The Bookworm Beat 4-14-15 — the procrastination edition and open thread

Woman writingI have work to do today, but no actual deadlines, so naturally I’m procrastinating like crazy. And what better way to do so than to share a few interesting things with you? How about my starting with the most inspirational. I’ll go from the sublime to the ridiculous, which means I’ll end with links to articles about Hillary’s candidacy.

Noah Galloway, American soldier, DWTS contender

Noah Galloway lost his left arm and leg in Iraq. His appearance on Dancing With The Stars was a little bit by way of being a gimmick because how can someone dance without an arm and with a totally lost leg (i.e., no knee)?

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You’ll never guess this priest’s clever idea for conservative Christians asked to serve gay weddings *UPDATED*

Gay marriage wedding cake photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto, 26-1-2008.If you’re wondering why we’re suddenly hearing so many stories about conservative Christians (not Muslims, mind you, just Christians) being dragged before the thought-police for failing to bake cakes, make bouquets, or take photographs at gay weddings, you need wonder no more.

Coincidence is not at work here.  These small business people are being targeted. While the true civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s targeted the government that denied them their constitutional rights, as well as big businesses that cooperated with the government, we now have the flip side of that:  Those people pushing an agenda antithetical to individual citizens who claim their rights under the Constitution are working hand-in-hand with the government to destroy them.  The message from the institutional Left is clear: Get with the program or we will bankrupt you.

One priest, however, has come up with a clever idea that, if broadly applied, will bring that tactic to a complete halt. Father John Zuhlsdorf says that conservatives who don’t wish to have their freedoms of speech, religion, or association impinged upon by being forced to participate in ceremonies offensive to their core religious beliefs, don’t need to become martyrs.  Instead, with politeness and good cheer, they can disarm completely the Left’s economic terrorism:

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Jesus would have supported RFRA

Jesus-and-Cross-BR550The useful thing about the Left’s willingness to expose its ignorance is that analyzing its errors often leads one to greater truths.  For me, the greater truth flowing from a poster highlighting Leftist stupidity is that Jesus almost certainly would have approved of Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as similar acts in other states and under federal law.

Being Jewish, I have to admit that I don’t usually run things through a “What Would Jesus Do” filter.  However, I started thinking along those lines when a large number of my Leftist Facebook friends got very excited about this Easter poster:

Flog a banker

My first thought was that, in general principle, the man who preached the Sermon on the Mount would not have approved of that poster. Jesus was not generally a fan of flogging:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.


Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

Still, there’s a grain of truth in that anti-Christian poster. Upon his entry into Jerusalem, Jesus did yell at the money changers and tip over their tables. What enraged him, though, wasn’t their profession, even though he did castigate their enclave as a “den of thieves.” Instead, he was upset because they were profaning the holy area of the Temple.  Matthew describes an angry man:

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

John describes a man willing to use the lash to clean God’s house:

And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

What Lefties, who are “instruction” learners, rather than “principle” learners, take away from John is very specific:  Flog people who handle money.  In fact, that’s completely wrong.  I’ve already noted that, as a general. matter, Jesus did not believe in using violence against his fellow man, even if said fellow man was doing something mean or sinful.  There was a bigger principle at stake here.  What drove Jesus to a violent frenzy was the desecration of the Temple.  Jesus had a clear hierarchy:  Treat your fellow man with love and kindness; but treat God, his house, and his words, with absolute reverence, untainted by government or commerce.

Jesus’s clear delineation between religious and secular matters appears again when he was called upon to talk about taxes. When hostile questioners tried to get Jesus to reject as a matter of faith the taxes that Rome imposed on Jews, he instead drew a bright line in the sand: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

The Founders, all of whom were steeped in the Bible even if they were not practicing Christians, knew about Jesus’s efforts to keep commerce and government away from the purity of faith. They were also aware of their own history: For more than 100 years, Christians and Jews had come to America to escape the stifling, and often deadly, restrictions imposed upon them by European governments because of their faith. It was in this context that the First Amendment came into being:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Thanks to the 14th Amendment, the individual states are also barred from making laws that impinge on religious freedom. The only exceptions are laws that advance a clearly compelling state interest. For example, assuming we don’t lapse into complete dhimmitude any time soon, our laws against murder would prohibit sharia’s insistence that gays are an offense to Allah and must be hanged, thrown off buildings, or beaten to death.  Outside of abortion, which is a discussion for another day, American morality has been such that the State’s compelling state interest is to protect people’s lives, if at all possible, not to take them.

