Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday afternoon roundup

If you're looking for a singularly evocative, grotesque and heartbreaking instance of the inhumanity of statism and central planning - either generally or in health care - the case of Baby Charlie is it:

On June 27, the parents of 10-month-old Charlie Gard lost their final appeal to travel to the United States to have him treated for a rare brain disorder. The European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) denied the appeal of London parents Chris Gard and Connie Yates, which means that his life support will be removed and, at some point, he will be allowed to die.
Charlie's parents raised over £1.4million in private donations via GoFundme to pay for the treatment and their travel expenses. Charlie Gard suffers from a mitochondrial disease that causes muscle weakness and brain damage. His parents wanted to bring him to the United States for experimental nucleoside treatment, but the administrators and doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children denied the request. Their alternative? Withdraw life support, administer palliative care, and let Charlie "die with dignity."
Let that sink in a minute: This treatment would have come at no cost to the hospital or the National Health Service (NHS), and would have been covered completely by private donations. They denied the parents their right to determine care for their own child.
And the Vatican's response is extremely disturbing:

Against the backdrop of this barbaric abuse of judicial authority, the Catholic Church—the world’s greatest defender of the right to life, and long a moral bulwark against state intrusion into the rights of the family sphere—has decided that the courts in this case are basically right.
These are difficult times for orthodox Catholics, beset by a pope who often appears inclined to dismiss centuries of church teaching and a fair number of bishops who are apparently determined to follow him. Catechetical esoterica regarding Eucharistic doctrine, of course, can seem hopelessly complex for even the lay Catholic these days.
But the Catholic Church’s position on the sanctity of life is unmistakable to anyone, and has been for several thousand years. Its stance on the authority of the family has also long been clear. We should assume that the Vatican would be more than happy to condemn and rebuke in no uncertain terms an idiot juridical decision that condemns a little baby boy to die rather than allowing his parents to fight for his once chance to survive.
You would be wrong. The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life yesterday released a statement that waffles between limp-wristed equivocations and outright willful ignorance of church teaching. If this is where the Vatican now makes its stand, then the most vulnerable members of society—which is to say all of us, at some point—are in trouble.
The academy attempts to explain away the courts’ decision by citing “the complexity of the situation, the heartrending pain of the parents, and the efforts of so many to determine what is best for Charlie,” acknowledging that “we do, sometimes…have to recognize the limitations of what can be done” in modern medicine.
This is preposterous nonsense, what, growing up, my family called “mental babble.” The situation is not at all “complex”: Charlie’s parents want to attempt to save his life, and the courts have made it illegal for them to do so, in direct contravention of their parental authority. The “heartrending pain of the parents” is now primarily a feature not of their dying child (whom they are trying to save) but of the soft-tyrannical decision of the British courts (which are preventing them from doing so). As for “what is best for Charlie,” the obvious fact is clear: his parents have decided that for him. 

Nature-denial indoctrination among the periodicals aimed at adolescents: Teen Vogue Digital is on an overt campaign to "banish heteronormativity from its content." And Seventeen magazine has posted a video on why pronouns are important to transgendered young persons.

AEI scholar James Pethokoukis interviews Notre Dame professor of political thought Patrick J. Deneen on the question of whether there's a true conservative tradition in America:

I want as much growth and innovation and technological progress as possible. But am I wrong?

Maybe those are really good things, but maybe they also come at the price of what we’re calling conservatism. Or a kind of moral society grounded in a certain kind of way of life, a certain kind of culture, a certain set of beliefs that are passed down from one generation to the next. In other words it may be that that’s exactly what American civilization is, and maybe we shouldn’t be surprised then that we’re not conserving a lot. That a kind of a society defined increasingly by the inability of especially the middle class to form families, to pass on tradition, to forge and create religious belief — that one of the results of a society dedicated to restlessness, constant technological innovation, globalization, et cetera is that it’s not going to be a very conservative society. And if that’s what we want that’s fine. But conservatives should fess up. They should acknowledge that that’s going to be a cost. And that seems to me what American conservatism has failed to do, and why, in many ways, if we look at the landscape of American life today — social, cultural, political, religious life — why we have actually conserved very little.
Jonah Goldberg's G-File at NRO this week puts the entire sad Squirrel-Hair phenomenon in a - well, here comes a pun of such a low-hanging fruit variety that even small tree-dwellers with large fluffy tales may wince - nutshell:

The president of the United States really just isn’t a very good person. There is no definition of good character that he can meet. You certainly can’t say he’s a man of good character when it comes to sexual behavior. His adulterous past is well-documented. You can’t say he models decency in the way he talks. He’s not honest (you can look it up). He brags about whining his way to winning. He boasts of double-crossing business partners. If you want to say he’s charitable, you should read up on how he used his “charities” as leverage or for publicity stunts. I think we can all agree he’s not humble or self-sacrificing. When asked what sacrifices he’s made, in the context of his spat with the Kahn family, he couldn’t name anything save for the fact that he worked very hard to get rich and that he employs people (presumably because it profits him to do so). I don’t know how anyone could absolve him of the charge of vanity or greed. He’s certainly not pious by any conventional definition.

