What’s Wrong with the World

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September 2016 Archives

September 1, 2016

Immigration Hard-Liners Can (and do!) Appreciate Diversity and Foreign Countries

Did you know that a Presidential candidate surprised everyone by going to Mexico and wishing their people well? Not only that, he came back to our country and gave a speech that did not pander to Mexican immigrants, but rather laid out in clear and concise terms that coming into the United States illegally is something that will not be tolerated in a future administration headed by this candidate and that the United States has a duty to his current citizens first and foremost and needs to design immigration policy with their needs in mind.

Continue reading "Immigration Hard-Liners Can (and do!) Appreciate Diversity and Foreign Countries" »

September 4, 2016

Further update: Philip Zodhiates

It appears that the trial I mentioned here in the Lisa Miller case is going to be the trial of Philip Zodhiates. He is a Virginia businessman who allegedly helped Lisa Miller get out of the country. This article implies that Zodhiates had a contact in Canada who helped Lisa and Isabella on the Canadian leg of their journey to Nicaragua.

Zodhiates' trial is set to go in Buffalo, NY, this fall, possibly this month. As I mentioned before, Ken Miller is under threat of additional jail time if he will not testify, and I now conclude that it is Zodhiates against whom he's being pressured to testify.

It is a bit chilling to reflect that the federal prosecutors doubtless have enough evidence to convict Zodhiates without Ken Miller's testimony but are putting Miller under the extreme stress and internal conflict of coercing him to testify nonetheless. One could look at this as sadistic, but my best guess is that it's just cold-blooded prosecutorial zeal. "We want to throw in all the evidence we have in the case. You never know what will convince a jury. Miller has evidence. Miller must be forced to testify." Pity and moderation don't apparently enter into the calculation.

And then one wonders about that Canadian contact, if he exists. Will Zodhiates be convicted, the contact found and extradited from Canada, and Zodhiates told that he will face yet more (indefinite) jail time if he won't testify against the person from Canada? The chain of potential targets of vengeance seems never-ending, with each man-link in the chain being coerced into testifying against the next.

The federal prosecutors even arrested and indicted a different pastor, Timothy Miller (not related to any of the others by that last name in the case), whose crime was apparently only helping Lisa after she arrived in Nicaragua. It's not even clear to me how he can be charged in an American court for actions performed in Nicaragua. I've heard of much more serious crimes than this being unprosecutable because the American citizen in question committed them on foreign soil, so I admit to being stumped by this one. Timothy Miller seems only to have gotten out of prosecution by agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors. He should never have come back to the states at all.

Pray for Philip Zodhiates as well as for Ken Miller's decision concerning whether to testify in his case.

September 8, 2016

Phyllis Schlafly: Having accomplished nothing but an epic

In Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers produces this interesting bit of dialogue, on the topic of fighting in the rearguard, between Lord Peter Wimsey and the Warden of Sayers's fictional women's college. The setting is the late 1930s. Lord Peter speaks first.

"One may either hulloo on the inevitable, and be called a bloodthirsty progressive; or one may try to gain time and be called a bloodthirsty reactionary. But when blood is their argument, all argument is apt to be--merely bloody."

The Warden passed the adjective at its face value.

"I sometimes wonder whether we gain anything by gaining time."

"Well--if one leaves letters unanswered long enough, some of them answer themselves. Nobody can prevent the Fall of Troy, but a dull, careful person may manage to smuggle out the Lares and Penates--even at the risk of having the epithet pius tacked to his name."

"The Universities are always being urged to march in the van of progress."

"But epic actions are all fought by the rearguard--at Roncevaux and Thermopylae."

"Very well," said the Warden, laughing, "let us die in our tracks, having accomplished nothing but an epic."

Phyllis Schlafly fought not only the infamous Equal Rights Amendment but also all the things that she (rightly) saw would flow from it. In the slightly-longer run of history that we see now from the vantage point of 2016, America lost on point after point in that list. Homosexual rights, homosexual "marriage," women in combat, the repeal of distinctions between the sexes in law, the strikedown of even minimal restrictions on abortion (most recently with the strikedown of Texas's regulations on abortion clinics), and now even the transgender movement. Of all the things that Schlafly foresaw and held back, only the actual registration of women for the draft has not yet taken place, and it can be seen on the horizon, and not so dimly, either. All of these things have been brought upon us by a combination of the courts and of increasingly leftist federal and sometimes state legislatures. But mostly the courts. Not given the excuse of the Equal Rights Amendment, they have over time simply fashioned more and more bizarre interpretations of the 14th amendment. When the Constitution is a wax nose, anything can be done by our robed masters.

