Thursday, November 27, 2014

Give thanks

When you see your loved ones’ faces
And rejoice in their warm embraces
Thank the Lord who blessed you so
Whose saving gift our lives graces
To give to each other and grow
Change to love flesh may undergo

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Barkley’s leash

Barkley was a good dog who got in trouble more often than he should. He trampled the garden and chewed on the fence posts. He meant no harm but sometimes his puppy nature got the best of him and he unintentionally made trouble for his master.

One morning Barkley’s master drove a peg into the middle of the yard and slipped a leash over it. He hooked the leash to Barkley’s collar. “Now, Barkley, you’ve left me no choice. I’ve done this so you won’t get into trouble while I’m gone. You’ll only be able to go as far as this leash allows. I’ll check in on you tonight.”

The master left. Barkley was sad. The great, big yard seemed to beckon to him, taunting him. He stretched the leash as far as it would go and lay motionless in the grass, watching the birds hop across lawn out of his reach.

“What’s the matter, Barkley?” one bird asked.

“My master has tied me to this peg, and I can’t roam free in the yard like I used to,” he moaned.

“That’s because you got into trouble,” the bird said. “You trampled your master’s garden and chewed up his fence posts. You did wrong in your master’s eyes.”

Barkley rolled onto his back and howled at the sky. “I’m so bored. What am I going to do?”

“Why don’t you roll that ball around?” the bird suggested.

Barkley’s head whipped around. Sure enough, a bright green ball sat at the base of the master’s house, just within his reach. He pounced on the ball and rolled it from one end of his circle to the next. He rolled it every which way he could in that small space within the leash’s range, knocking aside his food dish and water dish, scattering their contents into the grass. The water was absorbed into the ground, and the pieces of food fell deep into the grass out of sight.

When Barkley started to get hungry, he regretted scattering his food in the grass. He looked up and saw the bird he had been talking to picking bugs out of the ground with its beak. Barkley decided if the birds could do it, he could do it, too. He dug a hole until he seized a fat, juicy grub in his teeth. It was delicious, but it upset his stomach.

“Silly dog, that’s bird food,” the bird laughed at him mockingly. “And now look, you’ve rolled the ball too far and you can’t play with it anymore.”

The bird was right. In his excitement, Barkley had rolled the ball beyond the length of his leash. The ball was a foot away, but it may as well have been in the next-door neighbor’s yard. He pulled on that leash until his neck hurt.NHard as he pulled, the leash would not stretch, and the peg he was anchored to would not budge.

Barkley whimpered. He was in an even worse spot than before. Now he had a belly ache and he had no toys to play with. “I hate this leash!” he proclaimed. “I wish I was rid of it forever!” He futilely tried to chew through the leash.

“Is it the leash’s fault your belly aches?” the bird chastised. “Is it the leash’s fault you rolled the ball too far?”

For once, Barkley ignored the bird. With nothing better to do, he circled around the peg, drew his paws underneath him, and fell asleep.

When he awoke it was past midday. The sun had crossed the sky and now bathed the whole yard in warm light. Barkley’s belly felt better, but he was still hungry. And he still had no toys to play with.

“At least that annoying bird is gone,” Barkley thought. “I’ve had nothing but trouble since he came around!”

He got up and paced in circles, twisting his leash around the peg as he sniffed around to bide the time. In the bright afternoon light he could see an unusual amount of detail in the blades of grass. He noticed how large they were when he got up close to them. They towered above the end of his nose. He watched the ants’ slow progress crawling over them. When Barkley considered how many blades of grass were within his reach, how many little things there were to explore, the leash didn’t seem so bad.

He noticed something else. Where he stood his paws sank deeper into the grass than in other spots in the yard. He had stepped into a little depression. The ground here was softer because it retained groundwater better. Barkley prodded with his paw, feeling the slight variations of softness and elevation in the dirt beneath the grass. Forgetting the leash completely, he flipped over on his back, enjoying the sensation of the grass and the dirt on his coat of fur.

Barkley passed the whole afternoon like this without even noticing the time.

In the evening, the master came out to see how Barkley was doing. He grinned at the puppy rolling around in the grass. “Barkley!” he called. Barkley rolled onto his belly and greeted his master with a bark.

“I see you dug a hole...but it’s just one hole. Not bad, Barkley. Good boy.” Barkley’s tail wagged at the compliment.

The master slipped the leash off Barkley’s collar and watched, expecting the dog to bolt to enjoy his restored freedom. But Barkley remained where he was, thankful for the small plot of ground around the peg.

The master reached under Barkley’s chin to scratch him affectionately. “Good boy.”

