Category Archive 'Andrew Sullivan'
06 May 2017

Andrew Sullivan Defends the Reactionary Right

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Charles I, the classic reactionary.

A stopped clock is right two times a day, and once in a blue moon Andrew Sullivan is still capable of writing a very intelligent essay. Here is Andrew explaining why the Populist Nationalist Right has arisen as a political force capable of asserting its own will, and why its issues and perspectives deserve serious consideration.

The pendulum is always swinging. Sometimes it swings back with unusual speed and power.

You can almost feel the g-force today. What are this generation’s reactionaries reacting to? They’re reacting, as they have always done, to modernity. But their current reaction is proportional to the bewildering pace of change in the world today. They are responding, at some deep, visceral level, to the sense that they are no longer in control of their own lives. They see the relentless tides of globalization, free trade, multiculturalism, and mass immigration eroding their sense of national identity. They believe that the profound shifts in the global economy reward highly educated, multicultural enclaves and punish more racially and culturally homogeneous working-class populations. And they rebel against the entrenched power of elites who, in their view, reflexively sustain all of the above.

I know why many want to dismiss all of this as mere hate, as some of it certainly is. I also recognize that engaging with the ideas of this movement is a tricky exercise in our current political climate. Among many liberals, there is an understandable impulse to raise the drawbridge, to deny certain ideas access to respectable conversation, to prevent certain concepts from being “normalized.” But the normalization has already occurred — thanks, largely, to voters across the West — and willfully blinding ourselves to the most potent political movement of the moment will not make it go away. Indeed, the more I read today’s more serious reactionary writers, the more I’m convinced they are much more in tune with the current global mood than today’s conservatives, liberals, and progressives. I find myself repelled by many of their themes — and yet, at the same time, drawn in by their unmistakable relevance. I’m even tempted, at times, to share George Orwell’s view of the neo-reactionaries of his age: that, although they can sometimes spew dangerous nonsense, they’re smarter and more influential than we tend to think, and that “up to a point, they are right.”

A must-read article.

12 Mar 2017

Intersectionality as Religion

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Andrew Sullivan takes time off from crying over the election of Donald Trump to identify and explain the new religion that has taken charge on elite campuses all over the country.

Intersectionality” is the latest academic craze sweeping the American academy. On the surface, it’s a recent neo-Marxist theory that argues that social oppression does not simply apply to single categories of identity — such as race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. — but to all of them in an interlocking system of hierarchy and power. At least, that’s my best attempt to define it briefly. But watching that video helps show how an otherwise challenging social theory can often operate in practice.

It is operating, in Orwell’s words, as a “smelly little orthodoxy,” and it manifests itself, it seems to me, almost as a religion. It posits a classic orthodoxy through which all of human experience is explained — and through which all speech must be filtered. Its version of original sin is the power of some identity groups over others. To overcome this sin, you need first to confess, i.e., “check your privilege,” and subsequently live your life and order your thoughts in a way that keeps this sin at bay. The sin goes so deep into your psyche, especially if you are white or male or straight, that a profound conversion is required.

Like the Puritanism once familiar in New England, intersectionality controls language and the very terms of discourse. It enforces manners. It has an idea of virtue — and is obsessed with upholding it. The saints are the most oppressed who nonetheless resist. The sinners are categorized in various ascending categories of demographic damnation, like something out of Dante. The only thing this religion lacks, of course, is salvation. Life is simply an interlocking drama of oppression and power and resistance, ending only in death. It’s Marx without the final total liberation.

It operates as a religion in one other critical dimension: If you happen to see the world in a different way, if you’re a liberal or libertarian or even, gasp, a conservative, if you believe that a university is a place where any idea, however loathsome, can be debated and refuted, you are not just wrong, you are immoral. If you think that arguments and ideas can have a life independent of “white supremacy,” you are complicit in evil. And you are not just complicit, your heresy is a direct threat to others, and therefore needs to be extinguished. You can’t reason with heresy. You have to ban it. It will contaminate others’ souls, and wound them irreparably.

And what I saw on the video struck me most as a form of religious ritual — a secular exorcism, if you will — that reaches a frenzied, disturbing catharsis. When Murray starts to speak, the students stand and ritually turn their backs on him in silence. The heretic must not be looked at, let alone engaged. Then they recite a common liturgy in unison from sheets of paper. Here’s how they begin: “This is not respectful discourse, or a debate about free speech. These are not ideas that can be fairly debated, it is not ‘representative’ of the other side to give a platform to such dangerous ideologies. There is not a potential for an equal exchange of ideas.” They never specify which of Murray’s ideas they are referring to. Nor do they explain why a lecture on a recent book about social inequality cannot be a “respectful discourse.” The speaker is open to questions and there is a faculty member onstage to engage him afterward. She came prepared with tough questions forwarded from specialists in the field. And yet: “We … cannot engage fully with Charles Murray, while he is known for readily quoting himself. Because of that, we see this talk as hate speech.” They know this before a single word of the speech has been spoken.

Read the whole thing.

02 May 2016

Democratic End Point

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Plato, copy of a bust by Silanion, Musei Capitolini.

Andrew Sullivan is back, in New York magazine, telling us that the current election reminds him of something.

As this dystopian election campaign has unfolded, my mind keeps being tugged by a passage in Plato’s Republic. It has unsettled — even surprised — me from the moment I first read it in graduate school. The passage is from the part of the dialogue where Socrates and his friends are talking about the nature of different political systems, how they change over time, and how one can slowly evolve into another. And Socrates seemed pretty clear on one sobering point: that “tyranny is probably established out of no other regime than democracy.” What did Plato mean by that? Democracy, for him, I discovered, was a political system of maximal freedom and equality, where every lifestyle is allowed and public offices are filled by a lottery. And the longer a democracy lasted, Plato argued, the more democratic it would become. Its freedoms would multiply; its equality spread. Deference to any sort of authority would wither; tolerance of any kind of inequality would come under intense threat; and multiculturalism and sexual freedom would create a city or a country like “a many-colored cloak decorated in all hues.”

