Thursday, 7/23/15

  1. “Dating”
  2. Disciplinary Bulverism at EEOC
  3. Misplaced outrage
  4. Fiorina sizzles
  5. Stump the Chump, Atheist Edition
  6. Dear Pastor
  7. Tony v. Tony smackdown
  8. The Donald does Church


My suspicions have been confirmed. “Dating” is now a euphemism for <euphemism>four bare legs in a bed</euphemism>, per the New York Times headline that Ashley Madison, a Dating Website, Says Hackers May Have Data on Millions (emphasis added).


If Congress won’t add “sexual orientation” to the EEOC’s responsibility, the EEOC will take it by “interpretation.”

Although I oppose hatred as a moral matter, I don’t trust government to distinguish principled discrimination from invidious. I am unconvinced that an occasional business proprietor declining to serve someone, thus hurting their feelings or making them mad (not all businesses are as vital as traditional “public accommodations” like a meal and a bed to a weary traveler), requires reparative therapy. I’m not even convinced that such legal machinery will grind out justice oftener than it will inflict Orwellian “human relations” punishments of badspeak and wrongthink – as Alan Jacobs puts it, “disciplinary Bulverism.”

The EEOC move, after Congress has repeatedly declined/failed to add sexual orientation, is a reprehensible power grab. You can’t make this stuff up unless you’re the Supreme Court, after all.


Planned Parenthood on Monday told congressional investigators that abortion opponents had harassed and unlawfully infiltrated its clinics for years and most likely possessed thousands of hours of surreptitious video recordings that they could “deceptively edit” and spread for months to come.

(New York Times) Be it noted that (a) editing is what one (including the New York Times and all TV networks) does to a long video to make it digestible news; (b) Planned Parenthood opponents have taken to posting unedited videos to blunt the charge of deceptive editing; and (c)this is the kind of brazen “best defense is a good offense” ploy engaged in by an entity confident that there are many in elective office and media who will defend it no matter how much evil is unmasked. The New York Times, for instance, predictably is fixated on the undercover sting aspects of the video (when truth is outlawed, only “outlaws” will tell the truth) and the PP doctor’s vacillation about whether the sale of human organs is for (modest additional) profit or just expense reimbursement.

Also (d):  the wicked man flees when none pursues.


As we wind up for the 2016 Presidential elections, I’m reminded again of the importance of calling it like I see it, with no shading of truth to favor the candidates I think less awful over those I consider more awful.

In that regard, I really appreciate these comments by Carly Fiorina:

This is the kind of take-no-prisoners pushback against media bullshit that pro-lifers have been longing for: Hillary’s abortion position is more extreme, and more out-of-step with voters, than Fiorina’s position, but the press pushes Fiorina and handles pro-aborts with kid gloves if not as a megaphone for their every utterance (note the banner CNN has up over the Fiorini video).

But if Fiorina is a reckless warmonger like most of the GOP field, pro-life forthrightness on abortion may not get my vote. Her website is silent on foreign policy, but I seem to recall saber-rattling that I didn’t care for.

I’m so fed up that I may end up abstaining on POTUS in 16 months.


Albert Alschuler inadvertently got slightly under the skin of an atheist he’d recently met:

My new pen pal had sent me some of his writing about Acadia National Park. It spoke of “the profound responsibility of our consciousness: to use our understanding of nature to guide our conduct within nature,” and it added, “In this bloom of space-time, human reason can try to understand the development of all matter, from stars and galaxies to our own planet, fellow creatures, home island, and selves. It is our nature and duty to do so.”

I told him I agreed with these sentiments, but I wondered just why we had a duty to use our capacities for the various purposes he mentioned or, indeed, for any purpose at all.

I made it a multiple-choice question:

A) I made these duties up. If I hadn’t, they wouldn’t exist.

B) My culture made them up. I’m just a product of my culture.

C) These duties proceed from a source outside myself and my culture.

No answer ever came.

I’m not smirking. Really I’m not. What is a satisfying atheist answer to whence duty comes?


Dear Pastor:

  1. Be sure your sins will find you out.
  2. Be ready for a millstone around your neck as your congregation suffers confusion, depression, rage, loss of faith and who knows what else.

Yours truly,


(Prompted by stuff like this, this and this, not to mention a much smaller scandal in my own Church, which nevertheless was spiritually damaging to some.)


To Anthony Kennedy’s banal poetry, the other Tony replied with Menckenesque scorn:

The Supreme Court seems to know a lot about marriage, Justice Kennedy especially. His Honor says once gays get married they’ll radiate dignity, and autonomy and spirituality. Sad to believe they’ll need all that. The wife and I destroyed each other’s dignity and autonomy right after our honeymoon. Odd thing: we’ve been happy ever since.

We didn’t realize we should have focused on what Judge Kennedy calls the business of making “intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs.” Who knew what we were missing?

Had Justice Kennedy been our marriage counsellor we might have seen that marriage is about finding new “freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality.” Unfortunately, not knowing Justice Kennedy, instead of respecting each other’s autonomy, we just went on dragging down all that nobility and spirituality that gay couples are no doubt going to experience.

Kennedy’s strained poetry v. Scalia’s realism

For anyone who wants to kill a day reading it, Obergefelll pretends to be 103 pages of legal reasoning. However, it’s better understood as a talk-radio spat between two opposing marriage counselors who want to get each other’s license revoked. Kennedy’s vision of marriage is an endless California honeymoon at some former monastery converted to a personal growth center. The dissenters’ vision more like episodes of “The Honeymooners” run all night, back to back.

The duel between Kennedy and Scalia was technically over the meaning of the 14th Amendment and “substantive due process.” However, the culture war rages loudest in Kennedy’s strained efforts at poetry, and Scalia’s brooding sarcasm. Kennedy’s view is that marriage marinates the betrothed in an old-vine, premier cru of dignity and self-esteem. He writes, “The lifelong union of a man and a woman always has promised nobility and dignity to all persons without regard to their station in life …” Kennedy’s opinion claims marriage allows a couple “to define and express their identity.” Scalia insults this poetic rhetoric as “the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

Imitating the iconoclastic style of H. L. Mencken, Justice Scalia points out that where Kennedy finds “expression, intimacy, and spirituality” to be the cocktail fizz of conjugal bliss, most married people would only find shallow naiveté. “Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality …were freedoms?” he grouses. Then Scalia slyly observes, “one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie…” Finally, with a thumb to Kennedy’s eye, Scalia points out how rare freedom of speech can be in a real marriage. He writes, “Expression, sure enough, is a freedom, but anyone in a long-lasting marriage will attest that that happy state constricts, rather than expands, what one can prudently say.”

(Mark Milburn)


American Christianity is rife with nonsacramental sacramentalism. I was once at a major Midwest megachurch. Communion was served at this particular service, but it seemed almost like an afterthought. The words of institution were said right before everyone left the building. The idea was to pick up the elements as you walked out the door. Like getting a mint when leaving a restaurant.

Then there are the peddlers of communion convenience cups, juice packaged like coffee creamers with a wafer strapped to the top. And this to say nothing of virtual communion being seriously discussed and even practiced by various Christian groups in which anything in the fridge might do, including Kool-Aid, if you just think about Jesus when you toss it back.

(Joel J. Miller, musing about what the badger-haired vulgarian says about us, the voters, who reportedly have vaulted him into the lead.)

* * * * *

“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.