Given that both Jesus and the Founders upheld an inviolable sphere in which people are free to practice their faith without the sullying influences of government and commerce, what would Jesus think of Indiana’s new RFRA laws?  My feeling is that he’d approve.

Rich Lowry sums up precisely what Indiana’s RFRA law is and what it is not:

All the Indiana law says is that the state can’t substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, unless there is a compelling governmental interest at stake and it is pursued by the least restrictive means. The law doesn’t mandate any particular outcome; it simply provides a test for the courts in those rare instances when a person’s exercise of religion clashes with a law.

The law does not mandate casting stones at gays nor does it require Christians to hate gays.  And interestingly enough, the vast majority of Christians did not cast stones at gays, nor do they hate them (although they disapprove of their sexual practices).

The only thing that the law does is to say, consistent with both Jesus’s teachings and the Constitution, that people of conscience cannot be forced to bring commerce or government diktats into their own inviolable area of faith.  Put another way, to the extent marriage is a core sacrament to the faithful, the law cannot force them to sell themselves out — in effect, to become coerced money changers in their own temple.

Incidentally, while I’m on the subject of the gay lobby pushing ever harder on Christians and Christian doctrine, let me say that all of this was predictable.  Years and years ago, I warned that gay marriage had nothing to do with marriage and everything to do with toppling religion.  Here’s what I had to say on the subject in 2009, when Prop. 8 (defining marriage in California as being between a man and a woman) was a hot ballot item:

As you know, one of my main reasons for supporting Proposition 8, which amended the California constitution to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman, was because I believe that the move to redefine marriage has the potential to put the State and religious organizations — especially the Catholic church — into a head-on collision.

Liberals, when confronted with this notion, will often argue that, while the Catholic Church objects to abortion, that’s never created a constitutional crisis. What they ignore is the fact that, while the church is not in the business of providing abortions, it is in the business of providing marriages. ***

Keep in mind that, for Catholics, marriage isn’t just a white dress, cake and Mendelssohn’s wedding march. Instead, it’s a sacrament. A basic tenet of the religion is the joining of man and woman before God. Marriage is one of the sacraments.

So imagine this scenario: Two men go to the local Catholic parish and demand that it marry them. The priest, sympathetic to their love for each other, nevertheless states that he cannot, at a purely religious level, marry them. The men turn around and sue the Church for violating their Constitutional rights. Suddenly, the judicial system is called upon to examine doctrinal issues to determine whether they mesh with Constitutional issues. It’s a scary scenario for anyone who takes seriously the principle that government may not interfere with religious doctrine.

The RFRA fight is not about protecting gays from discrimination. While the ignorant sheeple who are going around screaming about boycotting Indiana are incapable of understanding this, the people spearheading the charge know perfectly well that RFRA is in essence a shorthand for the established constitutional principle that states may not impose on religion without a compelling reason.

These same operators have a clear ultimate goal, which is to see religion overturned. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Castro, and all the other Leftists who took over Judeo-Christian countries understood that traditional religion, with its emphasis on personal responsibility, justice, morality, and grace, is the enemy of socialism and tyranny. In America, though, because the Constitution precludes direct attacks on Christianity, gay marriage represents a back door way to destroy both the faith and the faithful.  The tactic is working too, as Gov. Pence has already pretty much surrendered.

For more on the upcoming attacks on traditional religions, check out this Ben Shapiro post.

I can’t think of a better way to end this post than to quote Servo1969 about the nature of those groups that seek to overturn the Judeo-Christian tradition in this country — and their nature is not aligned with Christ’s principles about our responsibilities to our fellow man:

The thing to remember about all these modern “rights” groups is that no matter how much they use the word “equal” they don’t really mean it. They don’t want to be regarded as equal with their oppressors; They want to be regarded as better than their oppressors. They want to be given special treatment in all situations and they want it entered into law.

Modern radical feminists are actually female supremacists. They believe they are better than men and that men deserve to be punished collectively for their past transgressions against women.

Modern radical gay rights activists are actually homosexual supremacists.They believe they are better than Christians and that Christians deserve to be punished collectively for their past transgressions against homosexuals.

Modern radical [insert minority here] equal rights activists are actually [insert minority here] supremacists.They believe they are better than whites and that whites deserve to be punished collectively for their past transgressions against [insert minority here].

Christ, with his emphasis on the fact that we are all responsible for ourselves and all equal before God, would not approve.

