Wednesday, 3/23/16

  1. Listening to Lincoln?
  2. Exposing the Underbelly
  3. Hadley Arkes #fail
  4. The pickle we’re in
  5. Islamophobe theologizes about antisemitism
  6. It’s not food if …
  7. Douglas Laycock #fail


Electronic stun guns are no more exempt from the Second Amendment’s protections, simply because they were unknown to the First Congress, than electronic communications are exempt from the First Amendment, or electronic imaging devices are exempt from the Fourth Amendment.

(Samuel Alito, joined by Clarence Thomas, concurring in a unanimous and summary reversal of the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s willful misreading of Second Amendment precedent.)

For such a self-consciously smart state, Massachusetts Supreme has a fishy tendency to issue opinions that get unanimous smack-downs later in the service of “progressive” causes. Have they been listening to Lincoln or something on their own duty to interpret the Constitution in each case?


Whatever one may think of Donald Trump, his campaign has done us a service—exposing the underbelly of a decaying establishment whose repudiation by America’s silent majority is long overdue.

(Patrick J. Buchanan) Maybe somebody persuaded Pat to put down his computer and step away from the brink. He’s sounding momentarily like something other than a total, in-the-tank, jump-the-shark Trump fanboy. I even agree with this.

The rest of the column talks of the “Rule-or-Ruin” Republicans who are prepared to wreck the party if Trump is the nominee. If you care about the GOP, or about the two-party system generally (and it’s probably a personal blind spot that I don’t; but I came by a sort of partisan neutrality for a good reason), you might want to read it. This and this, too.


[T]he generation of wealth may sharpen the awareness of “income inequalities,” and we find, of all things, people young and old summoned these days to the siren call of “socialism” by a Bernie Sanders. Perhaps old and young have lost the sense of what socialism really means with the absence of private property, and with the government in control of all modes of making a living.


Those who find Donald Trump intolerable do not have a happy alternative.

[F]or religious conservatives like me, a Hillary victory would be a catastrophe. She is fully on board with pro-abortion feminism. Remember when she gave the speech last year saying that religious beliefs worldwide had to be changed to make abortion more widely available? And her going all-in for the LGBT agenda means she would be an unmitigated disaster for religious liberty. She has already endorsed the Equality Act. Andrew T. Walker explains what that means for dissenting religious institutions, like colleges:

The reality or effect of the Equality Act would be to cudgel dissenting institutions whose views on heavily disputed categories, such as sexual orientation and gender identity, do not line up with government orthodoxy. In effect, if an institution takes sexual orientation or gender identity into account, it is seen as violating federal non-discrimination law. The conflict this poses for religious institutions that do not agree with the morality of LGBT ideology, which would be protected in federal law, is enormous.

The conflict is reflected in the now-infamous exchange heard in the Obergefell oral arguments:

Justice Alito: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax­exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?

[Solicitor] General Verrilli: You know, I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is — it is going to be an issue.

“It is going to be an issue.” Never has a government lawyer been so forthcoming.

(Rod Dreher)


It’s disappointing to hear NPR’ Tom Gjelten make facile declarations about theological matters based on a “he said, she said” exchange about the role of Israel in Christian theology.

In a story about the influence of Christian Zionist Evangelicals on Republican support of the modern nation state of Israel, Gjelten introduces “he said”:

… David Gushee is a professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University in Atlanta:

If Jesus has come and Jesus is the Messiah, and the Church is the new primary, or even the new exclusive community that God is now working with, y’know, what’s the role of the Jewish people?

[Gjelten:] This in fact is one of the sources of Christian anti-semitism. It’s a legacy that Laurie Cardozo-Moore and other Evangelicals are now determined to overcome.

Of Christians living in the middle east and less than unequivocally supportive of All Things Israel, Cardozo-Moore (“she said”):

says she’d like to know if those Christians actually believe in Christ and follow the Bible:

Are they more Arab in their culture and background, or are they followers? Do they read their Bible … ?

Gjelten may be right about Evangelical theological novelties trickling up into GOP policies on Israel. But his assumption that orthodox and historic Christianity is a root of anti-semitism, and that theological novelties are the cure, is dubious and beside the point.

As are the bigotries that arise from Cardozo-Moore’s screwed up theology. Gjelten described her as “a deacon in the World Council of Independent Christian Churches.” This is 99% certain to be mistaken: the WCICC is a Council of (fundamentalist) Churches, not a Church that would have deacons. But she is an anti-Islam rabble-rouser, who another day could have served as NPR’s face of “Islamophobia” in America.


It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language. (Think Big Mac, Cheetos, or Pringles.)

(Michael Pollan, who distinguishes food from food-like substances.)


Douglas Laycock, a bona fide religious freedom scholar who generally is friendly to religious freedom claims, argues in Sunday’s Washington Post that the Little Sisters of the Poor should take one for the team (team religious liberty) because if they don’t buckle, religious exemptions will cease being created or even will be revoked.

“C’mon, Polycarp! Get off your high horse! It’s just a little pinch of incense. And maybe if you do it, Caesar will leave us alone.”

How about if instead the government stop making up compelling interests (or hiring “experts” to make up compelling interests), like the right to have free contraceptives provided at your employer’s expense?

* * * * *

“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.