Sobering Thoughts

Comments on politics, the culture, economics and religion by Paul Tuns -- in short, everything about the human endeavour from a non-hyphenated conservative perspective. I am Toronto-based writer and editor, whose articles, columns and reviews have appeared in more than 35 publications. I am editor-in-chief of The Interim, Canada's life and family newspaper, author of Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal and a regular contributor to the book pages of the Halifax Herald.

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Monday, October 20, 2014
Harvard profs vs. new campus sex laws
Cathy Young at the Daily Beast:
The increasingly contentious debate about the proper response to sexual assault on college campuses took a new turn on Oct. 15, when The Boston Globe ran an op-ed signed by twenty-eight current and retired Harvard Law School professors expressing “strong objections” to the school’s new Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures. The sharply worded statement not only slammed the university administration for forcing the policy on all of Harvard’s schools without adequate discussion but also charged that the new procedures for handling complaints of sexual misconduct “lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process [and] are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.” It even went so far as to urge Harvard to defy federal guidelines on addressing such complaints and “stand up for principle in the face of funding threats.” This is the latest, and biggest, volley in a mounting revolt against the overreach of government-led initiatives to curb campus rape—coming from unusual suspects.
Thus, the Harvard signatories include not only noted criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who has long been viewed as right of center in the culture wars, but preeminent African-American law professor and Barack Obama’s mentor Charles Ogletree and several renowned female jurists such as veteran civil rights attorney Nancy Gertner, constitutional scholar Martha Field, and feminist legal theorist Janet Halley. This protest is not easy to dismiss as a right-wing anti-woman backlash.

'Humanitarian Aid Going to ISIS'
The Daily Beast reports: "Not only are foodstuffs, medical supplies—even clinics—going to ISIS, the distribution networks are paying ISIS ‘taxes’ and putting ISIS people on their payrolls." Jamie Dettmer explains the dilemma:
The aid—mainly food and medical equipment—is meant for Syrians displaced from their hometowns, and for hungry civilians. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, European donors, and the United Nations. Whether it continues is now the subject of anguished debate among officials in Washington and European. The fear is that stopping aid would hurt innocent civilians and would be used for propaganda purposes by the militants, who would likely blame the West for added hardship.
Yeah, but it's ISIS.

Democratic crowd doesn't stay for Obama portion of rally
Reuters reports:
President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.
With approval levels hovering around record lows, Obama has spent most of his campaign-related efforts this year raising money for struggling Democrats, who risk losing control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm election.
Most candidates from his party have been wary of appearing with him during their election races because of his sagging popularity.
Not so Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown of Maryland, who is running for governor ...
"You've got to vote," Obama repeated over and over at a rally for Brown in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, near Washington ...
A steady stream of people walked out of the auditorium while he spoke, however, and a heckler interrupted his remarks.
(HT: Powerline's John Hinderaker)

Choice isn't (and this has nothing to do with abortion
Spiked's Brendan O'Neill:
Nannies, nudgers and various other adherents to what the UK Labour Party calls ‘the politics of behaviour’ have done a lot of bad stuff in recent years. Their smoking ban hollowed out pub life. Their fearmongering about fatness did more than any fashion mag to convince young people that chubbiness is sinful and skinniness is next to Godliness. Their jihad against junk food in schools deprived today’s kids of some of childhood’s great pleasures: having a Mars bar in your blazer pocket and taking bites out of it in between scoring goals in the playground or sharing a fizzy strawberry lace as you natter about last night’s TV.
But even worse than all that has been the way this fun-allergic lobby has warped the meaning of the word choice. Almost singlehandedly they have transformed the c-word. They have turned ‘choice’ from something individuals do for themselves, using our free will and moral autonomy to decide on a course of action that we think is best suited to our lives, into something that is done for us, by others, and which we have to be guided towards. They talk about the ‘right choice’, the ‘informed choice’, the ‘healthy choice’, and about their determination to shove us donut-scoffing plebs towards that ‘choice’. They have turned choice utterly on its head: when they say ‘choice’, what they really mean is ‘less choice’.
Consider Lord Darzi’s proposals, published this week, for how to make London a healthier city. He wants mayor Boris Johnson to ban smoking in Trafalgar Square and other squares and parks; to ban the siting of junk-food shops near schools; and to give Oyster Card users a discount if they get off their lazy butts once in a while and walk part of the way to work. It is standard, soul-destroying lifestyle-policing fare. But what was most striking was Darzi’s insistence that through restricting certain forms of behaviour - smoking in public, buying chips near a school - he is boosting people’s ability to make a choice. He says he wants us all to make what he calls ‘the healthiest choice’, but that choice isn’t ‘always easy [or] obvious’, so we have to be assisted in the making of it. Labour’s Tessa Jowell also used the c-word in a super-weird way in her backing for Lord Darzi. ‘We need to make the healthier choice the easier choice for Londoners’, she said.
(HT: Samizdata's Perry de Havilland)

