Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Which human beings Obama thinks should be respected

Barack Obama, whose spokesman today made it clear that he supports Planned Parenthood selling the body parts of babies killed in abortions, has been giving African countries moralistic lectures about how they should treat other human beings (in this case, gays).

Just thought I'd point it out.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Greg Gutfeld on 'The Trump Show': This Isn't a Campaign, 'It's Real Housewives of the RNC'

Greg Gutfeld on 'The Trump Show': This Isn't a Campaign, 'It's Real Housewives of the RNC'.

Greg Gutfeld opened his show with a monologue on the ongoing "Trump Show," saying the Republican presidential race looks more like a "Real Housewives" episode.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Impatient protesters begin digging up Confederate general's grave -- themselves!

Impatient protesters begin digging up Confederate general's grave -- themselves!.
Impatient protesters begin digging up Confederate general's grave -- themselves!

(Second column, 5th story, link)
Related stories:


Monday, July 20, 2015

Why Everyone Doesn't Like Donald Trump Although Some People Still Do

Everyone is talking about Donald Trump—which, of course, is exactly what Donald Trump wants. And almost everyone who is talking about him (publicly, anyway) is talking about why they don't like him.

Why doesn't anyone like the guy who says that everyone likes him and why do some people still like him despite the fact that no one does?

The Authorized Version of Why Donald Trump Is Still Popular Despite The Fact That He Shouldn't Be is that he is really not a politician running for the presidency, but an entertainment impresario putting on a show: He's a reality TV star beating the media at its own game.

There is some truth to this. We now have a significant portion of the citizenry that has a hard time distinguishing between reality and Hollywood-induced fantasy. Which is one reason why the criticism by the mainstream media rings so hollow: They are themselves the very ones who created the conditions under which Donald Trump thrives.

In fact, the mainstream media is part of the very circus they purport to criticize. Americans turn on their television sets expecting a show, and Donald Trump is giving them one—with the unwitting cooperation of all the people who keep saying he should just go away.

The show is about a rich businessman turned reality TV star running for president who claims that everyone likes him but who really makes everyone mad. It stars Donald Trump and is written by Donald Trump. Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper play supporting roles, as does every Fox News anchor. But their lines were written by Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is playing the evil puppet master Stromboli and his media critics are all Pinocchios who dream of being real journalists some day.

This is why people can both love and hate Trump at the same time: Just like they loved and hated J. R. Ewing, The Master, and Simon Cowell.

Now that I think about it, it is kind of fun to watch.

But the more fundamental reason Trump remains popular with Republican primary voters is that the part he has written for himself is a guy who is willing to say what he thinks without caring how many people don't like him for it.

And a lot of people like him for it.

Conservatives have spent the past five years or so watching their leaders turn tail and run on some of their core principles—particularly values issues like same-sex marriage.

If Donald Trump has the courage to face down the media on indefensible positions, why can't other candidates muster up the courage to stand up more firmly on issues—like traditional marriage—that are perfectly defensible?

It's a commentary on how starved Republican voters are for a candidate that has the courage of his convictions that they will settle for one who will at least play the part, however unreal he is.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The problem with prosecuting county clerks under current Kentucky laws

One of the things the critics of county clerks balking at issue same-sex marriage licenses don't seem to take into account is the current language of Kentucky's Revised Statutes, which have not yet been changed to accommodate the Obergefell decision. This brings up a number of questions.

If there is a right to same-marriage, then what obligation does that confer on county clerks. To the critics this seems clear, but I hardly think it is. Does a right automatically infer a commensurate obligation of some kind? How? And how does it do it when the actual statutory language doesn't yet reflect it.

Let me give one example. Which county clerk is responsible for issuing a marriage license? According to 402.080, "The license shall be issued by the clerk of the county in which the female resides at the time..."

So what if two men come to a county clerk and request a marriage license? Since neither is a female, is the county clerk in the county in which both or either of them reside responsible? Or can they get it anywhere? Is there any particular county clerk under these laws who is actually individually responsible?

If two women come to a county clerk and request a marriage license and they live in different counties, is there another clerk who could issue them the license?

This is just one issue. There are numerous others that have to await the legislature completely rehauling the law.

What does this say for how clerks who are refusing to marry can be prosecuted, since there is no statutory law which coherently lays out their responsibility in same-sex marriage situations?

What are a County Clerk's Obligations?

