Saturday, September 26, 2015

Rainbow Doritos inspiring other changes in food industry

Frito-Lay recently unveiled its Rainbow Doritos, a move intended to support gay and transgender lifestyles. The product has unleashed an entire revolution in the food industry.

The chips were made available only to those who donated to the It Gets Better Project, which helps fight hatred and intolerance of gays which everyone knows is rampant because of all the negative things we hear about gays from all sides every day all the time from everywhere, never hearing anything good about it. Ever.

Dairy producers, perhaps inspired by the Doritos move or the gender theory behind it, are gearing up to begin milking bulls as well as cows, and the poultry industry is looking into the possibility of collecting eggs from roosters.

The move by Frito-Lay is also influencing, not only in what Americans eat, but in the way they eat.

Nutrition experts are now advising that dinner be served in the morning and breakfast at night, and that desserts be served before dinner, and appetizers afterward. They are also now recommending that you should shop for the ingredients of meals you plan on having after you serve them rather than before, and that you preheat the oven only after you have baked something. In addition, lifestyle advisers are recommending that dishes be washed prior to meals.

In another development ...

Oh, wait, hang on ... You know what? I think this may just be a nightmare I had last night. Yeah, I think it is. I mean, everything except the Doritos part.

Never mind.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

#PopeFrancis vs. the Materialist Right: If you thought liberals were against religion in the public square, you ought to see the conservative reaction to the #Pope

If you thought liberals were against religion in the public square, you ought to see the conservative reaction to Pope Francis.

The conservative meltdown in response to the visit of Pope Francis has reminded me once again of the sorry state of conservative thought in America today. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and other titular leaders of modern conservatism are what I like to call the "materialist right." WHAS-AM's talk show hosts Leland Conway (getting closer to home) and Mandy Connell, as well as commentator John David Dyche, lapse into this mode frequently.

The leaders of the Materialist Right are card carrying members of what Edmund Burke, the original conservative, once called the "sophisters and calculators." They worship "The Market." They're concerned with the economic bottom line. They're all about stuff. They exemplify the modernist tendency to think that something is valuable only to the extent that it can be quantitatively measured.

These are people who seem to think that the moment the GDP has a one percentage uptick, every family in America pauses at their desks or their dish-washing or their dinner, feeling one percent better.

This why they have fortitude breakdowns when it comes to social issues. With the possible exception of Limbaugh, who has hung surprisingly tough on the marriage issue, most of these people begin to swoon when it comes to having to defend traditional conservative social positions. They are in dire need of a personal assistant to stand by whenever they are forced into a discussion about a values issue, ready to administer smelling salts.

When it comes to economic issues, they're Julius Caesar; but when comes to social issues, they're Ferdinand the Bull. If the issue is whether there should be a new government program, they're unlocking the gun case; but if the issue is traditional marriage, they're out smelling the flowers.

If I hear one more self-professed conservative talk show host ask of a caller defending traditional marriage (as Leland and Mandy have done repeatedly), "but how does it affect your family?" I think I'm going to lose my lunch.

When PBS Nightly News asked me that question in the interview before the Supreme Court rewrote the 14th Amendment last year, I just questioned the assumption behind it, which was that it's all about me. It's the idea that we have no standing to take a position on any public policy issue unless we can quantitatively demonstrate that we will sustain some concrete personal benefit or harm. And, of course, the only kind if proof that would be accepted would be some kind of financial or economic gain or loss.

You're asked why you believe in traditional marriage and you're expected to produce your bank statements. This is the state of conservative thinking in the early 21st century. What do these people do in their spiritual lives? Is that decision too made according to some kind of strict individualistic, economic calculus?

The common good is now a weed in the conservative garden that must be rooted out so the economic plants won't be threatened.

The other thing about America's high profile conservatives is that, to them, everything is political--or at least everything important. Traditionalist conservatives like Russell Kirk used to warn against "immanentizing the eschaton"--in other words, of thinking that, through political ideologies, we can have salvation in this world.

It used to be the liberals who were the utopians. But now we have conservatives who seem to think that, once we have a free market, we will have reached Nirvana.

