Monday, 8/3/15

  1. Boredom is your friend
  2. Abortion’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin?
  3. Financing barbarism
  4. NYT’s tacit disclaimer
  5. Praise by faint damnation


When bored, the situations in which we find ourselves often appear distant or foreign – that is, removed from our interests and projects. They lack meaning for us. We feel uneasy and restless. Our minds wander. We mentally catalogue alternative goals. Even our perception of the passage of time is altered. In a state of boredom, it appears to drag. We want to escape from boredom’s unpleasant grip. When the tasks with which we are currently engaged have lost their luster, boredom promotes the pursuit of alternative goals by by its very character.

The internal-alarm model of boredom fits nicely within this phenomenological scheme. Boredom attunes us to features of the situation in which we find ourselves. It alerts us to how our present engagement fails to properly satisfy us. It delineates alternative courses of action. What more could one ask from an emotional experience? If the function of boredom could be implemented in an app, I venture to say that we would pay money for it.



Some have suggested that these videos are an attack upon the abortion license itself rather than merely upon the trafficking of baby organs. Of course it is both. Indeed, we can hope that, as Robert P. George is said to have stated lately, these videos will be the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of the pro-life movement — that is to say, we can hope that they will be as effective a tool towards ending the evil. It is indeed impossible to separate one’s sense of the depravity of the baby parts trafficking from one’s awareness of the humanity of the unborn child. If some hospitals were making a profit selling diseased appendices that had to be removed, we would be puzzled, and perhaps want it stopped, but not appalled. Here we may hope that, due to the shrewd, courageous work of the Center for Medical Progress, some real horror will sink in among that vast, idle, muddle-headed middle of American citizens, and the true nature of this scourge will dawn upon their minds. Be it so.

(What’s Wrong with the World)


I complained the other day that the GOP would sacrifice all other priorities to pass the current highway bill. In the interests of giving equal hell to the party I’ve never been disappointed in, because I never expected anything decent from them, be it duly noted:

The nonnegotiable tenet in today’s Democratic Party catechism is not opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline or support for a $15 minimum wage. These are evanescent fevers. As the decades roll by, the single unshakable commitment is opposition to any restriction on the right to inflict violence on pre-born babies. So today there is a limitless right to kill, and distribute fragments of, babies that intrauterine medicine can increasingly treat as patients.

We are wallowing in this moral swamp because the Supreme Court accelerated the desensitization of the nation by using words and categories about abortion the way infants use knives and forks — with gusto, but sloppily. Because Planned Parenthood’s snout is deep in the federal trough, decent taxpayers find themselves complicit in the organization’s vileness. What kind of a government disdains the deepest convictions of citizens by forcing them to finance what they see in videos — Planned Parenthood operatives chattering about bloody human fragments? “Taxes,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., “are what we pay for civilized society.” Today they finance barbarism.

(George Will)


It also is becoming unrealistic to expect any journalistic decency from the New York Times when reporting on the Roman Catholic Church.

Case in point: July 28 story titled Gay and Transgender Catholics Urge Pope Francis to Take a Stand. Some tendentious things caught my eye (e.g., “it is unclear whether he includes sexual minorities among those in need of justice,” “he shocked the world with his comment, ‘Who am I to judge?’,” and “Pope Francis has been sending mixed messages about his position on homosexuality, gender and same-sex marriage”), but it took a trained journalist and media hawk to point out the dog that didn’t bark.

Brief detour for background.

In 2011, NYT editor Bill Keller admitted:

“We are liberal in the sense that we are open-minded, sort of tolerant, urban. Our wedding page includes — and did even before New York had a gay marriage law — included gay unions. So we’re liberal in that sense of the word, I guess. Socially liberal.”

Asked directly if the Times slants its coverage to favor “Democrats and liberals,” he added: “Aside from the liberal values, sort of social values thing that I talked about, no, I don’t think that it does.”

The words “aside from” are the doors into “Kellerism.” It’s first journalism-defining doctrine is:

There is no need for balance and fairness and related old-fashioned journalism values when one is dealing with news linked to morality, culture, religion, yada, yada. Newspapers should resist the urge to slip into advocacy journalism when covering politics, but not when covering — uh — moral, cultural and religious issues such as sex, salvation, abortion, euthanasia, gay rights, cloning and a few other sensitive matters. You know, non-political issues. Things like Roe v. Wade and Romer v. Evans.

The second “Kellerism” doctrine grows out of his quiet rejection (.pdf here) of a key element in the landmark 2005 Times self study entitled “Preserving Our Readers’ Trust,” the passages calling for more cultural and intellectual diversity in the world’s most powerful newsroom. Keller — only days after leaving his desk as editor — said he was committed to hiring diversity in the newsroom on matters of gender, race, etc., but not on matters of culture and intellect.

(Get Religion) Now in the current story on LGBT Catholics and the Pope, there is an almost complete paucity of basic facts: at what Detroit parish was Mr. Matsuo admonished by a fellow parishioner not to commune? Who was the Archbishop in question? Did the Archbishop actually say what was attributed to him? When (other than roughly two years ago) did it happen?

Oh: and what might the American hierarchy, or even just any old specific, identified “catechism Catholic” have to say about the LGBT push?

As Mattingly puts it, in place of the old signal that “we tried to balance this story” (e.g., “A spokesperson for the archbishop said he could not comment at this time”), it may be time for a different Times disclaimer:

It is the policy of the Times not to offer Catholic leaders and experts a chance to defend the teachings of their church, since those teachings clash with the views of this newspaper and, thus, are wrong.

Despite it all, the raw deal the Latin Church gets from the press is insufficient to make me want to join it. I’ll just defend it because … well, then they came for the Catholics and I didn’t object because I wasn’t a Catholic. If you’re literate, you know how that allusion ends.


I’m pleased today to give Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) my highest political rating of late: I don’t despise him or hate him and my disappointment is not especially bitter.

If I think of anything better than praising by faint damnation, I’ll try to remember to pass it on.

* * * * *

“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.