Thursday 2/16/17

  1. Advice for Priests and Pastors
  2. “Anti-Vaxxers”
  3. Snowflakes: They’re not what you think
  4. What’s healthy? Why, sugar, of course.
  5. Fixated on Moscow
  6. Too soft on Trump?


Advice for Christian priests and pastors:

  • Talk about what makes Christians different from the world, and the risk of losing our distinctiveness, and indeed our faith, through assimilation. Far too many of us prefer to live in a bubble, thinking that everything will always be this way. It won’t be. Which distinctives are important to hold on to? Where is the threat of assimilation coming from? How do we meet it?
  • Take your parish school to the classical model. It falls to the Christian churches to preserve the heritage of the West. More importantly, classical Christian education provides a powerful counternarrative to what the world says the human person is. Education will be a prime locus of resistance to post-Christianity.

These are two of Rod Dreher’s bullet points for what priests and pastors can do for the Benedict Option. Theyseespecially struck me as on point.

The others (bullets only, not full paragraphs):

  • Prepare their congregations for hard times to come. 
  • Build a culture of prayer and contemplation.
  • Encourage community building, in part through doing traditional liturgies, communal prayers, and feasts. Bring back fasting. 
  • Don’t fear hard teaching. 
  • Present the Christian life as a pilgrimage and an adventure.
  • Talk about real life. 
  • Challenge your congregation to get its hands dirty.


Robert Kennedy Jr. and Robert De Niro convened a news conference on Wednesday at the National Press Club to announce a $100,000 cash reward for anyone who identifies a peer-reviewed scientific study demonstrating that the mercury in vaccines is safe. Though the challenge was perhaps something of a stunt, the significance of the appearance was underscored by Kennedy’s confirming that President Trump may ask him to lead a commission on autism. The consequences of such a commission could extend beyond the narrow vaccine/autism debate. More significantly, the commission could expose the incentives driving vaccination policy, which, in the current political climate, could move mainstream opinion against vaccines and also bolster doubts about the integrity of the health-care system.

Since at least 2007, Trump has suggested that the recent “epidemic” of autism might be related to current immunization practices. He is not categorically against immunization—in fact, he is “totally in favor of vaccines,” as he says—but he suggests that the rate and quantity of injections given to infants, per the recommended immunization schedule, may contribute to incidents of autism. In Trump’s words, “massive combined inoculations” and “simultaneous vaccinations”may be producing a wave of “doctor-inflicted autism.”

Trump’s central point that diagnoses of autism have skyrocketed alongside an increase in childhood vaccination is not in dispute …

Both the rate of vaccination and the rate of autism have spiked over the past three decades. From 23 doses of seven vaccines in 1983, the recommended immunization schedule has tripled to 69 doses of 16 vaccines, and Americans are now “required by law to use more vaccines than any other nation in the world.” What fuels vaccine hesitancy is the fact that, for several decades through the 1970s, childhood autism remained at a steady rate of about four in ten thousand children. After three decades of steady increases since the 1980s, however, the childhood autism rate, according to the CDC, has climbed to 1 in 68 or 1.5 percent.

(Pratik Chougule, Why the Kennedy-De Niro Vaccine Challenge Matters) Pretty alarming, that last paragraph, though correlation doesn’t prove causation.

But the Washington Post gives Trump 3 Pinnochios. Why? Well, first, probably because he’s Trump, but also because there have been changes that muddy the water somewhat:

The change in autism prevalence is a controversial issue. The definition of autism has changed over the years, making it difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison of rates, and autism figures vary widely across different states.

About one in 68 children in the country has been identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), according to a 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network.

The rate in the 2016 report was the same as it was in 2014 — and the definition for autism was broadened in 2013.

The CDC said it is not yet clear if the 2016 mean autism rates are stabilizing. CDC data show the rate of autism increased since 2000, when about one in 150 children were identified with autism spectrum disorder.