This rainbow-flag polity, Plato argues, is, for many people, the fairest of regimes. The freedom in that democracy has to be experienced to be believed — with shame and privilege in particular emerging over time as anathema. But it is inherently unstable. As the authority of elites fades, as Establishment values cede to popular ones, views and identities can become so magnificently diverse as to be mutually uncomprehending. And when all the barriers to equality, formal and informal, have been removed; when everyone is equal; when elites are despised and full license is established to do “whatever one wants,” you arrive at what might be called late-stage democracy. There is no kowtowing to authority here, let alone to political experience or expertise.

The very rich come under attack, as inequality becomes increasingly intolerable. Patriarchy is also dismantled: “We almost forgot to mention the extent of the law of equality and of freedom in the relations of women with men and men with women.” Family hierarchies are inverted: “A father habituates himself to be like his child and fear his sons, and a son habituates himself to be like his father and to have no shame before or fear of his parents.” In classrooms, “as the teacher … is frightened of the pupils and fawns on them, so the students make light of their teachers.” Animals are regarded as equal to humans; the rich mingle freely with the poor in the streets and try to blend in. The foreigner is equal to the citizen.

And it is when a democracy has ripened as fully as this, Plato argues, that a would-be tyrant will often seize his moment.

He is usually of the elite but has a nature in tune with the time — given over to random pleasures and whims, feasting on plenty of food and sex, and reveling in the nonjudgment that is democracy’s civil religion. He makes his move by “taking over a particularly obedient mob” and attacking his wealthy peers as corrupt. If not stopped quickly, his appetite for attacking the rich on behalf of the people swells further. He is a traitor to his class — and soon, his elite enemies, shorn of popular legitimacy, find a way to appease him or are forced to flee. Eventually, he stands alone, promising to cut through the paralysis of democratic incoherence. It’s as if he were offering the addled, distracted, and self-indulgent citizens a kind of relief from democracy’s endless choices and insecurities. He rides a backlash to excess—“too much freedom seems to change into nothing but too much slavery” — and offers himself as the personified answer to the internal conflicts of the democratic mess. He pledges, above all, to take on the increasingly despised elites. And as the people thrill to him as a kind of solution, a democracy willingly, even impetuously, repeals itself.

Trump definitely scares Andrew.

31 Mar 2015

Andrew Sullivan: “Blogging Nearly Killed Me!”

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Poor Andrew quit, he tells us, because grossing seven figures a year while being his own boss was so terrible a burden that it was not worth it.

CNN Money:

“The truth is, I had to stop primarily because it was killing me,” Sullivan said Sunday night at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. “I used to joke that if blogging does kill someone, I would be the first to find out.”

He described the grueling pace that he maintained along with a small editorial staff.

“This is 40 posts a day — every 20 minutes, seven days a week,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan has been lying low since he penned his farewell post for “The Dish,” the politics and culture blog he founded in 2000. When CNNMoney requested an interview earlier this month, Sullivan declined, saying he was “in detox from media for a while.”

In announcing his retirement from blogging in January, Sullivan cited “increasing health challenges.” He said those health struggles weren’t related to the HIV he’s lived with for more than 20 years, but rather the stress of a profession that he helped make mainstream.

On Sunday, while speaking to veteran journalist Jeff Greenfield, Sullivan said that the “crushing” workload was only part of what made his job so overwhelming. The experience, Sullivan said, was often dehumanizing.
“Here’s what I would say: I spent a decade of my life, spending around seven hours a day in intimate conversation with around 70,000 to 100,000 people every day, ” Sullivan said. “And inevitably, for those seven hours or more, I was not spending time with any actual human being, with a face and a body and a mind and a soul.”

Sullivan said the job resulted in lost friendships and minimal contact with his family. He said his husband, whom Sullivan married in 2007, called himself a “blog widow.”

No longer tethered to his computer, Sullivan said he’s resolved to exercise and meditate each day, and to get eight hours of sleep. He expressed relief that he wasn’t forced to cover the recent controversy over Hillary Clinton’s emails.

“I couldn’t imagine blogging the next election,” he said. “I will not spend another minute of my time writing about the Clintons. Period. Or the Bushes.”

Andrew, of course, was an extremely prolific and (allowing for his left-wing derangement and common intellectual dishonesty) high quality blogger. Andrew’s own editorials were usually claptrap, but he was an excellent editor and anthologist.

40 blog posts a day is a lot, probably more than anyone really needs, but Andrew had the professional assistance of a paid staff of at least four, plus several part-timers and usually one or more interns. I’ve often thought that I could do a pretty competitive big-time job of blogging if I had half a dozen assistants combing through the web for me all day, and all I had to do was dash off the occasional think piece along with titles and opening lines.

I’m afraid I don’t buy the “it was all too exhausting” story. Andrew obviously loves blogging. He is an attention junkie and a news, politics, and cutural obsessive.

What I think must have happened is, that as Andrew arrived at the beginning of his third year of trying to make a go of it as an independent blogger supported by reader subscriptions, and it was time for Andrew’s readers to pony up again, the subscription and renewal rate (which Andrew usually like to boast about), this year started falling off. Andrew looked at his wall, and saw “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.”

Experiments like Andrew’s thrive on being a hot new thing. Even a talented blogger like Andrew Sullivan will, after three years, have done as much new as he can do. My guess is that subscriptions began going down, and Andrew thought long and hard, and realized (not unintelligently) that there was nothing he could do, the future was only going to go one way. So Andrew decided to pull the plug while he still looked successful, before everyone caught wise and recognized that the game was up. Better to go out voluntarily a winner, than to be seen to lose.

My own guess is that Andrew will be back blogging again before very long, just as soon as he can put together a paying gig. The real question I have is: Will the logical Republican Revolution starting in 2016 make Andrew turn his coat around again? Will the next new Andrew be Republican and conservative?

30 Jan 2015

Andrew Sullivan Retires (Again)

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On Wednesday afternoon, Andrew Sullivan suddenly announced that “in the near future,” he is going to quit blogging.

Why? Two reasons. The first is one I hope anyone can understand: although it has been the most rewarding experience in my writing career, I’ve now been blogging daily for fifteen years straight (well kinda straight). That’s long enough to do any single job. In some ways, it’s as simple as that. There comes a time when you have to move on to new things, shake your world up, or recognize before you crash that burn-out does happen.

The second is that I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.

