Planned Parenthood and the Banality of Evil

An ordinary woman

Nucatola: An ordinary woman

Her words can’t be bent. Her words can’t be turned and made to point in some direction other than the direction in which they do point. Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the Senior Director of Medical Services for Planned Parenthood, and the doctor featured in the first video of the Center For Medical Progress, spoke with stunning casualness of the harvesting of organs from Planned Parenthood’s many aborted fetuses. Even if (which I doubt) Planned Parenthood did not violate the law by “selling” those organs  at a “profit,” no amount of legal justification can alter the impression–the fact–that this is a person who has acted with the utmost cruelty toward her fellow human beings. And she has done it from within the protective shell of an organization that has made her actions appear routine and acceptable.

This is truly the “banality of evil,” a phrase coined–and a truth proclaimed–by Jewish intellectual Hannah Arendt. Continue reading

Four Things Every American Should Know about Independence Day

Most people know that the Fourth of July – Independence Day – is a celebration of America’s separation from Great Britain. July 4th, 1776 marks the beginning of the United States. It’s like our national birthday. With the celebration just a few days away, here are four important facts about Independence Day that every American should know.

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Overlaid With a Contradictory Language: Oak Alley Plantation


Pope John Paul II often described sexual relations as a language of complete self-giving between husband and wife. Contraception, he asserted disapprovingly,  “overlaid” sex with a “contradictory language” in which the spouses, by withholding their fertility, actually did not give their entire selves. Something about the pope’s notion of actions as languages, and of one such language being overlaid by another contradictory one, has always intrigued me even in quite different contexts.

Oak Alley is an hour’s drive west of New Orleans. Walking the grounds of this ancient sugar planation over spring break with my family, I found the pope’s overlaid with a contradictory language coming suddenly to mind. Here, multiple languages seemed to be speaking, one overlaid upon another, contradictory, competing, discordant, across centuries and running through the very day of my visit.

At first sight, the language of natural beauty seemed to speak loudest. Oak Alley takes its name from its “Alley of Oaks,” 28 oak trees planted in two long rows of fourteen each. A large walkway stands in between, leading to the plantation house.  The trees were introduced by a Frenchman sometime in the early eighteenth century. At some 300 years old, they have in themselves all the beauty and grandeur one would expect from their kind. Continue reading

Laughing at the Death of our Republic


I’m glad that we can still laugh at the death of the American Republic.

The WSJ reports that everyone had a good chuckle at the Supreme Court this week during a discussion of the Affordable Care Act. The government lawyer derided Justice Alito’s suggestion that there would be no harm if the Court gutted the system of tax credits offered by the federal government.

“What about Congress?” asked Justice Scalia. “You really think Congress is just going to sit there while all these disastrous consequences ensue?”

“This Congress?” Mr. Verrilli replied. The audience erupted into laughter.

That’s right. No one, right or left, expects Congress to do anything.

That’s why the case hinges on whether the Obama administration can interpret a preposition “by” to mean “in.” Americans don’t trust Congress to pass thoughtful, well-crafted laws. We also don’t trust Congress to fix poorly worded laws after problems become apparent.

This situation reminds me a bit of where the Roman Republic found itself in the first century BC.

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