Related: “Snakebitten.”

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Odds and ends 11/20/2014

“If it’s okay to force a child into existence because it’s so wanted, then why is it not okay to force a child out of existence because it is so unwanted?” –Alana S. Newman

Rod Dreher recalls how he lost a liberal friend over his choice to homeschool his kids:

When she found out that we planned to homeschool, she launched into a tirade about how unchristian we were for doing so. She didn’t listen to anything we had to say about our hopes for our child’s education, why we thought we could do better by him, or anything. To be sure, our reasons may have been mistaken, but she didn’t address them. She just went into hysterics — literally, she started crying — about what bad people we were to turn our back on Diversity. It was an entirely emotional reaction. By considering homeschooling, we had turned our back on the Community of the Righteous. I expected people to make rational cases against homeschooling, but I wasn’t prepared for that reaction.

Liberals hate homeschooling. It’s as in-your-face an assertion of one’s natural rights as parents there is. When you homeschool, you blaspheme the progressive obligation to reeducation.

It’s damnesty if you do, damnesty if you don’t.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that Obama “is very focused on” immigration and that Republicans can do only one thing to stop him.

“They can allow that common-sense, bipartisan bill from the Senate to come to the floor of the House of Representatives,” he said. “And if the House passes that Senate bill, the president won’t take executive action. Maybe the republic will be saved. Maybe the ego of the House Republicans will not be bruised. Certainly, the United States of America would benefit significantly from them taking that step.”

Too bad Mitch McConnell took a government shutdown off the table. Defunding the executive is the best way to deal with a tyrant.

It’s repugnant for the press secretary to suggest “the republic will be saved” by abdicating national sovereignty. He exemplifies the elitist coterie of Machiavellians in government who sneaked in with public support to undermine said public.

In Public Discourse, Ashton Ellis lays into suicide advocate Brittany Maynard:

Maynard’s story resonates. In a culture that idolizes youth and beauty, her terminal diagnosis is an act of injustice in search of a solution. Those who support assisted suicide frame the problem as one of law instead of medicine: we already have the necessary medicine to “help” those who want to commit suicide. Helping Maynard doesn’t mean taking an ice bucket challenge to fund a cure. It requires changing the law so she and others can beat a disease to death’s door.

It’s a clever framing tactic. Gone are any considerations about the impact legalizing assisted suicide would have on vulnerable populations such as the poor and the disabled. Not a word is mentioned of how normalizing assisted suicide would alter personal, familial, and professional expectations about when someone should choose death. The issue is boiled down to this: I’m dying of cancer. I want to die now. You have no right to refuse me.

In a society dominated by individualism and relativism, who needs to deliberate? No one wishes to endure a long and painful death, and if modern medicine can’t come to the rescue, then surely the law should permit a competent adult to end her life early—even if it means enlisting the aid of a doctor.

And yet, decriminalizing a doctor’s liability for helping a patient kill herself is not a top priority for the vast majority of Americans. That’s why a young, telegenic presence such as Maynard is needed to force assisted suicide onto the agenda. Her story is both tragic and attractive, making it an ideal frame of reference for groups pushing to expand the so-called “right to die.”

If I had known Prop 1 would “save lives,” I would have voted for it. Just kidding. It’s this kind of deception that makes me suspicious of high-dollar-value ballot measures.

“Tonight Texans from across the political spectrum came together to fight traffic, save lives, and create jobs. Texans have sent a strong message that they want reliable funding for our state’s highways. TxDOT now stands to receive an additional $1.7 billion for road and bridge projects in the next year without new taxes, tolls, or debt. However, passing Proposition 1 was just the first step in addressing the transportation funding shortfall in Texas. We look forward to continue working with our coalition partners as we fight for the additional funding for transportation that will move Texas forward.” – Scott Haywood, President of Move Texas Forward

If we’re not careful, Texas will be the next Virginia: purple and mired in road construction and cronyism.

This line from Amy Nicholson’s Mockingjay reviews sums up my dissatisfaction with the Hunger Games trilogy:

The film’s fixation on narrow-minded Katniss means we still aren’t given a chance onscreen to explore Collins’ elaborate world.

The events of the story are too big and too interesting to tell from the first person lens of a secondary character.

A schoolteacher breastfeeds in class. Cue hyper-feminist hamster spin:

One of the students in Poyen snapped a picture of the breastfeeding teacher and posted the image to Facebook, prompting a lively online discussion about the appropriateness of bringing the child to class and breast feeding in public.