I am posting a comment from the comments section of one of my posts on the county clerk controversy that gets to some of the serious issues involved. It was a substantive post, so I thought I would bring it and my response out on the main blog:

There are two types of duties that State Officials possess. The first is a ministerial duty, and the second is a discretionary duty. The Attorney General in Kentucky (and all other states to the best of my knowledge) has the discretion to appeal a trial court's finding that a law is unconstitutional. There is no affirmative constitutional duty to appeal such a finding if the Attorney General, in his opinion, believes the appeal will fail or that the law is otherwise repugnant or unconstitutional. There is a duty to defend the law at the trial court level (before Judge Heyburn in this matter) which the Attorney General did in this case. 
A ministerial duty is a duty in which there is no room for discretion. The most common example in law school is, ironically enough, filling out a form or putting a seal on a piece of paper. Issuing a marriage license is a ministerial duty. 
What the LEO was attempting (albeit awkwardly) to say is that it is a false equivocation to compare a clerk's failure to perform a ministerial act with the Attorney General's lawful and discretionary choice not to appeal a finding that the marriage amendment violated the federal constitution. 
As someone who has published logic textbooks, you are obviously very capable and very good at critical thinking. Therefore, I find it impossible to believe that you are unable to grasp the distinction between ministerial and discretionary acts. As someone who leans left on the gay marriage issue, I will freely admit that Kennedy's opinion was lacking in solid jurisprudence.  
Can you not do me the same courtesy and admit that the comparison between the clerks refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses and Conway's refusal to appeal is misleading at best and cynical at worst? 
My response:

I am certainly not in a position to tell you what it is possible or impossible for you to believe, but the distinction you point to is not one that has been pointed out to me. And for that reason, I appreciate you pointing it out. It is certainly relevant to the discussion.
I have no problem with the distinction per se, but it seems to me that it doesn't necessarily resolve the issue. 
First, in regard to Conway's discretionary duty, you say that he would have the discretion whether to appeal the case. I don't deny that. But even you seem to think that that discretion is subject to some kind of criteria. You set them forth as whether he thinks "the appeal will fail or that the law is otherwise repugnant or unconstitutional." I would be curious to know where you get these criteria. Are they in the Kentucky Constitution? Is there some case law that establishes these criteria as judicial doctrine on these issues? I'm not accusing you of making them up, but I really don't know by what authority you assert them and would like to know. 
But for argument's sake, let's assume them. On the first criterion--whether he thinks an appeal will fail--seems a pretty weak one to me. Whether a case is likely or unlikely to be won seems like a rather subjective criterion. In all cases there is a winner and a loser--and the percentage breakdown is obviously about 50/50. I imagine in a lot of those cases the parties have some idea of the probability of winning and losing. I am just wondering what happens if all the 
In fact, doesn't that criterion amount to a self-fulfilling prophecy? The refusal to defend these laws may be based on a subjective judgment of probability of an appeal being successful, but such a refusal will most certainly affect the probability that such an appeal would be unsuccessful. If those ostensibly responsible for defending these laws decide not to defend them, doesn't that increase the probability that their side in the case will lose? And won't the spectacle of multiple instances of this further increase that probability? In fact, isn't this exactly what happened on the marriage issue? Whatever the chances an appeal would not be successful, the refusal to file it would increase the chances of its not being successful, and it seems to me the AG's job is to increase the chances where he has the power to do so. And he could have done this by filing an appeal. 
Not that it is dispositive here, but I just wonder how this would work out in a military context. What happens when your chances of losing are high? You just give up? I can think of a number of battles that would have turned out very differently had this criterion been observed. 
Conway certainly did say that Heyburn was right and that "these laws will not likely survive upon appeal" and that he would not "waste the resources of the Office of the Attorney General pursuing a case we are unlikely to win." But there are several things about this that make it a pretty weak excuse. 
The first is the whole financial reason he gives. For one thing, what I want to know is how much more the state spent defending the law with outside counsel than it would have if he had done his job.  
And secondly, I want to know how our showing up unexpectedly at several of the meetings between Conway's junior attorneys and Heyburn (Conway himself didn't bother to show up for any of the meetings) during the time he was purportedly actively defending the law--meetings in which his staff clearly had been directed to tred water affected Conway's decision--affect his decision. Even Judge Heyburn seemed to get impatient with them, and in one case clearly expected them to ask for a stay, and when they just sat there, looking at each other and shrugging their shoulders, Heyburn just did it himself--doing their job for them. 
It was pretty pitiful. 
Then there was Conway's brief in the original case, which a number of attorneys I talked to thought was simply badly done. Several thought they were intentionally bad. Even one attorney supportive of the plaintiff told a reporter that he thought the briefs signaled that Conway was opposed to his own case. 
I'm trying to figure out how pretending to defend a law but actively undermining your own case can be justified under any circumstances. 
I'm not saying that he couldn't do what he did: Obviously he could because he did. I'm saying he shouldn't have done it, partly because his reasons for not doing his discretionary duty were not convincing, and partly because he was serving in an office he campaigned for on a platform that included opposition to same-sex marriage. It wasn't like he didn't know what he was expected to defend going into his position. 
In regard to his ministerial duty, I would again ask for the basis upon which you make this distinction and why it applies to county clerks and not attorneys general. Why, in other words, are filling out forms and putting seals on documents ministerial and not discretionary? It's not a part of their oath of office (like Jack's obligation to defend the Kentucky Constitution was), so what is it? 
And, again, granting again your assumption (unestablished so far), is this ministerial duty to be discharged under all circumstances? To use an admittedly extreme example, if I am a clerk in Germany in the late 1930s and early 1940s, am I morally bound to sign the documents that are involved in sending Jews to the concentration camps? Again, I admit this is extreme, but it does establish that there is some point at which a person is relieved of his obligation to perform his ministerial duties, and the question therefore becomes on which side of the line violating your religious convictions falls (However far away they may may not be from sending people to concentration camps on the scale of moral terpitude).  
You simply assume that it falls on one side of the line, but you do not say why.
I appreciate your admission about Kennedy's opinion and the intelligent discussion starter on this issue. And unless you have an objection, I'm going to post your comment and my response as a separate post on the blog tonight because I think your points worthy of more attention.
You can read the original article and the rest of the comments here.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