So Schlafly's glorious and astonishing defeat of the ERA (see Chapter 10 of George Gilder's Men and Marriage for the story) was, seen in the light of later history, a rearguard action.

Continue reading "Phyllis Schlafly: Having accomplished nothing but an epic" »

September 12, 2016

Updates: Timo Miller

My thanks to reader "Just Me" for updating us in the comments thread below on the current outrageous situation of Mennonite missionary Timo Miller. See here, here, and here. He is apparently giving us information from the site Plainnews.org, which hosts news on Mennonite, Hutterite, and other "plain" folk worldwide. (Timo Miller is no relation either to Lisa Miller or to Pastor Ken Miller.) Timo was originally arrested in Washington, DC, in 2011 for having helped Lisa Miller obtain plane tickets to Nicaragua and for having sheltered her and helped her settle in when she first arrived in Nicaragua. He has stated explicitly that he did not know at the time that he was breaking any laws in so doing. See here for an interesting and in some ways sympathetic portrayal of him in the New York Times.

He agreed to cooperate fully with investigators in 2011, and hence at that time the federal charges against him were dropped. He was a witness at fellow Mennonite Ken Miller's trial in 2012.

Apparently having federal charges dropped, though, is just a game of cat and mouse. There is nothing long-term or binding about it, at least as it was done in Timo Miller's case, and the charges can be picked back up again at any time. For reasons that are obscure both to Timo and to his family, the federal prosecutors connected to the Buffalo, New York, trial (presumably the trial of Philip Zodhiates, who helped Lisa in the U.S.), have decided that he needs to be extradited right now, citing the old charges against him.

Continue reading "Updates: Timo Miller" »

September 13, 2016

Massachusetts follows Iowa

First it was Iowa (see here and here); now it's Massachusetts. It almost seems like these anti-discrimination commissions are reading from the same playbook.

Massachusetts's Commission Against Discrimination has issued new guidance on new anti-discrimination laws, and it explicitly includes churches. The relevant sentence is,

Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.

Sound familiar? Yep, it's very much like the revised language (see here) that the Iowa anti-discrimination commission wrote. Originally, the Iowa commission had said that the force of non-discrimination law applied to churches if they had a "church service open to the public," which provoked howls of derision and pointed (and legitimate) comments about censored sermons. It also provoked a couple of lawsuits. Iowa's commission then revised their pamphlet to say that the application of the law was only to "non-religious activities which are open to the public." The wording in the Massachusetts guidance is similar. The examples given in the Iowa revised pamphlet are "an independent day care or polling place located on the premises of the place of worship." The example in the Massachusetts guidelines of a "secular event" is a spaghetti supper.

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September 16, 2016

Time for civil disobedience in Illinois

Way back in 2008 I highlighted a then-new law in Victoria, Australia, requiring a doctor to refer patients for abortions if the doctor wouldn't perform the abortion himself. I said that this was a case in which civil disobedience would be justified.

Illinois has recently passed a law (text here), which has been signed by the Republican (!) governor, that is much like Victoria's law. Ironically, the new law is an amendment to a conscience protection act previously passed in Illinois. The current law brazenly guts the original conscience protection act and replaces it with conscience coercion.

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September 20, 2016

Sedition and Anthem Protests

Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players used the moment of the national anthem, in their respective games in NFL opening games, to make political “statements”. Kaepernick sat for the anthem. Four Dolphins took a knee. Various Patriots and Chiefs raised a fist during the anthem. Kaepernich, particularly, also added to his actions a testament to say why he did this:

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Not surprisingly, these actions induced a heated response against the players. People thought these actions were disrespectful, and weren’t shy about saying so.

Not surprisingly, the left wing of the “anything that attacks my country is fine with me” crowd reacted to the reaction with their own misplaced anger, like so, by Nancy Armour:

NFL players protest on 9/11, and that's fine… On 9/11, of all days, there were some who wanted to dictate what’s “appropriate” when it comes to respecting this country. Who decided symbols are more important than what they actually represent. …[snip]… Peters and the Dolphins players stood during the 9/11 observance shown in all stadiums. Their signs of protest came after, during the anthem, a nuance that is sure to be lost on those who criticize them. They did not disrespect those who lost their lives 15 years ago and, even when they raised a fist or took a knee, they did not disrespect those who served or their country, either.