It's fine to think that the free market is the most efficient economic system. I believe that too. But when that is made the be all and end all of your political position, when you subordinate every other political and cultural issue to that one, you make it into an ideology, which is to say, a political religion.

I'll state this bluntly (as I have before): The self-professed conservatives (particularly libertarians) who worship "The Market" are radicals--in the same sense to the same extent as the people to whom they are always applying that label.

And that's ironic, because real conservatism is anti-radical.

Because of this conservative ideology (a contradiction in terms), when the Pope speaks on something from the perspective of, say, the Christian responsibility to be good stewards or how we should treat immigrants, it is immediately seen as some kind of political policy statement, and criticized in the same manner.

And, of course, the reaction of some conservatives has been to try to draw some hard and fast line between religion and politics. It's a rather ironic statement for Republicans to make at this particular time, given the high profile of religious issues in the presidential primary, but there it is. Marco Rubio, I am sorry to say, is one of the people who has said publicly that the Pope should stick to religious and moral issues and leave other issues alone.

In other words, His Holiness can go ahead and talk about peripheral values issues, but when it comes to the important issues (economics and foreign policy), he needs to take his censer and go burn some incense somewhere and leave things in the hands of the politicians--which, come to think of it, is even more ironic given what everything else they've said this year about politicians.

Of course, Rubio grew up Catholic, became a Mormon, and now goes to both a Catholic and a Protestant church. It's a good thing he doesn't have to observe immigration restrictions in his church life--or maybe the dual citizenship he apparently possesses gets him out of those restrictions, it's hard to tell.

It's one thing to disagree with the Pope. I might disagree with him on the Global Warming thing myself, although I haven't read Laudato Si yet, so I can't really say (I have learned to refrain from comment about what any Pope says or believes until I read what he actually said). But it is thing another to say that he has no business to say it. I'd rather a pope say something false than to think that he has not standing to say anything on other important issues--particularly when the people telling him to keep quiet are the very ones most responsible for screwing things up.

Monday, September 21, 2015

So what exactly is wrong with what Ben Carson said about Muslims?

The head of an organization that even Saudi Arabia has labeled a terrorist group is calling on Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson to withdraw from the presidential race for making statements "inconsistent with the United States Constitution."

The organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, apparently thinks you are Constitutionally required to agree with Muslims. Maybe their spokesman could direct us to the section of the Constitution that requires this.

All Ben Carson said was that he would not support a Muslim for president unless he swore off Sharia law. What exactly is the problem here? All of us have kinds of people we would not want in the Oval Office. My list includes not only Muslims, but communists, members of ISIS, Wiccans, cannibals, people just released from sanitoriums, anyone who has ever donated to the ACLU, children under 7 years old, editors of the New York Times, Tom Cruise, anyone who watches "The View," and (the most dangerous of all) secular liberals.

So what is the problem with Ben Carson not wanting Muslims who believe in Sharia law to rule this country?

Nihad Awad, the groups spokesperson for he group, talked as if Carson wanted to legally prohibit Muslims from holding the nation's highest office. But that's not what Carson said. He said he would not support it.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fiorina first to draw Trump blood: And nine more takeaways from the CNN Republican Debate

#1: Carly won every exchange and nailed every opportunity she was given to speak, which is why she won this debate. Look for her to rise significantly in the polls, partly because of her great performance, and partly because it was done in front of a lot of people who hadn't seen her before.

#2: Trump was boring for the very first time in this campaign during the 2nd half of this debate. He appeared sidelined for much of that time. He was not the center of attention like we (and he) are used to. I don't think he helped himself in this debate.

#3: Rubio and Christie exceeded expectations.

#4: Huckabee was great but he didn't get enough time.

#5: Kasich and Walker were too bland and programmatic.

#6: Cruz was his usual machine-like self, with the flawless delivery and all, but he won't excite many people.

#7: Carson did well too. He knew the issues and didn't get tangled up with other participants.

#8: Rand Paul did better, but, over there on the left, he looked to far out of the action most of the night.

#9: The debate was at least 45 minutes too long.

#10: And back to Carly She drew blood from Trump for the very first time in this campaign. She is now officially the most effective weapon against Trump. She's going places.