Sunday, October 19, 2014
Politics in the age of Ebola
Not what you think. The Daily Caller: "Man Claiming To Have Ebola Tries To LICK Conservative Protesters Outside Hillary Rally." DC reports:
An elderly man calling himself a progressive socialist accosted a group of about two dozen conservative students who were protesting outside a building where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was speaking. He then said he had Ebola and tried to lick the students.
Matt Vadum tweets: "Dem scum lucky he wasn't beaten to death."

Goldberg on Obama
Jonah Goldberg captures the disconnect between Barack Obama's (over)promises and reality, and how the President deals with it:
Every president claims the mantle of confidence and competence, and rightly so. That’s what leaders do and what we expect of them. But Obama was really something different. From the earliest days of his presidential run right through to today, Obama has exuded a boundless faith in his own competence and in the ability of government to tackle any problem. We all remember this sort of thing:
“I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Mr. Obama told Patrick Gaspard, his political director, at the start of the 2008 campaign, according to The New Yorker. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m going to think I’m a better political director than my political director.”
Finding other examples of Obama setting the bar impossibly high for himself are as easy to find as examples of Joe Biden putting squirrels in his pants (I mean that figuratively, not literally, the way Joe Biden means “literally”). The sheer arrogance of a foreign policy based on “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff”; the notion that you could vow the seas would stop rising thanks to your nomination and not eventually be mocked for it; his declaration that “I actually believe my own bullsh*t”; his assurance to a congressman that the 2010 midterms won’t turn out like they did in 1994 because “you’ve got me”; his claim that cynicism was his only opponent, as if he personified hope like a character from Pilgrim’s Progress; his determination not to be like Bill Clinton but instead be a “transformative” president who would “make government cool again.”
But most of these familiar examples go to the man’s psychology more than his ideology, and I find the ideology more interesting — but not unrelated. After all, when you believe “l’état, c’est moi,” it’s unlikely you will follow up that thought with a painful concession that L’état est un caniche obèses incompetent (which Google translate tells me is the “state is an obese incompetent poodle”). In other words, it is very hard for Obama to countenance the idea that the government he embodies isn’t as awesome as he is. This in part explains why Obama loves to say “I” and “me” whenever things (allegedly) go well, but it’s always “them,” or “they” or — very rarely — “we” when things go poorly.
I don't get how Obama is not mocked and ridiculed mercilessly by comedians, pundits, and, really, everyone. Okay, I get why he isn't. But he should be. Obama makes Jimmy Carter look like Ronald Reagan on leadership and Bill Clinton on fiscal issues.

Will on the War on Women attacks against the GOP
George Will notes the silliness of the War on Women attacks made by the Democrats against Republicans:
One of the wonders of this political moment is feminist contentment about the infantilization of women in the name of progressive politics. Government, encouraging academic administrations to micromanage campus sexual interactions, now assumes that, absent a script, women cannot cope. And the Democrats’ trope about the Republicans’ “war on women” clearly assumes that women are civic illiterates.
Access to contraception has been a constitutional right for 49 years (Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965). The judiciary has controlled abortion policy for 41 years (Roe v. Wade, 1973). Yet the Democratic party thinks women can be panicked into voting about mythical menaces to these things.
Will goes on to explain how the WOW theme might not be working for the Democrats in the Senate race to keep Mark Udall's Colorado Senate seat from Republican challenger Rep. Cory Gardner:
Senator Mark Udall, is now uncomfortably known here as “Mark Uterus.” He is seeking a second term by running such a relentlessly gynecological campaign that the Denver Post, endorsing his opponent, Representative Cory Gardner, denounced the “shocking amount of energy and money” Udall has devoted to saying Gardner favors banning birth control.
Actually, Gardner favors over-the-counter sales of oral contraceptives.
In losing Colorado’s 2010 Senate race, the Republican candidate carried men by 14 points but lost women by 17. This 31-point gap will not be replicated this year. In a recent Fox News poll, Gardner trailed Udall among women by just five points while leading among men by 17. Independents favored Gardner by 15 points.