I want to spend some real time with my parents, while I still have them, with my husband, who is too often a ‘blog-widow’, my sister and brother, my niece and nephews, and rekindle the friendships that I have simply had to let wither because I’m always tied to the blog. And I want to stay healthy. I’ve had increasing health challenges these past few years.

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Pejman Yousefzadeh cheerfully interprets Andrew’s decision to retire as a final gesture of repentance for betraying Conservatism in order to pursue the homosexual agenda and worship at the feet of the first black (and very possibly queer) US president.

[D]uring the Obama era, Sullivan has indeed blogged “like a hack in a one-party state.” At times, Sullivan’s blogging project seemed like a giant audition aimed at getting Sullivan named chief propagandist of the Obama administration. Sullivan may have failed to achieve this particular station in life, but his failure wasn’t for lack of trying.

I write all of this, of course, because Andrew Sullivan claims that he has decided to quit blogging. Now, Andrew Sullivan has claimed that he decided to quit blogging before, and he has come back, so I’m keeping the champagne on ice for the moment. But I’d like to think that at long last, Sullivan has realized that his fatuous, overwrought, emotionally unstable, intellect-insulting writing has finally reached China Syndrome proportions of insufferability. I would like to think that Sullivan took a good long look at his writing, his thought process (if one can be so generous as to claim that Sullivan’s writing is backed up by any thought whatsoever), and himself, and didn’t like what he saw. I would like to think that at long last, Andrew Sullivan decided that a belated embrace of discretion and silence was the best–the only–way to salvage whatever dignity he once had, before he decided to squander the vast majority of that dignity via anti-Semitic trolling, logic-defying apologetics on behalf of the Obama administration, and the spelunking of Sarah Palin’s womb.

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Andrew retired previously once before, and of course unretired before very long. Glenn Reynolds (perhaps Andrew’s only real rival for title of genius loci of the Blogosphere) responded to Andrew’s announcement with the skeptical retort: “I suspect Sullivan will be back. In my observation, it’s easier to quit blogging than it is to stay quit.”

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I certainly agree with Pejman Yousefzadeh about Andrew Sullivan’s shameless and infuriatingly insolent pronunciamentos. Reading Andrew’s melodramatic postings accusing US counter-terrorism agencies of “torture” and his endless, lachrymose complaints about George W. Bush, the War in Iraq, and Sarah Palin, contrasted with his canine adoration of Barack Obama, could get my blood pressure pumping on a daily basis. Personally, I’ve been hoping that some especially keen GOP candidate in 2016 will put “Deporting Andrew Sullivan” high up on his list of contributions to the Republican Platform.

Nonetheless, I have to admit that Andrew has been an extraordinarily perspicacious and creative blog editor, reliably able to turn up precisely the kind of interesting and amusing web morsels that readers are looking for. Additionally, I feel obliged to note that, despite the outrageous intellectual dishonesty too commonly characteristic of Andrew in full rant, he did always maintain a peculiar streak of personal honesty and habitual fairplay, which frequently caused him to apply his excellent editorial skills to finding and publishing the best rejoinders to his own nonsense.

Besides which, speaking as a blogger myself, my hat is off to Andrew for his energy, his ability to produce readable prose with such rapidity, and for the enterprise capable of making his blog such a large-scale, profitable enterprise. My own efforts at monetizing my blog get me the occasional coupon from Amazon.

My suspicion is that, as the third year of Andrew’s subscription paywall has arrived, Andrew felt the cold breath of the general decline in blog readership, and perceived that his blog’s financial momentum was starting to flag. Clever bugger that he is, Andrew is simply declining to ride his current horse into the ground, and has decided to “retire” while The Dish still appears to be a success. His temporary withdrawal from the field will permit Andrew to regroup, bat out another lucrative book, and then he can come back with the exciting, brand-new Andrew Sullivan blog.

I do kind of wonder whether, now, with the culture war triumph of Gay Marriage in his pocket, and the stars shaping up for a Republican sweep in 2016, Andrew may not take his period of retirement as another occasion for personal ideological transformation.

22 Jan 2015

Sullydish Readers Defend Rand

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Andrew the Illegal Immigrant, like many other people, blogged about the recently-gone-viral letter from Ayn Rand to her niece who wanted a loan, but (being a Rand villain) Andrew described Rand’s missive as “amazingly horrible.”

Andrew Sullivan does get these occasional fits of actual integrity in his blogging, though, and yesterday he passed along this highly effective demurral from one of his readers:

I don’t see what is so “horrible” in what Ayn Rand wrote to her niece. First, the niece didn’t ask for $25 as a gift; she asked to borrow it. If you read the letter, Rand gives TWO examples of where a similar request was made, and the money was NOT used to accomplish the stated goal, nor was it paid back. Second, Rand didn’t insist on charging interest, merely getting the principle back. Third, she simply insisted the niece be honest and A) spend it on what she said, and B) pay the loan back when she had the chance instead of spending on something else.

Or if you don’t want to be horrible like her, I too could use some new clothes to improve my employment opportunities, and a $250 (inflation adjusted from 1949) Amazon gift credit in reply would help. And you shouldn’t be horrible about insisting that I really use it for clothes, or that I pay it back, much less according to some terms. If you did insist, you would be “horrible” just like her.

This is the one thing often missed in Ayn Rand’s works: the heroes keep their promises, and pay what they owe “to the last dime”, often at great cost.

And another of Andrew’s readers added:

I’m a bit miffed at how ill treated this letter is in your post. What an invaluable lesson this is about debt! …

Most people in the US think nothing about taking on a new credit card – or a fancy new degree – and the mountain of “irresponsibly” laid down debt literally destroys their lives. It destroys their entrepreneurial spirit; it destroys their educational, relational, and employment opportunities; it destroys their quality of life and entrenches mild- to severe poverty; and it degrades them psychologically and virtually eliminates any taste for risk taking and enterprise, locking them into “getting by” employment to constantly service the debt.

Would that they had someone as wise as Rand cautioning them to think reeeeealy hard before taking on $40,000 for that BS Degree or $10,000 for a late-model car when they could be driving around a reliable beater. Think of the suffering that could have been alleviated if such lessons were taught to the entire generation of then-17 year old millennials who are currently groaning under their debt.