Winners and losers in tonight's CNN Republican debate

The Republican primary election has turned into a chest-hair counting contest, thanks to Donald Trump. He has set out to prove himself the dominant male in the race and so far is succeeding--and doing it without trying real hard, which people like.

I still can't figure out what accounts for this outbreak of masculinity in a generally anti-testosterone culture, but this is what is happening. Trump does all the things a dog does to bring the rest of the pack into line: He growls, bites, badgers, acts petulantly, and demands to be petted (an action he will administer to himself if necessary).

The other candidates don't seem to understand this yet (largely because they don't read this blog, which, of course, is inexcusable).

So what does this mean for tonight? How do you displace the alpha dog?

The first thing is to do no harm. For Bush, that means his handlers (where have these people been anyway?) need to tell their candidate to stop cocking his head to the side in this sort of awe, shucks way that, I'm sorry, just makes him look like a wimp. This has the same effect as when a submissive member of the pack turns over on his back and lifts up its paw. It means, "Sure, buddy, anything you want." Bush's handers needed to have him practice his debate performance with highly charged electrodes just inches from each side of his head to give him a strong shock when commits submissive behavior.

The strategy for some candidates is going to be to demonstrate some more grit. Unfortunately, wearing jeans, and cowboy hat along with a large belt buckle probably won't do the trick. Bush's only hope is to pad his arms and shoulders and look like he has been working out. But he isn't going to do that. And going toe to toe with Trump is his only option, but he just can't do it very well, and for that reason, Bush is going to lose ground tonight.

Same for Rand Paul. This is where Trump's physique comes in. I'm surprised no one has taken notice of Trump's physical build. I don't know how tall he is, but he is clearly a tall, well-built man. The dude's got to work out or something. Has anyone noticed that the guy is large, well into his sixties, and has no noticeable stomach?

I'm being serious here. Your physique and your posture are things that give you automatic confidence when you speak to people or appear on television. My diminutive and somewhat shy daughter shocked me in high school by winning a debate competition (with no prior experience). The one thing that struck me was her posture. She rode horses, which requires you to sit up perfectly straight. If her excellent posture didn't actually give her confidence (I think it did), it made her look like she did, which had to have helped bring it about.

Trump's very physical presence communicates his dominance.. Did anyone know notice how small Paul looked in the first debate? He looked like he had just arrived in the land of giants. He needs to negotiate for a smaller podium to make himself look bigger. But it won't happen. So he loses too. So does Marco Rubio. He looks too young--too young to take on the top dog.

The only other strategy against Trump is coexistence. Cruz has mastered this. He has followed the Klingon strategy of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. So far, this isn't working too badly for him. Same for Rubio, who is following this same strategy. But Cruz is plagued by these irritating effeminacies. Look at his manner, particularly the way he uses his hands, and compare these with Trump's manner, and you'll see what I mean. As far as Rubio goes, he would be doing better if he didn't look so much like he was still waiting for his permanent teeth to come in.

Then there are the other candidates who, almost to a man (but not a woman, hold on for that thought), are just boring, especially compared to Trump. There is a yawning excitement gap in this campaign, and all the candidates who just roll out policy proposals and tout their very boring technocratic expertise and experience just simply stand no chance in this race, partly because this race is about being authentic and none these things help to establish that.

Huckabee seems to me to be in a unique position. He is well spoken, logical, and is trying to outmaneuver his opponents with evangelicals. I think he is always impressive in these kind of situations. He is the only one, it seems to me, who is able to criticize Trump and get away with it because of his smooth and disarming manner. At the same time, he somehow (I don't know how), doesn't seem to suffer from the 2016 establishment curse, despite the fact that he was a governor.

Ben Carson won't be hurt too badly, but I think people are going to find him less compelling in this debate. He got a big bump in the last debate because he looked real and respectable and he exceeded expectations. But now expectations are higher this time and I think that his lack of specifics (something that doesn't hurt the alpha dog) won't impress anybody. I think he communicates his authenticity well, which is one of his big advantages. He has also captured much of the religious right because he's one of them. He also has a great story. But I think his languid manner is going to start to wear. It will either be a wash for Carson or a slight comedown.

Walker is boring because he's too establishment and just keeps digging himself in by his litany of establishment accomplishments and his lists of policy prescriptions. He loses. Kasich should have the same problems as Walker, but he is trying to go for moderates which no one else is going for, plus he spunk, which doesn't hurt.