Apple and Google will encrypt new cell phones, FBI wants to stop it
Vice's Motherboard and Time both report that FBI director James Comey isn't happy with the plans by Apple and Google to encrypt information on the latest versions of their cellphones. Comey told an audience at the Brookings Institute, "Both companies [Apple and Google] are run by good people, responding to what they perceive is a market demand. But the place they are leading us is one we shouldn’t go to without careful thought and debate." He strongly implied that only "bad guys" would want encryption. Never mind that people actually care about privacy and that a free people rightly recoil at the thought of government surveillance of law-abiding citizens. Comey claims, "We want to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law." But as Danny Crichton at Tech Crunch notes:
Now, with U.S. government agencies actively hacking the cloud infrastructure of America’s top technology companies, the line between legal and extralegal activity is not so easy to discern.
Indeed, Comey’s request for transparency is precisely what the world has been clamoring for ever since the Snowden revelations revealed just how cavalier the U.S. government had become in treating the personal communications of American citizens (let alone citizens in other countries). Comey leads the country’s top law enforcement agency, and as such, he is looking to create the due process needed to bring criminals to trial, and ultimately, to put them behind bars. Most American citizens and companies are not opposed to this use case.
The challenge is that so long as companies hold consumer data, they are a target for all kinds of difficult security situations. End-to-end encryption isn’t just good marketing for technology companies peddling their services to wary consumers, but also a means to absolve these companies from having to deal with the very real politics at the heart of data and national security.
Crichton describes how subordinating corporate interests to local politics -- and that is what American law enforcement is -- the U.S. government is putting these companies at risk of alienating markets they need to grow (most notably China, but also South Korea and other countries). He also notes that decentralization of information is what the internet was supposedly about in its early stages (never mind its military roots). Crichton says that private interests should work with the government to ensure data that can be utilized legally but with limits to fight security threats, but that it might work best narrowly, on a case by case basis although how that might be achieved is not clear at this moment. What isn't helpful are Comey's comments, including the implication that Apple and Google are siding with America's enemies.
As Jason Koebler concludes his Motherboard article: "It also might be time to ask: Are the people chosen to run our law enforcement agencies so out of touch with the American people that they believe that only 'bad guys' want privacy?"

2008 Obama victory keepsake papers virtually worthless
Amusing story at the Daily Caller: "How Much Is Your Historic Barack Obama Post-Election Newspaper Worth?" George W. Bush victory papers are worth more.

The Obama administration moves from incompetent to insane
Judicial Watch: "Obama Plans to Let Ebola-infected Foreigners Into U.S. for Treatment."

Saturday, October 18, 2014
Quote of the week
From Mark Steyn:
If you let liberalism become the default societal setting on the 364 days of the year there's no election being held, what happens on election day is going to be pretty unimportant. So, if you're not playing on the big cultural battlefields, you're going to lose.

Doctors vs. Obamacare
The Hill reports:
The Physicians Foundation made shockwaves last month when it released its 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians. The survey’s top-line finding: Of the 20,000 doctors surveyed, almost 50 percent stated that Obamacare deserves either a “D” or an “F.” Only a quarter of physicians graded it as either an “A” or a “B.”

Instapundit's tweet of the week

Ebola and sex
The inevitable articles on "should you have sex if you have Ebola" and "how long after a person recovers from Ebola before they have sex" are appearing. The Washington Post says no sex or condoms for Ebola victims and for three months after recovery. It seems to be more of an issue during recovery because, as the Post says, "since Ebola victims can infect others only when they are showing symptoms -- high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and aches -- physical intimacy probably isn't a common way of transmitting the disease."

