September 3, 2015
By now we all know who Kim Davis is. She's the Kentucky clerk who won't issue homosexual "marriage" licenses, despite a federal court order to do so. In fact, she refuses to issue any marriage licenses since the order came down, and one news report (which I cannot now find) stated that she has "ordered" her deputy clerks not to issue the licenses either. This story may provide some clarification on that last point, as it implies that licenses "issued" by her deputies are nonetheless issued in her name.
There are several interesting questions to discuss about Kim Davis's current situation and her refusal to obey the court order to issue same-sex "marriage" licenses. Her own marital past history isn't one of those interesting questions, so I'm going to deem discussion of it OT. Here are some of the actually interesting questions:
August 31, 2015
We've talked several times here on W4 (though I don't want to take the time to look up the links) about possible responses that conscientious bakers, florists, and photographers could make to the Rainbow Mafia. I've generally recommended ceasing to offer special services for weddings altogether, while recognizing that this will amount to a significant drain on a business.
Enter Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who has done exactly that. Despite the fact that rulings against Phillips are usually headlined in some way such as, "Court Rules that Baker Must Make Cakes for Gay Weddings," it appears from details in various stories that Phillips has been able to avoid further charges while the case wends its way through court by ceasing to make wedding cakes altogether. But that's cold comfort to Phillips, who has lost about 40% of his business because of his decision not to make wedding cakes at all.
I also have not been able to get hold of the original court order to determine if, in fact, it allows (!) Phillips to avoid future discrimination charges if he stops making wedding cakes altogether. That he has stopped for the duration of the case is some evidence to that effect, but a sufficient number of reports state that the order required him actually to make cakes for homosexual "weddings" that I don't want to be dogmatic about it. If anyone can get clearer and more decisive information on the subject, feel free to post it. I may try to make contact with the ADF, which is representing Phillips, for clarification.
August 28, 2015
Guest post by KENNETH W. BICKFORD
Exactly ten years ago tonight, my family and I were enjoying an unscheduled visit to Houston, Texas, where we wined and dined with old friends. For a very long time, New Orleanians have planned their hurri-cations with nearly the same off-hand and casual demeanor one would use to plan a dinner party. One simply goes through the checklist — are the groceries bought? Is the tank full of gas? Do we have batteries? Are the suitcases packed? Check. Threats to recalcitrant children? Check. Strong language for wives who over-pack — for crying out loud, woman, we’ll only be gone for three days! Check.
You’d pardon me for being rather blasé about the “big one,” but you see, in those days the world seemed to operate like a well-oiled machine. True, there were some nasty surprises here and there — but FedEx got my packages to me overnight, State Farm insured my car, Chubb insured my house, the FDIC guaranteed my checking account, and the liquor store guaranteed my prescription was ready for pick-up. What else could the 21st century man — the man of 2005 — want? We’re self-reliant, lift-ourselves-by-our-own-bootstrap Americans! We have everything we need — we’ve got FEMA!
Six weeks later, I drove down a desolate St. Charles Avenue.
The sky was utterly blue while the city was utterly dead. I shared the Avenue with no other living soul. Katrina had even killed the birds. An impenetrable cocoon of silence had blanketed the city — the kind of silence that one only finds deep in a dark and evil wilderness, or sees portrayed in movies where a virus has wiped out the species.
It is a sobering thought to imagine a city — your city — so full of life one day, and laughter, and criminal activity, and good deeds, and hail-fellows-well-met, and pretty girls, and gnarled old women, and quarrelsome children running headlong just to see what’s around the next corner — to see your hometown in all of its run-of-the-mill ordinariness and then . . . to wake up one morning and suddenly know that you’ll never step into that river again — that it is all gone for good.
August 21, 2015
We all know that Catholicism opposes abortion. What surpasses understanding is how it is that Catholics – and I pointedly include very high ranking Catholics – can be so muddleheaded and ineffective at opposing abortion. As example, I offer Chicago’s Archbishop Cupich’s recent article in response to the Planned Parenthood videos, in which he unleashed this whopper:
While commerce in the remains of defenseless children is particularly repulsive, we should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.
