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Ross Douthat says universities are terrible, but trying to make them better is worse... Nicholas Kristof looks at what extremists fear most... Dana Milbank details Ted Cruz' big list of crazy charges...

But first, let's go to church this Mother's Day Sunday...

Frank Bruni looks at how increasing messages of tolerance from the Vatican sometimes don't make it to the local church.

...in an expanded employment contract that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is forcing on more than 2,000 teachers, some of whom are refusing to sign it. In what the document does and doesn’t spell out, it sends the tired message that virtue resides in whom you share your bed with and how you do or don’t procreate. ...

Teachers in Catholic schools have long been forced to accept a vague morals clause telling them that they shouldn’t contradict Catholic doctrine. But teachers in Catholic schools in the Cincinnati archdiocese are being given a longer, more explicit litany of words and deeds that could get them fired.

The new contract expressly forbids a “homosexual lifestyle” and any “public support” of one. But it says nothing about public support of the death penalty, something else that the church opposes.

The new contract specifically rules out any use or advocacy of abortion rights, surrogacy, even in vitro fertilization. But it doesn’t address possible advocacy of the sorts of bloody military engagements that the church often condemns.

If that's not specific enough in pointing out what the Cincinnati archdiocese thinks is important, try this.
The new contract forbids “living together outside marriage,” “sexual activity out of wedlock” and any public endorsement of either. But there’s no reference to concern for the downtrodden, to the spirit of giving, to charity. And while those are surely more difficult to monitor, aren’t they as essential to Catholic principles, and closer to the core of the faith?
This sounds more like the kind of document that leads to other documents being nailed to a church door.

Maureen Dowd examines the increasingly ugly relationship between the church and the women who keep it running.

Pope Francis appears guilty of condoning that most base Vatican sport: bullying nuns.

The cool pope suddenly doesn’t seem so cool, allowing Rome’s grand inquisitors to torque up the derogation this Mother’s Day of the American sisters who have mothered so many — even as an endless parade of ghoulish priests were shielded as they defiled vulnerable kids in their care.

Pope Benedict’s Vatican was determined to rein in American nuns inspired by Vatican II, accusing them of pushing “radical feminist themes” and caring for the sick instead of parroting church teaching opposing contraception, gay relationships and the ordination of women.

Last year Pope Francis said he would let the Vatican’s coercive reform of the nuns’ group continue. ...

The new pope’s focus on the poor and social justice, his “Who am I to judge?” cri de coeur on gays, his critique that the church has become too “obsessed” with abortion, gay marriage and contraception — all these shocking and refreshing moves echo the gospel-infused spirit for which the nuns are being punished.

Well, in the church's defense, gay men are... men. That makes all the difference.

Come on in for additional punditry...

Ross Douthat follows up last week's column in which he argued that education is bad for morality, by arguing that (and I'm not kidding) liberals are being too hard on rapists.

What I didn’t discuss was the ongoing ideological war over a more specific and toxic issue in college social life: the prevalence on campuses, often in alcohol-infused situations, of rape and sexual assault, and the question of what college administrations should be obliged to do about it.

The conflict pits an array of campus activists — students who have been raped or assaulted, supported by left-wing and feminist groups — against their own deans and administrators and disciplinary committees. The activists, lately with the support of the Obama White House, have leveraged Title IX’s rules against sex discrimination to pressure colleges to expand counseling for victims, to cooperate more fully with police departments and — most important — to take a much harder disciplinary line against sexual misconduct.

Uh huh. This is Douthat. Just wait a paragraph. He's going to explain how this is a bad thing.
The colleges, for various reasons, are disinclined to push back too hard publicly against their critics. So conservative and libertarian observers — a mostly female group, it should be said, including Reason’s Cathy Young, Bloomberg View’s Megan McArdle, the American Enterprise Institute’s Caroline Kitchens and others — have stepped into the breach.
Well thank god for that, huh? From here on out Douthat argues that universities are corrupt because they've "pursued a strategy of corporate expansion" and are actually souless machines more interested in protecting their brand than their students. He says this, and yet somehow Douthat doesn't burst into flame for contradicting everything he's said about the moral compass of capitalism since... ever. After arguing that universities are indeed amoral, Douthat concludes that liberals are wrong because fighting against corporate assholery is "utopian." Fighting for the corporate side? Well, that's admirable.  Seriously, what else did you expect?