Best discussion of the supposed changes happening in the Catholic Church
Hot Air's Ed Morrissey has the must-read post on the synod going on in Rome. Ostensibly about Cardinal Raymond Burke being demoted, Morrissey touches on a number of issues, including, importantly, that Pope Francis cannot change Church teaching on homosexuality (in regard to its morality). The problem with the synod and the media coverage of the leaks (and official documents, because many journalists do not understand how the Catholic Church works) is that it is causing confusion among the laity and larger public (and probably many priests). Morrissey is the antidote to that confusion.

Friday, October 17, 2014
Not exactly inspiring confidence
A White House spokesman on new Ebola czar who has a ton of political experience but no medical experience: "What we were looking for was not an Ebola expert, but rather an implementation expert." In other words, the position is about PR/damage control and not controlling Ebola.

'DMV with test tubes'
That is Mark Steyn's description of the Centers for Disease Control in his essay on the CDC and Ebola, which is, of course, a must read.

Scrapping civil liberties
Charles Krauthammer says that public safety trumps civil liberties in battle against Ebola. I'm torn, but that is the issue leaders struggle with and I wouldn't want anyone in charge of anything that automatically takes the Krauthammer view without a lot of (at least) internal debate first.

Some Australian daycare centers are banning nursery rhyme
"Baa Baa Black Sheep" has been deemed racist and sexist according to the Daily Caller. It's neither, of course, but the sexism charge is really a stretch ("one for the little boy who lives down the lane"?). One black parent complained to the local paper, “I am a person who has black skin. Can we please stop with the political correctness, it’s becoming a joke. The song is called baa baa black sheep. No need to change it!”

Good football reads
Grantland's Bill Barnwell makes the case that the New England Patriots acquiring Bill Belichick from the New York Jets is the best trade in NFL history.
Bleacher Report's Mike Tanier says the Detroit Lions defense is really, really good.
Grantland's Robert Mays ranks every player who has caught a Peyton Manning touchdown pass.
Sports Illustrated's Don Banks defends the existence of ties during the NFL's regular season.

Why there should be no minimum wage
Tim Worstall says something most people either don't have the guts to admit or simply don't understand: "there are people not worth the minimum wage."

New York is Ebola free ... so far
The Washington Examiner reports:
Federal health officials are focusing their attention on New York as a key potential Ebola point of entry, with a new report warning: “Ongoing transmission of Ebolavirus in West Africa could result in an infected person arriving in NYC.”
The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that New York is key entry point for those coming in from West Africa, but apparently so far Ebola free.

Thursday, October 16, 2014
Charles Murray on Ayn Rand
Charles Murray reviews two biographies on Ayn Rand and he focuses on her life (which was hypocritical in the extreme) and art (and its beautiful message). On the former, Murray takes Rand to task for her self-delusions despite her refrain of "not faking reality." About the latter, Murray has a generous but defensible reading of Rand's novels which display "the glory of human achievement" and the "delight a human being ought to feel at watching another member of our species doing things superbly well." Reading Murray's review makes me want to re-read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

Chicago is the most rat-infested city in America
Rodents, not politicians. There are huge problems with the methodology as the list of the 20 most rat-infested cities is based on one pest control company's number of treatments, which would disadvantage large cities and places where Orkin has the largest commercial presence.

Thank God we have Conservatives in power
Conservative MP brags about spending taxpayer money to promote the outdoors.