But it’s problematic to compare autism rates over the last three decades, because the criteria for diagnosing autism have changed with revisions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). In 1983, the criteria for “autistic disorder” were more restrictive. More disorders were added since then, broadening the range of disorders that now meet the definition of the Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to the Autism Science Foundation, a nonprofit that supports autism research and raising awareness of the disorder.

“Due to inconsistencies in diagnosis and how much we are still learning about autism, the most recent DSM (DSM 5) only has one diagnosis, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which encompasses each of the previous four disorders,” according to the foundation. DSM 5 was released in 2013.

I looked at the Post’s grading system, and by their criteria, clueless errors about things like changed diagnostic criteria can get you 3 Pinnochios, so I’ll not jump on the “So unfair!” train.

Still, from four in ten thousand children to one in 68 is pretty fishy.

But I’m also disturbed by what a legal juggernaut the vaccine industry has proven to be in the U.S. It’s rarely good for us when an industry gains legal impunity for the harms it causes, as has the vaccine industry (portions of the Chougule article not quoted)

“Read it yourself” or “you decide” can be a cop out, but one has little choice but resort to them when the regulators have been taken captive by the regulated and the official story smells so fishy as a result.


[P]lenty of people today merely feign being hurt by someone’s insult as a means to gain an advantage over them. That’s the irony of the term “snowflake”—it’s being used to denote a weak person, when really the behavior associated with “snowflakes” is typically an act of aggression. In stark contrast to all previous history, claiming victim status has become the quickest and surest route to becoming a victimizer.

Reflecting on the above causes me to wonder what’s more dangerous to a free society: insults… or the unnaturally strong aversion to them that we seem to have today?

(Daniel Lattier)


In late 2015, Daniel Lubetzky learned of a federal rule that puzzled him: Salmon, avocados, olives, eggs and tree nuts aren’t “healthy,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.

(Washington Post lede) Here’s a nice graphic to illustrate what the FDA considers healthy.

“Read it yourself” or “you decide” can be a cop out, but one has little choice but resort to them when the regulators have been taken captive by the regulated and the official story smells so fishy as a result. (Is there an echo in here?)


The story on the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is somewhat like peeling an onion, with each layer revealing something new. To be sure, I am delighted to see Flynn gone, both because of his clearly expressed desire to confront Iran and his inaccurate characterization of Islam. But Flynn’s departure will no doubt be exploited by many to justify increased hostility toward Russia, which is neither justified by circumstances nor in America’s long-term interests.

Quite a lot of what is now taking place is feeding off of a shift in perception in Washington. Russia is no longer seen as an adversary or competitor but as an enemy. This was clear in the Hillary Clinton campaign’s insistence on punishing Moscow, and it resonates in most mainstream-media coverage of any and all developments in Russia.

Some suggest that the intelligence community is also on board with this sentiment, though that is often dismissively attributed to a desire for larger budgets and increased turf in Washington. But my own recent encounters with intelligence officers of the current generation has led me to believe something quite different—that many people in the IC really have come to believe that Russia is a major and very active threat against the United States, just like in the old days with the Soviet Union. I assume they have come to that conclusion through their understanding of developments in Syria and Ukraine, but I nevertheless fail to understand how they have adopted that point of view given the real limitations on Russian power. Whatever the reason, they believe in their Russophobia passionately, and I have discovered that arguing with those who are fixated on Moscow as the fons et origo of global chaos is futile.

(Philip Giraldi)


Is TAC Too Easy on Trump? A reader voices her concerns; the editor replies.” A good question and a reasonably good answer, citing Rod Dreher and Daniel Larison as anything but too easy on Trump.

Of course we ran those pieces alongside the commentary of Patrick J. Buchanan, one of our founders, who considers Trump a necessary corrective to policies of our elites that he considers destructive of the American future. That’s the great debate in America these days, and we aren’t inclined to short-circuit it.

* * * * *

“The truth is that the thing most present to the mind of man is not the economic machinery necessary to his existence; but rather that existence itself; the world which he sees when he wakes every morning and the nature of his general position in it. There is something that is nearer to him than livelihood, and that is life.” (G.K. Chesterton)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.