57 County Clerks sign letter to Beshear on religious freedom

A letter signed by 57 of Kentucky's __ county clerks have sent a letter to Gov. Steve Beshear requesting that he call an extraordinary session of the General Assembly to address the religious freedom rights of county clerks.

Here is the letter:

LEO Weakly confused on what I said about Jack Conway

Steve Shaw at LEO Weekly, in an article extolling the glories of our new Judicial Oligarchy and its redefinition of marriage, said:
Casey County Clerk Casey Davis presumably was high on GOP talking points when he falsely paralleled his neglect of duty with Attorney General Jack Conway’s refusal to defend Kentucky’s ban against a compelling judgment rescinding it as discriminatory. Martin Cothran of the Family Foundation, likwise, misrepresented Conway’s option not to pursue a forbidding appeal as a courtesy extended by Governor Steve Beshear. Conway is the Democratic nominee to succeed Beshear. [Emphasis mine]
First of all, I'm in favor of another amendment to the State Constitution prohibiting sentences like this. LEO staff apparently need some remedial instruction in clear writing.

If I interpret the statement correctly (and I'm willing to be corrected by someone with more expertise in the language it is written in), it seems to suggest that I portrayed Conway bailing on his oath of office as "a courtesy extended by Governor Steve Beshear."

This would have been rather hard for me to do, since I don't even know what "a courtesy extended by Governor Steve Beshear" would be. Does this mean I said that Beshear gave Conway permission not to do his job?

Where did I say that? And if I didn't say that, then how did I "misrepresent Conway's option?"

And in what was was the Obergefell decision "compelling"? Certainly not logically.

Let me restate what I did say: Attorney General Jack Conway violated his oath of office, his job description, not to mention reversing the position on which he ran for office, in refusing to defend Kentucky's Constitution, and has no standing whatsoever to criticize county clerks who are only abiding by their own oaths in refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

What any courtesy extended by Beshear has to do with it, I don't know.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

My op-ed in the Lexington Herald-Leader: "Introducing Our New Ruling Elite"

My newest op-ed in the Lexington Herald-Leader:
In his dissent in last week's Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision prohibiting states from defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, Justice Antonin Scalia pointed out that every member of the Supreme Court was a graduate of Yale or Harvard law schools. This is, he said, "hardly a cross-section of America" ...
Read more here.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Why Matt Walsh is Wrong about America

Matt Walsh is a very popular conservative blogger, and justly so. But he is wrong about America.

In a post today, titled, "No, America is Not Great," he gives a litany of the cultural atrocities Americans are committing: moral relativism, abortion, gay marriage, pornography, sexual promiscuity, recreational looting, illegal immigration.

