Apr 30 2009

8 yr old girl divorces her “husband”

Category: Islam,Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 7:45 pm

I’ve commented before on child marriage in Islam, which is little more than legally sanctioned sale of a child for the purpose of rape.  Now, we have news that an  8-year-old Saudi girl divorces 50-year-old husband

An 8-year-old Saudi girl has divorced her middle-aged husband after her father forced her to marry him last year in exchange for about $13,000, her lawyer said Thursday. Saudi Arabia has come under increasing criticism at home and abroad for permitting child marriages. The United States, a close ally of the conservative Muslim kingdom, has called child marriage a “clear and unacceptable” violation of human rights.

The girl was allowed to divorce the 50-year-old man who she married in August after an out-of-court settlement had been reached in the case, said her lawyer, Abdulla al-Jeteli. The exact date of the divorce was not immediately known.

A court in the central Oneiza region previously rejected a request by the girl’s mother for a divorce and ruled that the girl would have to wait until she reached puberty to file a petition then.

One can only wonder what the radical feminists in the USA want to happen in cases like this.  On the one hand, they’ve shackled themselves to the Left, which is all about cultural equivalence, moral equivalence, and just plain equivalence, with no one being able to say they are absolutely right about much of anything, other than the right (rite?) to abortion on demand, and the required obeisance to the gods of eco-paganism.  If there really isn’t an absolute moral law, who are THEY to say that Islamic fathers shouldn’t sell their prepubescent girls to men who want to “marry” them?  Isn’t traditional marriage just a cultural thing, anyway?  Can’t it be changed to fit the circumstances of the culture?  Who are we to judge these people, and just assume that our way is better?

UPDATE:  Along these lines, wouldn’t it be a natural fit for feminist organizations of all kinds to participate in rallies such as this?  I wonder where there are…..

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Apr 29 2009

The Rally for Human Rights and Freedom

Category: Islam,sharia,terrorismharmonicminer @ 7:38 pm

The Rally for Human Rights and Freedeom

Times Square in Manhattan will be the site of a mass gathering of human rights leaders and organizations this coming Sunday, May 3rd, at noon. The gathering will call for defeat of radical Islam and heighten awareness about the danger radical Islam poses to human rights across the globe.

The “Rally for Human Rights and Freedom,” will be attended by Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim leaders and organizations. Sponsored by the Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam (HRCARI) and dozens of other partner organizations, the event will feature a special ceremony to honor the US Military, Homeland Security, police, firefighters, emergency workers and others who have defended the United States from terror. Peter Gadiel of the 9/11 Families.who lost his son on 9/11 will be present, as will a retired NYC police officer who lost his son-in-law on 9/11.

The May 3rd event will mark the kick-off event for a new grassroots global action network that is taking on the fight against Radical Islam. A HRCARI spokesperson notes, “As part of this initiative, we intend to educate elected officials to helps prevent the spread of Shariah Islamic law. We will work to publicize the threat of Radical Islamic terrorist groups and their allies, and endeavor to protect the right to freedom of religion, and freedom of speech in the face of those who seek to silence advocates of human rights against the threat of Radical Islam.”

HRCARI believes that Radical Islam is a worldwide threat against commonly accepted human rights and is the most urgent topic of our generation.

The HRCARI rally coalition (still in formation) includes the 911 Families, ACT Manhattan, Aish Center, Americans for a Safe Israel, Alliance for Interfaith Resistance, AMCHA-Coalition for Jewish Concerns, Americans for Peace & Tolerance, American Center for Democracy, Arabs for Israel, Atlas Shrugs, Chinese Community Relations Council, The David Project, Fordham University School of Law’s National Security and Law Society, Foundation Nepalese, Gathering of Eagles-NY, Hindu Human Rights Watch, Indian American Intellectuals Forum International Foundation of Bangladeshi Hindus, Iraq Model, Israpundit, Jewish Action Alliance, Mothers Against Terrorism, Muslims Against Sharia, Namdari Sikh Foundation, R.E.A.L Courage, Sikh Recognition Trust, Snapped Shot, StandWithUS, Sudan Freedom Walk, Women United: Code Red, Zionist Organization of America.

Let’s see, which groups are NOT protesting Radical Islam and joining in the Rally for Human Rights and Freedom.

2) MoveOn.org
3) Most universities except Fordham
4) Any mainstream political party
5) Code PINK

This strikes me as something everyone should be able to get behind.  It would be lovely to see more Christian organizations.

More at the link above.

