Various & Sundry, 3/25/15

– Today’s manufactured news outrage: Ted Cruz goes on Obamacare.

Inconceivable! How could the most prominent anti-Obamacare Senator buy insurance through Obamacare? Errr, because he basically had to. His wife is going on a leave of absence from her position at Goldman Sachs, so the Cruz family had to make a decision.

Cruz currently gets his insurance through his wife’s plan. That insurance is suspended once she takes a leave of absence to campaign with him, leaving him with three options. He can decline to purchase insurance, which no husband and father with the means to get coverage would ever do. His wife could use COBRA to keep her Goldman Sachs insurance intact for another 18 months, which would cost the family a bunch and would leave them uninsured circa October 2016 when the coverage lapses (assuming Mrs. Cruz hasn’t returned to work by then). Or he can follow the Grassley rule and buy an unsubsidized ObamaCare exchange plan, as federal law requires of members of Congress. Why, oh why, might Cruz prefer what’s behind door number three notwithstanding his ferocious opposition to ObamaCare? Anyone want to guess why a guy running for president as a loud-and-proud populist might choose to subject himself to the same unpopular program that millions of Americans are coping with right now?

As Cruz himself noted, he also wants to abolish the IRS and yet he continues to pay taxes. Double hypocrite!

– I guess “hands up don’t shoot” only garners media attention under certain circumstances.

Two high school freshmen were arrested in connection with the killing of a man walking his dog last week in Philadelphia’s Overbrook section. A third teen, who police say actually pulled the trigger, is still on the loose.

Brandon Smith, 15, was arrested Thursday and charged in the murder of James Patrick Stuhlman, who plead for his life before he was gunned down while walking his dog along the 6400 block of Woodcrest Avenue last Thursday night, police said.


“At one point he did plead for his life,” said Clark. “He said, ‘please don’t shoot me, please don’t shoot me,’ and they still shot him one time.”

Stuhlman usually took his 13-year old daughter with him on these walks. Fortunately she didn’t go this time.

– So we’ve pretty much reached the end of western civilization. It’s been nice knowing you.

“Get Hard” casts Ferrell as a casually racist investment banker brought down for a crime he didn’t commit. To prep for prison, he hires a black car wash attendant (Hart) to teach him how to survive in the Big House. He just assumes Hart’s character is a thug, even though he’s a squeaky clean family man. Let the barrage of racial stereotypes commence.

The movie is evidently poking fun at racism. But you see, poking fun at racism is now, according to the geniuses who are decrying this movie, racist.

Oh, it gets worse.

Another Variety story suggested the fact that Ferrell’s character isn’t eager to perform oral sex on a man might be “homophobic.”

That’s it, I’m tapping out.

– A rather thoughtful rumination by Yuval Levin on the philosophic underpinnings of conservatism and libertarianism.

Conservatism inherently points in this direction for reasons that are anthropological, sociological, and epistemological (if you’ll pardon my street slang). We conservatives tend to see the human person as an incorrigible mass of contradictions: a fallen and imperfect being created in a divine image, a creature possessed of fundamental dignity and inalienable rights but always prone to excess and to sin and ever in need of self-restraint and moral formation. This gives us high standards but low expectations of human affairs and makes us wary of utopianisms of all stripes. It also causes us to be more impressed with successful human institutions than we are outraged at failed ones, and so to be protective of our inheritance and eager to build on the longstanding institutions of our society (rather than engineer new ones) to improve things because they are likely to possess more knowledge than we can readily perceive—and more than any collection of technical experts, however capable, is ever likely to have.
This anthropology informs our sociology. The conservative vision of society is moved by a low opinion of the capacity of individuals to address complex problems even as it is informed by a high regard for the rights and freedoms of those individuals. It therefore seeks for social arrangements and institutions that counterbalance human failures and encourage individual moral progress while respecting human liberty and dignity. And it finds these in the mediating institutions of a free society—families, communities, civic and religious groups, markets, and more—that stand between the individual and the state.

Much more at the link.

– The Curt Jester provides some musings on “Mass Etiquette.” Yep, I’ve had many of these thoughts at Mass as well.

More to explorer


  1. The funniest movie ever made in my not-so-humble opinion is Mel Brooke’s Blazing Saddles. I have to say, I’m kind of surprised that it’s not sold at the back of the DVD store –wrapped in brown paper.

    On Levin on Cooke: I’ve always liked Thomas Sowell’s Tragic/Constrained Vision versus “Heroic”/Unconstrained Vision dichotomy. Cooke’s Manifesto sounds intriguing, at least from a subsidiarist point of view. Also, that second paragraph from the quoted bit could have been written by Rick Santorum.

  2. Mandatory cheap counter-jab on the Cruz thing: Of course they think that actually following the law when it’s not personally convenient is optional….

  3. Speaking of Cruz, I just read James V. Schall’s take on his speech at Liberty College.

    Cruz is certainly pro-life, pro-marriage, and family. He is for religious freedom, is pro-Israel, and wants border control that works. He cited Patrick Henry, General Washington, and Franklin Roosevelt, among others.
    My problem with his address was the “liberty” theme. Cruz recalled that our “rights” are God-given, but he did not touch on the question of why, if God gave us “rights”, so much of what is wrong is due to “rights” rhetoric, legislation, and subsequent enforcement. In short, however carefully we must talk of “rights” as God-given, most of our contemporary thinking on “rights” is “Hobbes-given”, not “God-given”.
    Cruz, in his speech, seemed unaware that almost all of the issues he opposed were argued in the name of the same nominal “freedom” that he spent his time advocating. That is, we have two radically different views of freedom, but both sides use the same rhetoric to justify their position. By not emphasizing the truth side of freedom, Cruz seemed to leave himself open to the counter-argument. Thus, anyone is free to choose the opposite of any view of freedom. It all comes down to a kind of subjective liberty with no standards. No doubt, the advocates of modern “liberty” more and more show their own rejection of any view but their own.
    [….] Cruz appealed to the American Constitution and Founding as a stable basis for rejecting relativism. But it has not proved to be such a protection, largely because of the slippery notion of what is the basis of “rights”.
    Thus, it is not sufficient today to “return” to the American founding. The America that is “the world’s greatest country”, as Cruz called it, does not in practice exist. We are a country explained more by Aristotle’s discussion of democracy, and within that analysis, as a country that accepts a liberty with no limits. When much of the country hears Cruz advocating “freedom”, they see him as a reactionary conservative and an enemy of relativist “freedom” whereas Cruz sees himself an advocate of a “liberty” that was guaranteed by the Constitution. But this Constitution has somehow departed from us. It is perhaps too much to expect a presidential election in which the case for a reasonable freedom is ever made, however much we may need it for our own souls.

    The whole thing is worth a read.

  4. Regarding the Curt Jester article – I once heard a priest announce before Communion that he wouldn’t be giving the sacrament to people who were chewing gum, as it would be a desecration. I have no idea what we was seeing from the altar that inspired that declaration.

  5. Fr. Schall is a classic Jesuit. Senator Cruz is an evangelical as his father was a lapsed Catholic.

    Looking for depth from an evangelical is futile. What’s more, Cruz is running for office. When has any political speech been deep?

  6. Father Schall actually gets it. And, he loves it.
    The USA was a republic with a written/ratified Constitution and laws. No more.

    We once lived under the rule of law. Tragically, The Bill of Rights, the consent of the governed, and due process have been replaced by the regime with executive orders, judicial diktat, regulatory capture, and “legalized” looting.

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