Monday, June 23, 2014

Salon discovers Pope is Catholic; outrage porn ensues

Photo credit: AP/Alessandra Tarantino.

Pope Francis’ new clothes: Why his progressive image is white smoke and mirrors

Don't buy his populist rhetoric. The new pope is every bit the sexist homophobe as his predecessors

THE IMAGE OF Pope Francis is that he is a breath of fresh air, more progressive on social issues than his predecessor and a kinder, gentler pope. But when the facts are examined, you see that he is none of these things. There is an enormous disconnect between who the pope really is in terms of his policies and his public relations image, as crafted by the Vatican’s PR man, previously with Fox News. [That's right, blame the Vatican PR flack, not the hundreds of reporters and bloggers who put the "progressive Pope" filter in place before the PR flack even knew who the new Pope was.] The current PR mission is all about reversing the incredible decline in fundraising under the last pope from the U.S. Catholic Church in particular. Pope Francis has made any number of statements that seem to indicate change and progress that are not reflected in policy. In fact, in the wake of such comments from Pope Francis, the Vatican often makes a point to explicitly state that no church policy has changed. ...
There's really no point in reading any further into March's meltdown in Salon; it's as predictable as outrage porn gets. Four-fifths of the media world outside the Catholic bubble don't have a firm grasp on religion, let alone Catholicism; the image persists that the Pope is a dictator who can translate his every caprice into dogma, without reference to Scripture or the apostolic tradition. Witness March's references to "church policy", as if Catholic doctrine were no more than the personal tastes of the current management ... as if the Catholic Church's government were analogous to that of the Presbyterian Church USA.

Anna March, Get. Over. Yourself. You and the other progressive talking heads have only yourselves — you, not the Sala Stampa — to blame for your expectations of change in doctrine — that's right, "doctrine", not "policy". I and other Catholic writers said when he was elected that it wasn't gonna happen, that his papacy would a change of style from Benedict XVI but not a change of substance. We said that Francis shared the same theological positions as Benedict; but just as you ignored Benedict when he said things that didn't fit the "God's Rottweiler" paradigm, you ignored Francis when he said things that didn't fit the "progressive Pope" paradigm.

So now you've got a moment of clarity ... and you blame your delusion on the Vatican press office? As a fund-raising effort? Puh-leeze! Don't put all your ignorance on display in one post; save some for others. You and your progressive allies did it to yourselves.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

More outrage porn from right-wing Obama-haters

Perhaps you've seen this short video clip flying around the Internet. The version posted here was uploaded to YouTube by "Dual Gamma"; I originally ran across it on Facebook as a share from "The New Republic of Texas". Here it is:

This is a blatantly dishonest piece of agitprop. It takes a couple of key phrases out of the context of Obama's full speech and makes him appear to say something that, on his dumbest, most incompetent day, he would still never say in the public eye. And I say this as someone who voted against Obama twice!

Here's the transcript of the speech, with the clip excerpts in bold:

Friday, June 20, 2014

"We must not allow the angry rhetoric to co-opt us into a culture of hate"

From San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone's address at the March for Marriage, Washington, DC, June 19, 2014 (all emphases mine):

Let us, then, take our cue from the best our predecessors in faith have inspired, and not humanity’s frequent failings and sins. Like them, we now in our own time need to proclaim and live the truth with charity and compassion as it applies to us today: the truth of a united family based on the union of the children’s father and mother in marriage as the foundational good of society. Every child comes from a man and a woman, and has a right, a natural human right, to know and be known by, to love and be loved by, their own mother and father. This is the great public good that marriage is oriented towards and protects. The question is then: does society need an institution that unites children to the mothers and fathers who bring them into the world, or doesn’t it? If it does, that institution is marriage – nothing else provides this basic good to children.
Yes, this is a foundational truth, and one to which we must witness by lives lived in conformity to it, and which we must proclaim with love. Love for those millions of loving single mothers and fathers who struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives and succeed in creating loving homes for their children – they need and deserve our love, affirmation and support. Love for the husband struggling with fidelity, for the woman who feels abandoned and pressured into abortion, for the teenager struggling to believe in the heroic vision of love that makes sense of chastity, for the single person who cannot find a mate, for the childless couple trying to cope with infertility, for the wife who finds herself nursing a sick husband in her marriage bed, for the young person trying to navigate through sexual identity issues and may feel alienated from the Church because of it, maybe even because of the sort of treatment received from those who profess to be believers. To all of you, I say: know that you are a child of God, that you are called to heroic love and that with God’s help you can do it, that we love you and want to support you in living your God-given call.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Liars lying about a "right to lie" and who's lying