Some argue that he’s loyal, and there’s some evidence of that. But the loyalty he shows is instrumental and self-serving. In The Art of the Deal, there’s a fairly moving passage about Roy Cohn, Trump’s mentor, and loyalty. “The thing that’s most important to me is loyalty,” Trump says. “You can’t hire loyalty. I’ve had people over the years who I swore were loyal to me, and it turned out that they weren’t. Then I’ve had people that I didn’t have the same confidence in and turned out to be extremely loyal. So you never really know.”

He added: “The thing I really look for though, over the longer term, is loyalty.” Trump then said this about Cohn:

He was a truly loyal guy — it was a matter of honor with him — and because he was also very smart, he was a great guy to have on your side. You could count on him to go to bat for you, even if he privately disagreed with your view, and even if defending you wasn’t necessarily the best thing for him. He was never two-faced. Just compare that with all the hundreds of “respectable” guys who make careers boasting about their uncompromising integrity and have absolutely no loyalty. They think about what’s best for them and don’t think twice about stabbing a friend in the back if the friend becomes a problem. . . .  Roy was the sort of guy who’d be there at your hospital bed, long after everyone else had bailed out, literally standing by you to the death.

But when Cohn got HIV, Trump severed his ties with Cohn. “Donald found out about it and just dropped him like a hot potato,” Susan Bell, Cohn’s longtime secretary, said. “It was like night and day.”

I could go on. But you get the point. I am truly open to the argument that there’s some morally and intellectually serious definition of good character that Trump meets. I’ve just never heard it. And that’s why the tweets are ultimately just a symptom.

Conservatives for most of my life argued that character matters. That went by the wayside for many people in 2016.

The question now is what conservatives should do about it. I agree with Ramesh and Charlie entirely. Conservatives should condemn the bad behavior. But we shouldn’t fall into the liberal trap of saying that because Trump isn’t a gentleman, we should therefore abandon a conservative agenda. Being ungentlemanly is not an impeachable offense. At the same time, however, we should not follow the path of his worst enablers who insist that his bad behavior is admirable or that the bad behavior of others is a justification for his. That’s Alinsky-envying bunk. “Let the lie come into the world,” Solzhenitsyn said, “let it even triumph. But not through me.”
One for the good-move side of the ledger:

President Donald Trump’s Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it would not defend an Obama-era rule that has doubled the salary threshold at which employers must provide overtime compensation to employees.
The rule, championed by former President Barack Obama’s DOL, would have raised the salary threshold for workers to qualify as exempt from overtime pay from $455 to $913 per week (or from $23,660 to $47,476 per year). The rulewas set to go into effect Dec. 1, 2016, before a federal judge issued a temporary injunction.
U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant questioned the DOL’s authority to raise the minimum salary threshold. In his opinion, Mazzant said that the DOL “exceeded its delegated authority and ignored Congress’s intent by issuing the rule.”
The DOL said Friday that it would not appeal Mazzant’s temporary injunction, meaning that Obama’s overtime rule is likely dead.
Peter Heck at The Resurgent says that one important reason Ted Cruz has earned hero status is his fierce defense of free speech, and he provides video of a thunderous pronouncement at a Senate Judicial Committee hearing to prove it.



  1. The Catholic church has absolutely no power, only moral authority, regarding this matter. While the commission which commented has no authority but moral in this matter, I read it to be an acceptance of limits in a situation where it is admitted that this boy is going to die anyway. We do have issues with keeping humans alive when they are virtually dead. I read this as a "dig" at the Catholic church from a new fundie who tried it, didn't like it and then moved on for his formative experience with Christ. Live and let live, die and let die. And if all the linked conservative ranter who laments a "limp wristed" argument can dredge up as proof that the current Pope of love and mere mercy is overturning millennia of church teaching is the current debate over whether divorced/remarried Catholics can receive Holy Communion, his argument falls flat with me. Jesus called those who insisted on enforcing the letter of the law, pharisaic.



    a member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity.

    •a self-righteous person; a hypocrite.

    Live and let die....

  2. Individual human beings belong to themselves, their families and God - not the government. It would have been nice if the church statement had forthrightly asserted that.

  3. Conversely, all individuals in government belong to themselves, their families and God. As do all individuals in the plumbing business. Did your church issue a statement?

  4. But once thay're in government, they are part of the societal entity with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, which means they are obligated to examine how their every move might impact individual freedom

  5. Speak of the devil (didn't he wear Prada?), this morning's NYT carried this "You're Fired" account concerning someone other than Trump:

    And the congregation’s proposed corrections to Francis’ watershed document, Amoris Laetitia, or Joy of the Family, before its publication last year were ignored.

    It was that document that provided the most public division between Francis and Cardinal Müller, who made it clear that he viewed the most controversial aspects of the document through the prism of church tradition, and rejected the possibility that divorced Catholics who had remarried without an annulment could receive communion.

