Strange to see this headline in the New York Times: “Hispanics Back Big Government and Bush Too.” They write as if there is some kind of conflict here. But Bush is so obviously for big government, Hispanics are simply responding to his policies. The difference between Republicans and Democrats right now is not between big and small government. It’s between the Democrats’ Big, Solvent Government and the Republicans’ Big Insolvent Government.


An emailer sends the following information. Money quote:

At this point it will be helpful to review the text of this most recent decree of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued on 13 May 1977 and which Pope Paul VI “approved and ordered to be published”. The Congregation issued the decree in the form of two questions and two answers: 1) Whether impotence, which renders matrimony invalid, consists in the incapacity, antecedent and perpetual, whether absolute or relative, of performing conjugal copula.” Answer: “Affirmative”. “2) In view of the above affirmative, whether ejaculation of semen that has been elaborated in the testicles is necessarily required for conjugal copula.” Answer: “Negative” (3). Finally, then, it is important to review and summarize what the decree obviously means, and what it obviously does not mean. The decree means that it is the current teaching of the Church that the doubly vasectomized male is capable of a marriage act provided erection, penetration, and the ejaculation of secretions from the prostate, seminal vesicles and various other glands is possible; that the grossly normal ejaculate is sufficient to fulfil the canonical concept of “true semen” and to achieve that kind of an act which otherwise would be generative, even though in this case the ejaculate is sterile and contains nothing elaborated in the testicles. While the decree does not explicitly mention that this is likewise true of the castrate, it is clearly implied and the implication is confirmed by the earlier replies of the same Congregation referred to above, which explicitly dealt with cases of castration. Moreover clinical experience indicates the practicality of androgen hormone therapy in cases of castration.

So if you get a little seminal fluid coming out of your stiffy, even if it cannot make babies, you can have sex and marry. Great to see these deep emotional questions being answered by a resort to matters of seminal fluids. And people wonder why the Church is ignored by most Catholics on sexual ethics. By the way, guess what the earliest papal declaration on impotence in 1587 was called? “Cum frequenter.” I’m not making this up.


And now Bob Hope. Hitch dissects an unfunny comedian.

DA BEARS: My take on a new, hairier trend among gay men.


A reader points out something I didn’t know. Infertility is not a bar to Catholic marriage, but impotence is. Here’s the relevant part of Canon law:

Antecedent and perpetual impotence to have sexual intercourse, whether on the part of the man or on that of the woman, whether absolute or relative, by its very nature invalidates marriage. If the impediment of impotence is doubtful, whether the doubt be one of law or one of fact, the marriage is not to be prevented nor, while the doubt persists, is it to be declared null.

So Viagra is a huge advance for Catholic marriage! But what I love about this whole discussion is how marriage can be reduced in Catholic terms to the possibility of an erect penis. Does this mean that if a man becomes impotent in later life, his marriage is somehow less valid? Amazing and absurd, if true.


Well over 1.6 million visits in July from over 400,000 separate people. Thanks so much. To give you an idea of the growth of the blogosphere, last July, we had 824,000 visits. And there are tentative signs of a new growth in advertising interest. Will keep you posted.

A NEW FEDERAL AMENDMENT: If you’re going to take the Vatican’s position on homosexuality as a prop for a Constitutional Amendment, shouldn’t an amendment against divorce be a a far more urgent priority in terms of defending marriage? Here’s what the Church says about John Kerry and Ronald Reagan, among countless others:

“Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in situation of public and permanent adultery… Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.”

I wonder when the theocons will propose a real FMA, one that would ban divorce?

EMAIL OF THE DAY: “To disabuse your contributor of a false assumption: “buttfuckery” is a wonderful part of my – straight – marriage, both the giving and the getting, and I happen to know it’s a part of many heterosexual relationships. On the record I do not support gay marriage but I suspect that your contributor lives only a small part of the life God gave him.”


