May 31, 2016

May 30, 2016

CathCon Daily - Memorial Day, 2016

Remembering Sacrifices - Charles C.W. Cooke, NRO

Courage is Never Wasted - David French, NRO

The Sacred Sacrifice We Honor Today - Arthur Herman, NRO

On Memorial Day, It's Personal - Dave Carter, The Federalist

Enough Soil: A Meditation for Memorial Day - Brad Miner, The Catholic Thing

When Charles Keating IV was Killed in Iraq... - Jonathan Ehret, The Federalist

What Makes American Strong - Steven Roberts, The Federalist

An Ode to Great Books and a Beautiful Library - W. Winston Elliott III, Imaginative Conservative

#Nevertrump, & the Death of Conservatism - Bruce Frohnen, Imaginative Conservative

First World Problems on Campus - Jesse Saffron, NRO

May 29, 2016

CathCon Weekend - 5/29/2016

The Liberal Blind Spot - Nicholas Kristof, NYT

In Addressing Campus Bias, Duke Threatens Free Speech - Stephanie Keaveney, Pope Center

Donald Trump and the Rule of Law - David Post, Volokh

On the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The ruthless bombing from the air of civilians in unfortified centers of population during the course of the hostilities which have raged in various quarters of the earth during the past few years...has profoundly shocked the conscience of humanity....I am therefore addressing this urgent appeal to every government which may be engaged in hostilities publicly to affirm its determination that its armed forces shall in no event, and under no circumstances, undertake the bombardment from the air of civilian populations or of unfortified cities, upon the understanding that these same rules of warfare will be scrupulously observed by all of their opponents. I request an immediate reply. - Franklin D. Roosevelt, September 1, 1939; on aerial bombardment of civilian populations.
We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan's power to make war. - Harry S. Truman, August 6, 1945; on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
With the approach of Memorial Day, and indeed, many holidays springing out of WWII (or other conflicts), there is invariably a discussion of the use of atomic weapons by the United States against Japan, specifically in bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war with Japan. Moreover, Pres. Obama's recent visit to the site has sparked a similar discussion.

Perhaps one of the most intelligent current defenders of the decision to undertake this bombing is Fr. William Miscamble, who teaches at the University of Notre Dame. The (excellent) blog American Catholic has a link to the video here. As I understand Fr. Miscamble's argument, here are his main points:
  1. Current critics of Truman and America for dropping the bomb base their criticism on limited historical knowledge.
  2. One mistaken interpretation states that even though Truman knew that Japan was on the verge of surrender, Truman used them to intimidate the Soviet Union.
  3. Truman bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, industrial targets, to avoid an invasion of Japan.
  4. Such an invasion would cause too many lives - despite continuous American bombing, and over 3 million Japanese military and civilian lives lost, no movement towards surrender was made.
  5. The Japanese were determined to continue the fight, as evidenced by creation of a Home Island militia.
  6. The atomic bombs, while not convincing the military leaders, convinced Hirohito that defense was useless.
  7. Other options would have cost many more American, Allied, and Japanese lives - estimates at the time were over 1 million lives.
  8. The Japanese also planned to execute thousands of POWs in case of invasion.
  9. The atomic bomb was justified in that it ended the Pacific war with many fewer lives lost, shortened the Pacific war, avoided the need for a land invasion, and stopped Japan's predations of its Asian neighbors.
For an opposite view, here is a summary of GEM Anscombe's argument against awarding Truman an honorary degree in 1956, based upon his action in dropping the atomic bombs:

  1. The Japanese had already asked for a negotiated surrender, but the US refused, as it was set on unconditional surrender.
  2. The Japanese did not reply to the Potsdam Declaration calling for Japan's unconditional surrender.
  3. To kill the innocent as a means to an end is always murder; you may not do evil that good may come.
  4. An invasion of Japan would have cost countless more lives, the Japanese would have killed the PoWs, and many civilians would have been killed in "ordinary bombing."
  5. Killing the innocent, however, is not necessarily murder, even if a matter of statistical certainty. If military targets are attacked, you will end up killing innocent civilians.
  6. Even if drawing a line between murder and collateral killing is difficult, it must be attempted.
  7. The "innocent" in war are those who are not fighting and not supplying the military with means to fight.
  8. "Innocent" does not refer to personal responsibility, but to those not engaged in harming. Therefore, even conscripts may be "harming" and not innocent, unless they surrender.
  9. Indiscriminate bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not wrong because of the use of atomic weapons, but because it killed innocent civilians as a means to end the war.
If I could distill the seeming philosophy behind each of these arguments, I think it would be as such:

