Saturday, 3/22/14

    1. Post Cold-War Reality
    2. There will always be a NATO
    3. Corporate persons, favored and disfavored
    4. Friends of Feticide and their Friends in High Places
    5. Preserving joie de vivre
    6. Admiration and foreboding
    7. Loose lips?

1

Meanwhile other nations increasingly resented our singular dominance and our growing penchant for telling others how to behave, at home and abroad. The end of the Soviet threat also ended the compelling reasons for many countries to automatically align with the United States or do our bidding for their own protection. Other nations looked for opportunities to inhibit our seeming complete freedom and determination to shape the world as we saw fit. In short, our moment alone in the sun, and the arrogance with which we conducted ourselves in the 1990s and beyond as the sole surviving superpower caused widespread resentment … rekindled and exacerbated by President Bush’s “You are either with us or against us” strategy as we launched the war on terror … The invasion of Iraq … Abu Ghraib … Guantanamo and “enhanced interrogations” all fueled further anti-American feeling.

(Robert Gates in Duty, quoted by Donald Devine)

2

I was astonished to hear All Things Considered committing a freudian slip Friday night.

For the last decade or so, NATO’s single biggest focus was Afghanistan. That combat mission ends this year, and so the military alliance had been trying to figure out “what next?”

Judy Dempsey is a NATO Expert with Carnegie Europe:

NATO comes home and has to decide “Oh, now what do we do?” But it’s clear now that there’s a threat against the alliance, and that threat is called Russia.

How very, very convenient! (I had more snarky assessment here, but I think you can figure out what’s going on here.)

3

Hmm. A corporation can be an African-American person.

A corporation can vicariously assert rights to abortion and privacy.

But Hobby Lobby cannot have religious convictions because it’s incorporated?

4

One of those Corporate Friends of Feticide, Planned Parenthood Columbia-Willamette, Inc., apparently won a large money judgment against an uncommonly strident anti-abortion activist (using the execrable FACE Act to do it). So one night, many of its agents got together with U.S. Marshalls and staged a surprise raid on the activist’s home:

The debtor was required to sit on his couch while flak-jacketed U.S. Marshals, along with agents of advocates for moral and political positions that the debtor despised [i.e., PPCW agents], plus persons with unknown identities and purposes, went through and seized the books and papers, and computers and cameras, of the debtor and his family. The only exception was for children’s books and Bibles. The interior of the home was videotaped.

Adding further support to the conclusion that the marshals’ actions violated the Constitution, the presence of multiple unauthorized representatives of PPCW served no valid purpose under the writ. Although the Fourth Amendment does not require that all conduct by an officer within a home be expressly authorized by a court order, it does demand that actions relate to the lawful objectives of the order. PPCW had no articulated expertise in satisfying the ostensible purpose of the writ, identifying valuable goods to satisfy a monetary judgment.

Moreover, because the presence of additional representatives of PPCW was not authorized, and because the writ made no provision for the use of a camera, it was a violation of the Fourth Amendment to permit the organization to film the home. A person who is not lawfully present in a home may violate the Constitution by engaging in warrantless filming of the area. The Supreme Court made clear … that the right to be present in a home does not necessarily entitle police to bring photographers with them. In this case, the unauthorized filming of the Brays’ home was particularly unreasonable because the raid was unannounced and the filming occurred within the home itself. Moreover, because of the location and nature of the filming, the use of the camera posed a heightened risk of intimidating the family and capturing its intimate, unguarded moments.

In other words, Planned Parenthood with the assistance of U.S. Marshalls engaged in some symbolic speech: “You sonofabitch! We’ll teach you, and your wife, and your children, never again to oppose us! You may be right, but we’ve got all the power!”

Or so the allegations were.

PPCW settled out of court and the U.S. Marshalls got off partly because, incredibly, the 6th Circuit didn’t seem to think that the U.S. Marshalls should have known better — “although some of the actions allegedly carried out by the marshals and not explicitly authorized by the order were not constitutional, that unconstitutionality was not then clearly established with sufficient specificity.”

(H/T Eugene Volokh)

5

A continual focus on “culture war” striving can, contrary to Paul and Epictetus, lead us to lash out, which is to go in the wrong direction.

The talk show host and comedian, Dennis Miller, has helped me see this. Like others in conservative talk radio, Miller is sharply pessimistic—perhaps overly so—about our current condition. “America has fundamentally shifted,” he says repeatedly, “It has tipped.” A majority of Americans embrace fiscally and socially destructive attitudes, he believes. As a consequence, we have entered a time of chronic political and cultural decline, a phenomenon he labels, “America 180.”

But he differs from other cultural critics by offering an effective antidote to bitterness. Rather than permit ourselves to be defined by difficult times—what he calls “living from the outside-in”—he continually urges listeners to instead, “live from the inside-out.”

What does he mean? Don’t sweat the general culture’s disapproval. Don’t look “outside” ourselves for personal validation. In short, don’t allow our personal joie de vivre to depend on the outcome of elections, court rulings, media fairness, or what others think, believe, or do.

This takes discipline. So, focus on those “internal” things that give your life meaning; faith, personal philosophy, family and friends. Take the time to recreate, travel, learn, and relax with hobbies.

From his opening paragraph (not reproduced above), I thought I was going to disagree with Wesley J. Smith, but I actually agree with this quite a lot.

6

Every time I see a large crowd of people on TV or in a newspaper, demonstrating against some autocratic government, I have mixed feelings: admiration for their willingness and bravery to take a stand, and a foreboding that nothing will come out of the effort …

To hear someone like Senator John McCain tell it, all we need to do in these countries is drop a lot of bombs and freedom and democracy will emerge from the wreckage, as they did, I presume, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. He and other enthusiasts of military interventions have no patience with anyone who argues that it’s not up to us to remedy every injustice in the world, or who points out that, when we involve ourselves, we end up killing a lot of innocent people and unleashing ethnic and religious passions, resulting in local and regional chaos we have no way of containing.

(Charles Simic, Betrayed)

7

The left holds “Who am I to judge?” as the most significant development in Catholic teaching since the Gospel of John.  It has been cited repeatedly by liberal politicians and activists in Italy, the United States, and other countries in support of legislative efforts to grant marital status to homosexual unions, a project that was abhorrent to the Holy Father during his time in Argentina.

It appears that now Cardinal Dolan has joined the Holy Father in unintentionally providing fodder for the pro-gay marriage left.  In reference to the former University of Missouri football player Michael Sam, who came out as homosexual a few months prior to his entry into this April’s NFL draft, the cardinal said (in an interview aired on March 9th on Meet the Press), “I would have no sense of judgment on him … [T]he same Bible that tells us, that teaches us well about the virtues of chastity and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people.  So I would say, ‘Bravo.’”

Given the (apologies for potentially non-family-friendly ads on this link to a “gay” publication) reporting this statement has received, it seems like Dolan’s “Bravo” is going right up there with “Who am I to judge?” as the newest “breakthrough” in Catholic moral teaching for the left.

(John V. Gerardi)

* * * * *

“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.