Wednesday, 3/11/15

  1. The Party of War
  2. The Party of Abortion
  3. A skeptic who trusts in Christ
  4. Will big Pharma corner the poop market?
  5. Rachel Held Evans finds her (temporary) home
  6. #RIPRichardDawkins
  7. Duly, if unenthusiastically, noted
  8. American Islam


GOP hypocrisy watch:

[M]any of the hawks that constantly prattle about the importance of “credibility” have no problem with the idea of reneging on carefully negotiated multilateral international agreements when they happen to dislike the content. They also have no problem trying to wreck negotiations supported by major allies when it suits them. These hawks are great believers that the U.S. must always follow through on what it says it will do, unless doing that involves making minimal concessions to resolve an issue diplomatically in a way that reduces the chances of war.

(Daniel Larison, calling out the GOP on its “open letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran“)

Daniel Larison is not nearly outraged enough by the Senate’s intrusion into the negotiations with Iran. What Senator Cotton and his colleagues are doing is deliberately trying to cripple America’s ability to conduct foreign policy. And, at least in terms of domestic politics, it may well work.

First of all, let’s dispense with the notion that there is any principled Constitutional question at issue whatsoever. Senator Tom Cotton does not believe for one instant that the President is incapable of entering into binding agreements with foreign governments, nor does he believe that Congress or subsequent administrations can dispense with such agreements without cost. We know this because he believes that the Budapest Memorandum – which was not a treaty and was not submitted to the Senate for ratification – constitutes a binding promise to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russian-backed separatists, and that he believes failing to live up to this promise poses grave danger to the credibility of U.S. foreign policy generally.

Substantively, the view of the Republican leadership appears to be that any of America’s threats to use force, however ambiguous or slight, must be backed up vigorously for fear of a loss of “credibility.” Diplomatic agreements, however, are not to be taken seriously, because they may be discarded whenever a new leadership disagrees with what a previous administration agreed to. They affirmatively wish such agreements not to be credible, so that they are never entered into. And, funnily enough, if you cripple America’s diplomacy you’ll have lots of opportunities to demonstrate the “credibility” of America’s threats to use force. Which is exactly the goal – because such situations play to the GOP’s strengths as a brand.

(Noah Millman) That the GOP has become the party of war appears to me to be much more than a sop to the Military-Industrial Complex, though that may be a (small) part of it.

I cannot shake the sense that it’s part of our unraveling, a madness that possesses Democrats one way, Republicans this way – but both ways lead to death, and I can no longer unequivocally consider the GOP, sincerely pro-war and insincerely pro-life, the lesser evil.


Such was the Retweet that alerted me to this story:

The bill from Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R., Texas) would bolster law enforcement’s ability to target those who purchase sex or labor from a victim of human trafficking and set up a victims’ fund with criminal fines paid by perpetrators.

The bill also includes a provision that bars the use of money in that fund being used to pay for abortions, and that is where the fight has erupted …

Of course, the Friends of Feticide (a/k/a the Democrats, whence my inability to consider them the lesser evil) have their stock platitudes in response, but you’ll have to look those up on your own.



I was blind-sided by a story on “fecal transplants” as a treatment for resistant infections. Yes, you read that right.

I’m both encouraged and skeptical. The encouragement comes from this glimmer of hope for an off-ramp from the superbug highway we’ve been racing on. The skepticism comes from the realization that it may be hard for big pharma to make (pardon the expression) buttloads of money off this, so they might instead plot a way to kill it as GM killed streetcars.

… strange to think that even in Our Ford’s day most games were played without more apparatus than a ball or two and a few sticks and perhaps a bit of netting. Imagine the folly of allowing people to play elaborate games which do nothing whatever to increase consumption. It’s madness. Nowadays the Controllers won’t approve of any new game unless it can be shown that it requires at least as much apparatus as the most complicated of existing games.

(Brave New World)


Controversial progressivist Evangelical work-in-process Rachel Held Evans has left Evangelicalism for the Episcopal Church.

For her, that’s probably a good interim move, and her rationale has some merit.

If you try to woo us back with skinny jeans and coffee shops, it may actually backfire. Millennials have finely-tuned B.S. meters that can detect when someone’s just trying to sell us something.  We’re not looking for a hipper Christianity. We’re looking for a truer Christianity. Like every generation before and after, we’re looking for Jesus—the same Jesus who can be found in the places he’s always been: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these. No fog machines required.

God grant that she find the true “truer Christianity.”


Paying a bit more attention to Twitter lately, I’ve discovered the delightfully malicious #RIPRichardDawkins hashtag.


Should I ever call Lady Gaga a no-talent, tarted-up, media-hyped nobody, you may remind me of the 2015 Oscars. I would not call it electrifying, but it was a solid performance.

I am not about to become a fanboy, however.


I’ve not found much news to cheer me lately (had you noticed?), but this does:

I read recently that some young Muslims in the United States are complaining that what goes on in their mosques is not “American” enough. They say that the patterns of worship and religious education seem designed to preserve the connections to the countries from which their Muslim communities emigrated, while these young folks want their faith to guide them in their lives in America. Shouldn’t their leaders be doing more, they ask, to help them understand how their faith applies to the country of which they are now citizens?

This just rang so true. There are Orthodox parishes that, sadly, are little more than clubs for preservation of an ethnic culture – often Greek, frankly. Apparently there are mosques that function the same way, and young Muslims who are serious enough about their (misguided) faith to want that to change. May their tribe increase (strictly within Islam, mind you).

Rod Dreher’s not so sure, but I wrote the precdeing before I read his column. He sees this as a call for American Islam to become Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. I don’t, but he might have caught an overtone I didn’t catch.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.