  • Fr. Miscamble: Because the alternatives were terrible enough, it was acceptable to drop the two bombs to cause civilian chaos in order to force an unconditional surrender of Japan. In general, if the only way to produce the good or necessary outcome is via an evil means, then one may choose the evil means to the good end.
  • GEM Anscombe: Because one may never choose evil means to a good outcome,  one cannot deliberately target innocent civilians in order to produce a good outcome. This does not mean that innocents may not die in war, only that they may not be targeted as a reason to produce a given outcome.
I generally lean towards the Anscombian reasoning in this situations. There are several reasons for this, which I will discuss here.

First, Fr. Miscamble (and presumably, Pres. Truman and others who supported the use of the atomic bombs) partakes of utilitarian reasoning, specifically consequentialism. This reasoning holds that the use of the bomb was morally acceptable because it would avoid bad outcomes (invasion, heavy losses, extension of the war) and bring about good ones (less loss of life, shortened war, etc). I have several difficulties with utilitarian reasoning. I have summarized some here, but Fr. Miscamble seems to lean towards one of the following:
Expectable Consequentialism: The morally right action is the action whose reasonably expectable consequences are best. 
Reasonable Consequentialism: An action is morally right if and only if it has the best reasonably expected consequences.
This requires the actor to weigh potential future consequences of an action in order to make a calculus as to whether it is acceptable to take an action. Therefore, Pres. Truman (as it was his decision, in the end) had to weigh the loss of life, length of war, and other factors, and decide whether the dropping of the bombs could be justified in producing the consequences of Japan's surrender. Whether or not deliberately targeting innocents is good or evil is irrelevant to the calculus, provided the outcome is sufficiently assured. Looking more carefully, it may also be irrelevant whether the action does, in actuality, produce the desired result. Provided that one has calculated the expected outcomes carefully enough, then what actually happens may be beyond one's control. Therefore, the action itself remains a good action. One can be faulted in this, I suppose, only for failing to calculate outcomes carefully enough.

Second, Anscombe seems to look more closely the action in and of itself, independent of consequences. This is consistent with Anscombe's ethics - "virtue ethics," which looks at the nature of the act itself, and holds that some acts are absolutely irredeemable. She notes in her essay Modern Moral Philosophy that:
But if someone really thinks, in advance, that it is open to question whether such an action as procuring the judicial execution of the innocent should be quite excluded from consideration - I do not want to argue with him; he shows a corrupt mind.
Therefore, for Anscombe, bombing innocents intentionally, in order to bring about Japanese surrender, is  tantamount to murder, because the action qua action is evil, and cannot be undertaken for any further purpose. Anscombe does not believe that being in a war changes the nature of good and evil actions, so the state of "being at war" does not suspend this ethical judgment.

Let me try a hypothetical here.

Let's say that a certain wanted and proven crime boss is holed upon on the top floor of a building, which he owns, and he is well-supplied with food. He is behind thick glass and armored doors. He is surrounded with well-armed thugs who have enough ammunition to repel SWAT forces, and taking the floor will result in the serious loss of police forces. He will not come out unless he is guaranteed absolute extradition outside of the United States, but there are well-founded fears that he will simply continue his criminal enterprises from whichever foreign country, so the only option is his absolutely surrender or death. The crime boss has a wife and children for whom he truly cares, and these people have been placed in police protective custody pending outcome of the situation. He is known to be the head of a large and active drug network, which is responsible for many killings, and will likely continue to be until he is neutralized in some way.

In such a situation, which are the morally acceptable options?

1. The police can invade the floor, and risk heavy losses.
2. The police can bring down the entire building after warning the other inhabitants and giving them a chance to depart.
3. The police can wait for the crime boss to come out, risking a long siege / stakeout.
4. The police can attempt to bribe the crime boss out in some fashion.
5. The police can bring the crime boss's family out to the front of the building, and threaten them with execution if he does not capitulate.

For various reasons, I find 1, 3, and 4 to be morally acceptable. I do not think 2 and 5 are acceptable. However, in terms of consequentialist reasoning, if it is generally believed that the crime boss has a weakness for the lives of his wife and children, could they be executed, one at a time, until the crime boss capitulated? As long as it produces an acceptable outcome of capitulation, what would prevent this reasoning?