Here is your irony supplement for the day:

During his last failed run for the House in 2010, former Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) claimed that Obamacare doesn't allow any federal funding of abortion. Well, there are provisions in PPACA that allow the government to fund abortions (see below), so Susan B. Anthony List tried to put up billboards calling BS on his statement. Driehaus threatened the billboard company with a lawsuit, and filed a complaint with the Ohio Election Commission asserting that SBA List was in violation of the state's "false statement" law. Per Jack Park of Legal Insurrection:
The Commission found probable cause to think Driehaus was right and scheduled a hearing. That probable cause determination turned Driehaus loose to pursue discovery, which he did intrusively, noticing depositions of SBA List employees and others and asking for not just evidence supporting SBA List’s interpretation of the Affordable Care act but also for its "communications with allied organizations, political party committees, and Members of Congress and their staffs."

SBA List filed suit against the state, claiming the statute violates the First Amendment. When Driehaus lost the election, he dropped his complaint and filed a defamation suit, claiming SBA List had caused him "loss of livelihood". SBA List, however, pressed on with their suit. Since the claim had been dropped, the Sixth Circuit judge, Timothy Black, ruled that there was no longer a cause or controversy. Black also refused a motion for a summary judgment in the defamation case; when he later dismissed the case, he confessed that he "could not see the forest for the trees".

On Monday, SCOTUS unanimously reversed Black's decision, holding that "the threat of future enforcement" of the Ohio "false statement" law "is substantial." Wrote AJ Clarence Thomas, "There is a history of past enforcement against petitioners. Past enforcement against the same conduct is good evidence that the threat of enforcement is not '"chimerical."' The credibility of that threat is bolstered by the fact that a complaint may be filed with the State Commission by 'any person,' not just a prosecutor or agency."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

San Francisco archbishop dissents from Pope Pelosi—UPDATED

Either Abp. Salvatore Cordileone or Neal McDonough
has been hired to play him on TV. (© CNS)
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone broke into open dissent from Pope Nancy Pelosi, writing in an open letter that the upcoming march in Washington sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage is "not anti-LGBT", and that he would be attending despite her description of the event as "venom masquerading as virtue". 
The archbishop is a featured speaker at the event, along with former presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. Several Bay area pro-SSM supporters, including SF mayor Ed Lee, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, New Ways Ministry liar Francis DeBernardo and dismissed Maryknoll priest Roy Bourgeois, also sent a letter to +Cordileone urging him not to attend.

The problem, according to, is not so much with the march as it is with what organizations are backing it. The Southern Political Libeling Center has tagged the Family Research Council, one of the backing organizations, as a "antigay hate group"; a petition created by a group calling itself Faithful America asserts that FRC "blamed gay marriage for the recent shootings at Isla Vista". (Okay, I'd have to see a press release from FRC saying that, not just a second-hand news post; it smells like BS to me.) 

+Cordileone's letter doesn't go into point-by-point refutation — wisely, I believe, because that would have distracted from the point of the letter itself; however, it did rebut the claim that NOM had "connect[ed] homosexuality with pedophilia and incest." Furthermore, the letter points out:

It gives me assurance that we share a common disdain for harsh and hateful rhetoric. It must be pointed out, though, that there is plenty of offensive rhetoric which flows in the opposite direction. In fact, for those who support the conjugal understanding of marriage, the attacks have not stopped at rhetoric. Simply for taking a stand for marriage as it has been understood in every human society for millennia, people have lost their jobs, lost their livelihoods, and have suffered other types of retribution, including physical violence.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The social invisibility of homelessness

I spent some time trying to track down a quote by G. K. Chesterton. Having failed, I'll simply paraphrase it: "Only in England do we engage in the humorous pastime of jailing the homeless for not troubling to sleep in their own beds."