“Honestly I don’t see why breastfeeding there would be a separate issue in any way, seeing how Arkansas law allows her to breastfeed anywhere she’s allowed to be. What’s the worst that can happen, your teenagers learn what breasts were truly made for in a completely innocent manner?” Stephanie Maldonado posted to Facebook.

This breed is hysterical and aggressive. It’s best to avoid them in large numbers.

Entertaining tweets:

Freedom forever!

Winning souls, this is not (hat tip Dreher):

LGBT and ally Catholics appeared at Pride festivities around the world this month, visible signs of Pope Francis’ desire for a more merciful and welcoming Church. Catholic parishes, schools and institutions joyfully celebrated in Boston’s Pride parade proclaiming the peaceful message of the Holy Father.

In Boston contingents from St. Anthony Shrine and Ministry Center were present during the city’s June 14th Pride festival. For their part, the Franciscan friars from St. Anthony’s Shrine hoisted a banner with the pope’s famous five words that have initiated a change in the way the Church is looked at: “Who am I to judge?”. The banner as well as the shirts of the Shrine’s LGBT Spirituality group and the Parents and Family Support Group wore, were equally expressed in the rainbow colors.

The friars moved through the crowds of thousands on the plaza distributing 2000 buttons and stickers with the same message. We ran out of our supply merely half-way through the day. People were exuberant to wear the buttons. We heard from most of the participants in the crowd, “Thank God you are here!” “It’s the Franciscans, how wonderful!”

Adam Gurri writes a fantastic article in the Federalist about the three liberties:

The narrative of federalism is the liberty of communities from central authorities. It is the liberty of Virginia to be different from California, but also the liberty of Fairfax, Virginia to be different from Roanoke, Virginia. It is the liberty of the Amish to operate under a local governance structure radically different from their neighbors. Federalism is at its heart a liberty of decentralization and variation, and for this reason libertarians have often embraced it as part of the larger narrative of liberty. But it has problems, which will become clearer when examined from the perspective of the other two narratives.

The narrative of property is the one most familiar to libertarians, and closest to their hearts. Unlike the previous narrative, this one is focused not on communities but on individuals. Communities have only a vague relationship to a property owner, if the thought of connecting the two occurs at all. If anything, the community is invoked as a vehicle of prejudices and interests which might be used to restrict the scope of ownership. Ownership itself is conceived purely as a right, often owing its origin to the ownership of one’s own body—although theories and stories of how property becomes legitimate are legion. For the most part, in its purest and most modern form, this right is not accompanied with a responsibility. If people have responsibilities, that’s conceived of as a totally separate story—a different branch of moral philosophy having nothing to do with the existence and sanctity of property rights.

If the narrative of property is the one libertarians tend to be the most comfortable with, the last one—the narrative of liberation—is the one that makes them the most uncomfortable. Like property, its focus is also on the individual. Unlike property, these stories cast community in a pivotal role—the role of oppressor, dead weight, or barrier. Under the liberation framework, individuals are liberated from something—superstition, prejudice, poverty, even from family ties or marriage. They are free not only to sell their property or form a community according to their own values, but to hold themselves to no one’s standards but their own. In practice, there are always specific standards either in the background or explicitly. Science is the great liberator of minds over religion and superstition. Policy provides just men an avenue for liberating the poor from their poverty. In law, liberation is embodied in anti-discrimination, affirmative action, and welfare of all stripes. Although libertarians are often intellectually hostile to this narrative and its policy prescriptions, they tend to be culturally much more at ease with its central stories than might be obvious at first glance.

I’m getting married January 17. I have no idea what God has in store for me, for us, two years down the road or twenty. That kind of certainy just doesn’t exist. No one is ever totally ready to take that plunge.

Nathaniel Peters channels the late Father Richard John Neuhaus:

Fr. Neuhaus notes that many young people approach marriage wanting to work it all out before they enter. They have a checklist of characteristics they think are essential in a spouse, and they want to get all the ducks in their own lives in a row before they take the plunge. As much as there is a place for prudence and consideration, however, we cannot live life by a checklist. Rather, Fr. Neuhaus reminds us, we must live in faith-based courage. We must have the courage to look at our own lives, messy and riddled with sin as they are, and commit ourselves to the loving care and providence of God. Courage, Neuhaus says, is the form that faith takes in the midst of anxiety, and we must look our anxiety in the face, make “the great ‘nonetheless,’” and cast off into the deep.

We can do this, Fr. Neuhaus argues, because marriage is God’s project before it’s our project. We do not create it out of whole cloth. Rather it is an institution, “the gift God has given for the right ordering of human loves in abiding fidelity to the gift of life and openness to the gift of new life.” Those who ask themselves whether they are prepared to embark on the adventure the Church proposes should freely admit that they are not prepared for it—but that’s okay, because it is not their problem. They are responding to an invitation to the Lord that requires wise discernment, yes, but that remains the Lord’s invitation.

