December 18, 2015

CathCon Weekly - 12/18/2015

Did Inequality Cause ISIS? - Benjamin Weingarten, City Journal
That Piketty would come to such an ill-conceived conclusion that jihadism is attributable to “inequality” may be a mere reflection of his myopia—indeed anyone heavily invested in a particular area of study may imagine linkages in other areas. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that a socialist interprets the jihad according to first materialist principles. But it should disturb us that many in the Western elite—including President Obama—either share such sentiments or are willing to mislead us for political purposes.
The Closing of Barack Obama’s Mind - Peter Wehner, Commentary
If you want to witness an adamantine mind at work, you could do a whole lot worse that observe the 44th president of the United States. Barack Obama is the most rigidly ideological president of my lifetime, a man who has a nearly blind adherence to a particular ideology (progressivism). It’s a disturbing, if at times a psychologically fascinating, thing to witness.
Can GOP Fatten Up Around the Middle? - Joel Kotkin, City Journal
Although some donors care about other issues, including Israel and, sometimes, social issues, the big money in the party is focused on reducing tax burdens. After all, if you are an investment bank, pharmaceutical firm or oil company, your concerns involve finding ways to avoid, or at least slow down, the taxman.
Bringing America Home - George W. Carey, Imaginative Conservative
The subtitle, “How America Lost Her Way and How We Can Find Our Way Back,” indicates the general organization of the book—that is, it consists of two main parts: the first detailing how and in what ways we have wandered off course; the second with how we can recover our proper bearings. Now, in claiming that America has lost its way, Pauken means, in effect, that we have abandoned conservatism, the more traditional conservatism associated with Goldwater and Reagan.
Shutting Down Conversations About Rape - Jeannie Suk, The New Yorker
Winston’s attorneys have put public documents related to his case on a dedicated Web site so that people who see the film can evaluate the facts of the case for themselves. I won’t belabor the merits of the case or the accuracy of the film here, but, as Emily Yoffe noted on Slate, “what the evidence (including Willingham’s own testimony) shows is often dramatically at odds with the account presented in the film.”
Our Great Sexual Adventure: Where Does It End? - Jeremy Neill, Public Discourse
All signs suggest that further and more exotic sexual explorations will soon be gaining our collective approval. But I disagree with them on another point: I think that even in the absence of a near-term turnaround, a medium- or long-term victory for traditional sexual ethics is all but certain.
How to Fix College Admissions - Samuel Goldman, American Conservative
The problem with this strategy is not that it lets in vast numbers of unqualified students. It is that universities’ commitment to maintaining a specific demographic balance without applying quotas encourages opacity, and even downright dishonesty, in the admissions process.
The Contemporary Denial of Reality - Anthony Esolen, Crisis
Prudence, writes Josef Pieper in The Christian View of Man, is the root of all the natural virtues, and there is an obvious reason why. It is the virtue of seeing reality as it is. There can be no true virtue without it, because the virtues are to be exercised among imperfect human beings, not among angels or demons or brutes, and in the world before us, not in a never-land of the fantasies or nightmares of ideology.
Tolkien’s Mythology Before World War I - Bradley Birzer, Imaginative Conservative
In a letter written to the Wheaton College literary professor and early scholar of the Inklings, Clyde Kilby, Tolkien added at the end as a footnote: “I hope that this may reach you at or about Christmas. Lux fulgebat super nos.* Eala Eärendil engla beorhtast ofer middangeard monnum sended (Rapturous words from which ultimately sprang the whole of my mythology). 
The Establishment Radicals of the Modern University - Matthew Franck, First Things
Next autumn will mark forty years since I arrived on a college campus as a freshman. I’ve never left the academy since then. I have been student or teacher at many types of institutions: the small liberal-arts college, the “Research I” state university that completely dominates a small town, the ambitious urban Jesuit university “in the Catholic tradition,” the middling-quality “comprehensive” state university educating many first-generation college students, the great self-confident Ivy League institution, even a very fine university in an Asian capital city.
These Two Sisters Couldn’t Be Closer - Megan Daum, Vogue