Fortunately, Catholics with a brain are willing to tell it like it is about this. Phil Lawler comments that Cupich has jumped the shark.
August 19, 2015
The seventh Planned Parenthood video has just come out, and it reveals a story in which a technician taps a baby's heart to get it to start beating again, then casually tells another employee to cut through the baby's face to harvest the brain for researchers.
I want to commend the relatively new publication The Stream for its relentless coverage of the horrors coming out in the Planned Parenthood videos.
This article does the important service of calling attention to the issue of fetal tissue research funding, an issue which has been woefully neglected in the entire discussion. I swear, if I knew someone with the ear of the most vocal senators on this--Cruz and Paul--I would be asking for an audience so that I could remind those two gentlemen not just to try to defund Planned Parenthood but to defund aborted fetal tissue research. Let me emphasize again, as I have before, that this is not merely about defunding Planned Parenthood. It is about defunding the "demand side" of the equation--the NIH funding for researchers who purchase the baby bodies and parts not only from Planned Parenthood but also from non-PP hospitals and clinics.
One problem with this particular Stream article, however, is that it is somewhat incorrect on the politics of the early 21st century, and the way in which it is incorrect lets Republicans and even pro-life leaders off the hook in the sorry history of how we got to 2015 with an unbroken record since 1993 of federal funding for cannibalistic research using the bodies of murdered infants.
August 17, 2015
Ben Domenech, the publisher/editor of the website The Federalist, also publishes a daily email newsletter (which is very, very good and has shaped my daily web diet) called The Transom. Unfortunately, Ben is very pro-immigration and is unhappy about Donald Trump’s candidacy, particularly because Donald thinks immigration is a problem in this country and wants to do something about both the level of legal immigration and the issue of out-of-control illegal immigration. In today's Transom, here is how Ben began his snarky piece on Trump and immigration:
Yesterday Future Greatest American President Donald Trump unveiled his first major policy white paper, concerning the only policy subject on which he has weighed in repeatedly: those damn dirty Mexicans. http://vlt.tc/21zj It is a perfect example of what Scott Adams has described as Trump’s clown genius ability to use intentional exaggeration to provide anchors for your brain, and persuade your subsconscious to think things you would never originally think. http://vlt.tc/21zy For instance, Trump’s plan involves the deportation of millions of people, the seizure of money sent back to Mexico by illegal immigrants, and an end to birthright citizenship. Nowhere in this white paper is the how of what Trump would do addressed. Not the massive new hiring of a force to displace millions of people; not the invasion of privacy necessary for the government to open every parcel sent to Mexico and investigate every wire transfer sent there or elsewhere lest the source be illegal; not the fact that ending birthright citizenship will require a Constitutional amendment. Trump’s white paper just says he will do it in three sentences, one of which is “End birthright citizenship.” The understanding that children born here in America, even those born to non-Americans, are citizens dates back to the Founding generation, which was of course full of people who were not as wise as Mr. Trump. Those losers had no idea the sort of carnage their dumb ideas would unleash. Perhaps their own glorious triumph over the dirty brown people they encountered gave them false confidence about protecting our jobs. It’s understandable given Trump’s identity politics play that he would continue on this line of thought – that terrible immigrants are destroying our economy, and terrible children of illegal immigrants are so burdening our social services that they, even as legal American citizens because of the stupid Constitution, must be deported along with their families. Of course, ending birthright citizenship would create European-style generational ghettos in American communities.
August 16, 2015
A DIALOGUE ON IMMIGRATION
We will quietly undermine and sabotage
Your benighted laws, fellow citizens,
Then appear on the scene
As the disinterested lawgiver
To reform the failing laws;
We will introduce a poison,
Then act the part of the loyal doctor
With counsels of difficult but effective antidotes;
We will impoverish those among without a voice,
Enrich those whose wealth gives them leave
To whisper in our ear;
We will subject you to our factional will
With careful emollients of republicanism and tradition;
We will subvert to strengthen
Complicate to simplify
Emasculate to fortify
And baffle to bring clarity.
Your promises of enforcement?
We don’t believe you.
You must prove your fidelity to our laws,
Whatever you may think of them,
Before you come to us with reform.