The New York Times looks past the surface language of "limits" on abortion.

Anti-abortion groups that saw a chance to get state legislatures to restrict women’s reproductive rights piously declared that all they wanted to do was to make women safer. This argument had little credibility then, and it has even less now. What has actually happened is that in state after state, with the enthusiastic support of Republican lawmakers, it has become increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for women to get safe and legal abortion care. ...

That emerging reality was driven home late last month before a three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The court heard arguments in a constitutional challenge to a Mississippi law requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. If that law is allowed to take effect, Mississippi’s sole remaining clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, would be forced to close because its doctors have been unable to secure admitting privileges at any nearby hospital — hardly surprising given the local political atmosphere.

Mississippi would become the first state without an abortion clinic since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.

Dana Milbank shows where we're going to go if Republicans get control of the Senate.
Sen. Ted Cruz, in a speech to fellow conservatives at the Federalist Society this week, provided detailed evidence of what the right calls the “lawlessness” of the Obama administration.

The Texas Republican, in his latest McCar­thyesque flourish, said he had a list of “76 instances of lawlessness and other abuses of power.”

To his credit, Cruz made his list public. But perhaps he shouldn’t have. An examination of the accusations reveals less about the lawlessness of the accused than about the recklessness of the accuser.

Milbank goes on to catalog a long list of charges made by Cruz none of which (surprise) are backed by actual evidence. The stakes for 2014 are simple enough. If Republicans win, it's going to be at least two years of nothing but Benghazi! and half-assed impeachment efforts. If Democrats win, it'll mean an increased minimum wage. You'd think that was a pretty easy choice.

Carl Hiaasen provides the Rick Scott response to a new report showing that climate change will drastically affect Florida.

My fellow Floridians, as you’ve all probably heard, a new National Climate Assessment report says that Florida is seriously threatened by rising sea levels, mass flooding, salt-contaminated water supplies and increasingly severe weather events — all supposedly caused by climate change.

Let me assure you there’s absolutely no reason for worry. I still don’t believe climate change is real, and you shouldn’t, either.

Don’t be impressed just because 240 “experts” contributed to this melodramatic report. The tea party has experts, too, and they assure me it’s all hogwash.

Even if the atmosphere is warming (and, whoa, I’m not saying it is!), I still haven’t seen a speck of solid evidence that it has anything do with man spewing millions of tons of gaseous pollutants into the sky.

Is the planet a hotter place than it was 200 years ago? Yes, but only by a couple of degrees. Did most of the temperature rise occur since 1970? Yes, but don’t blame coal-burning plants or auto emissions.

Maybe the sun is getting closer to the Earth. Ever think of that? Or the Earth is moving closer to the sun? Let’s get some brainiacs to investigate that possibility!

As long as I’m the governor, Florida isn’t going to punish any industries by imposing so-called “clean air” regulations that limit carbon emissions.

Maybe there are aliens up there with a big magnifying glass. On the other hand, I kind of wouldn't blame them.

The New York Times editorial board looks at some small things that are a big deal.

The World Health Organization has surveyed the growth of antibiotic-resistant germs around the world — the first such survey it has ever conducted — and come up with disturbing findings. In a report issued late last month, the organization found that antimicrobial resistance in bacteria (the main focus of the report), fungi, viruses and parasites is an increasingly serious threat in every part of the world. “A problem so serious that it threatens the achievements of modern medicine,” the organization said. “A post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can kill, far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century.”

The growth of antibiotic-resistant pathogens means that in ever more cases, standard treatments no longer work, infections are harder or impossible to control, the risk of spreading infections to others is increased, and illnesses and hospital stays are prolonged.

We're used to medicine moving forward, but in this case we may slide back to the point where the "good old days" really were.
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