A heart-rending email:

I grew up Catholic, happily attending one of those oh-so-seventies, homemade host, guitar mass parishes. I loved the Church and the way my family worshipped Christ. The warmth of the Church then seemed part of even the designs on the cover of the Monthly Missalette. As a college student, ironically, my faith became more traditional. Though mindful of its failings, I was awed by the traditions of the Church and reveled in its history and the grandeur of its thought. Even during the crisis of faith that occurred when I came out, the Church commanded–yes, I think that’s the right word–my awe and respect. No more. Having come out, I vowed never to feel ashamed again of being gay. And I’ve been mostly successful. The Vatican’s announcement however, left me sad and angry in a way I couldn’t pin down. Then I realized the Church made me ashamed, ashamed of who I was and my relationship. Congratulations, then, to the Vatican and the Pope. Bitter now, I’ll never again step foot in a Catholic church.

Another gay man bites the bullet as well:

I woke up this morning to that bit of news in the media and immediately knew that I was about to make a life altering decision as to my religious practice. For a while, I’ve been toying with the idea of discontinuing my membership and support of the Roman Catholic Church and moving to what in my upbringing would be called “the next best thing”: the Episcopal Church, or the Anglican Church in the US. Decisions are often made when we feel we have no other choice. And this feeble and feeble-minded pontiff, controlled by old, like minded, men who run around Roman palaces in red and pink and purple dresses has helped me realize that as a thinking gay man, I have no other choice but to leave this church. In the twenty-first century North American society in which I find myself, one of the strongest votes I can register is often the vote of my pocketbook. And in leaving the Catholic church, I also withdraw the financial support that the church realistically needs to sustain its increasingly errant mission. I hope many others do the same.

I feel my own conscience getting closer and closer to making the same decision. It tears me apart to see no prospect of the Catholic Church ending its war on gay people and their dignity in my lifetime. In fact, I think it’s getting worse; and the next Pope from the developing world could make the current one seem humane. Leaving the sacraments would be a huge blow to the soul; but the pope just called the love I have for my boyfriend “evil.” That’s a word he couldn’t bring himself to use about Saddam Hussein. How can I recognize what I know to be true with what the Pope has just said? I cannot. It doesn’t leave many options but departure.

ONE HISTORICAL ANALOGY: The last big battle over marriage rights was, of course, over miscegenation. In 1967, the Supreme Court struck down state bans on inter-racial marriage on equal protection grounds. But what’s interesting is how unpopular this was at the time. The Gallup poll in 1968 found a whopping 72 percent of the public opposed such marriages. That’s markedly more than the opposition to same-sex marriage today (which is in the 50 – 60 percent range, and in the states considering it, actually a minority view). Why was that not an example of outrageous judicial activism? Yes, I know that equal protection on grounds of race has far more teeth in constitutional law. But still. This was a hugely unpopular and undemocratic move. It directly thwarted the democratic will of the people, especially in those states forced by judicial fiat to let blacks marry whites. It was judicial tyranny at the expense of democracy. And opponents – latter-day Stanley Kurtzes – were full of the slippery slope argument. Here’s one 19th Century screed from Tennessee, in opposition to miscegenation:

We might have in Tennessee the father living with his daughter, the son with the mother, the brother with his sister, in lawful wedlock, because they had formed such relations in a state or country where they were not prohibited. The Turk or the Mohammedan, with his numerous wives, may establish his harem at the doors of the capitol, and we are without remedy. Yet none of these are more revolting, more to be avoided, or more unnatural than the case before us.

If that guy were alive today, he’d have the cover-story in the Weekly Standard.


In one quarter, federal spending jumped 25 percent. As often, wars are good for economies. (On an encouraging note, non-defense spending slumped a little in the quarter. But given the Bush’s fiscal record, don’t count on this continuing.) Poor Krugman. It doesn’t get much worse than this, does it? He’ll be really bummed if people start getting jobs again.

GILLIGAN UNMASKED: Another bummer for Krugman. Leaked transcripts from the parliamentary committee examining the BBC’s claim that Tony Blair had distorted intelligence to beef up the case for war against Saddam are riveting stuff. Essentially, Andrew Gilligan, the key BBC reporter, unravels in broad daylight. Both Tory and Labour MPs accused the BBC reporter of “leading the public up the garden path in a most staggering way.” One asked Gilligan if “he wished to issue a full and frank apology to this committee for having, in my view I believe, grievously misled this committee.” Hard to get more damning than that. Meanwhile, evidence for WMDs in Iraq mounts up.