Invitations require decisions. To decide, Fr. Neuhaus liked to say, comes from the Latin word decidere , to cut off. It means to say yes to something, and in so doing to say no to others. We are frequently afraid to decide because we might make the wrong decision, but we must make that great “nonetheless” nonetheless.

At the American Conservative, Sheldon Richman looks at the corporatist banking system:

Greater net worth is not the only way the rich differ from the rest of us—at least not in a corporatist economy. More important is influence and access to power, the ability to subordinate regular people to larger-than-human-scale organizations, political and corporate, beyond their control.

To be sure, money can buy that access, but only in certain institutional settings. In a society where state and economy were separate (assuming that’s even conceptually possible), or better yet in a stateless society, wealth would not pose the sort of threat it poses in our corporatist (as opposed to a decentralized free-market) system.

Adam Smith famously wrote in The Wealth of Nations that “[p]eople of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” Much less famously, he continued: “It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.”

The fact is, in the corporate state government indeed facilitates “conspiracies” against the public that could not otherwise take place. What’s more, because of this facilitation, it is reasonable to think the disparity in incomes that naturally arises by virtue of differences among human beings is dramatically exaggerated. We can identify several sources of this unnatural wealth accumulation.

A primary source is America’s financial system, which since 1914 has revolved around the government-sponsored central banking cartel, the Federal Reserve. To understand this, it must first be noted that in an advanced market economy with a well-developed division of labor, the capital market becomes the “locus for entrepreneurial decision-making,” as Walter E. Grinder and John Hagel III, writing within the perspective of the Austrian school of economics, put it in their 1977 paper, “Toward a Theory of State Capitalism: Ultimate Decision-Making and Class Structure.”

Grinder and Hagel, emphasizing the crucial role of entrepreneurship in discovering and disseminating knowledge and coordinating diverse production and consumption plans, write: “The evolution of market economies ... suggests that entrepreneurial activity may become increasingly concentrated within the capital market as the functional specialization of the economy becomes more pronounced.”

That sounds ominous, but as long as the market is free of government interference, this “concentration” poses no threat. “None of this analysis should be construed as postulating an insidious process of monopolization of decision-making within the non-state market system,” they write.

Market factors [that is, free and open competition] preclude the possibility that entrepreneurial decision-making could ever be monopolized by financial institutions. ... The decision-making within the capital market operates within the severe constraints imposed by the competitive market process and these constraints ensure that the decision-making process contributes to the optimum allocation of economic resources within the system.

All bets are off, however, when government intervenes. Then the central role of the banking system in an advanced economy is not only magnified but transformed through its “insulation ... from the countervailing competitive pressures inherent in a free market.” Only government can erect barriers to competitive entry and provide other advantages to special interests that are unattainable in the marketplace.

Ryan Landry analyzes a National Geographic article about dying Norwegian fishing villages. Excerpt:

The writer doesn’t mention it, but whaling and fishing are heavily male industries, and heavily location-dependent. You can build an office building just about anywhere, but to fish, you have to be where the fish are. Look at the pictures at the end of the article. Check out the photo of the girl mentioned at the end going off to study and live in the big city and maybe retire back home when she’s older. She’s a cute girl. She’s going to follow her sisters, who went off to become lawyers and doctors. Over/under on total children by all three women at 1.5? I’ll take the under.

If the young women of an area are running away, the guys will leave as well. It’s like local bars. You get girls to show up, which then brings in the guys. Young men aren’t going to stick around for a rough trade, which yields good money, if there are few if any cute girls to fool around and form families with in proper ratios. Norway’s fertility is 1.77. Marriage is dying, too. The youths must be finding fulfillment in their self actualization and big city jobs. Wrong again.

The whales are there. The fish are there. The people aren’t. The article does rightly square some blame on larger fishing business firms and the people themselves saying no, but it never gets down to why they’re saying no. The small-town fishing life is not enough anymore—but the lives in larger cities are empty! Family breakdown and social atomization are serious problems even in healthy and wealthy Norway. Even the small-town folk of northern Norway are susceptible to the call of narcissistic pleasure, the call that pulls them away from a way of life far older and far greater than themselves. Whaling and fishing worked for them for centuries—but not anymore. Norway withstood busts, depressions, wars, and social upheaval, but it was no match for progressivism.

The Texas Senate is considering a bill similar to what got Arizona in trouble earlier this year.

