Skip to main content


Showing posts from March, 2012

Bill Donohue and the Catholic League don't like my advice to Archbishop Chaput

Well, I guess I didn't expect this:

There's a database connection problem at the site, currently, but luckily the Catholic League e-mailed me a press release chastising ... me.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on an article that appears today as a post on the Philadelphia magazine blog site by Joel Mathis:

Joel Mathis isn’t Catholic, but that doesn’t stop him from giving some heady advice to Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput: just tend to the problems in the archdiocese and drop your criticisms of the Obama administration. Mathis is angry that Chaput has a new e-book coming out tomorrow, A Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America, that addresses recent attacks on religious liberty. Mathis counsels Chaput to “concentrate on fixing the Catholic Church in Philadelphia,” adding that the archbishop’s alleged “anti-Obama crusade” amounts to “a distraction.”

Catholics like to lecture the outspoken archbishop a…

About the Constitution, divinity, and Mennonites

The latest edition of The Ben and Joel Podcast is, well, kind of weird. In it, we interview Larry Arnn about his new book, "The Founders' Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It." Arnn's main point is that the Declaration and the Constitution don't have opposing philosophical foundations—despite what some scholars say—but I got hung up on the "divine and natural part" and you can hear so in the podcast.

The word "God" appears in Arnn's text 64 times. He references the Declaration's appeal to "the laws of nature and of nature's God" 21 times. And so, for me, the book reads much like a theological declaration as much—or more—as it is a work of history or political science. Is there room for a secular-minded person in a "divine" understanding of government? What's wrong with believing the Founders were a group of smart men—but also human …

John McCain never wants to leave Afghanistan

I feel like most of today’s McCain-Lieberman-Graham op-ed about the need to stay the course in Afghanistan could’ve been written four or five or six years ago. But I really want to focus on this particular paragraph:
At the strategic level, our effort continues to be undermined by the perception that the United States will again abandon Afghanistan. This suspicion makes everything our troops are trying to achieve significantly harder. It creates perverse incentives for the Taliban to keep fighting, for the Pakistani army to hedge its bets by providing support to the Taliban, and for our Afghan allies to make counterproductive decisions based on fears of a post-American future.But here’s the thing: Eventually the United States will leave Afghanistan. The Afghans will remain, and Pakistan will be next door. Everybody knows this.

Now, I don’t know how long it will be before that exit takes place. It might be next year, 10 years from now, or even another 100 years. But history seems to su…

Is Obama the 'affirmative action president?'

Though his politics are not mine, I'm friendly with and very much like Steve Hayward, a prolific conservative writer who these days blogs at Power Line. Ben and I had him on our podcast this weekend to discuss his new book, "The Politically Incorrect Guide To Presidents," in which Hayward gives each president from Woodrow Wilson on a letter grade for their constitutional fealty. Democrats, as you might surmise, don't do well.

I let myself sound a bit exasperated at one main point during the discussion. In the book, Hayward says that President Obama can be fairly called the nation's first "affirmative action president." He suggests that Obama had a thin resume, and benefited from the nation's desire to elect a black man to the country's highest office.

Today, at Power Line, Steve affirms that stance by quoting Jim Geraghty at National Review:
It ties to a theory I’ve had for a while, that most apolitical voters desperately want to avoid concludi…

Rendell and Iran: Why no mention of his media activities?

Over the last month, former Philadelphia Mayor/Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has mostly been in the news for leading a group of investors trying to buy the Philadelphia Daily News, Inquirer, and Late last week, though, he abruptly dropped out of the group bidding on those news properties.

And then it became public that Rendell was under investigation by the feds for taking speaking fees from an Iranian (alleged) terrorist group.

Since then, we've had severalstories in the Inquirer and one today in the Daily News about Rendell's troubles with the feds ... and not one of them mentions that he was just days ago the leader of the group trying to buy those newspapers.

I don't mean to impugn the hard-working reporters at either newspaper, some of whom I'm Twitter-friendly with. But it's an odd omission—particularly in light of the very public in-house battles about those papers' coverage of their own sale. It's perhaps a minor thing, but it doesn&#…

When Does Adulthood Begin?

One possible byproduct of the economic challenges today's young adults face may be shifting societal norms about when adulthood begins. When asked what age children should be financially independent from their parents in a 1993 survey, 80% of parents said children should be self-reliant by age 22. In a survey conducted in December 2011, only 67% of parents (with children age 16 or under) say their children have to be financially independent by age 22.via

America's future workforce

Daily Number: Hispanics Will Account for an Increasingly Large Share of Labor Force Growth - Pew Research Center: "Between 2010 and 2020, Hispanics are expected to add 7.7 million workers to the labor force. In contrast, the number of non-Hispanic whites in the labor force is projected to decrease by 1.6 million.

As a result, Hispanics will account for the vast majority -- 74% -- of the 10.5 million workers to be added to the labor force in this ten-year period. Hispanics accounted for a much lower share -- 36% -- of the total labor force increase from 1990 to 2000 and between 2000 and 2010 (54%)."

'via Blog this'

More on Rush Limbaugh and crybaby politics

Over at The Philly Post yesterday, I lamented "The Era of Martyrdom Politics" in which we try to advance our cause by being offended by what our rivals have to say about us. I mentioned the whole Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke thing, writing: "Suddenly we weren’t talking about contraceptive policy anymore, but about how a man who made his career two decades ago by coining the term 'feminazi' and crossing numerous other lines is, no kidding, really, a very obnoxious sexist and this time we mean it."

In other words, Rush has always been a jerk—there's nothing new to see here! And I think Gawker probably gets at this point a little better than I did:
So here comes Rush Limbaugh—a media entity who has repeatedly, almost monthly, reveled in a transparent strategy of uttering whatever racist, sexist, homophobic slur comes to mind for the explicit purposes of riling his antagonists—to utter a sexist slur for the explicit purposes of riling his antagonists. And his…

Netflix, Amazon, and the 'problem' of streaming movie choice

At The AV Club, Tasha Robinson makes the case for continuing with physical media instead of relying on cloud-based streaming services like Netflix. Some of what she says makes sense, but not this:
And then there’s the fact that DVD/Blu-ray selection is still far greater than streaming selection. For example, check out this comparison list from September 2011, showing that only about a fifth of the movies on the IMDB top 250 are available via Netflix streaming—a percentage that dropped recently with the lapse of the Starz deal. Or consider Netflix’s Alfred Hitchcock library: More than 40 films available on disc, but only six available on Netflix Instant, and only two of those (The Lady Vanishes and The Man Who Knew Too Much) among his classics. Not only is any given film still far more likely to be available in disc form, those discs are still more likely to have options like subtitles, alternative languages, and disc extras. That's only true if you consider Netflix the end-all, be…

You can have your low gas prices, or you can have a nuclear Iran

It's not quite so dire as that, probably, but with Republican candidates hitting President Obama so hard on the price of gas, it's worth noting some of the factors that are driving that price up:
The Iran situation has already raised the price of crude oil as much as 20 percent, according to oil experts.

That fear is tempered by optimism — if tensions ease in the Middle East, experts predict that energy prices will fall, with gasoline at the pump potentially dropping 50 cents a gallon or more because supplies are relatively strong in many parts of the country. Some analysts say the world price of oil could fall to $80 a barrel if tensions eased.So gas prices are at least partly the result of America's tough anti-nuke sanctions against Iran. What else?
Despite a fall in gasoline demand in the United States and Europe, global oil markets are tightening because demand for energy from Asian countries, particularly China and India, is rising at surprisingly strong rates even as …