And let’s look at the massive handicap our national debt has on this same generation and their children. Would that anyone in Congress had had an aunt as shrewd as Ms. Rand! Look at the Greek debt or historic Latin American debt. How “horrible” would it have been to have a tut-tutting aunt make people painfully aware of the potential repercussions of their decisions before undertaking them? How much global suffering could have been avoided with a little more tough love from a wiry, stick-in-the-mud Aunty like Ayn Rand?

Read the whole thing.

03 Oct 2014

Andrew Sullivan’s Foreign Policy

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Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan (who has never been a US citizen, and who has escaped criminal conviction and consequent deportation only through blat), nonetheless, editorializes about Americans in the plural including himself (“We War-Loving Americans“), and makes a personal specialty of prescribing US Foreign Policy, often vigorously denouncing the decisions in that area made by mere elected presidents.

Despite Andrew’s long-demonstrated canine love for Barack Obama, Obama’s recent decision to bomb ISIS has seriously offended Andrew’s Neville-Chamberlain-esque principles, and the Chosen One is coming in for a stern scolding these days from his disappointed admirer.

One particularly penetrating observation leapt out at me. After airily asserting that defeating the Sunni Insurrection was beyond our powers, Andrew advised allowing the Middle Eastern atrocities to proceed. In his view, the successful erection of the new Caliphate would have no consequences affecting Europe or the United States, and would naturally simply diminish to the status of a “regional conflagration.” If (and when) Iran proceeded to intervene in the conflict, we should hope “both sides lose,” and perhaps “intervene from a distance” (which must mean: bomb). According to Andrew: “Our real interest is in bolstering the one stable power in the region, which is Iran.”

Now, there is foreign policy analysis at its finest. The same United States which defeated the German Army and the Japanese Navy cannot possibly defeat 10,000 sand monkey belligerents armed with AKs and driving new Toyotas. And our real interest (who knew?) lies in supporting the Shiite fanatics and long-time sponsors of terrorism in Iran who have made hatred of America and the West their regime’s very raison d’être since the time of Jimmy Carter.

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How Andrew’s most admired regime maintains its stability.

25 Sep 2014

The Best Death

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Responding to Ezekiel Emanuel’s “I Want to Die at 75” Atlantic essay, Andrew Sullivan wonders: What Is the Best Way to Die?

John Buchan did an excellent job, I think, of describing the best possible death in The Half-Hearted (1900): Lewis Haystoun dying in the course of single-handedly delaying the Russian invasion of India at a narrow pass in the Hindu Kush, rifle in hand.

The fire died down to embers and a sudden scattering of ashes woke him out of his dreaming. The old Scots land was many thousand miles away. His past was wiped out behind him. He was alone in a very strange place, cut off by a great gulf from youth and home and pleasure. For an instant the extreme loneliness of an exile’s death smote him, but the next second he comforted himself. The heritage of his land and his people was his in this ultimate moment a hundredfold more than ever. The sounding tale of his people’s wars—one against a host, a foray in the mist, a last stand among the mountain snows—sang in his heart like a tune. The fierce, northern exultation, which glories in hardships and the forlorn, came upon him with such keenness and delight that, as he looked into the night and the black unknown, he felt the joy of a greater kinship. He was kin to men lordlier than himself, the true-hearted who had ridden the King’s path and trampled a little world under foot. To the old fighters in the Border wars, the religionists of the South, the Highland gentlemen of the Cause, he cried greeting over the abyss of time. He had lost no inch of his inheritance. Where, indeed, was the true Scotland? Not in the little barren acres he had left, the few thousands of city-folk, or the contentions of unlovely creeds and vain philosophies. The elect of his race had ever been the wanderers. No more than Hellas had his land a paltry local unity. Wherever the English flag was planted anew, wherever men did their duty faithfully and without hope of little reward—there was the fatherland of the true patriot.

The time was passing, and still the world was quiet. The hour must be close on midnight, and still there was no sign of men. For the first time he dared to hope for success. Before, an hour’s delay was all that he had sought. To give the north time for a little preparation, to make defence possible, had been his aim; now with the delay he seemed to see a chance for victory. Bardur would be alarmed hours ago; men would be on the watch all over Kashmir and the Punjab; the railways would be guarded. The invader would find at the least no easy conquest. When they had trodden his life out in the defile they would find stronger men to bar their path, and he would not have died in vain. It was a slender satisfaction for vanity, for what share would he have in the defence? Unknown, unwept, he would perish utterly, and to others would be the glory. He did not care, nay, he rejoiced in the brave obscurity. He had never sought so vulgar a thing as fame. He was going out of life like a snuffed candle. George, if George survived, would know nothing of his death. He was miles beyond the frontier, and if George, after months of war, should make his way to this fatal cleft, what trace would he find of him? And all his friends, Wratislaw, Arthur Mordaunt, the folk of Glenavelin—no word would ever come to them to tell them of his end. …

For in this ultimate moment he at last seemed to have come to his own. The vulgar little fears, which, like foxes, gnaw at the roots of the heart, had gone, even the greater perils of faint hope and a halting energy. The half-hearted had become the stout-hearted. The resistless vigour of the strong and the simple was his. He stood in the dark gully peering into the night, his muscles stiff from heel to neck. The weariness of the day had gone: only the wound in his ear, got the day before, had begun to bleed afresh. He wiped the blood away with his handkerchief, and laughed at the thought of this little care. In a few minutes he would be facing death, and now he was staunching a pin-prick.

He wondered idly how soon death would come. It would be speedy, at least, and final. And then the glory of the utter loss. His bones whitening among the stones, the suns of summer beating on them and the winter snowdrifts decently covering them with a white sepulchre. No man could seek a lordlier burial. It was the death he had always craved. From murder, fire, and sudden death, why should we call on the Lord to deliver us? A broken neck in a hunting-field, a slip on rocky mountains, a wounded animal at bay—such was the environment of death for which he had ever prayed. But this—this was beyond his dreams.