In America, we don't jail the homeless. That would deprive us of space we need to incarcerate accused criminals. But they are an eyesore, so we plant concrete spikes here and there to prevent them from sleeping someplace where people might see them and think badly of us. Oh, there are a few places they're planted because sleeping there might be dangerous — at least, more dangerous than is usual for them — but there are others where they're planted because they're more attractive than the human detritus who would otherwise occupy the space. 

Oh, and we make it illegal to water down the effectiveness of government programs by being thoughtful and generous. 'Murka! ("Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom does not consist of doing what we want but of having the right to do what we ought."—St. John Paul II.)

In the late Douglas Adams' novel Life, the Universe and Everything, the protagonist and his companions travel in a spaceship which, for reasons that become even more bizarre as they're explained, resembles "an upended Italian bistro". However, while the ship is resting on the pitch at Lord's Cricket Grounds in London, almost nobody notices it. It's not physically invisible; there's no "cloaking device" à la Star Trek that bends background light around the ship. Rather, it's socially invisible; it has an "SEP field" which plays upon the human tendency to ignore disturbing and incongruous sights.

"SEP" stands for "Somebody Else's Problem". Like homelessness.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A narrative of hate; or, unhappy Father's Day

Something sick and twisted has poisoned a segment of feminism. The picture to your left isn't representative of all feminists, or even necessarily a majority of feminists. But they're within the feminist camp, and their voices are getting louder.

I've never had a problem with feminism, so far as it has meant equal opportunity, equal pay and respect for women. I've thought that feminism went wrong in making women's equality dependent on their economic and political power; I believe women are intrinsically equal to men as created in the image of God (cf. Genesis 1:27). I've also believed that feminism went wrong in equating sexual license with empowerment. At one time, feminists and Christians were united against pornography as demeaning to, and exploitative of, women; that seems to have fallen by the wayside even as porn has become more explicitly degrading to women, to the point of catering to rape fantasies.

But this? These women's narrative of victimhood has become so paranoid and self-referential that they can't grant anything positive, anything to celebrate, about men let alone fathers. This goes way beyond the need to address sexual violence (and thanks again, George Will, for your obtuse, patronizing diminishment of the problem, you arrogant jackalope).

This. Is. HATE

Friday, June 13, 2014

Catholic Stand—The Century of the Self: We the Sheeple

If you’ve got about four hours to spare — better make it five, for the occasional break — watch all four parts of the 2002 BBC documentary miniseries The Century of the Self. Written and directed by Adam Curtis, The Century of the Self explores the rise of public relations and marketing, as well as the influence of various members of the Freud family, especially Sigmund Freud himself.

Because CoS is a British documentary, the average American might never guess it was pushing an agenda. Instead of screaming “THOSE EVIL BASTARDS ARE MANIPULATING US!”, Curtis calmly, thoughtfully, dispassionately suggests that the corporations, which have used the techniques developed by Edward Bernays, Anna Freud and their successors, have subverted our critical thinking skills. Selfish, instinct-driven creatures, Curtis intones quietly, are “ideal consumers”, and consumerism is “a way of giving people the illusion of control while allowing a responsible elite to continue managing society.”

Although we feel we are free, in reality we … have become the slaves of our own desires. We have forgotten that we can be more than that, that there are other sides to human nature. (Curtis, A. [2002]. Century of the Self, Part 4: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering [motion picture])

Although CoS is mild anti-big business agitprop, what it says about the subtly destructive effects of Freudian consumerism bears consideration.

Read the rest at Catholic Stand!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

UPDATE: Archbishop Carlson and the "Reagan defense"... plus an apology

This update includes information that was released yesterday [H/T to Fr. John Zuhlsdorf!]. Ordinarily, I would publish a post of this length in Outside the Asylum; however, since the original version of this post was published in The Impractical Catholic, it's only fair I publish the update here as well.

*     *     *

On May 23, 2014 Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis gave his deposition in a predator-priest lawsuit in Minneapolis, where he had originally been incardinated in 1970 and served in a variety of capacities (including auxiliary bishop from 1984 to 1994). At this time, he is not a respondent in the case.

If you judge solely from the video clip released by Anderson Advocates — and, unfortunately, I did at first — Abp. Carlson must be either one of the most astounding, thundering idiots ever to wear a miter or an equally astounding liar. "I'm not sure whether I knew it was a crime" for a priest to have sex with a minor?! Really?!