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Apr 29 2009

A courageous, principled Christian does the right thing

Category: abortion,higher education,Obamaharmonicminer @ 9:00 am

Mary Ann Glendon: An Open Letter to Fr. Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, re: Obama receiving honorary degree

April 27, 2009
The Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
University of Notre Dame

Dear Father Jenkins,

When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.

Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors.

First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.

Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:

• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”

• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision-in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops-to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.

Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.

It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony.

In order to avoid the inevitable speculation about the reasons for my decision, I will release this letter to the press, but I do not plan to make any further comment on the matter at this time.

Yours Very Truly,

Mary Ann Glendon

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Apr 27 2009

My Uncle Fred

Category: friendshipharmonicminer @ 7:55 pm

My Uncle Fred

My Uncle Fred passed away about 12 days ago, moving on to be reunited with his brothers, and best of all, with the Lord.  I wanted to tell you a bit about him, not in the way of a complete recounting of his life, but more along the lines of a personal appreciation.

He was an absolutely amazing classical tenor.  He could probably have had a career at the Met, or something similar, if he’d wanted that.  (He might have needed cosmetic surgery to make him look Italian.)  On the other hand, with all his amazing talent, and great success as a teacher of singing, he never quite managed to turn ME into a tenor…. or even a singer.  Nobody bats a thousand.

My Uncle Fred was a philosopher.  No, really.  Not somebody who sits around woolgathering, but someone who read what all the other woolgathers sat around thinking about, and then thought about that.  For a long time.  He was unusually adept at communicating to his philosophy students the fruit of the many generations of philosophers that he had studied.  Yet, he encouraged them to think for themselves, not to be intimidated by the weight of all those heavy thinkers, who certainly don’t seem to have been intimidated by each other.  He left his students believing there was always a chance that they might think a genuinely new thought, but that meant they’d have to learn what other people had already thought, so they’d know it when they saw it.

He was a theologian and pastor.  He was a skilled communicator from the pulpit, and a caring shepherd for his flock.  (I know, I’m writing too much about wool.)   Speaking from personal experience, he was an absolutely safe place to store confidences.  He genuinely loved people, all kinds of people, and saw them as opportunities to show his love for God, by loving them.

Uncle Fred was just enough of a politician to survive in the world of academia.  (Remember Henry Kissinger’s comment:  “University politics make me long for the simplicity of the Middle East.”)  When I was a young professor, and in some serious political hot water at my university, he was exactly the right combination of mentor, strategist, behind-the-scenes operative, therapist and (I suspect) rhetorical hitman, to help me keep my job.  But he loved teaching more than university politics, and when he had the chance, he moved out of higher education administration back to teaching, an exception to the Peter Principle if ever there was one.

He was quite the golfer, an avocation I never understood, and still don’t, though I hear he was very good.  I had a suspicion, for a time, that he imagined the faces of philosophers with whom he disagreed to be stenciled on the golf balls.  In retrospect, I now believe it more likely that he had in mind lazy students.  Or maybe he was just doing ballistic research.  Maybe he had fantasies of being a reincarnated Scottish king.  He seemed to know an awful lot of golf jokes. Thursday was golf day, and it didn’t really matter if the Big One finally shook southern California, or the Martians landed, or the president invited him for tea; golf is very important, you know.  And a man has to have some principles.

He was pretty interesting to watch in faculty meetings.  He’d sit and listen for a time, while the various perspectives on the trivial issues of the day were aired.  Then he’d clear his throat, an utterly characteristic gesture, a sort of announcement of pronouncements to come, and as the room fell silent (they knew what was coming), in a very few incisive sentences he’d explain what was wrong with all previous statements, all the while appearing to compliment the wisdom of those who’d made them.  Besides singing, this rhetorical tactic was the other thing he failed to teach me. Not for lack of trying.  But for me, it was like a person with a club foot watching a ballerina on a high wire.  If I was fast, sometimes I could knock him off the wire, but I could never do the dance.  I saw him literally end a few faculty meetings, working without a net, with no one having anything much left to say.

I’ve ended a few in my time too, but somehow it isn’t the same when the paramedics have come to save people who’ve slit their wrists.  Uncle Fred was definitely a man of words.  He used to say that I was too, but I suppose it’s possible that he may have meant something else.

For some reason, my Uncle Fred seemed to precede me in lots of places.  I recall being very proud, at the age of 18, of having started a jazz band in my undergraduate college, and then seeing a 25 year old photo, in an old college annual, of Fred Shackleton directing the Anderson College Band.  He played the trombone, too.  Nobody’s perfect.