And with it all a great humility fell upon him. His battles were all unfought. His life had been careless and gay; and the noble commonplaces of faith and duty had been things of small meaning. He had lived within the confines of a little aristocracy of birth and wealth and talent, and the great melancholy world scourged by the winds of God had seemed to him but a phrase of rhetoric. His creeds and his arguments seemed meaningless now in this solemn hour; the truth had been his no more than his crude opponent’s! Had he his days to live over again he would look on the world with different eyes. No man any more should call him a dreamer. It pleased him to think that, half-hearted and sceptical as he had been, a humorist, a laughing philosopher, he was now dying for one of the catchwords of the crowd. He had returned to the homely paths of the commonplace, and young, unformed, untried, he was caught up by kind fate to the place of the wise and the heroic.

06 Jun 2014

A Journalistic Lynch Mob Goes After an Order of Nursing Nuns

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A former workhouse built in the 1840s, later the Mother/Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland

At the beginning of this month, a story based upon nothing but old news and unsupported allegations originating from an amateur local historian with an axe to grind rapidly became international news. Left-wing bloggers like Andrew Sullivan leapt aboard, taking the story as good evidence of the Roman Catholic Church’s crimes against humanity via that church’s disapproval of (what it considers the mortal sin of) extra-marital sex.

The story is, of course, simply an echoing of the popular culture meme created by the 2002 film The Magdalene Sisters, which depicted unwed mothers as innocent victims grossly abused by a greedy and sadistic nun and sexually exploited by a priest at the asylum to which unmarried pregnant women were consigned by an unsympathetic Irish society in the bad old days before the 1960s Revolution.

A vast number of news stories tell us that close to 800 bodies of babies were discovered consigned to a “septic tank” and infer, on the basis of pure speculation, a few anecdotes, and a single war-time health inspection report that children were mistreated and starved into early deaths.

    What Was the Mother/Baby Home?

The Tuam Mother/Baby Home was a former workhouse converted by the Irish Free State in 1925 into a county-owned home for unwed mothers, obstetric facility, and orphanage operated by the Order of Bon Secours, a French Order of Nursing Sisters founded in 1799 to provide “good help to those in need,” and especially to furnish free nursing for the poor. The Bon Secours sisters first came to Ireland to provide medical assistance during the Great Potato Famine. The county supplied funding on a per capita basis for mothers and babies housed at the facility and also paid the salaries of doctors attending them.

Dick Eastman:

The long abandoned site made headlines around the world this week when it was revealed that a nearby septic tank contained the bodies of up to eight hundred infants and children, secretly buried without coffins or headstones on unconsecrated ground between 1925 and 1961.

    No Septic Tank ever Existed

When the Mother/Baby Home closed down in 1961, the property and all records of births and deaths were turned over by Bon Secours Sisters to the state. The buildings were demolished in the early 1970s and the seven acre property was developed into a housing estate. Two boys from the estate playing on the property in the mid-1970s discovered a mass grave in the area behind the former Home.

Daily Mail:

The grave was discovered in the 1970s by 12-year-old friends, Barry Sweeney and Francis Hopkins.

Mr Sweeney said: ‘It was a concrete slab and we used to play there but there was always something hollow underneath it so we decided to bust it open and it was full to the brim of skeletons.

‘The priest came over and blessed it. I don’t know what they did with it after that. You could see all the skulls.’

Exactly what they found remains unclear. Some local people apparently suggested that the boys had discovered a mass grave of famine victims from the 19th century.

    No bodies have actually been recently found.

No one exhumed nearly 800 bodies of babies. What actually happened is that Catherine Corless, a local amateur historian (with the conventional modernist animus against the Roman Catholic Church) became interested and investigated the history of the Home.

When I started my research into the Home, I spoke to some of the residents who had moved into this housing estate on the Dublin/Athenry road, and they indicated that there was an unmarked graveyard in an area at the rear of where the Home once stood. It was believed that it was an angels plot for unbaptised babies, but further in my research I discovered that in fact, many children and young babies were also buried here. I was astonished to find that there was no formal marking or plaque to indicate that these children were buried there. I decided to contact the Registration Office in Galway to check for deaths in the Home. I was dismayed to find that in fact the number of children who died in the Home during its existence 1925-1961 numbered nearly 800. I now have all those children’s names, date of death, and age at death, which will be recorded into a special book.

It just did not seem right that all those children lay there unnamed and forgotten. Hence, I made contact with the Western Traveller and Intercultural Development (WTID) and a committee of interested people emerged, all with the view that some sort of Memorial should be erected in this children’s graveyard in dedication to their memory. Our committee is named: ‘The Children’s Home Graveyard Committee’.

We introduced our Project to erect a Memorial to the children, to the Tuam Town Council at one of their meetings, and got a unanimous decision that they would help us with some funding when they get their 2014 Grant Allowance. The Heritage Council have also promised to help but have cautioned us that Heritage Grants have been cut for 2014. Our fundraising is ongoing as it will take a large sum to complete the whole Project, i.e. to erect a proper Monument, clear the pathways into the graveyard, and to maintain the area with flowers and shrubs etc.

There was never any septic tank. Daily Mail:

The babies were usually buried in a plain shroud without a coffin in a plot that had housed a water tank attached to the workhouse that preceded the mother and child home.

No memorial was erected to the dead children and the grave was left unmarked.

The real substance of all the hoo-hah is that apparently baptized babies and small children who died at the Home may possibly have been buried in the same “Angels’ Plot” as premature unbaptized infants, and without markers.

The generality of readers have been led by irresponsible journalism to believe on the basis of garbled information and a few anecdotes that the Sisters of Bon Secours starved hundreds of children to death, abused and neglected babies and their mothers, and then tossed the bodies of their victims contemptuously into a septic tank.

Andrew Sullivan was typical of left-wing bloggers, though possibly even a bit keener than most:

These children were treated as sub-human because their births violated a Catholic doctrine that there can be no sex outside of marriage. The young women – denied contraception, of course – were equally subject to horrifying stigmatization, hatred, and inhumane rules that took their children away from them.

Providing support and education for, and arranging the adoption of the children of unwed mothers who have no ability to support them does necessarily involve taking those unwed mothers’ children away from them. This sort of thing used to be looked upon as a good deed, not as a crime against humanity. But people used to have a lesser sense of self-entitlement.