A measure introduced by State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) which is designed to prevent businesses from being punished for not providing their goods and services to gay couples is raising eyebrows with civil rights groups, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

Senate Joint Resolution 10, which is a constitutional amendment and would require a vote of the people, says ‘government may not burden an individuals or a religious organization’s freedom of religion or right to act of refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief.’

Evangelical Christians have long chafed at ‘human rights commissions’ which take it upon themselves to punish, for example, a bakery which refused to provide a wedding cake for a gay couple.

These fights are doomed to fail if deviant behavior falls under the equal protection clause, which is the direction we’re headed in. Naturally the gay mafia is hysterical:

Opponents say Campbell’s bill say the impact of the measure would be amazing. Not only could companies refuse to provide services to Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, or Jews, and cite a ‘sincerely held religious belief,’ but people could use the law to say their ‘sincerely held religious belief’ allows them to speed on the highway, harm other people, and even to commit violent crimes.

Which is why this should be about property rights. That would mean dissing the precious 1964 Civil Rights Act, something Rand Paul is too pusillanimous to do anymore.

When I lived in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the public schools put Muslim holidays on the school calendar because they didn’t have the spine to tell them to shove it and adapt to the home culture. Neighboring Montgomery County is taking a different approach:

Starting next year, the names of religious holidays like Christmas and Yom Kippur will no longer appear on the school calendar in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Instead of Christmas break, students will have winter break. And when Yom Kippur rolls around, the calendar will simply state that there will be no school.

This new calendar won’t affect the days students have off, and they’ll still be out of class on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Christmas and Easter weekend. It’s just that the names of religious holidays won’t appear on the school calendar.

The county’s Board of Education made this decision Tuesday, pointing out that schools don’t close for religious reasons but for secular ones, such as high absenteeism among students and teachers.

The decision also arrived amid a push from leaders in the Muslim community to see their faith’s holidays, such as Eid al-Adha, get the same treatment from Montgomery County schools as the Christian and Jewish observances.

There appears to be causation here.

I take the Solzhenitsyn view. Just because we beat the Communists doesn’t mean our values are good, only better. American culture is an amoral, materialist, hedonist, self-worshiping, post-Christian absurdity. It is fetid and repulsive. I support the Muslims in their rejection.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

QE is a bull’s best friend

Japan recedes, the New York Times reports—during summer, no less!

Japan’s economy unexpectedly fell into recession in the third quarter, a painful slump that called into question efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to pull the country out of nearly two decades of deflation.

The second consecutive quarterly decline in gross domestic product could upend Japan’s political landscape. Mr. Abe is considering dissolving Parliament and calling fresh elections, people close to him say, and Monday’s economic report is seen as critical to his decision, which is widely expected to come this week.

Rising sales taxes have been blamed for triggering the downturn by deterring consumer spending, and with Japan having now slipped into a technical recession, the chances that Mr. Abe will seek a new mandate from voters to alter the government’s tax program appear to have increased significantly.

The preliminary economic report, issued by the Cabinet Office, showed that gross domestic product fell at an annualized pace of 1.6 percent in the quarter through September. That added to the previous quarter’s much larger decline, which the government now puts at 7.3 percent, a slightly worse figure than in its last estimate of 7.1 percent.

The surprise recession underscores the difficulties faced by Mr. Abe, who won power two years ago on a pledge to reinvigorate the economy and end his country’s long streak of wage and consumer-price declines. His agenda, dubbed Abenomics, has focused largely on stimulus measures, in particular an expanded program of government bond purchases by the central bank.

Surprising to whom? Japan has been engaged in this kind of behavior for 20 years. The results were predictable: a bottomless market bubble, low money velocity resulting in near-deflation, and stagnant wage growth. Reaping temporary “growth” spikes (see 2013) through fascist financialization and currency devaluation is a political move designed to hide the fundamental flaws of demand-side economics. Since 1992, Japan’s economy has grown at a 0.85 percent annual rate.

(At least from an ecological perspective, Japan’s demographic death spiral makes sense. There would have been a revolution by now if they were procreating above the 2.1 children per woman replacement rate. The woeful economy appears to be bountiful enough to feed the incredibly shrinking country.)

Japanese stocks rose on the announcement of an official recession Monday. This is opposite world, after all. In opposite world bad economic news assures more money printing to support the bull market. Read wealth manager Hugh Hendry tell his investors about how he would be remiss if he didn’t play along with this new anti-reality:

My premise hasn’t really changed since I published my paper explaining why I had become more constructive towards risk assets this time last year. That is to say, the structural deficiency of global demand continues to radicalize the central banking community. I believe they are terrified: the system is so leveraged and vulnerable to potentially systemic price reversals that the monetary authorities find themselves beholden to long only investors and obliged to support asset prices.