Tennessee voters get chance to ban state income tax
The Associated Press reports on a November 4 referendum in the Volunteer State:
Tennesseans are getting ready to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would bar lawmakers from ever imposing a state income tax ...
The last serious attempt to impose a state income tax failed in 2002 amid raucous Capitol protests that included a brick being thrown through the window of the governor's office and demonstrators banging on the doors of the Senate chamber while lawmakers sought to conduct their business within.
The Legislature instead passed a 1 percentage point increase to the state's sales tax rate to generate $933 million in new revenue, which was the last time the state passed a general tax increase.
The income tax was championed by then-Gov. Don Sundquist, a Republican, joined by Democratic leadership in the Legislature. The public backlash against the proposal led several supporters to retire from office or to their defeat in re-election campaigns ...
As for the constitutional amendment, it says "the Legislature shall not levy, authorize or otherwise permit any state or local tax upon payroll or earned personal income or any state or local tax measured by payroll or earned personal income."
It also says the prohibition does not apply to "any tax in effect on January 1, 2011, or adjustment of the rate of such tax." That provision allows continuation of the state's Hall tax ...
State Sen. Brian Kelsey, a Germantown Republican, sponsored the resolution putting the amendment on the ballot and heads the "Yes on 3" committee urging its ratification. He said not having an income tax makes Tennessee "more fiscally responsible" and that permanently banning one would appeal to businesses.
"Not having an income tax has already brought jobs to Tennessee, and permanently banning an income tax will bring even more jobs to the state," Kelsey said.
Generally economists prefer consumption taxes to income taxes. I don't care really as long as taxes are low. Really low. And creating new taxes is something we should take out of the arsenal of politicians. And taxing people's productive work (income tax) is really obnoxious. I hope the initiative passes overwhelmingly.

Parenting style and inequality
Matthias Doepke and Fabrizio Zilibotti have an article at VoxEu entitled, "Tiger moms and helicopter parents: The economics of parenting style." In it they have a graph, "Income inequality measured by Gini coefficient versus importance of emphasising ‘working hard’ in raising children across OECD countries." Tyler Cowen says of the graph: "[it] can be interpreted in a variety of ways, with causation running either way or perhaps not at all."

'Houston Already Backing Off Its Church Sermon Subpoenas'
Yesterday I noted that the city of Houston had subpoenaed churches asking for their sermons on homosexuality, gender identity, and criticizing (lesbian) mayor Annise Parker. Hit & Run's Scott Shackford reports that it appears the city is backtracking.

The illiberal Left
George Will has an excellent column of the dangers of using state power to curtail use of the term Redskins for Washington's NFL team. Within the column, Will makes a larger point:
Today many colleges and universities have “free-speech zones” — wee spaces to which the First Amendment is confined. Such institutions are run by educators whose meager educations did not teach them that the Amendment made America a free-speech zone. Campuses are habitats for progressives, and the distilled essence of today’s progressivism is the use of power to limit speech. The fact that censorship is progressivism’s default position regarding so many things is evidence of progressives’ pessimism about the ability of their agenda to advance under a regime of robust discussion. It also indicates the delight progressives derive from bossing people around and imposing a particular sensibility, in the name of diversity, of course.

Meet Elbert Guillory
NRO profiles Elbert Guillory, the black Louisiana Republican state senator who wants to lead his fellow blacks off the Democratic plantation. I recently highlight his anti-Mary Landrieu ad.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
John Tory will say anything to get elected (or he doesn't understand the beast of government)
Toronto mayoral candidate Olivia Chow says rival John Tory will say anything to get elected. Tory replies that he will improve city services while capping tax increases to the cost of inflation. Finding efficiencies won't do the trick and going hat-in-hand to other levels of government isn't going to work. Also, Tory is not temperamentally suited to say no to the left-wing city council that will be elected on October 27. Here are the likely outcomes of a Tory victory in order:
1) Services get worse and taxes go up faster than inflation.
2) Services stay about the same and taxes go up faster than inflation.
3) Services improve and taxes go up faster than inflation.
4) Services get worse and taxes remain relatively stable.
5) Services stay about the same and taxes remain relatively stable.
6) Other combinations are not possible.

The truth about the deficit politics
Megan McArdle says that the federal government must make difficult decisions about program spending to make real cuts because the deficit is getting too big to ignore. McArdle concludes: "The days when Democrats could promise to fund everything with tax hikes on a handful of rich people, or Republicans could promise to handle it all by cutting welfare fraud and foreign aid, are now officially at an end." I wish these days were over but I bet Democrats and Republicans continue making these promises. Voters don't want to hear the truth that they can't get something for nothing. That is the essence of politics: lying to get votes and the promise of getting something nice for little or no cost is irresistible.