He is right so far: Americans are doing really bad things―and lots of them. Some of them are even done in the name of America. But, just as he has gotten a good list of symptoms, he lapses into a bad diagnosis.

In fact, the disease metaphor is an apt one, since he is basically blaming the patient for his sickness.

G.K. Chesterton once argued that the best argument against Christianity was Christians. But what Chesterton did not do is to blame Christianity for it. What would we think if someone gave the litany of sins that professed Christians commonly engaged in and said, "No. Christianity is Not a Great Religion."

I know what I would think.

Is America's greatness suspect because of what Americans do? This is Walsh's thesis, but he is wrong, and here's why.

Walsh's mistake is that he fails to make an important distinction: that between America as an ideal and America is a practical reality. If the problem is the practical reality, which in this case it is, it is not the fault of the ideal. In fact, the whole problem is the failure to live up to the ideal, and you don't reject the ideal because people fail to live up to it.

Walsh quotes Chesterton in making his case, but Chesterton would have disagreed with him. Chesterton talks about what he calls "primary loyalties." What is a "primary loyalty"?

A primary loyalty is a commitment we must have to a thing, and it is a loyalty over which we have no choice and may not even be aware. It is not the result of any commitment we may have consciously made or that we can ever escape from. It is something we are born to, in addition to being born into. There are various primary loyalties in our lives. Our family is one of them. If we are Christians, our Church is another. Another primary loyalty is that to our community or nation.

To be an American is to have a primary loyalty to America, a primary loyalty from which no one's deviation from its ideals can detract. And the contrast to that ideal should make us more, not less loyal to it. In fact, it is only by contrast with that ideal that we can say these things―abortion, pornography, same-sex marriage, looting―can be considered wrong at all.

If we do not have an ideal which we expect our nation's action to live up to, then we have undermined our ability to criticize the actions of its citizens at all, since we have no standard by which to criticize it.

In fact, the very passage in a Chesterton essay Walsh refers to to bolster his argument is in complete contradiction to his point:
I’m a patriot, but to borrow from Chesterton, a patriot who is uncritical of his country while it teeters on the edge of total destruction is like a son who doesn’t warn his mother that she’s about to fall off a cliff. In this case, however, we already fell off the cliff. We are shattered on the rocks below, and I’m truly not certain if we can be repaired.
Chesterton's essay was written precisely against such despair:
On all sides we hear to-day of the love of our country, and yet anyone who has literally such a love must be bewildered at the talk, like a man hearing all men say that the moon shines by day and the sun by night. The conviction must come to him at last that these men do not realize what the word 'love' means, that they mean by the love of country, not what a mystic might mean by the love of God, but something of what a child might mean by the love of jam.
If we are to take Walsh seriously (as I hope Walsh himself does not), then we are led to the conclusion that Walsh loves America like a child loves jam, and not like a grown man loves God: He doesn't like the way it tastes and so he throws it on the floor.

When hard times come, we don't reject God, although we may argue with him like Job. Maybe what Walsh needs is a voice out of the whirlwind.

Chesterton provides it:
It is the essence of love to be sensitive, it is a part of its doom; and anyone who objects to the one must certainly get rid of the other. This sensitiveness, rising sometimes to an almost morbid sensitiveness, was the mark of all great lovers like Dante and all great patriots like Chatham. 'My country, right or wrong,' is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, 'My mother, drunk or sober.' No doubt if a decent man's mother took to drink he would share her troubles to the last; but to talk as if he would be in a state of gay indifference as to whether his mother took to drink or not is certainly not the language of men who know the great mystery. 
What we really need for the frustration and overthrow of a deaf and raucous Jingoism is a renascence of the love of the native land. When that comes, all shrill cries will cease suddenly. 
Contrary to Walsh, we should share our countries troubles to the last, partly by pointing out how its so-called supporters ill serve it so badly.

Same-sex marriage, for example, was not mandated because of anything American (like the Constitution), but precisely by something that was un-American (judges violating the separation of powers).

This question comes up in my work with classical education, which studies the cultures of Athens and Rome. Some people point out that there are some pretty bad things that Greeks and Romans did. My response is always the same: that we admire these cultures―and judge them―on the basis of their ideals, not by their failures to live up to them. We judge Rome on the basis of Rome, not on the basis of Romans. And we do the same with Greece and every other civilization. Why would we not do this with America?

The problem with Matt Walsh is that he thinks what is wrong with America is America. What he fails to see is that what is wrong with America is only Americans. "[T]he point is," said Chesterton, "that when you do love a thing, its gladness is a reason for loving it, and its sadness a reason for loving it more."