Reading anecdotes testifying that a stone institutional building in early 20th century Ireland was cold fails to surprise. I could collect even larger numbers of first-hand accounts testifying to harsh treatment and bad food from the young men consigned to such secular institutions as Eton and Harrow during precisely the same period. Where I differ from Andrew Sullivan and other champions of the Press would be in my declining to have any part in attempting to adjudicate alleged pre-1961 complaints on the basis of a few anecdotes from disgruntled people.

The Health Report quoted by Ms. Corless is unflattering undoubtedly, but it was written in 1944 we must recognize. WWII was going on in 1944. Food supplies, even in neutral Ireland, were disrupted, and people all over Europe were living on short rations. The records indicate that the Tuam unwed mothers’ asylum and orphanage was filled well over-capacity. Just like increased promiscuity, food shortages and over-crowding are inevitable results of war-time conditions. I don’t know that you can blame the nuns. Why not blame the County? If there were shortages of food or heat in 1944, the monies to pay for them were not being provided by the government. The nuns were doubtless living on the same rations and shivering in the same cold.

26 Apr 2014

Elites, Having Gotten Their Way, Condescendingly Propose Tolerating Dissent

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Gay-Marriage-Question

Same Sex Marriage, in the typical way culture war victories are won, is on the way to becoming the law of the land by the well-worn route of advocacy by a left-wing avante-garde, followed by conversion into a class indicator by the community of fashion, with a final victory effected by legislation from the judicial bench.

When the powers-that-be at Mozilla proceeded to defenestrate newly-appointed CEO Brendan Eich for the thought crime of having previously donated $1000 in support of Proposition 8, it all began getting a bit too heavy-handed for Andrew Sullivan, the formerly conservative Limey poof who more or less invented the notion of Gay Marriage, who quickly editorialized against black listing dissenters.

Having, somewhat unexpectedly, found themselves effectively getting their way, bursting through ineffective opposition to obtain complete control of the levers and handles allowing revolutionary alteration of the basic foundation of civilization, being now able to pillage, loot, vandalize, and profane at will the sacred inner sanctum of human society, the more reflective fashionistas are disposed to be gracious in their victory.

The rural paganes, it was recently proposed in a manifesto from liberaltarians (and Mr. Sullivan) ought to be accorded the privilege of grumbling, without penalty!

Merina Smith, at Ricochet, finds the condescension of the victors a little hard to take. And she’s perfectly correct. A massive propaganda wave of slogans, followed by a series of judicial coup d’etats is really not the same thing as “winning a debate.”

It is admirable that the well-respected signatories are calling for tolerance, but I am less than impressed with their statement. First, they repeat that deceptive little slogan “marriage equality” in a celebratory way, as if it really explained or illuminated anything. Can these smart people be unaware that equality simply means treating like things alike? The question, which has never been answered satisfactorily by anyone on that side of the debate, is what is the significance of the differences, particularly for children? Might there be a good reason why sexual unions that produce children should be treated differently than those that can’t? That nasty little question-begging slogan ”marriage equality” has in fact been a means of preventing discussion about the real issues at stake.

I do like their next point, that diversity is the natural consequence of liberty. They also say that this entails paying serious attention to the arguments of those they oppose. That’s good. Would that they would do so.

But since they assert unequivocally throughout the piece that they all support redefining marriage and are certain that this course is correct — without ever acknowledging that there might be some good reasons that marriage has always been limited to connecting males and females — one has to doubt that they have taken their opposition seriously, especially when they claim that “free speech created the social space for us to criticize and demolish the arguments against gay marriage and LGBT equality.” Uh, might there be some hubris going on here? The term “marriage equality” demolished no arguments, just avoided them.

Similarly, their use of judges to force their will on people who had voted against their side is not “demolishing” any sort of argument. In fact, Justice Kennedy’s shameful claim that there can be no reason besides animus against gays (read: “hate,” the queen of all delegitimizing words) is similarly a way to avoid dealing with objections and arguments.

04 Apr 2014

Even Some Lefties Are Outraged by Mozilla CEO’s Ouster for Thought-Crime

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Mozilla to Brendan Eich: “But don’t do it here!”

New York Times:

In Silicon Valley, where personal quirks and even antisocial personalities are tolerated as long as you are building new products and making money, a socially conservative viewpoint may be one trait you have to keep to yourself.

On Thursday, Brendan Eich, who has helped develop some of the web’s most important technologies, resigned under pressure as chief executive of Mozilla, the maker of the popular Firefox web browser, just two weeks after taking the job. The reason? In 2008, he donated $1,000 in support of Proposition 8, a California measure that banned same-sex marriage.
Brendan Eich, creator of the JavaScript programming language, was appointed Mozilla’s chief executive on March 24. MozillaBrendan Eich, creator of the JavaScript programming language, was appointed Mozilla’s chief executive on March 24.

Once Mr. Eich’s support for Proposition 8 became public, the reaction was swift, with a level of disapproval that the company feared was becoming a threat to its reputation and business. …

“We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act,” wrote Mitchell Baker, the executive chairwoman of Mozilla. “We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”

—————————-

Rather astonishingly, a couple of prominent commentators on the left came out solidly in defense of liberal (in the classical liberal sense) values.

Andrew Sullivan (who I think is often dead wrong) was courageously right on this one.

Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.

Andrew deserves one of his own Yglesias awards.

—————————-

Conor Friedersdorf, Andrew Sullivan’s former employee, now at the Atlantic, was equally forthrightly on the good side this time.

[N]o one had any reason to worry that Eich, a longtime executive at the company, would do anything that would negatively affect gay Mozilla employees. In fact, Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker, his longtime business partner who now defends the need for his resignation, said this about discovering that he gave money to the Proposition 8 campaign: “That was shocking to me, because I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness.” It’s almost as if that donation illuminated exactly nothing about how he’d perform his professional duties.

But no matter.

Calls for his ouster were premised on the notion that all support for Proposition 8 was hateful, and that a CEO should be judged not just by his or her conduct in the professional realm, but also by political causes he or she supports as a private citizen.

If that attitude spreads, it will damage our society.