Obvious but unasked question
Dave Swindle at PJ Media: "Is There a Connection Between Brigitte Bardot’s 100 Lovers & Her 4 Suicide Attempts?" This violates the First Commandment of Journalism: thou shall not ever question the Sexual Revolution.

City of Houston subpoenas fishing for criticism of mayor, homosexuality
Tales from a Tribble:
Hugh Hewitt on the Hugh Hewitt show on Tuesday afternoon announced some breaking news from Fox News' Todd Starnes of an outrageous action happening in my city of Houston, initiated by our Mayor Annise Parker. This is the first that I had heard of this and it was confirmed to me by my wife when she came home from work, as she already was aware of the news and was outraged like Hugh.
Hugh read the story from Fox News web site, "The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding that a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity, or criticism about Annise Parker." "Any failure to reply to the subpoenas could mean that the ministers will be held in contempt of court." It must be noted that Annise Parker is the city's first openly lesbian mayor.
This is an unbelievable outrageous attack on freedom of speech and religion ...
Hugh said "I cannot believe this is happening in America." I agree with Hugh, with one caveat. I would add, before the presidency of Barack Obama, I could not envision this ever happening in America.
You can read the original Fox News story here.
(HT: Small Dead Animals)

Bill Simmons makes 'over $5 million' a year
Business Insider reports that ESPN's Bill Simmons makes "over $5 million" a year but may be looking to leave ESPN when his current contract is up next year; there are reports that Simmons is considering starting his own venture. Word is that ESPN might be happy to see him leave, considering his expense (and notoriety/headaches) and low-traffic websites, Grantland and FiveThirtyEight. I'm a fan of both websites, but $5 mil?

Emotional support animals: the health hazard blankies too many companies allow on their premises
Patricia Marx has a great essay in The New Yorker about the scam that is "emotional support animals" -- which despite the claims of some, face the same legal restrictions for restaurants and other places that are imposed on all other pets except service dogs. As Marx reports, "Fortunately for animal-lovers who wish to abuse the law, there is a lot of confusion about just who and what is allowed where." Basically if you flash a note in front of the face of the ticket seller or concierge or whoever, they're going to think the ESA for mental health is the same as a service dog for the physically disabled. Marx writes of taking an ESA turtle into a restaurant and an alpaca on the Amtrak. I'm not familiar with Marx's work, so I'm not sure if this brilliant parody or exceptional reporting, but even if the stories are fake, they are nonetheless hilarious and you could see them happening.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Someone remind me: why do we need Republicans?
Daniel Horowitz at Conservative Review:
In 2010, Republicans ran on a bold message and it helped propel them to the largest House majority in decades. They enshrined clear conservative ideas into a ‘Pledge To America,’ a document containing numerous promises, such as a commitment to defunding Obamacare, banning the practice of omnibus bills that violate the budget process, and posting all bills online three days before bringing them to the floor.
If you tried to click on the hyperlink, you will notice that the Pledge to America, which was always hard to find on the RNC’s website to begin with, has been taken down completely.
And for good reason.
GOP leaders have completely abandoned the notion of defunding Obamacare. They opposed and sabotaged the effort to do so last year while beckoning us to focus on winning back the Senate through which we’d have more leverage to repeal Obamacare. Now all talk of full repeal has ceased, even though they have a good chance of winning back the Senate in a few weeks.
Republicans also pledged to follow the budget process and eschew any bills that pair together multiple and disparate provisions. Yet, when it came time for the most critical votes that is precisely what the Boehner House has done.
Moreover, with almost every controversial piece of legislation proposed since 2011 – precisely the bills that need more scrutiny – House leadership has crafted behind closed doors, bypassed the committee process, and slammed them onto the House floor with less than 72 hours before the vote. It’s hard to remember any major bill that was not executed in this manner.