No longer may gay white men in England’s schools try to pass themselves off as sassy black women

Flip WilsonThis story is not from The Onion. Repeat: It’s not from The Onion. Instead, it is a bona fide news story from the United Kingdom’s National Union of Students.

It all started with the “jazz hands” (which are, unbeknownst to this new generation of cultural sensitivity warriors, profoundly racist remnants from the old minstrel show days, but whatever). It turns out that the insensitive among us didn’t realize that clapping needs a trigger warning, since some women apparently get anxious when they hear it.  (I welcome your theories explaining why applause makes women anxious.  I’m sure we can get very Freudian about this one.)

Of course, when you’re at a big conference, with lots of enthusiastic delegates, it becomes difficult constantly to give trigger warnings very time applause is about to break out. How much better to ban clapping altogether — which resulted in one what, up until a couple of days ago, was the ultimate distillation of the looniness that drives academic culture at home and abroad:

Jazz hands tweet

Never let it be said that the hyper-politicized LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ crowd can’t keep up with the hyper-sensitive feminists. Inspired by the ease with which clapping was banished to history’s rubbish heap, the agitators found a new target — gay men who act like black women:

Put forward by the NUS LGBT Committee, they believe the appropriation of black women by white gay men is prevalent within the LGBTI scene and community.

‘This may be manifested in the emulation of the mannerisms, language (particularly AAVE- African American Vernacular English) and phrases that can be attributed to black women. White gay men may often assert that they are “strong black women” or have an “inner black woman”,’ they said.

‘White gay men are the dominant demographic within the LGBT community, and they benefit from both white privilege and male privilege.’

They claimed the appropriation is ‘unacceptable and must be addressed’. Passing the motion, they agreed to eradicate the appropriation of black women by white gay men and to raise awareness of the issue.

This was not the NUS’s only crude discrimination against drag queens. You see, it turns out that (as many people have realized) it’s not always easy to distinguish between a drag queen, who revels in her camp performance, and an actual transexual or transgender person. Well!  We can’t have that kind of inter-LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ community discrimination. I’m sure that all of you can see the next motion coming already:

A second motion passed was the banning of cross-dressing or drag as it could be offensive to trans women.

‘To issue a statement condemning the use of crossdressing as a mode of fancy dress,’ they pledged.

‘To encourage unions to ban clubs and societies from holding events which permit or encourage (cisgender) members to use cross-dressing as a mode of fancy dress’.

But what about men who like to dress as women, but aren’t transexuals, transgenders, or drag queens, I hear you ask? These poor souls were not forgotten. They got a special exemption. Really.

This ruling was given an exclusion to queer students who want to use cross-dressing in their everyday lives as a mode of expression and to those who want to cross-play by flipping the gender of a fictional character in fancy dress.

To those of you mumbling words like “fascist” and “tyranny,” and “authoritarian nut cases,” you can just stop that right now.  The NUS delegates are not a collection of little Hitlers , trying to micromanage everyone and squeeze them into the narrow, dead-end tube of gender non-conformity. This is a democratic movement. They’ll tell you so themselves:

A NUS spokeswoman told Gay Star News: ‘We’re a democratic society, and if members voted for it, these are our policies’.

Long ago, when I looked at England’s bowing down before the demands of increasingly radical Muslims, I started saying, and kept repeating, “There won’t always be an England.” Having witnessed the delusional, tyrannical, anti-liberal shenanigans at the UK’s National Union of Students, I can only add one thing to my original statement: “Thank God for that!”


Just as a little coda to this post, here are a few examples of those jazz hands in old racist Hollywood.

You’ll see modified jazz hands sprinkled throughout the scene in the finale from Babes on Broadway:

From 1936’s Show Boat, look for the shufflin’ jazz hands at 4:48:

Even the great Fred Astaire, in Swingtime, not only donned black face for his Bojangles homage, but did the jazz hands too:

And a Geraldine video seemed appropriate here too:

Leftists: Damaged individuals who have formed a priesthood to take revenge on society at large

School-bully-001Near the end of his talk about American communists’ long-term plan (now coming to fruition) to flood America with a permanent Democrat majority through Hispanic amnesty, Trevor Loudon tossed in an interesting throwaway.  When someone asked him why Leftists would want to reduce the US to the status of a Latin American banana Republic, he said that, in a conversation with Tammy Bruce (a former hard Leftist herself), she told him “They’re all damaged individuals.”  That is, we have a powerful political movement made up of damaged people out for revenge.