Except that it appears the "Reagan defense" — lapses of memory — is actually an acceptable legal strategy. When Scott Eric Alt, from whom I picked up the link to Deacon Greg Kandra's page, asked his Facebook friends rhetorically, "Really, where does one begin with this?" Michael F. J. Lee replied:
I'd begin with the high likelihood that the archbishop worded his answer exactly as he was probably advised by archdiocesan attorneys who prepped him for the deposition. It's common for attorneys to advise the "I'm not sure I remember knowing..." disclaimer when going into a deposition. It's also not false; most of us are not "100% sure" of what we remember, or not. Thus, attorneys will tell you that it's perfectly fine to use the disclaimer. ...
I sat in on a deposition prep, and those exact words were prescribed. When the person said "I can't say that," the attorney said "Sure you can. Would you bet your life that the butter on your toast this morning wasn't really margarine? Your life?" The guy said "No." The attorney smiled.

There's more going on here, too, than Anderson Associates — the legal firm which released the clip — would like you to believe.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dear Mr. Will: Please shut up about rape

To: George F. Will
Re: Sexual violence on campus

Dear Mr. Will:

Unlike many bloggers who right now are criticizing your op-ed piece, "Colleges become the victim of progressivism," I actually read it. The whole thing; I didn't stop after the bit about campus rape. Taken all together, the "campus liberals hoist on their own petard" theme might have worked.

However, you spoiled it by trivializing sexual assault on campus. That may not have been your intent (and I'll explain why I think so in a minute), but that's what you did. The road to Hell ....

The problem with the numbers the White House uses to justify federal intervention is that they're based on sloppy research. As your own Washington Post tells us in a story about the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study, the numbers were drawn from Web-based surveys conducted at two — two — "large public universities, one in the Midwest and one in the South". This is nowhere near a "random sampling" as understood by social scientists and statisticians, and the researchers themselves admit that the results can't be generalized onto the entire college populace.

So it's no wonder that, when you try to apply the figures to another school, like Ohio State, they don't necessarily add up (98 reports between 2009 and 2012 ≈ 817 × 12%; 817 ≈ 28,000 × 2.9%). And this is where you earned my willingness to grant you good intentions: While 2.9 percent is "nowhere near" 20 percent (1 in 5), you also said it's "too high". While anything above zero is "too high", I assume you mean it's much higher than the national figure given by the National Crime Victimization Survey, which was about 0.02% of all women in 2010.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday Snippets—A Catholic Carnival (Vol. 4-24)

Welcome again to Sunday Snippets, your portal to a small collection of obscure but deserving Catholic writers on a wide range of topics. 

Yes, I know I haven't had one of these up for a while; despite my copious free time, I haven't produced a lot the last couple of months.

Anyway, here's how it works for those who are seeing this for the first time: Writers like me create a single post with links to the articles they've written for the week. This single post includes a link back to RAnn's blog This, That and the Other Thing, where the single post will be submitted as a link on the page. Follow the link back (I've provided two!), and it'll take you to RAnn's page, where you can find those other obscure but deserving writers I mentioned above.

What have I produced this week?

In Outside the Asylum I have two major posts, both of which touch on the topic of right-wing dissent, or conservative "cafeteria Catholics". The first is "'Mere Catholicism' vs. Real Catholicism", in which I use a couple of pre-Vatican II sources to dispose of a false distinction and remind my fellow papist bloggers that we're granted neither the presumption of infallibility nor the power of excommunication. In the second, "Pope Francis and the libertarians", I take apart a couple of key free-market contentions held by libertarians, and argue that libertarianism places too much emphasis on the autonomy of the individual to be compatible with Catholic social doctrine.

In The Impractical Catholic (this blog what you're reading now), I started off with the musical question, "Has Ralph Nader become a Distributist?" It covers an article written by the consumer advocate and perennial presidential candidate, which reviews a book published in the 1930s by Herbert Agar and Alan Tate, Who Owns America? A New Declaration of Independence, and is adapted from Nader's own new book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left/Right Alliance to Stop the Corporate State. (Be on the lookout for a future review of this book by Your Humble Blogger!) The next, "Seventy years ago today" (actually published a day early), is a reflection upon the men who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944, and on the few men and women still alive who served in all the theaters of World War II. Finally, there's "Separating truth from manufactured outrage in Galway", which takes apart the various strands of the story that became the myth of "800 babies thrown into a septic tank", and is based on an Irish Times interview with the historian who first brought the story to light.