Does it sound like my Uncle Fred was three or four people?  You don’t know the half of it.  I haven’t even mentioned much of his various accomplishments, speaking and conference invitations, publications (worship songs sung by hundreds of thousands or millions of people, scholarly work in theology/philosophy, popular and curricular work in ministry), honors he received, etc.  Actually, I used to wonder if he had a cape or something stowed away under his suit jacket.  But it is a fact that he was simply supremely gifted in a variety of ways, such that most people would be thrilled to have one of those gifts, let alone all of them.  And then he worked very hard in polishing those gifts, and using them in service.  In all of that, somehow he managed to encourage people to excel, to bring out the best in them, and tended to leave the lesser mortals in his life (that would be most folks) believing they had something unique to contribute, too.

The last time I saw him, he asked me to rub his ankle, which still hurt from a recently cleared up skin infection, and which was hard for him to reach.  So while we chatted about the old days, and I thought about how much he looked like my dad (who I knew was waiting for him across the great divide), I rubbed his ankle.

It was an honor.

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Apr 26 2009

And Speaking of Janet Napolitano…

I was puzzled this morning while listening to the radio news.  That moral beacon for our time, Janet Napolitano, was issuing a statement concerning the recent outbreak of the new swine flu strain.  What puzzled me is why the Department of Homeland Security would be issuing statements concerning disease outbreaks.  Don’t we have a Federal Department of Health & Human Services, and under it’s auspices the Centers for Disease Control?  Call me silly but if there is going to be a government statement about a disease outbreak wouldn’t it come from the CDC?  Without doing any checking the whole thing seemed a bit strange to me.

So I decided to visit the Department of Homeland Security website and try to find an explanation.  This led me to a link called “National Strategy for Homeland Security”.  All well and good.  I find that there is overlap between CDC and Homeland Security, which I suppose makes sense in case of a biological or chemical attack (though I don’t think that is the case with swine flu).  What I found was more than an explanation about disease.  What I found was rather chilling, in fact.  At the bottom of the document was this statement:

In this spirit, it is important to acknowledge that this Strategic Plan is a living document and will be revised as needed to guide a dynamic Department and its ever-changing requirements.

I think I know what the government means when they call something a “living document”.  It means the government can interpret it to be anything they want it to be, anytime they want. (Similar applications have been used by members of the judiciary to find things in the Constitution that don’t exist.)

This certainly explains Napolitano’s statement about the swine flu.  It also explains her statement about “Right-Wing Extremists”. But I must admit I get a chill when I see the Department of Homeland Security also has a hand in immigration (wait.. don’t we have a Department of Immigration & Naturalization?).  Given this administrations propensity toward centralized governmental control, (read as “tyranny”)  is it unreasonable to think the Department of Homeland Security might simply declare amnesty for all illegal aliens claiming it would make it safer and easier to reduce potential illegal activity by members of the immigrant community?  That would certainly avoid those pesky votes required to pass amnesty legislation.  And I get a bigger chill when I read about these 70 new data collection centers known as Fusion Centers going up in every state, (do we have terrorist cells in every state?).  It is, after all,  just one small step to go from collecting data on potential terrorists to collecting data on dissenters, (or right-wing extremists – see my previous post).

Couple this with Obama’s almost entirely ignored campaign comment about a “civilian national security force” and I begin to understand a little more about how people become conspiracy theorists.

I admit I may still be suffering from a lingering case of post-election frustration.  Or do I see the framework of an Orwellian Big Brother system in the making that rivals anything the Soviet Union ever had?

Someone please tell me I’m paranoid and delusional!  (You don’t have to tell me I’m an extremist – Napolitano already took care of that!)

Apr 26 2009

The End of the World As We Know It

Category: national securityharmonicminer @ 8:22 am

Another brilliant column from Mark Steyn.  Read it all.

According to an Earth Day survey, one third of schoolchildren between the ages of six and eleven think the earth will have been destroyed by the time they grow up. That’s great news, isn’t it? Not for the earth, I mean, but for “environmental awareness.” Congratulations to Al Gore, the Sierra Club, and the eco-propagandists of the public-education system in doing such a terrific job of traumatizing America’s moppets. Traditionally, most of the folks you see wandering the streets proclaiming the end of the world is nigh tend to be getting up there in years. It’s quite something to have persuaded millions of first-graders that their best days are behind them.


Apr 25 2009

Janet Napolitano says, “I’m sorry”.