...Investors are perhaps misconstruing rising equity prices as a traditional bull market spurred on by revenue and earnings growth, and becoming fearful of a reversal, when instead the persistent upwards drift in stock markets is more a reflection of the steady erosion of the soundness of the global monetary system and therefore the rise in stock prices is something that is likely to prevail for some time. There is more to it of course, as I will attempt to explain, but not much.

This should be a great time to be a macro manager. It is almost without precedent: the world’s monetary authorities are targeting higher risk asset prices as a policy response to restoke economic demand. Whether you agree with such a policy is irrelevant. You need to own stocks. And yet, remarkably, the most contentious thing you can say in the macro world today is “I’m bullish”.

Because the economic fundamentals read disaster. The natural instinct is to cut and run. But Keynesian central bankers continue to blow the bubble up. So, while people with jobs wary of what the near future holds in store get hit with tepid growth and low savings rates, institutional investors with disposable income let it ride in a rigged market. Who knew liberals had perfected the recipe for inequality?

The difference between the United States’ quantitative easing and Japan’s quantitative easing is roughly 3 years and a factor of eight. Now would be a good time for reporters to dust off the “Winter chills economic growth” template.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Obamacare’s hubris and deception

At the National Interest, W. James Antle III analyzes the uncomfortable truth behind technocrat Jonathan Gruber’s deception:

Gruber—again, not once, but twice—publicly endorsed the view that Obamacare was designed in this way to encourage states to set up their own exchanges. Since many states did not, a large number of Americans obtained their coverage through the federally run The law could fall apart if these people don’t receive taxpayer subsidies.

Whatever you think about the intelligence of the average voter or the funding mechanisms for Obamacare, Gruber is clearly right about one thing.

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes,” Gruber admitted in 2013. Does any serious person really contest that this is true? Fortunately for Obamacare partisans, that did not stop the Supreme Court from ruling that the individual mandate was permissible under Congress’ taxing power, since any other constitutional justification was a stretch.

“In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which explicitly said that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed,” Gruber added. “You can’t do it politically, you just literally cannot do it.”

Is the man wrong about this, either? Sure, there was an abstract discussion about the need for the young and healthy to participate. That’s rather different than admitting the law would have winners and losers.

Gruber is an MIT professor. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard, the president’s alma mater. Do they not teach about hubris in the Ivies? More tyranny comes out of those hallowed halls than anywhere else.

The headline of Antle’s piece is deceiving. Gruber’s gaffe is embarrassing, sure, but it’s not going to hinder Leviathan, which knows not shame. It’s not going to cause progressives to abandon their idol. If anything, now that they’re intentions have been exposed, they’ll cling to it like it’s their last breath.

Only indomitable political will can defund Obamacare, the kind Republicans have been unable to wield with reckless glee that makes enemies wet their pants, like Éomer here in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. One wonders why. Could it be the authoritarian Gruber got his start under the ostensibly conservative 2012 Republican presidential nominee? Terry Hurlbut writes:

Fox News Channel has a problem, too. They hammer Prof. Gruber, and they hammer Barack Obama. But what of Mitt Romney? After all, Romney hired Gruber, did he not?

Imagine how the Election of 2012 might have played out, had Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) known about the Noblis speech and campaigned on it. Would Republican voters still have given Romney enough delegates to nominate him for President? Or might they have nominated someone else, perhaps even Rep. Paul himself?

And consider this: Gruber said, as early as the start of primary season in 2012, that Romney has very dirty hands. Gruber even said, “Candidate Romney won’t tell you this today.” Of course he wouldn’t.


And where is now the case for the Republican establishment? Do they not have at least as much guilt as does Obama? Did not Mitt Romney start the process of that “incremental universalism” of which Gruber also speaks?

Yes. As if Romney’s heinous debate performances and neoliberalism weren’t disqualifying enough, Gruber’s gaffe should end the foolish talk of him running for president yet again. A vote for Romney is a vote for a third term for Gruber.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Procreation, sterilization

As Ryan T. Anderson praises the 6th Circuit Court, it’s important to remember the question before the court is not: “Is same-sex marriage permissible?” It’s: “Is same-sex marriage obligatory?” The court’s response in the negative comes from a liberal frame of mind. Anderson writes:

So why do states define marriage as a male-female union? The court provides two answers.