That notion popped into my mind again today when I read on my Facebook stream the newest attack against the Tom Cotton letter.  (You’ll recall that the first attack was to call Cotton and the other signatories “traitors” and “Logan Act violators,” followed by efforts to claim that reserve officers violated various military codes.)  The newest claim that’s come to my attention is that Cotton and Co. are AIPAC’s puppets:

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SPOILER ALERTS: House of Cards, Season 3, Episode 7 — after jumping the shark, show goes full anti-Israel

House of CardsHaving now watched episodes 6 and 7 in House of Cards, I’m done with the show. I’m freeing up several hours of my life to read books, write, visit with friends — indeed, do anything but watch something that’s turned into yet another boring, polemic, Leftist wish factory.

BEWARE — HERE BE SPOILERS. If you haven’t given up on House of Cards, don’t read past this paragraph. You’ll regret it if you do.

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Scratch a young Progressive; find an old-time fascist *UPDATED*

Nazi race-education class

Nazi race-education class

One of the things Nazis understood is that, if you get them young enough, you own them. Some of them break away, of course, but they have to want to break away. (And yes, that’s exactly like the joke: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? One, but the light bulb really has to want to change.)

I thought of that when I found myself in a Facebook debate about whether bakers should be free to refuse customers who seek same-sex wedding cakes. I’ve already told you a little bit about this discussion:

I love it when the younger generation shows wisdom. A young 20-something friend of mine just posted on Facebook something about the rash of traditionally religious bakers who are being persecuted for refusing to make cakes for same-sex weddings. I won’t repeat what my friend said verbatim, but here’s the gist:

I don’t come down strongly on either side of this. I hate discrimination but the bakers own the business and say they reserve the right to serve any customers. The customers may have civil rights that should be protected, but a privately owned business should be able to operate as it wants and not be subject to huge fines. This is just another case of the so-called “business expert” government messing with America’s small businesses. If same-sex couples are offended by the business owner’s views, they don’t have to shop there and can tell their friends not to either. What they shouldn’t do is try to destroy the business.

Aside from cheering my young friend’s understanding of freedom (it probably helps that he’s a Marine), I also suggested that, because the freedom to practice our faith without government oversight shows up at the top of the Bill of Rights, in the First Amendment, if the religious person is asserting anything other than an Aztec human sacrifice, the default position in a battle of rights needs to favor the religious person.

I felt really good after reading that young man’s comments:

Anyway, I’m feeling heartened that there’s a young person out there who is working hard to cast off the stifling Leftism that is part and parcel of a Marin childhood. Even better, while I may be the old lady on his Facebook feed, the vast bulk of his friends are young. Maybe he’ll get some of them to think too.

It seems that I was a little too optimistic. One of his young friends did chime in, but not to support individual liberty.  Instead, he went into full Progressive mode, throwing around words such as privilege (everyone but him and his fellow travelers) and victimization (only him and his fellow travelers).  When I kept countering his ideas, eventually forcing him into a corner, his true agenda emerged:  full fascist mode.

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Thoughts on hyper-effeminate men

Franklin PangbornI came of age in San Francisco during a time when we women routinely claimed that the City was awash in men, but we couldn’t get a date.  The situation, of course, wasn’t quite that extreme.  Eventually, many of us who stayed in the City did get dates and we even got married.

What we were referring to, though, was a legitimate demographic issue in San Francisco:  While there were a lot of men living in the City from the late 1970s and through the 1980s and 1990s (when I dropped out of the dating scene to marry), these men weren’t potential dates and mates for us; instead, they were competing with us.

Quite obviously, women and gays weren’t competing for men who were entirely heterosexual or homosexual in their desires.  We were, instead, competing for the men in the middle — the ones who could go either way.

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In the gender identification wars, life imitates the movies

Life of Brian Loretta sceneOnce upon a time, even Hollywood recognized that, just because you called yourself something, it didn’t mean you were that thing. Indeed, Hollywood could even joke about it. In the 1950s, sex had nothing to do with the joke about meaningless labels.

Early in Singin’ in the Rain, top silent star Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and his friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor) are heading to a Hollywood party when some girls on the street recognize Lockwood.  They surround the hapless star, ripping at  his clothes.  As Lockwood vanishes under a sea of screaming girls, Brown pulls back and looks on with a sardonic grin.  Then comes this dialog:

Don Lockwood: Cosmo, call me a cab.
Cosmo Brown: OK, you’re a cab.