Category: abortion,illegal alien,states rightsamuzikman @ 9:34 am

I see where Janet Napolitano has finally apologized to veterans for the outrageous “right-wing extremist” report issued by her agency. Apparently she claimed the report was issued “prematurely”. So, I guess that means they meant to say the same thing, only a little later.  Some apology.  It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.

So that’s one apology to a group from the American Legion.  If I were king for a day I’d give her a printout containing the home addresses of every veteran who has returned from Iraq or Afghanistan.  Then I’d give her a Greyhound Bus schedule and tell her not to return to Washington until she had personally visited and apologized to each and every one.  But that’s just me….

Anyone want to wager who’ll be the recipient of the next apology?  There are so many from which to choose.  Perhaps the next group will be all those who hold life to be sacred.  Then she could proceed to apologize to all those who believe in the rule of law, especially laws that protect our nations borders.  Finally she could wrap it up with a sincere “I’m sorry” to everyone who thinks the 10th amendment to the Constitution is actually valid.

Now I realize that’s a lot of apologies and she may be a little overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task.  But she can always go to her boss for advice on how best to proceed.  He’s really excellent at the art of apology, just look at how well he did on his recent international trip.  Obama apologized to anyone who would listen for what an “arrogant” nation we have been – especially to all those poor little totalitarian regimes out there.

Yes, I’m confident Janet Napolitano will be able to successfully complete her apology tour with help from “The Messiah”.  And we can all rest easy knowing our president has placed someone of impeccable competence and character at the helm of the federal agency charged with the protection of our country from terrorist actions.

On second thought maybe she should apologize to every citizen of this nation.  Then she should resign in disgrace. (Don’t hold your breath!)

Apr 25 2009

Welfare spending doesn’t reduce abortion

Category: abortion,Obama,religion,Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 8:59 am

WAY too many Christians voted for Obama, believing or pretending to believe that his social policies would “reduce abortion,” even though he has supported the most radical pro-abortion policies possible.  These Christians seem to have fallen for the canard that a more fully funded “social safety net” would reduce the felt need for abortion, and that such policies would be more effective in reducing abortion than straightforward legal restrictions and limitations.   Some of these Christian groups have touted studies that do not, in fact, demonstrate the relationships they claim between social spending and reduced abortion.  Here is a takedown of “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good”:

An August 2008 study released by the group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good had Obama supporters (and some editorial boards) swooning. Analyzing state level abortion data from 1982 to 2000, it purportedly found evidence that increased spending on various welfare programs resulted in substantial reductions in state abortion rates. The spin given to the results was that many pro-life laws, such as those requiring parental notification for abortions performed on minor girls, had little effect. So the paradoxical message to pro-life voters was that they could best advance their interests by electing pro-choice Democrats instead of pro-life Republicans.

Not surprisingly, this study had a substantial impact on the debate over sanctity of life issues during the 2008 Presidential election. Self proclaimed pro-lifers who support Democratic Presidential nominees can be found in every election cycle. However, this study gave Doug Kmiec, Nicholas Cafardi, and others intellectual legitimacy in arguing that pro-life voters should vote for liberals, even if they favor abortion-on-demand and its public funding, in order to advance the pro-life cause. At last, there was a methodologically sophisticated study which allegedly demonstrated that the welfare policies favored by Democrats were more effective in preventing abortion than the pro-life laws supported by Republicans. It seemed too good to be true.

It was. In November, with no public announcement, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good removed this study from their website. A replacement version was uploaded shortly thereafter. The replacement version differs from its predecessor in a number of interesting ways. First and foremost, one of the authors of the August study, Professor Michael Bailey of Georgetown University, removed his name from the November version. Joseph Wright, a Visiting Fellow at Notre Dame, is the sole author of the current study.

More importantly, the results of the new version fall well short of the original press release. The original study argued that three welfare policies had significant effects on state abortion rates. First, family caps, which deny welfare recipients extra benefits if they have additional children out of wedlock, increased abortion rates. Second, increased spending on the Women Infants Children (WIC) program reduced abortion rates. Third, increased spending on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) also reduced abortion rates.

However, after the original study was released, the authors discovered that they used incorrect abortion data for the years following 1997. Furthermore, after some dialogue with me, the authors decided that it would be appropriate to eliminate data from states, such as Kansas, where abortion reporting was inconsistent over time. These changes have had a substantial effect on the study’s findings.