First, the court notes the unique problems of male-female sexual unions and the profound social purpose of marriage: “governments got into the business of defining marriage, and remain in the business of defining marriage, not to regulate love but to regulate sex, most especially the intended and unintended effects of male-female intercourse.”

Imagine a society without marriage. It does not take long to envision problems that might result from an absence of rules about how to handle the natural effects of male-female intercourse: children. May men and women follow their procreative urges wherever they take them? Who is responsible for the children that result? How many mates may an individual have? How does one decide which set of mates is responsible for which set of children? That we rarely think about these questions nowadays shows only how far we have come and how relatively stable our society is, not that States have no explanation for creating such rules in the first place.

Indeed, the court concludes that “one can well appreciate why the citizenry would think that a reasonable first concern of any society is the need to regulate male-female relationships and the unique procreative possibilities of them.” While people don’t “need the government’s encouragement to have sex” or “to propagate the species,” they “may well need the government’s encouragement to create and maintain stable relationships within which children may flourish.”

And this need for marriage policy is based on human nature: “It is not society’s laws or for that matter any one religion’s laws, but nature’s laws (that men and women complement each other biologically), that created the policy imperative.”

Marriage policy provides an “incentive for two people who procreate together to stay together for purposes of rearing offspring.”

That’s assuming the state is not interested in raising children. More on that later.

Maybe the 6th Circuit Court’s ruling will impress Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy. Probably it won’t. Past foundations continue to be dug up to rebuild society anew on “modern” principles.

Right as he is, Anderson needs to give this fight up. We showed up too late to the fight over marriage. The battlefield was impossible to take from an enemy that had already dug in. You can reason with comically obtuse libertarian John Stossel until you’re blue in the face. At the end of the day, his side has already won and he doesn’t have to treat your opinion as equal to his.

The next landmark constitutional fight will be over parental rights. Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC prematurely showed her hand. The commercial eugenic state is coming to take over the reproductive process. It is preparing to radically redefine paternity and maternity in light of its spinning from whole cloth presumed material rights to contraception, abortion, and adoption. The longer Anderson wastes his breath on a lost cause, the more likely this next fight will be settled on another empty battlefield.

This is the most indicative article about the future of the sexual revolution I’ve read:

Sex could become purely recreational by 2050 with large numbers of babies in the Western world born through IVF, the professor who invented the contraceptive pill has claimed.

Prof Carl Djerassi, the Austrian-American chemist and author, said he believes that the Pill will become obsolete because men and women will choose to freeze their eggs and sperm when young before being sterilised.

He also claims it will end abortions, as no children will be unplanned or unwanted.

You can’t assure no child is “unplanned” without sterilizing the public. That is not a great leap of the imagination. If parents cannot be relied on to raise their children, and if they rely on rights secured by the state to avoid having children, they consent to whatever means the state provides to enable their consequence-free rutting.

Mass sterilization solves two problems for progressives:

  1. It ends the scourge of abandoned children they helped create by liberalizing marriage.

  2. It ends the “inequality” of natural parentage.

This is where we’re headed, as foretold in Brave New World: The right to kill unborn children and the right to have children—“planned” of course—add up to the large-scale, dehumanizing human reproduction farms featured in Aldous Huxley’s superior dystopian novel. Welcome to the machine.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Prof Djerassi said that advances in fertility treatment made it much safer for parents without fertility problems to consider IVF.

The progress will give rise to a ‘Manana generation’ who are safe in the knowledge that parenthood can be delayed without repercussions, he claims. They may even have healthier children because their eggs and sperm would be younger.

Why would they want children at all, when they have crafted a system that prioritizes perpetual adolescence? Someone will have to raise the next generation. If not enough adults step up, government will commandeer the whole process, from fertilization to driver’s license.

All of the preceding is nothing compared to this seminal quote from Djerassi:

“For them the separation between sex and reproduction will be 100 per cent.”

So they’ll be less human. The thwarting of Creation will be complete, if only in their heads.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pragmatic is the machine

Peter Berkowitz writes a long piece on President Obama’s pragmatism, or progressive authoritarianism:

As New York Times reporter Peter Baker put it, “Polling by Gallup shows that since June 2009, in the heyday of the new Obama presidency, public confidence in virtually every major institution of American life has fallen, including organized religion, the military, the Supreme Court, public schools, newspapers, Congress, television news, the police, the presidency, the medical system, the criminal justice system and small business.”

In other words, the ties that bind have never been weaker, preparing the way for societal collapse in the case of a destabilizing event, like a depression. Weakening the civil society ripens a people for choosing for themselves a ruthless leader to reestablish order, no matter how arbitrary or dictatorial.