Chris Christie does okay, but, unfortunately for him, Trump has out Chris Christied Chris Christie.

Then there is Carly Fiorina, who I think is the candidate who has the ability to gain the most in this debate. Ironically, she may be the toughest personality in the contest. While she's smooth, she still rates high on the authenticity scale, and her manner is more masculine than Cruz. Like Carson, she has a great story (secretary to CEO). And, most importantly, she is the only candidate who can follow the first anti-Trump strategy--to go after him--and gain ground. She did a great job of going after Hillary, and, being a woman, she will exceed expectations if she is able to draw a little blood from the dominant male. She's in an underdog position--because of her sex and her up-until-now low stature in the polls. She'll also have "Aha!" factor: Many will see her for the first time and be impressed.

Fiorina gains the most 
Trump maintains his advantage or adds to it; ditto for Huckabee and maybe Kasich 
Cruz and maybe Carson and Christie maintain 
Rand Paul and Rubio maintain or lose a little 
Bush loses, as does Walker

Monday, September 14, 2015

Hah! Evidence that 15 homo naledis were part of cave cramming fad

Okay. Now this is serendipitous. My thesis that the 15 small-brained hominids found in a South African cave and now being called homo naledi (and by the way, the Latin plural of that is homines naledorum) were part of a prehistoric cave cramming fad is gaining credibility by the moment.

Which country holds the record for the number of people that can be stuffed into a phone booth?

Ready? SOUTH AFRICA! From Mortal Journey: "The South African record of twenty five people stuffed into a booth has never been broken.

You heard it here first.

Is the discovery of skeletons in an African cave really as significant as scientists are saying?

Scientists who have found fifteen skeletons in a cave in South Africa claim they have discovered a new species of hominid and are now waxing eloquent about the significance of the discovery to science. They have even given these creatures a fancy name: homo naledi.

But based on the fact that they were of small stature and possessed small brains, it is fairly clear that what we have here is an attempt by a group of prehistoric teenagers who, not having a small car or a phone booth at their disposal, were trying to see how many people could fit into a cave.

Ten bucks says that if they can determine the stomach contents of these creatures, they will find tiny fish skeletons—remnants of goldfish swallowing contests—and that if they look at the walls carefully they will find primitive instructions on how to dance the cha-cha.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A question for conservatives who think Kim Davis should "follow the law" or resign

I have a question for my fellow conservatives unsympathetic with Kim Davis' refusal to issue marriage licenses.

A number of conservatives have said that they think Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis should either "follow the law" or resign her position. The "rule of law," they say, is all-important and cannot be defied without threatening our very form of government.

So, here is my question:

Given that the Supreme Court defied the rule of law in a manner, given their power and office, far more destructive to our form of government (by ignoring the plain language of the Constitution, defying precedent, and just flat out making stuff up) than Kim Davis could do in fifty lifetimes, why did you never call on the five justices who made up the High Court's majority in the Obergefell decision to "follow the law or resign"?

I just find it ironic that their standards for the behavior of public officials is higher for a lowly county clerk than it is for an exalted member of the nation's highest court.

And let's not say that the Court has the right and responsibility to "interpret the Constitution." That dog most definitely won't hunt, since there is a legitimate distinction between interpretation and policy-making and the Court has defied as egregiously as it possible to defy it, and the argument that the Court has the right to do this on the basis of Marbury vs. Madison basically amounts to saying that the Supreme Court can do what the Supreme Court wants to do because it says so.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Family Foundation Press Release on release of Kim Davis: Strengthen KY religious freedom laws

LEXINGTON, KY--"While we hope Judge Bunning enjoyed a leisurely holiday weekend," said Family Foundation spokesman Martin Cothran, "we are sorry Kim Davis had to languish in jail, away from her family. Judge Bunning has ordered her release, but we wonder why it came for Davis after spending six days in jail. Nothing has materially changed over the weekend. If she didn't deserve to be in jail today, she didn't deserve to be put there in the first place."

The Family Foundation, the group leading the effort in Kentucky to support Kim Davis, said that the release does not change the problem of threats to religious freedom. "There is no indication that the next person who exercises his or her First Amendment right to free religious exercise will not be thrown in jail too."

