Saturday, 8/29/15

  1. The dog that didn’t bark
  2. Losing virginity, losing faith
  3. Charlatans, conmen, louts, and Donald Trump
  4. Crazy smear of Thomas, J.
  5. Devil: Like Donald Trump, but nicer
  6. Together, like horse and carriage
  7. #TrumpBible
  8. 12 ways to screw up your kid


We’ve reached a benchmark of sorts: a calculating gay mass murderer. I can’t help but think that might be related to the NYT Op-Ed call not to give him the publicity he sought, which call MSM is mostly following on the gay angle.

One of the curmudgeonly voices I follow on Twitter has carped the diem by calling for a ban of rainbow flags, as the Charleston shootings produced a groundswell against the Confederate flag – a call that puzzled me the day of the shooting, as I didn’t seen any mention of the shooter’s homosexuality in the initial news coverage I read (which wasn’t much).

Just sayin’.


Sex isn’t the whole story, but losing chastity and losing faith seem to have a cause-and-effect relationship for many:

In Zuckerman’s interviews, sex came up again and again, usually in the form of complaints about the “relatively restrictive sexual regulation that delineates who one can have sex with, as well as when, where, and how.” A number of his subjects claimed that the only sexual instruction they received from parents and church was “Don’t do it,” and many were left with the impression that sex was inherently unclean. When they slipped up and broke the rules, the easiest way forward was to give up on the faith.

Zuckerman’s findings about sex aren’t a surprise. Every pastor who has counseled someone who is questioning his or her faith knows that sex is one of the main motivators. Sexual opportunities of college are as powerful as intellectual challenges in tempting students away from the religion of their childhood. Zuckerman’s study highlights the importance of teaching both those nasty “restrictive” sexual regulations and expressing the glory, delight, and sheer miracle of our “spousal bodies.” The trick is to display the inner beauty of the rules themselves.

More broadly, this throws some light on why sexual issues loom so large in today’s cultural clashes. David Brooks’s recent suggestion that we change the subject may be good PR advice, but it’s bad moral theology. A battle about sexuality is a battle for the soul of America.

(Peter Leithart)


I haven’t hung out at Red State, but occasionally the curators I follow point there, and that’s a good thing:

The Republican Party has most often come to power at times of crisis starting with slavery. But in the great moral crises now, the Republican Party finds itself infested with charlatans, conmen, louts, and Donald Trump. The Republican Party of 2015 more often than not responds to the fierce urgency of now with palms outstretched waiting for the highest bidder to purchase its policy positions while running from any fight that might get it criticized by a Washington press corps increasingly composed of former leftwing activists masquerading as objective journalists.

Trump, at least presently, is immune from establishment attacks because the party leaders have lost all their credibility. A party that will not stand up to stop tax payer funds going to an organization that pulls whole children out of freezers to sell as scrap is not a party with the moral clarity to tell Donald Trump he is fired.

But there is more to this than meets the eye. More and more polling shows the biggest group of voters who hate the Republican Party are the Republicans’ own conservative voters. In growing numbers they have driven down the popularity ratings of Congress. Instead of trying to recover popularity with their base, the Republicans have convinced the Chamber of Commerce to spend millions of dollars defeating conservative Republican “troublemakers” in the 2016 primary cycle. Why join the base when the GOP thinks it can beat its base?

(Erick Erickson, Republican Party, R.I.P. (1854 – 2016))


This is crazy talk:

Justice Clarence Thomashas not asked a question from the Supreme Court bench since 2006. His majority opinions tend to be brisk, efficient and dutiful.

Now, studies using linguistic software have discovered another Thomas trait: Those opinions contain language from briefs submitted to the court at unusually high rates.

The findings that the taciturn justice’s opinions appear to rely heavily on the words of others do not suggest misconduct — legal writing often tracks source materials …

Others questioned the high levels of apparent cribbing from briefs in Supreme Court opinions, a phenomenon not limited to Justice Thomas.

“It seems like they’re using briefs as a template for how they’re going to put the opinion together,” said Adam Feldman, a lawyer and doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Southern California. “They’re taking at face value ways of framing opinions that are not their own.”

Mr. Feldman conducted an extensive analysis of overlapping language, using anti-plagiarism software to detect similar wording in briefs and opinions from 1946 to 2014. The study and related findings were based on almost 10,000 briefs and looked for passages of at least six words with an overlap of at least 80 percent.

(Adam Liptak in the New York Times)

So the very guy who used plagiarism-detection software on SCOTUS opinions thinks that “taking at face value ways of framing opinions that are not their own” is fishy? Do tell!