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“A traditional Jewish wedding,” Leftist style

Jewish lesbian weddingGeorge Orwell understood that he who controls language controls thought. Humpty Dumpty understood it too. So does the Left. Case in point:

My daughter and I have a guilty pleasure: We watch Say Yes To The Dress: Atlanta. We recognize the show’s schlock manipulation, but we just like see all the different wedding dresses on all the different body types. It’s a visual treat.

Today’s episode had a little segment devoted to the lesbian brides who came to the salon to pick up the wedding dresses they had ordered in a previous episode (which, I don’t know how, but we managed to miss). After talking about meeting on the beach and falling in love, one of the brides started talking about the wedding. “We’re going to have a traditional Jewish wedding,” she said, at which point I inhaled my own spit, and started half laughing, half choking.

My daughter, a product of the 21st century, didn’t understand what I was laughing about. My sister, still, like me, a 20th century holdover, immediately grasped what was so funny about a “traditional lesbian Jewish wedding.”

I explained to my daughter that, while the Old Testament is silent on lesbianism, one can infer from its hostility to male homosexuality that the traditionalists probably wouldn’t have looked fondly upon a “traditional lesbian Jewish wedding.” If there’s one thing the Old Testament is clear about, it’s the fact that a marriage is a guy/gal, male/female, man/woman kind of thing.

This is not to say that lesbians cannot create a lovely, meaningful wedding ceremony that grafts the externalities of a Jewish wedding onto their ceremony. They can stand under the chuppah (which these gals didn’t), have a rabbi, say the Hebrew prayers and vows in English or in Hebrew, and even break the glass (as both brides did), but that doesn’t make it “traditional,” in the sense of something handed down from generation to generation.  Years from now, their ceremony may mark the start of a new tradition to be handed down to future generations, but only in the perverse world of Leftist speak is it a direct stand-in for the old traditions.

The Bookworm Beat (10/21/14) — Still catching up with email edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingIt’s always the same: Over the weekend, because of family demands, I get almost no time at my computer, and my email starts to back up. By Tuesday, between my two email accounts, I have several hundred unread emails. I then do the logical thing: I cravenly avoid my computer. Finally, late on Tuesday or perhaps by Wednesday, my conscience finally catches up with me and I embark on a frenzy of responding to emails, reading articles, and posting.

I’m heading for my frenzy now, although I’m somewhat hamstrung by the various drives I have to make on behalf of young people who cannot drive themselves. By the time you read this post, I’ll have been working on it intermittently for several hours, so I sure hope it’s good.

An obligatory comment about Monica Lewinsky

She still loves Bill; Drudge destroyed her life; and it’s everyone’s fault but her own that her life imploded when her affair with the president went public. Even the world’s smallest violin is too big and noisy to express how little I feel for Monica Lewinsky.

Lewinsky wasn’t 15 when she embarked on an affair with Clinton, in which case the fault would be entirely his. She was 24, by which time she was old enough to have a moral compass that said “You don’t have an affair with a married man,” and also old enough to have figured out that, considering that her partner in adultery was the president of the United States, when/if the fecal matter finally hit the fan, it would be a Cat 5 fecal storm.

It was not Matt Drudge’s fault; it was not the “bullying” media’s fault; it was not Lucianne Goldberg’s fault; it was not even Hillary’s fault, much as I would love to blame her just because I don’t like her: it was Monica’s fault and Bill’s fault, and neither is excused by the bad behavior of the other. Both behaved immorally, both tempted fate, and both got caught.

The only thing that’s really unfair is that Bill didn’t end up as ignominiously as Monica did. Apparently the party that oh-so-valiantly fights for women everywhere (as long as they’re not in politically correct Muslim countries or homes) was happy to kick Monica to the curb, while feting and enriching and even worshiping the man who let her take the fall.

How the New York Times is spinning WMDs

Up until Bush actually invaded Iraq, everyone and his uncle thought that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Indeed, as the New York Times recently made clear, everyone and his uncle (at least if they worked in the American government) knew that Hussein had WMDs . . . because the US had given them to Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. With this knowledge finally out there, Bush ought to be vindicated and the Democrats ought to be ashamed, except that in the looking glass world of American politics, that’s not what’s happening.

Presumably because of embarrassment about having given these WMDs to Hussein, during the Iraq War the Pentagon kept their discovery a secret, even though revealing them would have vindicated the decision to go to war. Meanwhile, back in the present, following Obama’s pullout from Iraq, leaving it ripe for ISIS, the New York Times is saying that these particular WMDs don’t count, precisely because they were old and American, rather than shiny new and Iraqi.  I’m unclear on why they’re less WMD for this reason, but there you have it. (If you see the NYT’s author, C.J. Chivers, on The Colbert Report, he makes this point explicit.)