Cothran called for strengthening Kentucky's religious freedom protections. "We need to make sure this doesn't happen again," he said.

Cothran also openly wondered if Bunning had second thoughts over the weekend about what he had done. "Judge Bunning and others who have a low view of religious freedom protections must have realized over the holiday weekend that they had created a marytr and hurt their own cause. It's too bad it took the mobilization of tens of thousands of citizens to force her release."


Judge Bunning orders Kim Davis released

Judge Bunning orders #KimDavis released on the condition that she lets her deputy clerks continue to issue marriage licenses in the name of the county clerk. Meanwhile, a huge crowd gathers in front of the jail.


Religious Freedom Held Hostage: Jailing Kim Davis was not only a sin―It was a mistake

In all of the debate about gay marriage, no one ever even suggested that anyone who supported it should be put in jail. Now, however, we are incarcerating people for disagreeing with it.

In the case of Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk, we have a public official, who, her detractors originally said, should do her job in spite of her religious beliefs or resign. They apparently forgot to mention the option of putting her behind bars.

But all of these demands trample on a number of important considerations.

First, when Kim Davis took her oath to the Kentucky Constitution, that document stated very clearly that marriage was between one man and one woman. Gay marriage was literally not in her job description. In fact, in a sense her job description specifically banned doing this. Some Kentuckians will wonder how they would feel if they were hired for a job and then told that they were to do something not only at odds with their religious convictions, but precisely the opposite of what they were hired to do.

Maybe what the General Assembly should do once they rewrite Kentucky's statutes to bring them in compliance with the Supreme Court's unconstitutional dictate is to have all public officials swear an oath to the new Politically Correct version of the law.

Second, the ACLU-headed lynch mob that went after Davis doesn't seem to appreciate the fact that the right of religious exercise is an enumerated Constitutional right important enough to have been mentioned in the very First Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

You can just imagine the reaction of the authors of the Constitution upon being told that future judges would downgrade this fundamental right in order to accommodate homosexuals wanting to get married―and that the change would be effected, not by the procedure they laid out (the amendment process), but through the usurpation by the High Court of the legislative prerogative.

One wonders what would be the reaction of the ACLU and their friends if the conflict involved in the Davis case involved another right mentioned in the very same sentence of the First Amendment: What if, instead of Davis' right of free religious exercise, it was her right of free speech that was threatened? We all know that the ACLU and its Amen chorus in the media would be holding up Kim Davis as a heroine. But the right of free religious exercise has the same Constitutional status as that of free speech.

Finally, what statute in Kentucky's law books is Kim Davis violating? Kentucky's marriage laws all assume traditional marriage, and will continue to do so until the General Assembly revises the law in the next legislative session.

One of these laws requires that the marriage license be filed in the county "in which the female resides." Any county clerk clerk who issues a license to a male same-sex couple is explicitly violating the law. In other words, the law itself has not been brought into line with the Supreme Court's questionable decision.

If a clerk is asked by two males to give them a marriage license in his county and he issues it, will Judge David Bunning throw him in jail for not following the law?

If Kim Davis is to be put in jail for not following the law as a public official, then (as some conservatives have pointed out) why haven't we also jailed the numerous other public officials who are not following immigration laws?

Was Gavin Newsome, the Lieutenant Governor of California, thrown in jail when he ignored then-current law and issued same-sex marriage licenses in 2004? And why wasn't Eric Holder (or for that matter Barack Obama) put behind bars for deciding in 2011 that it would no longer follow the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by the U. S. Congress in 1996?

Why were the people who are now so insistent on Kim Davis "following the law" so enthusiastic about violating it when doing so favored their own political interests? Why do liberals get to freely defy the rules, but conservatives must always be good little boys and girls and swallow their unconstitutional medicine?

There are some people, not a few of them conservatives, who think that the principle upon which Kim Davis operates is a recipe for anarchy. “What we cannot do," said The American Conservative's Rod Dreher, "and what the government cannot permit, is open defiance of settled law.”

"Settled law"?

