The Fraud Of "natural Law"
March 08, 2009
Right-wing Catholic intellectuals like to claim that the Vatican's absolute opposition to abortion (and homosexuality, and contraception) is grounded in something called "natural law," a body of moral principles that are accessible to all human beings through both reason and conscience. Because these principles can be known by all of us, regardless of our theological convictions, they are supposed to be binding on all of us.
Still More On Walt!
March 06, 2009
James Fallows' case for Chas Freeman is much better than the "anything that's bad for the Israel lobby must be good" rationales I've seen. Yet it still leaves me unconvinced. Fallows argues that Freeman, while not the kind of person you'd want running U.S. foreign policy, is a useful "contrarian" to have around. But Freeman isn't a contrarian so much as a man with extremely rigid views that run contrary to what most people believe.
Carl Schmitt And The American Right
March 03, 2009
Over at NRO's The Corner, Jonah "Liberals Were Fascists Before They Were Socialists" Goldberg joins with the conservative movement's house comedian Mark Steyn in ridiculing a book he hasn't read -- Alan Wolfe's The Future of Liberalism: Mark - James Piereson reviews Wolfe's book in the latest issue of Commentary (which, readers may like to know, has a fantastic essay by none other than Mark Steyn in it). I can't get behind the firewall, even though I'm a print subscriber, but Piereson's review is sober and contemptuous at the same time.
The Media Blows It
February 24, 2009
Two distinct conversations on race have dominated this February, the first black history month with a black American president. One consisted of a steady stream of outrage over publication of a cartoon in the New York Post depicting a chimpanzee being shot to death. The other concerned a blunt and, some say, accusatory speech by Attorney General Eric Holder, in which he calls America "a nation of cowards" when it comes to race. Both instances have been almost laughably mistreated by the press. The Post controversy quickly morphed into a maudlin shouting match.
Iran's Jews Have A Wonderful Life; Ignore The Hysteria About Its Nukes
February 23, 2009
New York Timesman Roger Cohen was to come to my house for dinner on Tuesday night. But, alas, at the last moment, he found himself amidst one of the oldest Jewish communities in the Diaspora. But if he'd come I would have started a discussion with him about his op-ed piece, "What Iran's Jews Say," that was published in Monday's Times. Other guests would certainly have joined in. This is Cambridge, remember: more of our dinner guests would have agreed with him than with me, on the premise that Israel is responsible for all the discomfort Jews feel anywhere.
Muslim Culture Comes To Holland
February 23, 2009
You surely recall the Iraqi "journalist" who threw his shoe at George Bush. Well, there has been an epidemic of shoe-flinging ever since. A shoe was even hurled at the prime minister of China, Wen Jiabao, when he visited London a while ago. And now lobbing footwear has come to Holland. Israeli Captain (Res.) Ron Edelheit had arrived to visit his mother in Amsterdam and was asked to speak to members of the Jewish community about Operation Cast Lead, the military move against Hamas in Gaza.
To Russia . . . With Realism?
February 23, 2009
One of my favorite magazines, the Virginia Quarterly Review, has beefed up its presence online, which is a good thing, since it means I can link to this piece about Russia by Stepehn Boykewich. Boykewich's article is ostensibly a (withering) review of Steve LeVine's book, Putin's Labyrinth: Spies, Murder, and the Dark Heart of the New Russia, but it's more a realist manifesto for how the U.S. should deal with Putin and Russia--and thus serves as an interesting counterpoint to most of what I've read on the topic.
Burris Embraces The "faulty Communications" Excuse
February 21, 2009
Roll Call reports that Roland Burris "has not considered resigning," because [t]he Senator believes he has been honest and above board, but feels he is suffering in part because of a faulty communications strategy in relation to how he has dealt with this latest scandal. Hey, can we put a total moratorium on this lame, euphemistic, cynical and increasingly ubiquitous "faulty communications strategy" excuse?
Brownback: Theocon Inquisitor
February 21, 2009
The prospect of Congress passing and President Obama signing theFreedom of Choice Act (FOCA) has inspired the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to sponsor a parish-based campaign to get Catholics to send postcards to members of Congress stating their opposition to the act. There's nothing wrong with that. And neither is there anything inappropriate about Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) -- a Catholic convert from evangelical Protestantism who passionately opposes legalized abortion -- lending his name to the effort.
A Mormon In The White House?
February 17, 2009
David Frum is worried about the roughly 25 percent of Americans who would be disinclined to vote for a Mormon for president. (This is a potential problem for Republicans because several of the party's leading presidential candidates are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.) Before setting out to defend the Mormons against prejudice, Frum briefly examines Jacob Weisberg's 2006 attack on the faith and promptly dismisses its arguments on the grounds that they could be applied to the members of many other churches. I agree that Weisberg's arguments are overly broad.