In this post, I have attempted to summarize Fr. Miscamble's and Anscombe's reasoning accurately, and to provide a hypothetical which seeks to apply their reasoning to what seems like a similar situation. I welcome discussion of the points of view, and where I might be incorrect in my understanding of their positions, or where I have faulty logic.

May 28, 2016

CathCon Daily - 5/28/2016

Corporate Profits and Cronyism - James Pethokoukis, AEI

The Wrecking Crew - Milton Ezrati, City Journal

No Apology for Hiroshima - Rod Dreher, American Conservative

The Dictatorship of Horror - Robert Royal, The Catholic Thing

Jaws: A Cautionary Tale - Sean Fitzpatrick, Imaginative Conservative

DePaul Shuts Down Conservative Speech - Andrew Kloster, Daily Signal

Marco Rubio Supports Donald Trump - Celina Durgin, NRO

Was Cornwallis a Coward? - Alan Pell Crawford, Imaginative Conservative

Ron Unz, Immigration Convert - Mark Krikorian, NRO

May 27, 2016

CathCon Daily - 5/27/2016

How and Why We Remember the Dead - Kelly Scott Franklin, Public Discourse

The World of the Trades - Rod Dreher, American Conservative

Total Reform - David Warren, The Catholic Thing

The Family v. That Hideous Strength - Bradley Birzer, Imaginative Conservative

The Four Hamburgers of the Apocalypse - Rod Dreher, American Conservative

California Refuses to Admit Its Voter Fraud Problem - Hans von Spakovsky, Daily Signal

In Praise of Remembering - James Bowman, New Criterion

The Liberal Case Against Peter Thiel - David Harsanyi, The Federalist

Five Facts About the Minimum Wage - Alan Reynolds, Cato

Transeducation: What is Truth? - Sean Fitzpatrick, Crisis

At This Point, It Should Make All the Difference - David Limbaugh, Human Events

Real Sports Trolls AR-15 - Christian Lowe, The Federalist

Euphemisms for Killing - Wesley Smith, First Things

Art of Taking Rites Seriously - Francis Beckwith, Liberty Law Blog

May 25, 2016

CathCon Extra - 5/25/2016

Rapid Advances in Computer Technology - Mark Perry, AEI

Liberals Versus Political Speech - John McGinnis, City Journal

Why I'm Anti-Anti-Trump - R.R. Reno, First Things

Trump Will Lose - Peter Augustine Lawler, NRO

Trump and the Powers of the American Presidency (Part I) - Benjamin Wittes, IF

The Semiotics of Transgender Bathroom Signage - Jordan Zajac, First Things

Liberals Latest Lazy Cultural Crusade - Damon Linker, The Week

Captain American, Nazi - Declan Finn, Catholic Geeks

CathCon Daily - 5/25/2016

Intolerance and Evangelization - George Weigel, First Things

Suburbs Continue to Dominate Job Growth - Wendell Cox, New Geography

The Classical Liberal Case Against Brexit - John McGinnis, Liberty Law Blog

A De-Sexed Society is a De-Humanized Society - Stella Morabito, Public Discourse

Noninterventionism’s Less Tolerant Faction - Ted Galen Carpenter, Cato

How The Feds Began Rewriting Title IX To Push Trans Policies - William Duncan, The Federalist

Don’t Dismiss Housework - Gracy Olmstead, American Conservative

It's Okay to Have Doubts on Immigration - Thomas D. Williams, Crux

Harvard’s Ban On Single-Sex Groups Hurts Women - Elizabeth Held, The Federalist

There is No Flash of Light at Conception - Stacy Trasancos, N.C. Register

Laudato Si and the Critique of the Technocratic Paradigm - Thomas Storck, Distributist Review

Donald Trump’s Secret Weapon Is Hillary Clinton - David Harsanyi, The Federalist

The Looming Title IX Crisis - Jeannie Suk, The New Yorker

Hope for Public Housing - Howard Husock, City Journal

The Left Declares Victory in the Culture Wars - Bruce Frohnen, Nomocracy in Politics