You must demonstrate fidelity
To that which you do not hold in high estimate —
Enforce what you would not advocate,
Before you seek to remake it to your own ideal.
Show us real border security:
We will show you reasonable compromise on amnesty;
Show us stern deportations,
Show us stoicism in the teeth
Of the howls that will surely greet
Such difficult business,
And we will give you
Thoughtful intercourse on increased legal immigration.
Desist with your supplications to our enemies —
Defy the plutocrats,
Both here and abroad,
And we will show sympathy
For your political entanglements.
In short, treat us like citizens and not subjects
And we will have little difficulty with your leadership.
August 15, 2015
I've been saying some rather deliberately provocative things on Facebook recently about thinking out-of-the-box about how to help the poor. The short version thereof is that giving money to humanitarian aid organizations that try to provide the things one might think of (food, water, medical aid, etc.) is by no means the only and sometimes not even the best way to help. One book I have cited is Robert Zubrin's Merchants of Despair, in which he talks about the fact that environmental policies have been absolutely disastrous for the Third World. Hence, I suggest that opposing the imposition of more such disastrous policies might save more lives than giving directly to buy food for people.
Other instances of this trend--leftist policies vs. the poor--abound on our own shores and provide (while I'm being provocative) other ways in which one could intelligently give money with the intent of helping the poor by opposing bad policies, bad lawsuits, etc.
August 9, 2015
At the risk of sounding like a continental philosopher (a fate worse than death, in my view), I will say that I think confrontedness has great ethical importance.
What I mean by "confrontedness" can be well illustrated by the contrast between Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan and a contemporary misuse of it I happened to see on Facebook.
In Jesus' parable, the Samaritan actually comes across a man, a real, individual man, who has been beaten by thieves and left by the roadside. The Samaritan goes aside to check on him, finds that he is alive, puts him on his own donkey, and takes care of him. Jesus recommends his actions.
In the misuse of the parable (and I'm sure you've seen the like elsewhere), an enthusiastic and indignant person stated that, based on the parable of the good Samaritan, we have a right to judge someone as selfish who does not give of his time on a Saturday morning to work for a fund-raising event to help victims of trafficking, and who is not doing anything all that important instead on the Saturday morning.
The reasons why this application of the parable is wrong have to do with the concept of confrontedness.
August 5, 2015
There was a great Marxist named Lenin
Who did two or three million men in.
—That’s a lot to have done in,
But where he did one in
That grand Marxist Stalin did ten in.
-- Robert Conquest
August 4, 2015
Regent University in Virginia used to be seen as so conservative that its law school was thought of as part of the vast right-wing conspiracy. (See here, for example.)
Regent has come a long way since those days, in the dubious sense that now they house the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity run by Prof. Mark Yarhouse, who has told us his views on the issue of transsexuality in this recent article in Christianity Today. (I have the whole article. Some readers may find that part of it is behind a paywall.)
August 1, 2015
A measure of the wickedness of our liberal governing institutions may be estimated in the eagerness with which they investigate and harass the brave men and women who have exposed Planned Parenthood’s blood trade in the organs of butchered infants, while leaving untouched the butchers who commit this evil. Two pliant judges have already issued rulings to silence further exposures by means of the Center for Medical Progress’s intrepid journalism.
While the White House admits that it is repeating PP talking points, and countless Democrats jump in front of a camera to declare their allegiance to the depraved organization, a fourth video, released on Thursday, suggests that some infants are dissected for their parts while they are still alive.
Reflect on this, that these pro-choice ghouls install in the system as a whole an incentive for late-term abortion, in order to gain more mature organs for the blood trade. Harvest too early and the organs are no good for commercial purposes.
That “clump of cells” has value in its increasing complexity — organs and organ systems — which is useful in medical experimentation. Precisely the scientific facts of mammalian development, which our anti-science liberals loudly deny, supply Planned Parenthood with the means to acquire their thirty pieces of silver.
But why stop there?
After all, there are so many sickly one year olds, toddlers, and many more imbeciles, retards and degenerates, out there in the country, breathing and talking and walking around, who are wasting perfectly good and profitable organs. Why stop at unborn humans? There are profits to be made here.