Consider an issue like abortion, which divides the country in a particularly intense way, with opponents earnestly regarding it as the murder of an innocent baby and many abortion-rights supporters earnestly believing that a fetus is not a human life, and that outlawing it is a horrific assault on a woman’s bodily autonomy. The political debate over abortion is likely to continue long past all of our deaths. Would American society be better off if stakeholders in various corporations began to investigate leadership’s political activities on abortion and to lobby for the termination of anyone who took what they regard to be the immoral, damaging position?

It isn’t difficult to see the wisdom in inculcating the norm that the political and the professional are separate realms, for following it makes so many people and institutions better off in a diverse, pluralistic society. The contrary approach would certainly have a chilling effect on political speech and civic participation, as does Mozilla’s behavior toward Eich.

Its implications are particularly worrisome because whatever you think of gay marriage, the general practice of punishing people in business for bygone political donations is most likely to entrench powerful interests and weaken the ability of the powerless to challenge the status quo. There is very likely hypocrisy at work too. Does anyone doubt that had a business fired a CEO six years ago for making a political donation against Prop 8, liberals silent during this controversy (or supportive of the resignation) would’ve argued that contributions have nothing to do with a CEO’s ability to do his job? They’d have called that firing an illiberal outrage, but today they’re averse to vocally disagreeing with allies.

Most vexing of all is Mozilla’s attempt to present this forced resignation as if it is consistent with an embrace of diversity and openness. Its public statements have been an embarrassment of illogic, as I suspect the authors of those statements well know. “Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech,” the company wrote. “Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.”

This is a mess.

—————————-

The hell of it is: Google is just as PC totalitarian as Mozilla. This blog was suspended by Google from its advertising program one day, abruptly, and with no prior notice, for having published, years earlier, examples of cartoons criticizing Islamic religious attitudes by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Google’s cryptic communications indicated that I was expected to purge from this blog every potentially controversial item critical of Islam which Google might object to, and then beg them to take me back. I sent Google an email inviting them to kiss my ass.

I’m seriously thinking of going Linux on my next PC.

26 Mar 2014

Andrew Sullivan’s Blizzard of Lies, I

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When former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had the temerity to criticize the leadership of the chosen one for failing to secure a Status of Forces agreement, i.e. an official grant of permission for the US military to operate in Afghanistan, from what is essentially, in fact, a puppet regime which we installed into power in the first place, observing that “a trained ape” could have gotten one, Andrew Sullivan and his Dish came noisily to the Kenyan Caliban’s defense in their customary hair-pulling and nail-clawing vituperative fashion.

What’s truly striking and amazing about Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld is their persistent refusal/inability to reflect in any serious way on the immense moral, fiscal, and human costs of their failed wars. They are post-modern creatures – Rumsfeld never tackled an insurgency, he just “redefined” the word, just as he re-named torture – and you see this most graphically in Errol Morris’s small masterpiece, The Unknown Known. And so the very concept of personal accountability and responsibility is utterly absent. There was one flash of it: when Rumsfeld offered his resignation after the torture program’s reach and migration was revealed in the photos from Abu Ghraib. But even then, Rumsfeld was resigning because of the exposure – not because of the war crimes which he directly authorized.

What is truly striking and amazing about Andrew Sullivan, and his colleagues at the Dish, is their reliance on Big Lie repetition of mendacious left-wing talking points delivered in blizzard form, intentionally making any effort at refutation so time-consuming, lengthy and laborious as to be nearly impossible.

“immense moral, fiscal, and human costs of their failed wars” ?

The majority of Americans, existing outside the exquisite and morally précieux community of left-wing cranks, poseurs, and pseudo-intellectuals, as far as I can see, felt no moral cost whatsoever in taking military action against Saddam Hussein and the Baathist Iraqi regime which was hostile, firing on US planes on a daily basis, and which had flagrantly violated the cease-fire agreements ending the First Gulf War. Nor would anyone intellectually honest and sane feel the slightest iota of chagrin at the concept of invading barbarous Afghanistan, at the time host of the leadership of the 9/11 terrorist plot and their training camps. What gives me moral problems is the Bush Administration’s failure to initiate hostilities against, and to subjugate and civilize, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Significant elements of the military and intelligence leadership of Pakistan were obviously in cahoots with the jihadi terrorists of al Qaeda and the Taliban, which explains why it is that Osama bin Ladin, after fleeing Afghanistan, wound up living within a few hundred yards of Pakistan’s military academy in Abbotabad.

Terrorism costs money, and the money supporting the 9/11 plot and al Qaeda generally came principally from Saudi Arabia. 15 of 19 9/11 terrorists were Saudis.

Iran, no differently from Iraq, was (and is) a regime sponsor of international terrorism, a passionate adversary of America and the West in general, an odious tyranny, and a persistent developer (and potential disseminator) of WMDs, including nuclear weapons. Iran was no less worthy than Iraq as target of regime change.

—————–

As to the allegedly immense fiscal costs, Andrew Sullivan would clearly be better informed if he regularly read my blog. Back in 2010, I quoted Randall Hoven who put the costs of the Iraq War into perspective. (I’m deliberately restricting the discussion to Iraq-related figures and arguments in the interests of brevity.)

If we look only at the Iraq War years in which Bush was President (2003-2008), spending on the war was $554B. Federal spending on education over that same time period was $574B.

Obama’s stimulus, passed in his first month in office, will cost more than the entire Iraq War—more than $100 billion
(15%) more.

Just the first two years of Obama’s stimulus cost more than the entire cost of the Iraq War under President Bush, or six years of that war.

Iraq War spending accounted for just 3.2% of all federal spending while it lasted.

Iraq War spending was not even one quarter of what we spent on Medicare in the same time frame.

Iraq War spending was not even 15% of the total deficit spending in that time frame. The cumulative deficit, 2003-2010, would have been four-point-something trillion dollars with or without the Iraq War.

The Iraq War accounts for less than 8% of the federal debt held by the public at the end of 2010 ($9.031 trillion).

During Bush’s Iraq years, 2003-2008, the federal government spent more on education that it did on the Iraq War. (State and local governments spent about ten times more.)

With respect to “human costs,” US casualties during the Iraq War were lower than casualties produced by accidents during peace-time twenty years earlier.