So, in a swirl of finger-pointing, embarrassment, and misdirection, we once again lose sight of the main point: Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Sure, we gave them to him when he was sort of our ally, but the fear in 2003 was that, when he turned out to be our enemy, he might use our weapons against us — kind of like it’s reasonable to fear now that ISIS will use against us the American weapons that the US military accidentally delivered into its hands (if ISIS reports are accepted as true).

VDH has more on the whole WMD story.

On immigration and amnesty, the only word I can think of is “impeachment”

I don’t need to say anything. Drudge says it all:

Fullscreen capture 10212014 40850 PM.bmp

Oh, and I guess impeachment is the word I’m thinking of when it comes to Obama’s attempt to evade Congressional scrutiny of his deal with Iran.  I certainly can’t think of any decent, upright, moral, pro-America, pro-ally reason for him to do that.

A few words about ISIS’s latest video

The latest ISIS-released video gets me back to a point I’ve made before about ISIS. This particular video shows a father leading the charge when it comes to stoning his daughter to death for dishonoring the family through alleged adultery.  Other than those specifics, though, it’s pure ISIS:  Men torturing and murdering women, children, teenagers, and other men.

What makes ISIS different from all other torturers in the modern era is that other bad actors tried to hide their barbarism from the world at large (although they rubbed their own people’s nose in it to make sure the people stayed at heel).

The Soviet Union hid its terrors in the Kremlin basement and in Siberian gulags. When Westerners came to town, the Soviets showed their shiny happy face. The same holds true today when visitors go to Cuba or North Korea: they get taken on the rounds of all the polished, “successful” looking communities, while the government hides the fear, poverty, and despair that underpins its regime. (Think too of the Potemkin walls China put up around ghettos in Beijing for the Olympics.) The Nazis, even though they used fear to control people within their territory, were secretive about their most foul plans.  The most grotesque emanations of their foul ideology took place Gestapo headquarters in occupied territory or in concentration camps.

But not ISIS. The videos we see of beheadings and stonings and crucifixions aren’t copies smuggled out of occupied territory by resistance groups trying to make the world aware that ISIS is a truly terrible entity. Instead, ISIS proudly circulates these videos to the four corners of the earth.

The word “proud” is important. ISIS doesn’t distribute these snuff films merely to strike fear in the hearts of weak Westerners. It does so because, just as we promote the products of our factories, singers, dancers, intellectuals, painters, and architects because our own sensibility says that these products reflect well on us, ISIS believes that it is showing its best face when it crucifies teenagers, beheads babies, or makes a party out of a father stoning his own daughter to death.

To ISIS, snuff films are the good stuff that they have to offer:  “You can go to New York, and all that you’ll see are some big buildings, shows, art work, and a tall green woman on an island. But if you come to Iraq, you’ll get to kill people in the most brutal way possible. ISIS: It’s the Islamic vacation paradise!”

In 2001, Holiday Inn accurately predicted the US response to Ebola:

From Maetenloch, at Ace of Spades:

Mark Steyn was prescient too….

While we’re talking about successful tea-leaf reading, Ed Driscoll says that Mark Steyn accurately, yet satirically, predicted Monica Lewinsky’s retrospective about her moment of infamy.

The Lewinsky essay appears in Steyn’s new book, The [Un]Documented Mark Steyn, a collection of his essays. At $29.95, the autographed hardback isn’t cheap but, if you buy it, you’ll not only get a great book with Steyn’s signature, but you’ll also help fund his continued litigation against unrivaled fraudster, Michael Mann (of the false hockey stick climate change canard).

I have to admit that I’ll be waiting for the Kindle version. Because of the arthritis in my wrists, I no longer want big, heavy books. They’re just too hard to hold. And because of my vision, which is about 20/2000 along with age-related far-sightedness, I like the way Kindle allows me to make my text nice and big. I console myself that, when I buy the Kindle version (assuming there is one) some part of that purchase price will still make it into Steyn’s pocket.