The new version provides evidence that welfare policy has no more than a marginal effect on the incidence of abortion. In fact, the new regression results indicate that none of the three welfare policies which the authors previously argued were effective tools for reducing the incidence of abortion have a substantial abortion reducing effect. Wright clearly states that “WIC payments are not correlated with the abortion rate in the 1990s.” Additionally, the regression results consistently indicate that the presence of family caps has only a marginal effect on state abortion rates. Furthermore, while Wright argues that increased AFDC/TANF spending reduces state abortion rates, his regression results raise serious doubts about the reliability of this finding.

Wright runs a series of regressions using only data from the 1990s which shows that increases in AFDC/TANF spending is correlated with statistically significant abortion declines. However, regressions run on data from 1982 to 2000 find that AFDC/TANF spending only has a marginal impact on the incidence of abortion. Furthermore, when Wright runs regressions on data from the 1980s, he finds that AFDC spending actually increases the incidence of abortion and the coefficient approaches conventional levels of statistical significance.

For social science findings to be reliable, the results should be fairly consistent across time. These findings certainly are not. Furthermore, Wright makes no effort to explain why welfare spending has such disparate effects on abortion rates during different time periods.

Furthermore, many of the flaws in the previous study’s analysis of pro-life legislation are still prevalent in the current version. Wright states that parental involvement laws, like the other state laws restricting abortion, have little impact on overall abortion rates. However, since parental involvement laws only directly affect minors, Wright should have mentioned that analyzing their effects on the overall abortion rate is not a methodologically sound way to gauge their actual impact.

Similarly, Wright continues to argue that informed consent laws are ineffective. However, he fails to acknowledge the substantial differences in the effects of nullified and enacted informed consent laws. In truth, by the criteria he sets forth on page 6, his results provide evidence that informed consent laws are effective. However, he makes no mention of this in the paper.

Unfortunately, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good continues to miss the boat and mislead the public. There exist plenty of peer reviewed studies which find that public funding restrictions and parental involvement laws reduce the incidence of abortion. However, instead of acknowledging the positive impact of pro-life legislation and constructively working with pro-lifers to promote social policies that will further reduce abortion rates, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good seems primarily interested in providing moral, political, and theological cover for supporters of Barack Obama and other Democrats who support “abortion rights.” Unfortunately, their latest study indicates that their original findings have been unable to withstand serious scrutiny.

Sadly, just weeks into his administration, President Obama has already demonstrated considerable disregard for the sanctity of human life. One of Barack Obama’s first acts as President was to revoke the Mexico City Policy. Now non-governmental organizations receiving funds from the U.S. Government can perform and promote abortions overseas. It is unfortunate that the faulty research of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good was used as political cover to help make such a thing possible. As the Obama administration continues its assault on laws and policies upholding the sanctity of human life, pro-lifers need to hold this organization morally accountable.

It’s worth mentioning here that “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good” is far out of the mainstream of Catholic opinion, and that many Catholic bishops have been lions in defense of the unborn. That makes it doubly sad that some Catholics, and other Christians, were led astray by falsehoods in the debate about abortion-on-demand, and so voted for Obama.  I wonder when, or if, we will start to hear expressions of remorse, as the disastrous effect of Obama’s decisions and policies leads directly to many more unjust deaths.

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Apr 24 2009

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

Category: religion,theologyharmonicminer @ 9:15 am

A Smattering of Greek is Worse than None at All

A man who has only a smattering of Greek, if he uses it, is pretty sure to make himself ridiculous. He thinks he has discovered something when in reality he has only been misled by his partial knowledge. I have heard man after man of real ability along other lines make an egregious fool of himself when with his very limited knowledge of Greek, he has attempted to give original translations of the Scriptures.

Speaking from experience, I’ve known quite a few young Greek or Hebrew students who now seem to believe that their understanding of scripture and doctrine has simply leaped beyond all reasonable bounds, as they presume to correct some very carefully considered understandings, by the greatest scholars of all time, that have stood the test of centuries.

All of this from a mere two or three years of Greek or Hebrew.

More worth reading at the link above… then scroll to the bottom of the page and note when it was written, and how much it sounds like something you just heard about last week.

Emerging what?

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Apr 23 2009

A eulogy with a sweet edge

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 9:14 am

In her inimitable style, Ann Coulter writes a memorial of her mother, Nell Husbands Martin Coulter

Since I was a little girl, friends, relatives and neighbors would bring their problems to Mother. She had a rare combination of being completely moral and completely nonjudgmental at the same time — the exact opposite of liberals who have absolutely no morals and yet are ferociously judgmental.

All worth reading, and vintage Ann.

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