A. 1983-1986

YEAR//TOTAL MILITARY FTE//NBR OF U.S. Military Deaths

1983: 2,465

1984: 1,999

1985: 2,252

1986: 1,984

(a) FTE = Full Time Equivalent personnel, based on DoD fiscal year-end totals

Now, here are the comparable totals for the most recent, four-year period:

B. 2003-2006

2003: 1,228

2004: 1,874

2005: 1,942

2006: 1,858

Source: Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report for Congress, American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics, Updated June 29, 2007

——————————–

With respect to “failed wars,” Andrew & company are obviously wildly rhetorically over-reaching. Iraq may not have been transformed by the Bush Administration’s efforts into a perfect democracy and the peacable kingdom, enjoying perfect domestic comity and able to serve as a model of superb administration and happy Westernization, but neither is Iraq any longer a major regime sponsor of terrorism and regional troublemaker. Its government is infinitely more democratic than it used to be, and the people and leadership groups of Iraq have a decidedly greater opportunity to make their own choices, for good or ill, than they did under the national socialist tyranny of Baathism. The invasion and occupation of Iraq may have led to a less conclusively positive result than might be desired, but it certainly compares favorably to the results of previous American military efforts in Korea (which left the enemy isolated, but actively making mischief and building –and potentially disseminating– weapons of mass destruction ) and in Vietnam (where the enemy won and went on to occupy and enslave a US ally).

Domestic traitors, like Andrew Sullivan and the democrat party, who opportunistically switched positions on the war and began enthusiastically lending aid and comfort to the enemy, undermining the morale of the American public, libeling the motives of our actions, and impugning the justice of our cause obviously had a great deal to do with the prolongation of the war and the American government’s cloture of the mission in Iraq without complete success at pacification and democratization.

The Dish preaching about “failed wars” is rather like Lord Haw-Haw or Tokyo Rose during WWII denouncing Allied efforts to maintain troop morale always at enthusiastic levels, after years of broadcasting Axis propaganda.

More later

10 Mar 2014

Compromise Not Possible With Gun Controllers

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Andrew Sullivan quotes readers of his Dish to produce a somewhat disingenuous on-the-one-hand and on-the-other-hand summary of the gun control debate.

Reader 2 (the token pro-gun guy) is “a responsible gun owner [who] want[s] to reduce the number of gun deaths, and [who accepts the liberal perspective that] there are many ways of doing this, from requiring guns to be locked up when not in use so that minors cannot accidentally shoot somebody, to universal background checks to at least make it difficult for criminals to get their hands on guns.” But, even he recognizes that most of the left is simply playing a salami game, one slice today, another slice tomorrow, aiming at complete elimination of civilian firearms ownership.

Quote Reader 2:

    On one hand, there are over 300 million of us, so only one in 500,000 Americans is killed every year because his knumbskull cousin said “Hey Bert, is this thing loaded?” before pulling the trigger. You can see that as a small number. The other way to look at is that each and every day, an American or two loses his or her life this way. In countries with sane gun laws, that 606 number is somewhere closer to zero.

That sentence encapsulates what I hate about the anti-gun crowd.

While Waldman is ahead of the game in that he at least admits that at .5% of all accidental deaths make accidental gun deaths a pretty low priority, he goes on to say that we should eliminate all personal gun ownership to take care of it anyway. Why does this bother me? Well, because it says that he doesn’t value my desire to own a gun to the point where he would take my gun to solve a problem he just admitted was insignificant. So by extension, what I want is even less significant than this insignificant issue. …

[I]t is difficult to work with somebody who puts such a low value on something that you value that they see no reason why anybody would even want what you want.

If you want to know why it is so easy for the NRA to sell the idea that some people want to take your guns away look no farther than Paul Waldman (and Obama, Bloomberg, Feinstein and others) who on one hand say they don’t want to take your guns while making statements that make it clear they don’t value you having one.

It’s easy for the NRA to find people who agree with the idea that some people want to take your guns away (no “selling” required), because it’s true.

08 Nov 2013

“Your Purring Little Murderer”

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Sullyblog recently found itself another humanitarian crusade to climb on board.

Bad enough our letting the Bush Administration roughly handle jihadi terrorists (Torture!). On top of that, we allow domestic cats to reproduce and then we “introduce” them into natural environments properly understood to be the park and preserve of rodents and small birds. We are kind of like God introducing Spaniards into the New World.

TIBS from Sam Huntley on Vimeo.

—————–

Disapproving Aunt Andrew quotes crusading vegan journalist Deanna Pan writing in Mother Jones about the findings of a study of feline atrocities by the University of Georgia.

About 30 percent of the sampled cats were successful hunters and killed, on average, two animals a week. Almost half of their spoils were abandoned at the scene of the crime. Extrapolating from the data to include the millions of feral cats brutalizing native wildlife across the country, the American Bird Conservancy estimates that kitties are killing more than 4 billion animals annually. And that number’s based on a conservative weekly kill rate, said Robert Johns, a spokesman for the conservancy.

“We could be looking at 10, 15, 20 billion wildlife killed (per year),” Johns said.

—————–

Doesn’t it seem fitting that the moralizing and modernizing representatives of the progressive community of fashion not only hasten to defend the Mussulman bombmaker, but also take time out from ordering the stars in their courses to champion the rights of mice, rats, pigeons, and house sparrows?

Spoilsport Deanna Pan (I bet she was not born with that surname) thinks we should bell and bib our cats in order to foil their hunting.

(Also quoted by Andrew Sullivan) Amanda Marcotte, writing in Slate, contends that helicopter-pet-ownership, i.e. persistent bien pensant human supervision and restricted access to the out-of-doors, is the solution.

One of my cats spent the first year of her life as a completely outdoor cat who slept in a barn, so getting her to stop begging to be let out took some spine, but now she’s perfectly happy to have her outdoor life limited to small amounts of time on the balcony. If I ever feel bad about exerting power over her in this way, I just remind myself I’m being much more generous to her than she’d be to small creatures that she comes across, which goes a long way toward relieving any guilt.

All of which proves, I think, that no limits to officious theorizing of the modern pseudo-intelligentsia can be found to exist.

Personally, I think all these self-appointed legislators’ pantries should be infested with hanta-virus-bearing mice and pigeons should target them whenever they go outside.

——————-

Let Piaf speak for the pussycats.

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