No, they disrespected the nation, instead.

Continue reading "Sedition and Anthem Protests" »

September 22, 2016

Let's Enter the Agora Together

Did you know that this is the “Flight 93 Election”? In case you haven’t already encountered Publius Decius Mus by now and have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain in Publius’ (pseudonymous) words:

2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.

Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.

To ordinary conservative ears, this sounds histrionic. The stakes can’t be that high because they are never that high—except perhaps in the pages of Gibbon. Conservative intellectuals will insist that there has been no “end of history” and that all human outcomes are still possible. They will even—as Charles Kesler does—admit that America is in “crisis.” But how great is the crisis? Can things really be so bad if eight years of Obama can be followed by eight more of Hillary, and yet Constitutionalist conservatives can still reasonably hope for a restoration of our cherished ideals? Cruz in 2024!

Continue reading "Let's Enter the Agora Together" »

September 24, 2016

Update on Zodhiates and both Millers

Well. Things are not so good for either Timothy Miller or Kenneth Miller. As for Philip Zodhiates, it's unclear how his trial, which has just begun, is going to go.

Let's start with Timo Miller, who is in the worst situation of all: As of this past Tuesday, he has not been brought to the United States. He remains in the custody of the Nicaraguan authorities. No one seems to know for sure why, after leaving him alone to carry on his life for years, the Nicaraguans suddenly decided to arrest him in connection with his role in the so-called "kidnapping" of Isabella Miller--a charge (of course) originating in the United States and in the laws of the United States. It is all the more mysterious since they haven't yet sent him back to the U.S.

Here is what the U.S. Prosecutor is reported to have told Christian News:

Co-prosecutor Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Van De Graaf confirmed to Christian News Network on Tuesday that Timo Miller is currently behind bars in Nicaragua and might be deported back to the U.S.. However, the decision is up to Nicaraguan officials as there is no extradition process in place.

Clever, huh? There's no extradition process in place, so he just remains in limbo indefinitely in Nicaragua. A much worse outcome than being brought to the United States for a trial. It avoids all that pesky habeas corpus stuff.

Continue reading "Update on Zodhiates and both Millers" »

September 26, 2016

Choice devours itself: Husband in Oregon wants to stop his wife's spoon feeding

Readers may remember the case of Margot Bentley in Canada. Margot had been an activist in favor of euthanasia and suicide and had explicitly stated that she wanted to be dehydrated to death rather than being kept alive if she became incompetent. However, when she became very elderly and was suffering from dementia, she was accepting spoon feeding at the nursing home where she lived. The nursing home didn't want to stop feeding her, despite the fact that her children wanted to force them to stop. The case went to court, and the judge ruled that, since Margot was accepting the spoon feeding, it should be allowed to continue.

In Oregon a very similar case is playing out. Once again, the court and nursing home have made the right decision to continue to spoon feed the patient, but there are disturbing indications that this would not happen if the statutory laws were even slightly different or if the woman were not in a nursing home.

Continue reading "Choice devours itself: Husband in Oregon wants to stop his wife's spoon feeding" »

September 30, 2016

You are not allowed to fill in the lacuna in anti-homosexual reasoning

This is going to be a rather long, philosophical post, so I'm going to put some comments right up front so that people can get this gist even if they don't have the time to read the whole post.

By now my readers have probably heard about the flap concerning a regional meeting of the Society for Christian Philosophers. If not, you can get up to speed on the facts via Maverick Philosopher, Ed Feser, or Rod Dreher.

Extremely eminent British, Christian philosopher Richard Swinburne presented a paper at a regional SCP meeting (an invited paper) on Christian sexual ethics and morality. In the course thereof he stated that people with homosexual orientation are disabled and that it would be good if they could be cured of this disability, and the left, including some so-called Christians, went hysterical, insane with rage. The President of the SCP, philosopher of religion Michael Rea, then publicly issued a brief and highly ambiguous semi-apology for the "hurt" caused by Swinburne's talk, implying that it did not properly advance the goals of "diversity and inclusion." Others have then called for Rea to apologize to Swinburne for this unprecedented move of apologizing for an eminent philosopher's invited talk just because it was controversial and also to "clarify" that a defense of traditional Christian sexual views is still welcome within the SCP.

Continue reading "You are not allowed to fill in the lacuna in anti-homosexual reasoning" »