If We Love the Banks.... - John Tamny, Liberty Law Blog

Land of the Middle-Aged Teen - Mark Steyn, Salon

My Dad Was Transgender - Denise Shick, Daily Signal

May 24, 2016

CathCon Extra - 5/24/2016

A Last Look at the Romney Dream - Ross Douthat, NYT

Odd Legal Ethics - Michael Greve, Liberty Law Blog

Silencing Free Speech? - Roger Bate, AEI

Freddie Gray Trial: Official Transcript of Not Guilty Verdict - Andrew Branca, LI

Rendering the Body Legally Invisible - Erika Bachiochi, Mirror of Justice

CathCon Daily - 5/24/2016

America's Lopsided Economic Recovery - James Pethokoukis, AEI

Don’t Not Vote - Jim Harper, Cato

Do Don’t Not Vote - Michael F. Cannon, Cato

Are We Still A Nation of Laws? - Nicholas Senz, Crisis

A Movement, Hijacked - Abigail Rine Favale, First Things

The Case for a Regulatory Budget - Sen. Mike Lee, Daily Signal

WaPo Confusion on Politicizing the Judiciary - Ed Whelan, NRO

Trump’s Supreme Court Deal - Mike Rappaport, Liberty Law Blog

Political Philosophy and the Bathroom Wars - Joseph M. Knippenberg, Public Discourse

My One-Night Stand With ‘The Bachelorette’ - Heather Wilhelm, The Federalist

LGBT Totalitarian Kitsch - Rod Dreher, American Conservative

Why I Didn’t Attend My Notre Dame Graduation - Alexandra DeSanctis, Ethika Politika

The Great Thirst - James V. Schall, S.J., The Catholic Thing

Learning to Love the Liberalism of Ludwig von Mises - Alexander Salter, Imaginative Conservative

Fighting the Bathroom Directive - Ryan T. Anderson, Daily Signal

Bill to Gut RFRA - Wesley Smith, NRO

Social Work Professor Speaks Out - 4th Wave Now

Adam Gopnik Seems Confused - Charles C.W. Cooke, NRO

May 20, 2016

CathCon Daily - 5/20/2016

Make America Great Again...Start with Marriage - Towers & La Ruffa, Public Discourse

A New and Improved God - David Carlin, The Catholic Thing

If Title IX Covers Trans Students, It Has No Reason To Exist - Zach Pruitt, The Federalist

Who are the Real Deniers of Science? - Jonah Goldberg, NRO

Boys Do Not Have Menstrual Cycles - Daniel Payne, The Federalist

Judge Sanctions DoJ in Lawsuit - Hans von Spakovsky, NRO

Ferguson Effect Is Real - Michael Barone, Human Events

Tacitus and Thomas Aquinas on Virtue - Christopher Morrissey, Imaginative Conservative

More For The World’s Poor Than You Ever Will - David Harsanyi, The Federalist

Richard Weaver’s Conservatism of Affirmation & Hope - John P. East, Imaginative Conservative

The True History of Women Deacons - Charlotte Allen, First Things

The Divorce Revolution Has Bred An Army Of Woman Haters - W. Bradford Wilcox, The Federalist

Tried Snapchat for a Month - Mary Rose Somarriba, The Federalist

The Real Wayne - Ron Capshaw, Liberty Law Blog

Roko's Basilisk - David Auerbach, Slate

Practice Makes...Better - Laura Vanderkom, City Journal

Trump Supporters...Reign Over a Ruin - David French, NRO

May 18, 2016

CathCon Daily - 5/18/2016

The Future of Accommodation - Rick Garnett, Scotusblog

An Assault on Due Process at U.C. Berkeley - Peter Berkowitz, Real Clear Politics

Ways...Lawmakers Could Respond to Obama’s Bathroom Directive - Philip Wegmann, Daily Signal

Underrepresented Groups in Law Faculties - George Leef, NRO

Donald Trump is not Expanding the GOP - Ramesh Ponnuru, NRO

Dark Doings in Indian Wells - Ramesh Ponnuru, NRO

The Bathroom Putsch - Rich Lowry, NRO

Fined for Not Calling People "Ze" or "Hir" - Eugene Volokh, Washington Post

America’s Dangerous Crisis Of Confidence - John Daniel Davidson, The Federalist

Three Paths to Rome - K.E. Colombini, Crisis

Scalia School of Law - Walter Williams, Human Events

How to Pay Attention - Gracy Olmstead, American Conservative

The Fact-Free Universe of Transgender Activism - Kevin Clark, Crisis

The Case Against Disclosing Candidates’ Tax Returns - John McGinnis, Liberty Law Blog