"Settled" means you've been there a while. It means you've had time to acclimate yourself to the new situation. It means you're at peace with things. The problem on the same-sex marriage issue is that, although the proponents of same-sex marriage have gutted the Constitution, installed all new legal appliances, and completely redecorated the place, we're only just now moving in.

"Settled law" is what you get when a law has been around a while, when statutory law has had time to bring itself into compliance, and when it has been used as precedent for other laws. Obergefell isn't even close to being "settled law."

But more to the point, as Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee pointed out on last Sunday on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolis, if that is the principle we are to follow, then what can we say about Abraham Lincoln's defiance of the Supreme Court's 1857 Dred Scott decision?

The idea that the only two options are blind compliance with any and every law (even those that violate clear Constitutional protections) or complete anarchy is not only incorrect, it is the falsest of false dichotomies.

The people who articulate the principle that we are to always follow the law, no matter what, have not thought very hard about what that would mean. Do we really think, for example, that public officials in the South should have complied with Jim Crow laws requiring strict racial segregation? These laws were a lot more "settled" than same-sex marriage laws are today. In fact, the civil rights movement is filled with instances of the refusal to follow "settled law."

If we must obey the law in all circumstances then there is no relief from injustice and oppression. We make of every political disease a potential death sentence. Ever injustice threatens to become a fatal political malady.

The Supreme Court, in the process of rewriting the Constitution to bring it into line with with the left-wing attitudes of their fellow culture elites in Obergefell, changed the very definition of a concept that is woven throughout our law, affecting hundreds of thousands of public officials. Can we not expect that there will be people who it has placed in a serious ethical dilemma? Is there no way to accommodate them at all―at least until the statutory law is brought into line?

There are even a few conservative jurists who believe that Judge Bunning did the legally correct thing. Okay. But if they're going to maintain this, they're going to have give a coherent account of why Kim Davis isn't protected by Kentucky's Religious Freedom Protection Act, passed in 2013. Kentucky's RFRA requires that the government not only show that it has a compelling interest in substantially burdening someone's religious freedom, but that it use the least restrictive means of doing so? Judge Bunning ruled (on the basis of a not-very-persuasive argument) that she was not substantially burdened by the requirement to issue license, but he didn't even deal with the second criterion.

Why isn't Judge Bunning following the law?

If Bunning had taken full account of Kentucky's religious freedom law, this issue could have been easily resolved. All Davis asks is that her name not appear on the license. That's it. So why did we push everyone over a political cliff on this?

The reason, of course, is that they wanted to create a scene. Well, they accomplished that purpose. The trouble is that in looking like bullies, they only hurt their cause.

Not only is it wrong to have put Kim Davis in jail, but I think even the supporters of same-sex marriage will rue the day Bunning took this action. "It is worse than a sin," to quote Napoleon: "It is a mistake."

In throwing Kim Davis in jail, Judge Bunning has put a face on the issue of religious discrimination. His order produced a mugshot of Davis now circulating on the Internet. People of faith all over this country have to wonder whether this image is a sign of things to come in a country now ruled by judicial elites unsympathetic to the text of the Constitution itself and now seemingly hostile and punitive toward those with whom they politically disagree.

The same-sex marriage movement's anti-religious freedom crusade will now be seen for what it is: an aggressive and intolerant movement that is willing to jail people for exercising their legitimate Constitutional rights.

Kim Davis will be released from jail. But Judge Bunning's action will live on in infamy.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Huckabee lets loose on George Stephanopolous about #KimDavis

Mike Huckabee appeared yesterday on This Week with George Stephanopolous to discuss the #KimDavis. A number of his comments were run over at Breitbart. They were all good, but this one was particularly lucid:
You’ve got Democrats who ignored the law when it was the law to have traditional marriage. Gavin Newsom in San Francisco as mayor performed same-sex weddings even though it was illegal. Did he ever get put in jail? He most certainly did not. You have Barack Obama and Eric Holder, when he was attorney general. They ignored the rulings of [the Defense of Marriage Act].  Did they ever get put in jail for ignoring the law? They most certainly did not. So when is it that liberals get to choose what laws they support, but a county clerk in Kentucky who, acting on her Christian faith, is criminalized, jailed without bail, because she acted on her conscience and according to the only law that is in front of her?
Read the rest here.