Massive changes in Catholic teaching are not on the horizon
George Weigel at NRO:
For the better part of a half century, the New York Times, and similarly situated purveyors of news and opinion, have eagerly awaited the Great Catholic Cave-In: that blessed moment when, at long last, the Catholic Church, like many other Christian communities, would concede that the sexual revolution had gotten it right all along and would adjust its teaching and practice to suit. A Times “breaking story” on October 13, under the headline “Vatican Signals More Tolerance Toward Gays and Remarriage,” might have struck the unwary or uninformed (or those equally committed to the Times agenda in these matters) as a signal that Der Tag, the Day, had finally arrived.
Thus Elisabetta Povoledo wrote that “an important meeting at the Vatican used remarkably conciliatory language on Monday toward gay and divorced Catholics, signaling a possible easing of the church’s rigid attitudes on homosexuality and the sanctity of marriage.” It would be hard to cram more misinformation into one sentence.
Weigel spends the rest of the essay unpacking that sentence and noting what else the media has got wrong about the synod. Note to readers of MSM re: matters emanating from the Vatican: the Catholic Church doesn't announce changes in Church teaching through leaks to the MSM. This meeting is part of a long, complicated, and perhaps unwise process that is not likely to change teaching but might alter the tone in some ways. But for those getting their hopes up that massive change is on the horizon -- or those faithful Catholics getting their knickers in a knot -- the reports on these meetings are probably much ado about nothing.

'10 Prerequisites for Prosperity'
The Intercollegiate Review lists the "10 Prerequisites for Prosperity" which an adaptation from Harry Veryser's It Didn’t Have to Be This Way: Why Boom and Bust Is Unnecessary—and How the Austrian School of Economics Breaks the Cycle. They include obvious ones such as "Private Property" and "The Free Movement of Prices" and perhaps less obvious prerequisites such as "Family Structure" and "Leisure."

Keep the government off my appliances
Reason's Scott Shackford talks about the button on a GE microwave. Shackford says the button is silly and irrelevant and that the website the button promotes doesn't even exist. On the plus side, it can cook raw chicken.

'Diseases of poverty'
Bryan Caplan checks out what Wikipedia says about diseases of poverty and the list of remedies, and notes what is not included:
On etymology alone, you'd think that economic growth - i.e., producing more wealth per person - would top the list of cures for "diseases of poverty." But it isn't even mentioned.
Instead Wikipedia promotes more redistribution and more government, among other "solutions." This is sadly predictable.

Government by trust
Glenn Reynolds in USA Today:
There's a connection between the Secret Service's Colombian hooker scandal and Americans' increased worry about Ebola. Both have to do with trust.
Until recently, if you'd asked Americans to pick government institutions characterized by efficiency and professionalism, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Secret Service would likely have been at the top of the list. In both cases, recent evidence now suggests otherwise. And that's especially destructive because both agencies depend on trust to do their jobs.
Reynolds highlights (lowlights?) the Secret Service's Columbia scandal and the CDC's bungling, before concluding:
As George Will observed, on Ebola, Americans want to trust the government, but can't. And as MSNBC's Chuck Todd observed, the problem stems not just from the CDC, but from the administration as a whole: "I think one of your challenges though is a trust deficit that has been created over the last 18 months." ...
The problem is, we're heading into what looks like a dark period, one when trust in government will be very important to dealing successfully with the many challenges we face. But trust in government comes primarily from one thing: a government that is worthy of trust.

Journalists: your moral and intellectual superiors
Gawker reports:
NBC Chief Medical Correspondent Nancy Snyderman, apparently not a fan of Ebola quarantines, is now under police surveillance after she was spotted out in public in New Jersey last week.
According to reports, Snyderman and three other crew members who worked with freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo in Liberia agreed to quarantine themselves for 21 days as part of a voluntary arrangement with the Centers for Disease Control and state officials ...
But less than a week after Mukpo tested positive for the virus, a Gawker tipster spotted Snyderman getting food from the Peasant Grill in Hopewell, New Jersey.

Pander politics
The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party interim leader Jim Wilson issued statements on Yom Kippur and the Festival of Sukkot but nothing for Thanksgiving. I guess the demographic of all Ontarians doesn't count for the Tories.

Debating Tirole
Diane Coyle takes issue with Tyler Cowen's comment that Jean Tirole's Nobel Prize in Economics is a "theory prize."