Steam Shovels Went Away - Paul Schwennesen, Liberty Law Blog

Trump Supporters Aren’t Stupid. They’re Foolish - Paul David Miller, The Federalist

Phoenix To Artists: Draw What We Want Or Else - Jeremy Tedesco, The Federalist

May 17, 2016

CathCon Daily - 5/17/2016

Former Transgender Person’s Take on Obama’s Bathroom Directive - Walt Heyer, Daily Signal

Are Conservatism’s Problems Skin Deep? - Peter Spiliakos, NRO

Grim Choices - Thomas Sowell, Human Events

The Problem of the Cities - Mark Pulliam, Liberty Law Blog

Mammon Ascendant - David Bentley Hart, First Things

A Response to David Bentley Hart - Samuel Gregg, Public Discourse

Ratcheting Things Up Again - Hadley Arkes, The Catholic Thing

Socrates on Mathematics and Being - Eva Brann, Imaginative Conservative

Some Thoughts on Yesterday's Decision in the Contraception Case - Mark Movsesian, First Things

May 14, 2016

CathCon Daily - 5/14/2016

Potty War - Donald McClarey, American Catholic

Transgender Dorm Daze - Rod Dreher, American Conservative

Burying the White Working Class - Connor Kilpatrick, Jacobin

T.S. Eliot’s Lost Love - Dwight Longenecker, Imaginative Conservative

A Melancholy Calculation - David Solway, Pajamas Media

Codex of Humbert de Romans Online! - Breviarium S.O.P.

Climate Modeling Dominates Climate Science - Michaels & Wojick, Cato

It’s Time to Declare Independence from Public Schools - David French, NRO

May 13, 2016

May 12, 2016

CathCon Daily - 5/12/2016

Albert Bierstadt - Dawn at Donner Lake

Aristocratic Liberalism - Bruce Frohnen, Nomocracy in Politics

Trump and Clinton as Heads of State - John O. McGinnis, Liberty Law Blog

The Myth of Progress - V.D. Hanson, Hoover

New Speech Code for Lawyers - Andrew McCarthy, NRO

Keep Your Powder Dry, Holdouts - Charles C.W. Cooke, NRO

Can Trump Be the Man Eisenhower Was? - Hadley Arkes, Public Discourse

The Cost of Big Ag - Gracy Olmstead, American Conservative

No, Your Oatmeal Will Not Kill You - Julie Gunlock, The Federalist

How Fracking Saved Renewable Energy In California - Chuck DeVore, The Federalist

The Man Who Knew Infinity - G.W. Thielman, The Federalist

Jefferson, The Polar Star of Discovery - Bradley Birzer, Imaginative Conservative

Wrongthink in Wyoming - David French, NRO

Why We Shouldn't Punish Women for Abortions - George & Ponnuru, NRO

May 11, 2016

CathCon Daily - 5/11/2016

Carl Hilgers - Kastell Dorneburg

Judge Dread - Carl Trueman, First Things

Trump Running Left of Hilary - David French, NRO

Free-Market Medicine - John Stossel, Human Events

The Lesson of Thomas More - Nathan Schlueter, Public Discourse

Do Americans Still Share a Common Political Life? - Ryan Shinkel, Imaginative Conservative

Now What? - George Weigel, First Things

Fiddling Away Black Futures - Walter Williams, Human Events

Twitter's Traitors - Michelle Malkin, Human Events

Sextortion: The Problem and Solutions - Wittes, Poplin, Jurecic, Spera, Brookings