    During the pope’s trip to Philadelphia in September 2015, Cardinal Müller said “it’s not possible” for violators of church doctrine on divorce, homosexuality or abortion to be welcomed completely back into the church. “It’s not an academic doctrine, it’s the word of God,” he said.

    That position put him increasingly at odds with a pope who, in a letter to Argentine bishops, once wrote that there were “no other interpretations” to his document than the more merciful one. During the pope’s trip to Philadelphia, Cardinal Müller was also reported to have offered internal support to four conservative cardinals who wrote a letter to Francis questioning the doctrinal soundness of his position on divorce.

    The pope has simply refused to respond to the letter, which has become the central rallying cry among the church’s conservative circles, and spurred talk among some radical traditionalists of a potential schism. Cardinal Müller, who argued that the dispute should be settled privately between the Cardinals and the pope, was confident that he could squash the schism talk, because, he said, his ideological allies “will respect orders under my authority.”


  6. I'm not an official Methodist and currently have no plans to be, but our pastor always says prior to communion that all are welcome to come to the table.

    It's probably an important discussion to have, but it's also important that the splitting of doctrinal hairs doesn't serve as an excuse for anyone to not look squarely at the central issue.

  7. And it's important for this comment thread to stay focused on the subject of the post, which is the alarming moral failing of the Catholic Church in this particular instance.

  8. I see as a Christian you understand at least the symbolic nature of the bread. ("Take this & eat, for this is my body which will be given up for you for the remission of sins. Do this in memory of me." But it seems you are sure on the bandwagon of criticizing the mercy above the law stance of the current Pope which I find to be more Jesus than Jesuitical.

    Oh, I did not lose sight of PAL's "statement," which I find neither alarming nor a moral failing. Tell me where it fails again? Limp wristed, huh? Onward Christian hawks.....

    The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales issued a statement today that recognizes above all the complexity of the situation, the heartrending pain of the parents, and the efforts of so many to determine what is best for Charlie. The Bishops’ statement also reaffirms that “we should never act with the deliberate intention to end a human life, including the removal of nutrition and hydration, so that death might be achieved” but that “we do, sometimes, however, have to recognize the limitations of what can be done, while always acting humanely in the service of the sick person until the time of natural death occurs.”

    The proper question to be raised in this and in any other unfortunately similar case is this: what are the best interests of the patient? We must do what advances the health of the patient, but we must also accept the limits of medicine and, as stated in paragraph 65 of the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, avoid aggressive medical procedures that are disproportionate to any expected results or excessively burdensome to the patient or the family. Likewise, the wishes of parents must heard and respected, but they too must be helped to understand the unique difficulty of their situation and not be left to face their painful decisions alone. If the relationship between doctor and patient (or parents as in Charlie’s case) is interfered with, everything becomes more difficult and legal action becomes a last resort, with the accompanying risk of ideological or political manipulation, which is always to be avoided, or of media sensationalism, which can be sadly superficial."

  9. I fully realize that you are one of those Christians that enjoys the duties and obligations (no excuses, always a price to pay) of same and seems to enjoy pointing to your perception that others are not suffering enough for the pains of Christianity by positing what you call "excuses." Have you a seat on the Supreme Court of Heaven awaiting you when you arrive?

  10. "Complexities" and "unique difficulties" are smokescreens for letting the state usurp the rights of the parents.

  11. Who let the state do anything? The Catholic commentators? You're letting it happen too. What are you going to do, storm the court with a drone?

  12. The author of your linked article damning the state's "action" in regard to this "hopeless cause" had to use the opportunity to take a swipe at the Mercy Pope and all he could really come up with was his advocacy of holy communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. And of course the old "late in the day" guy gushes.

  13. You should fly over there and rip that child out of the hospital and fly him over to America and get him well.

  14. By that logic, I am also responsible for the concentration camps of North Korea.

  15. Anyhow, the Pope has now stepped in, so you can stop blaming the Catholic church now.

  16. Never one to miss out on a PR opportunity, now comes the Donald, bleeding everywhere in his heart. As usual, playing to his "base."

  17. Dunno about Britain, but this patient would have been a ward of sorts of the state here as well, because I do not know of a private carrier that carries limits high enough to not be exhausted at this juncture. It would be a Medicaid case. And the Donald is OK with getting rid of it. One would think that the go-fund-me mania might die down after a while, but anything to get the state or the insurance companies off the hook, huh?

  18. Well , "get off the hook" is one way to put it, but "bypass those models" couches it in more consumer-oriented terms.

  19. I presume you think that is a brilliant evocation of freedom, huh?

  20. Sure do. Maximizing the individual's range of choice is always good.

  21. So your faith lies with the corporate solution it appears. The corporate solution has always meant deductibles, co-pays, nasty details like premiums, contractual conditions and exclusions, but good hands, a sassy gecko, Jake from State Farm and a Nationwide that purports to be "on our side."