The LGBTQ mafia goes after Robert Oscar Lopez

If the name Robert Oscar Lopez is familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve read his articles over at American Thinker. Lopez, a bisexual English professor who was raised by two moms, opted for traditional marriage. Indeed, he and his wife just had their second child. Unfortunately for Lopez, he’s a man of conscience and, with the societal elevation of same-sex couples who adopt, special order, or use egg or sperm donated babies, he’s bravely asserted that same-sex parenting shouldn’t be encouraged. According to Lopez, same-sex homes are not like other homes and it’s unfair to bring a child into that environment. As a result, he’s become one of the most reviled men in America, insofar as the LGBTQ lobby is targeting him in the most vicious and inciteful terms imaginable.

As between bad foster care and a loving same-sex couple, I think it’s a no-brainer. But there’s a lot weirdness about same-sex couples who sort of create their own babies. I know a lesbian couple that had a gay friend inseminate the more feminine half of the couple. The resulting baby was a boy. The moms are good women and very attentive parents, except that the woman who bore him hates men so much that she cannot stand to have her own son touch her. Meanwhile the other partner also hates men with ferocity, so she’s remarkably cool about the kid. What kind of a home life is that?

When I read the news, I know that biological mixed sex parents can be pretty horrible too. Nevertheless, history and data tell us that the worst situation happens to the step child or, in our non-marrying age, the child living with a boyfriend who hasn’t even married his mother. Adults in a household with a non-biological child seem to yield to some atavistic imperative to stomp out this vulnerable creature that doesn’t have their genetic lineage. I can’t imagine that doesn’t hold true for same-sex couples too.

And a little child shall lead them

If I were a political candidate, I wouldn’t necessarily listen to a 20-year-old college student giving me advice about employment policies, nuclear negotiations, or executive management. I would definitely listen to that same college student, though, for advice about how to communicate with the youth of his generation. And finally, Republican politicians seem to be figuring out that, when it comes to political messaging, it is indeed a little child who shall lead them.

An Ebola timeline

One of the first things I do when I write a legal brief is create a timeline. Seeing how events relate to each other in time can be quite edifying, and it can expose unexpected strengths and weaknesses in ones case. Sharyl Attkisson has performed this useful task for Ebola, putting together a nice neat timeline showing America’s relationship to the virus since July of this year.

John Wick

I can’t figure out if John Wick is just a garden variety thriller, a trashy blood-fest, or something else. And doesn’t it really matter when it has Keanu? I actually probably won’t see it because I never see movies (Mr. Bookworm frowns on the expense and I’m loath to send money to Hollywood anyway), but a Keanu movie is always tempting….


Some are my finds, most are from Caped Crusader, and some are from Sadie:

Charlton Heston political correctness tyranny with manners

Traitors in America join Dem party -- Kerry and Fonda

Sowell on Obama's care for Africans not Americans

Al Sharpton and Jeffrey Dahmer

Liberals investigate traffic jams not assassinations

RG III on political correctness

Reagan Republican extremists win

Kurdish v American feminists

Islam demands beheading

Yesterday's ally is today's enemy

Hazmat suit cartoon

Franklin Graham no sharia in America

JFK opposed high taxes

Truth wasn't included in the equation

The jihad isn't over it's at the infiltration phase

D'Souza I told you so

Are you more likely to be infected or beheaded than you were six years ago

The only two reasons for federal list of gun owners

City of Houston free speech enforcement

Vets before illegals

Obama baloney

Washington Obama and Biden on the truth

Ron Klain covers Obama's butt

Moderate Muslims demonstrating for peace

Ebola Response Team

In Idaho, gay marriage is in direct conflict with religious rights under the First Amendment

(Photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto)

(Photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto)

Since the first minute gay marriage appeared on the horizon, I’ve steadfastly argued that gay marriage will inevitably create a clash between newly discovered Constitutional rights that the Founders could never have envisioned and core, explicit Constitutional rights, such as the “free exercise” of religion. I developed this idea most fully back in 2009, so I’ll just quote myself:

As you know, one of my main reasons for supporting Proposition 8, which amended the California constitution to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman, was because I believe that the move to redefine marriage has the potential to put the State and religious organizations — especially the Catholic church — into a head-on collision.

Liberals, when confronted with this notion, will often argue that, while the Catholic Church objects to abortion, that’s never created a constitutional crisis. What they ignore is the fact that, while the church is not in the business of providing abortions, it is in the business of providing marriages. It also ignores the fact that abortion is a legal right, not a constitutional one, while gay marriage proponents have been framing their issue in the opposite way: they say gay marriage is a constitutional, rather than a mere legal right.

Keep in mind that, for Catholics, marriage isn’t just a white dress, cake, and Mendelssohn’s wedding march. Instead, it’s a sacrament. A basic tenet of the religion is the joining of man and woman before God.  Marriage is one of the sacraments.