The Rise of Political Caesarism - Greg Weiner, Liberty Law Blog

6 Traits Of People Who Help Others Out Of Prison Into Work - Rachel Lu, The Federalist

May 10, 2016

CathCon Extra - 5/10/2016

#NeverLiberal - Marc DeGirolami, Mirror of Justice

Academe is Overrun by Liberals - Matthew Woessner, Heterodox Academy

Culture, Anti-Culture, and Nostalgia - Carl Trueman, First Things

Piketty's Crumbs - Tim Kane, Commentary

The Pessimist’s Case Against Trump - Ross Douthat, NYT

Obama Is About Story-Telling, Not Accomplishments - M.G. Oprea, The Federalist

CathCon Daily - 5/10/2016

Martin Heade - Lotus Flowers

Lunacy in High Places - Michael Gerson, Washington Post

Dry Rot in Academia - Thomas Sowell, Human Events

This Century's Yeomen of Liberty - John McGinnis, Liberty Law Blog

Who Represents “We the People? - Nathan Gill, Public Discourse

What The Media Don’t Let You See - Rod Dreher, American Conservative

On Being Unshod in Airports and Temples - James V. Schall, The Catholic Thing

Single-Sex Education Makes You Smarter - Michael Strain, NRO

May 8, 2016

CathCon Sunday - 5/8/2016


Another Candid Liberal - Ed Whelan, NRO

Mediterranean Diet and the Founding of Rome - Christopher Morrissey, Imaginative Conservative

Theorizing Trumpism - Peter Augustine Lawler, NRO

Politics Move Left - Americans Move Right - Joel Kotkin, New Geography

Who Will Follow Trump Off the Cliff? - George Will, NRO

When Catholicism Shaped Culture - Jude P. Dougherty, The Catholic Thing

Roland Joffe’s “The Killing Fields” - Bradley Birzer, Imaginative Conservative

This Election is Not an A/B Test - Kevin D. Williamson, NRO

Conservatives Must Continue to Explore Their Options - Andrew McCarthy, NRO

A Confession of Liberal Intolerance - Nicholas Kristof, NYT

‘Seemingly Very Happily Married’ - Jay Nordlinger, NRO

A Political Credo - M.E. Bradford, Imaginative Conservative

God Used Poland to Save the World from Darkness - Dwight Longenecker, Imaginative Conservative

May 6, 2016

CathCon Daily - 5/6/2016

Albert Bierstadt - Irvington Woods

Miscellaneous Musings About the Trump Victory - Laura Hollis, Jewish World Review

Clinton is a Lesser Evil - Ilya Somin, Volokh

Hayek and the Family - Steve Horwitz, Liberty Law Blog

Why Trump Is Illegitimate - Robert D. Kaplan, American Interest

Liberal Activists Worked With AGs to Target Conservatives - Hans von Spakovsky, Daily Signal

Double Down on Conservative Victories - John Hood, NRO

“Do You Realize Our Candidate Is Mental?” - Lauren Weiner, Liberty Law Blog

Laboratory Limits That Are Not Limits - Chuck Donovan, First Things

Captain America’s Latest Film Delivers - Rebecca Cusey, The Federalist

Valuing Full-Time Motherhood - S. Adam Seagrave, Public Discourse

California Teachers Unions Force Nonmembers to Pay for LGBT - Kevin Mooney, Daily Signal

Mother’s Day Is Not The Time To Justify Your Abortion - Nicole Russell, The Federalist

A New Devastating Critique of the Global Sexual Revolution - Austin Ruse, Crisis

The Double Nevers and Third-Party Dreaming - Peter Augustine Lawler, NRO

GMLunactics - Michael S. Greve, Liberty Law Blog

May 5, 2016

CathCon Daily - 5/5/2016

Albert Bierstadt - Puget Sound

The Defeat of True Conservatism - Ross Douthat, NYT

Andrew Sullivan’s Blind Spot - Fred Siegel, City Journal

Never Ever Trump - Orin Kerr, Volokh

Department of Justice Just Declared War on North Carolina - David French, NRO

Why I Won't Boycott Target - Russell Saltzman, First Things

What Do Conservatives Do with Donald Trump Now? - John Willson, Imaginative Conservative

The Liberal Arts & the Limits of Social Psychology - Collin Barnes, Imaginative Conservative

Our Common Future - Pete Spiliakos, NRO

Christian Colleges Should Be Allowed to Be Christian - Adam J. MacLeod, Public Discourse

Why We Need Limits - Gracy Olmstead, American Conservative

How John Roberts Begat Donald Trump - Ilya Shapiro, The Federalist

May 4, 2016


Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites…in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters. - Edmund Burke, Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791
Wow, Lyin' Ted Cruz really went wacko today. Made all sorts of crazy charges. Can't function under pressure - not very presidential. Sad! - Donald J. Trump, Twitter, May 3, 2016
Years ago we began forging the fetters of passions, ignoring the need to retain our own moral chains. Now we have nominated a man without apparent moral chains to be the Republican candidate for president. We will now be lead by our fetters, like Marley's Ghost, upon the ruined field of the Republic.

