authentication numbers in the Google Authenticator app which, as I gazed at them, changed color and then … changed!

How cunning is that?! Here’s the Wikipedia article on it.

Did I mention that sometimes I just hate Wikipedia?

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.