So imagine this scenario: Two men go to the local Catholic parish and demand that it marry them. The priest, sympathetic to their love for each other, nevertheless states that he cannot, at a purely religious level, marry them. The men turn around and sue the Church for violating their Constitutional rights. Suddenly, the judicial system is called upon to examine doctrinal issues to determine whether they mesh with Constitutional issues. It’s a scary scenario for anyone who takes seriously the principle that government may not interfere with religious doctrine.

Whenever Leftists have heard my argument, they’ve essentially told me to stop worrying my pretty little head about complex Constitutional issues, because “it will never come to that.”

Well, as I predicted, it has come to that:

Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who oppose gay marriage, own the Hitching Post wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene. Early in 2014, a federal judge in Idaho ruled that the same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional, but the ruling was put on hold while the case was appealed. When the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, the ruling stood and went into effect.

The city of Coeur d’Alene has an ordinance that prohibits discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation, in public accommodations. It does have a religious exemption, but the Hitching Post is a for-profit company, not technically a religious organization, in spite of the Knapp’s deeply held personal beliefs.


“On Friday, a same-sex couple asked to be married by the Knapps, and the Knapps politely declined. The Knapps now face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.” Note that jail time and the fine is per day, not per offense, The Daily Signal reports.

Most articles I’ve seen have discussed the Knapp’s situation with reference to freedom of speech or Idaho’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. I believe that these articles rely on too narrow an interpretation of what happened in Idaho.

The Knapp’s situation is not the same as a Christian photographer being asked to take photographs or a Christian baker being asked to bake a cake. I think it’s unconscionable government bullying to force people to participate peripherally in a ritual that offends their religious sensibilities, but the government can (and invariably does) argue that it has the right to do so because the acts at issue are not central to the ritual itself.  To go back to my Catholic Church analogy, the photographer’s and the baker’s situation is similar to a scenario that sees the government insist that priests must drive girls to Planned Parenthood for an abortion.  That the government would force a priest to act in this way is appalling for any number of reasons, but the government still isn’t dictating what the priest can preach or the acts he can or cannot perform as part of his core ministerial duties (e.g., giving the last rites, administering the sacrament, take confession, or conduct a marriage ceremony).

Those who support Coeur d’Alene’s attack on the Knapps are trying to slot the Knapps case into that same metric as the photographer, baker or hypothetical priest-cum-chauffeur.  They contend that, because the Knapps get paid for offering a package deal of religious service and chapel rental, they are running a business, not engaging in matters of faith, making the town’s ordinance relevant and their own ordination irrelevant.

This is artful misdirection.  The real point is that the state is threatening to imprison ministers who are performing a core religious function — marriage — and who refuse to subordinate their doctrine to a state mandate.  The issue isn’t about whether the Knapps get paid for their services or profit from renting their chapel out along with their ministerial functions.  The real issue is that the Knapps are being told that, in their role as ministers, they must engage in acts that are completely antithetical to their religion’s interpretation of God’s word. Put another way, they’re like priests who are being told to perform an actual abortion.

It’s important to add here that the Knapps, like my hypothetical Catholic priest, aren’t crazy people who came up with their religion yesterday, while shopping at the Piggly Wiggly, and included in their brand new faith core doctrines demanding ritual Barbie doll dismemberment, mandatory bestiality, and 100% tithing. The Knapps, like my hypothetical priest, are interpreting Christian religious doctrine as it has been interpreted for 2,000 years. They are interpreting Christian religious doctrine as it existed when the Founders enacted the First Amendment. They are interpreting Christian religious doctrine in a way that meshes with most religion’s core doctrinal points right up until the last 40 years, when a bunch of churches and synagogues ran off into the far reaches Leftist swamp lands.

Under the First Amendment, those faiths that wish to marry same-sex partners should be allowed to do so.  And those churches that hew to traditional religious interpretations about marriage and do not wish to marry same-sex partners, should be left entirely alone — and that’s true whether they perform the marriage ritual for free or on a fee-for-service basis.  The issue isn’t money; it’s faith.

When Queen Elizabeth I of England came to the throne after decades of religious strife, she famously refused to resume religious inquisitions, saying, instead, “I would not open windows into men’s souls.” What’s happening in Coeur d’Alene isn’t just opening a window into men’s souls, it’s interpretation of its own ordinance is a rock thrown directly through that window in an effort to destroy men’s faith entirely.