For the first eight years of her life, Kristina Schake fell asleep listening to the sound of her older sister, Kori’s, voice. When the girls got their own rooms, Kristina refused to spend nights in hers, sleeping instead next to Kori’s bed. From there, Kori would tell Kristina stories from Greek mythology, read her Jane Austen, or regale her with tales of high school social intrigue. 
How Political Correctness Corrupted the Colleges -  Daphne Patai, Minding the Campus
How can it be that, in the face of daily news of murders, grotesque punishments, and open oppression by radicals abroad, here at home American college students, who have grown up with degrees of freedom and autonomy virtually unknown in most times and places, agitate for restrictions on their own campuses, demand rules, regulations, and censorship in the name of their versions of justice?
What is the Actual US Divorce Rate and Risk? - Glenn Stanton, Public Discourse
There’s a great deal of fog today about what the actual divorce rate is in the United States. Some say it’s around 50 percent, others—including some notable authors—say it’s nowhere close to that. Some incorrectly believe that the 50 percent number comes from a simple comparison of the number of weddings and divorces in a given year, yet no serious scholar or demographer has ever measured divorce rates that way.
The Challenge of Self-Governance - Alexander Salter, Imaginative Conservative
There is no such thing as a finished constitution. As a foundational feature of political organization, constitutions are constantly being renewed or altered, but rarely are they static, and never for long. 
Critical Race Theory and Law’s Future - Bruce Frohnen, Nomocracy in Politics
In it Mr. Hinderaker details the demands of a group of radical students aiming to change the character of the law school. The list emphasizes “student input,” changes in various symbols to erase the school’s “racist” patrimony, yet another layer of coddling in the form of a “diversity committee,” and the hiring of yet more leftists, this time of a specific type, called “Critical Race Theorists.” In sum, the demands are a predictably self-indulgent adolescent power grab.
The ‘Isolationist’ Smear - David Harsanyi, The Federalist
The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin writes that Ted Cruz “outdid himself last night in his courting of the Trumpkin base,” sinking “further into the far-right brew of isolationism and xenophobia.” And to prove this contention, Rubin grabs hold of two words Cruz used, “America” and “first,” to claim that the Texas senator is signaling support for 1930s/40s-style isolationism.
Europe, Multiculturalism, and Nihilism - Luca Volonte, Public Discourse
Many interesting and ridiculous things have been said and written about the terrible ISIS attack on innocents in Paris. Yet, because of the manipulation of mass media, our memory is anesthetized. If we are not now, we will soon be ready to forget the tragedy in Paris, as we have already forgotten the tragedy of the Russian airplane in Sinai, the killing of Israeli citizens, and Boko Haram’s massacres in Nigeria, Egypt, and Tunisia. This is just the latest slaughter, which we will soon forget.
The Secret of Trump’s Success - Ross Douthat, NYT
My sense of things, last night and in the cold light of morning, is that yesterday evening’s Republican debate mostly maintained the primary race’s status quo — Trump on top, Rubio and Cruz jockeying beneath, and room for maybe one more candidate to work their way into the not-Trump mix.
The Future of European Civilization: Lessons for America - Roger Scruton, Heritage
In a gloomy but strangely enthralling book published at the end of the First World War, the historian and polymath Oswald Spengler wrote of the decline of the West, arguing that Europe was moving inevitably to its end according to a pattern that can be observed among civilizations from the beginning of recorded history.
What “Social Justice” Really Means - James V. Schall, S.J., Crisis
For much of my academic life, I considered the terms, “values,” “rights,” and “social justice,” to have equivocal meanings. When these terms were used without clarification, they disrupted any fair social order. Each of the phrases had two or more meanings that usually meant the direct opposite of each other.
Making Sense of the Progressive Mind - James Kalb, Crisis
People who reject secular progressivism, especially in its more highly developed forms, are often puzzled by its proponents. Do they really believe what they say they believe, for example, that diversity is always strength, or traditional religion and morality are dangerous and irrational bigotries, or there are no significant differences between men and women?
Diagnosing Our American Illness - Justin Dyer, Public Discourse
Obama’s claims that evening were grandiose, even by the standards of the 2008 campaign. On a stage in St. Paul, Minnesota, the first-term Illinois senator positioned himself as a visionary leader ushering in a new era of American politics, shedding past partisan divisions and uniting a generation around the promises of hope and change.

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