Authoritative voices on the left led us to expect something altogether different. And no voice raised expectations more authoritatively than that of distinguished Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein, who served from 2009 to 2012 as head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (and is married to U.S. United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power).

In January 2008, Sunstein—then a University of Chicago law professor and an informal adviser to the Obama campaign—explained in the New Republic that Obama was a “visionary minimalist.” As president, Obama would “listen to” and “learn from” people with whom he disagreed. The candidate was committed to the belief, according to Sunstein, that “real change usually requires consensus, learning, and accommodation.” Obama was “unifying” because “he always sees, almost always respects, and not infrequently accepts” the “deepest commitments” of “independents and Republicans.”

In a September follow-up, Sunstein maintained that although progressive in outlook, Obama was not a “doctrinaire liberal.” Sunstein portrayed a politician who “prefers solutions that can be accepted by people with a wide variety of theoretical inclinations.” The senator from Illinois “attempts to accommodate, rather than to repudiate, the defining beliefs of most Americans,” Sunstein asserted. “Above all, Obama’s form of pragmatism is heavily empirical; he wants to know what will work.”

To illustrate the Democratic nominee’s distinctively non-doctrinaire, accommodating, and empirically oriented pragmatism, Sunstein offered Obama's health care plan. Obama “would not require adults to purchase health insurance,” Sunstein assured. Instead, his goal “is to make health care available, not to force people to buy it—a judgment that reflects Obama’s commitment to freedom of choice, his pragmatic nature (an enforcement question: Would those without health care be fined or jailed?), and his desire to produce a plan that might actually obtain a consensus.”

The health care legislation that Obama proudly signed into law in March 2010 was the antithesis of Sunstein's campaign-trail reveries. The Affordable Care Act represented the most partisan legislative package that then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could ram through the two Democratic-controlled chambers. It required all adults to purchase health insurance. Instead of cultivating consensus to win passage of a plan that also respected conservative concerns, the president chose to demonize Republicans.

The public noted the president’s high-handed ways and, eight months later in the 2010 midterm elections, returned its verdict. A historic 63-seat gain put Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives, with the power to exercise congressional oversight of the executive branch and to oppose efforts by the Obama-led Democratic Party to increase the size and scope of government.

On the left, one common explanation of what went wrong for Obama is that it was the Republicans’ fault. Nasty and brutish know-nothing conservatives were determined to foil the president at every step and at any cost. But that explanation won’t wash, and not only because it is false: From the early days of Obama’s presidency, Republican leaders such as Reps. Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan demonstrated their willingness to share ideas with the president and consider options. It was Obama who quickly made clear that since he had won it would be his way or the highway.

To be sure, the president invited Republicans, who have been known on occasion to be obstreperous, to his table. But they were only welcome to remain provided that they embraced his policies. Obama was pragmatic or flexible about the means to achieving progressive ends but thoroughly partisan about the ends themselves.

It’s not that Obama fell short of the ideal pragmatist Sunstein celebrated. Rather, Sunstein mis-described the brand of pragmatism Obama embodies. Whereas pragmatism purports to set aside ideology, Obama postures as a pragmatist to disguise his ideology. In particular, his pragmatism celebrates conciliatoriness and downplays partisanship to distract attention from the ruthless pursuit of progressive goals.

“Mis-described,” or lied? Obama promised fundamental transformation to the secular masses ready to crown government as the great liberator of souls from the world’s condemnation. No part of that suggests working within the constitutional framework and traditions of his predecessors.

Obama’s political pragmatism follows the deception inscribed in the original philosophical pragmatism of Charles Pierce (1839-1914), William James (1842-1910), and John Dewey (1859-1952). Pragmatists emphasize experience, the fallibility of knowledge, and the need to test empirically our opinions and revise them in light of their practical consequences. They reject the quest for absolute certainty and instead embrace methods of inquiry that yield incremental advances in understanding.

So far so good.

But the philosophical pragmatists took a good thing too far. They sought to dissolve metaphysical disputes that had divided philosophers since the days of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. What appeared to philosophers and theologians—and to multitudes of ordinary men and women—to be hard but vital questions about ultimate principles, were really, the pragmatists asserted, only questions about the “expedient,” or about how ideas work in practice.

Think of it as the technization of government, to paraphrase Berdyaev. The organization of society cannot be boiled down to a formula, no matter how complex. Human nature refuses to be corralled that way. The distinguishing trait of humanity, the unquantifiable spirit, the unpredictability, doesn’t factor in the model. It doesn’t factor at all. Insofar as the model succeeds, the inorganic singularity corrodes humanity, opposite of enabling it, seeding the model’s demise.