Something must be said, also, of the demand side of this iniquitous commerce: It appears that there is healthy demand for fresh extractions from the Planned Parenthood abattoirs. Without that demand, there would be no profit margin — no profits at all from the trade in dead babies. This is what Lincoln called the “old serpent” in a most ghastly form: a class of human beings, the most vulnerable among us, reduced by brute force of fraudulent law to property, and subjected to awful mercenary cruelty. In this case the demand comes from Science, that worshiped god of our time whose demands for sacrifice are increasingly ruthless. The demand, moreover, is fueled by tax dollars through federal funding for the very research for which these tiny bodies are needed.
Who are these shady firms that send people out to abortuaries to collect organs from dead babies? Whose capital is behind medical experimentation of this horrific nature? Congress and state legislatures should begin the exercise of their solemn power of inquiry without delay. If ever there was a time for serious, hardheaded regulation of a capitalistic enterprise, this is 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.
A great many Americans are, and always have been, fundamentally uneasy and ambivalent about the abortion license, and more so the more developed the unborn child is. They would rather not think about it. This operation against Planned Parenthood has a dual function. If it cuts off a funding stream, or more than one funding stream, for these atrocities, on the grounds that they are also illegal, that is all to the good. If it forces us to look at what is done in our country and thus awakens dormant consciences at the same time, that is better still.
— The Editors
July 30, 2015
It is almost impossible at this point to keep up with the flood of evidence that is coming in against Planned Parenthood. I think that the undercover organization is stepping up the pace in order to make sure the evidence is out there before it can be squelched or confiscated. (The squelching has already begun.)
The most recent video release indicates that unborn children are sometimes born "intact" in the abortion process. While the ghoul being interviewed does not actually admit that they are alive in that case, of course if they are old enough they might indeed be alive when born. This is all the more likely since digoxin is not used to stop the heart if the mother has consented to donate the child's body for research. (The transcript here is explicit on that point. See the context of both places where the word "digoxin" is used.) How the baby is actually killed if still alive at birth is not stated.
The haggling over baby body parts and the explicit agreements to alter procedures to obtain usable specimens make it absolutely clear that federal law is being violated. Our federal executive branch is absolutely in the tank for these evil people at Planned Parenthood, but I still think it is worthwhile to sign this petition.
Meanwhile, kudos to Ted Cruz for leading the attempts to defund Planned Parenthood (the least we can do). His Republican opponents in the U.S. Senate on this matter deserve to be, figuratively speaking, tarred and feathered. Since Cruz is willing to take on the despicably compromised GOP establishment on such a morally fundamental point, he at least deserves serious consideration as a possible presidential candidate.
July 28, 2015
As promised, I want to take up some questions of custody. Of children, that is.
As I did some research for this, I discovered some facts that I didn’t know, and re-discovered some things that used to be fairly commonly said but have fallen out of common parlance.
For example, apparently for centuries, when an unwed mother gave birth, the father was accounted as having no rights at all, whereas if married the father had full rights and the mother virtually none at all. I see claims that in some places mothers were accounted not as a co-equal “parent” with the father, but as (a) the father’s wife – her first place in the family which entitles her only to WIFELY estate, and (b) as the children’s caretaker to the extent the father approves same. Hence her position over the children was little more than glorified babysitter.
Apparently, under Roman law children were accounted a kind of possession of the father, at least in some respects though perhaps not all. This is undoubtedly connected with the Roman father’s authority to abandon a child by exposure. And this attitude carried over into middle ages, where children were (after infancy) viewed as a valuable resource for labor, to which the father had the right (until older, I guess).
Fairly recently (speaking historically), in the US, the custody rules for children after divorce relied on the “principle” of so-called “tender years”, in which it was said that a child needs its mother during its tender years, much more so than its father. As a result, virtually all custody battles between parents for children under age 7 were won by mothers. This became standard only starting in the later 1800s, I gather. Before that, at least in some places, illegitimate children were simply left to the community to raise, belonging neither to the father (who had no rights) nor to the mother. Only much more recently did unwed fathers start to get ANY traction in having a voice on custody of their biological children. They still have nowhere near an equal position.