Folks, there is not a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that isn’t briefed and amicus briefed to the Nth degree by some of the best lawyers in the country. Do you think they just might say things so vividly and persuasively that it could fit in a vivid, persuasive opinion?

Chief Justice Roberts was exceptionally influential when he was a lawyer in private practice. Supreme Court opinions shared language with his briefs at a rate of 13.2 percent.

It’s a thrill for an appellate advocate to recognize his brief in the ensuing opinion. Once it’s an opinion, the “way[] of framing the opinion” is ipso facto the Justices’ own!

Those rates are not particularly high by historical standards. From 1955 to 1987, eight majority opinions shared half or more of their language with a brief in the case. A 1965 opinion from Justice William O. Douglas had the highest overlap rate, 59 percent.

In 2013, Ronald Mann, a law professor at Columbia, wrote in a post on Scotusblog that an opinion from Justice Thomas in a debt collection case was “notable for its direct adoption of the two principal arguments” of the collector’s lawyer, Lisa S. Blatt. One was “adopted wholesale,” Professor Mann wrote, while the other “also come straight out of Blatt’s arguments.”

Ms. Blatt said the overlaps were unremarkable. Allison Zieve, the lawyer on the losing side of the case, agreed that there was nothing amiss “other than that the majority disagreed with me.”

In an recent email, Professor Mann attributed the shared language to “successful advocacy.”

“You could regard it as problematic if you thought that the opinion drafting that tracked the brief so closely was ‘lazy,’ ” he added, “but that seems unlikely to me.”

Q.E.D. Either the New York Times has become a vanity press for Adam Feldman or this is a transparent installment in the “Clarence Thomas is a brainless [racial epithet deleted] Uncle Tom” series.

Don’t take my word for it, though I assure you I wrote the preceding paragraphs before reading this or this (with the exception of the italicized sentence). It’s just that obvious to anyone with half a clue.


In particular, I recalled how, back in 1993, when Trump decided he wanted to build special limousine parking lots around his Atlantic City casino and hotel, he had used all his influence to get the state of New Jersey to steal the home of an elderly widow named Vera Coking by declaring “eminent domain” over her property, as well as over a nearby pawn shop and a small family-run Italian restaurant.

She had declined to sell, having lived there for thirty-five years. Moreover, the state offered her only one-fourth what she had been offered for the same house some years before, and Trump could then buy it at a bargain rate. The affair involved the poor woman in an exhausting legal battle, which, happily, she won, with the assistance of the Institute for Justice.

How obvious it seems to me now. Cold, grasping, bleak, graceless, and dull; unctuous, sleek, pitiless, and crass; a pallid vulgarian floating through life on clouds of acrid cologne and trailed by a vanguard of fawning divorce lawyers, the devil is probably eerily similar to Donald Trump—though perhaps just a little nicer.

(David Bentley Hart)

UPDATE: I just now noticed that this was written in May of 2011! There was more good stuff, too:

And thinking about all of these things reminded me of a conversation I had, not long ago, with my friend the inimitable Ambrose d’Arcangeli (what a marvelous name that man has) about literary depictions of Satan, and how attractive, witty, glamorous, or appealing they often make the devil seem.

“I doubt he’s even very interesting,” Ambrose observed. “I mean, to the extent that the devil has any personality to speak of at all—even if the story is true and he was once an archangel or something of that sort—he must by now be a pretty sordid, unimaginative, and dreary little fellow. He would have to be so monstrously self-absorbed: not a brilliant conversationalist, not a philosopher and wit, not a bon-vivant or perverted aesthete, but just some tedious little troll, full of spite and resentment. He’s probably a monomaniac who talks about nothing but his personal grievances and aims, and in the bluntest, most unrefined language imaginable—the sort of person you try your best to get away from at a party.”

How then, I asked Ambrose, should one portray the prince of darkness?

After a pensive moment, Ambrose replied, “A merciless real estate developer whose largest projects are all casinos.”


I don’t agree with Fr. Josiah Trenaham on all the political issues he chooses to take on, but (1) he is extremely accomplished (I am in awe of all he does – preaching, writing, catechizing, political action), (2) very learned and (3) more than a little courageous. I found this surprisingly powerful, and not the same-old-same-old “America’s a Christian Nation” nonsense.

You can start at about 2:26, since much of the introduction is hyperbolic (except for “you’ve got to experience the original Christian services as they are being done in Riverside”).



There is a fun Twitter tag, exploding: #TrumpBible.


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“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.