"After Democracy": My Ep-Ed in Today's Louisville Courier-Journal

My new op-ed in today's Louisville Courier-Journal:
Okay, boys and girls, today we're going to talk about the time before Obergefell v. Hodges, the decision by the United States Supreme Court in the early 21st century that prohibited states from defining marriage as between a man and a woman. 
Until the time of this decision (and several others at about the same time), America was what was called a "democratic republic" and the people themselves, through their elected representatives, decided issues of public consequence. You may have read about this in your history books ...
Read the rest on the Courier-Journal's site here.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Why Sister Wives are Celebrating the Supreme Court Marriage Decision

Let's see, where does the logic of the Supreme Court's Obergefell decision ultimately lead. Oh, here we go:
Polygamist Nathan Collier, who has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives, said Wednesday that he had applied for a marriage license with his second wife, Christine, claiming he was inspired by last week's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. The reality TV star and his wives Victoria and Christine applied in Billings, Montana. Collier said he would sue if the application is turned down. "It's about marriage equality," he said. "You can't have this without polygamy."
Read more here.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Even some liberals admitting Supreme's decision on same-sex marriage a "logical disaster"

Even some liberals admitting Supreme's decision on same-sex marriage a "logical disaster"

When all of the partying over the liberal's political victory in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision abates, they're going to realize an ugly truth: the majority decision by Justice Anthony Kennedy is an intellectual embarrassment.

Granted, this realization will take a while, since contemporary liberals care as little but the Constitution actually says as the five justices who just rewrote it. But, although they really don't care about the Constitution, they at least try to keep up the pretension of being rational.

If conservatives play it right, they can hang this albatross around the liberal neck.

Here is Brian Beutler, writing in the liberal New Republic in an article titled, "Anthony Kennedy’s Same-Sex Marriage Opinion Was a Logical Disaster":
Outside of academic specialties, historic Supreme Court decisions aren’t generally taught as logical treatises, but as watershed moments, which is great news for Kennedy because his opinion in Obergefell is, logically speaking, kind of a disaster.
Read more here.

More People Who Shouldn't Vote: Same-Sex Marriage and Keeping Your Selfishness to Yourself

Ellen Rosenman has a rather strange op-ed in the Herald-Leader today arguing (and I use that term loosely) that since the gay marriage decision had no discernible impact on her family the day after, that therefore there was nothing wrong with it.

So far the government has not seized our house to bestow it on a gay couple. We've managed to keep our jobs, our cars, our marital tax break and our children. Our dogs remain clueless as ever (especially Bailey, the white one, whom the vet once diagnosed as D-U-M-B).
Now Rosenman is a professor in the English department at the University of Kentucky. I take great comfort in knowing that, and in knowing that she isn't in, say, the philosophy or political science department. I'm assuming there are at least intellectual standards in those departments.

Of course, she's using this fact--that the decision didn't seem to make any difference in her own life--as an argument that the Obergefell decision is perfectly fine. Presumably the opposite ruling would have had the same immediate lack of impact on her life. So would she have penned this same article if the outcome had been different?

Of course not.

Why is the lack of impact on her life an argument in favor of the decision rather than against it? In fact, it isn't much of an argument at all.

I have always wondered what it is the people who use this kind of reasoning see in it. Whenever anyone asks me, "But how would this affect your family?" (which I have been asked a number of times), my answer is always the same: It doesn't matter. Why should it?

Do you mean that, as a citizen, I am only supposed to be concerned with myself? Is that what this whole citizen thing is about? It's really just all about me?

If this is the way people think, no wonder we're so screwed up.

Of course, this is the outcome of the long process of radical individualism stemming from John Locke and Thomas Hobbes: All we are as a society is a group of atomistic individuals who have agreed to get along with each other. The social contract. Check it out.

This is the view shared by both social liberals and the liberals who call themselves libertarians or, in a popular oxymoronic expression, "libertarian conservatives." They share the same exact view: It's all about me.

I hear Leland Conway, an otherwise great radio talk show host on WHAS, making this same argument all the time.

Well, it ain't all about me. It's about the common good. And if I don't have the ability to think beyond that simplistic and selfish notion, then I just shouldn't say anything publicly at all. And furthermore, I should stay away from the ballot box. And everyone else who thinks this way should stay away from it too.

Keep your selfishness to yourself. It's not good for the country.