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post called "The Sunset of the West." It was (happily for me) re-blogged by Rod Dreher here, and garnered some nice compliments around the blogosphere for its five minutes of fame. 

In that post, I stated:
We are at war. It is a war we did not wish, but it is thrust upon us.  And the sooner we realize it, the sooner we can raise the barricades. We must take every opportunity in law to argue against the eventuality. But we should not expect the law to do much for us any longer.
Today, the Hoosiers among whom I reside nominated Donald J. Trump to be the Republican candidate for president, causing Ted Cruz to suspend his candidacy. Curious as to who in Indiana might have voted for DJT, I looked to CBS news polls, which stated thusly:
Trump is getting the support of men, with over half of Indiana Republican primary voters supporting him. Women are more evenly split between Trump (46 percent) and Cruz (42 percent).
Trump does well with independents, garnering support from over half of those voters.
Among the 58 percent of Indiana Republican primary voters who say they would like the next president to be an outsider, 76 percent support Trump.
Trump and Cruz are running about even with white evangelical voters (Cruz 45 percent, Trump 48 percent) -- who make up more than half of the Indiana Republican voters.
Among the 32 percent of voters who describe themselves as "very conservative," Cruz gets the support of over half of them. Cruz also gets the majority of support from Republican Indiana primary voters who attend religious services at least weekly which is about half of the voters.
For the half of Indiana voters without a college degree, the majority support Trump. The contest is tighter among college graduates (45 percent for Trump, 41 percent for Cruz).
I find the issue of Evangelical voters very curious and troubling. As Ross Douthat noted:
Trump proved that many evangelical voters, supposedly the heart of a True Conservative coalition, are actually not really values voters or religious conservatives after all, and that the less frequently evangelicals go to church, the more likely they are to vote for a philandering sybarite instead of a pastor’s son.
As a conservative Catholic, I can only say with sadness that I suspect this is this truth. And not only that, I suspect that it spells the beginning of the end of any real coalition of social conservatives large enough to influence elections. I think the best we can hope for is some sort of armed detente, whereby we are expected to vote in exchange for being left alone, and I doubt even that detente would last for long.

In his various books on Millennials, Christian Smith identified various traits that we are now seeing played out among both Millennials and their parents in regard to social conservatism (the Millennials had to get it from someplace). Smith identified the idea of "moralistic therapeutic deism" (or "MTD") - that is (as described by another researcher, Kenda Dean), a religion consisting of the following characteristics:
(1) A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
(2) God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
(3) The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
(4) God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
(5) Good people go to heaven when they die.
The problem comes from another characteristic associated with MTD - "Millenial young people have a high external locus of control (i.e., they believe that their decisions are mostly made for them, and they have little agency or influence in the world." Consider for a moment the idea that the followers (so to speak) of MTD believe that "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair" and that "the central goal of life feel good about oneself."

How could such a person react in any way but negatively to the idea that people (for example) who believe they are transgender could be offended or emotionally damaged by laws that mandate using public restrooms in accordance with biological sex? As this could impair an individual's ability to feel good about themselves, and seems to offend against being nice to such an individual, Millennials (and their parents) would react negatively against any this law. Or, in fact, against any law which carried the potential of social impact.

I do not think it surprising that economic considerations are at the forefront of MTD concerns. How can one fulfill one's true happiness without freedom from worry or concern? In a strange way, this means that some supporters of Bernie Sanders and of Donald Trump are not too far apart in what they want (economic security for all), only in the means needed to achieve it...and sometimes not even then.

This leaves those who see a moral component to the law (beyond the demand for radical egalitarianism) out in the cold, so to speak. As Patrick Deneen and others persuasively argue, the liberalism represented both in modern Republican and Democrat circles admits of little contest with its centralized demands which pretend to neutrality, but (in reality) seek to impose a nihilistic vision of atomized life through the machinery of the bureaucratic state. As we have seen with this President, and others in the near past, the use of executive machinery to bypass Congress and impose the secular will happens quite often, and Congress is all but impotent to stop it. And, indeed, members of Congress who oppose it often end up on the negative end of their own constituents, who are uninterested in religious freedom when it is opposed to "good feelings and fairness."

I suppose this is where Rod Dreher's Benedict Option comes in - to seek to form strong, local, communities of like-minded believers who can preserve and defend a Western and Eastern Christian tradition against the downfall of society and a new Dark Age. We can hope and pray that it is unnecessary to take these steps for long, but one need not be a prophet to lack sanguinity as to this point.