Here you go, then! Follow the link back to RAnn's page, and happy reading!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Separating truth from manufactured outrage in Galway

Galway historian Catherine Corless. (Source: Irish Times)
"I never used that word 'dumped'," Catherine Corless told the The Irish Times. "I never said to anyone that 800 bodies were dumped in a septic tank. That did not come from me at any point. They are not my words."

Later on in the story, the County Galway historian repeats herself "with distress": "I never used that word 'dumped'. I just wanted those children to be remembered and for their names to go up on a plaque. That was why I did this project, and now it has taken [on] a life of its own."

Indeed it has ... an ugly life; through the process of sensationalism, the real story has spawned a Doppelgänger, an evil double who lives only to spark controversy and recriminations. Separate strands of the story were mashed together to create this undead creature.

Thread 1: From 1840 to about 1924 the township of Tuam operated a workhouse just off of what is now Dublin Road (R 332). A map reportedly from 1892 marked the building as "Children's Home"; however, the building didn't become a home for unwed mothers and their babies until it was taken over by the Sisters of Bons Secours in 1925. The home closed in 1961 and fell into disrepair.

Thread 2: In 1975, 10-year-old Barry Sweeney and his 12-year-old buddy, Frannie Hopkins, managed to climb over the two-and-a-half-meter wall into a part of the home's property. "We used to be in there playing regular. There was always this slab of concrete there," Sweeney told the Irish Times. On this occasion, the boys decided to pry up the 120 cm x 60 cm slab to look under it. "There were skeletons thrown in there. They were all this way and that way. They weren’t wrapped in anything, and there were no coffins. But there was no way there were 800 skeletons down that hole. Nothing like that number. I don’t know where the papers got that." [Bold type mine.—ASL] Sweeney puts the number at closer to twenty.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Seventy years ago today

There's so few of them left.

My father wasn't old enough to serve even with Grandpa's permission until after October 1945; by a fluke, he was still awarded the World War II Victory Medal (Harry S Truman, for reasons I don't know, didn't declare an official end of hostilities until 31 December 1946). However, my granduncle, Lt. Joseph P. Cronin, served with the 36th Infantry (Arrowhead) Division when the Seventh Army invaded southern France 15 August 1944; he was killed outside of Montélimar nine days later. And a fellow Knight of my council served as a platoon sergeant in the 23rd Infantry (Americal) Division in the South Pacific; I don't know how, because he doesn't talk about it, but he was awarded the Bronze Star. And I once lived by a man who'd flown B-24s — where and with which Air Force, I'll never know.

The real heroes usually don't talk about it. When they're with friends from their old units, they swap funny memories. And they're the first to deny that they're heroes. Almost to a man, they say: "The real heroes never left."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Has Ralph Nader become a Distributist?—UPDATED

A new Distributist triad?
Ralph Nader getting a whole article published in The American Conservative? Wow, who'da thunk it?

Really, it's not all that strange, as: 1) Nader's article, "Who Owns America?", is drawn from his new book Unstoppable: The Emerging Left/Right Alliance to Stop the Corporate State (Nation Books, $16.43 in hardcover from Amazon), 2) it centers on a group of political conservatives in the 1930s who advocated "decentralization", and 3) as The Blogger Who Must Not Be Named points out, The American Conservative has no qualms about printing common sense even if it comes from a ritually impure source.

What interests and even fascinates me is that the article, which outlines Who Owns America? A New Declaration of Independence (eds. Herbert Agar and Alan Tate, ISI Books, $23.70 in hardback from Amazon), describes a position on economics, ownership and government that wouldn't be out of place in The Distributist Review. The decentralists held corporate ownership to be a corruption of private ownership, one that inevitably led to plutocracy and oligarchy. At the same time, they distrusted state ownership; whatever small faction controlled the capital resources of the country, the endgame would result in the death of liberty. The only way to stave such a result off, they believed, was to spread out the means of production, especially land ownership, as much as possible.