CathCon Daily - 5/4/2016

Edvard Munch - The Scream

No Peace with Wicked Law - Douglas Farrow, First Things

Beyonce and the Fertility of Forgiveness - Leah Libresco, First Things

Three Counterfeits of Mercy - Dr. Samuel Gregg, Catholic World Report

Something New Under the Political Sun - V.D. Hanson, NRO

The Homosexualization of Music Education - Michael Avramovich, Mere Comments

New York’s “Food Desert” Myth - Seth Barron, City Journal

The Militia and the Right to Bear Arms - Bruce Frohnen, Nomocracy in Politics

Postmortem on Classical Liberalism in...2016 - John McGinnis, Liberty Law Blog

A Guide for the Perplexed - Hadley Arkes, The Catholic Thing

Facebook Blacklists Trending Topics And Conservative News Outlets - Federalist Staff

Sometimes There Is No Lesser Of Two Evils - David Harsanyi, The Federalist

The Weakness that Doomed Ted Cruz - Eliana Johnson, NRO

Taking It to the Streets - Nicole Gelinas, City Journal

The Left Has It Wrong When It Comes to Sex Ed - Jonathan Abbamonte, Crisis

Good Catholics, Good Citizens - George Weigel, First Things

May 3, 2016

CathCon Daily - 5/3/2016

#NeverTrump - David Bernstein, Volokh

Justice Department: Any ‘verbal … conduct of a sexual nature’ - Eugene Volokh, Volokh

Why Indiana Matters - Randy Barnett, USA Today

What Clinton Knows - Pete Spiliakos, NRO

Is the Longing for Deliberation a Low-Energy Fantasy? - Peter Augustine Lawler, NRO

We’re not Biased–Just Smart! - S.M. Hutchens, Touchstone

Passages from Edmund Burke...on the Subject of Catholic Emancipation - Kevin C. Walsh, MoJ

What is the Role of Faith in the Public Square? - Bruce Frohnen, Imaginative Conservative

Andrew Sullivan on Trump and Tyranny - Ross Douthat, NYT

Risk Doesn’t Stand Still - Alex J. Pollock, Liberty Law Blog

The Gospel of Happiness - Christopher Tollefsen, Public Discourse

Angry Blue-Collar Catholics - George Marlin, The Catholic Thing

Pascal’s Wager For The Global Warming Religion - Robert Tracinski, The Federalist

Liberal...Inquisition Can’t Explain Past Temperature Changes - David Kreutzer, Daily Signal

The Nihilism of Sanctuary Cities - V.D. Hanson, P.J. Media

Doses of Dos Passos: Part II - Jay Nordlinger, NRO

May 2, 2016

CathCon Daily - 5/2/2016

Fitz Hugh Lane - Gloucester, Mass.

Enlivening of the Russian Literary Imagination - Glenn Davis, Imaginative Conservative

Home Rule - Phillip Campbell, Distributist Review

Finding Freedom in a Totalitarian Age - Tobias J. Lanz, University Bookman

Scalia, Persistent Champion of Constitutional Republicanism - Matthew Franck, Public Discourse

No, Maternity Leave Is Not ‘Me Time’ - Georgi Boorman, The Federalist

Should Christians Apologize for the Crusades? - Bruce Frohnen, Crisis

Doses of Dos Passos - Part I - Jay Nordlinger, NRO

The Convention Is Rigged—And That’s A Good Thing - Greg Weiner, The Federalist

Confronting the Inevitability of Hillary - Joel Kotkin, New Geography

The Right to Privacy is a Threat to Liberty - John McGinnis, Liberty Law Blog

Black Residents Matter - Aaron Renn, City Journal

The Left Replaces Rule of Law with Rule of Politics - Stephen Krason, Crisis

May 1, 2016

CathCon Sunday - 5/1/2016

Edmund Lewis - Lake Willoughby

In Case of Trump Nomination, Break Glass - George Will, NRO

How Can Conservatives Win the Debate? - Arthur C. Brooks, Imaginative Conservative

Obama's Lame Duck Economy - Kevin D. Williamson, NRO

California GOP Convention Attracts All Three Candidates - John Fund, NRO

On Safe from "Safe Spaces" - Notes and Comments, The New Criterion

On Welcoming Grays into the Church - Duane Mandible, Imaginative Conservative